The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has welcomed a reduction in the waiting period for asylum seekers to be able to seek employment. 

New measures enabling applicants for international protection to seek work six months after they make their application have been announced by the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee.

Applicants previously had to wait nine months to apply for permission to work. 

In a further change, an applicant's permission to work will now last for 12 months rather than six months. 

The Chief Commissioner of the IHREC has welcomed the change but expressed concern over administrative barriers that undermine and block asylum seekers access to workplaces. 

Sinead Gibney said accessing driving licences and bank accounts continue to undermine the Supreme Court's 2017 landmark recognition of asylum seekers' right to work.

On Tuesday, the waiting period regarding employment for all outstanding applications received on and after 18 January was implemented. 

The new "administrative arrangements" have been applied to all applications from that date.

However, the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) has said it is "appalled" by today's announcement.

MASI said there is no plausible justification for keeping people out of work.

In a statement, it points out that the advisory group that reviewed Ireland's asylum reception system, chaired by Dr Catherine Day, recommended that asylum seekers be allowed to work within three months from the date of applying for protection in Ireland.

MASI said it is "hard to see how the government will end Direct Provision whilst maintaining restrictions on accessing the labour market".

It said the Government's job is to, as far as possible, break down structural barriers for marginalised groups and that it should not be imposing restrictions on asylum seekers and trapping their children in poverty.