Ireland considers sending asylum seekers back to UK

Senior British and Irish officials to discuss return policies

A UK Coastguard helicopter in a training exercise over Dover a day after five migrants drowned making the crossing from France on a small boat. Getty Images
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Ireland is looking to amend a law to allow the return of asylum seekers to the UK, broadcaster RTE said on Sunday, after an influx from across the border with Northern Ireland.

Dublin's Minister of Justice Helen McEntee, who is scheduled to visit London on Monday, told a parliamentary committee this week that she estimates 80 per cent of those applying for asylum in the republic came over the land border with Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told Sky News it was evidence that London's plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is acting as a deterrent.

"What it shows, I think, is that the deterrent is ... already having an impact because people are worried about coming here [to Britain]," he said.

In response, a representative for Ireland's Prime Minister Simon Harris said the leader "does not comment on the migration policies of any other country but he is very clear about the importance of protecting the integrity of the migration system in Ireland", RTE reported.

"Ireland has a rules-based system that must always be applied firmly and fairly."

The representative said Mr Harris had asked Ms McEntee "to bring proposals to Cabinet next week to amend the existing law regarding the designation of safe 'third countries' and allowing the return of inadmissible International Protection applicants to the UK".

She is expected to discuss a new returns policy when she meets UK Home Secretary James Cleverly in London on Monday.

The Rwanda bill cleared its final parliamentary hurdle last Monday after a marathon tussle between the upper and lower chambers of Parliament.

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

Updated: April 28, 2024, 9:21 PM