The Irish government is to expand its list of "safe countries" amid mounting pressure over the island's ongoing migrant crisis. (EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET)


Ireland expands list of ‘safe countries’ amid pressure over migrant arrivals


The Irish Government has expanded its list of “safe countries” amid mounting pressure over the island’s ongoing migrant crisis.

Migration has risen from being a political non-issue in the country to the single most pressing topic concerning voters over the past 18 months. It is now expected to be the primary issue in the upcoming European Parliament elections in June.

In a press release on January 30, the Government announced it was adding Algeria and Botswana to the “safe countries” list in the hope of accelerating migrant deportations.

“While people from safe countries are still entitled to apply for international protection and have their application considered thoroughly, they will have to submit serious grounds that the country is not safe in terms of their personal circumstances,” the press release stated.

The Government also lauded the imminent adoption of the European Union Migration Pact, insisting the new deal would help Ireland deal with mass migration.

“The challenges presented by migration and asylum cannot be effectively addressed by any state acting alone in an increasingly globalised and interdependent world,” said Irish justice minister Helen McEntee.

“The Pact seeks to establish a more coherent approach across the EU to migration, asylum, integration and border management, fit for the fast-moving world of the 21st Century.”

The announcement came as Irish political parties have come under increased pressure to act on migration in recent months.

Speaking to Brussels Signal, new NGO Migration Info Ireland, which aims to raise public awareness surrounding mass migration, described the Government’s move as “cynical”, arguing that it would fail to deal with any of the current issues facing the country.

“The listing of Botswana and Algeria is a cynical move by the government in an attempt to placate an increasingly migration sceptical Irish population,” a spokesman the NGO said.

He added that the move would have “no impact” on immigration, as many people from countries already on the list still arrive in Ireland.

“Georgia is a ‘safe country’, yet the country regularly ranks among our top IPAS applicants,” he said.

The spokesman went on to say that accurate reporting on migration remained a “black spot” for Irish media outlets and that must change if Ireland wants to curb the arrival of illegal immigrants.

“Migration Info Ireland was launched to provide accurate analysis and coverage of the issue and to campaign for fair and controlled migration policy,” he said.