Airlines asked to help cut down on numbers travelling on false documents

Details contained in briefing notes for new Minister for Justice Simon Harris

Airlines have been asked to put new measures in place aimed at cutting down the number of people arriving into the State with false documents.

Briefing notes prepared for Minister for Justice Simon Harris, who has temporarily taken up the reins at the department, outline how it has begun “working with carriers to implement measures aimed at reducing the number of persons arriving with false documents”.

A Government source said talks were ongoing with airlines this week - with 18 carriers contacted so far.

The department is grappling with the impact of unprecedented levels of immigration, the briefing notes show. Mr Harris was told that arising from the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and wider immigration trends, there is “significant pressure” on staffing resources, with the Public Appointments Service “unable to deliver staffing resources at the pace required” amid a “very tight labour market”.


The documents suggest it should not be assumed all Ukrainians would want to leave the State immediately “if and when the conflict ends”, pointing out that following conflict in Bosnia in the 1990s, only 40 per cent of refugees had repatriated by 2005.

The briefing notes also outline how the number of people applying for visas is likely to rise again in 2023, with whatever pandemic-era travel restrictions which dampened demand early last year dissipating.

It outlines how schemes set up to regularise long-term undocumented immigrants had seen lower than anticipated uptake especially among those who have been served with deportation orders - giving rise to the suggestion that a “significant number” of those eligible may have already left the jurisdiction.

The documents also outline that it will be “exceptionally challenging” to reduce backlogs and comply with timelines in the Government’s plan to reform and replace the direct provision system - which have already been signalled publicly. They also show that a review of the policy of holding immigration detainees in prison was paused due to the impact of handling the Ukraine crisis, with resources transferred to the team handling that crisis - however it is “likely to be completed shortly”.

Negative impact

Meanwhile, Mr Harris was also told that the Irish Hospital Consultants Association has sought a “significant fee increase” for carrying out pathology services at the request of a coroner.

The documents also warn of significant reputational and financial risk around not transposing EU laws. He was told of the danger of “significant financial penalties” that could “have a negative impact on the State’s reputation.”

The briefing document said that the EU was now adopting a more aggressive approach to enforcement and infringement proceedings. Mr Harris was told that there would be work in 2023 to reduce the risk of such proceedings.

There are currently nine active infringement cases against the department. One such case relates to the control and possession of weapons while another relates to European arrest warrants. There are also moves in the EU to disseminate terrorist content online.

According to the briefing document, An Garda Síochana will be designated as the competent authority for issuing take down orders and regulations are being drafted.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a political reporter with The Irish Times

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times