Category Archives: Dublin Disaster

Final Thoughts On Our Dublin Disaster

We stopped in Las Vegas for a few days of R&R before heading back to Hawai’i. Flights were cheap and hotel prices reasonable in mid-week. Doing any gaming was out of the question with the string of bad luck we’ve been on, so we’ve just wandered the town, tried a few rides, saw Blue Man Group last night, and will perhaps catch a movie on this, our last day here.

There has been continuing interest in our case back in Ireland. I’ve received calls and emails from various newspapers, some of whom have written about our ordeal and are following up, others who have just learned about it. I really don’t feel much like talking about our experience in Dublin airport anymore; it’s water under the bridge. My sole hope in speaking to the press was that someone would read it who would have the power to act on our behalf, but no help was forthcoming. While the story has no happy ending, it did have several heroes, most notably Conn Ó Muíneacháin and Bernie Goldbach. Their efforts on our behalf were extraordinary.

Our use of social networks to get the word out is notable, and perhaps worthy of further analysis at a future date. Only my daughter carried a cell phone, but it did not have service (my wife and I brought phones intended to be activated upon arrival). My first call for help came in the form of a tweet, trying to find someone who could contact Conn to let him know we had been detained at the Dublin airport. Twitter and Jaiku became my primary means of communicating with folks in Ireland as we prayed for a miracle that would gain us passage through immigration. The miracle never came.

Many people I have spoken to, both in Ireland and Hawai‘i, are surprised to hear that we are not ruling out the possibility of a return to Ireland. Only time will tell. My wife and daughter would both like to return if an means can be found. We are not willing to take a chance again, so if immigration is now willing to pre-approve student dependents who meet their requirements as stated in their email to ICOS and we are able to obtain such pre-approval, we may return. There are other considerations and I would not say that I am overly-optimistic that it will happen, simply hopeful.

We leave for Hawai‘i tomorrow, and will be happy to see our families and friends again. It seems like we left the state much more than just three weeks ago. I’ll jump back into work again on October 1, and my daughter will return to Ke Kula ‘O N?wah?okalani‘?pu‘u School. We’re not sure at this point what my wife will do. She left her position at UH-Hilo, but as so many of the women in her office are or will soon be on maternity leave, I’m pretty sure they’d hire her back in a flash. It’ll be her call.

Mahalo again to everyone who followed this blog, offered their words of support, prayers and assistance, or simply just followed along as the drama unfolded.

Heading Home

Aloha kakou. It is with a heavy heart that our family is packing up and will be headed home tomorrow, with a slight detour for R&R and to heal our wounds and souls. I received a fax from the Gardai Superintendent’s office that informed us that our appeal was denied; in his opinion the officer who refused us land was in compliance with immigration law and policy and was justified in his decision. Unfortunately the reason given to the Superintendent by said officer was that he claimed that we did not tell him the truth when he first asked us our purpose for entering the country. We are not the ones being untruthful here, and it is a shame, though understandable, that the superintendent would take this officer’s word and investigate no further. We were offered no opportunity to offer our side of the story (beyond what was contained in my appeal letter) or refute his. If he believed we were being deceitful, why did he initially offer to allow me into the country but refuse my wife and daughter? We are appalled beyond belief.

Shortly after receiving this fax we received further correspondence from UCC, which was a reply from the GNIB to the Irish Council For Internation Students.

“Students are not allowed to have dependants or visitors in the State. Dependants of students will be refused leave to land and refused registration. In exceptional circumstances students who have a stipend of €25,000 per annum or more can be granted a permission to stay. Application would have to have been made and approved before travelling to Ireland.”

So it seems that the door has closed completely, not only for us but other bona fide foreigners who could afford to live in Ireland for a short time, share our knowledge and culture. We have more than the required funds, however, we have are out of time. We are grateful for the efforts of all of our friends in Ireland, Hawai’i and elsewhere who have offered words of support and who acted strongly on our behalf. We’ll never forget you all and will be eternally grateful for your support. We never ran out of hope; we just ran out of time.

Keola, Marie and Denyce Donaghy

Philadelphia, Monday, 17 Sept.

I decided to cease blogging activities for the past weekend as there was no indication that there would be any news until today, and so far this is little to report now either. The prognosis does not appear to be good for a reversal of our initial refusal, though indications are that a solo attempt to re-enter Ireland would not be impaired by that previous attempt. We’re holding on a bit more for news today, if none comes, I may return on short notice. I probably won’t announce it here for obvious reasons, however, it will be through normal immigration channels. If I am refused, we go home. If I am allowed in, I will simply try to clear the path for my wife and daughter’s return.

