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Airlines told to do more to stop people arriving without documentation – The Irish Times


Nineteen airlines flying into Ireland have been contacted by the Department of Justice about allowing international protection applicants on to aircraft without proper documentation.

A Department spokesperson said immigration officials are “actively engaging with airport authorities and airlines at a senior level to underscore the importance of passengers possessing correct documentation and to provide support in helping them to reduce the number of passengers boarding flights without the correct documentation.

“The Department’s border management unit and the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) are working closely with airlines on a range of measures to ensure that passengers have such documentation when boarding. Border management unit officials are available 24/7 to assist airlines with queries they have in relation to immigration matters,” it said.

Figures released by the Department to Newstalk on Friday show there were more than 5,000 applicants for international protection between January and November last year who entered the State with either false or no documentation.

Speaking on Wednesday the acting Minister for Justice Simon Harris said he will be bringing proposals to a Cabinet subcommittee next month to deal with the issue.

“When it comes to the migration system, we need to have a rules based system. People who come to Ireland and seek protection and have a right to protection should have a right to get a quick decision in an efficient process,” he said.

The latest figures from the Department of Integration show as of last Saturday, 19,635 people seeking international protection are being housed in Ireland by the International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS). This is up from 16,838 at the end of October.

Dublin (7,657), Cork (1,366), Wicklow (979), Meath (966) and Kerry (880) have the most asylum seekers. Two counties, Carlow and Kilkenny have none.

The country with the greatest number in the international protection system is Georgia (3,225), followed by Nigeria (2,345), Algeria (2,031), Somalia (1,837), Zimbabwe (1,763) and Afghanistan (1,051). Currently there are an average of 35 new arrivals every day into the State from people seeking international protection.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) head of office in Ireland Enda O’Neill said dealing with asylum seekers who enter the state without proper documentation is a complex issue.

Under the 1951 Refugee Convention a person seeking refugee status must still have their application processed even if he or she has entered a state illegally. The presumption is that many people who are seeking refugee status have to flee their countries of origin at short notice.

He said many refugees, by definition, cannot get a visa to enter a country legally as they are fleeing their country of origin.

“A lot of people are coming on fake documents,” he said. “They are most likely to be using a smuggler. If you have a Syrian passport … you have to have a visa to enter Ireland. There are only two possibilities – you are either on a visa or a false document.

“If someone is using the services of a smuggler, they may be under the influence of that person. They may be told to destroy that documentation or not to disclose where the documentation came from.”

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