US security measures could make travel Stateside more difficult
Travel to the United States could soon become more complicated due to new security arrangements for Irish visitors being considered by the US Homeland Security Department, it has emerged.
It appears the US wants to tighten entry procedures for people entering the country with background data checks being made before permission is granted.
Under the present system, Irish visitors to the US merely have to fill in a form at Dublin or Shannon Airports saying they have no criminal convictions and were never involved in acts of terrorism before boarding.
It is now likely to be replaced with a new system called "Electronic Travel Authorisation", much like the controversial "Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening" that was introduced on internal flights in the US two years ago. The internal US terror watch-list has a reported 755,000 names and has led to hundreds of people who happen to have the same names being refused flights. In one recent instance, a seven-year-old boy who happens to share the name of a Pakistani man on the list, was refused flights on three occasions.
If the system were introduced here it could mean that anyone who shares a name with someone imprisoned for IRA or other terror group offences, could be stopped from boarding flights. Thousands of people could be affected.
In addition, prospective travellers to the US could have to produce evidence from the garda that they are not potential terror suspects.
Irish people have not had to produce pre-travel information since the old visa system was dropped in 1983. Up to then visa application forms had to be signed by gardai before being submitted to the Embassy in advance of travel.