DESPITE BEING GRANTED the right to work in Ireland, few if any asylum seekers have made their way into the local labour force.
Following a Supreme Court ruling that banning asylum seekers from working in Ireland was unconstitutional, the government earlier this year introduced strict measures controlling the group’s access to employment.
Asylum seekers can only work if granted a permit, and to do so they need to secure jobs with salaries of at least €30,000 per year while facing restrictions on working in more than 60 sectors.
No applications for the permits, which cost up to €1,000 apiece, had been received from asylum seekers as of earlier this month.
However the tourism and hospitality trade, whose sector is excluded from taking on any permit-holders, has called for the rules to be relaxed to allow asylum seekers to work in the industry, where businesses have complained of severe shortages in some roles.
The government has said the current system is only a temporary measure while it waits for the planned introduction of a new EU directive that would lead to the permit scheme being scrapped.
However Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said it was important that the State’s existing employment permit system for third-party nationals wasn’t undermined, adding that asylum seekers’ right to employment was not “unfettered”.
There were nearly 3,000 new applications for refugee status in Ireland during 2017, while at the start of the year there were more than 5,000 people living in Direct Provision centres, where the State pays for meals and a weekly allowance of €21.60.
With that in mind, we’re asking Fora readers this week: Do you think asylum seekers should be allowed to fill job gaps?