The State body responsible for issuing driving licences has been found guilty of racial discrimination against an asylum seeker for the second time in a month.
It comes after the body refused to issue a learner permit to a woman living in Direct Provision because she was unable to provide a permanent address.
The woman, originally from India, is living in Direct Provision in Munster and commutes to her job as a housekeeper in Dublin.
Her employers have offered to provide her with a car if she can get her licence.
She holds a full driving licence in India and has passed her driver theory test and eye-sight exam.
She was denied her learner permit because she couldn’t provide evidence of full or “permanent” residency permission – which she could not possibly provide as an asylum seeker.
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) took the case to Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) on behalf of the woman.
The WRC found that that the woman was subjected to “indirect discrimination” and awarded her €5,000 compensation for the distress she suffered.
The State body was ordered to meet with her within four weeks to discuss whether her Indian licence can be swapped for an Irish one without cost.
If not, she is to be issued with a learner permit, immediately without any cost to her.
The body has also been ordered to change its guidelines to take account of the fact that many asylum seekers now have the right to work in Ireland.
It comes just three weeks after another asylum seeker was awarded €2,500 after he was refused a driving permit in similar circumstances.
IHREC spokesperson Salome Mbugua said the two rulings show that the State agency is “clearly falling down in its duty” to prevent discrimination.
“The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission provided legal assistance to both of these people in their challenges to this discriminatory policy,” she said.
“The first was a man struggling to make a living as a delivery person on his bike who wants a licence to help boost his delivery work and today, we see a mother seeking to earn money for her and her child through part-time work, but who is similarly being blocked in securing her licence.”
Right to work
She said the decisions should force the Government to “finally and emphatically address the issue of asylum seekers access to driving licenses.”
In May 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to completely ban asylum seekers from working while awaiting a decision on their status.