New work rules for asylum seekers will undermine Supreme Court Judgement

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
09 February 2018

Labour Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has welcomed the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court today that the ban on asylum seekers working is unconstitutional, however said the recent rules introduced by the Department of Justice are a disgrace and an attempt to circumvent and set aside the judgement. The complainant in this case is no more likely to be able to work now under the new rules than before the historic decision today, and the Minister for Justice has still not made clear what work arrangements will be put in place for asylum seekers after Ireland opts into the EU directive.

Senator Ó Ríordáin said:

“The decision today by the Supreme Court is welcome, and a recognition of the human rights of asylum seekers under our constitution, who for too long have been treated badly by our State and the Department of Justice.

“The recent interim proposals put forward by the Government and the Department of Justice are disgraceful and too restrictive, and in effect are an effort to circumvent and set aside the judgement. It would require asylum seekers to find a job that pays at least €30,000 a year, and that can’t be filled by any other EU citizen or other person with full permission to work in Ireland.

“The Department of Justice proposals were designed to be impossible to access. It bears a striking resemblance to the type of Jim Crow laws once used in the Southern United States to discriminate against black people.

“The reality is that for the person who took this case, a Rohingya man who has spent 8 years in the asylum process, is now no more likely to be able to work under the new rules than before this historic judgement.

“As a Minister of State in the Department of Justice, I commissioned the working group on the Protection Process chaired by retired High Court Judge Bryan McMahon. The McMahon report recommended that asylum seekers in the application process for more than 9 months should have the right to access the labour market. Ireland is one of only two EU countries that haven’t provided the right to work to asylum seekers.

“The Minister for Justice must now make clear what type of working arrangements will be put in place for asylum seekers when Ireland opts into the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive, and if the measures will remain as restrictive as those he has implemented from today.”

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