UK government "doesn't give a damn" about Ireland, says Pearse Doherty
Strong words from the Sinn Féin TD.
Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty has lashed out at the UK Government, arguing that Boris Johnson's administration "doesn't give a damn" about Ireland regarding yet another contentious Brexit-related issue.
Speaking in Dáil Éireann on Thursday afternoon (9 December), Doherty focused his attention on new UK immigration laws that will present major changes for non-Irish European Union citizens living in Ireland.
If approved, the controversial Nationality and Borders Bill – which has cleared the House of Commons following days of scrutiny and now moves to the House of Lords – would result in the need for an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) prior to travelling to the UK.
This measure would also apply to crossing into Northern Ireland.
Anyone affected will be required to make an online application for the relevant ETA.
The bill's mission statement seeks to "make provision about nationality, asylum and immigration; to make provision about victims of slavery or human trafficking; to provide a power for tribunals to charge participants where their behaviour has wasted the tribunal’s resources; and for connected purposes".
Addressing the bill's implications, Doherty said that Ireland is once more "facing collateral damage" as a consequence of Brexit and called on the Government to address the matter.
"Tánaiste, the British Government intends to introduce a requirement for EU citizens who are not Irish citizens to apply for travel clearance while crossing the border on this island," said Doherty.
"It’s actually bizarre that I’m even saying that – it’s so disgraceful, it’s such a shameful measure, it threatens the livelihoods and particularly the tourism sector in my own region of the north west.
"It places massive stress on residents here in this state from other EU countries. It undermines the Good Friday Agreement and the Common Travel Area. And Ireland once again faces the prospect of the collateral damage of a Tory Government in Westminster that doesn’t give a damn about Ireland.
"And it’s so divorced from the reality of life on the border that it could even countenance such a measure like this. So, can I ask you – what action is your Government going to take to make it absolutely clear to the British Government that this is not on?"
In response, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar indicated that his administration will engage with the UK Government on the issue, though admitted a lack of surprise as he noted Britain's stated intention to further solidify its borders.
Though the long term impact of the bill remains to be seen, a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told RTÉ News that the Common Travel Area (CTA) agreement represents a strong union between Ireland and the UK.
"The Common Travel Area (CTA) is a long-standing arrangement that allows Irish and British citizens to move freely between Ireland and the UK," they said.
"The CTA also permits Irish citizens to take up residence in the UK and British citizens to take up residence in Ireland.
"With regard to travel and immigration matters, the CTA covers Irish and British citizens."
Featured Image of Pearse Doherty via Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie