Ministers propose bringing Ireland in line with 'EU norms' on asylum seekers' right to work

Charlie Flanagan has detailed the Government's proposals to address a Supreme Court ruling

Ministers propose bringing Ireland in line with 'EU norms' on asylum seekers' right to work

Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Leah Farrell/

Asylum seekers who have not had a decision on their status within nine months of applying will be allowed to work, under proposals being put forward by the Government.

It follows a landmark Supreme Court ruling last year, which found that banning asylum seekers from seeking employment can be seen as unconstitutional.

The Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has today further detailed proposed reforms of the immigration system to address the court's ruling.

He has suggested that Ireland opts into the EU Reception Conditions Directive, which addresses the right to work of asylum seekers.

Minister Flanagan told members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality: "I believe that participation in the Directive would be a positive step forward in bringing our international protection system and supports for applicants more closely in line with EU norms and standards.

"It should be noted that there are some areas of the Directive, particularly around health and education where we already apply more favourable provisions than would be required and these will be maintained."

He also explained that the Government is aiming to reduce backlogs and issue a 'first instance decision' within nine months of application for the majority of asylum seekers.

Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration David Stanton said the proposed changes mean Ireland would be opting in to the 'European norm' when it comes to right to work for asylum seekers.

Asylum seekers in Ireland enter the Direct Provision system until a decision is made on their refugee status.

People living in the system are provided with €21.60 per week as well as full-board accommodation.

The Direct Provision system has faced criticism - with centres reportedly overcrowded with families living in cramped spaces, and few facilities for individuals to cook or provide for themselves.

Additional reporting by Paul Quinn and Mick Staines