‘Nothing that doesn’t benefit Ireland’ in EU asylum pact - McEntee

Ireland had the right to opt out of the agreement; however, yesterday the Cabinet agreed it would sign up to it. 
James Wilson
James Wilson

10.57 28 Mar 2024

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‘Nothing that doesn’t benefit...

‘Nothing that doesn’t benefit Ireland’ in EU asylum pact - McEntee

James Wilson
James Wilson

10.57 28 Mar 2024

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There is “nothing that does not benefit Ireland” in the EU’s new asylum and migration pact, the Justice Minister has said.

Cabinet yesterday agreed to opt-in to the new agreement which is due to come into force across the EU in two years’ time.

Speaking yesterday, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said Ireland would find itself “left alone as a country” to deal with the challenges of rising migration if it refused to sign up to the pact.


On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, she said the agreement will have a positive impact on the State’s ability to deal with migration.

“The likely effect is that it will reduce the numbers [of migrants coming to Ireland] but that’s… just part of why I think we should join,” she said. 

“This, as a whole, is a major effort by the EU to manage what is a really difficult situation at the moment. 

“So, it’s to manage the numbers of people that are coming to Europe; to make sure we are aligned in our policies, the way in which we are processing and the way in which we’re supporting people. 

“But also, the way in which we’re asking people to leave when they don’t have a right to be here.” 

BWHR51 Terminal 2 Dublin International Airport, Ireland Dublin Airport, Ireland

Currently, between half and 70% of international protection applicants in Ireland have already applied for the status in another European country

This process is called ‘secondary movement’ and Minister McEntee said the pact would have a “huge impact” on the way the State handles such cases. 

“At the moment where we try and return people - if we identify they have come from another country - we ask the other country to take them back,” she said. 

“There’s no onus on them and if the time runs out after six months, there’s nothing we can do. 

“Under this new pact, instead of a request, we will be telling the other country that we’re sending them back - so, it’s a much easier process.”

12 week target

Under the new pact, timeframes will become mandatory and those migrants who arrive without documentation must be given a final decision on their case within 12 weeks. 

“That’s a very quick turnaround time compared to what we currently have now,” Minister McEntee said. 

“This is not something that will happen overnight, this is legislation that we will have to have in place in two years but we will be completely overhauling legislation and when we’ve done this before it’s taken longer.” 

Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin, the seat of the Oireachtas, the parliament of Ireland.,

Yesterday, Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Pa Daly described the pact as “not in Ireland’s interests”.

“Some decisions are better taken locally and one size does not fit all,” he said. 

“We want a system that recognises each Member State is different and faces different pressures at any given time. 

“For example, the capacity constraints in terms of accommodation, health services and school places are particularly grave here in Ireland.”

In response, Minister McEntee said Sinn Féin has “no plan when it comes to migration”. 

What Sinn Féin wants us to do here is to go this alone,” she said. 

“There is nothing in this pact that does not benefit Ireland.”

The European Commission has said the pact will provide “certainty, clarity and decent conditions” for migrants who arrive in the European Union.

Main image: Minister for Justice Helen McEntee. Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews

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