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Government urged to address system's 'devastating impact' on immigrant children

Ireland's immigration system is having a devastating impact on children forced to flee to the country, campaigners say.

An investigation into the state of services for immigrant children has flagged shortcomings that prevent them from leading a full life.

The Immigrant Council has called for a new agency to be set up to specifically deal with youngsters coming into the country.

Brian Killoran, chief executive of the Immigrant Council, said young people could not participate fully in Irish life because there was no clarity over their immigration status.

"Our report highlights the desperate need for the creation of a specific agency or contact point that will take responsibility for providing specialised information and legal support, where needed, on immigration to children and other key stakeholders," he said.

The report includes case studies of dozens of children living in uncertainty in Ireland.

It found migrant children in State care are at a particular disadvantage because they do not live with their parents on whom their immigration status depends.

This means they lack certainty about their own immigration status and the resulting confusion means some get education and housing supports that others in identical situations do not, says the Immigration Council.

"We are calling on the Government and associated State agencies to recognise the devastating impact that the information vacuum is having on children who have faced enough difficulties already in their short lives," Mr Killoran said.

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