Final plea to Iriish Justice Minister over autistic boy who faces uncertain fate if deported to Nigeria|
DUBLIN, Ireland: The Irish Minister for Justice, Brian Lenihan, was the only person who could stop the deportation of a six-year-old autistic boy, Great Agbonglahor, a campaigner declared on July 11.
Rosanna Flynn of Residents Against Racism said Italian-born Great - who is due for deportation to the birthplace of his parents, Nigeria - had exhausted all legal and procedural avenues.
His fate was now in the hands of Lenihan who has the power to grant Great a right to stay in Ireland on compassionate grounds, Flynn said at a demonstration outside the Department of Justice in Dublin.
"The Minister is able to change his mind right up until the plane takes off," Flynn said.
Great has lived in Ireland with his twin sister, Melissa, and mother, Olivia, for four years. They fled Italy because of alleged death threats issued against the children's father, Martins Agbonlahor, who is an author.
It is claimed he spoke out against elements within the Nigerian expatriate community whom he alleged were engaged in drug trafficking.
Agboblagor and her twin children lived at a centre for asylum seekers in Clonakilty, Co Cork, since March 2002 before recently moving to a hostel in Tralee, Co Kerry.
They have received considerable local and political in both communities and supporters are hoping to meet with Lenihan in the next few days.
The family are to due to sign at the Garda National Immigration Bureau on the 19 th of this month and could be ordered to leave the country immediately.
The decision not to allow the family a right to stay in Ireland on compassionate grounds was made by the previous Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, and Lenihan maintains there is no basis for changing that finding.
Last week, the family withdrew their High Court challenge to McDowell's decision. They had hoped to mount a challenge on the basis that Great's diagnosis as autistic had not been established when McDowell reviewed the case.
Flynn handed a letter into his offices today which said: "Great's condition is viewed as voodoo in Nigeria and the child would be very isolated ... The fate of the family lies entirely at your mercy."
A Sinn Féin councillor, Daithí Doolan attended the demonstration on July 11. He said: "Deporting an autistic child to an underdeveloped country where superstition is still very much part of the culture is a deplorable act of cruelty by the State."
(Source: The Irish Times, July 11, 2007)