TAKING A STAND Ann and Fikret Dogan protesting outside the offices of An Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Castlebar on yesterday morning. Pic: Michael Donnelly
Couple on hunger strike outside Kenny’s office
A couple began a hunger strike yesterday (Monday) morning outside An Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s Castlebar office in a desperate bid to get Irish visas for their adopted children.
Anne Dogan (nee Brennan), a native of Doocastle, Charlestown, and her husband, Fiko, adopted two girls, who are Fiko’s neices, almost 18 months ago, after the children’s mother had died. However, they were informed recently that because the Turkish adoption procedure has not been recognised in the State since 2000, the Department of Justice is unwilling to grant the girls Irish visas.
Ms Dogan works as a nurse in Sligo, where she now lives with her husband. She has issued an impassioned plea calling on the Taoiseach to give her nieces, Fatma (10) and Yagmur (7), the visas they need to allow them leave the Turkish orphanage where they have lived for two years and come to Ireland.
She said, “I am going on hunger strike for as long as it takes.” She added, “The protest begins now and will go on until I fall on my feet.” Ms Dogan said she was desperate to find a resolution and described the hunger strike as a ‘last resort’.
Misled and messed about
The emotional couple said that they originally decided to adopt the children in Turkey following advice from the Adoption Services. Ms Dogan stated, “We have been totally misled and messed about on this. All we want to do is adopt two little girls who are my husband’s nieces … It is not as if we are bringing in a boat load of illegal emigrants.”
Referring to the advice that was originally issued to them, Ms Dogan continued, “If there were going to be problems why did they not tell us about them 18 months ago and not three weeks ago. All I am asking is for the Taoiseach show some mercy coming up to Christmas.”
She added, “If you contact the Department of Justice you are told to press this button if you are a refugee from Timbuktu or Cambodia or wherever and press this button for asylum seekers. But there is no justice for the Irish citizen. What button do I press for that one?”
Ms Dogan said she and her husband had done everything by the book, and she called for some discretion in this case. “Surely there must be some discretion in cases like this. After all in the past visas, were got for wealthy Arab businessmen. These are just two little girls who have a father and a mother who love them dearly.
Orphanage for Christmas?
Ann and Fiko hoped to have their girls Fatma and Yagmur in Ireland in time for the start of the new school year. However, due to what they describe as ‘delays on the Irish side’ this did not come to pass. After that setback the couple then hoped to have the children back in time for Christmas. However, the two young girls remain in the Turkish orphanage, where they have lived for the past two years.
Ms Dogan is frightened over what will become of her girls if they are not granted visas. “They could be thrown out of the orphanage any day. We are both Irish citizens who pay taxes here and have never broken any laws. I am pleading with the Taoiseach to use his power to tell the Department of Justice to get us even temporary visas.”