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Government is clamping down on illegal immigration, Taoiseach says |



The Taoiseach has said the Government is not clamping down on immigration, but is ramping up efforts to tackle those who travel to Ireland illegally.

Leo Varadkar said they are targeting people who are trying to “abuse the generosity” of the Irish system.

The Fine Gael leader said the number of people seeking international protection has increased ten-fold, which he said needed a government response.

Speaking during an event in Dublin, Mr Varadkar also said that while the State has pledged to crack down on illegal migration, he could not guarantee immigration numbers would decline.


Ireland has seen a rise in protests at buildings across the country earmarked to house asylum seekers.

There have also been arson attacks on several buildings proposed as accommodation locations for international protection applicants.

Mr Varadkar said that talking about immigration has been “difficult”.

“We all need to be better at learning the language and speaking about migration properly and competently,” he added.

He described Ireland’s immigration policy as “fair”.

“We are welcoming more people to Ireland all the time.

“There’s no way we could run our health service, Blanchardstown Hospital down the road, without all the people who come from overseas.

“Far from clamping down on immigration, we are welcoming immigration, but we are cracking down on people who come into the country illegally and try to abuse the generosity of our system.

“A lot of the things that are being done aren’t particularly new, it’s just the context has changed. So we would have had maybe only 2,000 or 3,000 people seeking international protection each year, that’s increased pretty much ten-fold and that requires a response from Government.

“That means making decisions more quickly and giving those who are entitled to protection the protection they need and deserve but also to those who aren’t entitled to protection, saying to them if you are served with a deportation order, you’ve to leave the country.

“If you don’t leave voluntarily, then we will deport you.”

Ireland issues up to 40,000 work permits every year to allow people to live and work in the country.

“The area that has become controversial is a small part of immigration and that’s international protection [applicants],” the Fine Gael leader added.

“When it comes to people seeking international protection, we want to grant protection to those who are entitled to it as quickly as possible and bring them into our society.

“For those who try and get around the scrum and use the international protection system incorrectly when they should be applying for work permit or visa, yes there is a crackdown on that and I stand over it.”

While the Government said it will clamp down on illegal immigration, Mr Varadkar said he could not guarantee the number of illegal immigrants in Ireland will decline.

“I can’t guarantee you that we’re going to have peace in the world and that climate change is going to end. I wish I could,” he added.

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