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November 27, 2004

News 11/27/04 - UN Did Nothing To Help Annetta Flanigan

News about Ireland & the Irish

ST 11/28/04 UN 'Did Nothing To Help Hostages'
ST 11/28/04 Sinn Fein Thinks Weapons Photos Will Seal Deal
ST 11/28/04 Opin: Nationalist Support Must Not Be Undermined Again
ST 11/28/04 Home Truths From Belfast
SM 11/27/04 Books Put On Pupils' Reading List To End Sectarianism
ST 11/28/04 Garda Watchdog Body Will Be Toothless Says Expert
GU 11/27/04 Why The Irish Republic Is Deporting Its Own Citizens


November 28, 2004

UN 'Did Nothing To Help Hostages'

Liam Clarke

THE millionaire Kosovan businessman who negotiated the release of
Annetta Flanigan in Afghanistan has criticised the United Nations
for ignoring her plight.

Behgjet Pacolli, who offered $1.5m (€1.13m) to the kidnappers in
the days before the release of Flanigan and two other UN workers,
said that the organisation had been extremely passive, and had
effectively deserted Kabul during their captivity.

Flanigan, from Richhill, Co Armagh, is still in the Afghan capital
being debriefed and recuperating. She will fly to Dubai with her
husband Jose Aranaz for a holiday within days. Friends say the
couple hope to spend Christmas with her mother in Northern Ireland.

There is a deepening mystery about the manner of her release and a
fear among some western officials that a ransom may have been paid.

The UN is maintaining its security status in Kabul at the same
level as at the time of the kidnapping.

Last night Pacolli refused to comment on a ransom. He described the
kidnappers as "dilettantes" and "bandits" who held the captives
only "a few metres, a kilometre at most" from where they had seized
them in Kabul.

Flanigan and her fellow captives — Angelito Nayan, a Philippines
diplomat, and Shqipe Hebibi of Kosovo — told the UN that their
experience was by turns terrifying and surreal.

They played cards with their captors to build up friendships. They
gave their captors nicknames according to the length and colour of
their beards. At night they were sometimes moved on foot to new
houses and often feared they were about to be killed as deadlines
were set by the captors for their demands to be met.

Speaking from his home in Switzerland, Pacolli said: "The United
Nations was a very passive organisation in this case. For the
festival of Eid (when hostages are traditionally released) many
staff from the UN had gone out of the country. People who were in
charge of the security were not in Kabul. Three hostages were in
the hands of bandits and nobody was in the UN."

The suspicion is mutual. "Pacolli tried to get in touch with the
UN, but the UN didn't like the guy. He was not looked at in a
positive way by the organisation," said a western diplomatic

Pacolli became involved because Habibi was Kosovan. He comes from a
poor farming family near Pristina and made his fortune on building
work in Russia, including the refurbishment of the Kremlin.

"She is from a very poor family and Kosovo has no representatives
abroad, nothing. It was necessary, my presence in Kabul," said

Pacolli said that he had worked closely with Peter Jouvenal, a
former cameraman for the BBC who now owns the Gandamack Lodge in
Kabul. He opened the hotel in the home of Osama Bin Laden's fourth

Jouvenal is famous for having entered the city with John Simpson of
the BBC ahead of the liberating army when the Taliban regime
collapsed three years ago. He had offered to help Pacolli when he
arrived in Kabul.

A third party who was known to the cameraman had acted as a go-
between, communicating with the kidnappers, Pacolli said.

On Thursday, Jouvenal was arrested for questioning in connection
with the kidnapping but was released again on Friday without

Jouvenal said: "At the end Pacolli was prepared to pay $1.5m for
their release. Initially he offered $1.2m and that was declined.
The kidnappers said that the Afghan government had already offered

Pacolli had cut a flamboyant figure in Kabul, handing out high
denomination bank notes to street urchins, always with a burly
Slavic bodyguard at his side.

Every day he ate steak "well done" at the city's only Balkan
restaurant as he quizzed the journalistic community for contacts.

Last night he said that the kidnappers had treated their captives
well, especially in the final 10 days of their 27-day ordeal.

Scotland Yard detectives were also involved with the Afghan police
effort and were opposed to any ransom being negotiated.

Last night Pacolli said: "I offer a big congratulations to
(Flanigan) and to her family. We are all very, very happy.

"Ireland and Kosovo are small nations and we have not the luxury to
lose people."


Sinn Fein Thinks Weapons Photos Will Seal Deal

Liam Clarke

SINN FEIN is making contingency plans for a special ard fheis in
expectation of an agreement with the DUP.

Irish government officials believe that the party also will
recommend to the IRA that photographs be taken during
decommissioning of weapons, if that is what is required to seal a
deal with Ian Paisley.

The tentative moves are evidence that republicans are prepared to
conclude an agreement that would see an end to paramilitary
activity and the decommissioning of all IRA weapons by Christmas.
But the plans are conditional on the DUP guaranteeing to enter
government and maintain the power-sharing executive once it is up
and running.

Mitchel McLaughlin, the Sinn Fein chairman, was careful not to rule
out photographic evidence of decommissioning, though he did not
commit the IRA to it either. "We have no influence on that. Ian
Paisley will come to understand that he has no influence over that.
The two governments have no influence over that," he said.

The negotiations are painfully slow, partly because the DUP still
won't talk directly to Sinn Fein, and instead British and Irish
government figures have to act as go-betweens.

Even President George W Bush has become involved. He called both
Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, and Paisley. Speaking from his
ranch in Crawford, Texas, Bush made an implicit criticism of the
DUP policy of not talking to Sinn Fein when he said he had urged
the two leaders to get "to the table to get a deal done to close
the agreement they'd been working on for a while".

Last night both British and Irish government sources said that a
deal was now more likely than not, but conceded that it could slip
into next week.

The final deadline was supposed to be November 26, but all the
governments will now say is that "it is days not months".

Yesterday, senior DUP figures were cloistered in Stormont for five
hours pouring over Tony Blair's reply to 43 points put to him by
Paisley last week. On Tuesday they will meet Blair again with more

Tomorrow, however, they will meet General John de Chastelain, the
head of the decommissioning body, to seek assurances that if all
IRA weapons are decommissioned he will provide an inventory to the
British and Irish governments that can then be published, and that
he would show them any photographic evidence. They also will seek
clarification on the role of two clergy, one Protestant and one
Catholic, who will observe the next decommissioning phase.

Officials see that attention to fine detail, and the increasing
emphasis on a £1 billion (€1.4 billion) financial package to
accompany devolution, as evidence that the two parties are getting
ready for agreement.

"The gap is narrowing all the time. But much remains to be done," a
DUP source said.

Bertie Ahern, the taoiseach, said that this weekend will be a
crucial one for the process.

The DUP is now satisfied on a number of major issues, but the
mechanics of reaching agreement are so cumbersome that they are
likely to take at least until the end of the week, if not longer.


November 28, 2004

Comment: Liam Clarke: Nationalist Support Must Not Be Undermined

Martin Meehan, the veteran Ardoyne republican, comes from a hard
school. On the run in my home town of Dundalk in the early 1970s he
and his cohort Dutch Doherty once boasted: "We engaged the British
Army last night and they squealed like pigs." Now he was talking of
his joy at finding the grave of a British soldier in Belgium.

"A precious treasure," he called it, a catch in his voice as he
described weeping over the plot, on which he poured holy water and
scattered soil from his mother's burial ground. The grave contained
the body of his grandfather Camillus Clarke, one of 50,000
Ulstermen to die in the first world war.

Meehan remembers his mother telling him that as a young girl she
had once been given a poppy on Remembrance Day and had worn it in
the staunchly nationalist Bone area. Everybody abused her,
including her own relatives, but she refused to take it off,
countering: "I'm only doing it for my father."

The defiant gesture put an end to poppy-wearing in the Meehan
household and, amid the Easter lilies and republican
commemorations, the details of exactly what had happened to
grandfather Camillus slipped out of focus until a few years back.

