Cowen in visa bid to resolve emigrant plight
Fionnan Sheahan in New York
TAOISEACH Brian Cowen wants to grant more visas to Americans to come to Ireland as a way to resolve the plight of illegal Irish emigrants living in the US.
Mr Cowen said getting a deal for the undocumented Irish was a priority for the Government. But he admitted an agreement was unlikely before the US presidential elections.
Immigrant lobby groups were more optimistic about the issue being resolved after meeting with the Taoiseach yesterday. Mr Cowen wants to look at striking a bilateral deal between the US and Ireland, whereby there would be an exchange of visas, rather than getting sucked into an overall agreement.
He said: "We would do it bilaterally if that would help advance the situation and look at the whole working visa arrangements to see what way we can ensure that there is an exchange and interchange between Ireland and America, which would be reciprocal."
Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform vice-chairman Ciaran Staunton said he was very hopeful of a deal being struck under Mr Cowen.
"What we like about the Taoiseach is he understands the Irish community," he said.