Wednesday, 29 June 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
234. Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has had discussions with the Australian Government on Irish illegal immigrants; the position regarding the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23164/05]
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): The main visa programme under which Irish people enter Australia is the working holiday visa programme. At any one time upwards of 10,000 young Irish people are in Australia under this programme. The popularity of the scheme is such that last year Ireland was second only to Britain as the main source country for successful applications.
A very small proportion of Irish people in Australia overstay their visa. While exact figures are not available, the relevant Australian authorities consider the rate of overstay by Irish people to be less than 1%. The Deputy can be assured that officials of the embassy in Canberra and consulate general in Sydney actively monitor the situation. They have developed a close and positive working relationship with the Australian immigration authorities and our ambassador in Canberra maintains contact with the Minister who has responsibility for this area.
The Government also provides grants to three Irish immigrant support groups that offer assistance to our community in Australia. Last year grants totalling €48,000 were extended to them, an increase of 25% on 2003.
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