27 June 2018 - Today’s announcement that the Government has transposed the Reception Conditions Directive is a hugely significant development. For the first time, the reception and accommodation of people seeking international protection in Ireland has a statutory underpinning, bringing us in line with the rest of the EU.

In particular, today marks a huge change for people seeking protection, some of whom will finally have the ability to access the labour market. The Irish Refugee Council welcomes the Government’s decision not to limit access to a restrictive list of occupations, require a minimum salary, or charge an expensive administrative fee.

Speaking about today’s announcement, Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, said,

“We welcome the measures announced today, in particular the much broader range of jobs that a person can apply for and the removal of any application fee. That people who have been waiting for a decision can immediately apply is also positive. The provision to review the arrangements after a year is also a good safety valve .”

“However, the provision that the Direct Provision Allowance (€21.60 per week) may be reduced or withdrawn for people who are working requires careful monitoring. People in Direct Provision may not have had the opportunity to gather savings or develop social networks in Ireland. The housing crisis has also made it very difficult for people to find accommodation outside Direct Provision.”

“It is also disappointing that the Government has restricted access to the labour market to people who have waited more than 9 months for a first instance decision from the International Protection Office. This is therefore not a blanket scheme. People who have already received such a decision, have an outstanding appeal or have received a deportation order, are not eligible to work under this scheme.”

“While we welcome some of the measures around the right to work, it is important that considerable additional information is made available as soon as possible in relation to other important provisions of the Reception Conditions Directive. In particular, more clarity is required in relation to implementation of the requirement to consider the best interests of the child and the establishment of a holistic vulnerability assessment. It remains to be seen how and to what extent this will be provided for in the final implementing Statutory Instrument.”

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors
  • The State’s interim scheme for access to employment has failed and was heavily criticised by civil society organisations, statutory bodies such as the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and most importantly by people in the asylum process themselves. Despite the Supreme Court striking down the ban on access to the labour market over a year ago, not one application for an employment permit has been successful to date.
  • The Directive requires that the best interests of the child be a primary consideration in providing accommodation and that States ensure a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.
  • There is a lack of clarity around the practical implementation of vulnerability assessment. This is concerning as the Directive envisages a procedure for identifying vulnerability that goes beyond the current basic health screening at Balseskin Reception Centre (so as to identify special needs that are non-medical in nature) and ensures identification of vulnerabilities that arise at a later stage in the asylum procedure.
  • The ‘Reception Conditions Directive’ is Directive 2013/33/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast).
  • For further information on the Reception Conditions Directive, including recommendations for a human rights-compliant implementation of its provisions, see the Irish Refugee Council’s submission to the State on the transposition of the Directive into Irish law.
  • The Irish Refugee Council policy paper on the right to work, published in July 2017, is available here.
  • The Irish Refugee Council has been working with a number of people over the past year who have been unable to accept an offer of employment due to the highly restrictive and unsuitable interim scheme. These are people who bring a wealth of skills and experiences to the Irish employment market. Despite offers of a job from Irish employers, they have been unable to start work due to restrictions and practical barriers that act as a total bar to employment due to the particular circumstances in which people seeking asylum find themselves