'Eric is Irish' - Harris calls for halt to deportation of boy (9)
Health Minister Simon Harris has made an appeal to the Department of Justice in the case of a nine-year-old boy who was born in Ireland but faces deportation to China.
Eric Zhi Ying Xue, a fourth class pupil of St Cronan's Boys' National School in Bray, Co Wicklow, and his mother Leena Mei Mei Xue were informed on Tuesday that arrangements were being made for their deportation to Leena's native China.
Eric was born in Ireland and has never been to China.
Speaking last night, Mr Harris said he hoped "common sense will prevail" for the schoolboy, who lives in Mr Harris's constituency.
"I have made representations to the Department of Justice and Equality in relation to Eric's situation," he said in a statement to Independent.ie.
"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."
Eric's school started a petition this week asking Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan to revoke the deportation order - last night, almost 40,000 people had signed it.
School principal Maeve Tierney said Eric is as "Irish as any of her other pupils" and was born in Ireland.
Following a 2004 referendum, children born in Ireland to foreign parents don't have an automatic right to Irish citizenship.
Eric's mother has exhausted all legal avenues for herself and her young son to remain in Ireland.
When contacted last night, the Department of Justice said it did not comment on individual cases.