Racist policy at the French Embassy, Dublin.
I am furiously angry with the actions of the French Embassy here in Ireland. And here's why.
This is a story concerning a couple of immigrants who have lived and worked here for a number of years, and have been head-over-heels in love for the last twelves months or so (let's just call them 'E.', a French national and 'D.', her Mauritian boyfriend of Indian Christian background). E. has recently had a major work promotion, which has necessitated her move to a certain continental European country. Quite understandably, both she and D. (who works here as a freelancer for several high-profile institutions) want to continue to live together. Now, as D. is a Commonwealth citizen living here under work permit, there are certain difficulties in his going to live and work in this particular Schengen Agreement country (not France), difficulties which could be resolved through marriage. And as both these two are crazy about each other, marriage was decided on and they duly got engaged.
The two lovers at the heart of this tale were naturally anxious to set the wedding as soon as possible, in order to make their separation as brief as possible. Add this to the desirability of having as many friends and family attend this happy occasion, and it was decided to hold the wedding in E.'s hometown in France, with last Saturday set as the date. The relevant local officials (under the French Civic Code) gave permission, invitations were sent, flights were arranged, bookings were made, wedding rings were bought.
Step forward the part where the French Embassy comes into the picture. D. (as we've mentioned) isn't entitled to travel to France without the appropriate short stay visa, so the Embassy was contacted more than a month ago in this regard. A relatively simple matter of at most one week, according to the Embassy's own guidelines. What ensued has been the most astounding succession of ignored contact attempts, bureaucratic delaying tactics, racist remarks by Embassy staff to both fiancées, pressure put on her parents and official harassment of the civil dignitary who agreed to conduct the ceremony in France. It's quite frankly incredible, and I don't have the space here to do the account justice.
This campaign finally culminated in the pulling of a last-minute maneuver to refuse the visa - all other tactics having failed - the day before they were both due to fly to France. So, the wedding has been cancelled (at huge cost in time, money and emotion) until likely Dublin in the spring. And there's no legal recourse whatsoever to be had in Ireland.
Let me say that there is no doubt in our minds as to the French Embassy having done everything in its power to prevent this marriage. The only question is whether this appalling saga of bureaucratic cruelty is the result of direction by the Ambassador (Monsieur Frédéric Grasset) alone, or whether this is general policy in the French diplomatic corps. Either way, it offends my sense of natural justice that these bureaucrats will likely get away with it scot-free.
Liberté, Egalité, Racisme?