Government rejects Bill on passport-free Ryanair travel

Renua TD proposed new rules for common travel area between Ireland and Britain

Renua TD Terence Flanagan at Leinster House. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Renua TD Terence Flanagan at Leinster House. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

The Government has rejected a Bill that would stop Ryanair from obliging passengers to show their passport as identification for flights between Ireland and Britain.

Renua TD Terence Flanagan introduced a Bill that would provide for passport-free travel within the common travel area between Ireland and Britain.

Mr Flanagan said that “although there is no absolute requirement to present a passport for travel within the common travel area for Irish or British citizens, the reality is very different”.

He also criticised Dublin Airport for failing to have a separate stream for arrivals from Irish and British airports, and said this was out of kilter with UK practice.

He said that a passenger arriving in Britain from Ireland enters via a channel marked “domestic UK flights and from Ireland”.

He said that “this clearly demonstrates that the practice adopted by the Irish National Immigration Service is not in the spirit of the common travel area”.

Introducing his Freedom of Movement (Common Travel Area) (Travel Documentation) Bill and without naming Ryanair, Mr Flanagan said that one airline “does not let Irish citizens board its aircraft in Ireland without producing a valid passport”.

He said that when the airline operated within Ireland in the past it also required passports, “which is very wrong”.

He said that this airline’s requirement for Irish citizens to produce a passport “is an unnecessary hindrance to what the common travel area is supposed to be about” and that other airlines did not impose the obligation.

He said “the crux of the matter here is that currently no real common travel area exists”.

Incident

Speaking in the Dáil, Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins recalled an incident this year “when a rugby referee from Wales who was flying to this country from Bristol to officiate at a Leinster game was prevented from travelling by Ryanair because of the absence of a passport”.

He said that Aer Lingus stepped in to facilitate the referee in that case.

Sinn Féin transport spokesman Dessie Ellis said that “if the Irish and British governments have negotiated and agreed a common travel area for British and Irish citizens, Ryanair, or any other group, should not have the right to ignore that”.

Minister of State for Skills, Research and Innovation Damien English said he understood the motivation behind the Bill but rejected it, warning that it could have potentially serious unintended consequences, which “could undermine the effectiveness of immigration control and put at risk the protection of the common travel area”.

The common travel area has existed since 1922, except for a brief period during the second World War.