Helping illegal Irish in the US still a priority, says Flanagan

Minister said he raised Irish issue when he met US vice-president Joe Biden in Boston

Charlie Flanagan: “said the Taoiseach emphasised the need to allow the undocumented Irish to come out of the shadows and be free to travel home for family events’’

Charlie Flanagan: “said the Taoiseach emphasised the need to allow the undocumented Irish to come out of the shadows and be free to travel home for family events’’

 

Securing relief for undocumented Irish is a Government priority in its contacts with the US, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has told the Dáil.

“We are continuing to work closely with high-level government contacts as well as many other individuals and groups across Irish-America and beyond, through the Irish Embassy in Washington and our consulates throughout the US,’’ he added.

Mr Flanagan said Taoiseach Enda Kenny had raised the issue when he visited the US in March.

He had stressed that almost every family in Ireland was related to or knew somebody who was caught up in a deeply distressing situation.

Executive action

Obama

“The Taoiseach emphasised the need to allow the undocumented Irish to come out of the shadows and be free to travel home for family events,’’ Mr Flanagan added.

“He highlighted the issue of those among the undocumented Irish who might be eligible for visas, but who would be required to return to Ireland for their issuance and hence would require waivers for their prior periods of undocumented residence.’’

Mr Flanagan said the Taoiseach had also pointed to the need for a legal pathway to allow for future Irish emigration to the US by those who wished to make a contribution there.

The Minister said he himself had raised the issue when he met US vice-president Joe Biden in Boston in March.

The Minister was replying to Fianna Fáil foreign affairs spokesman Brendan Smith, who said they were aware of families, and often elderly parents, who were concerned that sons or daughters might not be able to travel home for family occasions.

“It is raised constantly at our constituency clinics, in particular those of us who represent counties with a significant history of emigration,’’ he added. “I cannot emphasise strongly enough the importance of ensuring that every avenue is pursued to try to make progress on this very important issue.’’

Sad plight

“That notwithstanding, the Government supports any steps that can be taken to improve the plight, in many respects the very sad plight, of the undocumented Irish in the US.’’

Mr Smith asked if the Minister had any indication of when the legal process regarding Mr Obama’s executive proposal was likely to be determined. Mr Flanagan said he did not have a date but would pass it on if he got any information about it.