An Irish grandmother who was refused entry to Australia to visit her son last night said she had been ‘treated like a criminal’.
Anne Ryan Murphy and her husband Audie flew to Perth to see their son Karl, his future partner Leanne and their 20-month-old granddaughter Khaleesi earlier this week.
But their 19-hour flight on Qatar Airlines from Dublin via Doha ended with the couple in their 60s being met by Border Police due to Covid regulations.
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They were questioned by agents for 10 hours before being detained in a hotel and then sent home because they did not have a medical certificate exempting them from vaccination. Anne and Audie spent £3,500 on the trip to meet their granddaughter for the first time – coinciding it with Leanne’s birth of their second grandchild.
The mother-of-two said she planned to stay with the young family for two months to help with the couple’s newborn baby due this week.
But they weren’t even allowed to see Karl as he called them outside their quarantine hotel – as they were whisked away.
Anne said the worst part of the ordeal was not even being allowed to say hello to her son who was impatiently waiting outside hoping to console his heartbroken parents. Anne told the Sunday Mirror: “Karl was standing outside the hotel when we were leaving and the security guard prevented me from even turning my head to see him.
“I couldn’t even see my own son.
“The security guards got out of the van and walked over to me and put his hand on me and said, ‘Let’s go.’
“He put me in the van and put his hand up so I couldn’t even see him. Then when we got in the van it was like ‘go, go, go’, it was like in a movie where the driver had to take off at full speed. The couple were even more shocked to learn that they could not give their son three wrapped bags of clothes they had bought for their grandchildren.
Fighting back tears, Anne said: “We haven’t even met our 20-month-old granddaughter yet. She had drawn a small picture ‘Welcome Grandpa and Grandma Murphy’. “When we came down to reception they said, ‘Leave your luggage there, you can’t do anything more with it, it will now be taken to you in the van’.
“I said, ‘These are baby clothes for the new baby.’ We then had to take the three bags and try to put them back in the suitcases.
One of the reasons they were going to Australia was to help with the newcomer.
A distraught Anne continued: ‘Karl’s partner is due to give birth this week and we got a call that her baby is too big to be delivered naturally so she needs a caesarean.
“So now there’s no one to look after their 20 month old baby. My son is also self employed so if she has a caesarean she can’t lift her baby for eight weeks and she can’t don’t drive, so there’s no one to take care of the baby Anne doesn’t understand how they managed to fly halfway around the globe without being arrested because they didn’t have the right papers.
She said they had never tried to mislead the Australian authorities and had been completely honest in filling in their travel forms and stating they were not vaccinated.
She said: “I am still in shock. I don’t remember when we last slept.
“I mean after a 19 hour flight to then be picked up and questioned for 10 hours. How can you do that? Where is the empathy?
“We have G2G, DPD, all granted by the Australian Government. Nowhere on these two forms did it say that you had to have a medical exemption.
“They said at the very beginning it was a very serious offense and I looked at it thinking, ‘My God, we only came to see our children and grandchildren, how can this be a serious offence? ‘”
Anne said that after being removed by Border Police, the couple were separated and interviewed individually.
She added: ‘We were taken to separate rooms, we were told our luggage had to stay outside the door along with our phones and my handbag. They said, ‘How did you do it?’ and we said “Well, everyone, leave us”. We went all the way and then the Border Patrol stopped us.
Anne had not eaten since leaving her home in Co Down on Friday.
She explained: “I haven’t eaten anything since I left that morning at 9am since the day before – so I only had water for 19 hours.
“They told my husband they would try to get him a tea bag or said we could have a microwave meal.”
To add to the couple’s anguish, they were told the forms required by Australian authorities would no longer be needed later this month.
Anne said: ‘They said this paper was going to be lifted anyway in two weeks, Border Patrol even said that was crazy. They said people were being sent home all the time and no one was doing anything about it.
The couple are determined to return to Australia as soon as possible to help and will apply for new visas as soon as possible.
She concluded: “We will go as soon as possible. What was our crime here? To see our children and grandchildren?
Earlier this week, the Australian Border Force told local media the couple had arrived without a valid medical exemption and their visas had been canceled as a result. An ABF spokeswoman said: “It is the responsibility of passengers to ensure they have a valid medical exemption if they are not vaccinated against Covid-19.
“This must be signed by a doctor and clearly state what medical reason exists that prevents vaccination.
“ABF will continue to ensure that those arriving at our border comply with our laws and requirements.
“All ABF officers involved in this matter followed the correct procedures which have been put in place to protect the health and safety of our community, and that of all travelers entering Australia.”
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