Any person who has committed a serious crime and who has a deportation order made against them will leave the state with the assistance of Gardaí and will not be left to “self-deportation”, the Justice Secretary has said.
Speaking at the opening of a new Garda immigration office at Dublin Port, Helen McEntee said “the majority of people” deport themselves, despite reports earlier this year that most people given a deportation order do not leave the country.
Justice Department figures show that less than 7 percent of the more than 4,500 deportation orders issued in the past five years were passed through An Garda Síochána, while a further 9.2 percent of rejected international protection applicants left the country themselves.
Security sources believe that a large proportion of those given deportation orders leave the country without informing authorities.
Ms McEntee said the number of deportations was “increasing every month” and that “anyone who commits a serious crime will be deported and not subject to self-deportation action”.
She acknowledged that there were “challenges” in returning people to certain countries, but that “in the vast majority of cases people left the country.” She also pointed to a law introduced in August that stipulates that people convicted of serious crimes can be served with a deportation order without the possibility of voluntary departure.
When asked to comment on plans to limit state accommodation of new arrivals from Ukraine to 90 days and a possible corresponding cut in welfare rates, Ms McEntee said the government would continue to meet regularly to discuss this The issue will be examined, but it will continue to support those fleeing the war.
The minister noted that the new immigration agency would “enable increased efforts to combat human trafficking, drug smuggling and other serious crimes and help us build stronger and safer communities.”
The new building, located on the former Calor Gas office site in Dublin Port, includes a “secure detention area for processing detainees” as well as interrogation rooms and medical facilities for those arriving from overseas.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said any passengers refused entry into the country could now be “safely and quickly treated before their return, or if they apply for asylum they can be medically examined here and treated if necessary”.
The government has been repeatedly criticized in recent years for housing foreign nationals who have been refused landing at Irish ports in prisons rather than dedicated facilities. The Irish Penal Reform Trust described the practice as “completely unacceptable”, while the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) reported that people held in Irish prisons on immigration grounds were “subject to ill-treatment and harassment by prisoners”.
“A prison is, by definition, not an appropriate place to detain someone who is neither suspected of nor convicted of a crime,” the CPT said.
Asked whether foreign nationals refused entry at Dublin Airport would be taken to Dublin Port for detention until their return flight, Mr Harris said police would use the port facilities but also the four individual cells at the Garda Use the airport train station. “This is better for short-term incarceration than for a prison sentence,” he said.