The Irish state has been accused of hypocrisy on the immigration question when it comes to Americans looking to live and work in Ireland - while it pleads for justice for the undocumented Irish in the US.

A leading senator has told the Senate that Americans who want to settle in Ireland are given the finger by the state.

Fianna Fail senator Denis O’Donovan has lashed what he calls the double standards that exist when Americans cross the Atlantic.

He has accused the Irish state of not giving them ‘one iota’ of a chance to settle legally in Ireland.

The Irish Times reports that O’Donovan told the Senate that the Irish government has to ‘face up’ to the disparity between seeking to regularise the position of undocumented Irish in the US while failing Americans moving in the opposite direction.

O’Donovan said. “It is a bad signal to send when we are looking for results on the other side.

“It is time for a full and frank Seanad (senate) discussion on Ireland’s relationship with the US, particularly to the 50,000 undocumented Irish.

“We all lobby hard to regularise their position and obtain green cards and, if they want to stay there, citizenship for them.

“It is an ongoing lobby in which many members have been involved, particularly Senator Mark Daly, whose efforts over many years I laud.”

O’Donovan warned there must a quid pro quo when it comes to Americans moving to Ireland.

He added: “If a US citizen tries to get a work visa or go a step forward and obtain a residence permit or citizenship in Ireland, he or she has as good a chance as a resident of Mars. Let us be real.

“I have come across a case involving a very well qualified young man who has been going out with an Irish girl for eight years and planned to marry.

“However, they do not want to marry for the reason of obtaining a citizenship right.

“It is an absolute disgrace that while Ireland fights hard to have its young people regularised with green cards in the US, it gives ‘the two fingers’(abuse) to any American male or female coming here.”