Ireland will ‘disproportionately benefit’ from EU migration pact, but cost to State unknown - Taoiseach

Fianna Fáil meeting hears call for Ireland to designate more countries as safe countries of origin under international protection legislation in order to reduce asylum application numbers

Ireland stands to be one of the biggest beneficiaries from the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum, Taoiseach Simon Harris told the Dáil, as Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín challenged him on the cost to the State of the agreement and its impact on sovereignty.

Mr Harris stressed that Ireland will “disproportionately benefit because so many people who come to Ireland seeking refuge come here from what are called secondary movements”, having first applied to another EU member state.

“We are proudly seeking to join the EU migration pact. It is good for the country and for Europe,” he said, adding that it would be debated in the Dáil, Seanad and the Committee on Justice.

But Mr Tóibín said the Taoiseach last week fully committed to supporting Ukrainian sovereignty and in the same week “made an argument for Ireland to cede sovereignty to the European Union in the EU migration pact” and outsource immigration policy.


There were harsh exchanges in the Dáil about the controversial pact, which provides for faster decision-making on asylum seekers’ applications and for member states to share responsibility for applications, allowing for them to be relocated. Member states would make financial contributions where they do not wish to accept asylum seekers.

It also provides for facial images and fingerprints being taken from children as young as six years old and the detention of asylum seekers in border centres near or in airports, while they are being screened.

The Taoiseach said it was “not possible to put costings on these things. The dynamic effects are that Ireland will benefit in some ways and not in others” – a response Mr Tóibín described as “absolutely disgraceful”.

Outlining his concerns, Mr Tóibín said the State was already paying tens of millions of euro in fines to the EU but was now seeking to sign up to further EU commitments when “it is already failing on the commitments it signed up to and getting fined” on numerous issues.

The pact was a “significant overhaul in the rules and would result in “a fair but firmer” migration system, said Mr Harris. He said “it is fanciful in the extreme to think that this small little island” could “just go it alone regarding global and EU migration”. He added that it is “a massive crisis of our time. It is a humanitarian crisis and an economic and social challenge and we need to work together”.

Further concern about the EU migration pact was expressed at a Fianna Fáil meeting on Wednesday evening, with party members saying that the agreement needed to be “properly explained” to the public while more countries should be added to the list of safe countries of origin.

Dublin Bay South TD Jim O’Callaghan raised concerns about the situation in Mount Street in Dublin, where tents are currently erected by international protection applicants.

It is understood that Mr O’Callaghan told the meeting that he believes the situation in Mount Street is “out of control” and that the tents will shortly extend to Merrion Square.

He said that while he understood that the political direction within Europe was to cut down on inward migration, the EU migration pact needed to be properly explained to the public.

Galway West TD Eamon O’Cúiv and Senator Robbie Gallagher also raised the migration pact, seeking a detailed briefing on the issue. Other TDs who spoke on the issue included Seán Haughey and James Browne. Tánaiste Micheál Martin confirmed a briefing would be organised and there would be further discussion on the issue.

Mr O’Callaghan also said that Ireland needs to designate more countries as safe countries of origin under international protection legislation in order to reduce the number of applicants seeking protection, raising the prospect of further tent encampments throughout the country if this is not done.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times