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Decision to remove passports from Irish children constitutionally questionable

7 April, 2004

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, has described as "constitutionally questionable" the revelation that deportees are being forced to surrender their children's Irish passports upon their removal from the State.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "Just when I thought the Department of Justice could not sink any lower in its handling of immigration matters, we are presented with this constitutionally questionable action, which all Irish democrats will find profoundly offensive. Surely this erases any doubt that could be left about the racism underlying Department policy. These children, who are Irish citizens, are not only being forced to leave but are effectively being told not to come back. It is simply outrageous and these orders are coming from the very highest levels of the Department. What's next? Legislation to retroactively strip citizenship from those the Government deems undesirable?

"If this was happening in any other country it would be recognised for the appalling human rights violation it is. Indeed, if the United States were to deport U.S. citizen children of illegal Irish immigrants and confiscate their passports, this Government would be on the phone immediately to the State Department, and rightly so. This is one more instance of the hypocritical double standard operated by this Government in respect of immigrants to and emigrants from Ireland.

"Earlier this week, the Taoiseach stated that there would be no cabinet reshuffle before the summer recess. I urge him to reconsider this decision. At the very least Michael McDowell, Ireland's version of Enoch Powell, and the Progressive Democrats must be removed from control of this State's immigration policy. If they are not, racism and xenophobia will be among this Government's chief legacies." ENDS

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