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Written Answers. - Common Travel Area.

Tuesday, 26 November 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 1

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 422. Mr. Crawford Information on Seymour Crawford Zoom on Seymour Crawford  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell  if there is an agreement between Ireland and the UK which alleviates the need for a passport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23435/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Ireland and the United Kingdom have operated an arrangement for many years known as the “common travel area”. Both States co-operate to ensure that their respective immigration procedures prevent persons from being allowed to land at first port of entry if they would not be allowed to enter the other State and if it is suspected that they are likely to exploit the common travel area in order to do so illegally. As a result citizens of both jurisdiction enjoy passport free travel within the common travel area.

Under Irish immigration law the benefit of passport free travel does not apply to persons who are not Irish or British citizens. Consequently, immigration officers are empowered to carry out immigration checks on aliens (persons who are not Irish or British citizens) upon their arrival in the State, even from Great Britain or Northern Ireland. As a matter of practicality therefore in certain cases, an immigration officer may ask a passenger for evidence in support of a claim that he or she is an Irish citizen and is thus exempt from immigration control. While there are a number of practical ways in which this may be achieved, possession of an Irish passport is a very effective means of doing so. However, hundreds of Irish citizens regularly avail of the benefits of free movement with the common travel area without being in possession of a passport.

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