Detention of Brazilian tourist


Sir, – The reaction to the imprisonment and strip-searching of a Brazilian citizen stopped by immigration at Dublin Airport is understandable in many ways (Home News, July 22nd). It is unacceptable that a country which has become a home for large numbers of immigrants should not have developed a more appropriate and humane approach to dealing with the inevitable refusals and detentions that arise. Clearly, a person who is denied entry to this country and is awaiting deportation is not a criminal and an appropriate facility needs to be provided which reflects that.

However, I also believe that there is a refusal on the part of many of your correspondents to acknowledge the other side of this issue – the fact that Ireland needs to control its borders and that not everyone will be admitted.

Much of the emotive coverage has centred on the character of the young woman involved, her relationship with her former host family and her friendships in Ireland.

The reality is that the world is full of wonderful, decent people. Friendships and bonds flourish in all contexts. However, they don’t form a basis for abandoning immigration controls in the broader national interest. As the saying goes, hard cases make bad law.

Living in the Dublin area, I have noticed the large numbers of Brazilian citizens residing here over the past decade or so. I understand that many of them come here to study English and are entitled to work part-time in line with their visa conditions. At the same time, Ireland has obligations as a European Union member state to allow unfettered access to our labour market to all EU citizens. We also must consider the impact of migration from outside the EU on the employment prospects and wage rates for our own citizens, not least young people and students who presumably could fill many of the part-time jobs these young Brazilians appear to be doing.

Countries which we Irish might regard as among the warmest and most liberal bastions of western civilisation such as New Zealand and Canada unashamedly manage their labour market in the interests of their citizens and operate a visa regime that evolves in response to genuine skills shortages. To do so is not xenophobic or embarrassing. It simply acknowledges that countries have a duty to their citizens and that certain forms of migration can give rise to economic distortions.

So, while nobody wants to see people from Brazil or anywhere else degraded or humiliated on arrival into Ireland, we do need to question why the EU labour market is apparently so dysfunctional that we seem to have become so reliant on one very large country in South America. – Yours, etc,


Donabate, Co Dublin.