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The justice minister said patterns of migration change with the introduction of more mitigation measures. Alamy Stock Photo
Justice Minister

McEntee says over 80% of people seeking asylum entered the country through the northern border

The justice minister said less than 100 people whose applications for asylum were rejected were have been deported.

MORE THAN 80% of people seeking asylum in the Republic are arriving here via the border with Northern Ireland, justice minister Helen McEntee has told the Oireachtas justice committee.

McEntee told the committee that the State is in regular contact with the Police Service of Northern Ireland about the issue and that the EU’s Migrations and Asylum Pact will assist with the country’s returns policies.

Amid concerns over how effective the so-called EU Migration Pact might be in Ireland if this trend continues, McEntee told RTÉ radio’s News at One today that the State will be “responding and reactive” as the flows of migration change.

McEntee said today that patterns and trends in migration change over time, as increased mitigation measures and migration checks at various points of entry have been rolled out.

She said that there is currently a higher level of people coming into Ireland to seek international protection via Northern Ireland.

McEntee said that changes to mitigation measures and migration checks at various points of entry, including increases to security checks at airports over the last year, have led to the current differences in patterns over the last year.

Some of the migration patterns impacted by the new measures include the flow of migration from other locations, as well as a decrease in the number of people arriving to the State without documents or who have already sought protection in another country. 

justice-minister-helen-mcentee-speaking-to-the-media-at-government-buildings-in-dublin-about-increased-penalties-for-knife-crime-picture-date-tuesday-april-16-2024 McEntee believes the so-called EU Migration Pact will help to speed up all asylum processes. Alamy Alamy

McEntee said that the EU Migration Pact will decrease the length of time that people are waiting for applications to be processed and give a greater number of power to the State so that it can removed those with applications which have been denied more quickly.

However, during the hearing yesterday, Fianna Fáil Senator Robbie Gallagher highlighted that there are still two years until the full litany of measures from the newly-agreed Pact are to be enacted. 

Gallagher questioned what the Minister intends to do in the meantime. McEntee said she is planning on updating legislation “in a matter of weeks” to enhance Ireland’s returns agreement with the United Kingdom, after the policy had recently been contested in the High Court.

Additionally, the minister also admitted that the current returns policy in cases where people are found to have carried out secondary movements – where someone applies for protection in one state after seeking protection elsewhere – is “not working for anyone”.

“It is not a system that is benefitting anybody, to be honest,” McEntee told the committee. “Obviously, as a country that has significant numbers of secondary movement, Ireland is impacted more than other countries perhaps.”

Speaking to reporters in Jordan today, where 1.3 million Syrian refugees fled to during the civil war in the country almost a decade ago, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said there needed to be a shift away from a focus on returns policies and instead western countries should focus on the root causes of migration.

“The most effective way we can deal with the migration crisis is to deal with war and conflict and the developmental challenges,” Martin said.

McEntee was also questioned this afternoon on the ratio of refused applications for international protection with the number of people who have been physically removed. Just under 7,300 people have been issued a rejected application for protection.

McEntee admitted that “under 100″ people have been physically removed, or deported, in that time. Questioned where the remainder of the 7,200 people are, the minister said that the majority of their applications are currently going through the appeals process.

On average, according to the Minister, 80% of decisions are upheld at the appeals process – meaning the Courts agree the rejection of the application for asylum. She hopes the EU Migration Pact will allow for quicker processing, decision-making and appeals.

Need more clarity and context on how migration is being discussed in Ireland? Check out our new FactCheck Knowledge Bank for essential reads and guides to finding good information online.

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