Press Centre

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland Calls on Irish Government to Allow Migrant Workers from Bulgaria and Romania to Access the Labour Market

PRESS RELEASE: 17 November 2008

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) today called on the Irish government to respect one of the founding principles of the EU - free movement for all EU citizens.  Director of the MRCI, Siobhán O’Donoghue, stated: “not allowing access to the labour market for all EU workers is undermining the very principles that underpin the EU’s foundation.  This situation is reinforcing a two-tiered Europe and undermines EU integration and cohesion.”

Free movement of persons is one of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by European Community law, and includes the right to live and work in another Member State. Free movement is a means of creating a strong, competitive European labour market, to the benefit of workers, employers and Member States. However, in MRCI’s experience, restrictions currently in place for EU Citizens in Ireland undermine labour standards and lead to informal sub-contracting situations.


According to Ms O’Donoghue, “a common way in which migrant workers are exploited and labour standards undermined is through ‘cash in hand’ jobs.  Maintaining these work restrictions for EU Citizens will contribute to this practice. The best way to ensure employment standards for all workers is to remove work permit restrictions for Romanians and Bulgarians.  Ireland continues to benefit from EU membership, and must play its part in ensuring equal opportunities and good employment standards for all EU workers.”