Dáil debates

Friday, 13 November 2015

Freedom of Movement (Common Travel Area) (Travel Documentation) Bill 2014: Second Stage [Private Members]


11:50 am

Photo of Damien EnglishDamien English (Meath West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

Fianna Fáil is not in government. We have seen what it did when it was in government and it did not always work out very well. It is not that we are against what the Deputy wants to achieve. I want to be clear about that. The Deputy knows how I operate. If it was in any way possible, I would accept this. The Bill is not written in a way that it can be accepted. It has unintended consequences that will cause great difficulty to immigration officers and Garda Síochána members on the front line. It would not be possible to implement it.

To be clear, this Bill, as written, does not solve the situation the Deputy mentioned because what the travel operators are doing is not unlawful. It is their choice to operate that way. It is not unlawful to seek a passport for identification. The CTA arrangement applies to citizens. This Bill does not solve the situation. Travel operators make their own assessments of the identity documents they require from passengers based on their business needs assessments which include matters to do with safety and security. To legislate on this area requires these matters to be taken into account. The airline identified by Deputy Terence Flanagan in the explanatory memorandum and by others in the debate operates from bases outside Ireland into common travel area destinations in the UK. It is the only Irish carrier to do so.

As I indicated in my opening remarks, matters to do with the common travel area should be addressed in a comprehensive way through legislation which the Minister for Justice and Equality intends to bring forward in the immigration Bill after the implementation of the international protection Bill. There will be an opportunity to discuss these issues. I think the Deputy missed the end of my speech when I said that. There will be an opportunity to raise these concerns at that stage.

The common travel area is of crucial economic and social importance to both the UK and Ireland. While on the face of it the Bill attempts to address a particular issue related to the production of documentation, it fails to meet that purpose and has serious consequences that, albeit unintentionally, would have potentially serious outcomes for the State. There is a genuine reason we cannot accept it. If Deputy Mathews gets a chance to read my speech, he will realise why that is. I will not go back through it again. If we could accept it, we would. I think the Deputy will accept that.


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