Another article appeared yesterday, in the Sunday Tribune, but it basically repeats the same story that has already been told. It is appreciated nonetheless.

Update #1, 3:30PM EST. I received a call from an officer at GNIB who was courteous enough but didn’t seem particularly happy to be speaking to me. He informed me that I would be receiving a response to my appeal letter by fax tomorrow morning. I asked if he had a minute for a few questions and he declined to talk to me, saying he would prefer that I wait until I received the fax.

We spoke to the principal of a school that is definitely fee-paying in Cork today. She was appalled when I related our story, though she had heard of similar issues regarding children of foreigners working and studying in Ireland. While she needed to confirm with her staff, she seemed quite sure that there would be room for Denyce in their school’s transition year program and that we would be able to arrange for enrollment and payment of fees from Philadelphia. That would be wonderful.

If this does happen we are seriously considering going back to Ireland later this week, all required documentation in hand. If they turn us away, at least we know we did everything in our power to make this year happen. My wife and I talked to Denyce about it, giving her the option of me going alone, us traveling to Ireland together, or turning back to Hawai’i, and she wants us all to go to Ireland together, even if there is the potential that they may find some other reason to deny us entry. I think that is an important lesson for our daughter – never give up on your dream.

Philadelphia, Day 4

I hate to sound like a scratched record, but no postive news from Ireland today, though there is continued discussion on our case. Conn and Deputy Ruairi Quinn continue to champion our cause, not only for our benefit but to shed light on the inadequacy of and lack of clarity in policies related to dependent families of students traveling to Ireland. Conn and TD Quin appeared in a forum on KCLR radio in Kilkenny this morning, I’m sorry that I did not have time to post a link before the show. (Update: Ken McGuire has posted audio of the discussion. Mahalo Ken!)

I learned that our letter of appeal has reached the office of the Gardai Superintendent. I have no idea when he may read it or take action. I have been counseled not to get our hopes too high that he will reverse the decision.

Ray O’Hanlon of the Irish Echo called to see how we were doing and to see if there was any progress. It feels good when a reporter shows more genuine interest in you and your family and not just a story. He will follow up with the NY consulate and press for a statement.

Update #1, 1:30PM EST. It is 6:30PM in Ireland and I’ve received no encouraging word from there at all. It will be a long weekend as we await news and developments on Monday, but are going to try to get together with some of our Donaghy relatives in Philadelphia this weekend as we have mostly been hanging out with the Moore’s (my mother’s side) since arrival. We will be looking for futher educational opportunities for Malia as well and take advantage of what Philadelphia has to offer.

Philadelphia, Day 3

I awoke this morning after the best night’s sleep I’ve gotten since we returned to the states on Friday evening, albeit with a nasty headache. There does not seem to be much else for us to do but play the waiting game; it’s all in the hands of folks in Ireland at this point. No news from there awaited when we woke up.

On the advice of my aunt and Conn we will be getting out of the house seeing the sights of Philadelphia today. It’s my daughter’s first visit here and wife’s second. Unfortunately there is no room in our luggage for souvenirs.

Update, 8:00PM EST. We had a nice day in center city, visited Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the King Tut exhibition at the Franklin Institute. We treated it as an educational day for our daughter and quizzed her on what she say during the day. We will post pictures later. It was good to get out of the house and get our minds off of things in Ireland, and probably for the best as we returned and found no new developments. UCC suggests awaiting the delivery of our appeal letter to the gardai superintendent. I just learned that it arrived in Dublin via FedEx about 12:38AM Dublin time, and I am hoping that delivery to the superintendent is swift, that he is available to read it quickly, and make a quick and positive decision on our behalf. I plan to get up early tomorrow to check news.

I’ve been asked by some friends back in Hawai’i, “Why are you putting yourself and your family through this? Come home and do your Ph.d. here or somewhere else.” I could give up, but am not ready to at this point. Neither is my family, and we talk about our situation every few hours. There is nowhere else in the world I would rather do my Ph.d. than in Ireland. I still feel this is a simple misunderstanding that could be cleared up if I was simply given the opportunity, and still believe that there is someone there who can and will give us a fair hearing on the matter.

