HomeTravelHelen McEntee: More than 80pc of asylum seekers come from across the...

Helen McEntee: More than 80pc of asylum seekers come from across the Border


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Ms McEntee was speaking before the Joint Oireachtas Commitee on Justice. Responding to a question from Fianna Fáil Senator Robbie Gallagher, she said “a significant proportion” of all asylum seekers coming to Ireland are crossing the land border with Northern Ireland.

“This is the challenge that we have, that we have advocated for no border on this island. But it is absolutely a challenge,” Ms McEntee said.

“That’s particularly worrying,” Mr Gallagher said.

The minister said there is engagement with UK authorities “on a regular basis” and a common travel area committee meets on a quarterly basis. The Police Service of Northern Ireland and gardaí engage regularly, she said.

Ms McEntee said more than 5,000 people have applied for asylum here this year and more than half of those were via secondary movements.

Under new EU migration regulations, Ireland would have an option to pay a set amount to not take in additional asylum seekers, she said.

“It could be the case that if we don’t apply all of these new measures that we would be seen as a country that would be of greater benefit for people to come to,” she said of the new regulations.

“So we could actually see an increase in people coming here because they might think they won’t be processed as quickly or that we can’t return them to other countries.

“We have to look at it in the context of what the figures are now but if we were to apply the new systems, how would that potentially impact the overall figures.”

Under the solidarity mechanism to be introduced in 2026, 30,000 asylum seekers will be relocated within the EU, 648 of which will be to Ireland.

The solidarity mechanism is intended to share the responsibility for asylum applicants across the EU and to assist countries on the edges of the bloc.

Ms McEntee said Ireland could opt to pay around €12m instead of taking in those asylum seekers.

She said the 648 applicants who would come to Ireland under the mechanism are separate from asylum seekers travelling directly into the State currently.

“There is a huge amount of disinformation out there,” Ms McEntee said, and it is a priority of the Government to explain to the public what the new mechanism will mean for Ireland.

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