Expressing his deep disappointment at today's developments in the US Senate on the issue of immigration reform, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern T.D., said:
"I greatly regret that the courageous efforts of many members of the US Senate to achieve support for a wide ranging, cross-party bill on immigration reform, has not been successful in attracting the necessary level of support to ensure its progress.
"I appreciate the determined efforts of those Republican and Democratic Senators and of President Bush to achieve a bipartisan agreement on this important matter. I would echo the sentiments of Republican Senator Lindsey Graham today in the Senate when he said "you cannot wish away 12 million people" and those of a great friend of Ireland, Senator Ted Kennedy, who in his address in the Senate said "that the Senate resume its belief in the American dream….will we vote on our fears or for the future?
"I have asked our Ambassador in Washington to provide a full assessment of the situation we now face so that we can review how our efforts can best be brought forward for the benefit of our undocumented in the US.
"In addition, we will maintain our engagement with key Members of the US Congress and I have already been in contact with the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform which provides an effective voice for the Irish undocumented throughout the US.
"The Government is fully committed to responding to the concerns of the undocumented Irish and will continue to take every opportunity to convey to US political leaders the urgent need to address this major issue, which impacts directly on many families in Ireland. The Government will continue to support our citizens in the United States who find themselves in this difficult situation
"This set-back will not diminish our determination to secure the fair deal for the undocumented Irish and their families."