THE late-night removal by gardai of a couple and their seven-year-old son from their home last month for the purposes of deportation was unlawful but also disquieting and "quite simply distressing beyond words" for the boy, a High Court judge said yesterday.
Mr Justice Gerard Hogan was satisfied the four gardai involved behaved with individual personal propriety and showed courtesy to the family, but there were "features of the entire episode which are unsettling and, candidly, disquieting".
He was commenting during a decision in which he found the State had no lawful power to enter the home of failed asylum seeker Tareek Omar and of his wife Sheilah Omar and their son Tevin, who has lived in Ireland since he was born her in May 2006 and is in second class in primary school.
Gardai arrived at their home in Limerick around 11pm on November 7 last to enforce a deportation order against all three made by the Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform last September.
Mr Justice Hogan said the family, through their solicitor, had complied with all requests to present themselves at a garda station for deportation in October and this was later put back to November 14.
But before that could happen, four officers arrived at their home and told them to pack after which they were driven to Dublin Airport where it was planned to put them on a flight to Tanzania via Amsterdam.
When Mr Omar said he did not want to return to Tanzania but would accept being sent to Kenya, he was formally arrested and taken to Cloverhill Prison while his wife and child were brought to Balseskin Accommodation Centre near the airport.
Mr Omar's lawyers then brought High Court proceedings claiming he was unlawfully detained in breach of his constitutional rights.
Yesterday, Mr Justice Hogan ordered his release after finding the entry into the family dwelling was unlawful and what followed from that was also unlawful.
There is no power to enter a dwelling for the purpose of giving effect to a deportation order, he ruled.
Even though he was prepared to accept the initial entry of gardai into the house was lawful in that they were genuinely invited in by the Omars, it was quite clear the officers quickly exceeded the boundaries of that consent because no sooner had they done so than they "subjected the Omars to a form of de facto restraint and arrest".
The judge commented he found "deeply disturbing" evidence in relation to Tevin whose mother was told to only rouse him from sleep until the last minute before the drive to Dublin.
"It is impossible to believe that this entirely innocent young boy did not find the entire episode bewildering, traumatic and frightening,"
"It is simply distressing beyond words to think that a State committed to safeguarding the best interests of children would ever contemplate subjecting a young boy of seven years and six months to such an ordeal, even if he was not an Irish citizen and even if he had no right to be in the State."