border bill

Oireachtas committee writes to NI Secretary over concerns regarding new Brexit border rules

The new rules are due to come into force in 2025.

THE OIREACHTAS COMMITTEE on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement has written to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis over new proposals that will make cross-border travel more difficult for non-EU citizens. 

Under the Nationality and Borders Bill any non-Irish or non-UK citizens would need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) to enter the UK, including the North. 

That law passed through the Commons last week and is expected to come into force in 2025.

Committee Cathaoirleach and Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd said he nad his colleagues have serious concerns about the law.

“Earlier this week British MPs voted down an amendment which sought to remove the visa requirement. If enacted, the rules would see a visa waiver requirement for non-Irish citizens going between Northern Ireland and Ireland.”

“The Committee has written to the British Secretary of State Brandon Lewis asking him to engage with our Members on this issue of deep concern, not least given its impact upon the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement and the Common Travel Area.”

O’Dowd said the new rules would have a negative impact on communities, particularly along the Border, but also on those workers, students and tourists who travel across the Border every single day.

“Mr Lewis has stated that the system will not lead to checks along the Border and that the Common Travel Area will not be affected. However, if this Bill is enacted, it would have a significant impact on people who live in Ireland but do not have Irish or British citizenship.

“This decision is contrary to the approach that the British and Irish Governments have supported to protect free movement on the island of Ireland and is divorced from the reality of life for the thousands of people who live and work in the Border region,” O’Dowd added.

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