Irishman in detention over Oz visa
Published 30/07/2016 | 02:30
An Irishman is being held at an Australian detention centre with convicted criminals and asylum seekers after his application for a permanent visa was rejected.
Bernard Lee (26), from Greystones, Co Wicklow, was arrested by border police in Perth earlier this week and is set to be held at the detention centre for three months before he can return home.
Mr Lee, who has been in Australia for most of his adult life, is being held for not leaving the country within 20 days of his visa application being rejected - despite saying he did not receive a letter making him aware of the decision.
Mr Lee said an obstruction of police offence and two drink-driving offences in Australia over the past seven years mean he is deemed to have not passed the character test to qualify for a permanent or bridging visa, and must be detained.
He says he is not disputing these incidents, but he was not notified of the rejection. He had already booked flights for a holiday with his Australian girlfriend in Europe next week.
Speaking exclusively to the Irish Independent from Yongah Hill Detention Centre, Mr Lee said he is sleeping on a bunk bed in a room with one other Irishman, but is surrounded by criminals at the centre.
Some of these criminals have been in prison for serious assaults, according to Mr Lee. Due to the vast number of nationalities, the Wicklow man described the centre as like "an American prison movie".
"The Irish all stick together," he said.
"There are no set routines. We've got a points system, where you have to go the gym or classes to get points for food."