Address at the Annual Conference of the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centres Boston

link Describes a speech that Irish Minister of State Noel Treacy gave on [[April 7, 2006]].

...Last year funding of some $915,000 was allocated to Centres, which provide Support and Advisory Services to Irish Emigrants, here in the USA. This represented an increase of 40% on the previous year. The substantial increase in funding is a visible sign, that our Government recognises the significant support, that is provided to our Emigrants, by Centres such as yourselves, who are represented here today...

I know that amongst the range of Services that you provide, many of you have been to the forefront in providing Advice and Information to all of those of our Community here, who are Undocumented.

The welfare of the Undocumented continues to be a matter of great concern to our Government. As Public Representatives, we are of course very familiar with the stress and strain of the daily lives of all of those, who are caught in this difficult situation. As a Representative of a Constituency, in the West of Ireland, I am particularly aware of the impact that this is having on the Individuals concerned, as well as on their Families, back home in Ireland.

Our Government takes every opportunity in contacts with US Political Leaders, to emphasise the importance of addressing the situation in a constructive and sympathetic manner. The St. Patrick's Day period provided the Government with a particularly timely opportunity, to make known our views on this matter and, in particular, our strong support for the approach favoured by Senators Kennedy and McCain.

I know that during his visit to Boston over St. Patrick's Day, the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Mr Seamus Brennan T.D. welcomed the opportunity to discuss this important issue with Representatives from the Irish Immigration Centre and the Irish Pastoral Centre. As I have already stated, our Government deeply values the information and support provided by all of the Centres, across the United States, who work on the ground on a daily basis, with our undocumented People.

The Taoiseach and my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern T.D., availed of this opportunity fully, over the St. Patrick's Day period, in their meetings with President Bush, his Administration and key figures on Capitol Hill. They were delighted in particular to express their appreciation to Senators Kennedy and McCain, for their unflagging leadership on this issue.

In addition, the Taoiseach and Minister for Foreign Affairs had important discussions with Mr Niall O'Dowd and Mr Grant Lally of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR). I know that Kelly Fincham of the ILIR will be giving you an update on the Campaign tomorrow and I would like to commend the work of the Organisation, which has had a significant impact on the debate in Washington and elsewhere, in the US.

I know that some of you attended the successful ‘Day of Action' in Washington on 8th March last, which had representation from many Cities across the United States and have been involved in ensuring the success of theTown Hall Meetings in New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco and here in Boston, organised by ILIR and attended by thousands of Supporters.

I know also that the Community in Chicago has rallied behind the Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform (CCIR). We are delighted that the Irish Community has mobilised so effectively and energetically, behind these two Organisations. The work of these Organisations complements the ongoing work of our Government, the Embassy and our network of Consulates across the US, in trying to ensure that the issues, which affect our Undocumented so deeply, can be resolved.

Since St. Patrick's Day, a significant and positive development in the Legislative debate on Immigration Reform has been the passage through the Senate Judiciary Committee, of a comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill, which includes the core aspects of the Kennedy / McCain approach. This is a critical week for the debate of this Bill, by the full Senate.

I welcome the fact that this Bill proposes that the Undocumented be able to regularise their Status, with a route to Permanent Residency. This would mean that the Undocumented would receive Work and Travel Authorisation, which would provide them with greater protection in the Work Place and allow them to travel to and from the USA without fear of being refused Re-entry. I know that this would be a great relief to all of them and to their Families also.

...It is clear that the Legislative situation is fluid and that achieving the necessary compromise, remains a formidable challenge. I can assure you that our Government and our Embassy and Consulates, here in the USA will continue to monitor the ongoing debate very closely and to actively convey to all sides, our strong support for the Regularisation of the Status of the Undocumented Irish, here in the USA...