Written answers

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Departmental Priorities

Photo of Mairead FarrellMairead Farrell (Galway West, Sinn Fein)
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209. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the travel arrangements he is making to Ireland for Afghan nationals with visas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49221/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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The Department of Justice is responsible for visas for travel to Ireland, including in cases where people wish to join a family member residing in Ireland. That Department is now establishing an Afghan Admission Programme which will enable current or former Afghan nationals living legally in Ireland to apply to have close family members, who are living in Afghanistan or who have recently fled to territories bordering Afghanistan, considered for temporary Irish residence.

I very much welcome this new proposal from my colleague, the Minister for Justice, which will create a tailored reunification programme and enable Ireland to continue to respond to the situation in Afghanistan. Up to 500 places will be available under this programme. Meanwhile, the current possibilities for Afghan nationals to be granted permission to enter Ireland will continue in parallel to the new programme.

The Department of Foreign Affairs does not ordinarily provide assistance on individual travel arrangements to those who have been granted visas to Ireland. However, my Department is, through our diplomatic network, liaising with relevant authorities in the region and elsewhere on possible transit routes. EU coordination is playing an important role in this.

The Taliban authorities in Afghanistan have stated publicly that any Afghan citizen with travel authorisation and documentation from other countries will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner to points of departure and to travel outside the country over the coming period. However, the extent to which this will be followed through on remains to be seen, and we are continuing, with our partners, to monitor and engage on the situation. We are also continuing to provide travel advice to assist people in making decisions on potential transit options.

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