Garda passport checks at the steps of planes arriving into Ireland could block access to “the only escape that some people have from persecution or war,” a migrant rights charity has warned.
It emerged over the weekend that Gardaí would resume the checks in a bid to tackle the high numbers of people arriving without valid travel documents.
Officers are carrying out the “doorstep operations” twice a week at Dublin Airport.
The policy was launched by Charles Flanagan during his time as Justice Minister but was discontinued after the change of government in 2020.
It was reactivated after Newstalk revealed that 40% of the people applying for asylum in Ireland last year did not have valid travel documents when they arrived.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Doras CEO John Lannon said the policy could prevent people from escaping danger.
“The Gardaí ramping up the practice of checking travel documents at the bottom of aircraft as people get off at Dublin Airport would appear to be intended as a deterrent for people coming to Ireland to seek international protection,” he said.
“Our concern is that this could potentially block access to the only escape that some people have from persecution or war.
“We know from our work that there are many cases where people have no choice but to use false documentation to get to safety.”
The Newstalk figures published week showed that a total of 5,074 people applying for asylum in Ireland last year presented either “false or no documentation” on their arrival.
Mr Lannon noted that anyone who arrives in Ireland and applies for asylum is legally entitled to do so – and entitled to remain here while their application is processed.
He said the main thing that is needed now is increase resources to ensure the country process applications faster.
Also on the show, Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín Ireland has a responsibility to “help people fleeing war and violence and hunger” – but said the Government has a responsibility to do so in a sustainable and sensible fashion.
He said the average asylum application currently takes about 18 months to process – with some people remaining in the system for far longer.
“What we need to make sure is that when people come to the State, within six months they have their application processed and we adjudicate whether they really need help or they don’t,” he said.
“The truth of the matter is there are people who are using the process as economic migrants to come to the country and, given the pressure we have in terms of not being able to even provide housing for real asylum seekers, we need to be able to identify who needs housing and who doesn’t.”
There have been over seventy anti-immigration protests across the country in the past month, with Garda sources warning of a sinister element to some of the protests and saying they fear anger could boil over.
The Taoiseach has warned that the racism seen at some of the protests is ‘not acceptable and not the Irish way,’ while the Housing Minister told Newstalk that people have a right to protest – not to bully and intimidate.
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