Donegal’s undocumented in the United States have expressed “disappointment and anger” at the failure of Donegal County Council to send representatives to the recent St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Highlighting the reactions of both the undocumented and the Donegal Associations in New York and Philadelphia, Letterkenny Town councillor, Jimmy Kavanagh, who represented the Local Authority at the events, said he had been told “loud and clear” that the County Council should have been present.
“The view on this is very different in America than it is here. We might talk about not being able to afford to send delegations in the current economic climate but that is dismissed out of hand by the organisers who argue that it is now that we should be sending people, and it is now that we should be out trying to galvanise the support of the Irish-American community,” Cllr. Kavanagh told this week’s meeting of the Town Council.
Referring to the disenchantment of the Donegal Associations, Cllr. Kavanagh declared: “The greatest disappointment is among the undocumented of whom there are many and they rightly point out that our elected representatives need to go to them because they cannot come home.
“I met many such people particularly in New York, and they were highly critical of the non-attendance by the County Council. Many of these people have been there for ten, fifteen, even twenty years. They are married, have young kids, have ageing parents at home who can’t travel to see them and, in some instances, the grandparents have never seen their grandchildren.
“All of these people seem to be in steady permanent jobs, they have health care cover from the companies they work with, and are, for all intents and purposes, fully fledged members of American society, but they cannot come home to Ireland.”
Claiming that the Donegal exiles deserved an annual visit from the elected representatives, the Fine Gael councillor called on Donegal County Council to have a serious debate about the issue well ahead of next year’s St. Patrick’s celebrations and “try to make a non-political and emotion-free decision on it.”
Along with Bundoran Mayor, Cllr. Michael McMahon, the Letterkenny councillor was the only Donegal representative in attendance at this year’s celebrations in Philadelphia and New York.
“There was genuine disappointment and even anger that Donegal County Council had no representative,” he pointed out.