The prohibition on obtaining a driving licence increases the level of stereotyping and stigmatisation.
Hanane (who asked us not to reveal her surname) is a former asylum seeker from Algeria who came to Ireland in 2015 with her young son. She volunteers with Recruitrefugees.ie in an outreach capacity.
As she is an Arabic and French speaker, she facilitates workshops in Arabic, helps with translation of documents and supports other refugees and asylum seekers to obtain work suited to their qualifications and level of job readiness. She also volunteers with Waterford Integration Services in conjunction with Waterford Youth Services. She previously worked with Waterford Education Centre and Treo on a youth diversion project and is currently studying towards a degree in Community Development and Education ‘ at Waterford IT.
Life in Ireland has also been challenging for her, particularly because of legislation that denied asylum seekers and refugees the right to work and education (a situation that has improved recently). She refers to it as her “journey from oppression to liberation”.
She said the Irish state paid lip service to the idea of integration while placing barriers such as employment restrictions and the prohibition on obtaining a driving licence in the way thereby “increasing the level of stereotyping” and stigmatising of people who live in the DP system.
She emphasises that asylum seekers want to work and believes that “a diverse society is something amazing. Our uniqueness is our difference, I have something that you don’t have and you have something that I don’t have.”