Wednesday December 20th saw the UK and Ireland join forces in recommitting to more stringent immigration policies and controls. It aims to protect what is known as the Common Travel Area, which was established in the 1920's with a view to free movement for nationals between the countries. The Area is comprised of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
Minister Shatter signed a statement with UK Minister for Immigration Damien Green along with a Memorandum of Understanding with an intention to work towards joint standards for entry. This is with a view to eventually enhance electronic border systems to identify those with no right to enter the Common Travel Area before they arrive at the border. A further data-exchange initiative will be launched which will involve the exchange of information such as finger print biometrics and biographical details, particularly from 'high-risk' countries, as part of the visa issuing process. The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) said the aim of this is to
'help prevent abuses of the CTA arrangement while protecting its long-established benefits of trade and tourism. The move could create considerable savings for both countries on removing foreign nationals with no right to stay'.
Previous close co-operation between the countries has proved effective in various cases. Minister Shatter was hopeful of the plan's potential in relation to tourism and economic benefits. He further stated
'Today's agreement provides a platform for greater cooperation on immigration matters, including joint action to protect the CTA from abuse by preventing potential immigration offenders from travelling to Ireland and the UK'.