Monday 21 October 2019

Simon Harris 'hopes common sense will prevail' in decision to deport Eric (9)

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

David Fleming

Health Minister Simon Harris said he hopes "common sense will prevail" in the 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 today, 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."

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

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 did not comment on individual cases.

Meanwhile, students at Dublin City 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. 

According to DCU Students Union, Shepard Machaya, who is in his thirties, has been served with a deportation order for requiring him to leave the country this Sunday, October 21. 

As such the student's union have started an online petition, which has so far been signed by over 7,500 people, urging the minister to revoke the deportation order. 

The students are also planning to protest outside the Department of Justice and Equality tomorrow at 12:30pm.

According to DCU SU should Machaya be deported back to his native Zimbabwe he will be faced with “the threat of torture from local ‘political’ groups, the very people who drove him out of the country nine years ago.”

Ahead of his imminent deportation Machaya, who is a second year Management of Information Technology and Information Systems student, 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”.

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

“The national student movement stands behind Shepherd and will be actively campaigning on his behalf alongside DCU Students’ Union to keep him in Ireland. Shepherd Machaya has been a positive influence in Irish society since his arrival, entering Higher Education through the University of Sanctuary scheme for refugees in order to better his quality of life. He must be allowed to stay on this island. Save our Shepherd now. Join us outside the Department of Justice, tomorrow at 12.30pm,” USI President Siona Cahill said in a statement. 

Machaya’s case is the second of its kind to make headlines in recent days. 

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