No Irish laws broken by Trump’s Muslim travel ban

US pre-clearance facilities in Dublin and Shannon airports to remain unchanged

The Government will take no action on US pre-clearance facilities in Dublin and Shannon airports.

It received a report on Tuesday that said there was no Irish legal jurisdiction over the short-lived ban on travel to the US from seven Muslim countries.

A Government spokesman said the Cabinet agreed there would be no change to the pre-clearance facilities, and that no legal issues arose for the Irish Government.

The operation of US immigration procedures does not break any Irish laws, the spokesman said.


Under a 2008 agreement, the US authorities operate pre-clearance facilities in Dublin and Shannon airports which enables travellers to go through US immigration and customs procedures before they fly, meaning they arrive in the US as local traffic.

Following the publication of an executive order by US President Donald Trump, immigration officers blocked the arrival of travellers to the US from seven predominantly Muslim countries – Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Following criticism from Government members, the Taoiseach announced a "complete review" of the US facilities in Ireland.

Annual review

The pre-clearance agreement is kept under annual review by the two Governments. A meeting between Irish Government officials and their US counterparts, due for Wednesday, was brought forward to last Friday, a spokeswoman for the Minister for Transport Shane Ross confirmed last night.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone had warned that implementing the travel ban at Irish airports could be illegal, because the US-Ireland pre-clearance agreement upholds the rights of people under Irish law.

Ms Zappone was concerned the implementation of the ban on Irish soil could amount to nationality and religion-based discrimination, and said that Ireland had a moral obligation to “stand with our fellow human beings against discrimination of this kind”.

A joint statement from five human rights organisations – including Amnesty, the Irish Council of Civil Liberties and the Irish Refugee Council – said the pre-clearance agreement means gardaí and immigration officials may be helping to implement Mr Trump's travel ban.

The US courts later set aside the executive order after a successful legal challenge, though the White House has indicated that it may resurrect the travel ban in a different form. In that case, US immigration authorities in Ireland would again implement it.


The Irish Times understands the report to the Government says unambiguously that any actions by the US immigration authorities in Ireland do not contravene Irish law as participation by travellers is entirely voluntary. The US officers have no legal powers under Irish law, and are not considered law enforcement officers.

Until their flight departs, passengers are under the jurisdiction of Irish law and can withdraw from the process at any time.

The Government has also been reassured by the US authorities that Irish citizens, even if they also hold citizenship of one of the named countries, can travel freely to the US on their Irish passports.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times