Irish man released from Australian detention centre and flying back to Ireland

Wicklow man Bernard Lee will not be able to return to Australia

An Irish man who had been detained by immigration services in Australia has been released and is expected to arrive in Dublin later today.

Bernard Lee, from Greystones, Co Wicklow, was arrested by armed police in Perth last week after his working visa was cancelled.

The 26-year-old had been living and working legally in Western Australia for the last seven years. He was taken into custody after allegedly being sent a letter refusing his application for a resident’s visa and cancelling his current business visa.

He was arrested at the home he shares with his Australian girlfriend for failing to leave the country within 20 days. However he claims he never received the notice.

He is being accompanied on the flight to Ireland by two members of staff from the private company that runs the Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre, on the outskirts of Perth, where he was detained.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection has insisted that due process was followed in the case.

"This person’s visa was cancelled because he was found not to be of good character. He was issued with a notice of consideration to refuse his visa application, to which he responded," a spokesperson said.

"The Department was not satisfied his reasons met the threshold and that he continued to pose an unacceptable risk to the community so it refused that application. His other visa was then cancelled by operation of law.

"This individual has subsequently been detained while arrangements are made for his removal as soon as practicable."

Mr Lee, who has past convictions in both Ireland and Australia, including for drink driving and driving without a licnce, told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show about the conditions in the detention centre.

“There’s no real structured routine. You get up in the morning. You can go and walk around, go to a few English classes. You don't have to do anything... They take your phone off you but you’re allowed to bring one in with no camera or recording device.”

Ireland’s Honorary Consul in Perth, Marty Kavanagh, has been in regular contact with Mr Lee’s family and Australian authorities since he was detained.

Mr Lee’s lawyer told The Irish Times that he is confident he could have successfully appealed the decision but it would have meant staying in the immigration detention for up to nine months.

The lawyer also said that because Mr Lee’s visa was cancelled on character grounds, he will not be able to return to Australia.