Sunday 20 October 2019

Adults in direct provision 'to be allowed to work'

MOSNEY: Many of the residents have been at the refugee centre in Co Meath for over nine years
MOSNEY: Many of the residents have been at the refugee centre in Co Meath for over nine years Newsdesk Newsdesk

Adults in direct provision will soon be allowed to work, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said.

Speaking in the Seanad, Mr Flanagan said the direct provision system has been "wholly unsatisfactory".

“All states have to set and implement rules about people coming to the state. Asylum seekers must apply for international protection status under international law on defined grounds.’’

Mr Flanagan added that the system guaranteed that every person who walked into the international protection office would have a bed, food, a shower, medical care, information and access to a wide range of services.

“I have yet to hear a credible alternative being proposed in almost two decades to the current system.

“All that being said, I recognise that the way this system operated for many years was wholly unsatisfactory.’’

He said the system was beset by problems as the State sought to grapple with a large volume of asylum applications, something Ireland was not used to.

He said residents had been given access to the services of the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children, which was a very important step forward.

Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, welcomed the news.

“Minister Flanagan’s statement that people in the asylum process will be given the right to work is positive. 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.

“We are calling for someone to be given the right to work after six months of waiting for an asylum decision and no restrictions be placed on what professions a person can enter and that self-employment also be allowed.

“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.”

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