Government agrees framework for access to work for International Protection Applicants 

Minister Flanagan brought a memo to Cabinet this morning  

MoS Stanton welcomes Cabinet decision 


21 November 2017 


The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, T.D., today (Tuesday) brought a memorandum to Cabinet proposing that Government accept the recommendations of the Inter-Departmental Taskforce, established by Government in July, to examine the implications of the Supreme Court judgement in N.V.H. v. The Minister for Justice and Equality on access to the workforce for International Protection applicants.  


The Government has decided to opt into the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive (2013/33/EU). 


Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, Minister Flanagan said: 


“I am pleased with the outcome of today’s Cabinet meeting. The decision to opt into the 2013 EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive is a significant one. It provides a framework that will enable International Protection applicants to access the work-force in circumstances where their application for international protection status has not received a first instance decision within the timeframe set by the Directive.  


“The Directive sets out the framework and parameters for this and by exercising our opt-in will bring us into line with the rest of the European Union. 


“I want to clarify that temporary permission to access the labour market for eligible applicants will be granted irrespective of whether or not an applicant chooses to avail of the State’s offer of Direct Provision accommodation and other supports. 


“Both the McMahon Report and a number of NGOs have called for Ireland to opt into the Directive. The Commission will decide when Ireland has complied with the provisions to confirm our participation in the Directive and this may take some months. In the meantime, an interdepartmental group will oversee the opt-in procedure and the practical arrangements for facilitating access to the labour market for eligible applicants  


Minister of State with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration, and Integration, David Stanton, T.D., said: 


“In December 2016 the Government commenced an important reform in our international protection process – a new single application procedure, which aims to provide for more timely decisions on applications. Today’s decision by Government will benefit applicants and should positively impact their lives and their families.”  


The Government also approved the recommendation of the Task Force to establish an Implementation Group to oversee the opt-in procedure and the practical arrangements for facilitating access to the sectors of the labour market for eligible applicants.  


Minister Flanagan and Minister Stanton thanked the members of the Task Force for their careful consideration of the Supreme Court judgment and for submitting their recommendations at the earliest opportunity.  




Note for Editors 

· The Supreme Court judgement of 30 May 2017 found that in an international protection system with no temporal limits as to when the application process will be concluded (as is the case in Ireland) an absolute prohibition on the right to work for persons in the protection process is contrary to the right to seek employment under the Constitution. 


· The Court recognises that there are complex matters in relation to this judgement and that the State has a right to determine not just who can enter the State but also to regulate what their rights are while within the State, particularly as regards employment. Accordingly, the Court adjourned consideration of its Order for six months to enable the State to consider its response.

· By Government Decision of 11 July 2017, an Inter-Departmental Taskforce was established to examine the implications of the judgement and to propose appropriate solutions to Government as soon as possible.  


· The Taskforce chaired by the Department of Justice and Equality with membership comprising of officials, from the Departments of: Employment Affairs and Social Protection; Education and Skills; Health; Business, Enterprise and Innovation; Housing, Planning and Local Government; Children and Youth Affairs; Public Expenditure and Reform; and Finance; and from the Office of the Attorney General. 


· The Taskforce has recommended to Government that the best option available to the State to comply with the judgement is to opt into the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive (2013/33/EU) which lays down standards for the reception of international protection applicants.  


· Article 15 of the Directive provides that applicants shall 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 Member State decides on the conditions for access to the labour market, in accordance with their national law, while ensuring that applicants have effective access to the labour market.  


· The Directive also provisions for a range of standards for those in the International Protection system.  


· Article 4 of Protocol 21 annexed to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states that Ireland may at any time after the adoption of a measure notify its intention to the Council and to the Commission that it wishes to accept that measure. Under Article 29.4.7 of the Irish Constitution, any exercise of this discretion is subject to the prior approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas. Following the approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas, the Permanent Representative of Ireland to the EU formally notifies the European Council and the European Commission in writing of our wish to accept the measure. The Commission then has four months from receipt of this letter to confirm our participation. During this four months Ireland will be required to demonstrate to the Commission how it is compliant with each Article in the Directive.  


· An opt-in to the Directive requires the approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas and formal approval of our application to participate in the Directive by the EU Commission.