An Irish farmer and his Thai wife are fighting to be reunited after she was refused permission to return to his farm in Northern Ireland.
Eugene Mc Elroy has been married to his Thai wife Saowanit since 2006 and in 2009 she was granted a 30 month visa to live in the UK. Eugene's farm is located in County Tyrone in Ireland, one of six counties which administered by the United Kingdom.
Saowanit had applied in 2009 for a European Economic area permit but was refused on a technicality. She had to return to Thailand last year following the death of her mother but was refused a visa to return on the basis that her Irish husband's income was £4.65 short of Home Office regulations.
'I'm heartbroken and I can't make head nor tail out of it,' Mc Elroy told an Irish newspaper recently.'I've no money problems. I own my home, 50 acres of land, and a lot of cattle. I've no mortgage. But they don't take that into account. Their silly bureaucratic rule is preventing me from being with the woman I love.'
Eugene told the newspaper that his Thai wife was on the phone 'everyday' crying after being refused permission to return home to Ireland and her husband. Mc Elroy met Saowanit in 2006 when he visited the country following the marriage of another Irish man to a local woman in Thailand.'It was love at first sight. I went back two months later, married her, and brought her home,' he said.
Mc Elroy told reporters that he was 'happy as the day's long' with his Thai wife and that Saowanit had nursed his mother before she died. 'She drives the tractor and cleans out after the cows. She's a lethal good girl too, she neither smokes nor drinks.'
He has now hired a solicitor in Ireland to fight the UK Home Office and appeal against their decision. 'This is a horrendous situation for the couple,' solicitor Padraig Drinan said. 'Saowanit will be stranded in Thailand for at least six months until her appeal is heard.'
Meanwhile Eugene Mc Elroy says he misses his wife very badly. 'The cows are ready for calving and I need her home,' he says. 'I'm desperately lonely. The house is empty without her. All I've got now is the TV. I'm so frustrated, I feel like going out for a good feed of drink but I need to keep my wits about me to fight these Home Office boys.'
There is growing concern that governments worldwide are radcting to the increased levels of Thai Brides by introducing stringent visa regulations. This is particularly true for Thai Brides in the UK where there increased reports of incidents, denial of entry and detention where Thai women do not meet visa requirements