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Irish-speaking family threatened with deportation given work visas and permission to stay

Six weeks ago, the Ware family were given a month to leave Ireland. Today, they got the news they’ve been waiting for.

2C8A1121 Medium The Ware family Source: Roseanna Tustin

A CANADIAN-AMERICAN family facing the threat of deportation just six weeks ago have been told they can stay and work legally in Ireland, after receiving extraordinary public support from their local community in south Kerry.

On 12 May, Kate and Shannon Ware, and their three daughters, were told by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that they had one month to leave the country, or face deportation.

But this afternoon, following weeks of pressure from friends and neighbours of the Wares, and support from local politicians, INIS appears to have entirely reversed their decision.

The family has now been granted the Stamp 4 visas they had first applied for back in 2012, with official confirmation expected to be posted to them over the weekend.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie this evening, Shannon, a 42-year-old certified Japanese translator, originally from California, said:

This is what we’ve been fighting for, for three years.

“It’s such a weight off all of our chests,” adds Kate, 36, who is a qualified midwife originally from Toronto.

Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris, who has highlighted the family’s plight in the past, told TheJournal.ie:

I am delighted to see justice done for Kate, Shannon and their girls. It is a great relief to them and to the community in which they have settled so firmly.

The Wares were deemed to have been “undocumented” in Ireland for more than a year, after what appears to have been a bureaucratic mix-up between the INIS and the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB).

After media coverage of their plight last month, however, and the intervention of local politicians, the family were told that despite the deportation threat, a final decision hadn’t yet been made on their case.

Kate and Shannon travelled to Dublin yesterday, for what they called a “friendly and productive” meeting with senior officials in the INIS and Department of Justice.

And this afternoon, they got word they had been granted 12-month Stamp 4 visas, which will allow them to work in Ireland, and travel freely in and out of the country.

kateshannon Kate and Shannon Ware. Source: Roseanna Tustin

The couple and their daughters Zoe (12), Grace (Gráinne, 8) and Abigael (Gobnait, 7) had been effectively prevented until now from visiting their family in North America.

Both Kate’s father and Shannon’s mother have cancer, and the family are due to fly to Canada next week.

Now, however, they are free to return to Ballinskelligs in time for the new school year in September.

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“We’re just so relieved to be able to go back to Canada and know that we can return to Ireland,” said Kate.

Today was the last day of school. The kids were crying, the teachers were hugging us, somebody gave Grace a plaque with her name on it.
It was so emotional, because she was thinking, ‘I’ll never see these people again.’

But that was before they got the good news.

Both Kate and Shannon believe that their family’s integration into the local community, and embrace of Irish culture, was crucial in continuing their discussions with immigration officials in recent weeks.

Laoise Nic Aogáin, principal of Scoil Mhicíl Naofa in Ballinskelligs, wrote to the Department of Justice last month, describing the three girls as “exemplary students” who “make every effort” to speak the Irish language.

12-year-old Zoe Ware is a competitive sean-nós singer, who is due to start secondary school in September in the Irish immersion program at Coláiste na Sceilge’s Aonad Lán Ghaeilge in Caherciveen.

In her email to the Department of Justice, Nic Aogáin said of Zoe:

In my almost thirty years of teaching I have never witnessed such a profound and genuine interest [in sean-nós singing].

When the family returns to the Iveragh Peninsula in the autumn, Kate intends to register as a midwife with An Bord Altranais.

Shannon, for his part, has been in discussions with a Dublin-based employer in recent weeks, who contacted TheJournal.ie, after reading about his specific expertise in technical and medical Japanese translation.

Read: ‘Bureaucracy and ineptitude’ leaves Irish-speaking family facing deportation>

Read: ‘My experience in Ireland has been quite simply incredible’>

About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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