Two minutes is very little time within which to convey to the public the situation surrounding the application by the Muojeke family. The Minister is well aware of the case, based on my own representations and those of my constituency colleagues, Deputies Corcoran Kennedy and Nolan. He is aware that the initial application for refuge or asylum by Ms Muojeke was made in 2006 and 2007, for herself and her two children, Nonso and Victor. Following a refusal in 2009 based on legal advice, in 2016 the applicant made an application to the courts to revoke that appeal, which was dismissed by the High Court in recent weeks.
Despite the merits or otherwise of the application, I wish to inform the Minister that the children of Ms Muojeke have excelled, thankfully, in the meantime, against all the odds. They have flourished in their schools, in their community and in our country. The petition handed to the Minister today and which was made available to other Members of the Dáil shows that over 20,000 people support this family's case, and support the contention that they are excelling. Victor, the older boy, is now on a scholarship at the University of Limerick. Nonso is at Tullamore College and is an integral part of that community and that education system. They are as Irish, I believe, as the Minister or myself. They have not been a financial burden on the State, and will not be going forward.
When one re-enters the country after having been abroad, as we all have done, it is gratifying to hear an official from the Department of Justice and Equality welcome us home. There is a great sense of pride in that, and a sense of comfort in that welcome, and an association with community attached to that. These children will never witness that if the Minister does not show the leniency it is within his power to show in this case. The Minister saw the petrified looks on the faces of these children and their mother when he met them briefly today. They believe themselves to be in a perilous situation, despite the effort and good will of everyone concerned, including school staff and students and the wider community in Tullamore.
The Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, acknowledged the new compassion that exists in this country - which thankfully has no boundaries - in response to the recent referendum. He said that those women who had previously taken the boat and the plane would now be offered the hand of the State. The Minister for Justice and Equality now has an opportunity, between the application to the High Court and any subsequent application to the Supreme Court, to show compassion, based on humanitarian grounds. Irrespective of the negligence or otherwise of the State in dealing with the case over a period of time, the State must recognise the capacity for these children to excel and acknowledge the sense of welcome that these children experienced and which should not be forgotten.
I implore the Minister, in the short amount of time I have, to use the discretion available to him in this exceptional case. I am not disregarding the processes or the legislation associated with applications for refuge or asylum. As a Member of the Legislature I stand over those processes. However, one has to recognise and acknowledge that Nonso, quite apart from Victor, his brother, has been here since he was two years old. He has appreciated everything that has been afforded to him in this country. I ask the Minister, on compassionate and humanitarian grounds, to look favourably on this matter and to use the power that is available to him by virtue of his position, to grant leave for these people to remain in this State and to let them get on with their lives.