30 May 2017 - The Irish Refugee Council welcomes today’s extremely important Supreme Court decision, and extend their congratulations to both the applicant for having the courage to pursue the case and his team of lawyers for their success in this landmark judgment.

This ban has been in effect for over 20 years; today’s ruling represents a huge breakthrough in recognising the basic, fundamental rights of people seeking protection in Ireland. If the right to work is granted it will have the potential to positively affect over 3500 men, women and young people currently living in Direct Provision.

Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council said,

“The right to work is fundamental to a person’s dignity and self-esteem; it is a right in our Constitution. We welcome Mr Justice O’Donnell’s recognition that the differences between a person seeking asylum and a citizen can no longer justify the exclusion of protection applicants from entering employment.

“It simply doesn’t make sense to prevent people from entering the labour market, people don’t want to be reliant on the state, they want to be able to fulfil their potential. Allowing people to work would also be of benefit to the exchequer in terms of tax and spending power and would be of huge benefit to integration.”

Unfounded “pull factor” arguments have been used by the government in its defence of this ban in the past. People leave their country because of war and persecution not because of what may be available to them if they ever reach safety. It is verging on the disingenuous to suggest people would consider whether a state offers the right to work before embarking on perilous journeys.”

This issue has now been passed to the legislature and we call on the government to act promptly, remove the indefinite ban, and respect the findings of the Supreme Court.

- ENDS -

Caroline Reid, Communications Officer, 0858585510

Nick Henderson, CEO, 0858585559


Ireland and Lithuania are the only two EU member state with indefinite bans on the right to work.

EU standard set by the reception conditions directive: “1. Member States shall ensure that applicants have access to the labour market no later than 9 months from the date when the application for international protection was lodged if a first instance decision by the competent authority has not been taken and the delay cannot be attributed to the applicant.

The Working Group to Report to Government on Improvements to the Protection Process, Including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers recommended that the right to work be brought in. The Irish government still refuse to consider or implement this recommendation.