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Too early to say if Rwanda plan is impacting Ireland


It is too early to jump to conclusions about the impact of the Rwanda deportation policy, the British government has said, after Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin claimed it was causing an influx of migrants into Ireland.

Mr Martin is reported to have said that the policy has made asylum seekers fearful of staying in the UK.

Ministers plan to send asylum seekers coming to the UK on a one-way flight to Rwanda, in east Africa, with the stated aim of deterring others from making the dangerous English Channel crossing.

The legislation ensuring the plan is legally sound – the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act – cleared its passage through parliament this week and was signed into law yesterday.

Mr Martin is reported to have said migrants are now crossing from Northern Ireland into the Republic in order to seek safety from deportation to Rwanda.

He criticised the policy during a visit to Jordan, describing it as a “knee-jerk” proposal driven by rhetoric, and expressed doubt it would have the deterrent effect the UK government suggests.

A Downing Street spokeswoman responded saying: “It is too early to jump to specific conclusions about the impact of the act and treaty in terms of migrant behaviour.

“Of course, we will monitor this very closely and we already work very closely as you would expect with the Irish Government, including on matters relating to asylum.

“But of course, the intention behind the act is to have it serve as a deterrent and that is why we are working to get flights off the ground as swiftly as possible.”

Earlier this week, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee suggested there had been a rise in the number of migrants crossing the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

She told an Oireachtas committee that the number was now “higher than 80%”.

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Yesterday, Taoiseach Simon Harris said he believes that legislation is necessary to “fix” the situation where people seek asylum in Ireland having previously been granted it in the UK.

As in the UK, migration has become a significant issue among some voters in Ireland, with worries about a housing shortage coinciding with a rise in the number of migrants accepted.

Mr Martin’s comments follow French President Emmanuel Macron’s criticism of migration policies that involve sending people to African countries as “a betrayal of our values”.

Scheduling of flights to Rwanda could take between 10 and 12 weeks, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said, meaning the first will not begin until summer at the earliest.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said there will be “multiple flights per month, through the summer and beyond” once they eventually get off the ground.

While scheduling flights is likely to take some time because of the procedures officials must follow, the plan could face further delays if the UK government is taken to court again.

Opponents of the multimillion-pound plan, and migrants who are told they are to be sent to Rwanda, could issue legal challenges.

But it is unclear whether any further legal action would succeed in light of the new laws.


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