Category: Archive

Shown the door

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The threat of deportation hangs over postgraduate student Erin Britton (28) and her four-year-old son Aidan, all because the boy has been attending a state-run primary school in Galway.
Ms. Britton, who comes from Indiana and is a postgraduate student at the National University of Ireland in Galway, has been told by Irish immigration officials that her student visa will not be renewed unless she takes her son out of the Claddagh National School and enrolls him in a private school at her own expense.
The student has begun a legal action in the High Court in Dublin, which on Monday gave her permission to take a judicial review to test the legality of the threatened action.
The Garda National Immigration Bureau is threatening to deport Aidan because officials deem that Irish law prevents children of people on student visas availing of publicly funded free state education.
The uncompromising approach appears to stem from a new interpretation of a regulation which lawyers for immigrants say has not been published and which they say is a secret shifting of the legal goalposts without informing those it could affect until they seek to renew visas.
The new interpretation of the rules was reportedly spurred by a desire on the part of officials to prevent people coming to Ireland purely for the purpose of getting a free education for their children.
The concept of such “educational tourism” has, up until now however, never figured in the Irish media or in complaints by parents or teachers’ unions.
It is a concept that also appears somewhat off track given the parlous state of the Irish primary education system compared to other countries where free education is also widely available.
When Ms. Britton contacted the Irish Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, an official who only would give her first name, told her she had to put her child into a fee-paying school if she wanted to stay in Ireland.
In her affidavit to the court, Britton said her husband was in America pursuing a master’s degree at Washington University, St Louis, and that the couple had decided to endure the sacrifice of enforced separation to pursue their studies which were very important to them.
Her husband, she said, had traveled to Ireland to make sure she and their son were settled. She said her studies involved archaeology in the Burren, in County Clare, and that she was paying

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