A Monday Mind Mangler

19 Jan 2015

Ewaen Ogieriakhi was Nigerian. In 1998 he sought asylum in Ireland. While waiting for a decision on his application he married Laetitia Georges, a French lady living in Ireland under EU Treaty Rights. In 1999 Ewaen was granted temporary residency in Ireland.

In 2002 Ewaen and Laetitia separated. He established a new life with Catherine Madden, an Irish citizen. They had a daughter in 2003.

In 2004 Ewaen was refused an extension of his Residence Permit. He applied for Judicial Review and won. However in 2005 his renewed application was also refused. Ewaen didn't reapply until 2007 when, as you'd expect, he was again refused and his appeal thrown out. He was then dismissed from his job with the Irish Post Office because it was not satisfied he had the right to work in Ireland.

Ewaen claimed Unfair Dismissal. At the same time he appealed informally to the Irish Department of Justice about his immigration status. On the first day of the Employment Tribunal hearing the Department of Justice granted Ewaen (by telephone) limited retrospective leave to remain in Ireland for 3 years – but the tribunal still dismissed his claim. It said it had to judge the case on the strength of the evidence before the Post Office at the time of the dismissal.

Ewaen fought on. His limited leave to remain in Ireland was extended for a further 3 years and he was divorced from Laetitia in 2009. He married Catherine a few months later and in 2010 was granted Irish citizenship. For most people that would have been the end of the story but Ewaen is made of sterner stuff. In 2012 he took legal action against the Irish government claiming damages in consequence of his dismissal by the Post Office in 2007. He claimed this was caused by the government's failure to properly implement the EU Free Movement Directive. The High Court in Dublin has recently ruled in Ewaen's favour and awarded him €127,905. It remains to be seen if the government will appeal.

It is important to note this is an Irish case which doesn't stand as a precedent in England – but it could and probably will happen here sooner or later. The lesson for employers and migrants is clear; don't go into the immigration jungle without a guide. As for the rest of us – well I don't know where to begin!