The potential deportation to China of a nine-year-old boy who has lived in Wicklow his whole life has been branded "cruel" and "inhumane".
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow, Stephen Donnelly has said that it is entirely unacceptable that Eric Zhi Ying Xue and his mother, Leena are facing imminent deportation after her last appeal to stay in Ireland was rejected in June.
“Over the past year, I’ve been working hard with Eric’s mother to stop her family from being plucked out of their home," Deputy Donnelly said.
"I’ve written to the Justice Minister on their behalf and have tried to convince the authorities how cruel it would be to send young Eric to the other end of the world from the only home he has ever known."
He said he considers Eric an Irish citizen and added that the child will not have access to healthcare or education if he is removed to China.
"We must remember that he wasn't born in China he will have no access to their health or education system if he's sent there.
“Deporting him under these circumstances would be inhumane. And I’m not alone in this belief; tens of thousands of people have already signed a petition set up by Eric’s school, St Cronan’s."
Almost 40,000 people have added their names to the petition set up by the Bray school.
Deputy Donnelly called on the Justice Minister to grant citizenship to Eric.
"Minister Flanagan must show compassion," he said.
"Citizenship should be granted to little Eric straight away and his mother should be given permission to reside so she can continue to raise him in the caring and loving environment she has developed in Bray for her son."
The Health Minister Simon Harris has voiced his support for Eric.
Simon Harris, who represents Wicklow, says he has lobbied the Justice Department on the case.
The Health Minister tweeted to say Eric is Irish and "part of our community".
"I stand with Eric Zhi Ying Xue in Bray," he said.
"He is 9. He is Irish. He was born in Holles Street. He is part of our community.
"On humanitarian grounds alone, this should be resolved. Common sense must prevail. Have made representations to that effect."
I stand with Eric Zhi Ying Xue in Bray. He is 9. He is Irish. He was born in Holles Street. He is part of our community. On humanitarian grounds alone, this should be resolved. Common sense must prevail. Have made representations to that effect.— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) October 18, 2018