Judge says deportation orders for mother and Irish-born daughters are 'disproportionate'

By Ann O'Loughlin

A High Court judge has said orders for the deportation of a mother, who has been here 15 years, and her two Irish born daughters to the mother’s native country of Georgia are "disproportionate".

Mr Justice Richard Humphreys has adjourned to next week any formal decision on the family's challenge to the orders, suggesting there might be discussions between lawyers for the Minister for Justice and the family in the interim.

Lela Sivsivadze came here 15 years ago and her two children, Mariam (13) and Sofia (8), have lived all their lives here, have never travelled outside Ireland, attend school here, speak Irish and know “almost nothing of Georgia”, their counsel Garry O’Halloran BL had argued earlier.

The Minister for Justice’s 2017 decision to deport them arising from lies told by the mother in her asylum application 15 years ago is “so disproportionate” in a democratic society it’s “off the radar”, he said.

It was accepted there is a duty on everyone to tell truth at all times and his client had told it late in the day but the State response appearing to place her number one on its "charter for liars" was totally disproportionate.

Her children should not be punished for those lies, which she had since disclosed in other court proceedings unsuccessfully challenging the deportation of her husband, also from Georgia, he said.

This case was essentially about the rights of children to have their position considered independently of the conduct of their parents and the older girl was already very distressed arising from the deportation of her father to Georgia seven years ago, he added.

The State's approach meant these children "never had a chance".

Documents concerning the family which the court had sought from the State showed nothing to suggest humanitarian leave to remain previously granted to the family was dependent on the mother not having provided false and misleading information, he also argued.

A memo indicated the leave to remain was granted as an exceptional measure.

Siobhan Stack SC, for the Minister, said Ms Sivsivadze had previously secured permission to remain here on humanitarian grounds and that permission could be revoked if false and misleading information was provided.

Counsel also said Ms Sivsivadze’s parents are alive and still living in Georgia, her husband is also there and there was no evidence to support Ms Sivsivadze’s claims he is homeless and unemployed.

During exchanges with counsel, Mr Justice Humphreys said it was widely known that many people tell lies in the immigration process but that few admit to those.

We are all against immigration fraud but very few own up to it.

Ms Sivsivadze has been here 15 years and appears to have become a “sitting duck” for the State which has come down on her because she was “honest or naive” enough to have owned up to the lies, he remarked.

"Where is the incentive to come clean if this happens?"

Those lies, the court heard, were to the effect she was fleeing an abusive stepfather in Georgia who did not exist.

She was rather coming here to seek work.

Ms Stack said the mother "created this situation for herself", the family had been here unlawfully for the last three years and there had been no challenge to the 2015 revocation of permission to remain.

The case should be considered in the context of all the documents, not just the memo, she added.

Having heard the sides, the judge said he wanted to indicate he considered the deportation orders are disproportionate but he would adjourn the matter to Tuesday.

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