Brings a tear to the eye, the image of the empty chair at a table set for Christmas dinner. All over Ireland, mammies are sinking into the depths of depression, anticipating that very chair at their own table. The son or daughter has gone to the US for work, undocumented and illegal, and they don't dare try to come home for they may not get back after the holidays.
Families and Friends of the Undocumented Irish held a rally outside the Dail yesterday, urging the government to do something. Cut a deal with U.S. Immigration, they pleaded. Fix it so that the children can be home for Christmas. Fill the empty chair with a familial bottom.
Enda Kenny is on top of the issue, speaking to the FFUI. Look at Australia, he said, which won 10,000 work visas for its citizens in America. Australia agreed the same number of visas for Americans looking for work down under, tit for tat, and why not the same for Ireland. The fact that Australia is part of the coalition of the willing in Iraq might have a great deal to do with the arrangement, but Mr. Kenny would never suggest that Ireland join in as well. Better the empty chair, wouldn't you say, missus, than our lads off fighting in a Middle Eastern country other than Lebanon?
FFUI has circulated a petition, but signatures on paper don't move bureaucrats. They like to get something when they give, and Ireland has something that Washington DC would like very much. There's a lot of corporate profits, shuttled to Ireland under the guise of shell companies that are set up to take advantage of lower taxes. Now, it the Dail could craft a bit of legislation so that some of that cash ends up in the pockets of the IRS.....