Ireland won't provide migration loopholeIreland won't provide migration loophole

Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris has vowed that other countries’ migration policies cannot undermine Ireland’s, as the majority of asylum seekers entering Ireland have crossed the border from Northern Ireland. Harris has asked Justice Minister Helen McEntee to bring legislation to cabinet on Tuesday to enable asylum seekers to be sent back to the UK. However, a UK government source said the UK “won’t accept any asylum returns from the EU via Ireland” until the EU changes its policies.

Earlier this week, McEntee told an Irish parliamentary committee that 80% of recent asylum seekers arriving in the Republic of Ireland came across the border from Northern Ireland. The Irish Department of Justice confirmed that a meeting scheduled for Monday between the minister and Home Secretary James Cleverly had been postponed and will be rescheduled shortly.

Legislation to revive the UK’s Rwanda policy became law on Thursday, aiming to deter people from crossing the English Channel by sending some asylum seekers to the central African country. No migrants have yet been sent from the UK. The UK government had hoped for flights to take off by the spring, but Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says this should now happen within 10 to 12 weeks.

The Taoiseach said he doesn’t intend to allow foreign policies to “affect the integrity of our own.” He said that Ireland will not, in any way shape or form, provide a loophole for anybody else’s migration challenges. There is now “a need for much more” police collaboration.

An Irish deputy PM, Micheál Martin, said the UK government’s Rwanda policy meant people were “fearful” of staying in the UK and were crossing the border to the Republic so they would not be sent to Rwanda. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak responded that the deterrent is already having an impact because people are worried about coming here, and that demonstrates exactly what he is saying: if people come to our country illegally, but know that they won’t be able to stay, they’re much less likely to come.

Home Office figures showed that around 500 migrants had crossed the English Channel over two days, with 141 people arriving on Friday and 359 on Saturday, in a total of 10 small boats. This brings the number of arrivals on small boats to 7,167 so far this year, which is higher compared to the same period the year before. Labour’s shadow immigration minister, Stephen Kinnock MP, said the figure represents the “blunt reality behind all of Rishi Sunak’s empty boasts.” If a Labour government were in place, there would be a returns and enforcement unit established “so those with no right to be in the UK are swiftly returned.”.

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