A distressed father is appealing on humanitarian grounds for the Government not to deport him and his family, including two young daughters who are profoundly deaf and entirely dependent on their Cochlear implants and associated supports.
Mohammed Basharat wipes at the tears streaming down his face. He's unable to hold back his emotions as he relays his family's predicament.
“They need me to stay strong. Everything I do, I do for them,” says Mohammed. “It's about my family, about my children and their futures.”
Mohammed and his young family are facing deportation back to his native Pakistan. They received notice last November, and while the matter is currently under judicial review, the Basharats have suffered desperately in the interim as they constantly fear that “knock on the door”.
Central to Mohammed and wife Sadia's plea to remain is that their two daughters Samia Eman (12) and Fatima Noreen (9) are both profoundly deaf.
Last week, in a last ditch bid to highlight their case, Mohammed launched a petition calling on the Minister for Justice, Charles Flanagan, to intervene. In just five days the petition had received more than 75% of its required 3,000 signature target. That number was still climbing as the Celt went to print, and buoyed by the response, Mohammed has revised his target to 10,000 by the time of the judicial review.
Mohammed's own story starts as a 20-year-old graduate of mechanical and electrical engineering, leaving a remote area of the Punjab province for Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to work as a machinist in January 1994.
He worked there for 10 years, but in 2002 visited family in the UK and was convinced to return.
Poor legal advice saw Mohammed fail to attain a skills visa in England, and as he awaited the outcome of an appeal, his visa in Malaysia also lapsed.
It was only in 2011, after both girls from a young age were diagnosed as profoundly deaf and in critical need of Cochlear implants, that Sadia and their children moved from Pakistan to the UK permanently to live with Mohammed.
Due to the cost of the Cochlear procedure in Pakistan, estimated at around $50,000, and the ongoing need for skilled maintenance of the delicate devices, the family considered the girls' future development better served abroad.
When all possible avenues in the British court system were exhausted the Basharats moved to Longford in February 10, 2015. They did so hoping to find sanctuary within EU Treaty Rights as a dependant family of his brother, who had bought a takeaway in Oldcastle, Co Meath.
The initial six-month stamp allowed Mohammed to temporarily work, during which time they moved to Cavan where they bought a house in Carrickaboy. The first stamp was followed by another shorter eight-month stamp, then another, followed by a shorter four-month stamp, and another, up until the end of last year when the family were issued with a Deportation Order.
He recalls when Samia was only four years old and the Cochlear implant was first installed. Her tiny body sitting up on the bed flopped over such was the effect the surgery had on her balance. She's come on leaps and bounds since, a bright young girl bordering on teenage years, delighted by modern technology, but equally enamoured with helping her father in the garden.
Fatima is close on her sister's heels.
Both love Ireland and have many friends here.
The order was issued despite medical advice that if Mohammed's daughters Samia and Fatima were forced to leave Ireland, it would severely hamper their progress.
Doctor's reports for both girls claim neither can speak Urdu, the national language in Pakistan, and a 'transfer to a non-English speaking environment would have a detrimental effect' on their educational and language development.
“Everything they ignore,” says Mohammed of the appeals process to date..
“If they send me back then fine. I will suffer, but if they send my family too, my daughters will suffer more.”
Mohammed's heart is broken in many respects, and not just by the order against his family.
Both his parents have died while Mohammed has been away from his family. He has never had the opportunity to visit their graves. It pains him terribly. He hasn't been to Pakistan in 24 years, and is afraid to travel to pay his respects for fear of not being able to return and being separated from his family here.
Mohammed accepts much of the blame of what has now unfolded, but is looking for “one chance”.
His voice is wracked with emotion when he says: “I am human. I am asking them to look at this as a human case. As a father only looking for what's best for his daughters. Nothing more. This is what I am, this my story.”
In just a relatively short time in Ireland the Basharats have become closely integrated in to their community.
Son Usman attends Cavan Institute studying Animal Care, and Samia and Fatima are pupils at St Clare's in Ballyjamesduff.
In Oldcastle, the restaurant run by Mohammed and his brother is often the first port of call for local sporting teams, win-lose-draw.
Bantamweight boxer Ciaran Healy is meanwhile sponsored by the takeaway, and next month when he travels to fight in Derby, Mohammed has encouraged his UK family to travel in support of the young charger.
“Ireland is my family's home. It is my home too. Now they want to kick us out. Never once have I ever asked for anything. I work hard, I provide for my family, I give back to the community. I ask for nothing and I give everything for my family. I work 18 hour days. Whatever I can and I need to do to survive, and for them to live a life, I do. My life is them.”
For more details or to sign Mohammed's petition, visit: https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/save-samia-and-fatima-both-sisters-are-profoundly-deaf