A High Court judge has criticised the State's handling of applications by a Pakistani widow and daughter to be allowed to reside in Ireland with their EU citizen relative.
The comments were made by Mr Justice Max Barrett in a judgment quashing the Minister for Justice’s decision to issue deportation orders against the pair, who the court heard have been living in Ireland for several years.
The woman, and her minor daughter, left Pakistan in 2009 following her husband's death. They went to live with, and were supported by, the woman's UK-based brother who is a British citizen.
The minister refused their application to be allowed to reside in Ireland, and in 2018 issued deportation orders against them.
In High Court proceedings against the minister, the mother and daughter, who cannot be named for legal reasons, challenged those orders.
In his judgment quashing those orders, Mr Justice Barrett said the minister had erred in law and perhaps in fact when making the decision to deport. He also found that the decision was unreasonable.
The judge said that the State had issued the deportation orders against the pair because it was dubious about the nature of the relationship between the mother and daughter and the EU citizen uncle/brother.
The results of DNA tests, which were offered by and paid for by the two applicants, proved that the parties are all blood relatives.
The judge said it was "incomprehensible to the court" and "unfathomable" that the State, arising out of its concerns "did not welcome the offer and await the outcome of the DNA test".
The judge said that in 2014 the EU national relative obtained employment in Ireland and brought his niece and sister with him.
The judge said the two women integrated well into the community and both have obtained second and third-level qualifications.
Following their arrival here an application was made under the EU's Free Movement of Persons regulations to allow them to legally reside in Ireland as permitted family members.
The judge said that a lot of documentation in support of their application was furnished to the minister.
In 2015, the minister refused their application on what the judge said was the surprising basis that insufficient evidence of their dependency on the EU national had been provided.
They sought a review, and the minister sought further information from them, some of which had already had been provided to the minister.
The judge said it was "inappropriate" that the State should be provided with documentation and then raise a query which essentially seeks that it be provided with that information "for a second time".
In February 2017, the minister informed the applicants that the review was not successful, and in 2018 deportation orders were made against them on the basis they were in the State without the minister's permission.
The judge said the applicants were left dangling for the 18 months between the time the minister indicated that deportation orders might be issued, before actually issuing the orders.
"No good explanation" for this delay was given and the judge said he suspects "that this is because no good reason exists."
The judge said that the results of DNA tests, taken after the deportation orders were issued, proved that the daughter is the biological daughter of the mother, and that the woman and her brother are full siblings.
The judge said the court was "surprised" that in light of the DNA findings, which showed that the applicants had been "telling the truth all along", that the minister did not re-visit the decision to deport.
The applicants were out of time to legally challenge the decision in 2017 refusing to grant them residency, he said.
Given the results of the DNA tests, the judge said the court would have expected the State "to do the right thing" and re-visit that refusal, not because it was legally required but because it was "entirely proper".
Given the applicants' circumstances and the support given to them by their relative, they are the type of persons one would "instinctively expect the minister to determine are permitted family members within the meaning of the applicable regulations," the judge concluded.