Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty has rejected suggestions that the housing crisis has prompted protests about providing accommodation to people in direct provision.

Speaking on RTÉ's The Week In Politics about protests on Achill Island, the minister said there is not a housing crisis in Achill.

She said: "I think there's a bigger and a wider issue here that needs to be talked about. We don't have a housing crisis on Achill. That's not the reason that people are giving out about the 13 women that were going to be re-homed there temporarily".

She said communities need to "wrap their arms around these people who have come from horrendous experiences", and that Ireland has international obligations.

"I don't know what people suggest that we should do, over and above what we're currently doing, because the only other suggestion is that everyone who arrives should be given a free home. I'm sorry, I know we're a wealthy country but that would not be the right thing to do".

Minister Doherty said the system that we have is not perfect, but is "probably the most humane system" in any European Union country.

Solidarity-PBP TD Ruth Coppinger disagreed, saying the system is "completely inhumane", and that the previous government agreed to abolish it.

On the same programme, Ms Coppinger said people should not be sent to "far flung places that are isolated" and that the Government is "afraid to house people in urban areas where there is a housing crisis".

Sinn Féin TD John Brady agreed with Deputy Coppinger, saying the direct provision system is "failing the people that need our protection" and is also failing communities.

He said we need to provide "proper, humane, rights-based provision for people that need our protection" and that the system needs to be dismantled.

Fianna Fáil's spokesperson for social protection, Willie O'Dea, said there needs to be a "substantial improvement" in the living conditions of asylum seekers.

He added that even though the provision is "minimalist", in most cases it is "far better than where they came from".

Mr O'Dea also criticised the communications strategy of the Department of Justice in relation to direct provision and said it needed "to radically improve".

He claimed some councillors were coming to meetings with "wrong information" provided by the department.

Ms Coppinger criticised remarks by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar regarding migrants from Georgia and Albania travelling to Ireland with fake documents.

She said the comments by the Taoiseach "really don't help".

However, Minister Doherty said there were people from the two countries applying for asylum "without any hope of getting asylum".

The Irish Refugee Council said the comments by Mr Varadkar were "dangerous".

In a statement, the chief executive of the IRC said "general assumptions about conditions and 'safe country' labelling is hazardous and inconsistent with an individualised assessment that refugee law requires.

"We must not vilify or dismiss people simply because of their nationality and each person must have their case heard in an individual and fair manner and without prejudice," Nick Henderson said.

"Human rights organisations, for example Amnesty International, report ongoing issues for both countries, including impunity, lack of police protection and discrimination against LGBTI people."

The Department of Justice has said there has been a "significant upward trend of new international protection applications over the last two years". 

"To the end of September, a total of 3,763 people applied for international protection, which exceeds the numbers of new applications (3,673) for the entire of next year," the Department said in a statement.

"Overall, applications are up 43% on last year and when EU relocation applications from last year are excluded, the figure is up by 60%."

"The most prominent increase is in applications from safe countries of origin such as Albania and Georgia. Applications from safe countries make up 44% of all applications this year," the Department added.