There is public anger after an autistic boy and his family were forcefully deported from Dublin this week.
Olivia Agbonlahor and her six-year-old twins, Melissa and Great, who has autism, were deported to Nigeria after reporting to the Garda National Immigration Bureau office in Dublin.
Friends and supporters from Killarney, Clonakilty and Dublin, along with members of Residents Against Racism, had lobbied Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan to withdraw the deportation orders on compassionate grounds.
They warned that Great would receive no treatment for his condition in Nigeria and would be an outcast. Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan had also lobbied his colleague in relation to the case.
The family’s lawyer, Kevin Brophy, said they were extremely disappointed by the decision. He said Ms Agbonlahor had hoped the Minister would withdraw the orders on humanitarian grounds.
“I think it is an absolute outrage that in this day and age the Minister can decide that there aren’t humanitarian grounds to allow an autistic child to remain in Ireland,” Mr Brophy said.
He said the Dublin government had taken “exceptional steps” to deport the family while the deportation of a number of other Nigerian nationals had been put back until September.
“The Government has decided that they need the Agbonlahor family and Great in particular out of the country so that he doesn’t cause them any more embarrassment,” he said.
“I feel embarrassed and ashamed of this Government for what they have done to this young family today.”
Rosanna Flynn, spokeswoman for Residents Against Racism, said Ms Agbonlahor had fled Italy with her children after her husband had stood up to Nigerian drug dealers there and their lives were threatened.
“Ireland has sent them back to a country where children with autism are regarded as being possessed by devils, where he [ Great] will have no possible chance of having a decent life,” she said. “Ireland should be ashamed of itself.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Daithi Doolan has condemned the Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan for his action.
Speaking yesterday as the Agbonlahor family prepared to be deported Councillor Doolan said, “In an unprecedented move the Agbonlahor family are to be deported without delay following their failed attempt in the high court today to reverse the deportation order.
“This case and the high level of publicity it has received has obviously embarrassed the Minister and he is determined to get the deportation over and done with before he even returns from holidays in Devon.
“I condemn the Minister for his lack of compassion and his refusal to allow a vulnerable child and his family to remain in the country.”