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28 January 2008

Michael McDowell the Saddam Hussein of Ireland ?

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There is one thing that we all share each
year, that is reflection, each New Year we refelect upon the year that has passed and as we ourselves grow older, we reflect upon our lives, what we have achieved and our goals for the future.

As Frank Sinatra once sang “regrets, I have a few, but then again, too few to mention”

There are certain points in your life that are integral to the person that you have become, rights of passage, character building events and in my case life changing situations, would I be the person I am today had I not had my life?

Of course not!

I make no apologies for my life, it has not been all good nor has it been all bad, it could not be everyones life because everyone would not have survived it. I am grateful for my life, in that I am still here to live it. I can wake each morning to the certainty that I am loved.

What more could a man ask for?

Well, if you were to really push me… a country to call home would be nice.

For many years, I roamed Europe and the rest of the world, it didn’t matter to me much and at times I quite enjoyed the impermanence of it all, I actually loved Hotels and the fact that each day the room was scrubbed clean to appear as if no-one had been there before you.

Maybe it is age, or actually finding somewhere that I would like to call home that has changed that for me.

Ireland in 1997, seemed so ideal, small but fairly modern, Europe but different, friendly people and a burgeoning economy for business.

Now, that is just a memory for me, having just made my third application for Irish citizenship ( will the third time be a charm for me?) it is getting through my thick skull that I am not necessarily wanted here. I grin weakly at people from all over the world that assume that I received citizenship in Europe the moment I put my foot outside Iraq ( or a team of bodyguards for that matter), no, I’m afraid that part of the screenplay didn’t make it into the final cut.

And why have I been refused Irish citizenship twice, I hear you ask, well on the first application which took five years to process and was seemingly the longest case on file, it seems that I applied three months too early. It only took the threat of a High court action against Mr. McDowell to make a decision for them after five years to point that out.

(Irish naturalisation law, deemed at the time that a decision would be made on any case within six to eighteen months of application, I waited five years, it’s quite possible that I could still be waiting)

Obviously it was the only excuse they could come up with.

I should like to point out at this time that I do not have a criminal record, not even a parking ticket.

In the Autumn of 2001 three black GMCs pulled up outside my hall door, I instantly recognised the men in suits and sunglasses (yes, in real life they do dress like they’re in the movies) As I opened my door and invited them in, it seemed almost like De ja vu.

They were American, they were from the CIA and they had a proposition for me, do remember that the invasion of Iraq did not start until March of 2003.

I was offered a job, to work for them in Ireland, as usual I told them were to go and as usual they told me that they would make my life here hell and I should never think that I would get anything from Ireland.

Maybe this time they were telling the truth.

My second application which was lodged shortly after the first refusal was met with a letter from the Dept of Justice stating that I should not contact them until early 2008, it was 2006 at the time, infuriated, I made my case on the Gerry Ryan radio show, in which I called upon the then Minister for Justice Michael McDowell to meet with me face to face in the radio station to discuss the matter on air and let the listeners decide if I were fit to be an Irish citizen. Unsurprisingly he declined my invitation, but did find the time in his hectic shedule to refuse my second application “at the Ministers discretion” two weeks later. It seems that at some point Michael McDowell had changed immigration and nautralization laws to disallow appeals of his decision and also naturalization through marriage to an Irish National.

But I was free to apply again, which I did.

It is also noteworthy that any application no matter how complete/incomplete can be accepted or declined by the Minister for Justice, he has the final say, no matter what and can grant or refuse as he wishes. He at his discretion can waive certain requirements to issue naturalisation or in reverse can refuse an application simply because “ In the ministers view and upon reccomendations made to him , the minister does not feel that you would be a good citizen for Ireland”

I have received my letter confirming receipt of my application and have also been told that I may contact the citizenship dept, but anyone who has had the misfortune of trying to make that call knows that the chances of getting through are the same as winning the Irish lottery.

On the one occasion that I did get through,as soon as I gave my name I was immediately put on hold while the person on the other end went in search of a supervisor. The lady in question informed me that because of a backlog of 17,800 cases it could be “ Two and a half, three maybe four years before we get to look at your case.”

Now when I sit in a district court on any given day and see some of the people who have been granted citizenship to this fair land, who cannot speak English well, write their names or on one particular occasion didn’t actually know what it was they were there for, getting citizenship, I do ask myself why?

Is it so wrong to be educated, slightly famous/infamous (you choose) be married to an Irishwoman and have three Irish born children?

Or maybe I should just forget about it and find somewhere that might actually want me.

I think the latter is the better option, don’t you?

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This a letter between the Taoiseach (prime minister) of Ireland and the Minister of Justice, Equality and Law reform, Mr Michael McDowell. One of twenty, the Taoiseach Mr. Bertie Aherne represented my interests in all cases, you can see that the Taoiseach had no influence over his Minister with regard to my application for Naturalisation.
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Me and prime minister of Ireland Mr.Bertie Aherne.

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This is a letter from the Minister of Justice Mr McDowell to me, I had asked for a personal meeting to explain my case, he declined to meet me and as you can see from the letter itself that he asked me not to contact his office until the first half of 2008, the send date on the letter was 2006.
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This is a letter from Minister McDowell informing the Taoiseach Mr. Bertie Aherne of his decision to decline my application for naturalization, the decision was made just weeks after I appeared on the National radio station on a famous radio show The Gerry Ryan radio show, I had been speaking to Gerry about my applications for citizenship and the fact that the Minister Mr. McDowell had declined to meet with me and I had asked Gerry to again ask the Minister if he would meet with me on the show he declined, I pointed out on the show that the Minister's dept was full of corruption and I had the proof, the Minister chose not to defend or refute my allegations. The Minister did however find the time to look at my application and refuse it, even though from his previous letter he assured me that due to the backlog of 7,000 cases in front of mine he could not look at my case until the first half of 2008. Mr. McDowell lost his Ministry in the 2007 Elections and also lost his seat in The Dail (Irish Parliament).

Will the game of cat and mouse between me and the Dept of Justice ever end?
Has my file with a big black X just been passed from one Minister to the next or will the new Minister for Justice read my file with an open mind?
People have said that I am a politician, this is not true, politicians have two and three faces, I cannot, I cannot be like them I speak my mind, it is something that I have always done and cannot change now and would not want to. I believe in freedom of speech, justice and equality for all, I would just like to find some.
According to Irish Law if you are resident in the state of Ireland for five years you are entitled to apply for naturalization, (I am here nearly 11 years).
If you are married to an Irish citizen for three years or more you are entitled to apply for naturalization ( my Irish wife and I are married for seven years, we have three Irish born children)
Under the terms of legislation for naturalization, a refusal can be made if you have a criminal record, I do not, I don't even have a parking ticket.
When Mr. McDowell took his position as Minister for Justice he repealed several laws with regard to naturalization, you cannot appeal his decision in the High Court which was the case, marriage to an Irish citizen is no longer a reason for naturalization, having Irish born children no longer a guarantee of Irish naturalization and if both parents are non-nationals the child if born after 1st January 2005 is not automatically an Irish citizen.
Some of these changes are fair others not, but at the end of the day the Minister for Justice has the power to grant or refuse any application at his discretion no matter what the circumstances. Mr McDowell also refused to sign off on an anti-racism law to which most of Europe subscribe. Is this democratic? Or was Mr.
McDowell the Saddam Hussein of Ireland?
Under Mr. McDowell's watchful eye crime in Ireland surged by 28% racism in Ireland grew by 32% these figures are confirmed by Amnesty International which I am a member of.

Best regards,
Latif Yahia