Joe Higgins opposes deportations of refugee

Leaders' Questions, Dáil Éireann, 12th October 2004

Joe Higgins: I want to raise a number of issues concerning people originating from outside the European Union now seeking refuge and shelter in this State on humanitarian grounds. The Tánaiste told the "Gerry Ryan Show" on Tuesday last correctly that a hard-line should be taken against the atrocity known as female genital mutilation, also called FGM. Will she consider making FGM and the threat of this barbarism grounds for getting refuge in this State? Will she intervene with the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to give humanitarian leave to remain in this State to Juliet Imiruaye, a victim of FGM, a campaigner when a midwife in Nigeria against FGM, and in the five years she has been in Ireland a woman who has contributed extensively to that campaign, against whom now unfortunately a deportation order has been made? It is reported in The Irish Times today that there is a slight window of opportunity. I ask the Tánaiste to intervene in this regard.

A further cohort of parents of Irish born children, born before the Supreme Court judgment and the constitutional referendum on citizenship, are in an awful limbo, daily facing the anguish of uncertainty which extends to their many supporters and friends, Irish born, in the community.

I know the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has much to occupy his mind over the next week. If he goes to Roscommon for the weekend he may be obliged to sit in his tent wrapped in his sleeping bag as he has no permanent roof there. Will the Tánaiste ask him if he will concede to those who do not even have one home humanitarian leave to find that home with their children in this country?

The Tánaiste: I very much share the Deputy's view in regard to female genital mutilation. I have spoken to the Attorney General about this matter and he assured me that it is covered under the Offences Against the Person Act. I have spoken to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in regard to Juliet Imiruaye and he has agreed to give her a stay of six months while he reviews the case. I very much hope as a result of that stay of six months and the review he will be in a position to allow her to stay on humanitarian grounds because she has made a major impact in Ireland in regard to this issue.

Joe Higgins: That is a very positive development. We would be a disgrace in front the nations and peoples of the world if we were to deport a woman in Juliet Imiruaye's position.

Will the Tánaiste elaborate on her last comment on whether she also appreciates the particular case of some thousands of people with children who are Irish citizens who were advised quite solidly by the legal profession and others to withdraw their application for asylum on foot of a hope of residency before the Supreme Court judgment? They constitute a category that needs urgent intervention. The ESRI or other reports that have been published in the past week indicate that these people's labour will certainly be needed here. Their situation requires particular intervention. Will the Tánaiste positively consider their position?

The Tánaiste: The more general question is more appropriate to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The legislation that is required on foot of the referendum will come to the House shortly.

In regard to the specific case, because of the contribution Juliet made in regard to this issue and the contribution she has made in regard to health services generally and given that she asked me to intervene, I was very happy to do that on her behalf.

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