Seanad debates

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Commencement Matters

Immigration Status

2:30 pm

Photo of Ivana BacikIvana Bacik (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I believe it is important that we raise the wider context and the implications of this case while being conscious that it is under appeal. This case concerns two families because there was a related appeal judgment that was given on the same day in the Luximon case. In the case I spoke about, the Balchand case which is under appeal, the couple involved had a son who was born in Ireland in 2009 and who had lived his entire life in the State. He had never even visited Mauritius - the original home country of his parents - and so on. The Minister of State has clarified for me that there are 70 similar cases in which proceedings have now issued. That is a large number of families who are now, as the Minister of State has said, in a position similar to that of Irish people who are undocumented in America. At a time when we are protesting - rightly in my view - about the unfair treatment by President Trump towards undocumented individuals and towards Irish citizens in the US who are currently in such a difficult and uncertain position, it would behove Ireland to look at its own policy and to look at the wider implications. I am glad the Minister of State, Deputy McGrath has said that the Tánaiste is giving further consideration to the wider impacts of the case. I know that the rule from 2011 capped at seven years the total time student permission may be granted, but that is quite a lengthy period and it is very likely that people - as did the couple in the Balchand case - will set down roots, become fully integrated and have a family here. As pre-2011 entrants to the State, it would be a fair approach to state these are people in respect of whom the application to remain could have been granted. Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan was very clear that in considering the application as to whether to renew permission to stay, the Tánaiste was bound to consider the constitutional principles and the principles as set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. The judge clearly set it out that it was at that stage of the process when the Tánaiste would be bound, and indeed later in the process. I will say no more, given that the matter is under appeal, but I ask the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, to bring back to the Tánaiste my concern that in appealing this case, the State and the Government are perhaps overlooking the wider implications and the detrimental and negative impact this sort of uncertainty will have for so many families, potentially 70 families, whose status is now uncertain as a result of the State's appeal.


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