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Saturday 23 March 2019

Family fury as childminder is deported 'like criminal'

Caitrina Cody

THE Thai sister-in-law of an Irish security guard was held in jail and then deported when she arrived in Ireland to mind his daughter.

John Meade, from Tallaght, is married to a Thai woman who is now an Irish citizen, and the couple invited her sister to Ireland to look after 14-month-old Kathaleeya while they worked.

However, Phitsamai Khumnut was arrested in Dublin Airport upon her arrival on Easter Sunday, despite having a valid passport and holiday visa.

She spent the night in Mountjoy Jail, before being deported early next morning. She was told that she will most likely be barred from entering Ireland for the foreseeable future.

The Garda National Immigration Board has denied any wrongdoing and says that proper procedures were followed.

Ms Khumnut (45) was on her way to stay with her sister, Orathai Meade, and her husband for three months so that she could mind their young daughter while they worked.

According to Mr Meade, Ms Khumnut has been treated "like a common criminal".

"Phitsamai doesn't speak English and she had no idea what was happening when immigration officials arrested her and put her in jail. My wife wasn't even allowed to visit her to explain what was going on."

Mrs Meade has worked as a cleaner in Dublin since 2002, and neither she nor her husband can afford to pay for childcare.

Mr Meade said that one year ago they decided to ask Ms Khumnut if she would travel to Ireland to mind their daughter while they worked full time.

"We thought we had the perfect solution," said Mr Meade (38). "Phitsamai was delighted to come and help us out, and we were so happy in the knowledge that we were leaving our daughter in trustworthy hands.


"She has been travelling over for three-month periods on a holiday visa, returning each time before the holiday period elapsed. I know plenty of people who helped relatives to enter the country and stay illegally. We never went down that route," he said.

The family believe that immigration officials are suspicious that Ms Khumnut planned to work illegally because when asked for the purpose of her visit, she replied in broken English that she was here to "mind a child".

But, Mr Meade stressed, she had never received a wage for her help in their home.

"We pay her expenses and give her money so she can have her freedom and get out occasionally, but Phitsamai does not earn a salary here."

A garda spokesman said that it is their policy not to discuss individual cases.

He added that: "An Garda Siochana are happy that proper procedures were adhered to in this case."

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