Monday 23 April 2018

Dearbhail McDonald: We cannot pretend the spectre of Isil just isn't an issue in Ireland

The man is accused of recruiting fighters for Isil, which has become known for its barbaric practices in the Middle East
The man is accused of recruiting fighters for Isil, which has become known for its barbaric practices in the Middle East
This image appears to show militants from the Islamic State group leading away captured Iraqi soldiers
Blindfolded members of the Iraqi Security Forces are shot from behind by an Isil gunman
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

Every time the prospect of suspected Islamic extremists being active in or returning to Ireland after waging jihad in conflict zones (such as Syria) is raised, the notion is pooh-poohed away by nervous Government ministers.

However, two high-profile cases in as many months have undermined the assertion that this famously 'neutral' country of sorts does not harbour its own risks.

Earlier this month, Ali Charaf Damache, an Algerian-born Irish national, was arrested in Barcelona on foot of an international warrant.

Mr Damache, who in a previous legal action (and correctly, in my view) collapsed Ireland's former system of gardaí issuing self-service search warrants, is a suspected jihadist wanted by the US authorities over alleged terrorist offences.

He skipped off to Spain after the High Court refused to extradite him to America, owing to concerns about conditions in that country's notorious 'supermax' prisons.

Yesterday, the High Court took no chances with a man alleged to be a major recruiter for the Islamic State (Isil) in Ireland and further afield.

The man, who has been living in Ireland for 15 years, denies claims by the State that he organises the travel of extremists to join Isil. He also denies that he is a consultant to or gives directions to senior, violent extremist leaders outside of Ireland.

In her ruling, High Court judge Ms Justice Carmel Stewart acceded to an emergency application by the Department of Justice to lift a temporary injunction against his deportation, which he secured on December 21 last.

Judge Stewart said that the court was entitled to take into account national security and the "very serious" information the State had put before the court about his alleged activities. The case also raises issues about Ireland's cumbersome and much derided refugee application system. He claims he is a bona fide refugee applicant and has an Irish-born son, which secured his family residency rights here.

Ironically, the application comes as President Michael D Higgins has convened his Council of State to examine whether the new asylum-seeker legislation is "repugnant" to the Constitution, and should be forwarded to the Supreme Court.

The High Court has essentially said that the man's judicial review proceedings challenging the refusal to consider his refugee status (and deportation) are matters that can be progressed from outside of the jurisdiction. In principle, they can.

But it will be interesting to see if the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court or perhaps even the European Court of Human Rights will take a different view about the potential risks the man faces if he is deported.

There may be road yet to travel in this case, but we can't now pretend that the scourge of Isil is not an issue in Ireland.

Irish Independent

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