Irish Republican News · March 22, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
McDowell cites US model in deportations row

Protests are being mounted at offices of the Irish Tourist Board following the sudden deportation of a group of 35 Nigerian asylum-seekers, including a number of children.

Deportations were ordered against a number of Nigerian children who had turned 18.

Supporters of 19-year-old Olunkunle Eluhanla, a Leaving Cert student who was deported last week, say they will protest outside the organisation’s offices in Amsterdam and Glasgow.

The Dublin-based student was snatched without warning as he was preparing for his Leaving Cert and deported without due process.

Pickets are being planned outside Tourist Board offices in Belfast and Derry, as well as a rally at the Dail on Wednesday.

Mr Eluhanla yesterday pleaded with the Government to allow him return to Ireland. “I am begging you, please let me come back. Please allow me to return to my real life in Ireland,” he said.

Still wearing the uniform of Palmerstown Community School he had on when he was detained by immigration police last Tuesday, he has suffered arrest and robbery since being deported to Lagos.

“I had nowhere to go. When I was walking around I ran into some gangsters, who thought I had money on me. I was attacked and molested.”

“My clothes were torn, I was starving and I had no medication for the injuries I had sustained.”

Rosanna Flynn of Residents against Racism called for the return of all 35 Nigerian nationals.

“These deportations were done in a terrible manner, with students taken away from their studies and mothers not even given a chance to pick up their children from school.”

However, Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has said he will not intervene.

“Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you aren’t deported. An Irish person going to America in similar circumstances would be back on the next plane and would never see the inside of an American school”, Mr McDowell said.

Mr McDowell disputed reports that the boy had been shot four times and that he had no relatives in Nigeria, had nowhere to live and had been deported in his school uniform.

“I just want to say this, that if you have a system of law and you have a system of immigration law in a country, there are circumstances where you have to deport people at the age of 19”.

Meanwhile, some families in the midlands have gone into hiding amid the apparent “crackdown” on Nigerian asylum-seekers.

They went into hiding after two other Athlone-based Nigerian families were broken up last week, with some children left behind in Ireland.

Friends are campaigning to prevent more families from being deported and to reunite the other families.

“The rights of children are not being respected. To snatch two mothers and deport them, and leave the children behind, is incredible,” said local school principal Mr O’Neill.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News