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Leah Farrell/Rollingnews
Irish Border

Fianna Fáil TD pushes for Garda checkpoints at Northern Ireland border

James O’Connor said the measure is needed to address migration issues.

A FIANNA FÁIL TD has called for gardai to be deployed to check points on the border to deal with a reported increase in migrants entering from Northern Ireland.

The comments from James O’Connor came as tensions between London and Dublin have increased in recent days.

This followed Justice Minister Helen McEntee claiming there had been an upsurge in asylum seekers crossing the border from the UK into the Republic of Ireland after the passing of the Safety of Rwanda Act at Westminster.

The government has made it clear that it does not intend to deploy gardai to the border to monitor the issue. Asked during the week on whether gardaí will be carrying out checks along the border, Taoisesach Simon Harris said: “Of course there won’t be.”

However, speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s This Week programme, O’Connor urged a re-think.

“I would be quite forthright that we do need to see a further rapid expansion of border policing around migration,” the Cork East TD said.

“This is something that I feel is not being done sufficiently and I do feel that we need to take the bull by the horns here and address it because we have to look after people that come here, but we do need to acknowledge that there is a tipping point where we can’t do that any more.”

Asked if he felt there should be gardai on the Northern Ireland border, O’Connor said: “There should be checks on vehicles. It doesn’t have to be 24/7, [but] there should be stronger checks put in place around seeing how these people are arriving here.”

When questioned whether this was opposite to the Irish government’s position around questions about checks at the Northern Ireland border due to Brexit, O’Connor said: “What is the alternative? That is the question.

“Are we going to leave it (the border) unpoliced and allow further encampments around cities in Ireland and towns in Ireland increase.

“I think it’s about sending a signal from Ireland that we’ve taken over 100,000 people from both Ukraine and from many other parts of the country of the world in terms of economic migration, and refugees for other reasons.

“And I feel that we have now done our bit as a country.

“We are 5.4 million people here, we’ve taken an enormous share internationally and that’s something that needs to be acknowledged and address the issues in constituencies such as my own and others that haven’t been properly resourced to deal with these challenges, particularly in schools.”

Grand Canal

O’Connor also said the government must be stronger in dealing with makeshift encampments of homeless asylum seekers.

The latest tented encampment in Dublin, on the banks of the Grand Canal, grew significantly in size over the weekend.

More than 70 tents were pitched in lines on both banks of the canal in the area around the Mount Street Bridge on Sunday.

Volunteers delivered bottles of water and food to the migrants during the day.

The area is close to the International Protection Office (IPO) on Mount Street, from where more than 200 asylum seekers who had been living in tents on footpaths were moved on Wednesday.

Those men were taken from the Mount Street camp to facilities at the Citywest hotel in Dublin and Crooksling in Co Dublin.

Mr O’Connor raised concerns that another camp had sprung up so quickly. He said Ireland was increasingly being seen as a “soft touch” in relation to migration.

“What’s happening on Grand Canal dock, and in Mount Street indeed, it’s completely unacceptable to me as a government TD and I think the Government needs to be stronger in dealing with this,” O’Connor told RTÉ.

“There’s no shame in saying that, in providing appropriate accommodation, I think buying up hotels and B&Bs across the country for the purpose of providing asylum accommodation, in my view, is no longer appropriate and we’re seeing the increase in tensions – attacks on politicians’ homes, protests that are getting out of control in certain parts of the country, and this to me is a huge, huge concern.”

Mr O’Connor said there was a need for larger accommodation centres in places like Dublin Airport and in the border area.

- With reporting from Paul O’Donoghue

Press Association