Warning for Justice Minister Helen McEntee over knock-on effects for Ireland from U.K. plan for deportations to Rwanda

Department of Justice officials warned that U.K. plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda were likely to make migrants “think twice” and look at other options like Ireland.

In a briefing on deportation, Minister Helen McEntee was told that while Britain’s Rwanda policy was “mired in legal actions”, it was still likely to have a knock-on effect for other states.

It said it could make Ireland seem like “an attractive alternative” or as “a stepping stone” to later getting back into the United Kingdom permanently.

The briefing, which was prepared in 2022 as the department considered an end to a COVID-19 moratorium on deportations, said U.K. policy on migration would inevitably affect Ireland.

It said: “The first transfer of refugees from the U.K. to Rwanda has yet to succeed. It is currently mired in legal actions.

“While it remains to be seen how successful the U.K.’s much criticised attempt to outsource its immigrant processing to Rwanda will be in reality, [it could be that the chance] of being removed to that state would cause migrants to the U.K. to think twice and seek alternatives.”

The briefing said if the United Kingdom was successful in reducing or deterring arrivals, neighbouring states would feel the impact.

“Ireland may ultimately be seen as an attractive alternative, or a stepping stone to the U.K. via eventual Irish citizenship and the Common Travel Area at a later date. Such behaviour would not be new,” said the briefing.