17 June 2011

Credit where it’s due.
By:Latif Yahia

Take a deep breath, okay hold it just for just one second, now, let it go.
Just when you thought that all was dark and dismal in the world of Ireland a bright spark has emerged.
That spark being Mr. Alan Shatter, Minister for Justice, now as you all know, I have never been a fan of the former Ministers for Justice with the exception of the late Mr. Brian Lenihan R.I.P (to his family I send my heartfelt condolences, he will be greatly missed as one of the few real Irish politicians).
Anyone who has ever read anything that I have written about the former Ministers for Justice ESPECIALLY Michael McDowell, will know that I haven’t had a lot of time for any of them and the time that I did was weary-some at best.
Ministers for Justice Mr.Alan Shatter.
But then, I read the latest news from the Dept. of Justice and the new reforms that Minister Shatter put in place yesterday 16/06/2011 and the Sun came out, little lambs started to dance a merry jig on a typically Irish green field, and all was right with the world.
Now don’t get ahead of yourself, or me, for that matter, this does not mean that my four year wait for an answer to my third application for Irish citizenship will finally come to an end, but it does mean that all those who came after me will finally be treated equally to every other non-European who wishes to be a European National, and waiting times will be drastically reduced. As you all know I travel too much and when I talk about the Immigration/Naturalization system in Ireland and of course compare it with other European systems, I get stares of disbelief, and shocked “No? You can’t appeal the Minister’s decision?” “You’re waiting how long for an answer!” I do hope that within his reforms Minister Shatter finds time to repeal that particular time wasting piece of legislation. I believe that Minister Shatter understands that if Ireland is to survive the ongoing financial crisis that it needs people, Irish people are leaving in droves, as are the immigrant workers who helped the boom. If Ireland is to rebuild itself it needs people to stay, bring investment, work, live and spend their hard earned cash. That can only happen if there is a reason to stay, if Naturalization is comparable with getting six numbers on the lottery, well some may say they’ll take their investment and gamble their money somewhere that Naturalization isn’t a gamble. Quit pro quo.

Click here to read quotes from (Mr.Alan Shatter, Minister for Justice)

I also wish to express my admiration for Minister Shatter’s awareness of the fact that although his Dept. constantly referred to the fact that Naturalization was a highly prized gift that was only bestowed upon the best of the best that landed on Irish shores, the actual physical endowment of Citizenship was a rather unceremonious court appearance, where the Judge (already overloaded with REAL work) had someone repeat something, the cash was paid to the court clerk and voila! Irish Citizen! I have seen this in action but as you all know have not had the personal experience.
So Kudos to you Minister Shatter, keep up the good work.

For those readers who are unfamiliar with the workings of the Dept. of Justice under previous Ministers with the exception of Mr. Brian Lenihan R.I.P who did such a good job of catching criminals and seizing drugs/alcohol/cigarettes that he was given a new portfolio (kicked) after six months.
The real Dictator of the Dept. of Justice though was by far Michael McDowell, under his Ministry:
Hitler of Ireland Michael McDowell.
1.The right to appeal the Minister’s decision was revoked.
2.The only real way of “proving” that you were residing in Ireland was to be claiming social welfare.
3.The right of a Spouse of an Irish National to be naturalized after three years and one day was rescinded. (Contrary to European Law)
4.The right of the individual to take the Minister to court to expedite a decision was repealed.

The system in Ireland was set up in a way that made it very difficult not only to apply for naturalization/citizenship, but also to define what indeed was expected of the applicant.
In other European countries for example when you have fulfilled a certain length of residency you are contacted or you contact yourself, the relevant Dept. to apply for naturalization.
You are then provided with a list of statutory requirements and when they are completed you take yourself and your application along to the Dept. and speak to a person who then becomes your case worker, any questions you may have are directed to your case worker and your application will be processed and answered within a short time frame 6mth – 12mths.
That was not the case in Ireland, when you fulfilled the length of residency you downloaded the form from the inter-net or got your lawyer to. You filed in the form and sent it along with other documents listed on the form to the Dept. of Justice, you then received a letter from them stating that they had received it and were starting to process it but had not completely checked it. There was no point of contact, you were never given a name and the contact number was a hotline that was only open from 9am-12pm Tuesdays and Thursdays, getting through was like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and in general all questions that you asked regarding the status of you application were answered “it’s being processed” sometimes you may get a hope giving “it’s being sent for decision” or other words like “Soon, Shortly” or “In the near future” would be used to string you along, when in reality your file was sitting on someone’s desk covered in other files and dust because it was too complicated or they didn’t like the look of you in your photo or as in my case “Ugh, it’s him again!” Bottom of the pile filed under “not in this lifetime mate” I was told in 2008 that a decision would be made on my application in two weeks time! Still waiting.
When you went to the INIS website and looked up “Citizenship” you were promised that the average time for processing applications was 23 months with some more “straightforward cases” taking less time whereas more “complicated cases” could take longer than the average, but just because it was taking longer than the average was not an indication that your case was “complicated” it was just taking longer. Plus no-one could seem to answer the question “ what makes a case complicated?”

On my first application I waited 5years for an answer and only got that by taking Minister McDowell to court to expedite his decision, I got an answer “NO”, by that time McDowell had made his changes so my only recourse was to re-apply. My next application took 2years for a decision, again I was refused because I had called McDowell “McFool” on National radio’s Gerry Ryan Show R.I.P and yet again my only recourse was to re-apply, this application is “still being processed” that application was lodged in 2007, it is now half way through 2011 by anyone’s Math that’s 4 years. So in total I have spent 5 + 2 + 4 =11 years of my life trying to be Irish.

So who does get Irish Citizenship then? Well up until quite recently it was people who couldn’t speak English, who claim social Welfare, who screw the system. The only educated people were Doctors and mostly they were only given citizenship because the Dept. was forced to due to that lack of Doctors in the Health system (that’s another days work).
I do understand that there are people who truly need to be cared for by the State but when you are foreign yourself and you hear the stories of other foreigners it can really make your blood boil at the lengths that are taken to glean every last cent that there is to be had from the State and the reasons why.

In particular I have a problem with some Iraqis that have arrived in Ireland, some recent Irish Citizens have posted their pictures on Facebook holding their spanking new Irish Passports with subtitles that say “Job: Screwing Irish Women and Fraud” in Arabic of course because he can’t speak English, where’s the gratitude I say and hang on, according to the INIS website aren’t you supposed to be of “good character” to achieve Citizenship?

Another Iraq I know of was a nobody before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, when suddenly after joining the Mehidi Militia he rose through the ranks of the Iraqi police to become a General, he lives in Ireland and every two months goes back to Iraq to take care of business and brings the money back with him. His business? Well he has admitted to killing seven Iraqi civilians himself and I have it on a recording. I provided his details to the relevant authorities in Ireland along with his photograph inside Ireland and in his official capacity in Iraq, plus his address and what did they do? They granted him refugee status.

I could go on, and on, and on.

Unfortunately it is the Irish who are and will suffer, maybe not this generation but certainly the next.