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Mail on Sunday: Tara rights lawyer is deported back to US

category international | rights, freedoms and repression | other press author Sunday November 29, 2009 13:08author by TaraWatchauthor email info at tarawatch dot org Report this post to the editors

An American lawyer investigating allegations of human rights breaches by the Irish government has been refused entry into Ireland.

Matt Schwoebel wanted to take statements from protesters objecting to the construction of the M3 motorway through the Hill of Tara.
He is drafting a complaint to the UN Commission on Human Rights about the way the government has handled objections and treated those who made them. But when he arrived at Dublin Airport, officers from the Garda National Immigration Bureau informed him he would not be allowed into the country.
2048logo.jpg

Mail on Sunday – 29 November 2009
By Neil Michael, Chief Reporter

A LAWYER from the prestigious University of California, Berkeley, has been deported back to the US as he attempted to enter Ireland to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by the Government. Matt Schwoebel wanted to take statements from protesters objecting to the construction of the M3 motorway through the Hill of Tara. He is drafting a complaint to the UN Commission on Human Rights about the way the government has handled objections and treated those who made them.

When he arrived at Dublin Airport, officers from the Garda National Immigration Bureau informed him he would not be allowed into the country. They told him he might have to stay in a detention centre until his flight home could be booked. Mr Schwoebel claims that before the decision was taken to reject him, he was questioned about where he was going in the country and who he was staying with. The 27-year-old lawyer – who is an American citizen – told them he was going to be staying with a leading anti-M3 Motorway campaigner, Tara Watch’s Vincent Salafia. Shortly afterwards, he was informed he would not be allowed into the country – where he had only planned to stay a week.

He told the Mail on Sunday: “I am not happy with the way I was treated and intend to lodge a formal complaint against the Gardai. I was accused of not having enough funds, despite having several thousands in my debit account and more in credit cards. I also had people to stay with and vouch for me but this was also not enough. It became pretty clear to me that they just did not want to let me into the country.”

According to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, ‘leave to land’ – the phrase which applies to being let pass through immigration control on arrival in an airport – upon arrival in the State is ‘subject to immigration controls on the ground’. As a US citizen, Mr Schwoebel did not need a visa to gain entry. But anyone arriving in the country must be ‘able to satisfy an immigration officer that they have sufficient funds to support themselves during their visit’. Exactly how much cash visitors need to have is not stipulated anywhere on Irish government websites. Nor are there any guidelines which state that credit and debit cards do not count as means of self support.

Mr Schwoebel, who is based at California’s human rights group 2048, arrived in Dublin from San Francisco via Chicago at 8.35am last Monday. He had with him $100 cash, an address to stay in Dublin, cousins and a grandmother living in Ireland, and a staff job with the University of California. After staying in Ireland for a week, he was planning to head to Geneva, where he was due to work with a number of UN officials on organising a human rights conference at the start of December.

When has was asked about where he was going to stay, he mentioned Mr Salafia – a lecturer in environmental legislation at Queen’s University Belfast who lives in south Dublin. He also gave the gardai Mr Salafia’s mobile number and said that he could vouch for him as he was staying with him. Despite saying they would call him, Mr Salafia said last night he did not receive a call from any member of the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

Mr Salafia said last night: ‘”I am ashamed that such an eminent guest was so horrendously treated. Despite offering to withdraw €900 from his own account at an ATM machine – and having the funds to do so – Mr Schwoebel was told not to bother. When he was informed of the decision to block his entry into the country, he offered to buy his own return ticket back to the US but this was rejected. Instead the cost of the flight was picked up by the Irish tax-payer. ‘I had the funds to do so – as in deed I had the funds to support my brief stay in Ireland.’

WRITE TO letters@mailonsunday.ie

2048 Project - University of California, Berkeley
http://www.2048.berkeley.edu

Related Link: http://www.tarawatch.org/?p=1414
author by The spectatorpublication date Sun Nov 29, 2009 13:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There must be more to this event than the story reports. There appear to be a number of inaccuracies and these would lead one to question the accuracy of the remainder. A search of staff in Queens in Belfast does not yield the name of Salafia and Schwoebel is not on the staff list in Berkeley either. He is on the staff of this 2048 group.
Why was he refused entry to Ireland? Insufficient funds? Because he was only staying a week? This makes no sense whatsoever.
Why was he here? Who were his associates? Who was he staying with? Whose mobile number did he have? There lies the true story I'd imagine.
Perhaps contact should be made with Mr Schwoebel to get his side of the story. There is little of his side in the article as it is written.

author by TaraWatchpublication date Sun Nov 29, 2009 14:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Garda Spectator obviously doesn't think much of the Mail on Sunday's journalistic standards.

For more information please contact Vincent Salafia at v.salafia@qub.ac.uk or Matt Schwoebel, Program Director
2048 Project, Berkeley Law School. http://74.220.219.58/~drafting/staff.

author by Alarmedpublication date Sun Nov 29, 2009 15:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Then this is a very serious matter. Obviously there must be some sort of activist watch list and people will be refused entry to the country if they are associated with any of those activists. Complete abuse of power

author by Spectatorpublication date Sun Nov 29, 2009 15:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Was this man going to interview anyone else involved in the Tara campaign? Or just Salafia? Has anyone else been contacted for an interview?
If anyone else was contacted it would be interesting to know who they were?

author by Hasan I Sabbah - Ireland.Incpublication date Sun Nov 29, 2009 17:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You're very snoppy and negative No? The man had funds , a visa and was sound...........

author by lulupublication date Sun Nov 29, 2009 18:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Which merits thorough investigation. Just the thing to raise Irish kudos in the States, eh?

author by John Farrelly - Privatepublication date Sun Nov 29, 2009 19:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think that Tara Watch and Vincent Salifa must be doing things right if our cesspit government are that afraid of them; and it is fear, nothing else stops freedom of movement from America to here.
We have become a sort of dystopia where environmentalists are the real and feared enemy. Floodings may bring what road building did not; an uprising to swing the Fianna Failers from street posts,
J.Farrelly

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