Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

End All Immigration Control – a Tale of Ireland and Turkey

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A correspondent, the Great Enabler, writes below about a recent Dublin government decision to stop visa-free travel to Ireland.

It is an excellent thoughtful and passionate post. I note that the main opposition party in Ireland, Sinn Féin, is “not opposed” to the Irish government decision.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has said it is not opposed to the Government move to tighten visa requirements for some refugees coming to Ireland.

“Health spokesperson David Cullinane said that the Government should have prepared better for the point when accommodation was tight.

He said the way to avoid such situations is through proper planning and by listening to organisations like the Irish Refugee Council. “. (RTÉ News)

John Meehan, July 23 2022

Immigration Control

Recently I read two news pieces in the Irish media on international travel: One was about the Irish government’s decision to stop visa-free travel to Ireland for refugees already settled in other EU states; the other one was a piece on how the Irish passport ranks very high on the list of “most powerful passports” – most powerful in terms of the freedom of movement it gives to its holders.

The plane I am travelling on is full of Irish people. Either by chit chat or eves dropping, one gathers very quickly that many have places in Turkey, summer homes. These would be very mostly homes, not luxuries villas. Others are holiday makers, excited about sea and sun. I think that’s absolutely great. People deserve holidays, people should see other countries. The powerful Irish passport is a great enabler. It takes 3-clicks and €15 to get your Turkish entry visa online. It may even be removed now.

Visa regulations are generally bilateral agreements. Ireland is not in EU Schengen Zone, therefore enforces it’s own visa rules…

The Irish government’s rules for Turkish passport holder to travel to Ireland involves:

  • €90+ fee,
  • 6-8 weeks waiting,
  • officially translated proof of employment,
  • banks statements,
  • health and travel insurance,
  • sometimes an invitation letter from someone in Ireland, a relative or friends etc.
  • long and detailed application form.

And arriving to any Irish port proudly carrying the Irish visa stamp on your passport to May be refused entry, should the immigration officer decides so.

My, then nearly 70 years old retired father, was refused entry visa for Ireland, some years ago. Grandparents wanted to visit their half/Irish/Turkish grandchild. The reason for refusal was ‘suspicion of entering illegal employment”. It took at least 50 hours of effort over many days, some wit waiting on a call to be answered, others trying to understand what to do next… anyway they came. The immigration control was given evidence that there will be no illegal activity by mom and dad.

When people say “Ireland is full” or “we need immigration control”…. I feel like screaming.

These plane full of Irish people will see some beautiful places, enjoy very nice food and beaches and roast like a chicken under the sun 🙂 What’s wring with that?

End all immigration controls.

The Great Enabler

See also :

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, has claimed that the Government’s suspension of visa-free travel for refugees coming into the country is a bad move that sends the wrong message.

“Ireland has the presidency of the Council of Europe, yet we’re turning around now and preventing refugees who have applications in other countries in Europe from travelling to Ireland.

“The 39 countries in the Council of Europe signed up to visa-free travel. As president of the Council of Europe, how does that wash?”

Jack Horgan-Jones and Simon Carswell report in the Irish Times :

“The Government this week signed off on reforms to the visa exemption system for refugees, meaning non-Ukranians who received protection in certain other European countries cannot travel here without a visa.”

On the other hand

Refugee rights groups criticised the Government’s approach, saying it risks being disproportionate and regressive. Taoiseach Micheál Martin defended the decision calling it “wise” given the unprecedented circumstances.” (Irish Times, July 20 2022).

On Saturday July 23 Jack Horgan-Jones reports that the Irish State’s human rights watchdog is critical of the new Dublin government racist immigration restrictions :

Stripping visa-free travel rights from refugees will exacerbate ‘two-tier system’ in Ireland, says State watchdog

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission seeks clarity on evidence the decision was supposedly based upon

The State’s human rights watchdog has raised concerns over the Government’s decision to strip visa-free travel rights from refugees arriving into the country.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission says it is concerned the move is a “new departure” that will exacerbate a “two-tier system” for refugees in Ireland and “widen the gap” between Ukrainians and others seeking international protection.

In a private letter to Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, seen by The Irish Times, the commission said it was “concerned with both this decision’s immediate impact on refugees and the signal it sent in terms of the Government’s approach to those who have been granted refugee status”.

Urgent appeal issued for hotels to house Ukrainian refugees as Army looks to purchase more tents

Chief commissioner Sinéad Gibney is seeking clarifications on the evidence the decision was made on and how the reforms would actually prevent further abuse.

Earlier this week the Government decided to temporarily suspend its participation in a Council of Europe agreement that allows visa-free access to the State for those granted refugee status in 20 other European countries.

The Coalition cited concerns over forgery of documents and misuse and abuse of the system, saying it would assess rejoining the mechanism in a year’s time.

Referring to a statement issued by the Government following the Cabinet decision on Monday, Ms Gibney has asked the Minister to explain a line referring to “evidence that there may be abuse of such systems”.

“Can your department clarify what evidence there is for purported abuses and how prevalent such abuses are?” she wrote, adding that there were safeguards built into existing rules governing the returning of refugees to the place they first sought protection — known as the Dublin Convention — and immigration acts that were “designed to protect against the kind of abuse complained of”.

“Can you also clarify any additional protection this reservation will provide for the integrity of Ireland’s immigration system?” she wrote.

The Irish Times has sought detailed data on the matter from the department but none has been supplied.

The letter also accuses the Government of not actually providing a reason to the Council of Europe for its decision to temporarily suspend the provision. “While Ireland has entered its reservation to the Council of Europe, no reason is given. Can you clarify the formal reason for the Government’s decision for this reservation?” Ms Gibney asked.

Her letter outlines how she has spoken about “Ireland’s two-tier system”.

“The commission is concerned that this step widens the gap in provision between Ukrainian refugees arriving in the EU under the temporary protection directive, and those who seek and are granted international protection,” she wrote.

She is also seeking clarity on the data used to justify the decision, which cites figures from the Eurodac, a shared European fingerprint database, as evidence that some using the system to apply for protection here have been approved in another jurisdiction. However, the commission says its understanding is that the system records those who have applied for protection rather than those who have been accepted into another country’s system.

“We seek confirmation that these Eurodac figures relate solely to refugees (people who applied for and were granted international protection in other member states before coming to Ireland).” (Irish Times July 23 2022)

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