Saturday 1 October 2016

Migrants accepted by Ireland to be vetted in advance

Shane Phelan and Tom Brady

Published 17/11/2015 | 02:30

A couple in Paris mourn the victims of the terrorist attacks
A couple in Paris mourn the victims of the terrorist attacks

Security checks will be carried out on all migrants from Syria before they set foot on Irish soil.

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The checks, which will include biometric screening, will take place at camps in Italy and Greece before refugees are relocated here, Department of Justice officials said.

"Ireland will be carrying out security checks in the countries concerned before the applicants are relocated to this country," a spokesman said.

Officials said the strict vetting had always been planned and was not a response to the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Migrants are being processed at centres in Italy and Greece before being assigned to other EU countries.

However, they can also be deported if they are rejected.

The rigorousness of the vetting plans has emerged as a huge issue, since it emerged a passport found near the body of one of the Paris attackers belonged to a man who arrived on a Greek island after fleeing from Syria. Ireland is set to take up to 4,000 people as part of the EU's response to the refugee crisis in the war-torn region, with the first group of around 20 set to arrive by the end of the year.

It was initially thought up to 500 would be here by Christmas, but the process has been slowed significantly due to migrants refusing to apply for asylum, fearing they may be forced to remain in Italy or Greece rather than progressing to elsewhere in Europe.

Gardaí are to liaise with EU and international policing bodies to ensure appropriate vetting has been conducted on each individual taken by Ireland prior to their arrival. Each person will be subject to biometric checks, including fingerprinting.

Mindful

Senior gardaí said terrorists originating from Syria should not be confused with refugees or migrants. But officers said they had to be mindful of the potential for terrorists to take advantage of the flow of migrants to make their way unhindered into Europe.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald yesterday acknowledged there were great challenges being faced by police forces across Europe because of mass migration.

These could give rise to security issues and steps had to be taken to ensure that migration was not abused. But she warned it would be very dangerous to associate terrorist acts with particular communities.

Irish Independent

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