Thousands of young Irish people ‘stranded’ in Australia

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Thousands of young Irish people are stranded in Australia because of the coronavirus pandemic and are ‘begging’ for their government’s help right now.

That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who was contacted this morning by constituents who are working in Perth and Sydney, desperately seeking help now that Australia has been put on lockdown.

Ms Farrell said the current situation in the country for tens of thousands of young Irish people is ‘dire’ because they are on working holiday visas and are not entitled to State assistance from the Australian government.

In addition, almost all flights in and out of the country have been suspended, leaving thousands of Irish people, mostly aged between 20 and 30, with ‘absolutely no means of living during this lockdown and no means of getting out’.

The Sinn Féin TD says her party has contacted Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney and Minister of State with responsibility for the Global Irish, Ciarán Cannon, to highlight the situation.

She said: “This is a global pandemic that is affecting every country in the world. There are thousands upon thousands of young people stranded in Australia at the moment who have told me they feel like they have been forgotten by Ireland.

“Many of them are on working holiday visas and with the lockdown of Australia in the last 24 hours, thousands of them are suddenly out of work and have no way of supporting themselves during this crisis because they don’t qualify for assistance from the Australian state.

“They are desperate to get home, but even if they can get a flight, they are being quoted between AUS€10,000 and AUS$16,000 to get home, which is way beyond their means. They are terrified, they tell me, and they are begging the Irish government to help them.”

In letters to Ministers Coveney and Cannon, Sinn Féin have asked that the government considers chartering special flights to get those who want to come home out of Australia.

They have also asked that they consider giving direct financial aid to the Irish on visas in Australia who have no way of supporting themselves.

“We need to look after our people, no matter where they are. The situation is unique and unprecedented and the government needs to step up and assist the thousands of Irish in Australia using every and all means at their disposal,” added the Galway West TD.