Then Meehan, by now a Sinn Fein MLA, met Roy Garland, a unionist
writer who was completing a life of Gusty Spence, the former UVF
leader convicted of the first sectarian murder of the Troubles.
Meehan told Garland the story and Spence, an amateur military
historian, found the Belgian village in which Camillus had fallen.

Last year, Meehan and a group of cousins set out to find and
reclaim their lost ancestor. The grave was not easy to find, they
had to split up to conduct the search and, as Meehan remembers,
there were whoops of joy when it was located. There was no moral —
just a sense of fulfilment and wholeness.

The remarkable story was told at an event organised by Coiste na n-
Iarchimi, the Provisional IRA ex-prisoners' group, which was also
addressed by Chris Carson, the chairman of the British Legion, who
admitted: "You wouldn't have got anyone from the legion to come to
this five years ago."

Another republican former prisoner told me outside how, when he
wanted to hear the story of his grandfather, he was told as a
child: "Don't be asking about that auld bastard." He imagined his
grandfather had abused the family in some way but later discovered
that his only crime was to have died in the war.

One had a sense of lines being drawn tighter in the last 30 years
of conflict than they were before. Republican and unionist versions
of history paint a black and white picture of loyalists and rebels,
but miss the fact that the categories were often porous, with
people moving between them for reasons that are airbrushed from

At the event last week, Laurence McKeown, a former H-Block inmate
and hunger striker, remembered being regaled by another blanketman
with tales of his service in the British Army in Aden.

McKeown told how Paul Marlowe, who blew himself up with his own
bomb in an attempted IRA attack on the British Army in 1976, was a
former member of the SAS, while the veteran republican John Joe
Magee was a former member of the British Army's other elite force,
the Special Boat Squadron.

He might have added, but didn't, that Magee was the head of the
IRA's internal security department, the infamous Nutting Squad
operating in the latter part of the Troubles. Magee's No 2 in the
squad, set up to root out British agents, was a British serviceman
of another sort, Freddie Scappaticci who was known to his military
intelligence handlers as Stakeknife.

In fact, so common were former soldiers within the IRA that the
Force Research Unit, the British Army's agent-handling unit,
encouraged soldiers from republican areas to join the IRA when they
demobbed and to work as agents within it. Willie Carlin in
Londonderry was a case in point as was Kevin Fulton in Newry.

Understandably, this side of things didn't feature heavily in
Coiste's analysis. Yet a re-examination of the notion of
collaboration, and the hard, fixed categories it presupposes, is an
aspect of remembrance that cannot be dodged indefinitely.

The other awkward question for republicans is the one that struck
Meehan — the sheer numbers of the dead. There was no conscription
in Ireland and it takes only a moment's thought to realise that the
200,000 Irishmen who volunteered for the first world war, and the
50,000 who died, dwarf the numbers involved in the war of
independence. In the second world war, 58,000 volunteered from the
south and 38,000 from the north.

The lost history turns out not to be just a forgotten grandfather
here and there, but the perspective of our immediate ancestors.
That may take some time to come to terms with and, for both
unionists and nationalists, it casts a challenging new light on
current republican attempts at accommodation with the British
government and the unionists.

The openness of Catholics and nationalists to service in the
British Army and to working in the institutions of the state is
nothing new and it does not mean that many were secretly unionists.
It was, for the most part, a pragmatic choice based on economic
interest or the defence of hearth and home, not loyalty to the
state. When nationalist feeling hardened into outright rejection
and tolerance of armed struggle, the reasons are generally to be
found in the unionist refusal to accept the validity of nationalist
aspirations and its suspicion of Catholicism.

Eamon Phoenix, the historian, told how the support of Irish
nationalists for British wars was undermined and transformed into
outright opposition to the British link by events such as the
treatment of demobbed soldiers after the first world war. Many
nationalists who got jobs in the shipyards were violently expelled
as disloyal infiltrators by sectarian mobs despite their military

That radicalised many but, even so, support for the British armed
forces persisted within nationalism for years. Until 1925, for
instance, a rally of the Ancient Order of Hibernians was addressed,
each Remembrance Day, by Sir James Craig, the unionist prime
minister. The tradition ended abruptly when he pushed his luck too
far and alienated the avowedly nationalist group by telling them
that they must support the principles of unionism.

