Thursday 18 July 2019

DCU president adds voice to calls on Justice Minister for review of deportation case of student

DCU president Professor Brian MacCraith
DCU president Professor Brian MacCraith

Katherine Donnelly and David Fleming

DCU president Professor Brian MacCraith has added his voice to the calls on Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan for a review of the case of a Zimbabwean student under deportation order.

Shepherd Machaya is a second year student on a degree programme in management of information technology and information systems at DCU.

DCU is Ireland’s first 'University of Sanctuary' and Shepherd Machaya is among a number of students on a 'Sanctuary' academic scholarship. The scholarships are mainly aimed at supporting students who are seeking asylum and living in Reception Centres.

Prof MacCraith said the issuing of the deportation order had "created much disquiet across the university community, as Shepherd is not only an able student in the academic context, but he has contributed in many ways as an active and respected member of the university community.

Shepard Machaya is due to be deported on Sunday. Pic: DCU SU/Facebook
Shepard Machaya is due to be deported on Sunday. Pic: DCU SU/Facebook

"I am calling on the Minister for Justice and Equality to review Shepherd’s case with a view to allowing him to remain in Ireland in order that he may complete his course of studies at DCU."

Students at the university have started an online petition and written an open letter to Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan in an attempt to halt the deportation of a second year student.

Shepard Machaya, who is in his thirties, released a video saying that: "Ireland to me has become my second home. This is the only place I know other than Zimbabwe. My life is still in danger if I were to go back".

In the letter to Minister Flanagan, DCU SU said that Machaya "was tortured by political groups" before he came to Ireland and if he were to return home he would be "in imminent danger, with the potential of facing more torture from political groups that he came here to escape".

Irish-born: Eric is threatened with deportation to China
Irish-born: Eric is threatened with deportation to China

The Union of Students of Ireland have echoed DCU SU’s call for the minister to immediately revoke the deportation order. 

Meanwhile, Health Minister Simon Harris has said he hopes "common sense will prevail" in the separate case of the ordered deportation of Eric Zhi Ying Xue (9).

On Tuesday, a petition was started by St Cronan's Boys National School in Bray, Co Wicklow, asking Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan to revoke the deportation order for the fourth-class pupil.

School principal Maeve Tierney said Eric is as "Irish as any of her other pupils" and was born in Ireland.

However, he is not an Irish citizen and Ms Tierney said Eric and his mum, Leena Mei Mei Xue, were told on Tuesday that arrangements were being made for their deportation.

Commenting on the case yesterday, Minister Harris said he has appealed for Eric, who lives in his constituency, to remain in Ireland on humanitarian grounds.

"I have made representations to the Department of Justice and Equality in relation to Eric's situation," he said in a statement to

"I have appealed for Eric to remain in Ireland on humanitarian grounds. Quite frankly, Eric is Irish.

"He was born here, goes to school here and has never lived anywhere else. This is his home. This is his country. I really hope common sense can prevail."

Following a 2004 referendum, babies born in Ireland to foreign parents don't have an automatic right to Irish citizenship. The Department of Justice said it does not comment on individual cases.

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