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UK Rwanda policy is ‘kneejerk reaction’ to migration, says Ireland’s deputy PM



The UK government’s Rwanda policy has been described as a “kneejerk reaction” to migration by Ireland’s deputy prime minister, who said an influx of asylum seekers could arrive in Ireland as a result.

Micheál Martin, Ireland’s Tánaiste, reportedly said asylum seekers fearful of being removed from the UK to Rwanda were seeking sanctuary in Ireland.

Ireland has taken in more than 100,000 refugees, about three-quarters from Ukraine. The influx has coincided with an acute housing crisis that has driven up rents and homelessness and fuelled anti-immigrant sentiment. A riot last November wrecked parts of central Dublin.

Martin, who is also Ireland’s foreign secretary, said asylum seekers were seeking “sanctuary here and within the European Union as opposed to the potential of being deported to Rwanda”.

Micheál Martin, Ireland’s Tánaiste, said the Rwanda policy was not going to deal with the issue of migration. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

During a trip to Jordan on Wednesday, Martin said: “We have 11 million people displaced from Ukraine and millions in Sudan. But the sort of kneejerk reaction like the Rwanda policy, in my view, isn’t going to really do anything to deal with the issue.”

His remarks, reported in the Daily Telegraph, came as the Rwanda bill, which will allow asylum seekers who arrived in the UK by irregular means to be deported to Kigali, received royal assent and was ratified as the Safety of Rwanda Act.

Earlier this week, Emmanuel Macron criticised migration policies that involve sending people to African countries as “a betrayal of our [European] values”. The French president made the remarks in a wide-ranging speech on Thursday aimed at warning Europe against overdependence on other countries for security and trade.

Turning to migration, he said he did not believe in “this model that some people want to put in place, which means that you go and look for a third country, for example in Africa, and send our immigrants there”.

He added: “This is a betrayal of our values and will lead us down the path of new dependencies on third countries.”

The Rwanda deal will cost £1.8m for each of the first 300 deportees, the National Audit Office has confirmed.

Matthew Rycroft, the most senior civil servant in the Home Office who has overseen the scheme for two years, previously told MPs he did not have evidence to show it had a deterrent effect that would make it value for money.

Home Office staff have privately warned there is a risk once removals begin of thousands of asylum seekers disappearing, keen to avoid receiving notification that they are being sent to Kigali.

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