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Africans’ grave protest against deportations

Last update - Thursday, April 8, 2010, 13:10 By Catherine Reilly

MORE THAN 100 immigrants braved last week’s sleet to march through Dublin with a coffin in protest against deportations.

Many of the protesters were fathers of Irish children who applied for residency after the closure of the Irish Born Child (IBC) residency scheme, and who have wives and children legally resident in Ireland.
“I’ve Irish children here: two kids born and bred here,” said Friday Ederaro from Nigeria, who has lived in Ireland for four years but whose case is undecided.
“I wrote [the Department of Justice] a letter, they said what I’m asking for under the IBC is not automatic, it’s a privilege and that I have to be patient.”
An accountant by profession, Ederaro said he is not permitted to work in Ireland, but volunteers with the St Vincent de Paul.
Another father, Segun from Nigeria, who preferred to withhold his surname, said: “I’ve been here for close to four years – I’m an accountant, and I’ve qualified as a financial advisor through the Institute of Bankers in Ireland, which is affiliated with UCD.”
He said his predicament is “ridiculous” and is taking its toll on those in similar situations.
“A friend called me yesterday; he has high blood pressure, his temperature went through the roof after he got a deportation order.”
Segun added that his wife works full-time, and he collects no benefits from the State. The father-of-two added that his two children, aged six and nine, are aware of his situation.
“They’re intelligent kids and they offer prayers that their daddy gets his papers.”
He said the Irish Government pushes for a resolution to the cases of illegal Irish in the US, but is “doing this to us here”.
His wife came to Ireland in 2003, subsequently receiving residency under the IBC scheme, which is now officially closed.
To cheers from the mostly African demonstrators, Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said: “You should have the right to work, the right to education and the right to family life. I believe that if the State can’t deal with somebody’s case within a number of months, those people should have the right to remain.”
Rosanna Flynn of Residents against Racism said concern is mounting among asylum seekers and parents of Irish children without residency.
“Everybody’s getting very angry, they realise things are getting more and more difficult, and why we have the coffin [in the march] is that human rights does seem to be dead.
“There’ve been so many deportations this year, there were two within one week; and there’ve been parents of Irish children deported – and the African husband of an Irish woman was taken up at a prayer meeting.”
She added: “Scandalous things have been happening and it’s getting worse and worse. We heard of an Afghan who got a deportation order yesterday and people from Iraq and Iran. From Iraq for God’s sake. And also the situation in Nigeria has deteriorated so much – it was not safe before but it’s certainly not safe now.”
Flynn also indicated that parents of Irish children are entering a residency lottery.
“I heard [recently] of one mother getting residency, she herself was amazed because her case was no different from anyone else’s – it was like they stuck a pin in a list.”

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