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Ireland and Britain Clash Over Refugee Issue: “Ireland Refuses to Shoulder Others’ Immigration Burdens”

Dublin: Prime Minister Simon Harris has asserted that Ireland will not shoulder the blame for resolving immigration challenges faced by other nations. Although not explicitly naming the UK, his statement is framed within discussions regarding the influx of refugees from the UK into Ireland via Northern Ireland. Recent findings reveal that 80 percent of asylum seekers in Ireland arrived from the UK through the Northern Irish border.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has rebuffed claims suggesting that a scheme to relocate British migrants to Rwanda is influencing refugee flows to Ireland. He emphasised that refugee arrivals result from each country’s policy approach, insinuating that Ireland’s policies may be a contributing factor without directly accusing refugees.

Amidst this backdrop, a scheduled meeting between Ireland’s Justice Minister and Britain’s Home Secretary, James Cleverly, has been postponed, with no new date announced. This postponement raises questions about whether these immigration issues will be addressed during the ongoing British-Irish intergovernmental conference.

Criticism from Northern Ireland indirectly targets Ireland’s handling of refugee crossings, with Northern Ireland’s First Minister Michelle O’Neill noting that her government has not been consulted on the matter. This lack of communication is seen as indicative of a disjointed approach within the government.

Additionally, legislation to challenge a recent High Court ruling deeming Ireland’s designation of the UK as a safe third country unlawful will be reviewed by the Cabinet on Tuesday. The proposed law aims to align more closely with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and includes provisions for returning refugees to the UK. However, the British government’s stance remains firm in rejecting such returns unless accepted by France under EU agreements.

Meanwhile, Social Security Minister Heather Humphreys cautioned against opposition criticism of open borders, emphasising the importance of maintaining the open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, especially in the context of the EU Migration Agreement. Minister of State Peter Burke echoed this sentiment, highlighting the need for a robust immigration policy underpinned by EU agreements.

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