Sinn Féin Seanad Leader, Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile, has today raised concerns in relation to the British Government’s proposed ‘Nationality and Borders’ Bill.
Speaking during a Commencement Matter in the Seanad today, Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile asked what the Irish Government and EU response would be, given its impact on non-Irish EU and non-EU citizens living in the Twenty-Six Counties.
Senator Ó Donånghaile said:
“There are thousands of people living in this State who are non-Irish EU citizens and, indeed, many who are not from the EU. The Nationality and Borders Bill could be quite severe in its implications for their ability to freely move across this island.
“This has the potential to impact on a range of aspects of people’s lives. I think of the healthcare sector, for example, and the range of non-Irish and non-British citizens who work in it.
“What will happen if someone living in Donegal who crosses the Border to go to work in Altnagelvin has a car accident and is asked by the PSNI to produce this particular visa? Will he or she be deported?
“I am sure the Minister of State would be uncomfortable, as would I, that somebody who has come to live here, made their lives here and contributed significantly to Irish life would have lesser rights than she or I.
“What will happen when we promote Ireland under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement internationally as a single unit for tourism?
“Are we going to tell the thousands of tourists we want to attract to this island to enjoy the benefits of it that they are going to need to apply for a travel waiver for a particular section of it?
“It is crazy. The proposed change has implications right across society and Irish life.”
Speaking after the debate Senator Ó Donnghaile added:
“I welcome the response from Government, and I am encouraged that they appreciate the severity of the implications of this legislation on people who are resident in the State.
“They need to ensure that their engagement with the British Government on this Bill is robust and that international understanding and focus is brought to bear regarding the implications of this legislation.
“They must work with EU colleagues to ensure that there is no return to a hard border for anyone living anywhere in Ireland.”