Heather Humphreys has said she won't rush into a decision to relax the work-permits regime to let in low-skilled workers from outside Europe.
The Business, Enterprise and Innovation Minister said that while her department is carrying out a review of the employment permits system as the economy booms and unemployment falls, she does not want to "displace Irish workers".
Her department claims to be coming under pressure to open up the permits system to allow "lower-skilled workers" in certain sectors.
"We're carrying out a review of the employment permits system. We've got to be cognisant of the fact that there's 6pc unemployment in the country still, so there are 244,000 people unemployed in this country and 18.5 million unemployed right across Europe," Ms Humphreys told the Irish Independent.
"But having said that, I recognise that if there are skill shortages, we do need to look at that and that will form part of the review."
Asked if she was minded to loosen the rules, the minister added: "I do need to carry out the review first and I want to look at it carefully."
"I don't want to rush into making decisions because the one thing that I don't want to do is displace Irish workers and we do want to press down the unemployment figures."
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