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Home / News / McEntee defends decision to enter new EU migration pact

McEntee defends decision to enter new EU migration pact

The Minister for Justice has defended Ireland’s decision to enter the new EU migration pact and said it will not be like the UK’s Rwanda scheme.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Helen McEntee described the new EU migration pact as a “real game changer”.

Yesterday, MEPs approved the revamped migration system that the EU promises would reduce irregular arrivals.

It aims to cut the times for security and asylum procedures at external EU borders and increase returns to reduce unwanted immigration from the Middle East and Africa, a high priority on the bloc’s agenda.

Ms McEntee said the pact means that the Irish State will not be dealing with the issue on its own but will be using a connected, collaborative system.

There are elements in the current structure that do not work, she said, and this will help.

In addition, it makes it mandatory to process people quicker, she said.

Police clear a migrant camp under Pont Marie in Paris

It means that those with a right to be in the country will be able to move to integrate with communities faster, Ms McEntee said, while those who are refused can be moved on more quickly as well.

She said the State is planning new centres to house International Protection applicants.

Ms McEntee said this is a long-term plan and goes “hand in hand” with the migration pact which will see people given decisions more quickly.

Ms McEntee said over 50% of people seeking protection in Ireland have already sought or being given protection in another country.

She said that if Ireland does not opt into the system, then the ability to return asylum seekers to the original country will not exist.

Ms McEntee said that Ireland will never be asked to accept more than a fair share.

She added that if Ireland does not opt into the scheme it will be unable to avail of financial assistance and use the billions of euro to help improve systems and house and support people.

She said there have been a number of cases where people have arrived at Dublin Airport without documentation.

However, she said there are significant numbers of gardaí at the airport and the Department of Justice has taken over a lot of paperwork and processing through border management team. This is freeing up gardaí, Ms McEntee said.

“We have a lot more people who are getting negative decisions and so we need to make sure that they are able to deal with those cases and that people are leaving and that people are being forced to leave where that’s absolutely necessary, but really that’s in the minority of cases,” she said.

Ms McEntee said the Government is more likely to use chartered flights to remove people in the future.

This is because the accelerated process will result in more numbers of negative decisions, she said, but there are no current flights chartered.

She added the Government is still going through the tendering process.

Migration has been a hot-button issue since more than a million people, mostly Syrian refugees, arrived across the Mediterranean in 2015, catching the EU unprepared.

The EU has since tightened its borders and asylum laws to prevent any repeat of the chaos.

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