I HAVE FIRST-HAND experience with the no-man's land that exists between the Aer Lingus doorway and the baggage claim area at Dublin Airpot. That zone is a black hole that represents some of the highest level of inhospitality in Ireland. If you're in that place, you don't exist. That's the same point made during RTE's Primetime tonight. Moreover, it's a place that only those who have survived inside it can speak about it. There's no transparency, no access to legal aid, no phone contact, and as Primetime revealed--no medical attention for obvious emergencies.
I really don't care that I got punted out of Ireland by Irish immigration a few years ago. Garda Sergeant Michael Walsh said I needed a work permit even though I wasn't working. He stamped my passport (see above) and gave me a free ticket (note: seat 47E on an Aer Lingus Airbus sucks) back to the States. As a result I enjoyed some very precious moments with my dad who died a few months later from a 10-year bout with cancer. I bought my digital camera upon landing in the States for several hundred euro cheaper than Ireland. Then I returned to Ireland two weeks later and got on with things. It's a well-oiled process (see "Colombia Three Return Home") if you change modes of transportation or ride with the crew of Oasis. Several years later, I still own an Irish home, work, pay taxes, and vote.
But while I was in detention (my term), I watched professionals wearing police uniforms sneer at blacks, verbally dress down a pregnant woman, and ignore polite questions from people who were confused by the inquisitory process they discovered on arrival to the "Land of a Thousand Welcomes". Watching Prime Time made me realise that RTE had missed an easy kill--they could have wired me to record the tone of voice and capture video of the non-verbal interactions that happen in a holding area that has no high-level oversight.
You don't exist when you're refused leave to land in any country. Ireland is no different in that regard. However, Ireland seems to proudly defend the cocoon it places around airport immigration and no one inside the current government seems to think it's important to direct the light of transparency on the process.
There are thousands of people in Ireland, many with the right to vote, who will place their ballots in the camp that advocates an improvement in the immigration services. That means building a proper holding area as part of the Dublin Airport expansion, funding translators for foreign visitors, and responding to complaints by those awaiting guests who are denied entry to the country. I don't think those initiatives are forthcoming from the current government, mainly because today's ministers can't hear the huddled masses whimpering in the airport holding area. It's as though they don't exist.
Picture of what a passport shows when someone is refused leave to land in Ireland.
Previously on IrishEyes:
21 Sep 04 -- "Refused leave to land two years ago."
23 Sep 03 -- "Refused leave to land a year ago."
21 Sep 02 -- "Refused leave to land in Ireland" sent from my Nokia Communicator while taxiing out for takeoff.