Government to fast-track EU migration pact into Irish law

New legislation to provide for fingerprinting, processing centres and stronger border security

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will tell ministerial colleagues at the Cabinet meeting that she intends to introduce new legislation to replace the International Protection Act 2015. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The Government is expected to decide on Tuesday that it will move for early adoption of the European Union Asylum and Migration Pact allowing its toughest measures to be used in Ireland.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will tell ministerial colleagues at the Cabinet meeting that she intends to introduce new legislation to replace the International Protection Act 2015. She will argue the Act, which is less than a decade old, is no longer fit for purpose.

The Act will be replaced by a new law that will allow Ireland to opt in fully to the pact. It will include some of its most controversial measures including stronger border security, with more collection of fingerprints and photographs of new arrivals.

It will also include faster processing of all applications, with legally binding time frames for decision-making and fast-track processing at designated centres for people who arrive with no documents or from countries which are generally free from war and persecution.


There will be a greater focus on returning unsuccessful applicants to their home countries, or to other European countries they have travelled through and a new solidarity mechanism to give greater support to countries such as Italy and Greece that are at the front line of migration pressures.

The decision to move towards an early opt-in – the pact does not have to come into effect until 2026 – will be received by some Opposition parties as the Government bowing to the increasing clamour surrounding migration as an issue, including during the election campaigns this month.

The Government will insist the legislation will be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny and will also be debated fully in the Oireachtas.

Ms McEntee is also expected to seek approval to introduce separate changes in law to increase the current maximum carrier liability fine for airlines from €3,000 to €5,000 where they have failed to ensure passengers have appropriate documentation.

Irish plan for implementing EU migration pact, including new accommodation centres, expected by NovemberOpens in new window ]

The Minister will also tell the meeting that an additional 400 staff will be employed in the international protection system in the next 12 months and will also increase the targets of decisions on applications from 1,100 per month to 1,800 per month.

Separately, the Government yesterday tendered for a charter carrier to provide services to remove people who have been ordered to be deported from the State.

Ms McEntee said the availability of charter flights would give An Garda Síochána more options when removing people from the State who no longer have permission to remain.

The intention was, she said, to have the service in operation by the end of the year.

She said her Department has sought tenders for a suitable provider of charter flight services and relevant supporting services such as ground support, catering and, when required, medical assistance for passengers.

“I am committed to ensuring the State’s immigration processes are robust, effective, and fair. The capacity of deportation and return processes are essential elements of any immigration system.

“With a major increase in the number of decisions issuing on International Protection cases it is now time to increase our capacity to remove people from the State whose applications have been refused and who do not have permission to remain in the State. A charter service will increase our options in this regard,” Ms McEntee said.

Separately, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien will brief the meeting that guidelines he introduced in 2021 have prevented 50,000 homes from being bulk purchased.

In May 2021, new planning guidelines were introduced to prevent the bulk purchasing or sale of homes. It came in response to disclosures that investment companies were buying tranches of new homes to rent.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly will also seek approval for an infant respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) immunisation programme. This follows advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee. There is already a RSV programme in place for at-risk babies but this would extend the programme to an estimated 28,000 babies born during the RSV season.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times