The State is appealing a decision by the Workplace Relations Commission, which found that an asylum seeker who was refused a learner driver licence was treated less favourably than Irish and/or EU applicants. 

The WRC found that denying the man the means to learn how to drive and therefore earn a living was "indirect discrimination".

The man's application for a learner driver licence was refused after he provided his asylum seeker's Temporary Residence Certificate, his public services card, a copy of his passport and his permission from the Minister for Justice to access the labour market.

The man, who is a non-EEA national, challenged the decision with the support of The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, which provided legal representation. 

His case was that the government agency had interpreted the Road Traffic (Licencing of Drivers) Regulations 2006 in such a way as to exclude him as an asylum seeker from securing a licence.

He said that the Road Traffic Regulations only required him to prove that he was resident in the State 185 days a year, which, as an asylum seeker, he had been since 2015.

According to WRC adjudicator Jim Dolan: "Indirect discrimination happens where a person or group are treated less favourably as a result of requirements that they may find hard to satisfy; as occurs in this case wherein asylum seekers cannot apply for driver's licences because the identification documents required by the Respondent preclude asylum seekers from applying for a driver's licence". 

The man started work as a delivery man using a bicycle. 

He subsequently applied for a learner driver permit to enable him to increase his income by using a car for work rather than his bike.

Mr Dolan ruled that the man has suffered indirect discrimination by being asked "to produce documentation that it was impossible for him to obtain" and ordered €2,500 in compensation to be paid and instructed the driving licence service to process the man's application for a learner permit.

Following the WRC decision, the man went to the local office to have his driver's application processed, but he was refused again. 

He has since been informed that the government agency has appealed the ruling.

The man said: "I was so happy about this decision but then when I went to get my licence I was devastated to be again refused. How can I hope to earn enough for my family if I can't use a car for my work?"

"I really cannot understand how the State can say they are happy for people to seek work, but then block their way by the denial of such a basic thing as a drivers licence," he said.

Being able to drive is a significant asset to accessing and securing employment, and the dignity that being able to work and earn a living affords according to the director of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

Laurence Bond said that while the Supreme Court has ruled that people in the international protection system can seek employment, the reality is that administrative barriers such as this tie peoples' hands in the competition to secure work, especially in rural areas.

Mr Bond has said that in light of the State appeal it will continue assist the man to vindicate his rights, and the rights of others in similar situations who have been deprived access to licences.