Why won't the Irish Government help Mark and Julie?

Emigration is breaking many hearts as we wave off friends, lovers, neighbours and family. Fortunately we can take comfort that they will be welcomed and treated well where they land. A pity that courtesy is not always being extended to incomers to Ireland by our own government. Mark Marku, an Albanian from Crete, came to Ireland in 2009 as husband of Irish woman Julie from Carlow. They have lived and worked here since, until Mark was wrongfully arrested for a series of robberies while on a short return visit to Crete in late 2010. He is now in prison in Crete protesting his innocence.

Fortunately Mark has several cast iron alibis for the days on which the crimes he is charged with were committed.  Better still, the alibis have the authority of his employers, (the luxury Wolseley Hotel in Carlow), the Irish state carrier Aer Lingus and the Irish Department of Social Protection itself.  The evidence is there, but the Greek judges are reluctant to accept the facts without signed affidavits.  Mark was flying with Aer Lingus at the time of one robbery, for example.

Who says so?  His online booking record, the ticket itself and the stamp on his passport confirm so.  But the judge wants Aer Lingus to provide the flight manifest before he will accept it.  The judge, in what has been described as a show trial typical of Greek treatment of some of its Albanian citizens, has also claimed that official Irish documents presented as evidence are 'forgeries'.

So Mark needs a series of sworn affidavits from his employer, Aer Lingus and the Government to confirm that he was variously working a shift, flying on a plane and signing official documents at the time of the robberies.  That would be a major step to securing justice and his release from prison. 

Backed by all political parties

Good news too that Irish citizen Julie's request for those affidavits on Mark's behalf is backed by several MEPs, TDs from all parties, Fair Trials International and the Irish Embassy.  So what's the problem?  After all, when the MacAreavy and Harte families of Northern Ireland were having trouble with the Mauritian system the Taosieach Enda Kenny swung into action stating that when "there are issues of fundamental human rights...on behalf of the people of Ireland, the Government will be lodging a formal complaint in the strongest possible terms, with the government of Mauritius."

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore
So what's the problem?

Mark, married into an Irish family, a contributor to our economy, a permanent resident and entitled to Irish citizenship has had no such consideration.  Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore holds the key.  As above, all parties including government TDs and ministers have raised this issue with him directly.  Yet Julie - after a six month wait - is still awaiting a reply to her request for a meeting with the Oireachtas Committee for Foreign Affairs. Just two weeks ago that committee responded at last simply by referring the matter to the Albanian Embassy in London, whose office has so far failed even to acknowledge any appeals on Mark's behalf.  And the Tánaiste has written to say again that he will not act because Mark is "not an Irish citizen" and that "it would be inappropriate to raise our concerns with the Greek government".  He had no such scruples telling the United Nations this September that "we must speak for those who look to us here for the vindication of their basic human rights, who believe in the words of our charter and expect us to act on them".

Public support needed

Julie and Mark's best hope now is support from the public.  Her requests are straight forward. She simply wants Mark's evidence authenticated.  She would like the Tanaiste "to raise our concerns about the malpractices and miscarriage of justice that our families have been subjected to for over two years now, and in particular question how a Greek court can dismiss Irish legal and state documents as forgeries without investigation".  And she would like an independent official to witness the upcoming appeal so that it is conducted within the law.

To do this she needs your support.  Follow this link to read more about Mark and Julie's story, and click here to sign their petition for justice. 

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