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Irish man to be detained at infamous Australian immigration centre "for three months"

26-year-old Bernard Lee from Greystones has been detained at the notorious Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre near Perth.
Jul 29th 2016, 9:21 AM 75,809 142

bernard1 Bernard Lee and his girlfriend Amal Michelle Source: Facebook

AN IRISH MAN has been detained at an infamous Australian detention centre after having his working visa cancelled.

26-year-old Bernard Lee from Greystones, Co Wicklow, was arrested at the home he shared with his Australian girlfriend in Perth on Monday.

His arrest resulted from his allegedly being issued a letter informing him that his application for a resident’s visa had been denied and his working visa cancelled which gave him 20 days to leave the country.

Lee claims he never received that letter. He was arrested once the 20 days had expired. He has been in Australia since 2008.

He was then removed to the Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre, run by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

In the aftermath it emerged that Lee has criminal records in both Ireland and Australia for drink driving, driving without a licence, and police obstruction.

Speaking to local Perth radio station 6PR early this morning Lee described how he had “just got home from work” on Monday when “there was a knock on the door and there were five border police there saying I had to go with them”.

Lee says he has been informed that he will be detained for eight to 12 weeks before his expulsion, despite the fact he has signed a voluntary statement saying he is willing to leave the country.

“I was going home anyway, but they told me I had to go into mandatory detention. They told me I’ll be here for the next eight to 12 weeks at a cost of $2,500 a week,” he said.

They said that they notified me on 25 May, they have now since admitted that they never notified me, but still they picked me up and brought me straight to detention.

Lee says the reason for his detention is “just a drink driving charge from nine years ago in Ireland, I hadn’t declared it on the incoming passenger form at the airport”.

“I thought it was a driving offence not a criminal matter,” he said.

bernard2 Lee and Michelle pictured earlier this year Source: Facebook

However, he says he understands Australia’s need to come down hard on visa infractions, but that his problem is with his detention.

“I had some dark patches in my youth, I understand that, I’m prepared to leave, but I’m not happy that I have to sit in detention for three months when I’m prepared to leave and have a ticket booked home for next Wednesday,” he said.

Everyone’s in here, there’s people in here for murdering their wife. My mother is bedridden with the stress.

Lee says he has been told that, despite the fact he has waived his right to appeal, “the only way I will get out of here was if the minister was to give them a call and tell them to let me go”.

That’s the system here.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Control has denied any impropriety on its part in a statement.

“The department is aware of this case and refutes claims that proper process has not been followed,” it said.

This person’s visa was cancelled because he was found not to be of good character. He was issued with a notice of consideration to refuse his visa application, to which he responded.
The department was not satisfied his reasons met the threshold and that he continued to pose an unacceptable risk to the community so it refused that application. His other visa was then cancelled by operation of law.

Regarding the fact that Lee has been told he will be detained for two to three months, the department said “this individual has been detained while arrangements are made for his removal as soon as practicable”.

amal Source: Amal Michelle/Facebook

Lee’s Australian girlfriend, Amal Michelle, is currently in Europe alone and has described feeling “so helpless” in a Facebook post calling on a local MP to come to Lee’s aid.

“He just wants to get out of detention, and is happy to go home to Ireland if his visa is up. He already has a flight booked, why not let him leave?” she said.

His whole life will be uprooted, as he has lived here since he was 18. This is going to cost the taxpayer $2,500 a week just to keep him there. Please let him go.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed it is aware of this matter and is providing consular assistance.

Read: Two arrested over serious sexual assault in Clondalkin

Read: Irish people switch energy provider more than other country in Europe

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Cianan Brennan

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