Right to work is a way forward - what’s next?
2018-07-10 15:05:00 -

There was good news for some asylum seekers recently following the relaxing of restrictions on access to the labour market while they await a decision on their applications for refugee status.


Any asylum seeker who has been waiting nine months or more for a decision can apply for a ‘labour market permission’ which grants access to all employment sectors barring the civil and public service, Defence Forces and Garda. Fees for work permits have been waived, as have minimum salary requirements, and asylum seekers can even start their own business if they wish.


While we welcome this belated move on behalf of some of the most vulnerable people in Ireland, it is also a testament that the system has needed fixing for many years, as acknowledged by the Minister of Justice. “Effective access to the labour market will help to alleviate social and economic exclusion for applicants and avoid long-term dependency on the State,” Charlie Flanagan said.


We also believed that while the new regime has exposed the Government’s appalling treatment of asylum seekers over the years, it also offers a way forward, beyond the negative and false image of asylum seekers as people coming to sponge off the State. While Justice’s hand was forced by a Supreme Court judgement, the new rules still signal a significant shift away from the department’s hardline deterrent approach to asylum seekers.

If that is to be fruitful, however, the Government must ensure that asylum seekers also gain access to State-funded education and training once they have gained the right to seek full employment, which would give them real opportunity to contribute to Ireland’s nation-building.


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