In an unanimous decision.
The seven-judge Supreme Court ruled that the ban prohibiting asylum seekers from work is unconstitutional.
The challenge to the ban was taken by a man from Burma, who spent eight years in direct provision, after he was offered a job in 2013 but couldn’t accept it.
Last September, he was granted refugee status and, following that, the State had argued that his challenge be dismissed – given his new status allowed him to work – but the man, and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission urged the court to address the issue.
Mary Carolan, in The Irish Times, reports:
“The point has been reached when it cannot be said the legitimate differences between an asylum seeker and a citizen can continue to justify the exclusion of an asylum seeker from the possibility of employment,” [Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell] said.
“This damage to the individual’s’ self worth and sense of themselves, is exactly the damage which the constitutional right [to seek employment] seeks to guard against.”
The evidence from the man of the depression, frustration and lack of self-belief at being unable to work “bears this out”, he added.
He said, in principle, he would be prepared to find, in circumstances where there is no temporal limit on the asylum process, the “absolute prohibiton” on seeking of employment in Section 9.4, and re-enacted in Section 16.3.b of the International Protection Act 2015, “is contrary to the constitutional right to seek employment”.
Because this situation arises because of the intersection of a number of statutory provisions, and could arguably be met by alteration of one or other of those, and since that was “first and foremost a matter for executive and legislative judgment” , the court would adjourn consideration of what form of order to make for six months, he said.
After that period elapsed, the court would hear submissions from the sides as to what form of order should be made “in the light of the circumstances then obtaining”.
Ban on asylum seekers working unconstitutional, says Supreme Court (The Irish Times)