Case of Bray boy facing deportation ‘not tenable, just or fair’

Labour to bring forward citizenship Bill in attempt to help people born in State remain

The Government has been accused of hypocrisy over the handling of citizenship cases by the Labour Party, which is planning to bring forward legislation to try to clarify the situation of children born in the State to non-nationals.

The move comes following the threatened deportation to China of Eric Zhi Ying Xue, a nine-year-old from Bray, Co Wicklow who was born in Ireland.

His mother is Chinese and has had her application to remain in the State rejected and now faces deportation.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said the party would bring forward legislation to ensure children born in the State can become Irish citizens after a period of time and can remain here.


“It is hypocrisy of the highest order that the Taoiseach has an envoy in the United States seeking rights for undocumented Irish, while in our own country children are threatened with deportation,” Mr Howlin said.

Earlier, Minister for Health Simon Harris, a Wicklow TD, said he had made representations in an attempt to prevent the schoolboy’s deportation.

Newstalk presenter George Hook came in for criticism online after he tweeted questioning why Mr Harris was “worried about a Chinese boy” when the number of people on trolleys in the health service was at “world record levels”.

“The Chinese boy is the responsibility of the Minister for Justice not Health,” he added.

In a subsequent post Mr Hook said: “Can we analyse the outrage? Did I call for his deportation - no. Did I call him Chinese - yes. He is not Irish under our law.”

Sad day

Mr Howlin said he had not seen the tweets but that it is a sad day for Ireland when “local campaigns are required to ensure children can stay in our country”.

“Children born here, and those who have spent most of their lives here, should not be deported and the current situation where young people have to rely on having a Government Minister in their constituency to lobby on their behalf, to stay in their own country, is not tenable, just or fair,” he said.

Mr Howlin said presidential candidate Peter Casey’s comments on the Travelling community showed that he was “very much out of touch with Irish thinking”.

“I think most people were taken aback, just shocked by them, by the lack of understanding of an issue that has been a very difficult issue for Ireland for a long time,” he said.

Mr Casey caused controversy earlier this week when he said the Travelling community were “basically people camping in someone’s land” and that he did not believe they were a distinct ethnic group. He is due to announce on Monday whether he will withdraw his candidacy for the presidency, even though he will remain on the ballot paper.

Hr Howlin added: “I don’t think his candidacy is going anywhere in any event, but that’s a matter entirely for himself”.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times