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    Irish prisoners exempt from deportation

    By admin | February 20, 2007

    Irish prisoners will not be deported upon completion of their sentences, according to a decision announced yesterday by British Home Secretary John Reid. A campaign by the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas and the Irish Government has resulted in the exemption of Irish nationals from the policy, announced last April, of deporting foreign national prisoners.

    The Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas, an √Čan member organisation, submitted a dossier of more than 30 inmates with strong family ties in Britain. The organisation estimates that there could be as many as 1,000 Irish prisoners in English and Welsh jails. Grainne Prior of ICPO told the Guardian newspaper that many of the Irish prisoners were fully integrated into English life after living there for years; some had families and some had lost all family ties in Ireland.

    Fr Gerry McFlynn of the London ICPO office said,

    “Many families who contacted the ICPO over the last 9 months have been at their wits end due to the confusion and anxiety around the issue and the continued detention of their loved ones. Today’s statement in bound to bring reassurance and comfort to many”.

    Bishop Seamus Hegarty, chair of the Irish Episcopal Commission for Emigrants, commended the support of the Irish Government in the matter, adding,

    “I wish also to commend the dedication of the staff at the London and Maynooth offices of the ICPO. They have worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome on behalf of Irish prisoners in Britain, and their families. Contemporary migration brings with it the challenge of upholding human dignity while at the same time we respond to our mission to minister to people on the move”.

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