‘Unknown’ point of departure claim made by 1,300-plus arrivals at Dublin Airport

In year to July, 4,404 arrivals were refused ‘leave to land’ and initially prevented from travelling through immigration to landside

More than 1,300 people who arrived in Dublin Airport this year were registered by immigration officials as coming from “unknown” points of departure. *

People can be recorded as coming from unknown points of departure if they do not present travel documents at immigration control and if they refuse to say where they have travelled from, the Department of Justice said.

Between January and July this year, 4,404 arrivals at Dublin Airport were refused “leave to land”, meaning they were initially prevented from travelling through immigration to landside. Of these, 1,322 were registered as coming from an unknown point of origin, by far the highest category of those refused leave to land.

Asylum sought

It is understand a large proportion of this category then sought asylum, although exact figures on this were not available.


Up until the start of October, 88 per cent of the 5,662 arrivals at Dublin Airport who were refused leave to land then claimed asylum.

If a person does not present travel documents and makes an asylum claim, they must be taken landside and processed by gardaí. They are typically allowed remain in Ireland while their asylum claim is processed, which can take several years.

The figures, which were released under Freedom of Information rules, are likely an underestimation as they do not include minors under the age of 16.

“In this instance, ‘unknown’ references the point of departure rather than the nationality of the person concerned,” a Department of Justice spokeswoman said in response to queries. “This can arise, for example, where a person does not produce travel documents to the Border Management Unit and may not say where they have travelled from.”

Ukrainian refugees

More than 10,000 people have claimed asylum in Ireland so far this year, in addition to over 62,000 Ukrainian refugees who are automatically granted temporary refugee status. This has put severe pressure on the State accommodation services.

When those in the unknown category were excluded, Germany is the most common point of departure for people refused leave to land, with 566 people arriving on flights from that country. This was followed by Italy (425), Spain (419) and France (291).

In October, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said investigations had shown “a proportion” of undocumented people arriving in Ireland already had refugee status in another EU member state.

This prompted the Government to temporarily suspend Irish involvement in a Council of Europe programme in July which allowed refugees living in other EU countries to visit Ireland for a short stay without a visa.

“The suspension of the operation of the agreement is temporary and will be reviewed a year after the decision was made,” the Department of Justice spokeswoman said, adding that the Border Management Unit “continues to keep its operations under active review in this space”.

* This article was amended to correct errors on Wednesday, December 7th, 2022

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times