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Give work to those in protection process, says Refugee Council
Nick Henderson

02 Jun 2020 / ireland Print

Let those in protection work – refugee NGO

The Irish Refugee Council has repeated its call for those in the protection process to be allowed to work, for the dignity and freedom of each individual concerned.

Chief executive Nick Henderson said: “On the third anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision on the right to work for protection applicants (NHV v Minister for Justice & Equality and ors), Justice O’Donnell’s statement that work is connected to the dignity and freedom of the individual is more relevant than ever.


“Allowing people in the protection process to work benefits all. An example of this is the important work done by people in the protection process, particularly in nursing homes, during the pandemic.”

Henderson said that three years on from the Supreme Court’s decision, and nearly two years after the initial introduction of the right to work, barriers to entering employment continue to exist.

Applications for permission to access the labour market since 30 June 2018


Applications refused since 30 June 2018


Applications granted since 30 June 2018


Number of people who have commenced employment or self-employment (based on employer return declaration forms)



Those in the protection process cannot obtain a driving licence and have difficulties in opening a bank account.

The Refugee Council says access to employment can be expanded by:

  • Extending the automatic right to work to all people in the international protection process,
  • Reducing the time limit that a new protection applicant must wait before being automatically able to work, from nine months to 0 months, or a maximum of three months,
  • If a permit style system continues, the permit’s duration should be increased from six to 12 months, and the permission should be formalised to give increased certainty to employers,
  • Removing the barriers to accessing a bank account and driving licence,
  • Removing the 50:50 employee nationality rule.

“The Reception Conditions Directive, which Ireland has transposed into law, guarantees the right of effective access to the labour market. 


“We believe this means that Ireland has an ongoing obligation to identify and remove barriers preventing access to employment,” Henderson said.

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