Ireland pushes back as Britain tries to deport asylum seekers

Britain’s newly approved plan to put asylum seekers on one-way flights to Rwanda has been opposed by human rights groups, the British and European courts, the House of Lords and even some members of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative party. is inviting.

Add to that list another victim: Ireland.

The Irish government announced last week that British asylum seekers who fear being deported to Rwanda will be sent there instead. travel to ireland. Britain is drafting emergency legislation to repatriate them, sparking a clash with neighboring countries, which has said it will refuse to accept them.

Irish authorities estimate that 80% of recent asylum seekers entered Ireland through Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom and has an open border with the Republic of Ireland. This suggests that Britain’s pledge to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is already having some deterrent effect, which was Mr Sunak’s policy pitch.

But at the cost of this, Ireland is already struggling to accommodate an influx of refugees from countries such as Ukraine, and violent clashes over immigration have erupted in small towns and major cities. On Sunday, Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said: “This country has no intention of providing a loophole to anyone else’s immigration problems in any way.”

“Other countries can decide how they want to proceed with immigration,” said Harris, who took over as prime minister earlier this month. “From an Irish perspective, we are going to have a robust rules-based system where the rules are in place, the rules are enforced and the rules are seen to be enforced.”

But British officials said on Monday that unless there was a broader agreement with the EU to return refugees to France, another EU member state from which many depart, asylum seekers from Ireland, an EU member state, objected that it would not be accepted. England crosses the English Channel on a small boat.

Mr Sunak told ITV News: “Of course we have no intention of accepting people returning from Ireland.” “I am determined to get the Rwanda Plan up and running because I want deterrence.” He added, “I make no apologies for doing everything in my power to combat illegal immigration.” added.

The Rwanda policy has unexpectedly brought renewed attention to the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, reflecting tensions between Britain and Ireland after the UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016. ing. The Republic of Ireland fought to maintain an open land border. Northern Ireland involved complex negotiations between London and Brussels over a trade deal for the north.

After years of friction, matters seemed to finally calm down last year when Mr Sunak struck a deal with the European Union known as the Windsor Framework. But on Sunday, Britain’s sudden cancellation of a meeting between Home Secretary James Cleverley and Ireland’s Justice Minister Helen McEntee sparked a new sense of diplomatic crisis. A meeting of junior British and Irish officials yielded only a vague agreement to “closely monitor this issue”.

“This is a problem that needs to be solved, but I don’t see an easy solution,” said Bobby McDonagh, a former Irish ambassador to the UK. “It clearly doesn’t work if so many refugees are coming through the UK and coming here through Northern Ireland.”

The problem is that political pressure on both sides is preventing resolution of the issue. For Mr Sunak, who has been campaigning for months against legal challenges to passing the Rwanda plan, the conversion of asylum seekers to Ireland is proof that his policy is working. Rather than bring these people back, he vowed to round up the thousands remaining in the UK and put them on planes to Rwanda.

Analysts in Dublin said Mr Harris was under pressure to act decisively as the number of asylum seekers soared, coupled with Ireland’s severe housing shortage, causing social unrest. It is said that it has been done. Last week, protesters in County Wicklow clashed with police over proposals for accommodation for refugees. Last fall, riots rooted in anti-immigrant hatred rocked parts of Dublin.

Diarmaid Ferriter, professor of contemporary Irish history at University College Dublin, said: “Protests are becoming increasingly ugly and violent, orchestrated by groups that see Ireland as fertile ground.” “Politicians are under pressure to appear to be doing more and are trying to weaken anti-immigrant forces.”

Tensions are even changing the political landscape in Ireland. For example, the main opposition Sinn Fein party’s polling ratings have fallen in recent months due to criticism that the party is not taking a hard enough stance on immigration.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald criticized the government for failing to reach a consensus with residents about how immigration would affect their towns and cities.

“We need rules and regulations,” McDonald said at a recent press conference for journalists in London. “Especially in poorer areas with poorer services, it’s even more difficult when you think about the people who are coming there.”

Mr Sunak predicted that the UK’s use of Rwanda to process asylum claims would be emulated by other countries. But critics say this will pose a difficult challenge for the global legal system for refugee protection. As more countries outsource the processing of asylum seekers, they may end up shifting refugee flows to their closest neighbours, as Britain has done.

Additionally, Harris faces some of the same legal hurdles that stood in the way of Sunak as he seeks to enact Rwanda policy. The High Court of Ireland has ruled that the government cannot designate the UK as a “safe third country” and return asylum seekers to Rwanda because of the risk that the UK would send asylum seekers to Rwanda. did.

The UK Supreme Court struck down an earlier version of the Rwanda Act because it ruled that Rwanda was not a safe country. Sunak then signed a treaty with the Rwandan government, effectively overturning the court and amending the law. Congress passed the law last week.

Irish immigration experts have expressed doubts about the government’s claim that 80% of recent asylum seekers crossed the border from Northern Ireland. They said some may not have applied for asylum as soon as they arrived at an airport or port in the Republic of Ireland.

Still, Nick Henderson, chief executive of the Refugee Council of Ireland, said: “If we are seeing large numbers of people moving from the UK to Ireland, it is in the context that the UK is not a safe country for people seeking asylum. You should see it.”

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