Ruling on refugees’ work ban - A flawed system and a bad policy

Ireland has escaped the unfortunate side of immigration — so far at least.

We have not had a Manchester or a Bataclan; we do not have large communities of immigrants refusing to assimilate, often encouraging children to destroy our way of life — like the boy arrested on terror charges in Germany yesterday.

Whether by design or by providence’s indulgence this is a happy set of circumstances but reality will probably intrude sooner or later. Maybe it did yesterday.

The Supreme Court ruled in favour of a Burmese man who, because he is a refugee and has spent eight years in direct provision, is prohibited from seeking work.

The seven-judge court unanimously found in favour of the man who wants to work, but they deferred their ruling for six months to allow the Dáil consider the implications.

They are the cold facts but anyone who cared to see would know that our way of dealing with asylum seekers is far from perfect.

The 3,500 people in the limbo process are spread across the country, often in subsistence circumstances in isolated towns or villages and precluded by law from working.

Immigration from the poor world to our rich world is the defining change of our time. How we respond will define our future.

Yesterday’s reprimand tells us what we already knew — our arrangement is unsustainable. It will take the wisdom of several Solomons to resolve these huge issues but, one way or another, we are obliged to do better.


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