Ap Aug front 2017

23 February 2017

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Irish citizens abroad ‘need more than a candle in the window’

● Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh

Ciarán Staunton of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform told the committee that Diaspora Minister Joe McHugh has still not met the ILIR despite requests

THE Fine Gael minister with responsibility for the Irish abroad has been to London, Kenya, Uganda and San Francisco but can’t find his way to the Seanad or the Dáil chambers for a full debate on Diaspora issues, Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has said after meeting emigrant groups.

The Galway West/South Mayo senator was speaking after an Oireachtas committee debate in Dublin last week with representatives of the Irish community overseas, including the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, Safe Home, the Families of the Undocumented Irish, and newly-returned emigrants.

They outlined the widespread barriers facing returning emigrants, in many cases basic things that the Government could address immediately.

These include the opening of bank accounts, the recognition of qualifications, credit ratings, no claims bonuses and others such as access to housing, healthcare, and eligibility for agricultural schemes.

Ciarán Staunton of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform told the committee that Diaspora Minister Joe McHugh has still not met the ILIR despite requests.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:

“The Government also seem to have forgotten that the Citizens’ Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of voting rights for Irish citizens abroad in Presidential elections. We hear nothing about that being progressed either.

“At a time when the future for Irish citizens abroad is more uncertain than ever due to the policies of the Trump Presidency in the United States and the implications of Brexit, the Irish Diaspora need more than a candle in the window.

“The least that this government could do is engage with elected representatives and the representative organisations for the Irish abroad who do such fantastic work in this area as soon as possible.”

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