Coalition concern mounts over spike in illegal immigration

Fitzgerald: Numbers arriving via UK has potential to exert pressure on services

There is some concern in the Coaltion that the improvements in direct provision system, as well as a recovering economy, could make Ireland a destination country for immigrants. Photograph: Getty Images

There is some concern in the Coaltion that the improvements in direct provision system, as well as a recovering economy, could make Ireland a destination country for immigrants. Photograph: Getty Images

 

The Coalition is increasingly concerned about a spike in migrants coming to Ireland, with hundreds arriving via the United Kingdom in recent months.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has informed the Cabinet of her concern that increased immigration in recent months, particularly in conjunction with possible future increases, has the potential to put pressure on both public and immigration services.

Ministers believe many immigrants, the vast majority of whom are male, are arriving from Britain after travelling across Europe and others are coming across the Border from Northern Ireland.

Sources said an estimated 700 migrants had entered the country in the space of one month and a definite increase has been noticeable since the turn of the year. The rise has become more of an issue across Government in the past two months.

Asylum process

A source described those who are the focus of concern as “asylum seekers but [people] who are in essence illegal immigrants and they are using the asylum process to gain entry to the country”.

Ms Fitzgerald and Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, the Minister of State in the Department of Justice, are to bring the final report from the working group on direct provision, which will outline improvements to the service, to Cabinet next week.

There is some concern in the Coaltion that the improvements in direct provision system, as well as a recovering economy, could make Ireland a destination country for immigrants.

The issue has already been discussed between Ministers and it is believed some new entrants have been housed in the direct provision centre in Mosney, Co Meath, as well as other locations in Co Cork.

It is understood many of those are drawn from such countries as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Increased influx

Ms Fitzgerald has brought a memorandum to Cabinet on immigration, and informed her ministerial colleagues that the increased influx of people has the potential to become an issue at the end of yesterday’s meeting.

The memorandum was not circulated before the Cabinet meeting and its contents are confidential.

One Minister suggested Ms Fitzgerald was laying down a marker in case she needs a supplementary budget for her department in the coming months.