23 March 2005 Edition

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Immigration portfolio should be removed from McDowell

Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh called on Tuesday for an emergency debate on the Government's "ruthless policy" of forcible mass deportations and has also called for the removal of the immigration portfolio from the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell.

"We are of the opinion that this policy constitutes a violation of the prohibition on collective expulsion in Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights," said the party's Dáil spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights. "We warned that this policy has led to physical maltreatment and deaths from asphyxia in other jurisdictions. We pointed to the grave concerns raised by human rights groups throughout the EU regarding this practice. Now some of our worst fears have been realised with the children left behind in the most recent mass deportation of Nigerians.

"I am calling on the Minister to at minimum suspend this policy to allow for a full investigation and report on the human rights implications by the Human Rights Commission. I am demanding a full Dáil debate, which the Government denied us a year and a half ago. I am also demanding to know from the Minister today the actions he is taking with respect to the children left behind, and the reason why he declined to use his discretion to allow the former unaccompanied minor, Olunkunle Elunhanla, who had resided legally in this country for five years, to remain here on the basis of humanitarian and compassionate considerations. Even if Olunkunle is not a Convention refugee, the Minister still has discretion in cases where there are humanitarian and compassionate considerations such as this one. He should use it."

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