IRELAND AND the United Kingdom will today sign a new deal to reinforce border controls and tackle illegal immigration into the countries.
The two countries will sign an agreement updating and strengthening the Common Travel Area which has existed between the countries since Ireland left the UK.
The new agreement will see enhanced electronic border control systems, which are aimed at identifying incoming passengers who do not already have the right to enter the CTA before they arrive at an international border.
The countries will also exchange details like fingerprint biometrics and personal information as part of the process for issuing visas.
While the update to the longstanding arrangement between the two countries is theoretically intended to help improve tourism and trade between Ireland and Britain, the deal may also help both countries save money by identifying foreign nationals who have already been identified as not having clearance to live in either country.
In a statement heralding the accord, the government said 500 of the 1,500 asylum seekers who have already been rejected this year had been previously known by the UK Border Agency as either visa applicants or “asylum shoppers”.
Justice minister Alan Shatter, who will be signing the accord on Ireland’s behalf, said the agreement would provide “a platform for greater cooperation on immigration matters, including joint action to protect the CTA from abuse by preventing potential immigration offenders from travelling to Ireland and the UK”.
Damien Green, the UK’s immigration minister, said it would also help to speed up the removal process in cases where people had entered the UK or Ireland without the blessing of immigration authorities.
The UK and Ireland’s common travel area predates the Schengen agreement, which governs the borderless travel areas of 26 mainland European countries.