Heartless and barbaric: The deportation of Great Agbonlohar

By Paul Murphy

Great Agbonlohar and his family’s deportation underlines the barbaric nature of this government’s immigration policy.

Great is a six year old autistic Nigerian child, who has lived with his mother Olivia and twin sister Melissa in Clonakilty, Co. Cork since March 2003. He and Melissa were born in Italy and have never been to Nigeria.

Great AgbonloharAutism is a condition which requires ongoing specialised care and Great will not receive this care in Nigeria and may be victimised and brutalised by some in society. Being sent back to Nigeria has been described as equivalent to a death sentence for him by his mother.

Yet despite this, and despite the appeals of the local community in their support, including 3,000 signatures on a petition, they have been deported. They were flown back to Nigeria on 14 August, where they stayed in a hostel for one night and then were left to their own devices.

The family had launched a series of failed legal challenges against the decision of the previous Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, when Great was diagnosed with autism, trying to get their case reviewed.

Many felt that with Brian Lenihan, former Minister of State for Children, becoming Minister for Justice, that he would be more open to the appeals of the family and the community. However, he clearly wanted to show that he was just as “tough” on immigration as his predecessor. As we have come to expect the Green Party despite its posturing on human rights did nothing to stop this deportation.

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