Since 2009, the Irish International Immigrant Centre in Boston (IIIC) has been accredited by the US State Department as a visa sponsor for the J1 Irish work and Travel 12 month programme. The terms and conditions under which the IIIC participates in this programme are determined by its contractual relationship with the State Department. The IIIC provides legal and welfare services to immigrants from Ireland and other countries, and advocates for the rights of immigrants and changes to US legislation to enable immigrants to become permanent residents and US citizens. Following the incident referred to by the Deputy, our Consul General in Boston met with the Executive Director of the IIIC expressed his concern to the organisation and requested a full report on the incident. Subsequent to that meeting the IIIC has issued a public apology for the manner in which the incident was handled.
However, it is important to recognise that thousands of Irish citizens have received considerable direct assistance over the past two and a half decades from the IIIC and through our Consulate in Boston we will continue to work with the IIIC to ensure that the needs of Irish citizens, particularly the most vulnerable, are recognised and addressed be met.
I have recently received an independent report prepared at the request of the Consul General in Boston. The Report concluded that the IIIC provides an important service to the Irish community in Boston and operates the J1-IWT Programme in an effective and professional manner. It also recommended that the organisation review the manner in which it communicates with clients participating in the programme.