Philadelphia, Day 2

Aloha kakou, I’ve delayed posting today in hopes that an amicable resolution to our predicament could be found. UCC suggested that I write to the gardai superintendant in Dublin and request that he review our case and perhaps pave the way for our return to Ireland. It seems that there is no certainty that I would be allowed into Ireland at any port, even if traveling alone, in order to fulfill any requirements necessary to allow my wife and daughter to join me.

Our family is well. Our daughter has been sleeping late and staying up late to stay in touch with her friends in Hawai’i via chats and text. My wife and I actually got out of the house and walked around our aunt’s neighborhood in Glenside, PA. Nearly everything a person would need to live on is in walking distance to the house.

The Irish Echo ran our story today on their front page, and it is now online. My thanks to Ray O’Hanlon for not only the story but his warm words of encouragement. Ruairi Quinn TD, Spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment for the Labour Party made a strong statement on our behalf and vows to look into it. Both are deeply appreciated. I’ve been asked to call into the Newstalk radio program this evening, and am planning to do so. The Irish Independent requested a photograph, so they are also planning a story.

There have been two school of thoughts regarding the role of the press in assisting us. One is that any press could be bad, make immigration feel as though they are backed into a corner and cause them to defend their colleagues position. I understand that completely. My goal is not to embarass anyone. I’ve made clear my opinion that the immigration officer who met us was a dedicated public servant who misjudged our intentions and reasons for wanting to enter Ireland. I bear no ill will toward him or GNIS at all. My only desire is to return to Ireland, quietly, begin studies and allow our daughter to begin hers.

The second school of though it that press coverage can only help bring attention to our situation and perhaps bring it before someone sympathetic to it and who can help us. Others point out that our circumstances point out the lack of clarity in immigration policy for people in our situation, and shedding light on that could perhaps bring about reform. That would be wonderful.

While I straddle these two points of view, I cannot help but feel we must do whatever we can, being proactive rather than passive. I would rather return home to Hawai’i knowning that we did everything within our power to fix this than go home wondering if we should have done more. I am by nature a quiet and reserved person, and do not seek out the spotlight, though sometimes my work at the College of Hawaiian Language places me in it. I will accept the attention that our plight gives us if it will simply return us to Ireland to being our dream.

Philadelphia, First Full Day

Aloha kakou. If you are visiting this blog for the first time and have done so after hearing about our plight and being refused to land in Ireland, you may wish to first read the post Donaghy Saga In Ireland, which details our ordeal at Dublin immigration. Then read the posts above them after.

We woke up this morning in Philadelphia with no news from Ireland. I will update this post later rather than creatinga new one in order to keep the primary post on this main page. Mahalo again to all for your efforts on our behalf and letters of support during this difficult time.

Update #1, 10:30AM EST. I spoke to our contact at UCC, who reached someone at the Gardai Superintendant’s office. We were advised to file a formal, written appeal. I don’t think we have time for this. Hoping that other inquiries bear fruit. No word from Irish consulate in NY today.

I spoke to Roy O’Hanlon at the Irish Echo newspaper in NY, who learned of our situation from Lá Nua. Roy is working on a story, but I fear that its publication may be too late to help our cause. If it does result in any changes that prevent situations like this from occuring in the future that would be wonderful.

I was reminded of one aspect regarding the urgency of our situation. Part of the motivation for our traveling to Ireland for this school year is that this Denyce’s junior year in high school. Next year (2008-2009) will be her final year in high school, and we very much want her to enjoy that senior year with the classmates she has known since she was in preschool. Her school’s graduation ceremony is steeped in Hawaiian tradition and the culmination of our combined efforts to keep the Hawaiian language alive. We would not want to have her miss that. While there is a chance that I could still go to Otago in Aotearoa (New Zealand) in the spring and complete their program and return for her to enter her senior year at Nawahiokalani’opu’u, I’m not certain I would be emotionally prepared after our experience last week. Time will tell. Returning to Ireland next fall is not an option for us.

Update #2 6:15Pm EST. No major developments to report today. UCC has made contact with the appropriate individuals to determine if I may return to straighten things our or not, and may have an answer tomorrow morning. Received two phone calls from Ireland, Conn and Liam, that were comforting and encouraging. We’re still not ready to pack up and head home, and will stay in Philadelphia at least until the weekend, and perhaps through the weekend if a glimmer of hope is still visible.

