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Unjust and unnecessary deportations must not continue

10 August, 2004

Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD today warned against the threat of new and larger deportations of immigrants and asked how Minister McDowell could justify his lack of action in protecting 11,000 vulnerable families after a pre-Referendum promise that their situation in Ireland would be regularised. Deputy Ó Snodaigh had attended a rally outside the Progressive Democrat offices objecting to the threat of deportation this week of a Nigerian woman who fled to Ireland after being sentenced to death by stoning.

He said:

"The situation for 11,000 families has reached a crisis point - these people have been living their lives in complete uncertainty since the ruling of 18 months ago that non-national parents of Irish-born children were not entitled to Irish citizenship. Minister McDowell promised to resolve this issue during his briefing to me and other party Justice spokespersons in advance of the citizenship referendum.

"However, it is now two months since the passing of the referendum and the Minister and his Department have vowed to "press ahead with its deportation programme". It is clear that his briefing to me was nothing more than a cynical and callous ploy, which proves they had and have absolutely no concern whatsoever for the families affected.

"Instead of putting their minds at ease, he has shown his utter contempt for immigrants and their Irish children still awaiting decisions on their status by allowing for mass deportations to go ahead.

"Sinn Féin is totally opposed to mass deportations of this kind for a number of reasons not least because the courts are closed and legal representation is difficult to obtain but also because the deportations tend to take place in the darkness of night away from public view causing undue stress and trauma. This is a matter of serious concern especially given that some deportees have even been returned to Ireland because their deportation was deemed illegal.

"I also have serious concerns over the fact that there is no monitoring body here to ensure that deportations that do have to take place do so in a humane, considerate, sensitive way in order to minimize as much as possible the trauma suffered by the human beings that are transported. It is imperative that properly trained personnel accompany vulnerable women and children on these difficult and traumatic journeys to ensure full conformity with legislation and international best practice." ENDS

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