News archive 2004

Changed residency regulations post Supreme Court Judgment have wrong footed immigrant parents of Irish children

PRESS RELEASE

11 MARCH 2004

CHANGED RESIDENCY REGULATIONS POST

SUPREME COURT JUDGMENT HAVE WRONG FOOTED IMMIGRANT PARENTS OF IRISH CHILDREN

 

 

“regularisation of the residency of these families is the only moral response” – Bishop Field

The Irish Bishops’ Conference (IBC) has called on Mr. Michael McDowell TD, Minister
for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, to address without further delay the situation
of the thousands of mothers, fathers and their Irish children, who have been living
in extreme uncertainty for two years and longer.

Bishop Raymond Field, Chair of the IBC’s Commission for Justice & Peace said, “I am
making an urgent appeal on behalf of immigrant families who applied to reside in the
State on the basis of parentage of an Irish child. Their applications – officially
put at some 11,000 – were made in accordance with Irish law and Department of Justice
regulations in force at the time and under which more than 6,500 people have been
granted residency right. However, following the Supreme Court judgment of 23 January
2003, the Department of Justice changed its regulations regarding residency.”

“I want to emphasize that, from an administrative and policy point of view, this
group is in a special position as it comprises those who applied for residency
before the January 2003 Supreme Court judgment. Allowing its members to remain
cannot therefore create a precedent for future arrivals, nor would it indicate
that the Government is prepared to permit abuse of the county’s residency legislation.
Political action is now required to remedy this anomaly,” he said.

Bishop Field continued, “After the Supreme Court ruling the Minister gave an assurance
that each application would be fairly considered on a case-by-case basis. I want to
draw attention to the fact that more than one year later, there is still little
indication of how the Minister intends to honour this assurance. It is a matter
of deep concern that several hundred of those parents with applications pending
have been notified of a proposal to deport them. No information is available on
the criteria by which their applications will be judged and, in addition, the
Minister has stated that they do not have a right to free legal aid.”

Noting that 2004 is the 10th anniversary of the UN International Year of the Family,
Bishop Field concluded that “regularisation of the residency of these families is
the only moral response”.

ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS
* Please see letter attached to Minister McDowell which was presented today
to the Minister’s office in the Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform
in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin;

* The Refugee Project a division of the IBC’s Commission for Justice & Peace.

Refugee Project
Columba Centre
Maynooth
Co. Kildare
Tel 353 1 5053157
Fax 353 1 6016401
E-mail: refproject@iecon

Mr. Michael McDowell TD
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform
St. Stephen’s Green
Dublin 2

11 March 2004

Dear Minister McDowell,

In this, the 10th anniversary of the UN International Year of the Family, the
Irish Bishops’ Conference appeals urgently to you on behalf of a significant
number of families caught up in an administrative vacuum. These are immigrant
families with Irish children. On the occasion of the March meeting of the
Bishops’ Conference, the Refugee Project urges you to address the situation
of the thousands of applicants for residency on the basis of parentage of an
Irish child born before 23 January 2003. These families have been living
in extreme uncertainty for two years and longer. In the circumstances,
regularization of their residency is the only moral response.

By January last year (2003), according to official figures, some 11,000
applications on these grounds to reside in the State were pending. These
applications were made in accordance with Irish law and Department of
Justice regulations in force up to that point and under which more than
6,500 people have already been granted residency rights.

Those awaiting a decision felt reassured by your commitment, following
the Supreme Court judgment of 23 January 2003, that each application would
be fairly considered on a case-by-case basis. However, more than one year
later, there is still little indication of how these assurances are to be
realised and the families concerned feel increasingly insecure. To date,
several hundred parents with applications pending have been notified of
a proposal to deport them. They do not have a right to free legal aid
and do not know the criteria by which their applications will be judged.
Please address this matter urgently.

From an administrative and policy point of view, this group is in a special
position, as it comprises those who applied for residency before the Supreme
Court judgment. Allowing its members to remain cannot therefore create a
precedent for future arrivals, nor will it indicate that the Government is
prepared to permit abuse of the country’s residency legislation.

Thank you for your consideration of those thousands of parents and their
Irish children caught up in a situation of increasing uncertainty, a
situation not of their own making.

Yours sincerely,

Bishop Raymond Field
Chair, Irish Commission for Justice and Peace


Further information:

Director of Communications Martin Long 086 172 7678
Communications Officer Brenda Drumm 087 233 7797
Director of Refugee Project of the IBC Sr Joan Roddy 087 126 7499

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