Asylum seeker suffered indirect discrimination from driving license agency

Asylum seeker suffered indirect discrimination from driving license agency

An asylum seeker suffered indirect discrimination when he was refused a learner driver license, the Workplace Relations Commission has ruled.

An adjudicator ordered €2,500 in compensation to be paid to the man, who was legally represented by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC).

The National Driver License Service (NDLS) was also instructed to process the man’s application for a learner permit.

The man at the centre of the case has lived in Ireland since June 2015. He applied for and was granted a self-employment permit in March 2018, following the landmark Supreme Court decision which found that an indefinite ban on asylum seekers applying for work was unconstitutional.

He started work as a delivery man on his bike and subsequently applied for a learner driver permit to enable him to increase his income by using a car for work rather than his bike.

In applying for his learner driver permit, the man had provided his asylum seeker’s Temporary Residence Certificate, his public services card, a copy of his passport and his permission from the Minister for Justice to access the labour market (which included his address).

However, his application for a learner permit was refused on the grounds that he had failed to produce either a Stamp 4 GNIB Card or an EU passport to establish that he was ‘normally resident’ in Ireland.

The man challenged the decision, saying that the government agency had interpreted the Road Traffic (Licencing of Drivers) Regulations 2006 in such a way as to exclude him as an asylum seeker from securing a licence.

He argued that the Regulations only required him to prove that he was resident in the State 185 days a year, which, as an asylum seeker, he had been since 2015.

In his decision, WRC adjudicator Jim Dolan found that the man had been treated less favourably than Irish and/or EU applicants for learner driver permits.

He ruled that the man suffered indirect discrimination by being asked “to produce documentation that it was impossible for him to obtain”.

The adjudicator ordered €2,500 in compensation to be paid and instructed the driving license service to process the man’s application for a learner permit.

However, when he went to the local office to have his driver’s application processed following the decision, he was dismayed to be refused once again. He has since been informed that the government agency has appealed the ruling.

Laurence Bond, director of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, said: “Being able to drive is a significant asset to accessing and securing employment, and the dignity that being able to work and earn a living affords.

“While the Supreme Court has ruled that people in international protection system can seek employment, the reality is that administrative barriers such as this tie people’s hands in the competition to secure work, especially in rural areas.

“While the Commission welcomes the WRC ruling, we will continue in light of the State appeal to assist this man to vindicate his rights, and the rights of others in similar situations who have been deprived access to licences.”

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