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Syrian man in direct provision ends hunger strike over refusal of work permit

All I want to do is work and pay taxes. I don’t want to be relying on welfare,” he said.

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A Syrian lawyer seeking asylum in Ireland refused food for a week after his bid for permission to work here was blocked.

Hayan Ibrahim (35) finally ended his hunger strike at Mosney direct provision centre yesterday after immigration officials made a U-turn on a decision not to renew his temporary residence certificate (TRC). His application to work in Ireland could not be processed without one.

Mr Ibrahim is a member of the Alawite sect of Shia Islam, which has been largely supportive of the Assad regime in Syria. He claims to have fled oppression in his native country in 2014 after refusing to fight in the civil war. He says he and his fiancée were subjected to torture and that she died.

Mr Ibrahim had been seeking permission to work so he could send money to his parents and decided to go on hunger strike out of desperation.

But he confirmed to the Irish Independent he was ending his hunger strike after a new TRC was issued to him yesterday.

“All I want to do is work and pay taxes. I don’t want to be relying on welfare,” he said.

While Mr Ibrahim said he was not given reasons why his TRC renewal request was considered inadmissible, it may stem from a previous application for asylum in Germany.

The Department of Justice said it could not comment on individual cases but added there were a number of reasons why the State may not be responsible for examining a person’s application for international protection, and consequentially, may not be able to grant a work permit.

These include that the applicant has previously sought asylum or been granted international protection status in another EU member state.

Mr Ibrahim confirmed he travelled to Germany in 2014 and applied for and was granted asylum. But he said he ended up being threatened by “extreme Muslims” and that it was not safe for him to stay.

He said he no longer had any status in Germany and believed he had a right to stay in Ireland. He is being assisted by the Irish Refugee Council, which said it was working with the International Protection Office to resolve matters.

Asylum seekers gained the right to work after a Supreme Court decision in 2017. However, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission said the ruling is being undermined by discriminatory barriers to accessing both driving licences and bank accounts.

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