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Government made visas mandatory for refugees to enter Ireland

DUBLIN: The government has made visas mandatory for refugees from 20 European countries, excluding Ukraine, to enter Ireland. Accordingly, people from these countries who have received refugee status and who are not, will now have to apply for a visa to enter Ireland.

The decision means that Ireland is temporarily suspending the operation of the Council of Europe Agreement on the Abolition of Visas for Refugees. However, visa-free travel will still be available for Ukrainian nationals under the changes.

The visa exemption applies to holders of a Convention Travel Document issued by Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, or Switzerland.

The cabinet decision comes as people with refugee status in other countries come to Ireland and reapply for refugee status. It found that 760 people applied for refugee status in Ireland between last January and January 2022.

But the reality is that thousands of people have arrived in Ireland without any restrictions after obtaining refugee status from some countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh and other countries on the European continent.  

After entering the country, they live a secret life of three or four years before applying for refugee status in Ireland. There are even some organizations to protect and facilitate them.

The move which tightens immigration rules comes amid an accommodation shortage for refugees in the country. In recent days there have been reports that Ireland is unable to accommodate Ukrainian refugees.

Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said: “In recent months, we have seen that the visa exemption provided for in the Council of Europe Agreement is being exploited, including by some who enter the State and subsequently claim international protection, despite having already been granted such protection by another European State.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the government’s decision would help protect Ukrainians. Other member states of the Council of Europe have also taken similar measures, Coveney said.

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