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Sinn Féin welcomes Minister's deportation u-turn

24 March, 2005

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh has welcomed the decision of the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, to allow Leaving Cert Student Olunkunle Eluhanla return to sit his exams. However, Deputy Ó Snodaigh was highly critical that the Minister allowed the deportation to go ahead in the first place and that he was now only issuing the young Nigerian with a six-month visa.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "While I welcome this decision I would like to point out that Olunkunle Eluhanla should never have been deported in the first place. Michael McDowell's decision to allow him to return is a clear indication of the pressure that was exerted on the Minister by ordinary decent people the length and breadth of the country. It is their humanity and decency that should be commended today.

"A six month visa to allow this young man complete his Leaving Certificate exams is not enough. We would argue that Olunkunle, who arrived in this country as an unaccompanied minor, and who had integrated fully in to Irish society, and who has developed strong social and emotional ties in this country, should be allow permanent residency on the basis of humanitarian and compassionate considerations. We would also argue that all of the other people deported on this week's flight, including parents who were separated from their children should be allowed to return immediately, and their cases reviewed on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, as is in the Minister's power.

"The policy of mass deportations is fundamentaly wrong and should be ceased immediately. At the very least we need a moratorium to allow for a full investigation and report on the human rights implications of this policy by the Human Rights Commission." ENDS

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