Sunday 19 November 2017

Children vanish while jailed mum facing deportation

Ray Managh

THE whereabouts of two children, whose mother is facing deportation, is now a mystery.

The children, aged five and eight, had been placed with family friends after their Nigerian mother, Gloria Okeralen, was taken into custody by gardai on foot of a deportation order last week.

The High Court heard yesterday that Ms Okeralen, of College View, Ballymun, Dublin, signed a written authorisation for her children to be placed with friends.

It is then believed the children were passed into the care of the family's pastor before they were handed on to other unknown family friends.

However, when officers from the Garda National Immigration Bureau called to Ms Okeralen's friends to collect the children, so that they could be deported with her, the siblings could not be found.

Ms Okeralen was the subject of a deportation order in 2009 after she exhausted the appeals process to be allowed to remain in Ireland.

However, she later disappeared and it wasn't until last week that she was taken into custody by gardai.

The High Court heard that she now claims she was trafficked into the EU 15 years ago for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Barrister Anthony Moore, counsel for the Justice Minister, told Mr Justice Michael White that the children were not in the custody of the gardai or the Health Service Executive.

MOUNTJOY

He said the High Court had been told on Monday, in an application seeking Ms Okeralen's release from Mountjoy women's prison, that gardai had taken the children when they called to the mother's home to deport her.

Mr Moore said Ms Okeralen had, in fact, signed a written authorisation for the children to be placed with friends.

Mr Justice White said that when the application for Ms Okeralen's release came before him earlier this week, the court had not been informed of the full facts of the case.

It had not been informed that she had "disappeared off the face of the earth" since the deportation order was made in 2009. Killian McMorrow, counsel for Ms Okeralen, said that when he had made the application he had not been in possession of the full file regarding her deportation.

In the affidavit presented to the court by Mr McMorrow last Monday, Ms Okeralen's solicitor, Gerard Cullen, said he had written to the Justice Minister on August 30 seeking to revoke the 2009 deportation order.

He said new information had come to light that Ms Okeralen had been trafficked into the EU 15 years ago for sexual exploitation that had taken place over a prolonged period.

Mr Justice White directed that both parties provide the court this morning with full affidavits of evidence relating to the deportation file dating back to before 2009 and what had occurred since the woman's arrest last week.

Irish Independent

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