The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has expanded on her earlier promise to give amnesty to an unknown number of people who have come to Ireland illegally, and are living in the state but have not, to date, been granted leave to stay.
The figure of 17,000 people to whom this will apply is regularly referred to, but this is simply an estimate thrown out by one of the migrancy NGOs.
The Government, in fact, as we have reported previously has no official estimates or data on the actual number of undocumented migrants in the country and the figures given above are simply unofficial estimates provided to the Minister of Justice by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), a pro-amnesty NGO.
The Department of Justice has also confirmed to Gript that there are currently no proposals to limit or cap the number of illegal immigrants who can be granted amnesty through the scheme.
Minister McEntee herself has admitted that there may be any amount of people who “live in the shadows.”
They live in the shadows because unlike those many foreign nationals who are here legitimately as members of the work force or as refugees from unsafe countries these people have chosen to lie about their reasons for being here or have come here illegally and disappeared into the woodwork. Very few serious states reward such people for breaking the law in this fashion
McEntee’s actions are in response to a proposal last December from then Senator, now TD for Dublin Bay South, Ivana Bacik. The Labour representative brought forward a private members bill to effectively overturn the overwhelming decision of the electorate in a 2004 referendum to tighten up the legal regulations governing the granting of Irish citizenship.
McEntee’s response is to declare that, from January 2022, people who are described as “undocumented” – in other words are resident in the state because their applications for asylum have not been approved – will be able to acquire the right to stay here indefinitely.
This is supposed to be confined to people who have already been here for more than four years. That, in itself, is an indication both of the flimsiness of their claims and the gross inefficiency of a system that is seemingly unable for the greater part to properly process such applications – or to then ensure that those who do not qualify under domestic and international law are deported.
It is undermined by a further provision which will allow people who have been resident in Direct Provision centres for at least two years to register free of charge. Other applicants will be technically obliged to pay a €550 fee for an individual application or €700 for a family.
No doubt pressure will be applied by the NGOs for this to be waived. Failing that, the native population will probably be asked to stump up.
The Department announcement contains a reference to a requirement that applicants be of good character and say regard will be given to any possible criminal record. Given the almost daily procession through the courts of what are in effect illegal immigrants, such as the Georgian national convicted of rape earlier in the week, and the fact that the Department has no idea of how many people might actually apply, this can be taken with a grain of salt.
The template has in any event already been set by the White Paper on Direct Provision which is going to preside over the dismantling of that system. Anyone who has managed, or will manage, to make it past the point of entry here, often having chosen not to apply for asylum in countries that take their immigration laws more seriously, will be provided with public housing, social welfare and free education.
While many who come here to work generally establish themselves as functioning and productive members of society, the experience of other countries in Europe is that significant numbers of immigrant who attempt to establish residency tend in the greater part to become long term state dependent. That is even without taking into consideration statistics on crime committed by people from outside of the EU.
It is a measure of the success of the brow beating of the Irish public, including most of its elected representatives, that to date there has been almost no questioning of any of this. Least of all the fact that the current citizenship regulations, approved by almost 80% of the electorate who voted in the 2004 referendum, are being cast aside without it being put back to the people.
Meanwhile, those seeking redress for the Mica housing disaster are still left with potentially huge personal costs as the state hums and haws over a compensation scheme.
Perhaps if all of those who “live in the shadows” and in free accommodation in Direct Provision were downgraded to a crumbling house in Donegal, they might be assured of a rather more efficient response.
The natives might even be glad of a free gaff, free food and a lifetime social welfare check. They ought to set up an NGO and apply for funding from Irish Aid.