Bishops Commission for Prisoners Overseas welcomes ruling exempting Irish nationals from deportation

19 Feb 2007

Bishops’ Commission for Prisoners Overseas welcomes ruling exempting Irish nationals from deportation

The Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO) welcomes today’s statement in the House of Commons by Dr John Reid, the British Home Secretary, which exempts Irish nationals from deportation upon completion of their prison sentences in the United Kingdom.

Fr Gerry McFlynn, Director of the London ICPO office, said that the statement will bring huge relief to the many Irish prisoners who have been held in detention centres long past their release dates since this new policy was announced last April.  In addition, by clarifying the grounds on which deportation proceedings can be initiated in the future – i.e. in exceptional circumstances or where the judge has ordered deportation following conviction at trial – it removes a great deal of confusion and uncertainty for those coming towards the end of their sentences.  Fr McFlynn said: “Many families who contacted the ICPO over the last 9 months have been at their wits end due to the confusion and anxiety around the issue and the continued detention of their loved ones.  Today’s statement is bound to bring reassurance and comfort to many.”

Bishop Séamus Hegarty, chair of the Irish Episcopal Commission for Emigrants (IECE) which incorporates the ICPO, also welcomed today’s announcement and acknowledged the role and support of the Irish Government and in particular the ministers and officials at the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Justice, Equality and Law Reform.   Bishop Hegarty said: “I wish also to commend the dedication of the staff at the London and Maynooth offices of the ICPO.  They have worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome on behalf of Irish prisoners in Britain, and their families.  Contemporary migration brings with it the challenge of upholding human dignity while at the same time we respond to our mission to minister to people on the move.”

Notes for editors

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 is 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 Bishops’ Commission for Emigrants.

For further information please contact the Director of the Catholic Communications Office, Martin Long at 086 1727678