Cork couple welcome ruling after months of hiding

 

HUSBAND AND wife Gerard and Caroline Hurley have spent the past three months living in fear of separation.

Caroline, an asylum seeker from Nigeria, lost a High Court appeal against a deportation order last December. Her case hinged on the couple’s daughter, Abigail (2), who gained Irish citizenship through her Irish father.

Deporting Caroline, her lawyer argued, would breach her daughters’ right to family life and lead to Abigail’s “effective expulsion” from Ireland.

The court disagreed and threw out the appeal in a hearing that lasted just over an hour. “It’s been a nightmare since then,” said Gerard. “Every time we got wind that a deportation flight was being organised we would have to go into hiding,” he said. Yesterday’s judgment by Europe’s highest court in the “Zambrano case” almost certainly means the State cannot now deport Caroline.

Last night in Cork, Gerard was praying his family can finally live in peace together. “It’s been a tough few years for us. I just hope it is over now,” he said.

The ruling will have major implications for Ireland, which has deported scores of parents of Irish citizen children over the past five years and is threatening to deport more than 100 others. In the High Court yesterday, four cases concerning the deportation of parents of Irish citizen children began. The judicial review proceedings were brought by the Nigerian parents and siblings of the children.

The Irish Human Rights Commission, concerned about the effective expulsion of Irish citizens, has been granted the right to be a “friend to the court” in these cases. Asylum lawyers said yesterday hundreds of similar judicial reviews were pending and should now be resolved.

But for some Irish children and their parents, the Zambrano judgment may have come too late.

Figures from the Department of Justice show 12 Irish citizen children left the country in 2010 when one or more parents were deported. Eight children suffered “effective expulsion” when their parents were deported between 2005 and 2009. Many of these families are now living in Nigeria. Although they may now win the right to return, many could find it difficult to turn their lives upside down again and come back.

The policy of deporting the parents of Irish citizen children led to many families being split up.

Mother-of-five Miriam Alli told The Irish Timeslast year how she had struggled to bring up her five children alone in Ireland since her husband was deported. She chose to stay and give them a better life than they would have in Nigeria.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland said last night the State should cover the cost of repatriating parents who had been deported and Irish citizen children who had been subject to effective expulsion. The Department of Justice said it was studying the complex judgment.