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Home / News / Taoiseach supportive of EPP’s asylum deportation proposal

Taoiseach supportive of EPP’s asylum deportation proposal

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he supports an approach put forward by the European People’s Party (EPP) around deporting asylum seekers to “safe third countries”, but said that it would have to comply with international conventions.

The proposal, contained in the EPP’s manifesto detailing its priorities for the next European parliamentary term ahead of elections in June, has been compared to Britain’s Rwanda policy.

Speaking in Washington, Mr Varadkar said “what we are saying in terms of the EPP policy, we support that approach, but it has to be done in line with the Geneva Conventions and the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Fine Gael is a member of EPP.

However Mr Varadkar said that “the possibility of processing asylum seekers in third countries” is already in the EU migration and asylum pact.

“It’s not an EPP proposal that people would vote for or against in the European elections, its something that’s already envisaged in the EU Asylum and Migration Pact which Ireland has to decide whether we opt into or not,” Mr Varadkar said.

Mr Varadkar said the EU pact would see it “coming to agreements” with countries on its borders like Turkey “to assist them financially to increase and improve border controls and also to establish centres in transit countries where International Protection Applicants could be processed.”

‘Difficult situation’

Mr Varadkar said there was a “very difficult situation now in Ireland” in relation to international protection applicants “where we can’t guarantee people accommodation if they arrive… yet the numbers are increasing.”

Mr Varadkar said that efforts were ongoing to strengthen both Ireland’s borders and the EU’s borders.

He noted “increasing numbers coming over the border from North to South which is an open border”.

However, he said that the Government was neither “dissuading or discouraging genuine refugees from coming to Ireland if they need international protection” nor “encouraging people to come to Ireland and claim asylum”.

“I think what’s very evident to me is that the reason why we are seeing an increase in the number of asylum seekers coming to Ireland and coming to all of Europe and indeed the US, it’s not the pull factors it’s the push factors,” Mr Varadkar said.

He said that the push factors were poverty, climate change and war.

“There are 100 million people on the move around the world and it’s not a surprise that a very small percentage might make their way to Ireland.”

Additional reporting by Sean Whelan.

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