Undocumented migrants in Ireland highlight their 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” – Migrant Rights Centre Ireland

The Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland (MRCI) has said that the silence of Ireland’s political system on the plight of undocumented workers in Ireland is deafening. The MRCI is highlighting the difficulties faced by undocumented workers as Government ministers commence the annual St.Patrick’s weekend of lobbying in the US on behalf of the undocumented Irish in America.  

There are an estimated 30,000 undocumented migrants, including children and families, living in Ireland, the majority of whom have been in the country for many years. MRCI has said that undocumented migrants often live in the shadows under tremendous stress and fear.  “They are more vulnerable to exploitation and are excluded from basic services.  Most are cut off from their families – similar to the Irish undocumented in the US.”

“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 mean 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.”

AUDIOEdel McGinley, deputy director of the Migrants Rights Centre, discusses the plight of the thousands of undocumented people living in Ireland – RTE Morning Ireland LISTEN