Independent Donegal Senator Eileen Flynn said Irish citizenship policy must be based on respect for the human rights of everyone born on this island.
Senator Flynn said: “But Migrants Rights Centre Ireland says – and I agree – that we need to make sure there are solutions in our system for children and young people who grew up in Ireland but were not born here.
“No one can get left behind,” she said.
The Ardara-based politician called the Citizenship Bill “an important step in the right direction”.
Senator Flynn also spoke in the Seanad today in support of amendments brought by the Labour Party, including one that would restore automatic birthright citizenship.
MRCI estimated there are up to 3,000 undocumented young people living in Ireland, she said.
Senator Flynn said: “I am thinking of all of them today. I am thinking of all the brilliant young people I met when I worked at MRCI. Without a pathway to citizenship, these young people face very uncertain futures.
“We can change that,” she said, noting that under the current Citizenship Act, the Oireachtas has the power to legislate for this.
She referred to stories in the media about a 10-year-old child who was faced with a deportation order even though they were born in Ireland, and a 14-year-old Offaly teenager who was faced with a deportation order after living in Ireland for 12 years.
“This is not right. For these children, Ireland is all they know. It is their home,” she said.
The senator said undocumented young people may complete secondary education in Irish schools, but their access to third-level and employment is blocked.
“Without equal access to opportunities, the cycle of low-wage work and poverty will continue,” she said.
Senator Flynn said: “These young people all have so much to give to our society and they belong to our society. It’s about believing in our young people.”
Ireland is their home, she said.
“That, to me, should be all we need to know,” Senator Flynn said.