Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas calls for end to unlawful detention of Irish-born people in UK prisons

07 Jul 2006


7 JULY 2006



“Society is failing, not just the ex-prisoner, but society itself” – ICPO

The Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO) has called for an end to the
unlawful detention of Irish-born people in UK prisons.

Last April a controversy arose regarding the release of foreign prisoners into society
at the completion of sentence without their first being assessed for deportation. This
culminated in the dismissal of the Home Secretary Mr Charles Clarke and the subsequent
reaction by the Home Office to the issue of all Foreign Nationals in custody in the UK.

Ms Gráinne Prior, Co-ordinator of the ICPO said: ‘‘There are 1600 EU citizens in UK
prisons. Irish Prisoners are by far the largest group numbering approximately 700. The
recent change in legislation whereby under EU law the Citizens Directive of 2004/38 has
been transposed into UK domestic law has major implications for Irish Nationals in custody
in the UK.

“At present Irish people who have been living in the UK for a number of years are being
unjustly detained pending a decision on a deportation order.

“The ICPO’s London office has dealt with 40 cases of deportation in the last month alone
and these are cases that have come to our attention – there may be many more people being
unlawfully detained. This increase is a cause for concern and represents additional
hardship for prisoners and their families.”

Ms Prior continued: “The ICPO believes that the present circumstances surrounding deportation
are in contravention of EU law. Whereas a country has a right in relation to deportation of
a non-national who has committed serious crime the instances where this can happen are listed
as serious grounds of public policy or public security for those residing for five years and
as imperative grounds for those residing for ten years or more.”

Ms Prior concluded: “Many of the Irish people being subjected to deportation decisions have
not only lived in the UK for many years but have families there; their children have attended
English schools and are totally integrated into English society. The ICPO believes that by
abandoning people at airports back in Ireland where they have no family support or a place
to stay there is a higher likelihood that they will find themselves involved in crime, even
petty crime in order to survive. If the transition from the institutional life of prison to
the opportunities and hopes that freedom presents are not managed and supported society is
failing, not just the ex-prisoner, but society itself.”

7th July 2006

Further information:
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)


* The Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO) was set up in 1985 to provide advice
and practical support to Irish prisoners overseas as well as their families. It has two
offices, one in Maynooth Co. Kildare and the other in London. The London office provides
an outreach / prison visiting service to prisoners in England & Wales. The ICPO is a project
of the Irish Chaplaincy in Britain and acts under the auspices of the Irish Catholic Bishop’s
Commission for Emigrants.

* EU Law: Irish citizens are also European citizens, therefore the deportation of EU citizens
from the UK are governed by EU law. On the 30th of April 2006 (while Mr Blair was preparing
his statement in response to Mr Clarke’s revelations) a new EU law, Citizens Directive
2004/38, was transposed into UK domestic law and introduced a new threshold for the
deportation of EU citizens. Any potential for the deportation of an EU citizen solely on
the grounds that they have been convicted of an imprisonable offence were seriously undermined
as the directive states “…Expulsion orders may not be issued by host Member states as a
penalty or legal consequence of a custodial sentence”( Citizens Directive 2004/38 Art. 33.1.)
While the directive does make provisions for Member States to restrict the freedom of movement
and residence of Union citizens and their family members (ibid 4 Art. 27. 1.), article 28 sets
out a sliding scale which basically stipulates the longer the individual has lived the UK the
higher the protection against deportation are –
1) for individuals who have been in the UK for less than five years: Art. 28 (1) applies.
Therefore, the decision to deport such individuals should be proportionate take into account
human rights.
2) for individuals who have resided in the UK for at least five years: Art 28(2) applies
(according to art 16(1): Union citizens who have resided legally for a continuous period of
five years in the host Member State shall have the right of permanent residence there).
Therefore, the decision to deport those Union citizens or their family members, irrespective
of nationality, should not only be made on grounds of public policy or public security but
on serious grounds of public policy or public security.
3) for individuals who have resided in the UK for the previous ten years: Art 28(3)
applies. Therefore only imperative grounds of public security, as defined by Member States,
can base a decision to deport them.

It has been reported that EU Commission officials have warned the UK Government that any
system of automatic expulsions would contravene the new directive. (Daily Telegraph, 4 May
2006) Furthermore, Irish nationals who have resided in the UK before 1973 (and have been
ordinarily resident in the UK for at least five years prior to the decision to deport) are
exempt from deportation.

* Specific Cases
Mr.W, a UK national, on reception into a prison stated his place of birth as Dungannon and
his ethnicity as Irish. Subsequently deported to Ireland in March 2005, he had no option
but to sleep rough on the streets of Dublin for seven months before returning to his home
in London in September. He was re-arrested in May 2006 for a minor offence and he was
consequently returned to prison for breach of license for the offence for which he was
deported. He has now been informed that he will have to remain in prison until June 2007.

Mr.X has lived in the UK since 1967 i.e. 39 years. Under immigration law he is exempt from
being deported as he lived in the UK prior to 1973.[1][1][1] Ample proof confirming this
has been submitted to the Home Office. During a trial in Ireland in the late nineteen
nineties the Irish Judge recommended that he be deported to the UK on completion of his
sentence in Ireland. In actual fact he was repatriated from Ireland to the UK in 2000 to
serve a sentence closer to his family. The Irish authorities are unlikely to accept him
back given the recommendation of the judge in Ireland. He has been detained in custody for
three weeks while the Home Office decides what action to take.

Ms Y, now in her twenties, has lived in the UK for the last ten years and wishes to remain
there. She has come to the end of a four month prison term for a minor drug related offence.
She has already served a two year prison sentence for a similar offence. She has made strenuous
efforts to address her addiction problem and the local council is holding her accommodation
pending her release. She has been informed that she will be detained in custody while the
authorities make the arrangements to have her deported.

Mr Z has lived in the UK for over 20 years, was married in the UK, and has two teenage
daughters who were born there. Twenty four hours prior to his release from prison he was
further detained pending deportation to Ireland. His MP Steve Pound made representations
to the Home Office Minister directly on his behalf. However, Mr Z was deported to Ireland.