X Adeoye & Ors v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform & Ors


Respondent/Defendant:X Adeoye & Ors
Court/s:High Court
Nature of Proceedings:Judicial Review
Judgment Date/s:25 Nov 2011
Judge:Hogan, J
Category:Citizenship, Deportation
Keywords:Absconding, Citizenship, Country of Origin, Dependant, Deportation, Deportation Order, Entry Ban, Expulsion, Expulsion Decision, Expulsion Order, Family Life (Right to), Family Member, Family Unity (Right to), Foreigner, Minor, Non-EU National, Non-national, Removal Order
Country of Origin:Nigeria
Geographic Focus:Ireland

The Adeoye family sought to quash a decision of the (then) Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (the Minister) pursuant to s. 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999 to refuse to revoke Mr Adeoye’s deportation order. Mr Adoeye, an architectural student from Nigeria married to an Irish citizen, who had been unsuccessful in an asylum application, and who had failed to attend at the Garda National Immigration Bureau to facilitate his removal from the State, was arrested and deported in February 2011, at a time when his wife was pregnant with their child. Mrs Adeoye also had a daughter from a previous relationship in respect of whom, the Court was told, Mr Adeoye acted as a father figure.

The Court found that the manner in which relevant information had been supplied to the Minister was wholly unsatisfactory and gave by way of examples that the Minister was not properly informed of the applicants’ marriage; that the Minister was not told of the extent of Mr Adeoye’s relationship with his wife’s daughter; that no information was provided about the daughter’s natural father; and that very little was disclosed about Mrs Adeoye’s financial circumstances. The Court stated that these were all matters that ought to have been directly before the Minister, and that it would be vital that such information be supplied in future cases of this kind.

The applicants maintained that the Minister erred in failing to give appropriate weight to the rights of the unborn child. The Court rejected this argument, saying that Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution of Ireland had no direct role in the case, and noted that Article 40.3.3 is simply concerned with the right to life of the unborn, save, perhaps, for quite exceptional circumstances (the analysis in Ugbelese v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform [2009] IEHC 598 adopted).

The applicants also maintained that the Minister erred in failing to give appropriate weight to the rights of the applicants under Article 41 of the Constitution of Ireland. The Court considered the following relevant factors in respect of Article 41:

  • That Mr Adeoye’s links with Ireland were weak.
  • That Mr Adeoye got married in circumstances where his immigration status was precarious.
  • That Mrs Adeoye’s links with Nigeria are particularly weak.
  • That a deportation order is in principle permanent in its effect.
  • That a decision that in practice compels a couple to live more or less permanently apart is a very significant interference by the State with a core principle requiring compelling justification.

In relation to the rights under Article 41, the Court found that:

  • There was nothing in the examination of file that would suggest that the issue of whether Mrs Adeoye would be required to secure a Nigerian visa had been considered.
  • That it may be inferred that Mrs Adeoye, as the mother of two very young children, was totally dependent on social welfare.
  • That it could be taken that no other European country would be prepared to give Mr Adeoye a tourist visa, given his immigration record.
  • That it was clear from the country information that the risks posed to immigrants to Nigeria from Western countries were considerable, and that this would be especially true of Mrs Adeoye since she had no independent means, and as it was not easy to see how she and her two young children could survive in a country with no social security system worth speaking of (Omoregie v Norway [2008] EHRR 761 distinguished).

The Court held that it was pure fiction to say that Mrs Adeoye had a choice worth speaking of (L & O v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform [2003] 1 IR distinguished; U v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform [2010] IEHC 371 departed from), and opined that the Constitution protects the fundamentals of marriage, insists that the State respects the essence of that relationship, and is not indifferent to the plight of those who have been forcibly separated by State action. The Court stated that it behoves the judicial branch of government to ensure that these fundamental rights are taken seriously so that they are given “life and reality” (per the dicta of O’Byrne J in Buckley v AG [1950] IR 67, 81). The Court held that the Minister had not weighed the rights of the applicants fairly, and quashed the decision refusing to revoke the deportation order.

Principles:It behoves the judicial branch of government to ensure that the fundamental rights in respect of marriage and family life are taken seriously and given “life and reality”. In deciding whether to revoke a deportation order made against the spouse of a citizen, the deciding Minister must weigh the rights of the applicants fairly.
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