Five times as many refugees as last year are arriving in Ireland, Taoiseach says amid efforts to tighten border controls

Four to five times more refugees are arriving in Ireland this year compared to previous years, the Taoiseach said, explaining why the government has tightened immigration rules.

The government today suspended visa-free entry for refugees from 20 “safe” European countries.

Although Ukrainians can still travel to Ireland without a visa, those who have been granted refugee status in other countries now require a visa before traveling here.

It comes after huge pressure to house refugees here has resulted in Ukrainians fleeing the war being forced to sleep on the floor of an old terminal building at Dublin Airport.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin told reporters in Japan today the decision was “a smart move” amid a “flight” of refugees who recently arrived in the state.

People fleeing the war in Ukraine should be given priority at this point, he said.

“In recent months there has been a significant increase in the number of people seeking international protection,” he said.

“There were concerns in the Department of Justice about this system, so we suspended it for 12 months. We will check, but it is related to the recent wave of people applying for international protection.

“I mean, we have, potentially we will have four to five times as many people seeking international protection this year compared to pre-pandemic times. Also, we have a very significant situation regarding 40,000 people fleeing the war in Ukraine.”

It was announced on Monday that the government had agreed to temporarily suspend Ireland’s participation in the Council of Europe agreement for a period of 12 months.

According to this, refugees who have been granted refugee status in a signatory state do not need a visa to travel to another signatory state if the purpose of the trip was solely a visit of no more than three months.

Countries that signed the agreement instead issued convention travel documents to refugees.

However, ministers decided yesterday to suspend that initiative, with Justice Secretary Helen McEntee saying there was “evidence that such schemes could be abused”, adding that the visa waiver is being “exploited” by those who are already international Protection from other countries would have applied.

Refugees who received the special travel document in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Switzerland has been granted will now receive a special travel document to enter Ireland need to apply for a visa.

The lockdown comes into effect at noon today.

The decision was taken because refugees who have already been granted refugee status in other countries travel to Ireland and reapply for refugee status.

From January 2021 to January 2022, 760 refugees applied for refugee status here after having already been granted it in another EU country.

More than half (63 percent) or 479 refugees had already received refugee status from EU countries with a visa exemption.

Sources said the decision was made due to pressures on the refugee system and housing issues.

In the past few days it has become apparent that Ireland can no longer take in Ukrainian refugees.

Secretary McEntee said the decision was not “taken lightly” by the Government.

However, she added: “In recent months we have seen the visa waiver provided for in the Council of Europe agreement being exploited, including by some who enter the state and subsequently apply for international protection, despite having already been granted one.” other European country. The suspension of the implementation of the agreement is temporary and will be reviewed in a year.”

In his response today, Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane said “everything possible” must be done to accommodate the maximum number of refugees.

He said the decision on visas will affect a “tiny percentage” of people and that Sinn Féin will not oppose it.

Mr Cullinane said that while the number of Ukrainian refugees coming into the country should not be limited, if there is no shelter for them, they should decide for themselves whether the state is the best place for them.

“I could imagine that the refugees would of course have to see for themselves what is happening in the individual countries and then decide: ‘Well, do I want to go there if the accommodation isn’t there?’

“You enter dangerous territory when you start setting goals,” he said. Five times as many refugees as last year are arriving in Ireland, Taoiseach says amid efforts to tighten border controls

Fry Electronics Team

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