More proof that the Irish state has only a vague idea of how many people from overseas are here was provided by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee last week.
In response to a number of questions from TDs Thomas Pringle and Paul Murphy regarding how many people had left Ireland prior to the expiration of their student visa on May 31, the Minister said that her Department had no idea, and that they did not communicate with the Department of Transport on the matter.
Deputies Pringle and Murphy are possibly of the opinion that a visa is an open-ended permission to stay here for as long as you wish. That would defeat the entire purpose of visas, but you might expect that the Minister with responsibility in the area might have a better insight, or indeed an interest, in the area.
At least McEntee’s Department is consistent given that they similarly do not as a matter of course enforce deportation orders – nor seem to know whether the person to be deported has actually left the state – and of course they do not have one clue as to how many illegal immigrants are waiting to avail of the current amnesty.
If those illegally here bother to seek amnesty at all of course, given the reports of chaps – and they are invariably young chaps it would seem – alighting from the back of trucks. Then there are recent reports of people like those arrested last week at a work premises in Meath who had been trafficked into Ireland. One woman who presented herself to Gardaí in Drogheda has even claimed that she believed she was trafficked her for the purposes of having her organs removed.
The simple fact is that whether we are talking about people who come here ostensibly to study, or people who enter the country illegally either through their own choice or by being trafficked, or those who arrive with spurious tales of persecution in places where no such persecution is internationally recognised, that Ireland is regarded as a soft touch.
The questions and the response above indicate a large part of the reason why this is so,