Tuesday 17 January 2017

Celine Naughton: How dreams of an Irish welcome turned to nightmares for au pairs

Published 18/12/2012 | 17:00

Ceny, a 20-year-old Spanish student, was excited about coming to Ireland to work as an au pair. She could brush up on her English language skills, study, make new friends and immerse herself in the culture of another country. Once she arrived in Dublin, however, she discovered the grim reality of her new position was a far cry from the lovely picture she had imagined.

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"I have lived in Dublin for seven months and I don't know the place," she says. "The mum doesn't like it when I go out. She told me I had to stay home for two months to get to know the house. I wasn't allowed go to school. I feel like a servant. Where would I go if I left? I have nowhere to go."

Maria ( 33) from South Africa, responded to an advertisement on the internet for an au pair and she, too, found herself at the mercy of an Irish family who clearly believe that 'au pair' is French for 'cheap labour.'

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