Covid-19 Pandemic Dublin

Burgh Quay Immigration Office – not essential

Anyone needing to register if they live in Dublin just can’t. Although, outside the Pale, the local Garda station is open! Mad, ted.

It’s impossible for the Department of Justice to track how many would-be residents are currently awaiting registration in Dublin, says a spokesperson. “Statistics are not maintained in this manner.”

Among them, though, are people like Nour El Assaad.

Her husband works on a critical skills employment permit in the city, she says. El Assaad was hoping to get a 1G stamp, which allows spouses of skilled workers to also work here.

But since she arrived in February, El Assaad spends her days going for strolls or shopping at the supermarket, waiting for the Burgh Quay office to reopen, she says.

Most employers require a valid IRP to hire someone, and immigration-permission extension announcements from the Department of Justice can’t replace the physical card, she says.

El Assaad has gotten a job offer with an indefinite start date, she says. “I am super grateful that an employer did consider me,” she says. But uncertainty weighs her down, because the offer is conditional on her getting her IRP.

“I don’t know when I’m going to be able to start work. We don’t know when the offices open, and at any time the opportunity might be jeopardised,” says El Assaad.

Over several months, the Immigrant Council of Ireland has gotten hundreds of calls about the INIS office closure on its helplines, says Colin Lenihan, their information coordinator.

The continued closure is impacting people’s “ability to obtain employment and also impacts their ability to leave Ireland in an emergency”, says Lenihan.

Says El Assaad: “If I want to see my family, if I want to go and then come back, I can’t leave unless I take another entry visa to Dublin, which now, they’re not issuing.”

The Immigrant Council has had to intervene in cases where migrant healthcare workers, recently arrived in Dublin to work for the HSE, had to go on work trips outside of Ireland without IRPs, says Lenihan.

“They were facing the possible risk of being stranded outside of the state if they travelled or face losing their employment if they couldn’t travel,” he says.