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Press Release

New survey gives unprecedented picture of undocumented children and young people in Ireland

By 3 July 2019January 20th, 2020No Comments

The first of its kind in Ireland, the survey was carried out with 108 parents of undocumented children in Ireland and profiles an often-ignored group living in communities up and down the country.


Of the 185 children whose parents completed the survey

  • 68% were born in Ireland
  • 32% were born outside of Ireland
  • Average length of time spent so far in school in Ireland is 5 years, but 8% have spent more than 10 years in school in Ireland

Of those born in Ireland

  • 58% are over 5 years old
  • 20% are over 10 years old

Of those born outside of Ireland

  • 78% have lived here for over 5 years, with some living in Ireland for more than 16 years.

Rashmi is 24 and has lived in Dublin since she was 8. She said, “Dublin is my home. My family is here, my friends are here, my life is here. Being undocumented is holding me back on so many levels – I just want to be able to move forward and contribute in the way that I know I can.”

The survey was carried out by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI).

MRCI Youth Worker Mairéad McDevitt said, “The survey results confirm that undocumented children and young people are here long term, spending their formative years in Ireland, and being educated in our primary and secondary schools. Ireland is the home they know and love. These children and young people need stability, security and hope for the future. If there was a line they could join, they’d join it. If there was a form to fill out, they’d do it. The Government needs to end this legal limbo and create a pathway to papers for these children and young people – and it needs to do it now.”

Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said “When you’re an undocumented young person you can’t fulfil your potential. Every part of your life is impacted including your education, future career and your ability to take part in your community. Three years ago the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child highlighted this issue and urged Ireland to introduce clear and accessible pathways to immigration status for these children; action is now urgently required. These children need those solutions so that they can get on with living the full lives that they deserve.”

Mairéad McDevitt continued, “We know that the Irish public supports these young people*, just as we support the Irish undocumented in the US. Communities across Ireland are standing up for undocumented children; it’s time our politicians did the same.”



Aoife Murphy / 01 524 1454


Full survey infographic available at 

*A Behaviour & Attitudes poll for the Sunday Times found that 71% of people believe anyone born in Ireland should be entitled to Irish citizenship.

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) is a national organisation campaigning for the rights of migrant workers and their families.