No Hard Border? Investigation Finds Illegal Migrants Using Northern Ireland as ‘Back Door’ to Britain

Border
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The United Kingdom’s open border with the Republic of Ireland, which EU loyalists claim is so important that Brexit should be derailed if it cannot be maintained, is being used as a ‘back door’ for illegal migrants.

Illegal migrants unable to breach the expensive, British-funded border security around France’s northern ports, or break into Britain-bound lorries — sometimes using deadly force — are increasingly turning to the Republic of Ireland as a means to circumvent controls, via its unguarded border with the British province of Northern Ireland.

“When I got on the plane [from Paris to Dublin] I was not worried,” boasted Hamid, an illegal migrant from Iran, in an interview with the BBC.

“When we arrived in Dublin, I went through passport control, I passed through the checks and was able to leave.

“This route from Dublin is still fresh and the police do not focus on it as they do at Gatwick or Heathrow,” he said, telling the BBC he was not subject to any identity checks between Dublin and his final destination in Great Britain.

BBC South-East special correspondent Colin Campbell explained how Hamid paid people-smugglers £10,000 to bring him from Paris from the migrant bases near the Channel ports, and fly him to Dublin, where he breezed through passport control using illicitly obtained Greek documents — which were subsequently returned to the smugglers.

He was then bussed across the open border with Northern Ireland, before being put on a ferry from the regional capital of Belfast to Glasgow, on Scotland’s west coast, and continuing on the England by train — all without ever being asked for proof of identification.

Hamid said he paid around £10,000 for the whole operation — casting doubt on the common perception of illegal migrants as desperately poor people fleeing economic poverty.

“If there are weaknesses at Irish ports or Irish airports, they will exploit them and use them, because once you’re into Ireland, effectively you’re into the UK,” warned Dave Wood, a former Director-General of Immigration Enforcement who has previously estimated that there are “probably over a million foreigners here illegally [and] no-one could ever remove them really.”

“There’s nothing stopping people once you’re in Ireland travelling north to Northern Ireland and then to the wider UK,” he added.

The revelations will cast further doubt over claims of the supposedly vital importance of maintaining a completely open border with the Irish Republic after Brexit — especially considering given cross-border trade amounts to far less than the international trade handled by major ports on the British mainland, which is already subject to checks.

Trade with the Republic of Ireland is not even of particular importance to Northern Ireland, amounting to a little over a quarter of the value of the province’s trade with the rest of the United Kingdom.

Trade with the wider EU is also significantly less important to Northern Ireland than trade with the wider world — which can be expected to improve once Britain repatriates powers to sign its own bilateral trade agreements from Brussels — with world trade outstripping EU trade by around two billion pounds.

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