A judge has asked immigration authorities to do all in their power to ensure a 20-year-old mother receives daily visits in Mountjoy Prison over Christmas from her two-year-old child.
Ms Justice Maureen Clark heard in the High Court that Stella Omoregie and her baby daughter, Favour, were among a large group of failed asylum seekers being deported to Nigeria on December 15 when their plane got into difficulties and was forced to land in Athens.
Barrister Cormac O Dulachain, S.C., who appeared with Imelda Kelly for Ms Omoregie, said she had been returned with her child to Ireland on another plane and unlawfully re-arrested by gardaí at Dublin Airport.
She had been put in Dochas Centre and her child taken off her and put in foster care by the Health Service Executive. He asked the court for an order directing her release.
Michael Finucane, Ms Omoregie’s solicitor, told the court she was pregnant when, while en route to Canada, she had been given leave to land and permitted to enter Ireland in September 2007 as an unaccompanied minor.
Her daughter had subsequently been born in Limerick General Hospital on January 6, 2008 and for two years she had lived near Ennis, Co Clare, with a Nigerian family. Unhappy differences had led to her moving out to a hostel.
Mr Finucane said that since January 2010 Ms Omoregie had been virtually homeless and had been reduced to begging on the streets on occasion and living in hostel accommodation when available.
She had travelled from Limerick to Dublin every week to sign on with the Garda National Immigration Bureau until her social welfare money had been stopped and she could no longer afford to travel.
On December 8 last, the authorities had lodged her in the Dochas Centre on foot of a deportation order. On the 15th she was accompanied by Irish gardaí on a Nigerian-bound flight which was forced to land at Athens Airport.
Mr Finucane said she had disembarked with other deportees but had been put on a return flight on December 16 to Dublin.
Mr O Dulachain said she had been re-arrested on foot of the December 8 order which he submitted was spent as soon as Ms Omoregie had landed at Athens where gardaí had no legal authority over her.
Ms Emily Farrell, counsel for the State, said Ms Omoregie had been re-arrested at Dublin Airport on foot of a new order dated December 16 which, unfortunately, Mr Finucane had not been informed of at the time.
When Judge Clark said she would be greatly concerned if the two-year-old child had been with its mother begging on the streets in this weather, Ms Farrell assured her that both before and since the attempted deportation the child had been in foster care.
Refusing the application for the mother’s release on the grounds that her detention was lawful, Judge Clarke said efforts should be made for the child to be brought to see her mother in the Dochas Centre on a daily basis.