The Irish Times view on dealing with the migrant crisis: international cooperation is the only solution

If the British Labour Party forms the next UK government - as seems likely- it has to be hoped that it takes a much more constructive approach to relations with the EU, particularly in relation to migration

Taoiseach Simon Harris with First Minister Michelle O'Neill and deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly, leaving Stormont Castle on Friday( Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire)

The only evidence that the UK Conservative government can cite to support claims that its inhumane and misguided Rwanda policy is working is the alleged increased flows of asylum seekers to Ireland via Northern Ireland. It is an issue that is playing well with the Tory press, and the right-wing of the party.

The Government must not be distracted by the short-term electoral machinations of the Conservative Party. As well as dealing in an efficient and humane way with the migrants who are arriving, a priority is to ensure migration does not become a source of tension between Dublin and the newly-formed Stormont administration.

Last weekend, Michelle O’Neill, the Northern Ireland First Minister, said that no member of the Government had been in contact with her office about increased flows of migrants crossing the Border. There was element of political point-scoring in this as O’Neill made the comments at the launch of Sinn Féin’s local and European election campaign.

However, it is important that Dublin and Belfast work closely together to manage migration. The meeting on Friday between Taoiseach Simon Harris and O’Neill as well as Emma Little-Pengelly, the Deputy First Minister, at the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, addressed some of the issues concerned and it will be an important forum in the future to develop a coherent policy on migration.


The stakes are considerable. The Government and all Opposition parties, including Sinn Féin, made an open border between the North and the Republic a red line in Brexit negotiations. With the full backing of the EU, the Government prevailed. But it is not possible to keep an open border and control migration at the same time.

By its nature, migration can only be solved through cooperation. The EU Migration Pact, which the Government has signed up to, may not be perfect, but it is a considerable improvement on the current system. However, the absence of a migration deal between the UK and EU will pose significant problems for this country.

UK local election results would suggest that the Tories face a drubbing at the general election sometime later this year. If the British Labour Party forms the next government, it has to be hoped that it takes a much more constructive approach to relations with the EU, particularly in relation to migration.

There will also be an election in this country within the next year. Sinn Féin has said that it will opt out of parts of the EU Migration Pact as it covers what is a sovereign issue. If it forms part of the next government, it would be well advised to look at the example of the UK. Migration is indeed a sovereign issue, but not one that can be addressed on a unilateral basis.