Shatter introduces visa waiver scheme


MINISTER FOR Justice Alan Shatter has introduced a visa waiver scheme where visitors with a valid permit for the UK will not need a separate visa for Ireland.

“This is a major change in public policy,” Mr Shatter said. “It is the first time that Ireland has contemplated such a programme and as such it is proposed that it be pilot tested from July of this year to October 12th.”

Mr Shatter said nationals of 14 countries who obtained a visa to enter the UK on a short-term visit of up to 180 days and wanted to travel from there to Ireland would not require an additional visa for Ireland.

Ordinarily, he said, they needed a visa to enter the State at a cost of €60.

The Minister said there was a range of initiatives that could be taken in the justice area to modernise and reform Ireland’s laws and increase competition in a manner that insured the State properly addressed the issues and dilemmas of the 21st century.

There were also initiatives that could ensure the State’s laws did not act as a barrier to growth, recovery and job creation.

It was not only a question of law reform. “There is much that can be done in how we administer our existing laws and improve administrative practices that can contribute to economic development, reduce the cost of government and generate confidence in our future.

“Reforming inefficient bureaucratic practices no longer fit for purpose has much to contribute.”

Mr Shatter said as things stood a person coming to the UK for a short-term visit and who needed a visa from the UK authorities made an application and paid the necessary fees.

“However, if that person wants to include Ireland on their itinerary they require a separate visa and have to repeat the same form-filling-out procedure with the Irish authorities and await the decision on their visa application.

“They also had to pay the Irish visa fee. It is not difficult to see how this can be a disincentive to those who may want to consider a trip to Ireland as an ‘add-on’ to the UK.

“Given the large number of tourists annually visiting the UK, and in particular those who will visit for the 2012 Olympics, Ireland risks losing out on a substantial tourism spin-off,” he said.