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Failed asylum seeker claims he was abandoned by gardaí at airport six months ago

The man claims he was left in an airport terminal without money, a telephone or his luggage, the High Court heard.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/ImYanis

A MAN DEPORTED from the State claims he has been forced to live in an airport terminal in Africa since March after allegedly being abandoned by gardaí who were supposed to return him to his native country, the High Court has heard.

The failed asylum seeker, who cannot be named for legal reasons, says that he has been living at an Ethiopian airport for the last six months where he has survived on charity from other passengers and what he can find in bins.

The man’s case came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan this week who was told that the justice minister disputes the man’s version of events. John Gallagher Bl for the minister said that the minister’s response to the man’s claims was “very robust”.

The man, represented by Michael Lynn SC with Sean Rafter BL, instructed by solicitor David Harrington, claims he was initially flown from Ireland to Belgium in the company of members of An Garda Síochána overseeing his deportation to his home country.

From Belgium he and the gardaí accompanying him took a plane to Ethiopia where he was due to get on a connecting flight to his home country in southern Africa.

He claims that while awaiting his flight home the gardaí provided him with a boarding pass in the airport’s departure lounge.

He claims the gardaí, who retained his passport, then went to get a hotel outside of the airport to rest. He claims the gardaí told him they would be back.

He claims he never saw the gardaí again and that he was unable to board the flight to his home country because he had no passport, and cannot get home.

He claims he was provided with his passport by airport staff two hours after the flight departed.

No money or luggage

The man claims he was left in the terminal without money, a telephone or his luggage. He cannot leave the airport because he cannot purchase the visa he requires to enter Ethiopia.

He claims he has been sleeping rough in the airport, has been existing on leftover food, and whatever he can find when rummaging through bins and on the charity of passing strangers.

After a week he claims his passport was stolen. He made contact some weeks ago with an Irish-based NGO and his lawyers using computers located in the airport.

His solicitor Mr Phelim O’Neill wrote to the minister calling for the man to be rescued from the inhuman and degrading treatment he has been exposed to due to the alleged actions of the gardaí, the court heard.

The High Court heard that the man has not been able to progress the case, as his correspondence has not been replied to.

O’Neill claims that this is because the minister requires the man to provide a letter signed by him giving O’Neill the authority to act on his behalf.

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In a sworn statement O’Neill says this is unlawful and breaches the man’s fundamental rights. He cannot furnish a signed letter because he is on the airside of immigration control at the airport and has no access to postage facilities.

As a result, the man has brought judicial review proceedings against the minister where he seeks an order quashing the minister’s decision requiring the man’s solicitor to furnish a signed authority from the man.

He also seeks an order directing the minister to reply to correspondence from the man’s solicitors.

When the case was briefly mentioned before Mr Justice Meenan this week, Lynn told the court the matter could be adjourned to allow the man’s legal team consider the minister’s response to the action.

The matter will return before the court later this month.

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Aodhan O Faolain

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