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Bogus bid for asylum by cricket team gets hit for six

HOWZAT. Bogus asylum seekers posing as cricketers in an attempt to gain entry to the country have been bowled out by the Garda national immigration bureau.

After several successful innings, the bogus batsmen have been hit for six by the immigration officers and left on a sticky wicket.

The authorities have uncovered a trend where members of cricket teams based in the Middle East were being trafficked into the State.

In the past year, several cricket teams have applied to come here from the Middle East, with the majority of the sides comprised of Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals.

According to officials, one or two members of each party on a visit have a good travel history and do not arouse suspicion.

However, after entering the State, many of them later claim asylum or disappear. In one case, 10 team members were caught attempting to use the common travel area to gain entry to the UK and subsequently claimed asylum.

The cricket matches they were due to play went ahead and gardai say they suspect that the cricketers participating in those matches are already resident here. Immigration bureau inquiries are currently focusing on a group based in the United Arab Emirates.

Most of the Pakistani nationals involved in the scam try to get into the country by flying from Lahore to Abu Dhabi and then into Dublin.

The "bogus cricketer" is one of a series of asylum scams discovered by the immigration authorities, in liaison with officials in other countries, in the past year.

A case before the High Court in Dublin heard that a female Nigerian national had arrived here in 2000 and claimed asylum on the grounds that she was being persecuted in her home country. She said she had no passport. The next month she gave birth, withdrew her asylum claim and applied for permission to remain as the mother of an Irish citizen infant.

Her application was accompanied by a passport.

In August 2001, she was granted conditional permission to stay and care for her child.

In August 2006 she was interviewed by a British immigration officer as she tried to travel by sea to the UK from Ireland. She produced two Nigerian passports, which contained a number of visas and were valid for the same period.


A search of her handbag produced another passport, her fourth, which overlapped with the first document. Both were valid for the time when she claimed she had no passport.

She told the UK officer she spent only a few weeks of every year visiting Ireland and lived mainly in Nigeria, where she ran a hotel with her husband. She was returned by ship to Ireland where she was refused leave to land and then detained.

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The lawfulness of her detention was subsequently challenged in the High Court, which found it was lawful. Other scams included:

  • A Nigerian woman living in Kerry with five children was found to be claiming €760 a week in benefits. Her husband was detected in Belfast on his way to visit her and admitted owning a business in Lagos.
  • Last March, immigration officials discovered visa applications had been made by a number of Pakistani nationals with fraudulent documentation.
  • An investigation is under way into a racket where non EU nationals, legally living here, are claiming benefit for a child residing outside the State. Most of the cases uncovered by officials involve Chinese nationals. Between October and April, about 130 cases of benefit abuse, totalling €230,000, were uncovered.

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