WHAT’S the difference between the undocumented Irish and illegal immigrants?
If you’re President Barack Obama, I don’t suppose you see much difference between them. But if you’re Enda Kenny, Taoiseach of Ireland, it seems you consider them quite differently.
Every year, the Irish Taoiseach has the honour of being invited to the White House on St Patrick’s Day. On this day, he is given the opportunity to have a private conversation with the most powerful politician in the world.
This is a huge privilege that no other small nation on earth can aspire to and every year, it surprises me that it still continues. We should be so grateful for it and do all we can to ensure that it carries on for as long as possible.
There are certain traditions associated with this trip to the White House. One is that the Taoiseach presents the President with a pot of shamrock. He gives him another gift too. This year, that was a hamper full of Irish food products (an appropriate gift in my opinion as the standard of Irish food has improved dramatically in recent years and it’s only getting better).
As well as this, it’s also traditional that the Taoiseach must mention the undocumented Irish. These are Irish people who are in the United States without permission. The Taoiseach would like for the law to be changed in order to allow them to remain there and work legally.
I’m not against this. In fact, I think countries worldwide ought to be doing all they can to help immigrants who are willing to work hard and contribute positively to the countries in which they live.
It’s the hypocrisy that bothers me. We have illegal immigrants in Ireland and I never hear the Taoiseach talking about their plight. We have asylum seekers too and they are treated terribly. I’ve previously written about how they have to wait for years for an answer to their application for asylum, all the while not allowed to work or even to cook a meal for their families.
How can Enda Kenny not see that these people and the undocumented Irish in America are two sides of the same story?