Stephen Woolfe asks : Just how porous is our land border with the Irish Republic?
Speaking at a border crossing in Northern Ireland, Steven Woolfe MEP, UKIP’s Migration Spokesman, said:
“The position of Northern Ireland as a part of the United Kingdom in the great EU Migration crisis of 2015 and in the forthcoming BREXIT referendum is too often overlooked. Few mainland UK politicians recognise that Northern Ireland is the only part of this Kingdom which has a land border with another EU country and that the Irish state is fully committed to the ideas of Euro-Federalism. Ireland’s role in the UK’s Referendum campaign will be interesting to watch. Already Irish MPs are urging their government to try to affect the result in favour of the ‘Remain’ side. What these Irish politicians fail to recognise is that those with Irish connections who will vote in the EU referendum in the UK are as poorly affected by our membership of the EU as the rest of the UK’s citizens. UKIP wants to see an independent outward looking, global trading Britain which will benefit Ireland as much as it does ourselves.
Migration will be a significant issue in referendum campaign and a question arising within this is just how porous is the UK’s land border with the Irish Republic? Since 2000, 137,950 national insurance cards and numbers have been issued to foreign born workers out of 191,270 applied for in Northern Ireland. This needs to be seen in the context of a total workforce of 790,000 and a population of 1,840,000. The total number of these insurance cards equated to 17% of the workforce. In addition, since 2000 166,333 new medical cards have been issued in Northern Ireland to non-UK nationals. This equates to almost 10% of the recorded population. All this points to Northern Ireland being right at the heart of the surge in immigration which has now become a worldwide phenomenon. It is no isolated backwater.”
Figures from the Home Office show that 468 people were intercepted in 2014/15, including those who crossed the border with the Irish Republic. This is up 71% up on the 274 total in 2012/13. A report by the Organised Crime Task Force notes that the most recent year’s figures for interceptions in Northern Ireland include 30 convicted criminals who had previously been deported from the UK. My colleague David McNarry MLA, UKIP’s Northern Ireland Leader, pointed this out at the end of July this year and called for a far more stringent border regime on the UK-Irish Republic border. He was right then and remains right today.
“It is up to the Irish state to ensure that illegal migrants do not enter its country for onward travel to Northern Ireland and beyond where the effects of mass uncontrolled, wage deducting, immigration is now broadly recognised. The special relationship between the UK and Ireland is something to be cherished and nurtured but only within the regulations that currently give Irish citizens residency rights in the UK, that predate the EU. It would be wise for the Irish government to not only remain neutral in the forthcoming referendum campaign but also respect the result if the people of the UK choose BREXIT. Ensuring proper border protocols are followed is a critical element in demonstrating this.”