Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking to the media this evening Sam Boal
Border controls

Taoiseach says Govt will be examining tougher border controls to prevent illegal immigration

The Taoiseach said that there had been a significant increase in the number of International Protection applicants last year.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has indicated that stronger border controls may be introduced to prevent people arriving into the country illegally.

Speaking to reporters this evening, Varadkar said that the Government had discussed how they could introduce “more appropriate and more robust” border controls to prevent illegal immigration into Ireland.

He said that the number of refugees arriving into Ireland, both from Ukraine and other countries, was putting the “system under pressure”, particularly around sourcing accommodation.

Varadkar particularly highlighted the increase in the number of International Protection applicants in 2022, saying that there had been upwards of 14,000 when in previous years there had only been between 3,000 and 4,000 applicants.

He said that the processing of applications for asylum needed to be sped up, saying that it was important for the “integrity” of the International Protection system that deportations were issued quickly.

“I think one thing we definitely have to do, we were speaking about this at the Cabinet meeting earlier, is make sure that decisions are made on those applications much more quickly,” Varadkar said.

“So that if someone is a genuine refugee and they’re entitled to international protection that they get it but also that those who are – and there are people who come here who claim international protection and aren’t entitled to it – that they get a decision in the negative as quickly as possible because that’s important too in terms of the integrity of our system.

“Some of the things we’ll examine in the next couple of weeks is how we can make sure that we have more appropriate and more robust border controls to make sure that people aren’t able to enter the country illegally, because the vast majority of people who come here from overseas do so legally.”

Currently, people entering Ireland from outside the EU require a visa but can also seek International Protection if they “have a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion”.

According to a Parliamentary Question answered by then-Justice Minister Helen McEntee, there were a total of 174 deportation orders issued up to 21 October 2022. Alongside this, there were 103 people deported from Ireland in 2022 up to 21 October.

A potential change to border controls comes as Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman admitted that it would be “very difficult” to end Direct Provision by 2024, which was the initial target.

Varadkar’s comments come following anti-refugee protests that have been taking place in Ballymun over recent days, which have been widely condemned.

Justice Minister Simon Harris today condemned the protests as “intimidation” and that it wasn’t reflective of the communities where refugees are being accommodated.