Appeal for support of non-national parents and their Irish citizen children
"On 23rd January 2003, the majority of the Supreme Court of Ireland upheld the right of the Minister for Justice to deport in certain circumstances non-nationals from Ireland even if they were parents of Irish children. However the Court also confirmed that all children born in Ireland are equal Irish citizens irrespective of the nationality or status of their parents. All citizen children have a right of residency in Ireland and cannot be deported.
The Court also said that if the Minister wishes to deport non-national parents of Irish citizen children then he must carry out a detailed and individual examination of the circumstances of each case and establish that grave and substantial reasons in the interest of the common good exist, to interfere with the constitutional rights of the child's right to the company and care of their parents.
It would appear however, that since 23rd January the only part of the Supreme Court's judgement that the Minister wishes to have regard to is his power to deport non-national parents, as he persistently and determinedly refuses to abide by the other rulings of the Court.
Since July 2003, the Minister has been sending out letters to non-national parents of Irish children advising them that he intends to deport them.
The Irish Human Rights Commission has made its views known, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties have written to the Minister on many ocassions, Mary Robinson has endorsed the campaign and now we are collecting as many signatories as possible to a letter to be sent to the Minister calling on him to respect the rights of all Irish children equally and to put in place a fair policy."
Individuals who wish to sign the letter should send their name and pledge to the letter to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Organisations that are signing up should let us know at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties: email@example.com
CADIC (Coalition Against the Deportation of Irish Children), chaired by Ronit Lentin, Department of Sociology, TCD includes Amnesty Ireland (Irish Section), Akina Dada Wa Africa , the Children's Rights Alliance, Conference of Religious Of Ireland, the Free Legal Advice Centres, the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Integrating Ireland, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, the Irish Refugee Council, the Jesuit Refugee Service, the Refugee Project of the Catholic Bishops, Refugee Information Service, Residents Against Racism, National Women's Council of Ireland and the Vincentian Refugee Centre
1. Letter of support, 20 November 2003: Word file pdf file
2. Letter 6 November 2003: Word file pdf file
3. Report from Irish Human Rights Commission: Position of non-national parents and their Irish-born children: Word file pdf file
4. National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism: Word file pdf file
5. Briefing on 23 January 2003: Word file pdf file
Statewatch bulletin, vol 13 no 5, September-October 2003
Ireland: No more right to remain for parents of Irish citizen children
Eleven thousand asylum seekers face immediate deportation after Minister of Justice Michael McDowell announced on 17 July that their claims for residency solely on the basis that they have become parents of Irish citizen children have been nullified. Officials immediately issued 400 deportation notices. People were told that they only had 15 days to appeal, but without legal aid for a process that could cost between 2,000 to 4,000 euros. The decision follows a Supreme Court ruling on 23 January this year that removed the right of parents to remain with Irish born children. While these Irish children cannot be legally deported, they will be forced to leave the country with their families. In effect, this marks the beginning of a racialised citizenship law in Ireland.
The Supreme Court found that as Irish citizens, no child born to non-national parents in Ireland, can be deported. Such a child citizen has rights of residency. It also clearly sets out that Irish child citizens have the constitutionally protected right to the company of their parents and therefore that there is a prima facie case for the family to reside in the State with their child. But:
"the Court also found that the family rights of an Irish child citizen are not absolute and can be restricted in certain circumstances, including for reasons relating to immigration policy. This therefore allows for the possibility of deporting non-national parents of Irish children in certain circumstances, as they are not by reason of constitutional imperative automatically entitled to residency, although their child, as an Irish Citizen, is." (Irish Council of Civil Liberties)
The mass deportation of parents of Irish born children, however, was authorised a decision by the Justice department on 19 February that removed the right of parents to apply for citizenship solely on grounds of parentage to Irish born children. In reaction to the notice on the Department of Justice website, Aisling Reidy, Director of the ICCL commented:
"Far from what is implied by the Department of Justice, this move is not a necessary result of the Supreme Court decision in the Osayande and Lobe cases. However, those who were worried that the Department of Justice would react in a broad, arbitrary and unfair manner to that decision have had their fears confirmed by this decision of the Minister."
The ICCL and the Irish Refugee Council pointed out that the Supreme Court did not decide that non-national parents have no right to apply for residency rather that it confirmed that every Irish child citizen has a right to residency, irrespective of who their parents are, but that non-national parents do not have an automatic entitlement to residency.
On 17 July 2003 the Minister for Justice announced that a backlog of 11,000 claims for residency for non-EU immigrant parents solely on the basis that they have become parents of Irish citizen children had been nullified. Four hundred notices of effective deportation were issued, informing people that the Minister proposes to deport them, and that they have 15 working days to make written representations for temporary leave to remain on humanitarian grounds, which may include parentage of an Irish citizen, the length of time they have resided in Ireland and their family and domestic circumstances. Alternatively those issued with the notices can agree to the voluntary return option.
While Irish child citizens cannot be legally deported, they will be practically obliged to leave the country with their parents. The Minister made clear he will not be "blackmailed" by parents threatening to leave their children behind, and, if necessary, the courts will compel them to take their citizen children with them.
The Coalition Against Deportation of Irish Citizens (CADIC) has published an information leaflet (5.9.03) detailing the legal aspects of these recent decisions (see http://www.childrensrights.ie/pubs/CADICinformationleaflet.doc)
Irish Council for Civil Liberties: http://www.iccl.ie/minorities/race/03_ibcsub.html
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