Travellers Face New Delays at UK/Irish Borders

June 17, 2009 12:00 AM

Rochdale Celebrating St Patrick's Day RecentlyPeople travelling between the UK and the Irish Republic face fresh delays and tighter immigration controls after the government rejected a House of Lords' amendment to the Borders, Citizenship and immigration Bill.

The Common Travel Area that currently exists recognises the close social, economic and cultural ties and the special relationship and history shared between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. The Lords' amendment would have prevented the introduction of immigration controls for visitors entering the United Kingdom from the Republic of Ireland which is part of the Common Travel Area.

Rochdale Liberal MP Paul Rowen, whose Mother was born in Limerick and who himself has travelled regularly to his family in Newcastle West, has severely condemned the move.

Paul Rowen said: "The UK government admit that these proposals will cost between £2.5-4.5m in increased Border Controls and will cost the UK Tourist Industry £43.5 million in lost visitors over ten years. Despite this the government cannot tell us how many illegal immigrants will be stopped if this policy is introduced.

The Common Travel Area has existed since 1920. From being a youngster I've travelled to Ireland without needing a passport. This will no longer be the case. Once again the government is taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Most operators providing air or sea services between the UK and the Irish Republic already collect data on the nationality of their passengers. This with a Unified Border Control is the way forward not a proposal to make it more difficult to travel between the UK and Ireland. With over 16.5m visitors a year this policy has clear implications for the free movement of people between our two countries. I condemn these proposals."

NOTES

The Common Travel Area is a passport-free zone that comprises the islands of Ireland, Great Britain, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill as it stands will introduce routine border controls on air and sea routes for people travelling between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

In the House of Lords, Lord Glentoran amended the Bill to get rid of this provision.

The Bill will return to the Lords where the same amendment may be introduced to ensure that such controls are not kept in place.

There will be a considerable socio-economic impact on Common Travel Area nationals who travel between the UK and Ireland and who do not have a passport or UK ID card and will now have to purchase them.