Friday 15 February 2019

George Hook: Case of Eric (9) is 'truly terrible' but he should be deported, it's the law

  • George Hook describes case of a nine-year-old boy facing deportation as 'truly a terrible situation' - but says he 'should be deported because that's the law'
  • Mr Hook made comments on Twitter when Health Minister Simon Harris expressed solidarity with Eric Zhi Ying Xue
  •  Newstalk presenter said the government should not change the law based on popular opinions on Twitter 
Newstalk presenter George Hook has doubled down on a controversial tweet about deportation case of Eric Zhi Ying Xue
Newstalk presenter George Hook has doubled down on a controversial tweet about deportation case of Eric Zhi Ying Xue
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

George Hook has described the case of a nine-year-old boy facing deportation as "truly a terrible situation", but says he "should be deported because that's the law".

The Newstalk presenter doubled down on a controversial tweet he posted last night and said he believes he has done nothing wrong.

Mr Hook posted the message online following a tweet Health Minister Simon Harris made yesterday, expressing his solidarity with Eric Zhi Ying Xue.

The minister has also made representations in an attempt to prevent his deportation.

In response, Mr Hook tweeted: "With trolly [sic] numbers at world record levels, Minister Simon Harris, is worried about a Chinese boy!!" 

The rugby pundit’s comments immediately received backlash, with one user replying: "Jesus, George, that’s a disgraceful statement. This boy is Irish. He was born here and has never lived anywhere else."

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

Another person wrote: "It's called "compassion", George. People can care about more than one thing at once and about people other than themselves."

When contacted by Independent.ie, Mr Hook stood his ground and said the government should not change the law based on popular opinions on Twitter. 

He also heavily criticised Minister Harris, who he accused of deliberately trying to draw attention away from the trolley crisis. 

"More than a decade ago, the Irish people said they didn’t want to give automatic citizenship to children born in this country," Mr Hook said.  

"Charlie Flanagan is in his office saying we’re going to deport this boy, but Harris, who is probably the worst minister for health in the history of the State, is saying we can’t.

"The only narrative in this is not out of concern for this Chinese boy, but to simply to deflect from the fact that he’s doing an appalling job.

"The question at the end of the day is, do we want a country with laws or a country run by Twitter?"

In 2004, a referendum was passed which meant that children born in Ireland to foreign national parents would no longer have a constitutional right to Irish citizenship. 

"Everyone seems to think that this boy is Irish, but according to our laws, he’s not," added Mr Hook.  

"The reason why the government brought this law in was because pregnant women were flying into Ireland and having babies. This meant their children would become Irish citizens and their parents could stay here as well."

When asked what he thinks should happen to Eric Zhi Ying Xue, Mr Hook replied: "He should be deported because that’s the law.  

"It’s truly a terrible situation, but what will happen if a similar case comes up next week with another child? And what would the government do if a hundred or even a thousand children facing deportation asked to remain in this country?

"At what point do we want the law to change?"

The Newstalk veteran, who was suspended from the station last year following comments he made about a rape case, said he’s not concerned about a potential backlash from his radio station.  

"If I’m not allowed to have an opinion about anything or if I appear to be in favour of a country without laws then I don’t think my job is worth having," he said.

"Fine Gael have recognised that Twitter is running the country. Don’t forget that Varadkar, in his attempt to become leader of Fine Gael, seriously considered putting fake news stories out in order to get the job.  

"When the Nazis took power, they gave everyone in Germany a free radio. They figured if we can get into the kitchen of every home in the country then we’re in business.  

"So what Fine Gael are saying is that if we can get into everyone’s home through Twitter, we’re home free."

Back in 2004 Fine Gael was the only opposition party in the Dáil to support a 'Yes' vote in the citizenship referendum. 

Then-leader Enda Kenny had raised concern over the timing of the referendum on the same day as the local and European elections that year.  

He warned that there was a probability that during an election campaign "inflammatory comments could be made about this sensitive situation".  

However, in coming to the decision to support the 'Yes' vote, reports at the time said Fine Gael got independent legal advice about the potential to abuse Irish citizenship law under the existing provisions in the constitution.  

Mr Kenny said: "While the party has serious reservations about the way in which the government has brought forward this referendum, we are satisfied that a constitutional referendum is necessary to restore the power to legislate for citizenship to the Oireachtas." 

A spokesperson from Newstalk told Independent.ie that it would not be commenting on Mr Hook's Tweet.

Independent.ie contacted Simon Harris for comment.

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