The Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas issued a press release today on the impact of deportations on Irish prisoners in Britain. Interestingly according to the ICPO, one of the men deported so far was actually born in Northern Ireland.
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.”
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. 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. (ICPO press release)