“will require the virtual integration of British and Irish immigration controls.”

In the Irish Times, Frank Millar gathers together [subs req] some recent comments relating to the future of the Common Travel Area, in light of the intention of the UK government to tighten UK border controls. Worth noting in particular, given Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s comment noted here, is the quote from NIO minister Paul Goggins

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland security minister Paul Goggins has confirmed that illegal immigrants do cross the land border from the Republic into Northern Ireland. In a letter to Lord Kilclooney, Mr Goggins said the Borders and Immigration Agency (BIA) assessment is that only a small number of these people remain in Northern Ireland, with most travelling on to Britain. Mr Goggins quotes the British government’s Border & Visa Strategy: Securing the UK Border, published in March, identifying that the Common Travel Area “poses an immigration risk”. The agency estimates that the number of illegal immigrants travelling in the opposite direction (from the UK to Ireland) is about the same.

Also reported, from Paul Goggins letter to Lord Kilclooney, in the Irish Times [subs again]

The immigration agency, he says, has committed to the monitoring of all air and sea movements across CTA borders via e-Borders by 2011; to share more data with its Irish counterparts and increase the number of joint operations; deepen coverage of CTA borders by closer collaboration between UK border agencies; explore the potential for additional checks on passengers travelling within the CTA; and review the rules governing CTA border activity, based on the principle that CTA nationals are not subject to immigration control on the internal borders.

Interesting to note that in response to the question from Lord Kilcooney in the Lord’s debate noted in the Irish Times report,

“Will there be any immigration officers on the land boundary between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland? If not, will the Republic of Ireland apply the same entry requirements as immigration officers will require when people enter Great Britain? If not, people will enter the Republic of Ireland—as they now do—and move freely across the land border into the United Kingdom. Therefore, the impact of this Bill will be null and void.”

Lord Bassam on behalf of the government stated

“All I can say on the question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Kilclooney, is that nothing in the Bill changes the nature of our relationship with those in the common travel area, which, of course, includes the Republic of Ireland. I take the noble Lord’s general point that we must have effective border control and management—that has informed all of our debates on the Bill.”

It’s a point worth considering. As suggested in the update to an earlier post

According to Mark Devenport’s blog

UPDATE: A Home Office statement says “There are no plans to require domestic passengers to produce passports on all domestic air and sea journeys”. So does that mean NI passengers won’t have to produce one to sail to Stranraer?

If it does, those new UK border controls will have to be mirrored by the Republic of Ireland if they’re to be effective.

And it’s a point that has been raised before on Slugger and elsewhere.

Which brings us back to the introductory paragraphs to Frank Millar’s report

The successful development of “electronic” borders and the necessary protection of the Common Travel Area between the UK and the Republic will require the virtual integration of British and Irish immigration controls.

That is the verdict of some senior Northern politicians tracking current British legislation to effect tighter “UK” border controls and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s initial comments on the development of “an Irish border system” likely to be “similar in some ways to the British system”.

And there’s an additional point worth highlighting.

While the mechanisms of those controls may be mirrored, if not necessarily identical, policy would also have to be considered. It would be in keeping with the increased co-operation East-West.. although who would be taking the lead in such policy decisions might need to be explored with diplomatic sensitivity.

No doubt such considerations were the subject of discussion at the July meeting of the British Irish Council.

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  • So if Ireland has agreed to act as a sort of frontline of Britain’s e-border, why do we need an e-border between Britain and Ireland, bearing in mind that it will have a massive hole in it, appropriately enough along the physical border.

  • URQUHART

    Time for a Fortress Ireland approach I’d say.

  • Just got today’s Irish Times. I didn’t realise that a Fortress Ireland approach had actually been mooted. I suppose that would partly answer my question above.

  • páid

    It’s obvious that illegal immigrants are using NI as a backdoor to the Republic.
    And that the Republic is a back door to Britain along the Common Travel Area.

    Obviously devious Kurds and Chinese are landing at Dover, and surruptitiously making there way to Larne. Perhaps disappointed at their new surroundings they head for Hackballscross in the dead of night. Foot passenger ticket to Caergybi and Mustapha’s your uncle.

    Britain should send them back to the Republic, who in turn should send them back to the North.

