Irish Republican News · April 19, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Deportees hospitalised in hunger-strike protest

Two Nigerians on hunger and thirst strike collapsed at the weekend and were taken to hospital by ambulance.

Paul Uzo (41) and Femi Owoade (30) are among more than 250 Nigerian asylum seekers who claim to have been on hunger and thirst strike since Thursday following a stepping-up of asylum reporting requirements.

They are seeking a meeting with immigration officials so they can find out their fate. They say they are being held under virtual house arrest by having to sign in at their hostels in Lower Gardiner Street and Hatch Street Lower every morning and evening. They believe they are being prepared for deportation.

All of the men have applied for residency on the basis of having Irish-born children.

They arrived in Ireland earlier this year to be reunited with their families, after Minister for Justice Michael McDowell appeared to allow applications for residency from parents of Irish-born citizens.

Mr Uzo, a father of two children, collapsed while attending Mass in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral yesterday morning. He was taken to the Mater where his condition was still being monitored yesterday evening.

Late on Saturday night, Mr Owoade collapsed in his bedroom. He was discharged early yesterday afternoon from the Mater.

Like most of the group, both men have been refusing liquids as well as food. Mr Owoade resumed his hunger strike when he returned from hospital, friends said. A number of pregnant women had also joined in the strike but they were being urged by the men to take some fluids.

“We are very weak but the struggle continues,” one man said. “All we want is to meet someone and get some information.”

Sinn Féin spokesperson on justice, equality and human rights, Aengus O Snodaigh, said: “I want Minister McDowell to hear this loud and clear. Mass deportations are wrong and I believe contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.

“No parents of Irish children should be removed from this country. All Irish child citizens must have the equal right to remain in their country of nationality in the care and company of their parents.”

Labour TD Joe Costello saod parents of Irish children should not be “unilaterally deported”. “For people to go on hunger strike to obtain their rights in this day and age is a sad reflection on our immigration policy,” he said.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News