THE solicitor representing a six-year-old autistic boy deported to Nigeria last week has claimed there is a "strong anti-immigrant feeling" among Irish people.
Kevin Brophy, who represents Great Agbonlahor, his twin sister Melissa and mother Olivia, claimed yesterday that Irish people had a problem with black people and that his clients would not be a burden on the state.
The family were deported to Nigeria last week despite numerous attempts in the courts to allow them stay.
They will seek a judicial review of the decision in October.
"She's (Olivia) still going to fight this," he told RTE radio.
"She's an optimist by nature.After the deportation was confirmed, the first thing she wanted was to thank people."
"TV3 ran a poll on the day of the deportation and the response of the Irish people was to vote 52/48 in favour of the deportation.
"There's a very strong anti-immigrant feeling throughout Ireland.
"It was said on the 'Late Late Show' many years ago the reason we don't know a race problem in Ireland is because there's no black people. I think it's a black problem.
"One of the things that got me so angry about this case was I got calls from Great's special needs teacher and support groups, with people saying they would pay (for his treatment).
"His support teacher said she would help Great as long as he's here.
"I was totally taken aback (by the deportation). I thought the Government would say Great wouldn't be a burden."
Olivia Agbonlahor's husband lives in Italy and Mr Brophy said he was likely to be granted residency in the next couple of years.
After this, he could move to Ireland and apply to have his family join him. If allowed, it would be an "extraordinary situation", he said.
"There is confusion about a return to Italy," he said.
"A family living in Italy for a certain length of time are entitled to residency rights, but if you leave for a couple of months you lose your entitlements.
"She (Olivia) has no entitlement to return to Italy, but he (her husband) now has long-term residency rights and could come to Ireland."
He added it would be "extraordinary" if the family were allowed return here on the basis of an application from the father to have his family join him in Ireland.
Great Agbonlahor was deported to Nigeria last Tuesday and his mother Olivia has frantically tried to get him into a specialist school to help treat his autism.
She told a newspaper that her two children have been ill since arrival in the Nigerian capital Lagos, and were suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea.
The children have never been to Nigeria before, having been born in Italy and lived in Ireland the past four years.
She said Great had been severely distressed since his arrival.
"He's always screaming and blocking his ears. We can't go out on the street. I can't go out unless I get a taxi, and I don't have the money for taxis. There's so much noise and traffic, it's too much for him.
"He's still talking of Mandy, his special needs assistant. He wants to see Mandy," she said.
Lobby group Residents Against Racism is to picket the Department of Justice offices in Dublin next Thursday at lunchtime.