Відправлено 2009-07-08 03:03 (#743) Тема: Céad Míle Fáilte: Texan backpackers sent packing by immigration
TOURISM IRELAND has expressed concern at the decision of immigrant officials to refuse three Texan backpackers entry to Ireland. The all-island tourism body has written to the Garda National Immigration Bureau and the Department of Justice, expressing concern at the incident which happened last Friday.
It came to light yesterday when the Dallas Morning News reported the case. The three friends from high school had planned to use Ireland as a starting point for their year-long backpacking trip across Europe. However, they did not even get a chance to leave the airport building and soon found themselves on a flight bound for New York.
The men said they were told by immigration officials that they could not enter Ireland because they did not have an address for their accommodation and they did not bring bank statements to prove they could afford to travel.
The trio were planning to stay with people contacted through the website www.couchsurfing.com
Colin Zwirko (21), Gavin Sides (19) and Ben Whitehurst (21) all gave up their jobs to take the trip.
Mr Zwirko told The Irish Times the immigration official did not believe they had enough money to sustain their trip “which I can only assume led her to some outrageous conclusion about taking jobs away from citizens or something”.
He said the trio did not have a return ticket as they were travelling around Europe and had planned to spend two weeks here before taking a ferry to Scotland.
They told immigration officials they had thousands of dollars in their bank accounts and he offered to show the officials his bank balance online, but they refused to look at it, he said.
A Tourism Ireland spokeswoman said Ireland’s reputation as a friendly and welcoming place was “extremely important and not to be taken for granted”. She hoped any investigation into the issue was concluded urgently.
Mr Zwirko said he would come back to Ireland if an apology was offered. “We’ve been put off quite unreasonably, but the terrible handling of these governmental power keepers can’t take away from the beauty of the country and the apparent hospitality of the people there,” he said.
A Garda spokesman said the Garda National Immigration Bureau would not comment on an individual case, but all decisions were recorded and available should a refused person wish to challenge the decision.
He said only “a very small number of people” were refused leave to land at ports of entry in Ireland each year as most people were aware of the requirements of the immigration authorities.
“Refusal of entry to US nationals is particularly rare, which, in part, is accounted for by the fact that the requirements Ireland makes of visiting non-Irish nationals mirrors those made by the US immigration authorities in respect of non-US nationals visiting that jurisdiction,” he said.
The Dallas Morning News article attracted many online comments. While some comments criticised the men for not checking the regulations before travelling, others were critical of their treatment by the Irish authorities.
One person wrote: “I’ll make a note to not visit Ireland.” Another wrote: “These are nice, respectful, well-behaved young men and they would leave a great impression of Americans (Texans) on any country. Ireland owes them a great big apology and should make up for this terrible mistake.”
Не знав, що американцям треба возити з собою виписку з банку. До речі, стаття згадує жінку-прикордонника, яка вирішила не пускати хлопців до Ірландії. Пам'ятаю, кілька раз сам був свідком, як якась несамовита баба там неймовірно затягувала час і псувала всім нерви. Не треба, думаю, жінок на такі посади.
А то ірландська репутація вгеть споганиться. Вона й так тут значно підмочена, не в останню чергу завдяки таким хвацьким служакам, а то взагалі перестануть їздить, чи навіть помічати на карті.
Я до речі, про це відверто сказав під час однієї переписки з візовими службовцями, ніби допомогло.
А взагалі, Ірландія справді мала б попросити пробачення у тих, з ким так поводяться. Але оскільки на таке розраховувати особливо не доводиться, мабуть все-таки правильніше просто викреслити Ірландію з своїх планів й ще не ясно, хто від цього більше в решті-решт постраждає. Сто тисяч точно не залишиться.
Побравували трохи і годі. Ну хіба може Ірландія по-справжньому образити Америку? Ну, хіба що, спробувати може (не ясно, щоправда, для чого). Але, врешті-решт, верх візьмуть Штати. Схоже, навіть без будь-якого офіційного втручання. Просто злякалися ірландці, попросили пробачення, і навіть білети з готелем оплатили. Поводилися вони б так зі слов'янами. ...
Their predicament reached the ears of the Dallas Morning News and then the Irish media. The D4 Hotels group then offered to fly the trio back to Ireland, give them one week’s accommodation, food and drink, at the Ballsbridge Towers hotel and €1,000 spending money.
D4 Hotels had a car waiting for them to take them to Ballsbridge where a throng of cameras awaited them. By 11.30am they had enjoyed their first pint of Guinness in Ireland and had posed in the lashing rain for photographers.
The all-island tourism body Tourism Ireland had written to the Garda National Immigration Bureau and the Department of Justice expressing concern at the incident.
Yesterday a spokeswoman said Tourism Ireland has received a prompt response from the relevant immigration authorities. “We will be following up with them to see how we can work more closely together to avoid situations of this nature in the future,” she said. “We feel it is important to maintain a sense of proportion on the matter, given that more than 20 million people travel through Dublin airport each year.”