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Undocumented migrants in Ireland highlight hidden plight on St Patrick’s Day

Taoiseach and Ministers speak out for Irish undocumented in the US, but are silent on the parallel issue of the undocumented in Ireland

Media Release 13th March 2014

As part of a decades-old St Patrick’s Day tradition, Government ministers will spend this weekend lobbying US politicians on behalf of the undocumented Irish in America. However, their silence on the identical plight of undocumented workers, families and children here in Ireland is deafening.

"We are just like the undocumented Irish across the globe," said Jayson Montenegro, spokesperson for the Justice for Undocumented campaign. "We too are deeply rooted within our communities, working, paying taxes and trying to make a better life for ourselves and our families. Ireland is our home. Many members however live in the shadows under stress and fear of deportation, not able to go home to see family and loved ones."

Edel McGinley, Deputy Director of Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, stated "We estimate that there are 26,000 to 30,000 undocumented people living in Ireland. Our immigration system is broken: ad hoc policies, complex procedures and confusing guidelines means people can easily become undocumented – just like the Irish in the United States."

Priya from Mauritius has lived in Ireland for over five years and is a member of Justice for the Undocumented. "At this stage I consider myself Irish. I have two children who go to school here and they don’t know any other life. They are the invisible and unrecognised Irish.  As a woman and a mother I feel so safe in Ireland, but as an undocumented migrant I fear for my future."

Priya continued, "This weekend is very special to us as a family. I have time off and we plan to attend and enjoy the Dublin parade. We go every year and I love the spectacle and the music. I will of course be wearing green."

Ms McGinley concluded, "Actions speak louder than words: if our Government gives hope to the undocumented here in Ireland, it can only strengthen their advocacy for the Irish undocumented in the US."



The Justice for the Undocumented campaign group is an initiative of Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI).

The situation right now: Currently, there is no way for the vast majority of undocumented migrants in Ireland to become documented. Justice for the Undocumented is calling for the introduction of an Earned Regularisation Scheme, similar to that proposed for the US. Undocumented migrants would come forward, pay a fine, have their claims assessed on a case-by-case basis, then earn their way to regularisation through working, paying taxes and participating in their community. More information is available at and

Supporters: Justice for the Undocumented is supported by political parties, civil society organisations, and local authorities across Ireland:

Akidwa * Barnardos * BeLonG To * Business in the Community * Cairde * Chambers Ireland * Cork City Council * Depaul Ireland * Doras Luimní * Dublin City Council * EPIC * Fingal County Council * Focus Ireland * FLAC * GLEN * ICTU * Immigrant Council of Ireland *Integration Centre * Irish Refugee Council * Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland * Labour * Mandate * Nasc * National Women’s Council of Ireland * National Youth Council of Ireland * SIPTU * Society of St Vincent De Paul * South Dublin County Council * UNITE the Union *