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File photo of passport control at Dublin Airport Alamy

McEntee: Airlines fined for carrying undocumented passengers, but State will still process them

Almost 100 people have been prosecuted this year for arriving in Ireland without the required documentation.

JUSTICE MINISTER HELEN McEntee has said an increase in fines for airlines who carry undocumented passengers will reduce the number arriving, but they still have the right to claim asylum once they’re here.

Airlines could now be fined up to €5,000 if found to carry a passenger to Ireland without a valid travel document, an increase of €2,000 on the current level. 

The legislation would be enacted before the Dáil’s summer recess, though the date that it would come into effect has yet to be announced.

Minister McEntee told RTÉ’s News at One that it’s “one of a number of actions” she’s taken to try to prevent “irregular migration”.

“It is the law, and there is a legal obligation on our airlines to make sure that any person who gets onto a plane, any person who comes to this country, that they come with the appropriate documentation.”

She said that while a fine was already in place, the amount hadn’t been reviewed in years.

The aim, she says, is to reduce the number of people who are immigrating illegally, “irrespective of whether you’re coming to claim asylum or not”.

When asked, McEntee said she is not asking airlines to determine whether someone is an international protection applicant.

We do not have an obligation to bring someone or to allow someone to come here, but if they arrive in this country, we have an obligation to process them.

She also said work has been done to train staff in airports and airline companies to identify false documents and signs of people attempting to destroy their documents.

“Because of all of this work, we’ve seen a reduction by about a third – and actually [the reduction] has increased again this year – in the number of people coming with false documents.”

She added: “We’re not stopping people who are coming with valid documents for valid reasons.”

Since the start of this year, almost 100 people have been prosecuted for arriving in Ireland without the required documentation.

McEntee said “a number” of them have been imprisoned. They can still seek asylum after serving their prison sentence, as is their right.

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