GCCN Supports Asylum Seekers’ Right to Work

To mark World Refugee Day the Network of 120 Galway civil society groups & organisations call on Government to implement Supreme Court decision immediately

Galway City Community Network welcomes the recent Supreme Court ruling that asylum seekers have a constitutional right to work [1] and calls on the Government to take immediate action to give effect to the decision.

In support of the decision and to mark World Refugee Day, a motion calling on the Government to act immediately to protect asylum seekers’ right to work passed unanimously at Tuesday’s plenary meeting of the 120-member network of social inclusion, environmental and voluntary groups in Galway City.

Tommy Flaherty, Chairperson of Galway City Community Network said:

Ireland is one of only two EU countries which denies asylum seekers the human dignity of the right to work. This is an unacceptable situation and the Supreme Court’s decision vindicates the right of the 5,000 people currently languishing in Direct Provision to seek meaningful and dignified employment.”

Galway City Community Network calls on the State to give effect to asylum seekers’ constitutional right to work by repealing the relevant section of the International Protect Act 2015 [2] and implementing the EU Reception Directive of 2013 [3].

The State’s system of Direct Provision for asylum seekers forces applicants -including children and families- to live for periods of up to a decade in privatised reception centres [4]. Direct Provision has been repeatedly criticised by both the United Nations and the Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission for negatively impacting on the mental health and welfare of those in the system.

Tommy Flaherty continued:

“Galway City Community Network believes that the system of direct provision which asylum seekers are subjected to is inhumane and unjust. We welcome this Supreme Court ruling as a first step towards the total abolition of direct provision and its replacement with an approach to the reception of asylum seekers that recognises the dignity and human rights of all.”



 For more information and interviews, contact:

Ann Irwin, Co-ordinator, Galway City Community Network


087 932 6467


Notes to editors:

 [1] On 30 May the 7 judge Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Ireland’s “absolute prohibition” on asylum seekers working contravenes Article 40.1 of the Constitution which states that individuals must be held equal before the law. Members of the public can sigh the UPLIFT petition on this issue here: https://action.uplift.ie/campaigns/righttowork.

[2]Section 16(3)(b) of the International Protection Act 2015 provides that an asylum seeker, “shall […] not seek, enter or be in employment or engage for gain in any business, trade or profession…”.

[3] Directive 2013/33/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection.