Tánaiste: “It has always been the case that Ireland and the United Kingdom cooperate closely on jointly securing the external border of the CTA…”

A couple of recent written questions in the Dáil, on the future operation of the Common Travel Area and immigration controls, provided the Irish Government with an opportunity to address what are described as “a number of misleading media reports on these matters in recent days”.

From the Dáil record [13 Oct]

Brexit Issues

10. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality her views on media reports that the United Kingdom is seeking to shift the front line of immigration controls to Ireland’s ports and airports in order to avoid having to introduce a hard border on the island; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30143/16]


11. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the way in which the external border of the common travel area can be strengthened without compromising freedom of movement within the European Union; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30144/16]


Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 10 and 11 together.


The Common Travel Area (CTA) between Ireland and the UK has for many decades delivered immeasurable economic, social and cultural benefits to all people on these islands. Both the Irish and British Governments have made it clear that it is their wish to maintain the CTA arrangements after the UK leaves the European Union. Both Governments have also expressed their commitment to ensuring there is no return to a so-called ‘hard border’ between both parts of the Island.


There have been a number of misleading media reports on these matters in recent days. It has always been the case that Ireland and the United Kingdom cooperate closely on jointly securing the external border of the CTA and we will continue to cooperate, and to strengthen that cooperation, in the future. In that regard a central feature of the operation of the CTA has been that each State enforces the other’s conditions of landing for non-EEA nationals, thus protecting each other’s borders. In addition, cooperation extends across a number of other areas including the sharing of information and at an operational level on enforcement. For example, on the information front, earlier this year new arrangements to allow for the sharing of Advanced Passenger Information between Ireland and the UK in order to further enhance the integrity of the Common Travel Area were introduced. The development of the British-Irish Visa System was facilitated by this arrangement and indeed could not have happened without the electronic sharing of information such as biometrics.


The impact of ‘Brexit’ on the right to free movement of EEA citizens will ultimately be a matter that will feature within the negotiation process that will take place following the UK’s formal notification to the European Council that it intends to leave, and it is therefore not possible at this juncture to say what arrangements will apply between the UK and EU in the future in respect of such persons. What I can make clear is that, while we will continue to maintain and enhance cooperation with the UK in relation to general immigration and border enforcement, Ireland of course remains a committed member of the European Union and will continue to uphold the right of free movement for all EU citizens after the UK leaves the Union. [added emphasis]

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  • Lionel Hutz

    It does seem fairly clear. Brexit shouldn’t affect non EEA citizens any differently. But then again Brexit wasn’t about non-EEA citizens. It’s about all those EEA citizens that many English people have such trouble with.

    The Republic won’t stop Polish citizens and other eastern Europeans coming to the Republic. If the UK has a significant enough problem with those citizens having free access to the UK there has to be either a hard border across this island or across the Irish Sea.

    I believe they will turn a blind eye to it at first and maintain the CTA as is. And the question will be what kind of numbers from eastern Europe attempt to enter the UK via Ireland and how much controversy it causes. I think that’s all post Brexit. Obviously I have no way to know that. Just a prediction.

  • Kevin Breslin

    What needs to happen is that if the UK themselves become non-EEA citizens to control migration and reap the reciprocation as a result, then the Republic of Ireland needs to protect France’s external border from undocumented British passport holders without visas.

    In a way that will put an end to the commonality of travel.

  • Kevin Breslin

    British citizens might be free to visit Ireland their ability to visit France is not affected one way or the other.

    The UK want to tear up the exceptions made for them by the Schengen nations in order to control numbers from Schengen nations.

    The Republic of Ireland as part of the European Union will have a duty to protect Schengen nations in order to continue to benefit from free travel for its own citizens.

    It’ll act as the first line of defense for both the UK and the Schengen nations.

    So it is very simple, if the UK goes down this route, the ability of British citizens to go to France, Germany, Italy, Greece will all be affected one way, and that way is a punitive/defensive way as these nations are affected the other way.

    A passport will not be enough for British citizens to travel to the EEA, they will need to have a visa label on them to enter the Schengen area. It will be necessary for British citizens to be able to be identified by more than just a passport and visa checks will have to be made in the Republic of Ireland, maybe Northern Ireland too.

    Hard non-EU countries in Europe like Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey all have absolutely no obligations to Schengen arrangements and simply have quid pro quo visa packages.

    Special cases are made for Balkan countries and Moldova.

  • npbinni

    Interesting survey on indy . ie, only 55% of Irish want to stay in the Euro when Brexit happens! There’s a growing case for Ireland to rejoin the UK…

  • chrisjones2

    I have said repeatedly ….when the UK goes and Italy falls out of teh Euro this may be the most stable solution for the Republic ….tied to a trade agreement with the UK that gives them the flexibility they need.

    Noone wants Ireland to suffer. The UK needs them as a partner and they need the UK

    If the “Leaders” of the EU had been pragmatic and recognised that their present model is no longer viable they could have avoided this entire mess but they are in trall to the unelected nomenclaturat of the Commission

  • chrisjones2

    Again you need to consider the reality…..the issue is RESIDING AND WORKING not travelling. Many people will get work visas as well but there is no need for a ‘hard border’ to stop people visiting the UK if they want

  • chrisjones2

    Why would a visa be required to visit France? Unless the EU demands it. For example if you want to visits Switzerland just go there show your passport and you get an automatic visa. Same for the US but you have to register 48 hours in advance

    These made up ‘barriers’ are getting very boring and smack of desperation

  • chrisjones2

    Kevin me old son this is unmitigated bollox.

    Do you know for example that at the moment only a small % of international arrivals at UK airports are screened by immigration and pass through customs? Its all done of the basis of checks of manifests and risk profiling flights eg fly from Jamaica and you are perhaps 100% likely to be checked, fly from Switzerland and it will be much lower chance.

    It will be for negotiation what rules may apply to UK citizens entering Schengen – I suspect an automatic 6 month visa will be the most restrictive option

  • Kevin Breslin

    At the Moment? …. Like that will last!

    That’s the problem, people think At the Moment is going to last forever …. at the Moment the Inflation rate is 1%, at a different moment in the past it wasn’t.

    Flawed, Flawed rationale from a person who is afraid of negative change.

    At the Moment the UK is part of the EU … is the great Brexit game plan not to go and face none of the consequences?

    Brexit works two ways, UK gives up responsibilities under the EU towards the rest of the EU, the rest of the EU gives up responsibilities under the EU towards the UK.

    The Republic of Ireland will be no different, it may have to police its border for both the UK’s and France’s sake.

    Guy Verhofstadt pretty much has said if the UK discriminates against EU nationals, the EU will take equal and opposite discrimination actions against British people.

    Schengen nations won’t give up a 3 month visa to the USA, and you really believe the UK will get more than that?

    Will Latvians, Polish, Lithuanian travelers/workers be offered 6 month visas to the UK? What if they were extremely right wing in their politics … could they get 10 months?

    Many people inside Britain voted Leave because they didn’t feel privileged enough in their own country.

    So why do you think that the other nations of the EU will continue to reward the UK with equal or additional rights for less responsibilities?

    What incentive do EU counties have to keep giving UK nationals special treatment under a one way, pro-UK deal?

    They’ve no reason to care as much now.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Switzerland is tied to the other EU nations through Schengen Treaty which has a recognised agreement with the non-Schengen EU nations, what a ridiculously bad comparison.

    Is the UK going to follow Switzerland … leave EU but join Schengen?

    I think I’m not yet bored enough of having to explain this to you that the UK will have no automatic travel rights for itself if it leaves the EU and EEA simply to tackle migration. Bilaterally no obligations will exist on other EU nations but their own mercy as to what British nationals can travel to their country.

    Other nations inside the EU have the right to tackle migration and travel from the UK, as the United States does, as Australia does, as India does as China does.

    The UK has the largest number of Emigrants globally out of any EU nation … if it wants to sue the seeds of bad faith in bilateral arrangements it has with global partners to get something privileged, it’ll provoke retaliation and bad faith towards itself.

    Sorry I could not make it any more dramatic towards you … but that’s just the way the world works outside of the UK.

    Even in the UK, people who are British are treated like second class citizens by their own, and now the same elites want the rest of the world to deny them opportunities too … to save the freedoms of the bankers and other well you should get my point.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Oh my word relying on an 82 year old TV presenter on the EU to talk about the Republic of Ireland rejoining the UK.

    There is really no case for the Republic of Ireland joining the UK at this time, and I believe not in the near future.

    The idea that Ireland would selflessly give up its self-determination to Westminster simply to exchange pounds for Euro, is ludicrously stupid. With the falling pound, my Euro account is level of insurance.

    Does the Republic of Ireland want to mimic the stagnation and paralysis of its Northern neighbour, which is likely to fester as a result of Brexit policies from Westminster?

    Irish Eurosceptics have “no truck” with what passes for British nationalist Eurosceptics, and they are pretty much like Apples vs. Oranges.

    Putting up trade barriers like the UK did for 80 years since Irish independence is not going to have the same effect if the Republic of Ireland maintains unmitigated access to a diversified market of 450 million people, while the UK hammers out which mitigation measures it’ll suffer.

    If anything with the Irish passports applications coming from GB and NI, the applications from legal professionals to get licences in Ireland … even Governor of the Bank of England made sure he got his Irish passports in check.

    Great Britain should probably rename itself Eastern Ireland to go with Northern Ireland, although, that would probably become Scotland in that arrangement.

    I’m joking of course, but

  • chrisjones2

    I am not afraid of negative change. I see it sometimes as a necessary evil and a risk TO BE MANAGED. Just like the risk of staying in a failing EU

    I fear in many of your posts I detect almost a desire for the negativity – like a 17th Century Presbyterian Minister fulminating on the consequences of sin!!! Is that too unfair?

  • chrisjones2

    “Oh my word relying on an 82 year old TV presenter on the EU to talk about the Republic of Ireland rejoining the UK.”

    To borrow 2 phrases from Ronald Regan:

    1 there you go again

    2 read my lips

    I didn’t suggest the Republic rejoin the UK. I have done that elsewhere but only to wind up our more irrational correspondents who see Brexit as the route to a Republican Nirvana. If you READ what I wrote is was simply that if and when the Euro collapses I feel that Ireland might find a very positive UK attitude to any approach for some bilateral deal that might protect both our interests I dont even think that Ireland should switch back to Sterling – it will need its own currency to manage the differences in business cycles and its own economic needs – but we can trade and co-operate and help each other like good neighbours

    Your point about Ireland having unfettered access to the EU market is great – except that the UK is currently such a big part of Ireland’s market and key areas like Agriculture and the money laundering of tax through brass plate companies in Dublin may be torpedoed if the EU doesn’t do a sensible deal; The theoretical ability to sell yogurt to Romania or Greece weighs little against a possible 40% tariff on similar exports to the UK

    As for “the Irish passports applications coming from GB and NI” well dont put too much hope in that. People with houses in France and Spain who can protect themselves are doing so. The benefit to Ireland is €80 every 10 years . Others will be setting up more companies in Dublin to facilitate creative ways around whatever tariff regime is eventually agreed. Again as experience with Apple shows the benefit to Ireland will be diddly squat and the reputational risk will be high

  • Kevin Breslin

    And 27 other European countries have every right to manage their own risk from people from the United Kingdom.

    They have every right to say well “Our citizens don’t have these rights in the UK, why is our national governments still giving them away to British people?”

    Why is there a presumption that the British won’t be profiled or even embarrassed around the world as a result of these actions and many others?

    Why is there an assumption that British people will not be “Managed”?

    Why is there an assumption that British people will not be “Managed” in the Republic of Ireland flying on a plane or taking a boat to France, when French citizens are supposed to be managed in Northern Ireland trying to enter Great Britain?

    Don’t visa checks take place at the point of departure?

    Will we not see groups segregated into British and Irish (passport holders) in Dublin Airport into Visa Free and Visa needed? Heck the same in British Airports too perhaps.

    Am I the only one who seems to get this… we won’t be “common travelers” any more?

  • john millar

    I keep reminding you GB is an Island — an immigration border at Ports and Airports + residence permits ( as for France /Germany,Italy to name but 3) is all that is needed

    N Ireland a back door?

    See above GB is an island –and if ROI and NI don`t like it?
    Terminate the CTA and tell them to Foxctrot Oscar

  • Kevin Breslin

    So the pious certainty that the Euro collapse will spark some major catastrophe that only Brexit would address, even though the UK does not use the Euro?

    So what? What use is betting against the Euro if the Pound is falling too in the same situation?

    It’d be like Germans and Greeks laughing at each other’s hyperinflation as the rest of the world isolates them.

    The QE and high borrowing that has caused the pound to shrink, the credit rating to go and inflation to rise … that monetary policy does nothing about its own exposure to the Euro.

    Brexit may do little about this either.

    We live in a world where America gets a cold from sub-prime lending it passes through Iceland, the EU, Switzerland, Norway … and in the end Ukraine and Russia go to war from it.

    In that environment why are we to believe a simple departure from an NGO, or whatever else Brexit was suppose to represent constituted an adequate defense.

    The political decision was an act of dissent, not a promise of self-reform or greater personal accountability. Something that would come up in a Scottish Independence Referendum debate, and I would imagine an Irish unity debate.

    It was about Wanting Change, not Wanting to Change and I know many people who supported Brexit are going to find changes they do not want coming in.


    The nonsense that other nations are queuing up for trade deals that suit the United Kingdom are completely unsubstantiated, and given the lack of UK trade negotiators

    To me there is a difference between what those people with Politics, Philosophy and Economic degrees can argue for in the wonderful world of economic theories and the other nations outside the EU who have gotten success … and what people like myself with Physics, Engineering and Computer Science degrees can actually do to carry out these fantasies in the real world.

    We’ve had 2 Brexit ministers moan about Lazy Brits, that doesn’t sound like they are much interested in helping unemployed broken people who voted leave into the jobs that migrants did.

    It’s very much a case of “Be your own Hero”, which was the case with the Tories all a long.

  • Kevin Breslin

    My point is that if the CTA survives, the Irish and British as EU and non-EU citizens, may be treated differently

    At the moment British people have visa privileges over Irish people towards 3 countries. It may become nearly 30 countries if the UK takes a hard line on EEA migration.

    The other thing you fail to realize is illegal migration doesn’t happen at coasts and ports and airports.

    The UK has had several problems dealing with false documentation and Brexit will potentially increase the black market in workers rather than manage travellers from EU countries who willingly obey EU laws to get there.

    All it takes is a sham wedding certificate or other documentation, or a visa expiration or absconding a port when you’ve been rescued at sea to become an illegal migrant.

    Criminal migrants, well they’ll probably break whatever law Amber Rudd wants to put in their way. Criminals have a nasty habit of breaking the law, and to hell with the referendum if anyone thought that was going to change.

  • Tochais Siorai

    I think a quick look at the basic figures might be instructive here before some of us lose the run of ourselves. The UK is a significant export market for Ireland at around 15% of total goods exported. However, the corresponding figure for the Eurozone is over 3 times that.

    So tell us why the UK is more important to the Irish economy than the EU?

  • john millar

    “Don’t visa checks take place at the point of departure?”

    Er no visas are
    1 Applied for in advance and attached to passport
    2 Bought on entry to country

    “Why is there an assumption that British people will not be “Managed”?

    What do you propose-

    Visa requirements for UK citizens to entering the ROI
    That the ROI should enforce visa requirements for UK citizens
    1 Leaving the ROI for the UK ?
    2 Leaving the ROI for the EC ?
    3 Leaving the ROI for Other countries?

  • john millar

    “Putting up trade barriers like the UK did for 80 years since Irish independence ”

    What barriers? ROI companies were granted commonwealth preference even tho not in commonwealth and absolue free entry of all goods confirmed via anglo irish free trade agreement 1964

  • Kevin Breslin

    Rubbish. There were tariffs up until joint EEC entry and customs checks up until the 1990’s.

    Commonwealth privledge was not free trade it was UK governed trade protectionism that failed the non-UK members of the deal.

    I honestly dont think you’ve got a bit of evidence to back up your claim anyway.

  • Kevin Breslin

    2 & 3 if neccessary.

    2. in the case of UK citizens travelling from ROI to rest of the EU. Dido citizens of the Rest of the EU to GB.

    It seems it may need to in order to square the UK/EU equation.

  • john millar

    “Rubbish. There were tariffs up until joint EEC entry and customs checks up until the 1990’s.”

    Perhaps you could identify
    1 The goods subject to customs duty ?
    2 The rates of customs duty applied?

    I had employment in Newry on and off 1960 on — a lot of paper involved in cross border trade -but no customs duty


    PS I witnessed completion of forms claiming “commonwealth preference ” ie duty free entry -for the shoe factory in Dundalk not to mention the old favourites Magee in Donegal Town

  • john millar

    End of common travel area then (perhaps not a bad thing?)

  • Kevin Breslin

    CTA would still apply to 1. and to many 1. and the reverse is the only thing they care about with CTA. 3. Pretty much applies equally to UK & Irish with non EEA-Switzerland nations, bar the 3 nations UK gets visa free travel for that ROI doesn’t, which I’ve mentioned before.

  • john millar

    I fear you do not understand how visas work– they are checked at Entry to a country not EXIT
    (I have never been asked for a visa on EXIT from a country)

    How will Visa checking at exit work — examination of all passports at EXIT to check
    If a visa is needed ?
    If a visas is present ?

    I am off to Dubai from Dublin do I need a visa ?
    Who will check it ?

  • Kevin Breslin

    It’s been a very long time since I’ve had to use one, I’ve forgotten.

    There are some examples of migration controls being carried out in other countries like Callais.

    It may theoretically be necessary that the Republic of Ireland does border control for France and continental Europe, particularly if there’s an increase in British refugees or terrorists.

  • Roger

    Yes. Queues at borders. Probably a good thing. Progress ?

  • Roger

    “Commonwealth preference” I don’t know much about but suspect it goes back to Ireland Act 1949 idea that IRL is not a “foreign” country under UK law.

  • Roger

    Visa checks are done at departure by the airlines but not by Immigration.

  • john millar

    “Visa checks are done at departure by the airlines but not by Immigration.”

    Check-in staff have an obligation to see your passport and check it for visas to ensure you are entitled to enter the country that is your final destination.

    The reason is if you are refused entry to a country because you do not have the relevant visa or passport, it becomes the responsibility of the airline to get you back to where you came from.Staff at the check-in desk are simply doing their job when they ask to see your passport.

    Immigratiion at the other end still check you out as required

    All traffic from Dublin to the EC subject to Visa check after “brexit”?

  • john millar

    A fudge by UK to allow duty free entry for irish products

  • Roger

    Purely disinterested generosity no doubt and nothing to do with the rather healthier UK export trade into IRL.

  • Roger

    Agree with everything there. Have personal experience on the wrong end of it (my fault).
    As is done today a traveler departing IRL for EU26 will be checked by airport staff as to visa requirements.