Tuesday, 23 January 2018
Reception Conditions Directive: Motion
The 2013/33EU directive seeks to guarantee a dignified standard of living for asylum seekers in the EU and to ensure that their human rights are respected. We now have an extraordinary situation where we are guaranteeing the human rights of asylum seekers, but in the interim - we are not sure how long that will be - they will be barred from working in care work, as health professionals, in construction, retail, domestic work and hospitality. The list of restricted occupations is shocking. I would like to know what they can work at. I have been making representations for almost a year to the Department of Justice and Equality for a Libyan man who was offered a job as a surgical consultant at Galway University Hospital but his application for a work permit has been refused by the Minister's Department and he cannot start that employment. The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, INIS, has finally told me that it has a policy of not employing Libyans except for those involved in aviation and the beef trade.
We take an extraordinary attitude to human beings and to human labour. We have said repeatedly in this House that with every hungry belly comes a pair of hands and a brain. People have much to contribute to society, but they are being treated poorly. They are told they can do one thing but not the other, and they can be imprisoned for 12 or 14 years. The damage is being done to those who had hoped for so much when this Supreme Court ruling came out, and indeed those who had dared to hope when Mr. Justice Bryan MacMahon issued his report. I would love to know what he would say to the Minister about this measure today.
I am shocked by the vindictiveness of this and I cannot fathom why the Minister and his Department are taking these measures. The only thing I can think of is that the Minister does not really respect or get the idea that refugees need refuge, and he has no problem punishing them for fleeing persecution and war. It also might be a matter of sending a signal to low-paid workers in this country, to show them what is being done to protect them by not allowing refugees to compete against them for jobs. I believe it is a combination of all of these things, and it is outrageous. The brave Rohingya man who took the case to the Supreme Court in the first place may now ironically find himself unable to work in this country because he does not have €1,000 and he cannot get a job outside of all of those listed industries which will pay him at least €30,000 a year. The Government's response is outrageous and lacking in empathy and dignity.