Northern Ireland news

Stephen Farry says 'draconian' British immigration laws will affect thousands of EU nationals travelling across the border

EU nationals in the south without settled status will be forced to complete an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) every time they visit the north. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

THOUSANDS of EU nationals in the Republic will face “bureaucratic complication and annoyance” when crossing the border due to new British government immigration laws, according to Alliance's deputy leader.

Stephen Farry said those without settled status will be forced to complete an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) every time they visit the north due to curbs on freedom of movement.

After seeking clarification from the British Home Office about the implications of the legislation, the North Down MP claimed “tens of thousands” people living in Ireland would potentially be affected on a daily basis.

He said he expected the Dublin government to "make strong representations" in a bid to lessen the impact.

Under the Immigration Bill that is working its way through Westminster, freedom of movement into the UK will end for EU, European Economic Area and Swiss citizens, apart from those who are covered by the EU settlement scheme.

Mr Farry said even though the British government has given assurances that there will be no immigration controls at the border, there would still be uncertainty around the legal status and rights of any affected EU nationals in the north who failed to complete an ETA for their most recent journey.

He described the ending of the freedom of movement for EU nationals as a “major retrograde step that will harm our economy and our society”.

“Given the land border in Ireland, the negative effects and distortions will be more severe on this island,” he said.

"This potentially is going to be a bureaucratic complication and annoyance for EU nationals based in the Republic of Ireland and those outside the settlement scheme in Northern Ireland who may wish to cross the border on a frequent basis for a whole range of reasons.”

The Alliance deputy leader said that Ireland's particular circumstances had not been taken into account when devising the “new draconian immigration policy”.

“I will be pushing the UK government to devise a more realistic approach, and would anticipate that the Irish government would wish to make strong representations in that regard,” he said.

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