News archive 2007

Church leaders appeal to Northern Ireland Home Secretary over deportation cases

PRESS RELEASE

21st December 2007

Church leaders appeal to home secretary over deportation cases

The Leaders of the four largest Churches in Ireland have written to Home Secretary Ms Jacqui Smith asking her to Carefully consider¹ the cases of several families from the Mountpottinger area of Belfast presently facing deportation.

In their letter Cardinal Seán Brady, Methodist President Rev Roy Cooper, Archbishop Alan Harper and Presbyterian Moderator Rev John Finlay express their acceptance of the need to have an immigration policy. However they continue ³it should not over-ride basic human rights and the religious freedom of each individual. These, we believe, must always be protected.²

Highlighting the case of Mrs Aderonke Falode who was detained in Belfast last month and is still held in detention the leaders argue that ³if she is deported to Nigeria she will either be forced to marry her deceased husband¹s brother or will lose her children to that family. The family have already taken over her property in Nigeria. It is fundamental to Mrs. Falode¹s Christian faith that she should not be forced to marry someone who is already married and of a different religion.²

In conclusion the Leaders reflect the shock and concern of the Mountpottinger community and ask the Home Secretary to ³carefully consider the circumstances of this case.²

The full text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Ms. Smith

I write on behalf of the Leaders of the four largest Churches in Ireland to express deep concern at the continued detention and possible deportation of Mrs. Aderonke Falode. Mrs. Falode was detained in Belfast last month and is still held in detention. She is only one example of a growing number of people who are causing concern. While we accept there is a need to have an immigration policy, it should not over-ride basic human rights and the religious freedom of each individual. These, we believe, must always be protected.

In this case the rights and freedoms of both Mrs. Falode and her children are seriously questioned. We understand that if she is deported to Nigeria she will either be forced to marry her deceased husband¹s brother or will lose her children to that family. The family have already taken over her property in Nigeria. It is fundamental to Mrs. Falode¹s Christian faith that she should not be forced to marry someone who is already married and of a different religion.

Mrs. Falode and her family were well integrated into the community in East Belfast and made a valuable contribution to the Presbyterian congregation of Mountpottinger. The community was shocked at her detention and are still very concerned at the continuing situation. We recognise that this family is not the only one facing considerable uncertainty but would ask you to carefully consider the circumstances of this case.

Yours sincerely,

DONALD J. WATTS
Joint Secretary to the Church Leaders

The IEC provides external links as convenience to our users. The appearance of external links does not constitute endorsement by IEC of the information, products or services contained therein.