That was a bridge too far and, as the DUP comes to grips with Sinn
Fein, it may care to reflect on Craig's mistake in pushing
nationalist co-operation past what could be delivered. This is not
the first time nationalists have been willing to work with
unionists to achieve stability. There has always been a willingness
to give practical support to the institutions of the state while
fully intending to change them by democratic means as soon as they

The basic offer of stability and the acceptance of difference that
is on the table this weekend has been available several times
before. Each time it has been rejected by a unionist leadership
that has demanded something more clear cut than nationalists were
prepared to give. Each time the result has been division and
hardship for the whole community.


November 28, 2004

Home Truths From Belfast

Experts say Scotland is lagging behind Northern Ireland in tackling
the issues surrounding sectarianism, reports Kenny Farquharson

Quintin Oliver left his native Belfast for Scotland because he no
longer wanted to live in a poisonous climate of religious hate. "I
regarded Northern Ireland as a bitter little sectarian backward-
looking place," he recalls. "That's why I escaped." In Scotland,
however, he was in for a shock.

His first job after university was, he recalls, as a welfare rights
adviser, driving the "benefits bus" around Lanarkshire. "What
struck me right away was that people immediately wanted to know
what side I was on in the Irish context," he says. "They were very
direct about it. They needed to know." In his chosen country of
sanctuary, religious intolerance was alive and well.

Oliver, from a middle-class Protestant background, usually managed
to change the subject to benefit payments, and by the end of most
conversations his Scottish clients "usually assumed I was on their
side — whatever that happened to be".

Twelve years of working in Scotland left the 49-year-old in no
doubt that Scots are fooling themselves if they believe religious
intolerance is just harmless banter — especially after last
weekend's violent Old Firm match. "I've been surprised by the
number of people I've talked to in Scotland who've told me it's
only about football," he says. "I think that's a form of denial."

Oliver, who now runs a public affairs consultancy in Belfast, says
Scotland needs to learn some lessons from Northern Ireland's
experience in tackling sectarianism. He has been appointed a
trustee of Nil By Mouth, the pressure group founded in 2000 by the
Glasgow law student Cara Henderson after the death in 1995 of her
friend Mark Scott, who was murdered simply because he was wearing a
Celtic strip.

Oliver says anybody sceptical about the corrosive nature of
Scottish sectarianism should imagine themselves as a foreign
investor arriving in Scotland on any day last week and picking up a
newspaper. They could not avoid reading in grisly detail about the
Old Firm controversies and would draw their own conclusions.

"Would you think this was a stable democracy where people were
treated with respect? Would you think that the social capital of
the west of Scotland was somewhere you wanted your workers and
managers to be based? Would you think their children would be safe
and comfortable? These are the measurements global firms use when
they decide where to invest. Occasionally we get a glimpse of how
other people see Scotland — when a guidebook is published and
Glasgow is described as a sectarian city, for example. But I think
that is just the tip of the iceberg.

"It does not do the international image any good at all — and that
has consequences. We have experienced that over 30 years in
Northern Ireland, which in economic terms is a basket case as a
result. There is a hidden cost in Scotland that hasn't been

Oliver has an impressive CV in conflict resolution. After working
for Strathclyde region's social work department and the voluntary
sector in Belfast, he led the successful Yes campaign in the
referendum on the Good Friday peace agreement. He now runs his own
public affairs firm, Stratagem, and is a board member of the
Belfast-based think tank Democratic Dialogue.

Oliver warns that some of the lessons Scotland can learn from
Northern Ireland may prove hard to swallow — especially those that
tackle prejudice by employers. But they work. He believes it is
"very possible" that there is now more religious discrimination in
Scottish workplaces than in the Irish province.

