High Court orders inquiry into Chilean student’s detention in Mountjoy

Student detained on arrival at Dublin Airport for a English language course

Estefany Carolina Alquinta Gonzalez  was  denied entry on grounds she represents a real and immediate threat to the fundamental policy interests of the State. Photograph:  Chris Maddaloni/Collins

Estefany Carolina Alquinta Gonzalez was denied entry on grounds she represents a real and immediate threat to the fundamental policy interests of the State. Photograph: Chris Maddaloni/Collins

 

A High Court judge has directed an inquiry into the legality of the detention of a Chilean woman in solitary confinement in the female section of Mountjoy Prison.

The inquiry was ordered into the detention of Estefany Carolina Alquinta Gonzalez (33) who came here earlier this month to begin a six-month English language course with a Dublin language school.

On arrival at Dublin Airport, she was detained by immigration officials and denied entry on grounds she represents a real and immediate threat to the fundamental policy interests of the State.

Chilean citizens do not require a visa to visit Ireland, the court was told.

She was committed to the Dóchas Centre and kept isolated from other prisoners due to Covid-19 regulations. The court heard she has tested negative for the virus.

Ms Gonzalez, represented by Rosario Boyle SC, with Aoife McMahon BL, instructed by solicitor Wendy Lyon, claims she does not pose any threat to either the State’s security or public policy interests.

At the High Court on Friday, Mr Justice Charles Meenan ordered an inquiry under Article 40 of the Constitution into the legality of her detention.

In her proceedings against the prison governor, Ms Gonzalez seeks an order for her immediate release from detention.

Directing the inquiry, following an application made ex-parte, the judge said evidence had been given that, prior to coming to Ireland, Ms Gonzalez had been in contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

He said Ms Gonzalez had a conversation with an official in that department as to whether she would be allowed enter Ireland in order to complete her course, even though her courses were to be delivered online.

The judge said the student claimed the DFA official advised her that she would be allowed enter the State if her travel documents were valid.

The documents she was told to bring included her passport, a letter from the college she hopes to attend, and proof she has sufficient funds to support herself.

Ms Gonzalez claimed she had all those documents with her when she arrived in Dublin, as well as proof of funds.

The judge made the matter returnable to Tuesday.

Visa compliance

Counsel for Ms Gonzalez said she had travelled around Europe in recent years and had always complied with the terms of visas issued to her.

Prior to coming to Ireland she had been staying in Denmark, and while her visa to stay there was due to expire in early July, she was prevented leaving due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

On arriving in Dublin she provided immigration officials with her documentations, proof of funds and a copy of her communications with the DFA, and said she had booked accommodation in Co Roscommon where she planned to self-isolate for two weeks.

However, Ms Gonzalez was denied entry to the State. She claims she was told by the officials to return to Denmark, as no student visas were being given as the schools were shut.

She also claims she was informed that she could not enter as a tourist as she wanted to come into Ireland as a student.

She claims she told officials, while courses were being given online she wanted to remain in Ireland until classes opened, but immigration officials denied her permission to enter the State, arrested her and detained her.

In separate judicial review proceedings which Ms Gonzalez intends to bring against the Minister for Justice and Equality, she will seek an order quashing the decision refusing her permission to enter the State.

She also seeks an injunction, pending the outcome of her action, preventing the Minister deporting her.