FG Sen­a­tor calls for re­lax­ation of work per­mit laws

The Irish Times - - Home News - HARRY McGEE Po­lit­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent

A Fine Gael Sen­a­tor has called on his own Gov­ern­ment to re­lax Ire­land’s highly re­stric­tive laws on work per­mits for non-EU na­tion­als.

Dublin Sen­a­tor Neale Rich­mond has writ­ten to Tá­naiste and Min­is­ter for Busi­ness and En­ter­prise Frances Fitzger­ald seek­ing to ex­pand the list of oc­cu­pa­tions for which for­eign work­ers might be el­i­gi­ble.

At present, the only cat­e­gories of work­ers en­ti­tled to ap­ply for work per­mits are highly skilled pro­fes­sion­als, and those in the health ser­vices or tech­nol­ogy, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies or in­ter­na­tional fi­nance.

Al­lowed pro­fes­sions in­clude en­gi­neers work­ing in chip de­sign or process au­to­ma­tion, IT spe­cial­ists, web de­sign­ers, med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers, nurses, mid­wives and in­ter­na­tional mar­ket­ing ex­perts.

The ex­cluded cat­e­gories in­clude most other sec­tors in­clud­ing hos­pi­tal­ity work­ers, phys­io­ther­a­pists, so­cial work­ers, op­ti­cians, farm­ers, sec­re­taries, welders, me­chan­ics, elec­tri­cians, car­pen­ters, plumbers, brick­lay­ers and plas­ter­ers.

Short­age of work­ers

How­ever, Mr Rich­mond said there were short­ages of many of th­ese work­ers in Ire­land. He said it was clear the cur­rent lists were overly re­stric­tive and not fully in ac­cord with ar­eas where there are dearths of work­ers .

“The cur­rent lists are un­der­stand­ably fo­cused on highly skilled, high-wage, oc­cu­pa­tions that need to be filled but it is clear that there are many other, per­haps lower-wage, oc­cu­pa­tions that need to be added to this list in or­der to al­low busi­nesses to con­tinue to pro­vide the high­est lev­els of ser­vice at com­pet­i­tive rates,” he wrote.

“For ex­am­ple there is an ob­vi­ous gap in the work­place of skilled staff in the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor with trained chefs and ex­pe­ri­enced wait­ing staff in­creas­ingly hard to find for em­ploy­ers.

“The same can be said for con­struc­tion work­ers, nurs­ing staff, farm work­ers and clean­ing staff,” he wrote in his let­ter.

He also said there was a lack of ex­pe­ri­enced and qual­i­fied book-keep­ers in Ire­land. The depart­ment is cur­rently re­view­ing its lists of oc­cu­pa­tions for which non-EU work­ers can ap­ply.

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