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UK and Irish ministers to meet amid row over migration

29 Apr 2024 3 minute read
Irish Taoiseach Simon Harris. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

UK and Irish ministers are due to meet in London amid an escalating row over migrants travelling from the UK to Ireland.

Ireland’s deputy premier and foreign affairs minister Micheal Martin is to co-chair a meeting of the British Irish Inter-Governmental Conference (BIIGC) in London on Monday with Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris.

Home Secretary James Cleverly and Justice Minister Helen McEntee had been due to meet on Monday to discuss “strengthening” the Common Travel Area, but the meeting was postponed late on Sunday night.

It was confirmed on Monday that Ms McEntee would not attend the BIIGC and will instead meet senior officials in Dublin.

“The Minister looks forward to her meeting with the Home Secretary being rescheduled soon,” a statement said.

Ms McEntee has claimed that the number of asylum seekers crossing from Northern Ireland is now “higher than 80%” due to a shift in migration patterns in recent months.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the increase showed that the UK’s Rwanda plan is working.

The plan aims to send asylum seekers to the east African nation to deter others from crossing the English Channel.

Loophole

Irish premier Simon Harris said on Sunday that Ireland won’t “provide a loophole” for other countries’ migration “challenges”.

Mr Harris also said that “close” collaboration and cooperation between the British and Irish governments was “not just desirable, but absolutely essential”.

“When it comes to migration, I do think it’s important that there is collaboration, where appropriate, between the PSNI and Gardai.”

The UK Government rejected any bid by Ireland to return asylum seekers unless France agrees to do the same with boats crossing the Channel.

“We won’t accept any asylum returns from the EU via Ireland until the EU accepts that we can send them back to France,” a Government source said.

Northern Ireland First Minister Michelle O’Neill called for a “thought-out” and “considered” response from both the British and Irish governments.

Irish ministers are expected to discuss emergency legislation on Tuesday that would see asylum seekers “returned” to the UK.

The legislation is being drafted in response to an Irish High Court ruling that found Ireland designating the UK as a “safe third country” for returning asylum seekers, in the context of the Rwanda plan, is contrary to EU law.

“I will seek Government approval for the legislation to be rapidly drafted so that the UK can again be designated as a safe country for returns,” Ms McEntee said in a statement.

“My department has been working on this as a priority since last month’s High Court judgment and I intend that returns to the UK will recommence once the law is enacted.”

Mr Martin said: “I am pleased to be in London for another important meeting of the BIIGC, the first such meeting since the restoration of the Strand I and Strand II institutions.

“As ever, there are numerous areas of mutual interest for the Governments to discuss and I look forward to another productive conference.”


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L. Edwards
L. Edwards
21 days ago

Nobody with half an ounce of political intelligence could fail to see that boasting about the Rwanda scheme diverting asylum seekers to Ireland would cause a storm. They should also grasp that, if true, it’s another badge of shame. I wonder what Sunak will do next to display his unfitness for the role of PM

Jeff
Jeff
21 days ago

Party planning evil people trafficking to unsafe countries applaud when they see their vile plans get some traction. Braverman is breaking out the champers and party poppers and ARTD is buying a new tub to thump. Are they that blind?

Long term effect, are the EU allowed to send people back to countries that are going to inflict harm on people? That is us, the UK, doing the harm.

Last edited 21 days ago by Jeff

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