Government still working on behalf of Keith Byrne – Coveney
Cork native (37) is facing deportation from US where he is married and has children
Keith Byrne and his wife Keran. According to Keith’s sister, he was planning to return to Ireland when he met Keran and ‘fell madly in love and married a year later’.
“I want to reassure people that the Government is involved in this case . . . We are working through the channels we think are most effective to help him and his family and I’ve spoken to his sister about that and our consular services are keeping his wife and the family up to date,” Mr Coveney told reporters in Cork.
He said the Government could make representations to the US authorities but officials in Dublin did not “determine US legislation and how Ice works”.
Stressing that he didn’t want to “over promise” in the case, Mr Coveney acknowledged that it had been a difficult time for Mr Byrne who is facing being separated from his wife, Keran, stepson Ezra (13), daughter Leona (6) and son Gabriel (4).
Mr Byrne, one of a family of 11 from Beechfield in Fermoy, Co Cork, was arrested on July 10th by Ice staff while making his way to work in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania where he has built up a successful painting and decorating business.
He has since been held in the Pike County Correctional Facility, a prison in Philadelphia, and last Friday, he signed passport documentation presented by Ice to facilitate his deportation back to Ireland rather than risk the prospect of spending up to five years in a US jail.
Mr Byrne’s sister, Melinda, told The Irish Times that her brother had originally gone to America in 2007 on a US Visa Waiver Program but had overstayed that by a number of months and was planning to return to Ireland when he met Keran and “fell madly in love and married a year later”.
Ms Byrne said her brother married in 2008, applied for US citizenship in 2010 and had obtained a social security number, paid taxes and been in contact with Ice on a regular basis. Ice has said that Mr Byrne “entered the United States in 2007 as a non-immigrant under the Visa Waiver Program and failed to depart the United States under the terms of his admission”.