Former asylum seeker and DkIT graduate gets Irish citizenship
A refugee who fled war-torn Somalia and has made his home in Dundalk, was one of 3,000 people who were conferred with Irish citizenship at emotional ceremonies in the Convention Centre in Killarney last week.
Nasir Yasir’s story is an amazing one, which began when he came to Ireland while still a teenager to escape the civil war in Somalia. And it’s a story which went full circle as he visited his old school while in Killarney for last week’s ceremony.
Having lived in direct provision centres in four counties, Nasir fulfilled his dream to qualify as a civil engineer, graduating from DkIT last year, and now lives in Dundalk with his wife and two young children.
‘When I first came to Ireland in 2005, I claimed asylum in Dublin and I was transferred to Killarney by the Department of Integration Agency.’ recalls Nasir. ‘I was living in a hostel named Park lodge in Park Road, Killarney.’
He went to school in St. Brendan’s College Killarney, and although he had little English, some of his teachers helped him become proficient.
After completing his Leaving Cert in 2007, Nasir wasn’t allowed to progress to third level education as he was still an asylum seeker. His classmates wrote to the Department of Justice supporting his case to be granted refugee status but do no avail.
Hungry to continue his studies, Nasir requested a transfer to one of the Direct Provision Centres in Dublin in the hope of getting a scholarship to continue his education but this was refused.
He was, however, transferred to a hostel in Wicklow town where he stayed for a year. ‘I had with no hope of by application being granted or getting an education,’ he remembers.
In July 2008, the hostel in Wicklow was closed down and everyone living there were transferred to the self-catering facility at Carroll Village.
This marked the beginning of a new chapter for Nasier, as he did a QQI level 5 Engineering course at O Fiaich Institute of Further Education, as he refused to give up on his dream of pursing a career in engineering.
‘Each year I was hoping to be granted refugee status by the Department of Justice so I could continue my education and I used to apply the CAO every year just in case it came through.’
Eventually, seven years after he first arrived in Ireland, Nasir was granted the right to remain in Ireland on humanitarian grounds in July 2012.
‘I was really excited when I got my papers,’ he says. He was able to rent his own flat, opting to remain with the Carroll Village Complex. But more importan, he says: ‘I got the right to access education and training in the same manner and to as an Irish citizen.’
Nasir finally began studying for his dream course of civil engineering at DkIT, graduating last year. He now works as a civil engineer in a local firm in Dundalk.
It was during his second year in college that he met his wife Samsam, who is also from Somalia.
‘My wife has played a big role in my life and in my happiness and in my success, to me she is not just my wife. She is the mother of my kids, she is my best friend.’
The couple have two children, their daughter Mawaahib who was born in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital hospital in 2015 and son Mohamed who is 2 years old.
In September Nasir got a letter telling him that he was being granted Irish citizenship, and in a remarkable twist of fate, the ceremony was being held in Killarney, where he had lived when he first came to Ireland and where he went to school in St Brendan’s College.
He took the opportunity of travelling to Killarney for the ceremony to show his family his ‘beloved previous town.
‘I showed them the hostel I lived in and the school I attended. I took them to Killarney National Park and the waterfalls where I used to cycle and climb everyday during the summer time.’
He also visited St Brendan’s school, where he met with principal Ed O’Neill, who was delighted to welcome him back to the school. Nasir has been invited back to give a talk to the students about his experience.
Now that he has been granted Irish citizenship, it’s his deepest hope that he will be allowed bring his mother and siblings to live in Ireland through the Irish Refugee Protection Programme Humanitarian Admission Programme.
This programme allows Irish citizens and people with refugee status who have eligible family members from the top 10 major source countries of refugees, to apply to the Minister for Justice and Equality for these family members to join them in Ireland.
Despite having lost touch with his family many times since coming to Ireland, Nasir has managed to find out where they are now. But he fears they might have to flee and leave their homes due to conflict, hunger and drought in Somalia.
‘Also the Islamist armed group Al-Shabab has threatened and abducted civilians which has forced many people to flee their homes,’ he says.
‘It would really change my life to be able to bring them here.’
Nasir is extremely grateful to all those who have helped him since he first came to Ireland and to the Irish government for granting citizenship.