    As about the same amount go illegally from the North to the Republic as vice versa, then there is scope for a fair exchange of illegal immigrants on the Border.

    Everyone happy?

  • kisdo

    New World Order. we may as well accept it. Every citizen from conception will be tagged with a 666 barcode. Anyhow its about time we got people out to clean around the local Mace after the blue bag brigade have had their party. The more cheap labour the better. “Hold on there! Give is a lift to the dole will ya”

  • The Dubliner

    British internal security is a matter solely for the British. As British immigration policy differs from Irish immigration policy, then they can change their immigration policy to harmonise with Irish immigration policy or rebuild the demolished border controls. The West-Brits in the Irish media – The Irish Times among them – will, naturally, see it as an opportunity to argue for a demolition of Irish sovereignty in favour of a “British Isles” approach.

  • What actually would be the benefit to the Irish Government of adopting a ‘British Isles’ approach?

    It seems to me that there are two reasons why it might be in Irish interest to co-operate:

    1. Preventing controls on the land border.

    There doesn’t seem to be any suggestion that this has been proposed, and it seems to be accepted that it would be unworkable in any case.

    2. Maintaining the common travel area between Britain and Ireland.

    The obvious quid pro quo is that the Irish Government introduces e-borders controls on travellers from outside these islands, and Britain drops e-borders requirements on travellers between the two islands.

    Is a deal of this kind actually on offer? Even if it is, what would be the advantage to the Irish Government in taking it up, bearing in mind the ubiquity of passports in travel between the two countries anyway.

  • The Dubliner

    It’s not the “benefit to the Irish Government” that concerns the irredentists (West-Brits, as they are colloquially known) – those in Irish society and media who do not recognise the right of the Irish to a nation state and whose dearest wish and ulterior machinations is reunification of the Republic of Ireland with “the mainland” – it’s the benefit to their own aims that concerns them. The Irish Times is the irredentists propaganda weapon of choice. The creeping re-colonisation is proffered under a plethora of diverse issues, from all-Ireland teams that are stripped of the Irish national anthem to a pluralism that has the undemocratic aim of suppressing the self-determination of the majority (e.g. the right Catholic schools) rather than a proper form of pluralism which does not undermine national self-determination but simply serves as an extension of it, etc. You can be Irish in Ireland as long as you don’t act Irish, and don’t compete with “the mainland” on matters where it is not in the interests of the UK to do so or act against such interests. You might also ask what benefit it is to the either the Irish government or the citizens of the Republic to have members of a foreign parliament, Her Majesty’s MPs, interfering in the sovereign affairs of another country where they have no democratic mandate. Well, it is no benefit beyond setting a precedent that it is proper for Irish sovereignty to be undermined in this way. Essentially, you can have one of two options: the UK having a strategic foothold in Ireland via the North or, should that entity fail, the UK extending the North to cover all of the island by hoodwinking the southern electorate into voting for the de facto arrangement in some ‘agreed Ireland.’ Much of the groundwork is being done under ‘parity of esteem’ for example – the curious and profoundly fascist ‘principle’ that a tiny minority have equal rights of self-determination to an overwhelming majority, requiring the de facto cancelation of all expressions of being an Irish nation state in order to accommodate the dysfunction. Surprisingly or not (and it isn’t), the SDLP wish to see the GFA extended to all of the island as the basis of this Brave New World – which is just the same old world of a pro-British colonial outpost that already exists in the north. That suits the Brits because they get to keep their foothold, then big enough for two feet, and they Irish taxpayers get to pay the subsidy. There are always others agendas in play. In this case, it is hard for the Irish government to uphold its own sovereignty in the matter of its immigration policy and its borders without being accused of being ‘partitionist’ if it tells the British to mind its own business and look after its own borders. Bertie is weak.

  • Frank Sinistra

    páid,

    You the man. Excellent.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    We should move the border somewhere South of Cork, end of problem!

  • The Dubliner

    Frustrated Democrat, that’s Option B. The island is reunited but reunited under a British monarchy (parity of esteem AKA re-colonisation). Ergo, the paradox of partition being ‘removed’ by the simple expedient of extending it to cover all of the island. 😉

  • The Dubliner

    Partition = colonisation.