100. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will review applications for asylum, refugee status and long term residency status in respect of persons that have been awaiting a decision for more than four years with particular reference to the need to grant stamp 4 status to enable such persons seek employment and become self sufficient; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32965/17]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I assume the Deputy is referring to persons in the international protection process.
Clearly, the Supreme Court judgment in N.V.H. v. The Minister for Justice and Equality is an important judgment, and its full implications are being examined carefully. The Court itself recognises the complexities around this issue in that it acknowledges the Executive function in not only controlling who should enter the State but also to regulate the activities of non-citizens while in the State and has had to consider the distinctions of rights between citizens and non-citizens in the context of Article 40.1 of the Constitution. It has concluded that in an international protection system with no temporal limit on the decision making process, an absolute prohibition on the right to work is contrary to the right to seek employment under the Constitution. The Court recognises that this is a matter for the Executive and Legislature to consider and accordingly has adjourned consideration of the Order the Court should make for a period of six months. The State will make submissions to the Court in relation to the format of the order the Court is to make at the appropriate time. In the interim, the legal status as regards access to the labour market for international protection applicants remains unchanged, as set out in Section 16(3)(b) of the International Protection Act 2015.
One of the principal aims of the International Protection Act 2015, which was commenced at the end of last year, is to process cases as quickly as possible so that, in due course as cases on hand are cleared, persons in need of international protection are granted status quickly, thereby giving them an automatic right to work. As the Deputy will be aware, all applications for International Protection are examined individually and are decided on their own merits.
The judgment has significant legal, economic, policy and operational considerations, many of which impact across a range of Government Departments and services. For this reason, a whole of Government approach has been adopted to examine all of the implications of the judgment and to propose appropriate solutions as quickly as possible. Following the approval of Government, I am establishing an inter-Departmental Taskforce with immediate effect to undertake this important work. Question No. 101 answered with Question No. 87.