I welcome the Minister of State to the House. He may not be directly familiar with this appalling case which I raised in the previous session. It constitutes a grave injustice and a violation of the principle of freedom of association, among other freedoms, and the right to a good name. It concerns a young man who is directly and personally known to me. He is a man of good standing and is a very gentle person. He came to this country in July 2001 and was accepted as a refugee. His brother was accepted as a refugee and is now a citizen and married with children. The man is an architect by profession and has no criminal record, nor has he carried out any misdeed whatever. I have questioned him about this and he has urged me to push this case to the limit. He wants to know why he is being denied fair and decent treatment.
On being granted asylum status, the man applied for naturalisation as an Irish citizen and this application was turned down. In the letter sent to him in this regard, he was told he could appeal but that he must include in his appeal the grounds for his application being refused in the first place. When he wrote to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, he was denied that information. This is completely grotesque and what one would expect in a police state. It is simply unacceptable in a modern European democracy. I spoke to various officials and got the runaround myself on a number of occasions. I wrote letters and they were not answered efficiently. The man in question tried to employ the facilities of the Freedom of Information Act and this again was refused.
On the last occasion I raised this matter, the then Minister said the process would be re-examined. That is not good enough because it effectively penalises the person under review by making him or her wait longer with an indeterminate outcome. I was told by the former Minister that I did not want to know about this and that it was a security matter. I know all about these security matters and how they are dealt with. My telephone was tapped 25 years ago and when I contacted Senator Mary Robinson to ask her to raise the matter, she was told it was a security matter and that there was no way in which I could establish the reasons my telephone was tapped or even get an acknowledgement from the Government that it was tapped. I was innocent of any crime and of blameless record and that is why I feel so strongly about this matter.
What is the record? I want the person I represent to be given the opportunity to answer whatever baseless and unfounded charges are being made against him, which, in fairness and decency, he is entitled to do in a democracy. I would like to know the person who put them on the record. I would like to know what faceless pimp or spy put something down about this man. Perhaps it was done because he may be a Muslim. Perhaps he attends a mosque or perhaps he was photographed by some nark in a group. Does the Minister of State remember what happened to the former Minister, Deputy James McDaid, when he was photographed at the funeral of a neighbour's child who happened to be in the IRA? Was this a good day for Ireland? Are we to return to guilt by attainder, guilt by association or the star chamber?
I am advising the man in question and will help him in every way I can in anticipation of an unsatisfactory reply once again from a cowardly Government. I will advise him to take a judicial review. It is insupportable that somebody should have a black mark put against his name without explanation and without being allowed to know why or to defend himself.
I would not push this case so vigorously if the person in question were not known to me directly and personally. I want to know what has been said about him and who has said it. If we do not receive these answers, none of us is safe in this country. We will continue to push this matter and demand a reply. The very fact the man is encouraging me to demand the information is a clear indication of his complete innocence of any guilt, even by association, in this matter.