Frontline healthcare workers in Ireland are asking for their citizenship to be fast-tracked

Migrant healthcare workers are asking for their citizenship applications to be prioritised through #fasttrackcitizenship, which seems to be the very least we can do.


As anyone watching the news knows, the Irish healthcare system is on its knees, if it wasn’t already. The coronavirus is wiping out thousands of healthcare workers across the country who are either sick with the virus or have come into close contact with someone who is.

Community healthcare staff are being called in to cover shifts and help keep wards and hospitals open, while others enter the tenth month of long shifts tending to too many patients in restrictive and uncomfortable PPE gear.

Their heroism deserves praise, thanks and citizenship.

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Migrant healthcare workers in Ireland

According to a WHO study, 36.1% of Ireland’s doctors in 2014 were foreign-trained with 51.2% of doctors practising surgery in Ireland being international medical graduates. 49% of new nursing and midwifery registrants in Ireland in 2019 were from outside the EU, according to Migrant Nurses Ireland. With an exodus of Irish-trained healthcare workers to UK and further afield for better facilities and better pay, Ireland’s healthcare system is indebted (and heavily reliant) on this migrant workforce.

In Ireland, anyone applying for Irish citizenship is required to have lived in the country for five years to be eligible. However, this period does not include time spent in direct provision or on a student visa, unlike some other EU countries. Once eligible, applicants can then wait upwards of two to four years for their citizenship to be granted. The Irish Times reports that more than 5,300 people are waiting for more than two years for their citizenship and a further 3,202 were waiting between 18 and 24 months.

 

Fast-tracking the process

Some European countries such as France and Portugal already agreeing to speed up the citizen application process for their doctors, nurses and healthcare workers. France’s frontline “pandemic citizenship” plan not only includes migrants working in hospitals, but also bin collectors, cashiers and cleaners, recognising the mammoth effort undertaken to keep the country running under this truly unprecedented time.

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Ireland's carers are now asking for the same. They have taken to Twitter to voice their frustration at application delays and demand that their applications be prioritised.

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Citizenship would not only give them opportunities to progress their career and training, it would also offer stability for them and their families. Ireland needs these workers to stay here and keep our health system running, but how can we expect that when they can't even officially call our little isle home after years of dedication and work.

A petition has also been set up by Train Us for Ireland, a migrant healthcare worker advocacy group, which you can sign here. Rewarding their heroism with citizenship appears to be the very minimum we can do.

Featured image via Train Us for Ireland petition

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