Gardai in Galway have warned that there is a “major problem” with certain sectors of the migrant community, including students coming here to learn English, not furnishing immigration officers with up to date information such as change of address.
At the Galway District Court yesterday, (Wednesday ) Judge Mary Fahy noted that gardai may have to meet with the owners and directors of colleges for them to advise their foreign students on their responsibilities to furnish details as required by law.
Kamel Ourdache with an address at 84 Dun na Coiribe, Headford Road, was summoned to appear in court yesterday for offences under Section 9 and 13 of the Immigration Act which includes failing to furnish to the Registration officer information which can confirm the accuracy of particulars previously given, and failing to notify change of address from Dublin within 48 hours of arriving in Galway, on August 6, 2008.
Garda evidence revealed that the defendant came to notice after he lost his immigration card and that gardai would not have been aware until 2011 when it had to be stamped again. The defendant had no previous convictions.
Garda Cormican then admitted that a “particular problem” had arisen in certain sectors of the migrant community. “There was caution, caution, caution, and we now have to bring them to court, there’s no other way.”
Defence solicitor Olivia Traynor said her client is a married man who came to Ireland in 1998 and had lived in Dublin for eight years. She added that during that time he had been paying taxes and when his card expires in 2011 he will become a full member of the State.
After hearing evidence, Judge Fahy said that Ourdache had to be taken on his own merits and ordered him to pay €200 to the Garda Benevolent Fund.
A South Korean student, Jihwan Lee, with an address at 48 Lis Altan, Lower Salthill, was then brought before Judge Fahy on similar offences.
Garda Cormican said that on August 13, 2008, the defendant did register with immigration but that a week later he received information that Lee had changed address twice without informing them.
Defence solicitor Adrian MacLynn said that the defendant was attending the Galway Cultural Institute and that its director had met with gardai. He added that the defendant had come to Ireland after completing compulsory military service at home and is due to return at the end of this month. Mr MacLynn said that his client, who is a “very forthright young man”, came here to learn English and had not come to Garda attention.
Judge Fahy replied that the primary responsibility is with the students.
Garda Cormican said that “it’s a major problem and we want to tidy up”. He then admitted that there will be a lot more similar cases coming before the courts. He said that the last thing the gardai wants is to be harsh on students and he had discussed the situation with the director of GCI but that there was “no obligation on him”.
“It’s all colleges, not just his. Gardai might have to speak to all of the owners. They can’t frogmarch their students down there but they can advise them,” said Judge Fahy who then applied the Probation Act Section 1(1 ) with the hope that “the trend will not continue and the students will register”.