Ireland seeks emergency law to return asylum seekers back to UK

Ireland seeks emergency law to return asylum seekers back to UK

Ireland is looking to implement emergency legislation to enable the return of asylum seekers to the UK, as Taoiseach Simon Harris seeks to address the increasing influx of arrivals through Northern Ireland.

This comes amid concerns that Rishi Sunak's deterrence strategy, known as the Rwanda plan, is rerouting asylum seekers towards Ireland.

80 percent of asylum seekers from Northern Irish border

Harris has urged Justice Minister Helen McEntee to bring forward proposals to the cabinet next week, highlighting the need to address the potential impact of Sunak's deterrence measures on Ireland's asylum system.

"There are many reasons why we have seen an increase in migration toward Ireland," Ms McEntee said speaking on RTÉ's Six One News.

"My focus as minister for justice is making sure that we have an effective immigration structure and system. That's why I'm introducing fast processing. That's why I'll have emergency legislation at cabinet this week to make sure that we can effectively return people to the UK."

This decision follows recent revelations that a significant proportion—up to 80%—of asylum seekers arriving in Ireland have entered through the land border with Northern Ireland.

Emphasising the importance of maintaining the integrity and effectiveness of Ireland's migration system, a spokesperson for Harris stated that the proposed emergency measures are part of a broader effort to strengthen the system, ensuring that rules are applied firmly and fairly.

McEntee has outlined plans to bolster Ireland's controls over asylum processing and engage in discussions with British officials, including Home Secretary James Cleverly, during her forthcoming visit to London.

She highlighted the urgency of the situation by emphasising the need for  the imminent introduction of emergency legislation aimed at facilitating the effective return of individuals to the UK.

'The deterrent is already having an impact'

In response to growing concerns, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defended the controversial Rwanda legislation, asserting that it is already having an impact by dissuading individuals from attempting to enter the UK illegally.

Sunak emphasised that tackling illegal migration is a global challenge, noting that other countries are considering adopting similar third-country partnership approaches inspired by the UK's initiative.

Speaking on Sky News, PM Sunak said, "The deterrent is - according to your comment - already having an impact, because people are worried about coming here and that demonstrates exactly what I'm 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."

PM Sunak's Rwanda policy has been one of the more significant policies of his tenure as PM
PM Sunak's Rwanda policy has been one of the more significant policies of his tenure as PM - Toby Melville/TOBY MELVILLE

Rising tensions surrounding migration policies

Last week, violent clashes erupted during a protest in County Wicklow, Ireland, against proposed refugee accommodation, underscoring the broader anxieties over far-right agitation and threats against politicians in Ireland.

Taoiseach Simon Harris is expected to address these issues, emphasising the importance of heeding warning signs surrounding the abuse of public figures and the need to take preventive action before potentially grave consequences unfold.

Ireland has welcomed over 100,000 refugees in recent years, with the majority originating from Ukraine. The influx of asylum seekers has exacerbated existing challenges, including an acute housing crisis characterized by rising rents and homelessness, which has in turn stoked anti-immigrant sentiment in certain quarters.

The aftermath of a riot last November in central Dublin also underscores the broader societal tensions associated with immigration issues.

Harris has underscored the imperative of safeguarding the rules-based migration system in Ireland, stressing the government's commitment to implementing measures that strengthen the system's effectiveness and agility.

The impacts of the Rwanda plan continue to unfold, with discussions ongoing regarding its influence on migration patterns and broader implications for regional dynamics.