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Statement by Tánaiste & Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin on the death of Brian Donnelly

It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of former Massachusetts Congressman, Ambassador Brian Donnelly.

While representing Massachusetts's 11th district of Norfolk County from 1979 to 1993 he not only served his constituents well but also became a national champion for immigration rights of Irish people living in the US, and especially undocumented Irish living and working there. He worked tirelessly across the political divide to secure bipartisan agreement around a visa package that secured more than 25,000 legal residency visas to Irish citizens.

We must remember that the flow of undocumented Irish immigrants to the US in the late 80s and early 90s was significant, with many unable to access healthcare or secure employment because of their lack of legal status. By delivering such a generous visa regime for the Irish at that time, he changed the lives of many Irish people, who went on to build prosperous lives in the US, giving back to their adopted country in many ways. He never forgot his ancestral Galway roots and I was glad to see that he was able to undertake a visit to Ireland last year.

On behalf of all of those to whom the ‘Donnelly Visa’ gave a legal path to allow them to follow their dreams, I want to acknowledge his great contribution to this country.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Press Office
02 March 2023

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