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Garda deployed to Belfast amid concern over ‘abuse of Common Travel Area’ |



A garda has been deployed to Belfast to support immigration investigations following concern about people entering the Republic illegally through Northern Ireland.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris confirmed that a member of the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) has been stationed in Belfast to engage with stakeholders in the area.

In his monthly report to the Policing Authority, the commissioner said the bureau is focusing investigations on preventing “abuse of the Common Travel Area”.

It is also investigating people who facilitate the illegal smuggling of people across the Border.

Mr Harris said gardaí are also returning people to the UK who have entered the Republic illegally and not claimed international protection.


People have been detected illegally travelling across the Border using a variety of modes of transport, including buses, trains and taxis, as well as private and rental cars.

Mr Harris told the authority that the GNIB had conducted 20 “days of action” in the last quarter of 2023 and the first three months of this year.

“This consists of significant checkpoint operations on the M1 motorway, which have resulted in the inspection of 172 vehicles and 102 people being detected entering the state without the requisite visas or identity documents.”

Immigration Enforcement Teams from the UK Home Office assisted the action.

“During these operations all persons entering Ireland illegally were refused leave to land (RLTL) and returned to the UK by ferry from Dublin Port to Holyhead.

“A small portion were returned to Belfast, where it was confirmed that they were resident in Northern Ireland.”

Additionally, he said the GNIB has established an operation to identify and prosecute non-nationals that enter the state with no documents.

To date, there have been 101 prosecutions, with more than 60 convictions.

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