"We now have the situation in Northern Ireland that we reckon our
workplaces are sectarianism-free. Our schools aren't and our
housing isn't. But in workplaces, we have cracked that, against the
background of a small war." This has been achieved by legislation
making such discrimination unlawful, and by strict policing of

Large employers in Belfast such as Shorts, the aircraft
manufacturer, and the shipyard Harland and Wolff used to be
infamous for their discrimination against Catholics. That is no
longer the case, to anything like the same extent. Shorts even
moved one of its sourcing plants to west Belfast in order to employ
more Catholics.

But in Scotland, Oliver believes discrimination is still possible
"because it is allowed and there is no redress by the employee and
there is no positive action by the employer, encouraged by
legislation. There may be small engineering businesses — I guess
there are — in Glasgow where Catholics need not apply". Or council
departments where most of the cleaners and binmen are Catholics, he

The only answer to such inequities, says Oliver, is for employers
to embrace a thorough system of monitoring, which involves knowing
the religion of each and every employee. "It's now widely accepted
that to tackle the problem, you have to monitor what is happening.
Where are the Catholics employed? Where are they getting services
and not Protestants?" Such a system was initially opposed by
employers' groups such as the Confederation of British Industry,
who complained of red tape and bureaucracy. But Oliver says they
are now its foremost champions in Northern Ireland. "They say we
cannot provide a fair workplace unless we know this. And that's now
imbued into our systems and processes, with acceptance from the
trade unions and business.

"Initially they said, 'How dare we ask employees their religion?'
But if you don't know how many racial or religious minorities there
are in your workplace, how can you say you are a fair employer?
That monitoring is now routine and it allows you to say progress is
being made."

Oliver expects similar initial resistance in Scotland, but says the
benefits will become clear. "If it is not done, you will continue
to get gossip — that legal firm is all Prods, or whatever. That
gossip may be true, or may be historically true. But those
employers cannot refute the allegation unless they are able to
point to figures and research."

In last week's Queen's speech, the government made clear its
intention to strengthen equal opportunity laws in Scotland, England
and Wales to include discrimination on grounds of religion.
Intended as a reassurance to the Muslim community, it will be just
as relevant to issues about the Catholic-Protestant divide in
Scotland. "It is important Scotland makes sure these measures
become law in a form that will work in Scotland," says Oliver.

As for the Old Firm, Oliver is not at all convinced they are doing
all they could to reduce tension, or using all the means at their
disposal. He gives Celtic and Rangers credit for helping to sweep
away the sellers of sectarian paraphernalia from outside their
grounds, but he believes there is much still to do.

"Campaigns like Bhoys Against Bigotry and Pride Over Prejudice are
a start, but they could do more. I was fascinated with the recent
case of the Dundee FC supporter done for racism. That was reported
not by the club, not by the stewards, not by the CCTV cameras, but
by a 14-year-old kid.

"Now, give me a break. Are Rangers and Celtic not using CCTV, and
is the crowd not mainly season ticket-holders anyway? Do they not
know almost every single person in that ground? Don't they have
stewards and don't they have cameras? Can't they photograph and
lift offenders quite easily?" Jack McConnell, the first minister,
comes in for praise for the way he criticised the Old Firm last
week, and for his action on ensuring that crimes with a sectarian
motive receive harsher sentences in Scotland's courts. But Oliver
believes McConnell has missed a trick by failing to make his
campaign a broadly based one.

"Strong political leadership is absolutely critical, but so is
cross-party political leadership. What citizens like to see, and
see too rarely, is politicians working together. That is what they
respond to politically," says Oliver. "I think Jack McConnell has
actually been very brave, given that he represents a Lanarkshire
constituency and operates within the Labour party. In Northern
Ireland, we organise our politics around religion. In Scotland,
those battles take place within political parties internally."

Political intervention can be on a small scale, says Oliver — for
example, giving small grants to groups who want to organise cross-
community football. However, Scotland's biggest challenge, he says,
is the complacent belief that Old Firm bigotry is just harmless fun
and not worth worrying about. Or worse, that it is a safety valve
for enmities that will never go away.

"These attitudes allow the issue to fester further. Just as with
race, first in England and then belatedly in Scotland, the first
stage is recognising that we have a problem."


