As the U.K. Tries Moving Asylum Seekers Offshore, Ireland Pushes Back

Related media – Connected media

After years of friction, Mr. Sunak last year struck a deal with the European Union, known as the Windsor Framework, which finally seemed to defuse the issue. But Britain’s abrupt cancellation on Sunday of a meeting between its home secretary, James Cleverly, and Ireland’s minister for justice, Helen McEntee, added to the sense of a fresh diplomatic crisis. A meeting of lower-level British and Irish officials produced only a vague agreement to “monitor this issue closely.”

“It’s something that needs to be solved, and I don’t see any easy solution,” said Bobby McDonagh, a former Irish ambassador to Britain. “It clearly isn’t workable if a very large number of refugees are going through the U.K. and coming down here through Northern Ireland.”

The problem is, political pressures on both sides militate against resolving the issue. For Mr. Sunak, who lobbied for months against legal challenges to pass the Rwanda plan, the diversion of asylum seekers to Ireland is proof that his policy is working. Far from taking back these people, he has vowed to round up thousands of those still in Britain and put them on planes to Rwanda.

Mr. Harris, analysts in Dublin said, is under pressure to act firmly because the swelling numbers of asylum seekers, combined with Ireland’s acute housing shortage, are causing social unrest. Last week, protesters in County Wicklow clashed with the police over proposed accommodations for refugees. A riot rooted in anti-immigrant hatred convulsed parts of Dublin last fall.

Associated media – Linked media