Euro 2028 faces border visa mayhem
Euro 2028 faces border visa mayhem


Soccer fans flying into Dublin for a major international tournament may be unable to cross the border to watch matches in Belfast due to a new travel permit requirement that the British government has threatened to impose on the island of Ireland.

Britain and Ireland will jointly host the UEFA European tournament in 2028, which will include major events at the Aviva stadium in Dublin and at a redeveloped Casement Park in Belfast.

The British government has set out plans for a travel permit as a new post-Brexit measure which will apply at the border through Ireland. There will be no physical checks, but it could create a regulatory nightmare for visitors.

It will not apply to Irish citizens, but many tourists flying into Dublin with the intention of visiting the Six Counties could be caught unawares, including those attempting a day trip north from Dublin.

Those planning to come to Ireland have already been urged by republicans to boycott a bureaucracy with echoes of a colonial past.

Joanne Stuart, a chief executive of the North’s Tourism Alliance, is the latest to point out that the plan is unworkable.

“If you are a tourist flying from Paris to Dublin, you’re not going to be told that you need a separate visa for Northern Ireland, because the airline doesn’t know whether you’re going to go to NI or not,” she told the Belfast Telegraph.

She added: “People may not want to come to Ireland if they see any sort of obstacle to their travel, and it is actually something that every political party in NI is in agreement with — none of the MPs want to see this and they are all supportive of us trying to get an exemption.”

Tourists travelling across the border from the South account for over a half a billion pounds in tourist spending in the Six Counties. Even the idea of an electronic border permit could cause chaos, Mr Stuart said.

“You’ve got to apply for it for everybody that’s travelling, no matter their ages; you’ve got to pay £10 per person for each ETA, but also, you have to wait to be approved.

“It hasn’t been implemented yet, but the guidance is that you should wait up to three days to ensure that you get the permission to travel, and that will just put people off.”

There have also been calls on the Irish government to review their rules around freedom of movement within the Common Travel Area (CTA) for immigrants.

British and Irish citizens can travel freely across the border under the CTA. Those rights do not extend to migrants living in Ireland, even if they hold lawful residency. The required visa can take up to eight weeks.

The Department of Justice states that any non-European Economic Area national must have a valid Irish visa before they seek to enter Ireland, including crossing the land border. The rules have not been updated since Brexit, when Britain left the EEA. The Department of Justice said the visa requirements remain “under review”.

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