Ireland raises concerns over UK’s hard NI border for EU citizens

The deputy premier of Ireland has said he will raise concerns with the UK government over their proposed plans to bring in additional paperwork for Non-Irish and Non-UK citizens, including those from the EU, when crossing the Irish border. Under the Nationality and Borders Bill they would need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) to enter the UK, including Northern Ireland, creating a hard NI border.

The bill is currently going through the House of Commons. Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty has said about the plans, “The British government’s intention to introduce a requirement for travel clearance for EU citizens, who are not Irish citizens, to cross the border in Ireland is disgraceful and shameful and undermines the Good Friday Agreement and the Common Travel Area.”

He raised his concerns with Leo Varadkar in the Irish parliament on Thursday as he claimed it would threaten livelihoods and the tourism sector in the northwest and places stress on residents. He said: “Ireland once again faces the prospect of the collateral damage of a Tory government in Westminster that doesn’t give a damn about Ireland and it’s so divorced from the reality of life on the border that it could even countenance such a measure like this.”

Mr Varadkar said the Irish government will make its objections known to the UK as the move to create the hard NI border “doesn’t come as a huge surprise”. “If you recall, part of the argument in favour of Brexit was about controlling their borders, and also about reducing and stopping immigration from the European Union, and this is part of the outworking of that”, he said.

“It may be the case that some people who voted for Brexit didn’t realise that but it is part of the outworking of Brexit that the United Kingdom is going to harden its borders and is going to reduce immigration, including from the European Union.

“Ending free movement was a big part of the argument that they made. But we will absolutely be making our views known.”

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Written by

Claire Gordon