BY ADAM MOYNIHAN
A former St Brendan’s College student who fled war-torn Somalia as a teenager was among the 3,000 people to be conferred with Irish citizenship at a ceremony in the INEC this week.
Nasir Yasin, who arrived in Ireland in 2005, was just one of 3,000 people from 120 countries who became Irish citizens in Killarney on Monday. 586 of the candidates were originally from Poland, while 312 came from the UK. Romania, India and Nigeria completed the top five.
When he arrived in Ireland, Nasir was housed in Park Lodge, Killarney, while the government processed his application for asylum. During his time in the town, Nasir attended the Sem where he credits teacher Eoin O’Cara and Guidance Counsellor Tim Gleeson with helping him to learn English. He subsequently completed his Leaving Cert in 2007.
However, because he was an asylum seeker, Nasir was not allowed to advance to third level education. His classmates at St Brendan’s wrote a letter to the Department of Justice pleading for Nasir to be granted refugee status but to no avail. He spent five more years in direct provision in Wicklow and Dundalk before eventually being told in 2012 that he could remain in the country on humanitarian grounds.
The following year, Nasir signed up for what he describes as his “dream course”, Civil Engineering in DIT. He graduated in 2017 and is now fully qualified and seeking employment.
Nasir returned to Killarney this week with his wife Samsam and children Mawaahib and Mohamed, and he officially became an Irish citizen at the ceremony.
“Before the ceremony, I visited St Brendan’s College where I met my old principal, Ed O’Neill,” Nasir said. “He recognised me well and welcomed me. He was very proud of me and he was telling everyone that I was former student here.
“Most of my teachers were retired but they still remain in my heart.”
As an Irish citizen Nasir is now hopeful that he will be able to bring his mother and siblings to Ireland.
“I have a contact with my family at the moment and I know where they are now, but at any time they might have to leave their homes due to disease, hunger and drought,” he said. “The Islamist armed group Al-Shabaab has threatened and abducted civilians, which has also forced many people to flee.”
The Irish Refugee Protection Programme Humanitarian Admission Programme 2 (IHAP) provides an opportunity to Irish citizens who have immediate eligible family members from the top 10 major source countries of refugees, to propose to the Minister for these family members to join them in Ireland. Somalia is one of these top 10 source countries.