Foreigners may not avail of Republic-North visa-free travel


THE COMMON Travel Area between the Republic and the UK is only for the benefit of Irish and British people, a High Court judge said yesterday.

Foreign tourists who leave the Republic for a day trip to Northern Ireland, without a passport or visa to enter the UK could, under Irish immigration laws, be refused permission to re-enter the Republic, a judge warned yesterday.

Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said in the High Court that this could apply to foreign nationals who had been given permission to stay in Ireland and who innocently crossed Northern Ireland on their way to Donegal.

He said it was a consequence of immigration laws that permission to enter and stay in Ireland automatically lapsed once a person left. On re-entry they would have to seek a new “permission to land or be in the State”.

Mr Justice Hogan said foreign nationals often took day trips to Northern Ireland. Many left their travel documents in the Republic, wrongly believing they did not need them because the Common Travel Area between the Republic and the UK was for the benefit of all.

“The Common Travel Area is only for the benefit of Irish citizens and British nationals,” Mr Justice Hogan said in a ruling on an application by a Bolivian couple, Roberth Moreno Choma (25) and Daniella Fernandez Pacheco (22), who travelled to Northern Ireland and Scotland on their way to a three- day break in London.

Mr Justice Hogan said it was probably fair to say they had made an innocent mistake.

When they first arrived in Dublin, immigration authorities granted them permission to stay in the State for a month.

The UK authorities stopped them coming off the ferry at Cairnryan last weekend and they face deportation back to Bolivia. Noticing their passports had been stamped by the Irish authorities up to January 16th, the UK authorities asked if they would be allowed back into the Republic, but they were refused entry.

The judge said he would hand down a written judgment. The couple’s solicitor, Derek Stewart, said that as a result of the judgment, he was hopeful the couple may get permission to re-enter Ireland.