Immigrants should be allowed stay - Archbishop


Immigrants who have been in Ireland for more than five years should be allowed to stay, the Archbishop of Dublin John Neill said today in his New Year message.

The Church of Ireland Archbishop called for an amnesty to give people who have lived in the country for five years without their status being clarified the right to remain here.

The Archbishop said a new Immigration and Residence Bill in 2006 should give serious consideration to the rights of immigrants to reside in Ireland to prevent families having to live in limbo.

"In Ireland over the last few years, hundreds of thousands have made their home on this island, often coming from situations of danger and deprivation," he said.

"Many of these people, here for several years, who certainly now see this as their home, face into the new year with a deep sense of fear in relation to possible deportation.

"Among these are a small number of unaccompanied minors, most with little or nothing to which to return.

"Our thoughts go out to these teenagers who may have been here for three or four years assimilating to Irish society, gaining from our educational system, and now, on reaching 18, facing into yet another upheaval, being forced to return to something from which they once fled," he said.

"It is hoped that with the introduction of a new Immigration and Residence Bill in 2006 that serious consideration will be given not only to these young people who came to us from overseas, but also to the many adults and families that have been here for five years or more and should now be allowed to stay."

Dr Neill also said society as a whole was responsible for the way foreigners were treated in Ireland. He said racism and exploitation in the workplace had to be tackled, and he criticised the system in which employers and not employees held the work permits.