Influx of asylum seekers in the Republic a result of 'open border they demanded': Jim Allister

The Republic’s “all-Ireland agenda” is a major factor behind the current difficulties in dealing with the influx of asylum seekers across the Irish border, the TUV leader has said.
Tanaiste and minister for foreign affairs Micheal Martin. Photo: Brian Lawless/PATanaiste and minister for foreign affairs Micheal Martin. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA
Tanaiste and minister for foreign affairs Micheal Martin. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

Jim Allister was commenting as Irish government officials grow increasingly concerned that around 80% of those seeking sanctuary in the Republic are not presenting themselves at ports or airports.

Irish foreign minister Micheal Martin has said that the trend coincides with the UK’s determination to fly asylum seekers, who arrive in the UK by irregular means, to Rwanda.

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He told reporters in Dublin on Friday that he did not agree with the policy, adding: “Clearly, we’ve had an increase in the numbers coming UK into Northern Ireland into the Republic.

"And it’s fairly obvious that a Rwanda policy, if you’re a person in a given situation in the UK and well, then you don’t want to go to Rwanda – not that anybody has gone yet, I hasten to add.

“So I think it’s a fair comment of mine. There are many other issues – it’s not in any way trying to blame anything or anything like that.”

Mr Martin added: “Brexit was meant to slow down migration into the United Kingdom, and migration into United Kingdom has grown exponentially, increased exponentially, since Brexit”.

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A No 10 spokeswoman rebuffed claims the Rwanda policy was already influencing movements into Ireland.

“It is too early to jump to specific conclusions about the impact of the Act and treaty in terms of migrant behaviour,” she said.

Earlier this week, taoiseach Simon Harris suggested new legislation will be required to deal with the “very serious issues” around immigration.

“Our migration system is about people fleeing persecution, it’s not about a situation where you can be living safely in another country – have status potentially in that country – and then come to our country and seek immigration status,” Mr Harris said.

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A housing crisis and rising rents helped fuel anti-immigration sentiment in the Republic.

On Friday morning, Garda commissioner Drew Harris visited the scene of the latest outbreak of violence at Newtownmountkennedy in Co Wicklow.

The trouble flared on Thursday after workers arrived to carry out preparatory work on a former health facility – designated as a potential accommodation option for international protection applicants.

Six arrests were made during what the police described as “serious public disorder”.

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In a social media post on Friday, TUV leader Jim Allister said the current difficulties can be traced back to the Irish government’s post-Brexit insistence that there must be no physical border apparatus on the island of Ireland.

"You reap what you sow!”, Mr Allister said.

"ROI insisted there wouldn’t even be a camera allowed on the international frontier and now they lament the consequences of the open border they demanded.

"It’s hard to find sympathy for those so driven by their all-Ireland agenda and poking the British over Brexit that they insisted on the very thing now swamping them with immigrants!" he added.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, commentator Ruth Dudley Edwards said: "For a country that mocked Britain’s desire for sovereignty, and sought to use obstinate insistence on an open border as a means for punishment, it is a brutal comeuppance. Ireland’s elites are being hoisted by their own petard."

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However, the DUP has cautioned against hardening the border between the two jurisdictions, saying the Common Travel Area must be protected.

MLA David Brooks said: “The Republic can neither deal with immigration in isolation or solely in conjunction with the European Union. The United Kingdom and Ireland must work together closely and there is mutual benefit in doing so given the Common Travel Area and our joint desire to protect that.

"A so-called ‘hard border’ between Northern Ireland and the Republic is both impractical and impossible. It wasn’t achieved with thousands of troops during the troubles and it won’t be achieved now.

"Measures shouldn’t be implemented now which would have ruled out as entirely unacceptable at any point in recent years when the United Kingdom has been facing the sort of immigration issues becoming more prevalent in Ireland today.”

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