Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Clare Cllr. Cathal Crowe has accused the government of dragging its heels on finding a solution to delays in asylum seekers accessing driving licences. The issue was raised with the Transport Minister over one year ago but since then absolutely no progress has been made.

Cllr. Crowe says this is preventing asylum seekers from securing work, as many live in rural areas without decent public transport services.

“The lack of priority shown to this issue only serves to highlight the government’s complete lack of interest in assisting asylum seekers to integrate into Ireland. I understand the identity verification requirements and the need for collaboration with 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 – there is no reason why it should be any different in Ireland”, said Cllr. Crowe.

“Many asylum seekers live in areas without access to public transport. If we are serious about helping asylum seekers integrate and become part of the workforce, they will need access to a driving licence so that they can buy a car and drive to work.

“The Knockalisheen Accommodation Centre, in my home village of Meelick, is home to 350 asylum seekers. Most of the people that I know there are eager to work so that they can be financially independent and improve the living standards of their families but unfortunately, the current government policy impedes all of this.

“There are huge skills shortages – particularly in the hospitality and construction industries – which could be eased if it was easier for asylum seekers to integrate. Preventative policies such as these are contributing to an anti-asylum sentiment that has no place in our society”, he concluded.