U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Photo by: REUTERS
Since the Tim Pat Coogan story broke here, I have heard numerous horror stories about the American Embassy in Dublin and how it is treating Irish applicants for visas to the United States.
As we know, famed author and historian Tim Pat Coogan was treated incredibly poorly and denied a visa for his U.S. book tour until Irish American pressure and New York Senator Chuck Schumer reversed the decision.
It is vital how an embassy treats the citizens of the country they are operating in. It sets a tone. The U.S. Embassy currently is presenting a very hostile face to the Irish.
There is no good reason for that. Ireland is not the Soviet Union circa 1955.
That’s not just my opinion -- it is that of a broad spectrum of Irish government personnel, lawyers who deal with the visa section of the embassy, and people who went through the process who I have spoken with.
It now appears that Tim Pat was the tip of the iceberg. Several who have dealings with the embassy have recounted episodes of rudeness, arrogance and most of all incomprehensible decisions by visa officers there.Read More: United States visa ban on Tim Pat Coogan removed after Senator Schumer steps in
It is spoken openly about in Irish government circles. Many prominent figures in Ireland and here are scratching their heads at the treatment.
Representations have been made but nothing has changed. Visa officers in U.S. embassies have broad latitude, but the division in Dublin seems deliberately set on keeping applicants out of the U.S. based on the slightest whim.
Ambassador Dan Rooney, while a beloved figure to many, hardly seems to have reacted despite being told on numerous occasions about the treatment of Irish visa seekers.
Since the arrival of visa head Bradley Wilde in 2010, things have quickly gone downhill in Ballsbridge where the embassy is located.
Wilde has instituted a very aggressive regime which treats visa seekers in the main like potential burdens on America.
Rules appear to have been arbitrarily applied and changed, leaving deep confusion. Rudeness, failure to explain and downright bloody mindedness when depriving people of visas on the smallest technicalities seems rampant.Read more: Niall O'Dowd -- Barring of writer Tim Pat Coogan from U.S. is an absolute disgrace
Maybe Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who visits Dublin next week, could take this up with Ambassador Rooney.
It is long past due as the Tim Pat Coogan case finally proved.