21 September 2017 - At today’s conference – ‘Asylum Seekers Right to Work: Implementing the Supreme Court ruling’ – one of Ireland’s top businessmen and ICT leaders said that Ireland must do more to integrate asylum seekers into society and Irish businesses will play their part by encouraging them to integrate into the workforce.

Virgin Media CEO Tony Hanway said,

Virgin Media considers diversity and inclusivity to be of vital importance because we know that these are factors which add to our competitiveness and better reflect the current realities of Irish society. The net economic contribution and unique energy that migrants bring to the workforce and wider society is evident worldwide. Ireland must do more to integrate asylum seekers and businesses can play their part through encouraging integration into the workforce.”


“We can have an effective immigration policy which is in line with our international obligations while also having asylum processes that make decisions fairly and promptly. Equality and justice are hallmarks of prosperous societies that attract talented people. There is now an important principle established by the Supreme Court and we are supportive of efforts to successfully integrate asylum seekers into wider society.”

Former Supreme Court Judge Catherine McGuinness said,

“The Supreme Court challenged the Oireachtas to recognise the right to work of long-term asylum seekers, people who are widely recognised as living under many disadvantages in what is described as Direct Provision. The deadline for legislative action given by the Court is 30th November.” 

“The difficulties faced by people living in Direct Provision are well known, and these are exacerbated by the length of time that many have remained in their uncertain position. The outright ban on such people seeking employment leaves them deprived of the self-respect that comes from self-support and must now in the interests of justice and decency be ended.”

UCD law lecturer Dr Liam Thornton said,

“The Oireachtas now has a choice when it comes to recognising asylum seekers right to work. Down one path, will be a highly restrictive regime that will continue to, in effect, exclude the vast majority of asylum seekers from exercising their freedom to work. Down the other path, is the ability for the Oireachtas to give strong recognition to principles of human dignity, personal self-sufficiency and freedom, by granting the right to work for asylum seekers that is as extensive as possible.”

Economist Jim Power said,

“Immigrants play a key role in the Irish economy and account for 15.8 % of total employment in the economy. They have a broad sectoral spread and are essential to the proper functioning of the Irish economy. Non-Irish nationals, including refugees and asylum seekers, will inevitably be called upon to play an even more important role in the future as the economy moves towards full employment and as skills shortages arise. It makes no economic or social sense to prevent people from participating fully in the economic and social life of Ireland. An adequate supply of labour with the requisite skills is a key element of the competitiveness of the Irish economy and needs to be nurtured.”

Today’s conference – ‘Asylum Seekers Right to Work: Implementing the Supreme Court ruling’ – is organised by City of Sanctuary Dublin in association with the Irish Refugee Council and the Immigrant Council of Ireland.

- ENDS -
Notes to the editor

Conference runs on Thursday 21st September, from 10am at the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin


In May the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in a case taken by a Burmese man who had spent eight years in direct provision before getting refugee status that the laws preventing him working in Ireland before his status was decided were unconstitutional “in principle”. It adjourned making any formal order for six months – until November – to allow the Oireachtas to rectify the situation.