Taoiseach to discuss two-way Irish-US migration exchange with Biden

The Government wants to see the development of new legal mechanisms to facilitate the two-way exchange of people between Ireland and the United States, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.

Speaking in Washington, he said he would be raising in talks with US president Joe Biden this week the issue of undocumented Irish citizens living in America.

However, he also said he wanted to see “how can we continue to work the existing channels of legal migration between [the US] and Ireland”.

Mr Martin said he would like to explore the development of “newer mechanisms to facilitate the two-way exchange between our two countries that are legal and we will continue to work on that”.

The Taoiseach also said he would be thanking Mr Biden this week for his support for the Belfast Agreement.

He forecast, however, that much of the discussions in the coming days would centre around Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which Mr Martin again condemned.

Last month, the former Fine Gael minister Charlie Flanagan urged that a previously proposed Ireland-USA Diaspora Retiring to Ireland Programme in 2018 should be re-booted.

The programme would give American citizens between the ages of 55-75, who could show a connection with Ireland, the right to live and work in the State. They could also qualify for full citizenship after five years

In return, the Government had previously backed a scheme which would see Ireland benefit from surplus visas to live and work in the US which had been allocated originally to Australia under a bilateral trade deal.

Such a proposal passed the House of Representatives in the United States in 2018 but was vetoed by one senator in the Senate.

There were indications this week that some senators may move this week to try revive the plan to allow Ireland to access the surplus visas. Up to 5,000 Irish people annually could benefit from such an initiative.

Northern Ireland protocol

The Taoiseach also said he would be thanking president Biden “for his steadfast support for the Good Friday agreement and his ongoing concern about the Good Friday agreement and issues around the protocol and the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland and on the agreement itself”.

He said he would be meeting with senior US politicians over this week to discuss the Northern Ireland issue, “re-affirming our position of making sure that the Good Friday Agreement is not undermined and also [that the] protocol works and works effectively”.

“The more we talk to people in Northern Ireland in industry and business, the more it emerges that all want continued access to the European single market, the vast majority see it as beneficial for investment in Northern Ireland.”

Mr Martin said there were issues around the amount of checks on goods under the protocol in Northern Ireland.

“We have taken those on board and so has the European Union. We believe it should be possible between the EU and UK to resolve this. We are into an election phase now and that may determine the timing of any resolution.”

Mr Martin also said he would also be discussing with the president the mutual economic relationship between Ireland and the United States as well as artistic and cultural links and scientific research.

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