Ireland planning emergency law to send asylum seekers back to the UK

The Irish government said there has been an increase in asylum seekers arriving in Ireland after crossing the Northern Irish

Archie Mitchell
Sunday 28 April 2024 19:06 BST
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Irish premier Simon Harris has asked his justice minister to bring forward emergency legislation to allow Ireland to send asylum seekers back to the UK.

The taoiseach said Rishi Sunak’s plan to deport some asylum seekers to Rwanda has caused an uptick in the number of asylum seekers crossing from Northern Ireland into the Republic.

In response, a spokesperson for Mr Harris said the Irish PM has asked his justice minister, Helen McEntee, “to bring proposals to cabinet next week to amend existing law regarding the designation of safe ‘third countries’ and allowing the return of inadmissible international protection applicants to the UK”.

Speaking to RTE’s Six One News, Ms McEntee said: “There are many reasons why we have seen an increase in migration toward Ireland.

“I’ll have emergency legislation at cabinet this week to make sure that we can effectively return people to the UK and that’s why I’ll be meeting with the home secretary [James Cleverly] to raise these issues on Monday.”

Rishi Sunak said claims the UK’s Rwanda plan is causing an influx of migrants into Ireland showed the deterrent is working.

Michelle O’Neill said the Irish government had been ‘disorganised’ responding to the issue
Michelle O’Neill said the Irish government had been ‘disorganised’ responding to the issue (AFP via Getty Images)

The PM told Sky News his focus was on the United Kingdom, but added: “What that comment illustrates is a couple of things. One, that illegal migration is a global challenge, which is why you’re seeing multiple countries talk about doing third-country partnerships, looking at novel ways to solve this problem, and I believe will follow where the UK has led.

“But what it also shows, I think, is that the deterrent is according to your comment already having an impact because people are worried about coming here.”

The Irish government claimed the number of migrants crossing from Northern Ireland was “higher than 80 per cent” in recent months.

Under the Rwanda Bill, asylum seekers coming to the UK face being sent on a one-way flight to the east African nation, with the aim of stopping others from crossing the English Channel on small boats.

Northern Ireland’s first minister, Michelle O’Neill, said she had not been contacted about planned legislation on asylum seekers arriving in Ireland from the UK.

Rishi Sunak said an increase in asylum seekers arriving in Ireland shows his Rwanda plan is acting as a deterrent
Rishi Sunak said an increase in asylum seekers arriving in Ireland shows his Rwanda plan is acting as a deterrent (PA)

“I am the first minister in the north and I have yet to hear from the taoiseach or the tanaiste or the justice minister,” she said in Dublin on Sunday.

“To me, that highlights, maybe even underlines, how disorganised they are in dealing with this issue.

“Policy responsibility for migration and immigration sits with the British government, I’m aware that Helen McEntee is to meet James Cleverly over the course of the next 24-36 hours.

Ms O’Neill was speaking at a launch of the party’s local, European and Limerick mayoral election campaign in Dublin.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, who was also at the event, argued that cross-border migration means Ireland should reject a newly-revealed overhaul of EU laws on migration and asylum.

“We need a plan that is resourced and delivered to deal with this issue,” Ms McDonald said on Sunday.

Mr Harris said that more cooperation will be needed between the police forces in Ireland and Northern Ireland on migration. He said Ireland does not intend to allow Ireland to “provide a loophole for anybody else’s migration challenges”.

“Every country is entitled to have its own migration policy, but I certainly don’t intend to allow anybody else’s migration policy to affect the integrity of our own one,” he said in Co Monaghan on Sunday.

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