Government seeks tenders for charter flights to carry out deportations

Time to increase capacity to remove people from State, Helen McEntee says

860 deportation orders have been signed and about 300 people have left the State so far this year. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The Government is to use charter flights to deport groups of people no longer permitted to remain in the State.

On Monday, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the launch of a procurement process for the flights would ultimately give gardaí more options in executing deportations.

“The capacity of deportation and return processes are essential elements of any immigration system,” she said.

“With a major increase in the number of decisions issuing on International Protection cases it is now time to increase our capacity to remove people from the State whose applications have been refused and who do not have permission to remain in the State. A charter service will increase our options in this regard.”


The move comes at a time of mounting pressure on Government to deal with the issue of immigration, alongside an inability to provide sufficient accommodation.

The Minister said charter flights could be relied upon in circumstances where the use of commercial carriers is not appropriate.

So far this year, 860 deportation orders have been signed and about 300 people have left the State, either voluntarily or otherwise.

Although subject to tender process, Ms McEntee said she envisioned charter deportation to begin by the end of the year.

According to the Department of Justice, the number of enforced deportations has increased by 163 per cent – there have been 50 so far this year compared to 19 in the same period during 2023.

A separate voluntary return programme is also available offering assistance to those wishing to reintegrate in their home countries, an approach considered faster, easier and cheaper than forced deportations.

The number of people availing of voluntary returns has more than doubled compared to 2023, from 97 to 227.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times