Flanagan: Asylum seekers will ‘soon have access to labour market’

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has confirmed that asylum seekers in Ireland will “soon have access to the labour market” in line with the recent Supreme Court ruling.

Speaking to the Seanad last night, Mr Flanagan said: “Adults who will soon have access to the labour market will also see their capacity for economic independence enhanced in line with the finding of the Supreme Court.”

However, he did not outline a timescale for the change, and said he did not want to “pre-empt” the recommendations of the interdepartmental task force set up to examine “how best to give effect” to the judgment.

He said: “I do not want to pre-empt the task force’s deliberations by entering into speculation on what might be proposed as the best option for the State to comply with the judgment but the recommendations will be carefully considered by the Government before the State makes its submission to the court at the appropriate time.

“The granting of access to the labour market could also have repercussions for the system of direct provision as we know it. For example, if an applicant has economic security, the need to be dependent on the State will be somewhat alleviated. The task force is examining all of these issues and I look forward to receiving its report.”

Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council
Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council

Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, said the confirmation that asylum seekers will have the right to work is “positive”.

Mr Henderson added: “However, any other response would be contrary to the Supreme Court’s decision which made a clear finding that an indefinite ban on the right to work is unconstitutional. As put forward in our July policy paper, the detail of how this right will be given to people is crucial.”

The Irish Refugee Council is calling for someone to be given the right to work “after six months of waiting for an asylum decision”, with no restrictions on the kind of work, including self-employment.

Mr Henderson added: “We have also written to the Minister to request that we be given the opportunity to present to the Taskforce looking at this issue and that, more importantly, people in the asylum process also be given this opportunity. This is essential from the perspective of transparency and good government and to ensure the integrity of taskforce’s final decision. We are still awaiting a reply to our request.”