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Border clampdown: Refugees from 20 countries – excluding Ukraine – will now need visas to gain entry to Ireland

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Visa free travel is still available for Ukrainian nationals

Visa free travel is still available for Ukrainian nationals

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said there is “evidence” that the system may be abused. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said there is “evidence” that the system may be abused. Photo: Gareth Chaney

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Visa free travel is still available for Ukrainian nationals

People who have been granted refugee status from a designated list of countries and who travel to Ireland will now have to apply for a visa.

Cabinet ministers met incorporeally today to temporarily suspend Ireland's participation in the Council of Europe Agreement for 12 months.

Refugees who have been granted refugee status from countries which have signed up to the agreement do not need a visa to travel to other countries which have also signed up to the agreement for three months.

However, ministers today decided to suspend this initiative due to pressures on the International protection system.

Ukrainians will still be able to travel to Ireland visa free.

Refugees granted a Convention Travel Document in Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, or Switzerland will now need to apply for a visa to travel to Ireland.

The suspension will come into effect from noon tomorrow.

The decision was taken due to refugees who have already been granted refugee status in other countries travelling to Ireland and applying for refugee status again.

From January 2021 to January 2022, 760 refugees applied for refugee status here after having already been granted it in another EU country.

Over half (63pc), or 479 refugees had already been granted refugee status from EU Member States with visa exemptions.

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This makes up 7pc of the 6,494 applications for international protection in that period.

Sources said the decision was taken due to pressures on the refugee system and the issues on accommodating refugees.

It emerged in recent days that Ireland is unable to house any more Ukrainian refugees.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said there is “evidence” that the system may be abused.

"In recent months, we have seen that the visa exemption provided for in the Council of Europe Agreement is being exploited, including by some who enter the State and subsequently claim international protection, despite having already been granted such protection by another European state,” she said.

“The suspension of the operation of the Agreement is temporary and will be reviewed in a year’s time.

“In the meantime, Convention travel document holders who want to travel to Ireland can apply for a visa under standard visa arrangements."

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the Cabinet decision today will help protect Ukrainians.

"The decision taken today will assist in the protection of Ukrainians, and those of other nationalities, who are fleeing conflict, as it will lessen the incidence of abuse of this system,” he said.

“This step is not unprecedented: other Council of Europe member states have taken similar action previously.”



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