Show compassion to immigrants

ÁINE NÍ CHONAILL (Irish Examiner letters, June 14) argues that the Irish taxpayer is being abused by the likes of 20-year-old Nigerian Tude Ominiyi.

His wish to stay in this country on humanitarian grounds is under review and, in the interim, he has been given board and lodging and free education “none of which he was entitled to in any concept of right,” according to Ms Ní Chonaill.

I would like to inform her that I am an Irish taxpayer - and I don’t think that I am being abused. In fact, I have no problem with some of my taxes going towards the support of Tude Ominiyi in his efforts to get the Leaving Cert.

What I do have a problem with is when my taxes are wasted on, for example, the storage of computers for the much-vaunted but hopefully obsolete electronic voting or the payment of inflated salaries to spindoctors instead of using the civil service.

Ms Ní Chonaill is critical of the immigrant application process in relation to humanitarian appeals because of the delay involved. I agree with her on this point.

However, this is the only area of agreement. She wants the vast majority fast-tracked back to Nigeria whereas I believe that only those who are not genuine should be deported.

The term ‘humanitarian’ is wide-ranging and many of those deported back to Nigeria are in fear of their daughters being forced to undergo genital mutilation, ritual killings and, in the north of the country, Sharia law. These are not “cock-and-bull” stories, as Minister McDowell has claimed. This is reality.

The immigrant application system and the appeals tribunal are the only means available to decide the fate of these people, but the system lacks transparency and consistency.

Decisions are not made public and those made by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal seem to depend on the individual whims of the members rather than any firm set of criteria.

My information is based on the solicitors interviewed by Keelin Shanley on Prime Time (RTÉ 1, June 9).

Meanwhile, Nigerians (and other nationalities) languish in a legal limbo, waiting for years to find out if they have a future of not. In the interim, they have settled into local communities and have put down roots. Their children attend the local schools and have made friends.

Ms Ní Chonaill suggests that, because of the delay in reaching a decision, Minister McDowell should be billed “for the necessary millions he is costing the taxpayers.”

I don’t agree. What Minister McDowell should do, as suggested by many of the solicitors on Prime Time, is to grant an amnesty to those who have been waiting two years or more to know their fate.

It is the only compassionate solution.

Ms Ní Chonaill, please grow a heart.

Margaret Buckley

Ballyvouskil

Millstreet

Co Cork

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