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McDowell's asylum regime is a travesty of justice - Ó Caoláin

24 March, 2005

Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Cavan-Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has described the Government's asylum regime as operated by Minister Michael McDowell as 'travesty of justice'. While welcoming the temporary reprieve for Olunkunle Eluhanla, Deputy Ó Caoláin highlighted the deportation on the same plane of a Nigerian mother and her three children who have been living in County Monaghan for several years where the children were attending local schools.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"Because Minister McDowell came under intense political pressure, given the widespread media coverage of Olunkunlea's case, he has now given him a welcome, but only temporary reprieve. But what of the many families, including young children reared in Ireland, who have received little or no publicity and who have been deported without mercy?

"On the same plane on which Olunkunle was deported, the Okolie family were flown out of Ireland. Nkechi Okolie and her three children aged 6, 10 and 16 were forced out of the country to the consternation of the community throughout County Monaghan. The younger children have been reared here and know no other reality but Ireland.

"This family were valued members of the community. Nkechi worked in the Dochas women's centre and the Camphill Community for people with intellectual disabilities. The family were also members of the Presbyterian Church in Castleblayney and that community has expressed its shock at their deportation.

"The grief and distress of this family is no different to that of any other deportees, including Olunkunle. The schoolmates of the children have also protested at the deportation of their young friends.

"There is something wrong and rotten at the heart of a regime that can operate a system such as this."ENDS

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