US tourists to Ireland could become the victims of a new fight over border control measures as Tories seek to use new visa restrictions to create an immigration border through Ireland.
It has been suggested that tourists travelling over the border from the South could be detained and sent home under the Tories’ proposed legislation, or even deported to a holding centre in Africa.
In a report, the Committee for the Administration of Justice (CAJ), a non-profit group, argued that “without some sort of exemption”, the British government bill would mean it could arbitrarily ‘remove’ some people “entering the UK”, by crossing the border.
It says the legislation, which runs contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the existing Common Travel Area (CTA), would affect those who require a visa or visa waiver to enter British jurisdiction, such as US tourists who land in Dublin and later travel north.
“The reason that this development is particularly concerning is the extremity of the penalties associated with it,” the CAJ said.
SDLP MP Claire Hanna warned that “visitors will face a lot of red tape and potentially be subject to the draconian provisions in this bill”.
Sinn Féin’s tourism spokesperson Cathy Mason called on the British Home Office’s ‘Electronic Travel Authorisation’ requirements to be scrapped.
The Assembly member said that 70% of tourists in the north arrive in Ireland via Dublin, and the legislation directly threatens £250 million that’s spent in the Six Counties.
“The visa-waiver document for journeys across the border will impact more than a half a million tourists annually and damage all-Ireland tourism,” she said.
“This policy is both absurd and offensive and shows a total lack of understanding by the British government about the damaging impact of this legislation to Ireland.
“Tourism and hospitality groups have been very clear in opposition to this legislation. The British government should heed the call and scrap it.”