“The superintendent turned down our appeal,” Joseph “Keola” Donaghy told the Echo Tuesday.
He was referring to a letter from the Garda National Immigration Bureau faxed to the Donaghys who have been staying with friends in Philadelphia since their forced return from Ireland.
Donaghy, an assistant professor of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, was traveling to Ireland to study for a PHD in ethnomusicology at University College Cork.
However, Donaghy, his wife Marie and daughter Denyce, were refused entry by the GNIB after getting off a flight in Dublin from Los Angeles.
Instead of being admitted they had to fly back to New York.
Donaghy was planning to spend a year at UCC as part of his doctoral research program.
While Keola Donaghy was not barred from entering Ireland, specific objection was raised to the entry of his daughter, a school age dependent, and the fact that she was initially registered for a non fee-paying school.
The Donaghys spent the last week in Philadelphia awaiting a reply to their written appeal.
As they waited, they changed their daughter’s school in Cork to a fee-paying one. The Donaghys they have more than sufficient assets to cover their planned year in Ireland.
But that’s not how the GNIB apparently views the situation.
Donaghy said that the response from the GNIB indicated that there was a need for at least $25,000 in assets, a figure the family could more than meet, and prior approval of arrangements for living and studying in Ireland.
Donaghy said that the family also had full medical coverage because their U.S. coverage extended to Ireland.
He said he had been told before traveling to Ireland that prior approval was not necessary.
“It seems like new rules, and we’re pretty much out of time,” he said.
Donaghy said he did not want to reveal the precise contents of the letter denying his appeal.
He said it was “quite distressing” to read.
He said the letter indicated that the Garda immigration officer at Dublin airport who first interviewed them, and then denied the full family’s entry, was of the view that the Donaghys were lying.
“If the policy for entry now gets qualified for future students that’s a positive. But it’s too late for us,” Donaghy said.
A priority for Donaghy all along has been getting his daughter into school, either in Cork, or back in Hawaii.
Donaghy expressed frustration over the form of his appeal. It was all in writing he said and he had no further opportunity of answer questions or verbally clarify matters.
He did, however, call the Garda immigration authorities in Ireland. He said he had explained the situation to one officer who did not think there should have been problem to begin with.
“Different members of the GNIB have been saying different things to us,” Donaghy said.