Books From Belfast Put On Pupils' Reading List In Bid To End

Eddie Barnes Political Editor

ANTI-sectarian novels about the religious divide in Northern
Ireland are to become texts in the English curriculum in Scottish
schools in a radical bid to tackle discriminatory attitudes among

The teenagers' books, Across the Barricades and The Twelfth of
July, tell the story of a Catholic boy and a Protestant girl from
Belfast who overcome their communities' hatred and eventually

They will now be included in English lessons, with the aim of
forcing pupils to confront the reality of religious hatred, and the
message that it can be overcome.

The plan is the latest in a series of measures being rolled out
throughout Scotland to confront sectarianism, which will be
implemented in every school in the country by next year.

As revealed by Scotland on Sunday earlier this year, ministers are
to provide schools with educational packs for children as young as
three, which include role play sessions and lessons aimed at
bringing Scotland's "secret shame" into the open.

The plan to include books about sectarianism in the English
curriculum is being pioneered in Glasgow. Ministers now want
schools across the country to follow a similar approach.

The books, the first in a series of five written in the 1970s by
Edinburgh author Joan Lingard, are already used in the same way in
the Republic of Ireland. They relate the tale of Kevin, a Catholic,
and Sadie, a Protestant, growing up in Belfast.

The Twelfth Day of July begins with Kevin and a group of friends
attempting to daub slogans under a mural of King Billy. Gradually,
during the book, he and Sadie develop a deepening understanding of
the divide that separates them. By the second book, Across the
Barricades, romance has blossomed. As the series continues, the
couple get married and move to London.

The inclusion of the books in the school curriculum began this
term, in a scheme run by Sense over Sectarianism, an anti-bigotry
organisation run from within Glasgow City Council.

Co-ordinator Alison Logan said: "The pupils are asked to read the
books and then produce some reflective writing on what their
thoughts are."

The move was backed by other anti-sectarian groups last night.
Schools across Scotland will now follow Glasgow's lead, with
ministers keen to ensure that the anti-sectarian message is not
limited solely to the West of Scotland.

A spokesman for Education Minister Peter Peacock said: "Other
schools will be able to access this material once we roll it out
nationally. If they want to use it as part of their citizenship
work in the curriculum that would be regarded as a good step."

The novels, now 30 years old, have sold more than one million
copies worldwide, and have even been translated into Japanese.

Lingard, who has written 40 books for children, said last night: "I
think things like sectarianism should be discussed openly and
children should have the chance to say how they feel if they think
there is a problem.

"There is still a major divide in Scotland in that children
continue to live in their own areas and go to their own schools. It
all surfaces as a result of football."

Lingard, who was brought up in Belfast, said she gained inspiration
for her books after a visit from a friend. "He was a dyed-in-the-
wool Orangeman but I got on very well with him. Then one evening, I
heard him talking through some questions and answers he had
rehearsed with my three children.

"He asked them: 'Who is the good man?' They replied: 'King Billy.'
Then he asked: 'What does King Billy ride?' They replied: 'A white
horse.' Then it was: 'Where is the horse kept?' 'The Orange Hall.'
And then he asked: 'Where is the Orange Hall?' They replied: 'Sandy

"Finally he asked them: 'Who is the bad man?' They all shouted:
'The Pope.' He had coached them and he said it was all a joke, but
the kids were all under five."

The move to include Lingard's books in the curriculum comes with
concerns about the sectarian divide back at the top of the agenda
following the violent aftermath to last week's Celtic-Rangers


Garda Watchdog Body Will Be Toothless Says Expert

John Burns

A LEADING academic has warned that the new garda ombudsman
commission will be toothless and ineffective.

Dermot Walsh, a professor of law at the University of Limerick,
says the system being set up by Michael McDowell is "misconceived",
will not generate enough respect, and is in danger of being an
"elaborate charade conveying the appearance, but not the substance,
of independent investigation".

