A small number of refugee families have been living in the Athlone area since the early 1980’s. The original group were a number of Iranian Bahai families.
In 1999 the Irish government introduced the ‘Dispersal and Direct Provision’ scheme for asylum seekers. The asylum seeker accommodation unit in Athlone opened then. A number of former residents of the direct provision site continue to live in the Athlone area.