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Govt ‘must accept immigration is here to stay’

Last update - Sunday, May 15, 2011, 16:36 By Chinedu Onyejelem

Ireland’s inability to grant citizenship to migrants who meet the necessary qualifying criteria reflects a resistance to accept that immigration has come to stay, the Immigrant Council of Ireland’s (ICI) founder has said.

Speaking last week at the launch of a new study titled Living in Limbo: Migrants’ Experiences of Applying for Naturalisation in Ireland, Sister Stanislaus Kennedy added that such a stance makes live difficult for immigrants.

“The impact of this approach isn’t just manifesting itself in the constant insecurity migrants can feel about their ability to continue living in the country they now consider home, but also can be felt in other ways that could lead to a permanently segregated class of people in this country.”

She continued: “For example, refusing a migrant citizenship on unjust or disproportionate grounds could prevent their children being able to access third-level education, even if their entire schooling was undertaken in this country.”

The research found that many migrants who want to become Irish by naturalisation find the application “process unjust, the rules unclear and the lengthy processing times – measuring years – an enormous strain.”

The research also looked at the experiences of 315 migrants from more than 60 countries with a huge diversity of backgrounds, and also used 22 in-depth case studies.

“Two main themes emerged in terms of migrants’ motivation for applying for Irish citizenship,” said solicitor Catherine Cosgrave, who wrote the report. “For many, they wanted to formalise their sense of having made a new home in Ireland by becoming more fully a member of our community.”

Cosgrave also said many migrants were applying for citizenship to obtain a secure and permanent residency status. 

“This is a direct result of Ireland’s immigration system for non-EU citizens being based primarily on issuing temporary residence permissions, with many of these types of permissions granted at the discretion of the Minister for Justice.”

For Fiona Finn, chief executive officer of Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre in Cork, the Government should urgently look at implementing the recommendations in the research project. 

One of the many suggestions she highlighted is the introduction of “a permanent residence status, currently only available to EU citizens, for non-EU citizens also.”

She added: “Citizenship should not be perceived as the only viable means of overcoming the stress and strain of living on temporary residence permissions year after year.”




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