Halve asylum seeker waiting times for work

18 May 2023

Labour Party Senator and Workers’ Rights Spokesperson Marie Sherlock has said Government must move to halve the waiting times to work for those seeking international protection in Ireland.

Senator Sherlock said:

“Asylum seekers and refugees from countries, other than Ukraine, are forced to wait six months before seeking work. Anyone who has ever spent time jobless and in search of work knows that awful sense of feeling unwanted and being unproductive.

“The six month wait is inhumane and unnecessary. It should be halved to three months.

“Any change made would also have to be accompanied by a serious beefing up of the Labour Inspectorate.

“Last week, Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment confirmed that there are currently five vacancies and that more will be recruited if necessary. This is vital to ensure no exploitation of vulnerable persons while they await a decision on the international protection application.

“There is a certain irony in the country that at a time where we have serious labour shortages in certain sectors and where there are calls by employers to expand the employment permits scheme, we have people already in this country, with a diverse skill set, who are seeking refuge and shelter here and yet they are condemned to waiting to six months before seeking employment.

“Every international protection applicant fills out a form over 70 pages long with a very detailed series of questions on their education and employment history and yet I don’t believe there has ever been any serious analysis of the skills base of those seeking international protection over the past year.

“Fifteen months on since the start of the war last year, it is simply unbelievable that our State is still foundering trying to accommodate those of people seeking refuge in Ireland, despite numbers being only half of what was initially predicted last year.

“Furthermore, it is unbelievable that with the wealth of skills and desire to make a life here, that Government has made no attempt to produce a roadmap setting out how it intends to economically and socially best utilise the largest migration event our society has ever experienced.

“Instead the country remains stuck and indeed is becoming more entrenched in a debate about the treatment of asylum seekers in this country.

“We need to move the discussion on, not play into the hands seeking to sow division, nor inflame the concerns of those about their local communities.”

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