Rowen forces Irish passport U-turn!

July 20, 2009 12:00 AM

Rochdale celebrating St Patrick's Day earlier this year!Rochdale MP Paul Rowen is celebrating after forcing the Government into a U-turn over forcing passport checks when travelling to and from Ireland. Paul Rowen, a Lib Dem Shadow Work and Pension's Minister, whose family hail from Limerick said, "This poorly thought Government initiative would have had such a detrimental affect on travel and tourism to and from Ireland. I know many elderly people without a passport who have visited their homesteads because of the 'Common Travel Area' rule that allowed them to just bring photo ID. This scheme was simply an illogical Government response to a problem that does not really exist. It would have cost the taxpayer at least £2.5 million a year for staff and close to a £50 million in tourism.

The changes were due to be introduced as part of the 'Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill', which was debated in the House of Commons last night. Paul Rowen and the Liberal Democrats tabled an amendment to try to stop the changes that was reluctantly accepted by Immigration Minister Phil Woolas MP who said he still believed the proposals were necessary but he would not attempt to push them through the Commons. There are currently no passport controls for Irish and UK citizens travelling in the Common Travel Area (CTA) between the two islands but Mr Woolas said the requirement should be in place to tighten security.

Paul Rowen MP continued, "We are very pleased that this common sense amendment has been reluctantly accepted by the Government. As someone, of Irish descent who regularly travels back to my home to my family in Newcastle West, County Limerick, I am very proud to have forced this Government U-turn. I know literally dozens of people, without passports who regularly go back to Ireland. This is true the other way round and I am pleased to have stopped this unnecessary plan in its tracks. It would have changed travelling to and from Ireland forever and meant that many elderly people, reluctant to get a passport wouldn't have been able to travel again!"