Fear of limits on asylum seeker right to work

Weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that a ban on asylum seekers working was unconstitutional, the Government has been accused of seeking “caveats” to its implementation.

About 3,000 asylum seekers may now be eligible to work, and there have been calls for those affected to be given the right to work after six months.

That is the time limit within which they are supposed to receive a decision on their application, though 4,000 of the people in direct provision have been here for longer than that period.

However, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has hinted that the Government could seek restrictions.

“In many EU member states, the right to work is not an unfettered right, often arising after a particular period of time — usually nine months to a year — and, in many instances, may be limited to particular job categories or the withdrawal of other financial supports,” he said.

In making its unanimous ruling, the seven-judge Supreme Court did adjourn making any formal orders for six months to allow the legislature to consider how to address the situation.

Mr Flanagan said the State would make submissions to the court, “in relation to the format of the order the court is to make at the appropriate time”.

“The court itself recognises the complexities around this issue, in that it acknowledges the executive function, in not only controlling who should enter the State, but also to regulate the activities of non-citizens while in the State, and has had to consider the distinctions of rights between citizens and non-citizens in the context of Article 40.1 of the Constitution,” he said.

Brian Killoran, the chief executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said allowing asylum seekers to work is a win-win situation.

He said it gives dignity to people, while providing greater opportunities for integration and for contributing to the economy. Therefore, he said it was concerning that the minister was focusing on the potential caveats.

He said the ruling was the “perfect opportunity for the new minister for justice to start his tenure with a strong, positive statement and follow-up action”.

“While access to the labour market after nine months is the norm in most EU member states, as the new International Protection Act aspires to process applications in Ireland in a six-month period, we think it should be granted at that point,” he said.

“We also believe access to the labour market should not be restricted.

“Introducing administrative barriers or requirements would not only be counter-productive, but potentially cost the State by having to resource the administration.”


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