Asylum seekers and the right to work


Sir, – I am writing in support of Christiana Obaro’s moving article (“Asylum seekers should have the right to work”, Opinion & Analysis, September 22nd). She was speaking at a conference the previous day at Trinity College Dublin about how to implement May’s Supreme Court ruling that laws preventing asylum seekers from trying to find work are unconstitutional.

Other speakers at that conference, which I attended, included one of Ireland’s top businessmen and ICT leaders,Tony Hanway, chief executive of Virgin Media. He said his company, as a leading employer, was happy to play their part in “the greater diversity that new legislation should enable” and hoped that asylum seekers, once they are freed to work, would seek employment with Virgin Media. He said Ireland “can be a generous,open and welcoming society that offers much to those who come, especially as they seek refuge from the worst that our world has to offer.”

Also speaking was former Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuinness, who said the outright ban on asylum-seekers seeking employment “leaves them deprived of the self-respect that comes from self-support and must now in the interests of justice and decency be ended.”

The economist Jim Power said it made no sense at a time of near-full employment to deprive the Irish economy of these people’s skills.

Christiana Obaro says her husband was one of the best IT network technologists in Nigeria. He is desperate to work to support his wife and four children. It makes absolutely no sense, morally or economically, that he is languishing, idle and probably depressed, in Mosney direct provision centre. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.

Sir, – Christiana Obaro’s excellent article on the reality of direct provision once again highlight’s this appalling stain on our society (Opinion & Analysis, September 22nd). Living in this form of State-run incarceration is not only demeaning, it also has the capacity to create serious mental health problems.

Both before and since his becoming Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar’s mantra has been his wish to represent the people who “get up early in the morning” and “who pay for everything”.

As we see from Christiana Obaro’s article, her husband would be delighted to get up early in the morning and contribute to this country with his considerable skills. And there are many more in direct provision who have the skills and the desire to play a full part in Irish society.

I realise that direct provision may not be as much of a vote-getter as reaching out to the hard-pressed middle income bracket. However, if our Taoiseach truly wants to make Ireland a country with opportunities for all, he must accelerate the process of ending direct provision, in its totality, once and for all. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 6.