Press Centre

Mary Robinson to Launch First Report on Undocumented Migrant Workers in Ireland

PRESS RELEASE: 18 December 2007

A new report by the Migrant Rights Centre (MRCI) Ireland details the experiences of being undocumented and working irregularly in Ireland. The report, Living in the Shadows: An Exploration of Irregular Migration in Ireland, show how people who initially had the right to reside and work legally in Ireland can easily become undocumented.

According to Siobhan O’Donoghue, Director of MRCI, “It is evident from this report that most people do not choose to be in an irregular status, but are forced into this position for a variety of reasons, for example through workplace exploitation, deception by employers and agencies, or unexpected redundancy”. The report also covers the experiences of people who are residing in Ireland legally, but end up working irregularly for a variety of reasons.  For example, spouses of work permit-holders who are not allowed to work.

“I became undocumented through no fault of my own, but I had to pay the price of suffering nearly three years of living in the shadows,” stated Iryna Zmyeyevska, a migrant worker from the Ukraine who became undocumented as a result of gross exploitation on a mushroom farm.  “I could not go home and see my family.  My mom was very ill and died before I could get to see her.   You do not have rights for anything at all, you can only wait and hope for a very long time.”

According to Ms O’Donoghue, “there is no simple solution to irregular migration, however the introduction of a temporary permission to remain, or ‘Bridging Visa’, would be one practical response to people who have become undocumented through reasons beyond their control.”  According to Ms Zmyeyevskaya, “by not providing the Bridging Visa the Government and Minister Lenihan are denying justice to people who have done nothing wrong.”

The report also highlights the fact that migrant workers, irrespective of their legal status, have rights set out in international law, but are systematically denied access to these rights. Such protections include the right to healthcare, fair working conditions, access to justice and social protection. Launching the report, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, echoed this, saying ‘migrants living and working in an irregular status are clearly one of the most vulnerable and marginalised groups in Irish society today. Ireland prides itself on its track record in promoting human rights across the globe. We are now challenged to respond to the situation of undocumented and irregular migrants in Ireland in a way that is consistent with our human rights commitments.”




Report to be launched at 5pm today, 18th December 2007, The Oak Room, Mansion House,

Dublin2, as part of an event marking International Migrants Day 2007