Court sides with State on deportations
Children's rights not breached
By Tim Healy and Dearbhail McDonald
The Irish Independent
Friday December 21 2007
The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the Government over the planned deportation of foreign parents of Irish-born children.
In a ruling that will have implications for up to 1,000 foreigners who are parents of children born here, the Supreme Court has overturned a landmark High Court ruling which found that the rights of five Irish-born children had been breached when their parents were refused permission to remain here under the Irish-Born Child Scheme.
The five-judge court said the Minister for Justice had acted correctly when he sought to deport the parents and said their challenge to the minister's actions was “misconceived”
It also said the Constitutional and European Convention rights of the foreign-national parents and their children are unaltered by its decision.
The ruling was greeted with dismay by the parents, who face deportation, and immigrants' rights groups who criticised the Government for failing to introduce an independent appeals mechanism for the parents.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland said the Supreme Court decision effectively meant an Irish child's rights would now not need to be considered until his or her parent was threatened with deportation.
So it was important the Government set out clearly in law migrants' rights to family life within the State.
The proceedings arose from the introduction of the Irish-Born Child Scheme by the minister on January 15, 2005.
It was a revised arrangement for processing claims to remain here on the basis of having a child born here before January 1, 2005.
The scheme followed the introduction of new laws on citizenship arising from a Supreme Court ruling that a foreign national parent of an Irish-born child has no automatic entitlement to remain here with the child.
The appeal arose from separate judgments by Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan in November 2006. She found that the minister's refusal of the parents' applications was unlawful as it breached the Constitutional rights of their Irish children.
But the Supreme Court judgment yesterday allowed the minister's appeal.
Ms Justice Susan Denham said the cases involved the fundamental power of a State to control entry and exit of foreign nationals. It was long recognised here that executive power was exercised here by the Minister for Justice.
She said the scheme was an example of the State exercising its discretion.
The minister was not required to consider the children's rights when considering the parents' applications to remain here, she said.
– Tim Healy and Dearbhail McDonald