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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 August, 2003, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Executive 'failed' Ay family
Newroz, Beriwan, Dilovan, and Medya Ay
The four children did not receive mainstreatm education
A Labour MP has accused the Scottish Executive of "ducking" its responsibilities over the treatment of an asylum seeking family who have been deported from the UK.

Michael Connarty spoke out as the fight continued to stop Yurdugal Ay and her four children being sent back to Turkey.

The family spent a year at the Dungavel detention centre in Lanarkshire during which all four children were denied access to formal education.

They were flown back to Germany this week where they had made their first asylum application to the UK and are now attempting to be given refuge there.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Deputy First Minister, Jim Wallace, in his capacity as leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, wrote to the Home Secretary David Blunkett, last year, urging him to block the deportation of an Albanian family of asylum seekers living in Glasgow.

Supporters of the Ay family say they cannot understand why an executive minister was prepared to take up the case of othe Pangay family, but not them.

Yurdugal and her husband Salih are Turkish Kurds who fled Turkey 15 years ago for fear of persecution.

The Home Office runs reception centres like Dungavel and it is for the Home Office to make suitable arrangements for services such as education
Scottish Executive
The MP for Falkirk East said the case had highlighted the fact the Home Office and the executive had got the "moral and legal position completely wrong".

He accepted that asylum issues were a devolved matter (the responsibility of the ministers in London) but he said there was nothing in the legislation which had forced the executive to keep children "locked up in prison".

Mr Connarty said: "It is a great embarrassment that in Germany the Ay family have been released while they are being considered. If they can do that in Germany it is a shame on this country that those children were locked up for a year.

"It is a shameful episode and it should be something that should not be repeated."

'Scared of xenophobia'

The politician was particularly concerned about the lack of education for the four youngsters, aged between seven and 14, while in Dungavel.

He said: "There is no legislative power for the Home Office to decide what education there should be in a Scottish detention centre.

"I think the executive has been ducking its moral responsibility.

"I am ashamed of the Scottish Executive and I am ashamed of my Labour colleagues on this matter. We are running scared of xenophobia and we are running scared of the problems of illegal people trafficking.

Michael Connarty
Children are not guilty of any crime, they should be kept out of detention and should have an ultimate legal right in Scotland to be in mainstream education
Michael Connarty
Labour MP
"But there is a moral line here, children are not guilty of any crime, they should be kept out of detention and should have an ultimate legal right in Scotland to be in mainstream education.

A Scottish Executive spokesman denied that the executive was responsible for educating the Ay children under the Standards in Schools (Scotland) Act 2000.

"That section (15) relates to the education provision by a local authority for children with special educational needs not looked after children," the spokesman said.

"Looked after children are those who are looked after by local authorities not those who are looked after by the Home Office.

"The Home Office runs reception centres like Dungavel and it is for the Home Office to make suitable arrangements for services such as education."

Minister 'unmoving'

Mr Connarty also attacked Beverley Hughes, the Home Office minister for asylum and immigration, whom he described as "unmoving on the issue".

"If they (the Home Office) think they should get tough on children in order to get tough on asylum then I think our moral and legal positions are wrong," he added.

The family, who had their final appeal in the UK rejected by the House of Lords, have now registered with German authorities.

Lawyers acting for the family, who are currently staying with relatives, also plan to appeal against the decision by the Home Office in Britain to deport them.

Both actions will be brought as last-ditch attempts to prevent Mrs Ay and her children being returned to Turkey.

Mr Ay was last year deported to Turkey after returning to Germany to attempt a new asylum appeal. He has not been heard from since.




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BBC Scotland's Glen Campbell
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SEE ALSO:
Ay family begin asylum appeal
06 Aug 03  |  Scotland
Ay family to appeal from abroad
05 Aug 03  |  Scotland
Asylum girl in plea to Blunkett
04 Aug 03  |  Scotland


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