Meet The Family

I’ve talked about myself and my work in previous posts, but have neglected to introduce the other two individuals who are caught up in all of this. My wife Marie was born on Maui. We met through mutual friends and her younger sisters while we were both in high school, and she was actually my first date. I was close to her family, but romance did not bloom until nearly 10 years late, when we both were in our late-20s. We married in 1989, and our daughter Denyce Kathryn Malia Donaghy was born on Maui in 1991. Marie worked for our College of Hawaiian Language for the past two years, and only left her position in order to join me on this trip to Ireland. She arranged travel for our staff and faculty, and also kept track of funds for some of our grants.

Our daughter Denyce, known to our Hawaiian-speaking friends by her second middle name Malia, has been a Hawaiian immersion student since age three. She is now 16. I began using Hawaiian with her as an infant, and she took to immersion education like a fish to water. She started out at the Punana Leo o Hilo Hawaiian immersion preschool, then Keaukaha Elementary School’s Hawaiian Immersion site, and finally moved to Ke Kula ‘o Nawahiokalani’opu’u in fourth grade where she had been until last week. She is currently a junior (11th grade). She’s been an excellent student, involved in many school activites, and has rarely missed a day of school. She audited some Hawaiian music and dance classes at our college while only 9 years old, and amazed my colleagues with her maturity in the classroom. This past summer, she was one of 30 students selected nationally to attend the presigious CURIE Academy at Cornell University in New York. The program is for female high school students from under-represented minorities in math and the sciences who have a strong interest in these fields. She also worked at Hale Kuamo’o, our Hawaiian language center, for part of the summer, and assisted in formatting and producing curriculum materials for the immersion schools.

We are now in Philadelphia at the home of my mother’s sister. No significant news regarding our status arrived today; we are hoping that the wheels of progress are moving beyond our view, and that by tomorrow morning we will have some direction on how to proceed. Mahalo to everyone for your emails, tweets, and Jaikus of encouragement.

No Joy Yet

It’s 10:30 AM EST and no word from the folks in Cork, I am hoping that they are busy paving the way for our return, or at least attempting to do so. Contacted the Irish consulate in NY this morning and was advised that they could look into the situation for us and advise a course of action, but not much else.

My aunt who lives in Philadelphia is driving to pick us and our spirits up this afternoon, and take us back to Philly to be around family. We could use it right now. I’m hopefully that my plan to return to Cork alone sounds feasible to the folks in Cork and and the consulate, and that perhaps I can fly out tomorrow or later in the week.

Our ordeal also made the front page of Lá Nua, an Irish language newspaper with a large following. Mahalo as always to Conn for helping to get word out regarding our plight.

New York, Day 3

I woke up at 4AM EST unable to return to sleep. Gee, I wonder why. As I looked over at my wife and daughter sleeping, I was filled with admiration for them. Both have handled this stressful event very well. My wife remained quite calm during our ordeal at Dublin immigration, allowing me to speak to the officer. Perhaps he would have been more receptive to her. While my daughter showed some signs of the stress she was under, she kept her wits about herself, and frequently offered ideas and questions to ask the officer. Most I had already asked and some probably would not have helped very much. I was quite proud of both of them, and it was good to see some smiles and hear laughter from them as we went out into town yesterday. Thanks goodness for free wireless broadband in the hotel room; Denyce has been making ample use of it to chat with her friends back home. She hasn’t told them about her ordeal yet, though I’ve been in contact with her principal who also sent words of encouragement.

It’s hard for me to imagine what it must be like for her, having been raised and educated in such nurturing environments. Her teachers and our faculty are like her second family. Teachers greet the children each morning with a kiss on the cheek and sometimes a hug. I do the same with many of my colleagues. It is our way. It may seem shocking to people from the mainland or Europe that parents would allow this. I don’t simply allow it, I would be appalled if it didn’t happen. I expect it. It is our way.

Malia’s principal expressed her pride in how she is handling this, and that it is a valuable lesson in how things work in the rest of the world. I knew it was a lesson that needed to be learned, but it was painful to watch nonetheless. I am hoping that with lesson learned she will be able to soon experience the cead mile failte (hundred thousand welcomes) that is more representative of Ireland.

I’m still waiting to hear back from UCC ISO to see if they have had any contact with GNIS (Gardai National Immigration Service) in Cork to see if my plan to return to Cork alone to pave the way for their return is feasible.