Social welfare officers assigned to help gardaí deal with arriving migrants
Published 21/09/2015 | 02:30
Two officers from the Department of Social Protection have been assigned to the Garda National Immigration Bureau to help deal with migrants trying to gain access to the country through our ports.
A spokesperson for Social Protection Minister Joan Burton's office said they were dedicated to assisting the gardaí and didn't rule out the possibility of more officers being deployed to assist in "joint operations".
Last month, an operation uncovered four Iranian migrants who had tried to enter Ireland via an Irish Ferries vessel at Rosslare.
The two men and two women managed to make it to the Wexford port from Cherbourg late last month but were apprehended when disembarking from the vessel after a 16-hour journey.
Suspicions were raised when one man produced a false Bulgarian passport.
Tighter security procedures are in place at both ports as many migrants are choosing the crossing point as a 'softer option'.
"We are seeing more asylum seekers using ports like Cherbourg, as opposed to Calais, for a number of reasons," said Louise Carr, Amnesty International's director of misplaced persons. Ms Carr, who is based in France, explained that many of those looking to made it the UK and Ireland would have travelled through the EU and tried to claim asylum in many countries.
"Rather than waiting in camps across the continent for claims to come through, they keep moving," she said.
The Department of Social Protection (DSP) said that for "obvious reasons" it could not comment on the nature of its current operations.
"Where required, they (the officers) assist in any operations and in particular where there is a social welfare dimension to operations," said a spokesperson.
"The function of DSP officers assigned to the unit is to support garda officers and, in the course of their work, collate and also to report upon incidences of potential social welfare fraud," it added.