Restore Travel Rights for Capable Woman with Down Syndrome

Target: Joseph Nugent, Head of the Irish Passport Office

Goal: Stop the Irish Passport Office from discriminating against people with disabilities

Pauline Conboy is a 46-year-old Irish woman with Down syndrome who has been stripped of her passport and right to travel because of her disability. Despite having traveled internationally in the past, Conboy’s passport was seized after a report was filed, although Conboy and her family have not had access to the secret report or its contents. Please sign this petition and demand that Pauline Conboy’s passport be reinstated so she may travel to the United States to be with her family.

Pauline Conboy’s mother provided the support she needed to manage the symptoms of her Down syndrome until April 2012 when she passed away. Since then Conboy has been fighting the Irish Passport Office to have her passport reinstated, thereby allowing her to go to Florida and live with family. Conboy has traveled internationally in the past and was shocked when her passport was revoked based on a secret report, of which Conboy and her family have still not seen.

Conboy’s family has traveled to Ireland to be with her and help her navigate the passport issue; however, even with the extra support, the Passport Office is coming up with more requirements. It is now requiring 46-year-old Conboy to have a legal guardian in order to have her passport reinstated. The Irish Passports Act of 2008 allows, not requires, people with disabilities to duly authorize a third party to fill out and sign the passport application form. Conboy did so and has still not received her passport.

People with disabilities are entitled to the same international travel rights as any one else. It is doing Conboy more injustice and potential harm to keep her in Ireland without the support she needs, than allowing her to be with her family in Florida. Conboy took her story to the internet by writing her own petition trying to shine light on the incident and demand restoration of her rights. An eloquent petition on an international website is garnering the support she was hoping for, but she is still without a passport.

If the Irish Passport Office is going to refuse someone the right to a passport they must explain why and provide a way around the issue. Conboy is a victim of discrimination and needs help in advocating for the rights she deserves. Please sign this petition and show support for Pauline Conboy and her right to travel.


Dear Mr. Nugent,

Irish citizen Pauline Conboy has been refused the right to travel by the Irish Passport Office by revoking her passport based on a secret report she has not been allowed to access. Conboy has Down syndrome and is trying to go to Florida to live with her family and receive the support she needs. Please reinstate her passport and stop discriminating against people with disabilities.

Conboy and her family have tried to work with the Irish Passport Office by designating a guardian for her, despite the fact that she does not need one and has never had one. She has traveled internationally in the past without issue and is dumbfounded by this blatant act of discrimination and injustice. Her family from Florida has traveled to Ireland to escort her on her travels and still she has not received her passport. Despite her disease, Conboy is a fully functioning member of society with the same rights as any Irish traveler.

Stop discriminating against people with disabilities and reinstate Pauline Conboy’s passport thereby allowing her to access the support she needs.


[Your Name Here]

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  1. Joanne Moorcroft says:

    Shame on you Mr Prime Minister for denying this lady her right to be with her family!
    You disgust me!
    Do the right thing now and let her go!

  2. please in the name of sanity and humanity ,let down your shield of defiance and let this lady join her family

    • Liam Conboy says:

      Thank you Tom… you are so right… sanity has gone out the window in this case… they made a mistake… I pointed it out but rather than correct the first mistake, they proceeded to keep making more and more. I told them you can fix something you did wrong by doing more wrong… but I guess it takes a sane person to understand that you can only fix something wrong by doing something right! We’re still waiting for them to do just one thing right in this case!

  3. I was looking at Irish law in relation to the legality of the passport office being able to withhold information regards the so called secret report they have on Pauline and have found that it is illegal for them to withhold this information if they receive a request in writting from Pauline to get this, regardless of whether they believe Pauline to have a disability or not. Have a look at the link below and see what you think.
    You have to have the strength to keep on going and writing to them. Try to get a lawyer, tell them you will contact the newspapers, ask Panorama, or Dispatches if they could run a story for you. Sadly even today there are likely a lot of people being discriminated against. Keep on fighting and don’t give up!

    • Liam Conboy says:

      Thank you Lynda.. I have filed Freedom of Information requests for both Pauline and myself (since the “report” affected me too). They granted my request and then refused to actually give me the record! I appealed it all the way so then the Information Commissioner claimed that they were “affirming the decision of the Department to refuse my request”. Pointing out that the Department never issued a decision to REFUSE my request and actually GRANTED it in a FINAL decision… was a complete waste of time. They just play word games and act like they are in Alice in Wonderland. They know they are 100% wrong here but seem to be just too arrogant to admit it and would rather just continue to make us suffer. Must be some burden to have such big egos!

  4. Call 2020 or one of the tv show that go under cover or try to get things done. Its worth a try.

    • Thank you Ruth… I am constantly trying to get media to cover this story because what they have done to both Pauline and myself is completely illegal so they just want to silence us. Getting this out in the public is the only way at this stage to shame them into doing something about it.

  5. mag robertson says:

    Pauline’s plight sends a shiver down my spine.I am glad she has got family support after the trauma of losing her mum. The Irish Government should allow her travel as she will be supported in the USA. I haven’t read all the posts therefore I don’t know the full story but would it be possible to have a guardian appointed to ease the transition across the water?

    • mag robertson says:

      I meant Pauline’s crossing of the pond – not “the transition”! I hope this important life event can happen for her to feel secure & happier.

      • Thank you Mag. We looked into that and found that Irish law makes no provisions for legal guardians of adults. Actually the way I found out about that was they accused me of claiming to be Pauline’s legal guardian when I did nothing of the sort. When I pointed out that it was not possible for anyone to become her legal guardian, they just made up various other excuses that are not to be found in the law. At this point we have no choice other than to treat this as a criminal matter. When government officials act against you without any authority in law to do what they are doing, there is only one option left and that is that they are acting as criminals outside the law. I have brought this to the attention of Alan Shatter, Minister for Justice and Equality in Ireland and I am now waiting on a response from him.

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