Ó Donnghaile challenges British Home Office on 'Electronic Travel Authorisation' proposals
Sinn Féin’s leader in the Seanad, Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile, has called for clarity from British Home Office officials regarding the proposed roll-out of 'Electronic Travel Authorisation', or ETA, for third country nationals crossing the border.
The Sinn Féin Senator was in London, alongside party colleague Sorca Clarke TD, as part of a British Irish Parliamentary Association committee delegation.
Speaking from London, following a meeting with a British Home Office Minister, Senator Ó Donnghaile said:
"This visit has only confirmed our worst expectations. Where we should find detail and answers, we continually were faced with confusion and a total lack of understanding in regards to how this legislation effects Ireland, north and south.
“Our meeting with the British Home Office has provided no clarity whatsoever regarding the introduction of ‘Electronic Travel Authorisation’ for third country nationals crossing the border.
"The ETA proposals throw up fresh barriers at the border for non-Irish and non-British residents and visitors coming to the north. If introduced, ordinary men and women who - whether it be for work, tourism, or study - wish to travel into the Six Counties will be expected to apply for an ETA. The policy is both absurd and offensive.
"I welcomed the opportunity to put Sinn Féin's concerns directly to Home Office representatives during this visit. We left them in no doubt that these proposals run contrary to the Common Travel Area and the hard-won Good Friday Agreement.
“While the Seanad has already passed a Sinn Féin motion rejecting any such measures unanimously, we need to see a renewed cross-party mobilisation against any potential hardening of the border on our island.
"With mounting speculation of a potential US Presidential visit to Ireland in the spring, to coincide with the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, are we genuinely suggesting that President Biden, as a third country national, could be stopped at the border and asked if he's applied for his electronic travel authorisation? What signal would that send to the world?
"A key gain of the Irish peace process was the ability to travel throughout Ireland unobstructed.
“This Tory policy is being imposed without an iota of thought or concern for the impact it will have on people in Ireland. It is driven by a nasty, right-wing, 'Little Englander' agenda that must be rejected at all costs.
“The British government needs to wake up and realise that their ETA is not wanted."