The justice minister is setting up a watchdog commission to
investigate complaints against gardai after a series of
controversies including corruption in Donegal, the batoning of
protesters at a May Day march in Dublin and the shooting of John
Carthy during a siege in Abbeylara. The current garda complaints
board is widely seen as ineffective.

Critics of the force had been hoping that the republic would get
the equivalent of Nuala O'Loan, the Northern Ireland police
ombudsman, who has been independent and fearless in overseeing the
PSNI. She was fiercely critical of the force's investigation of the
Omagh bombing, for example.

But the republic will not be getting an O'Loan-type watchdog,
according to Walsh, who believes the term "ombudsman" should not
even be used to describe the three-person commission.

"An examination reveals that the inclusion of 'ombudsman' is little
more than window dressing, an attempt to convey the impression that
the new office will at least be based on an ombudsman model," he

The three-person commission will not have a chairman, and seems set
to operate like a committee with no single ombudsman. Walsh argues
that the buck needs to stop with an indentifiable person whom the
public trust, particularly in "cases where complaints are not
upheld, including those which generate widespread controversy and
high emotions".

Walsh, the director of the Centre for Criminal Justice, says the
new system does not deliver a fully independent procedure. Other
defects he has identified include: oThe public cannot make a
complaint against the garda commissioner;

Providing false or misleading information to the ombudsman will be
an offence, which may discourage people coming forward with claims;

The justice minister has to be told when an investigator plans to
enter or search a garda station, and he can issue an order to stop

The ombudsman has to report to the garda commissioner after an
investigation, and it will be up to Noel Conroy to decide what
disciplinary action is taken. The ombudsman only has the right to
be told what he decides;

The ombudsman will rely on gardai to carry out many investigations,
which means the discredited system of garda investigating garda
will continue.

The new system is mapped out in the garda bill, which is before the
Seanad and is due to be enacted next year.

McDowell has indicated theat one of the three people on the
commission will be a judge, and one must be a woman. He says the
statutory powers of the new body are the same as those in Northern


Why The Irish Republic Is Deporting Its Own Citizens

Asylum seekers' children born in Ireland are no longer
automatically granted residency

Nicola Byrne
Sunday November 28, 2004
The Observer

In years to come, Precious and Gift Igbojionu, are unlikely to
remember much of the land of their birth.

At the ages of two and four years, the two girls, both of whom are
Irish citizens, attended a routine appointment with their mum at
the Police Immigration Bureau in central Dublin. Rachel Igbojionu,
an asylum seeker, was in the process of applying for residency on
the basis of having two Irish-born children when she was told
abruptly that she was under arrest.

Through heavy rush hour traffic, she was driven in a squad car
across the city to her small apartment where she was instructed to
collect some clothes for the children. From there, with Mrs
Igbojionu now in handcuffs, the three were taken to the airport
where, watched by curious other passengers, they were put on a
flight to the Nigerian city of Lagos.

Her husband, Kingsley Igbojionu, arrived home later that evening to
find them gone, with no note or call of explanation. It was two
days before he learned from the Gardai what had happened. Months
later, he too was sent back to Nigeria.

Deportations like these of illegal immigrants are routine across
Europe, but the Republic is extraordinary in that many of the
people it now effectively deports are its own citizens. Some of the
children are held in prison for days before they are sent back to
the country of their parents' birth.

Under a loophole in its constitution (now closed), children born in
Ireland were automatically granted citizenship until this year.
However, a Supreme Court ruling in January of last year said that
while an Irish-born child has a right to have the care and company
of its parents, there is no right for this to take place in

Civil rights groups were initially hopeful that the government
would show leniency and not apply the law strictly. But anecdotal
evidence gathered since shows that the migrant parents of children
who are Irish citizens are just as likely to be deported as those
who have no Irish children.

Parents can opt to leave their children behind in care but, for the
vast majority, this is not an option which is made clear to them or
one they would consider.

Because Irish-born children are not actually the subject of
deportation orders themselves, the Department of Justice in Dublin
says that statistics are not available in respect of the numbers of
children who accompanied their non-national parents when they were
being deported. Just over 400 people have been sent out of Ireland
this year.

Immigrant welfare groups say that the numbers of children who have
been deported with their parents may have run into hundreds since
the Supreme Court ruling was made. More than 11,000 migrants with
Irish-born children are still technically liable for deportation.

'In the 1980s, Ireland abolished the term an "illegitimate child".
Twenty years later, a new generation of Irish children are being
treated as if they were "illegitimate" citizens, again only because
of the status of their parents,' says Joanna McMinn, Director of
the National Women's Council of Ireland.

The Coalition Against the Deportation of Irish Children (CADIC)
says that by deporting families of Irish children, it means that
these children are forced to live in countries where their rights
may not be protected. They maintain many will be treated as aliens
unable to benefit from free education and healthcare.

On the outskirts of the working-class Dublin suburb of
Blanchardstown live a young Romanian couple, Adrian and Emanuela,
with their son, Matei, who is nearly three years old.

In their basic, neat flat, they explain how, two months ago, they
received a letter from the Immigration Bureau advising them to
leave the country or be deported. It signalled the end of an
agonising five-year wait to see if they would be granted residency.

The couple, both of whom are 28 and university graduates, say the
temptation now is to just pack up and not wait for a dreaded knock
on the door by immigration officials.

'But we are on the phone to our parents and they say hold out for
Matei's sake, because the life he would have in Romania will be a
far poorer one than what he might expect in Ireland,' says

'But every day, it's like living with a knife over your head. They
could walk through our door any moment and say, "Right, let's go".
Just like that, five years down the drain. It's hard to cope.'

The pair keep in close contact with other members of the Romanian
community in Ireland, many of whom are also fearful of being
deported with their Irish-born children. Adrian, who is a choral
singer by profession, says the practicalities of taking Matei back
to Romania, are also worrying.

'Firstly, he doesn't speak Romanian. Also, he's not a citizen there
so we will have to get a monthly visa for him while we apply for
citizenship. That costs €60 each month in a country where the
average monthly wage is €100. There's also no guarantee that he
will be granted a Romanian passport.'

The Irish Children's Rights Alliance has now asked the Minister for
Justice, Michael McDowell, to undertake a child-impact review
before children are moved from Ireland to other countries. The
review would examine the political situation in that country and
whether there were adequate health and social support structures.
The Justice Department has made no comment on the request, but is
adamant that Irish-born children are never forced to leave the

It insists that parents ultimately decide whether they take their
children with them or leave them in care in Ireland.

At least three couples who were deported have reported back that
they weren't offered any such option, however. The Immigrant
Council of Ireland backs up this claim.

Catherine Cosgrove, legal officer, says it's a grey area which
needs to be cleared up urgently. 'My understanding is that parents
are not told they have an option to leave their children behind.
There's certainly no clear evidence that they are. And holding
children in prisons is never acceptable. Clover Hill prison was
packed with people sleeping on the floor prior to one recent

A spokesperson for the Minister of Justice refused to comment,
saying that the actual deportation process was a matter for the
Gardai. He denied that the system was harsh and said each case is
examined by the Minister before he signs a final order. 'Every
deportation letter contains an option to apply for it to be quashed
on humanitarian grounds. The Minister's staff prepare a file on
each case and he has the final say whether they stay or go,' he

The Minister, who has vowed to rid the Republic of 'baby tourism' -
whereby he says immigrants come to Ireland to give birth in the
hope of being granted leave to stay - says his decisions are made
on the basis of 'decency, pragmatism and common sense'.

Meanwhile, in Lagos, Kingsley Igbojionu is living in a hostel with
his wife and two children. Unable, he says, to return to the
countryside where he came from for fear of persecution, he has made
several trips to the Irish embassy in Abuja to request help for his
sick children, without success.

Although he has solicitors working free of charge in an attempt to
have his family readmitted to Ireland, he is not hopeful.

'We have no money, the children are malnourished and have been in
hospital twice. At this point, if they allow us, we will send them
back to Ireland alone, so that they may be put up for adoption.
That's the decision my wife and I have made as we believe it's the
best thing for the children.'

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