Monday 19 February 2018

Tánaiste stands ground amid criticism of deportation comments

Frances Fitzgerald: under fire. Photo: Tom Burke
Frances Fitzgerald: under fire. Photo: Tom Burke
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A human rights watchdog has accused Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald of "sabre-rattling" following her pledge to deport Islamic extremists.

In an interview with the Irish Independent yesterday, Ms Fitzgerald said she would "make no apology" for expelling suspected extremists in situations where it was not possible to bring criminal prosecutions against them.

Although commenting generally, her remarks came after a suspected Isil facilitator had been deported to Jordan, despite claims that he may face torture there.

The Tánaiste's stance was questioned yesterday by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, which said Ms Fitzgerald was "fully aware" the State could not lawfully deport anyone to a place where they might face a risk of torture or ill treatment.

"To suggest otherwise would merely be sabre-rattling, which would be profoundly unhelpful at this time," it said in a statement.

Amnesty International's executive director Colm O'Gorman also voiced concerns. He said that if the State suspected someone of being involved in terrorism, it should investigate, gather evidence and bring a prosecution.

Referring to the deported suspect, he said: "It seems to us there were significant failings in the process used to deport this individual."

The man was given residency in Ireland in 2000 after fathering an Irish-born child.

But this was not renewed last year, when authorities discovered that the child was then living outside the State.

The way was cleared for his deportation after the High Court ruled that he had failed to demonstrate he was at risk of torture in Jordan or that the Tánaiste's decision-making had been unreasonable.

Ms Fitzgerald stood over her remarks yesterday.

"Wherever we have evidence, the vast majority of cases will be tried before the courts," she said.

However, the Tánaiste added: "I will make no apologies when that situation (deportations) occasionally arises. We do have to put the safety and security of the country centre-stage."

Irish Independent

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