In the Dáil.
Green Party TD Joe O’Brien raised the case of undocumented healthcare workers in Ireland.
Specifically, a case of two such workers, one of whom had a direct message for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Mr O’Brien told the chamber:
“In many respects, I think, the virus and the State’s response to it has provided it with a human rights audit.
“Who’s health protection needs and health rights is the State responding to the slowest? It’s asylum seekers, it’s people in residential settings. Who are we leaving behind? It’s Travellers, it’s Roma, it’s international students, and it’s undocumented workers.
“So few of us are aware of the fact that so many of our frontline workers in this battle against Covid-19 are undocumented workers. People unrecognised, unacknowledged and unappreciated by Official Ireland.
“I spoke to two undocumented workers recently and, to some extent, I want to bring their voices in here today. Their names are Debra and Shiron. These are their real names.
“Both are, now as we speak, live-in care workers with elderly women. They are cocooning with these ladies and tending to their every need during this crisis.
“Both Debra and Shiron have worked in the centre in Ireland for over a decade, working in the shadows but providing an essential care service.
“There are likely to be many hundreds, if not thousands, of people in similar situations all over the country where undocumented migrants are caring for elderly people, helping them to cocoon.
“And this is just one sector. But going forward, and developing our response to Covid-19, we simply cannot have people who are in the shadows or left behind. For their own sake, for their rights, for the sake of developing thorough and robust set of systems to allow, to eliminate and keep out Covid-19.
“But also, quite simply, because it’s only just and fair that those who contribute so much in this battle are allowed to be full members of society.
“Debra asked me to, and I quote, ‘Tell the Taoiseach that we are frontline workers, we can’t go out, we are looking after our ladies, we are working all day, all night, 24/7 and we love them like our family‘.
“Debra said she knows hundreds of other women from her home country, working in similar situations, around Ireland
“The ask is simple: can you set up a scheme, regularisation scheme, whereby undocumented people in Ireland can view a set of fair and reasonable criteria that they need to satisfy in order to be regularised.
“And it’s not just me who’s calling for this. Chambers of Commerce Ireland, unions, National Youth Council, National Women’s Council, as well, there’s quite a list of bodies calling for this.”
Watch the Dáil proceedings live here
Top pic: Rollingnews