My sister Pauline Conboy from Co. Mayo, Ireland, a 47 year old woman with Down's Syndrome had her passport revoked on behalf of Eamon Gilmore, Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade for Ireland, almost 2 years ago. Neither Mr. Gilmore nor his staff, have ever been able to provide a valid legal reason or indeed any rational reason for their actions against Pauline. They continue to refuse or fail to correct their violations of Pauline's rights and persist in discriminating against Pauline by depriving her of her right to travel as she had been able to do for years prior to this. I have made endless requests and appeals on Pauline's behalf, as well as filed complaints with the Irish Human Rights/Equality Authority - all to no avail and they now ignore me and refuse to answer at all.
The excuses by Eamon Gimore's staff for cancelling Pauline's passport and violating her rights in this appalling manner have varied over the past almost 2 years, when this nightmare began. Excuses have included a claim that Pauline was not an Irish citizen even though she was born in Ireland and held and traveled extensively with several Irish passports over more than three decades. That claim was eventually withdrawn but her passport was still not returned because they replaced that fabricated claim with various others, including that I was not her legal guardian and therefore should not have counter-signed her application even though I was instructed to do so by the witnessing Garda (Peace Officer/Police Officer). Left with no choice other than to research the subject myself, I discovered that it is currently actually impossible for anyone to become a legal guardian of another adult in Ireland, because there are no such provisions in Irish law therefore such a status does not exist (except for ward of court which is only applicable when there are no family to care for the person).
In any case, an adult with a disability is not required to have a legal guardian in order to exercise his or her rights which are guaranteed to all Irish Citizens by the Constitution of Ireland, as well as of course by International treaties on Human Rights and well... human decency. It is simply wrong and wholly unacceptable to discriminate against any person, but it is especially deplorable to discriminate against a defenseless woman with Down's Syndrome!
In an effort to avoid any more of the confusion Eamon Gilmore's staff seemed to have with regard to legal guardians, Pauline made a new application in her own right on February 5th this year. Pauline identified herself to a witnessing Garda and signed the application herself in his presence. However, much to our great shock and horror, the Passport Office once again blatantly discriminated against Pauline by firstly delaying her application without a valid reason and then denying it on the absurd basis that the "Passport Service" was "minded to form the view" that Pauline didn't have "the mental capacity to understand the passport application process"! Of course there is no requirement for any Irish citizen to pass a proficiency test on the application process, or to prove to the "Passport Service" that they have the mental capacity to understand it, in order to qualify for their birthright... an Irish passport! Regardless, Joseph Nugent (Director of Passport Services) once again discriminated against Pauline and denied her application on that absurd basis, even though the Irish Passports Act 2008 provides him with no legal authority to do so. He stated in his letter to me denying Pauline's application, that he would refund her application fee of 95 Euro, but more than 6 months later, he still has failed to even give Pauline her money back! There are no words to describe this, other than to say that it is simply outrageous and disgraceful mistreatment of Pauline, as well as a totally unacceptable abuse of power to trample on the rights of an innocent woman with Down's Syndrome like this.
Please help us stop what can only be described as a despicable crime against Pauline.