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03.01.2009 General News

Ireland spent over €150,000 to deport Ghanaian man

By Irish Times
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Ireland spent more than €150,000 deporting a convicted Ghanaian drug smuggler last year, it has emerged.

The money was used to charter an aircraft to fly the man from Dublin to Ghana after he became violent during attempts to deport him on scheduled commercial flights.

While French and Italian authorities brought a number of Ghanaians to Dublin to be deported on the chartered aircraft, it has now emerged that neither country shared the €151,900 cost.

The aircraft chartered to deport the man from Ireland was a Boeing 737, which seats more than 100 people. Garda sources said that a large aircraft was needed because a smaller one could not make the journey without stop-offs.

Joint deportations involving EU member states attempt to maximise the use of aircraft chartered for deportations to countries into which there are few direct commercial flights. The multinational deportations are usually organised by the EU border security agency Frontex. Irish authorities used Frontex to invite the Italians and French to join the flight to Ghana last March.

However, because the charter was organised by Ireland, rather than Frontex, the cost was not shared by the participating countries.

The Ghanaian at the centre of the case served a prison sentence in Ireland for trying to smuggle cocaine valued at €400,000 from Brazil into Ireland. He was to be deported straight from prison at the beginning of last year.

Gardaí tried three times to fly him to Accra, in Ghana, via Germany on board commercial flights, which would have cost less than €6,000. Each time, the man became so violent he could not be put on an aircraft with other passengers.

A Garda source said the chartering of an aircraft was the only possible way to execute the deportation. The same source said the cost incurred was unavoidable.

Fine Gael spokesman on immigration Denis Naughten TD said if the Department of Justice had been more efficient, Frontex would have been involved at the beginning of the plan rather than "as an afterthought". "At least then the cost would have been shared."

Ireland participated in three multinational Frontex-led deportations to Nigeria in June, July and August of last year. Because they were Frontex-led, the €360,000 cost - for a total of 19 deportees - was shared.

Mr Naughten said he accepted that deportations had to take place, and that in the case of people too violent for scheduled flights, chartering an aircraft was sometimes the only option.

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