Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Ireland will act to send asylum seekers back to UK, PM Simon Harris warns

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Ireland’s prime minister Simon Harris warned on Sunday that Dublin would take action to stem an influx of asylum seekers from Northern Ireland, the British territory across the border.

Ireland would not, he said, let other countries use it as a “loophole” for their own immigration policy.

His comments confirmed a report from broadcaster RTE that Ireland is looking to amend the law to allow the return of asylum seekers to the United Kingdom.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Photo: dpa

Last week, Dublin’s Minister of Justice Helen McEntee – who visits London on Monday – told a parliamentary committee she estimated 80 per cent of those applying for asylum in the republic had come over the land border with Northern Ireland.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, in comments broadcast on Sunday on Sky News, said this was evidence that London’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was acting as a deterrent.

In response, Harris said: “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 added: “This country will not in any way, shape or form provide a loophole for anybody else’s migration challenges.”

McEntee would introduce the proposed changes to the law on Tuesday to put the new returns policy in place, he said.

“We’re going to await the full details of that but it’s one which will effectively allow, again, people to be returned to the United Kingdom. And I think that’s quite appropriate.”

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Earlier, his spokesman told RTE: “Ireland has a rules-based system that must always be applied firmly and fairly.”

McEntee is expected to discuss the new returns policy when she meets UK interior minister James Cleverly in London on Monday.

The UK’s controversial Rwanda bill cleared its final parliamentary hurdle last Monday after an extended struggle between the upper and lower chambers of parliament.

Sunak hopes the bill will discourage asylum seekers from trying to enter the UK on small boats over the Channel from northern Europe.

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