Snowden asylum request deserves latitude, says Daly

Taoiseach urged to use creativity to allow US whistleblower to access Republic

Independent TD Clare Daly claimed there was no strict adherence to rules when Jack Charlton was building his Republic of Ireland teams in the 1980s and 1990s. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Independent TD Clare Daly claimed there was no strict adherence to rules when Jack Charlton was building his Republic of Ireland teams in the 1980s and 1990s. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Tue, Jul 2, 2013, 22:02

The Government should take an approach to whistleblower Edward Snowden’s asylum plea similar to Jack Charlton’s approach in building his Republic of Ireland soccer teams, it has been claimed.

With the former spy’s diplomatic approaches being ignored, Taoiseach Enda Kenny was urged to use some creativity to allow Mr Snowden to access the Republic.

The exiled intelligence officer has written to the Irish embassy in Moscow seeking help - but an application for asylum can only be made if he actually sets foot in the country.

Independent TD Clare Daly claimed there was no strict adherence to rules when Jack Charlton was building his Republic of Ireland teams in the 1980s and 1990s.

“I seem to remember that it was deemed sufficiently important to get an Irish passport for Tony Cascarino on the grounds of a fictitious grandmother so he could be part of Jackie’s Army,” Ms Daly said.

“I think a little bit of creativity (is needed) on the grounds of the very serious danger that this this young man is under.”

Ms Daly said the asylum plea was a chance for Ireland to be a world leader in human rights.

After indicating Mr Snowden’s request to make an asylum application was going nowhere, the Taoiseach also said he did not know whether “Cascarino’s grandmother is fictitious or not”.

Charlton famously exploited the so-called granny rule when building successive Irish teams for international campaigns, including bringing in John Aldridge, Scottish-born Ray Houghton and Cascarino, who scored 19 times for the Republic.

The striker’s mother had no blood links to Ireland but her adoption to an Irish family in England earned the right to Irish citizenship.

Ireland is one of 21 countries where Snowden has sought asylum.

The Irish Refugee Council claimed rules on asylum applications in Ireland are very strict, with a “culture of disbelief” among adjudicating bodies.

“But it is unprecedented in our experience for Ireland to have someone apply for asylum externally,” a spokeswoman said.

Mr Kenny made it clear that Mr Snowden’s request could not be considered because he is not in the country.

“The way that this country has operated its refugee status determination is from persons who are resident in this State or in the jurisdiction in this State,” Mr Kenny said.

“If an application is received that is valid from Mr Snowden, it will of course be processed in accordance with the Geneva Convention, and the declaration that applies from the European Union and the regulations that accompany that.

“That’s the procedure for every person who looks for asylum status in this country.”

Earlier, Richard Boyd Barrett, of People Before Profit had been refused permission to raise the Snowden case in the Dáil.

“It is difficult to know what could be more topical than the fairly sensational request of Edward Snowden for political asylum in this country,” he said.

“Mr Snowden fits any meaningful definition of a political refugee. It is already clear that he faces a very real prospect of reprisal by the US government for acting on his conscience and exposing their utterly unacceptable spying activities.”

Colm O’Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, said US authorities should not interfere in the asylum claim.

“Amnesty International believes Edward Snowden is at risk of ill-treatment if returned to the USA,” he said.

“It is important due process is fully respected in the event of any asylum claim. No other state should interfere in allowing him to make that claim.

“The USA should not try to prevent him from getting to another State in which he hopes to seek asylum.”

PA