Dáil Éireann - Volume 537 - 30 May, 2001

Written Answers. - Illegal Immigrants.

221. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the estimated number of non-European Union nationals working here without proper permits or documentation; and if he has any proposals to enable those undocumented workers to acquire legitimate worker status. [16234/01]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): There are no reliable estimates for the number of non-EU nationals working here illegally. Neither my Department nor the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, which has the lead role in matters pertaining to labour migration, has proposals to introduce a scheme whereby such persons could be regularised while in the country. It is of course open to such persons to return to their country of origin and to seek to obtain a legal basis for entry through the work permit system. Approximately 6,000 work permits were issued by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment in 1999, 18,000 in 2000 and 14,000 to date in 2001.