Migrants ‘heading for Ireland instead of UK’

The threat of deportation to Rwanda is causing migrants to head for Ireland instead of the UK, Ireland’s deputy prime minister has said.

The Rwanda Bill, which will see asylum seekers “entering the UK illegally” sent to the central African nation – regardless of the outcome of their application – was passed on Tuesday, despite human rights concerns.

Micheal Martin told The Daily Telegraph that the policy was already affecting Ireland, as people were “fearful” of staying in the UK.

The former taoiseach said: “Maybe that’s the impact it was designed to have.”

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

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His words follow those of Justice Minister Helen McEntee, who told a scrutiny committee in the Irish Parliament earlier this week that migrants and refugees were crossing the border with Northern Ireland.

Ms McEntee said “higher than 80%” of people seeking asylum in Ireland entered the country through Northern Ireland, a border crossing that is open as guaranteed under a UK-EU Brexit treaty.

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It comes amid increasing tension over immigration levels in Ireland, which is grappling with a housing crisis that has affected its own people as well as asylum seekers.

Overnight, six people were arrested during a protest at a site earmarked to house asylum seekers in Newtownmountkennedy in Co Wicklow.

Gardai said officers came under attack after workers were brought onto the site, suffering “verbal and physical abuse throughout the day, which escalated into rocks and other missiles being thrown this evening”.

Fires were lit, an axe was found and officers were “forced to defend themselves” with incapacitant spray, helmets and shields.

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Three patrol cars were also damaged.

Irish broadcaster RTE said protesters accused gardaí of using unnecessary force, and intimidating and aggressive tactics against a legitimate and peaceful protest.

According to RTE, there have been protests during the past six weeks at the site, known as Trudder House or River Lodge.

It is reportedly being considered as a site for 20 eight-person tents housing asylum seekers but some locals have said it is unsuitable and the village’s resources are already over-stretched.

Ms McEntee said there was “a lot of misinformation about migration at the moment”.

She tweeted late on Thursday to promote the EU Migration and Asylum Pact, which she described as “a real game changer” and “something we must opt into”.

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