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Adams welcomes Supreme Court judgement on Asylum Seekers

31 May, 2017 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed the ruling by the Supreme Court that the ban on asylum seekers working is unconstitutional. The Court has suspended its order for six months to allow the government and the Oireachtas time to address this issue.

Gerry Adams said:

“I have visited the direct provision centre in Mosney several times. Last October I described it as like the Long Kesh internment camp in the 1970’s but without the watchtowers, the barbed wire, and the armed guards. It is a scandal that the state has forced refugees to live in Mosney and in other Direct Provision centres for years.

“For the 4617 refugees currently trapped within the state’s 32 direct provision centres, the experience is soul destroying. 691 have been in the system for between 18 months and two years and 645 have been there for between two and three years. Shamefully, 318 have been in direct provision for more than 8 years.

“The system has been widely and justifiably condemned. It lacks humanity and compassion. While in the system most people can’t feed themselves, they aren’t allowed to work, and there is a limit on how far children can progress through our education system. They are paid a paltry €19.10 a week, €15.60 for children.

“It is believed that direct provision has cost the state over one billion euro since it was established. In one centre in Dublin, it has been estimated that on average it costs €31,000 to keep a family of two adults and two children. It would cost approximately €10,000 less per year for the state to provide this family with jobseekers allowance and Housing Assistance Payment. And if adults were allowed to work, the cost to the state would be even less.

“In addition, there are around 400 families trapped in direct provision who have the right to remain and work but who can’t get accommodation.  Those people are essentially homeless and direct provision has become their emergency accommodation.  

“The crisis over access to work for asylum seekers arose because under Section 9(4) of the Refugee Act 1996, a person seeking asylum is denied the right to seek or enter employment before final determination of his or her application.

“This Act was replaced by the International Protection Act 2015. It also prohibits asylum seekers from seeking or entering employment or being employed or otherwise engaged in any gainful work or occupation.

“An tUachatarán Michael D. Higgins has said that the refusal to allow asylum seekers the right to work is heartbreaking and immoral. He is right.

“The Supreme Court ruling now places the onus firmly on the Government to produce legislation that provides those in direct provision with the opportunity to seek employment. Sinn Féin has urged the Taoiseach to agree with the opposition parties the detail of the legislation needed to resolve this issue.”

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