Gardaí stationed at airports and plane exits to ensure migration rules followed, says Minister

Simon Harris says ‘it is not about having a tough line on migration, it is about having a system that is fair and rules based’

Gardaí are being stationed at airports and at the exits of planes to ensure Ireland’s rules on migration are being followed, Minister for Justice Simon Harris has said.

Speaking on Sunday, the Minister also said the Coalition would provide additional resources to support communities welcoming new arrivals to their areas.

“We have a rules based system, if people come to this country and they have a right to be there and they are fleeing persecution and qualify for international protection, they will get it,” he said.

“Equally, if people come to this country and they do not have that right, they will now be asked to leave quicker. That is why we are increasing the number of people working on the processing of applications, and it is why we are locating gardaí abroad at airports, at the foots of planes. It is not about having a tough line on migration, it is about having a system that is fair and rules based.”


Mr Harris was commenting after a Business Post/Red C poll found that three in four people believe that Ireland is taking in too many refugees. Mr Harris said the Government needed to be “upfront and honest” that the arrival of more than 100,000 people in 18 months seeking shelter has posed national challenges.

“We are members of the European Union, we are members of the international community, we have legal obligations and we need to continue to respond to that,” he said.

“At the same time, we also need to be truthful. I don’t think it’s possible to live in a country where you used to see 4,700 people are year come, and now it is over 100,000, without that posing a challenge. It has posed a challenge, and it is important the Government is upfront and honest about that.

“We have never suggested this is going to be easy. Of course people have a level of concern, how could you not when you see such a massive national challenge?”

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Integration Joe O’Brien has said the Government wants to make another 5,000 beds available for refugees and asylum seekers in the next five months.

He said that if beds could be procured in the next five months at the same rate as in the first five, when 5,000 were added, “I think we will be able to get ahead of the curve and we would be in a better position”.

Speaking on Newstalk’s On The Record programme, the Green Party TD said the response from towns and communities across the country to migrants has been strong, although he acknowledged that the Government could have given some communities more information ahead of time about incoming arrivals.

“I understand that people would like more information up front, but there are some reactions that are not reasonable.”

He said many reasonable concerns centred on the availability of local services.

Speaking about the system for processing international protection applications, and the delays in doing so, Mr O’Brien said it needs to get faster. There was a processing time of up to 24 months last year.

“We are looking at a processing time generally of around 10 months now. I think we should be looking at a six-month period, that is the ideal and we are certainly working towards that.”

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times