Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Robert Troy, has slammed the disgraceful delay in finding a solution to allowing asylum seekers to obtain driving licences.
Deputy Troy first raised the right of asylum seekers to obtain a driving licence back in September 2018 with Minister Ross and impressed upon him the need to assist asylum seekers to integrate. Over a year later no action has been taken and the Minster has said the matter is still under consideration.
Deputy Troy explained, “There has been a disgraceful lack of priority shown to this matter and it only serves to prevent asylum seekers from integrating in their communities. More than a year has passed since I first raised this issue with Minister Ross and having followed up recently, I found out that absolutely no action has been taken.
“In February 2018 the Supreme Court formally ruled that the ban on asylum seekers’ right to work was unconstitutional. Following this decision, men and women awaiting a decision on their asylum application were legally entitled to apply for jobs in Ireland.
“Many asylum seekers live in areas without access to public transport. Ask any person in rural Ireland and they will tell you it’s impossible to get by without access to a car. If we are serious about helping asylum seekers integrate and get into the workforce then one essential requirement is that they be able to obtain a driving licence, buy a car and travel to work.
“The construction industry and the hospitality industry are just two examples of sectors crying out for workers. Yet eligible people with the appropriate skillsets don’t have access to transport and so the door is shut on them immediately.
“I absolutely understand the identity verification requirements and the need for tie in from the Department of Justice, but both Departments have had over a year to address this. Asylum seekers in other EU states have access to a driving licence – the challenges the Minister continues to cite are not insurmountable.
“At the end of the day, there are people with much needed skills, eligible and more than willing to work yet they are being prevented from doing so. Minister Ross and Minister Flanagan should hang their heads in shame. Preventative policies such as these are contributing to an anti-asylum sentiment that has no place in our society”, he concluded.