Protest against McDowell deportations
Protest against McDowell deportations

Dublin’s justice minister Michael McDowell has decided to deport a Nigerian man who caused him political embarrassment last year, ostensibly due to traffic offences.

Olukunle Eluhanla received a letter from the Department of Justice informing him that Mr McDowell believed his continued presence in the 26 Counties would be “contrary to the common good”.

McDowell was forced into a U-turn last year after he ordered the deportation of the Nigerian student just weeks before he was due to sit his Leaving Certificate examinations. After a massive public outcry, the young man was allowed to return from Nigeria to complete his exams.

Mr Eluhanla returned to Ireland last April and said he wanted to live here for good.

The news came during a day of anti-racism protests outside the Dublin parliament.

Over 100 Somali, Nigerian and Afghan nationals called for an end to deportations.

The large protest was organised by Residents Against Racism and coincided with the opening day of the new parliamentary session.

The protest also highlighted the case of a Nigerian woman who fears her two daughters will be circumcised if deported to Nigeria.

Pamela Izevbekhai is currently in Mountjoy Prison while she awaits a High Court appeal against her deportation.

The Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) said it regarded female genital mutilation (FGM) as sexual violence and as a valid reason to halt deportation to Nigeria.

Pamela has already lost one 18-month old daughter to FGM and she fears the same fate for her two remaining daughters, Naomi (4) and Jemima (3).

“We would like to ask Minister McDowell how he can see as reasonable a decision to send children back to face sexual violence and the risk of death, RCNI executive director Fiona Neary said.

“This case should alarm us and arouse our sympathy, not cause us to turn a blind eye and ignore the problem as the minister seems to suggest.”

Sinn Féin Dublin TD Aengus O Snodaigh called on justice minister Michael McDowell to act to help people seeking refuge.

“Where is the humanity, where is the human rights of this minister and this government? Where is the charity that this country was known across the world for for so many years?” he told the protesters.

“This minister must show charity to people who have come from the most far-flung places on this Earth to find comfort for themselves and their families, to have the right to build a peaceful life for themselves here.”

Residents Against Racism spokesman Mark Grehan said campaigners would act again to help the student Olukunle Eluhanla.

“Any deportation will be met with the same protests as the last time,” said Mr Grehan.

He said there was no justification for deporting someone for road traffic offences.

“There’s been plenty of people convicted for road traffic offences. It was very foolish of Kunle to have done it and we don’t condone what he did but it’s up to the courts in Ireland to decide what the punishment is, not Michael McDowell,” he said.

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© 2006 Irish Republican News