Gort Leaving Cert student pleads for a chance to attend University

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A Leaving Cert student in Gort, Co. Galway, has appealed to the authorities for help with her legal status here so that she can attend university.  

In an interview this morning on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, Sara Morais, who has been living in Ireland since 2006 but is currently undocumented, said that she wants to know what she can do to change her situation.

A promising student, Sara has been living in Gort for twelve years and attends Gort Community School.  

Last year she discovered that she would not be eligible to go to university here, despite attending primary and secondary school in Ireland, because she is undocumented.

Speaking on Adhmhaidin on RTÉRnaG, she said: “My family and I came to Ireland in 2006 … My parents didn’t want to leave (Brazil), but they knew we could have a good life here … My parents have been working here and paying tax for 12 years, just like everyone else.  

“They do everything right and legally, but we still have no legal status … I need answers.

“I want to know what we can do to change our situation.”  

Sara explained that the current situation at home has also added to the pressure she feels.

“My mother is sick at the moment.  She had a big operation at the beginning of the school year, and we found out that she has cancer.  

“Sometimes, I have to miss school because I have to go to the doctor with her because she only has a little English.  

“I have to be with her to translate… so I’m under pressure with everything this year.”

Sara’s Irish teacher, Olivia Fahy, was also interviewed on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta on Tuesday morning.  

She explained that there were several pupils in a similar situation to Sara.

“At the moment, there are eight pupils in this situation (undocumented) in Leaving Cert year, and after the Leaving Cert they won’t have a chance to go any further with their education and it’s a great pity.  

“As teachers here, we’re trying to highlight this problem.  We want to find out what we can do for the pupils.”

Ms Fahy said that it was unclear what the problem was with obtaining legal status.  Sara’s family has made an application for residency, but it is still with their solicitor.

“We’re not sure what the problem is, that’s why we’re here this morning. We want to find out what we can do … Sara attended primary and secondary school and now there’s a barrier in front of her.  

“We don’t think it makes any sense that she can’t get a place on a (third level) course here, because without a doubt she’d be more valuable to the community with a qualification than without.

“Sara is a very diligent student and this isn’t her fault, and she’s appealing … if anybody can give her some answers she’d be very happy to listen to them and to follow their advice to help her case.”