Asylum seekers will be able to open a bank account with Bank of Ireland following an agreement that the bank will accept State-issued documents.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has said that the development allows asylum seekers direct access to basic financial services.

It said that not having access to a bank account may lead to a number of difficulties for asylum seekers, such as not being able to get a job and also not being able to use bank cards for shopping or to shop online.

The IHREC said that the development comes following formal engagement with the bank, which now accepts the following forms of identification to open a bank account: an in date Temporary Residence Certificate (in the case of asylum seekers); a Stamp 4 Irish Residence Permit and/or a Refugee Travel Document (in the case of refugees).

It said that Bank of Ireland will publish a guidance document on its website detailing steps for opening a bank account for asylum seekers and refugees from next month. 

Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner of the IHREC, has called on all banks to allow asylum seekers to open a bank account.

She said: "We welcome this positive step from Bank of Ireland, who has confirmed to us that they accept asylum seekers' and refugees' State-issued documents to open an account, and that they will upload public information on their website in this regard.

"The commission now calls on all high street banks to do the same.

"Access to the most basic of financial services is essential to enable asylum seekers to find work, support their families, support better integration and foster the inherent dignity that comes with the constitutional right to access work.

"Many asylum seekers flee their homes under threat or due to conflict, often without necessary paperwork, or have to submit documents such as passports to the Department of Justice pending their asylum application decision.

"It is important that banks recognise that people do not have access to these documents and simply cannot provide them."