Sara Morais has been living in Galway since 2006. Image: RTE 

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

Galway Leaving Cert student Sara Morais is appealing to authorities for help with her legal status so she can go to college.

The 19-year-old has been living in Gort since 2006 and attends Gort Community School.

However Sara discovered last year that she’s not eligible to go to university in Ireland.

That’s despite the fact she attended both primary and secondary school here, the reason being that she is undocumented.

In an interview with RTÉ, the 19-year-old said her parents left Brazil and came to Ireland in 2006 to provide a better life for their children.

“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’s mother is being treated for cancer, which has added to her worries.

“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.”

”It’s a great pity.”

Sara’s Irish teacher, Olivia Fahy, also spoke to RTÉ and revealed there are several pupils in a similar situation in the school.

“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 … 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.”


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