The Bishop of Elphin has called on the Government to exercise the same energy to help the plight of asylum seekers in Ireland as undocumented Irish abroad.
Bishop Kevin Doran told The Irish Catholic he would like to see “a greater energy on the part of the Irish Government” in responding to the issue of asylum seekers living in direct provision “but there doesn’t seem to be a political will to do it”.
“Every now and then the Irish Government, understandably and rightly, says the US government should be kind to Irish immigrants overseas who are undocumented,” he said.
“Personally I have great sympathy for them and as a former chaplain in UCD I know a lot of them. For whatever reason you end up between a rock and a hard place and I suppose while you might argue people shouldn’t get themselves in that position in the first place, some of them are there a long time and contribute to the economy and so on.
“But the problem I have is the Irish Government’s approach to that issue needs to be consistent in terms of its approach to asylum seekers here in Ireland, who are in exactly the same situation except many are actually refugees,” Bishop Doran said.
“A lot of the people are waiting a long time for the results of an application for asylum and they are not allowed to work and their children are not allowed to have a normal family environment,” the Sligo-based bishop said.
“It’s the humanity of the situation, here are people who are undocumented in Ireland and they are not being treated well,” he said.
“All they really want to do is live here and make a contribution and they are not being allowed.”
In a speech at the Famine Memorial in Philadelphia this weekend Taoiseach Enda Kenny said one of his “absolute priorities” in meeting President Donald Trump is “to renew the strong case on behalf of the hard-working, tax-paying Irish people in the United States who for too long now have been living in the shadows, and want nothing more than to continue making their contribution to this great country”.