Wednesday, 9 December 2020
Deportation Moratorium (Covid-19) Bill 2020: Second Stage
I thank the Minister for addressing the House. Although many Senators congratulated her on her pregnancy, I did not hear any of them using the word "pregnancy" in so doing. I offer her a big congratulations.
I listened to the Minister and certain Senators speaking about the risk of supporting the Bill. I am everything but naive; I understand the risks in this area. For me, the Civil Engagement Group is not seeking to address those risks in the Bill. What we are asking is that, in these horrible and nasty times, kind measures be put in place for undocumented people such that they will not be faced with deportation orders. There have already been 469 people issued with deportation papers since March. We are seeking to prevent that from happening. There is enough going on for people at present, especially migrants.
We must remember that when we talk about deportation we are talking about people with lives, families, hopes and dreams. We must also remember that we are still in the grip of a global pandemic. The Government is forcing these people to leave and to travel during a pandemic. We must remember the terrible incident about which other Senators have spoken, that is, the two women healthcare workers who got deportation letters. For the information of the Minister, the deportation letters state that one must present oneself to the centre. I hope we are all clear on that. Many Senators spoke out against the injustice of those two healthcare workers being sent letters of deportation.
I hope we can count on the Government to stand with us. We are all clear that it is not supporting the Bill as it stands, but I hope it can look at this not on a political level, but on a human level in terms of asking people to travel outside the country. The Government tells me not to travel from Donegal to Dublin, yet it is expecting people to travel to other parts of the world. If we are serious about stamping out this global pandemic, we must look at deportation. There is no reason deportation cannot be suspended during the pandemic and for three months thereafter. It would be the right thing to do. The Civil Engagement Group, and Senators Ruane, Higgins and Black in particular, put this Bill forward because it is the right thing to do.
Senator Ruane spoke about a woman living in dire accommodation and going through a horrible experience in the middle of Irish society. That is not acceptable. We have to show a sense of solidarity with the thousands of undocumented healthcare workers who have given their services to us daily during the pandemic. The least we can do is to stop issuing deportation papers during the crisis and for three months thereafter.