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BIPA Co-Chairs seek meetings with British and Irish Governments on Common Travel Area

Added 20-Oct-2009

The Co-Chairs of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly, Paul Murphy MP and Niall Blaney TD, have written to the British Home Secretary, Alan Johnson MP, and the Irish Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern TD,  seeking meetings to discuss new passport controls for persons travelling into Britain from Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands.

Mr Murphy and Deputy Blaney have sought these meetings following a lengthy discussion about the Common Travel Area at the 39th plenary session of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly in Swansea earlier this week. Following the session, the two Co-Chairs resolved to discuss the issue with their relevant Ministers and report on the concerns expressed by BIPA members.

Paul Murphy commented, "In the course of our discussions on the Common Travel Area, the issue of passport controls and the requirement to show a passport when travelling into Britain from Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands emerged as a major issue.

"There is major confusion over what forms of identification are required when travelling through airports and ports. On the one hand, we have a Common Travel Area between Britain and Ireland that should grant people freedom of movement, yet on the other, individual airlines and airports require people to show their passports when passing through.

"Legislation on the issue has been brought forward on a number of occasions, but there is a clear need for consultation between both Governments on this. Therefore I am seeking a meeting with the Home Secretary to discuss this issue."

Deputy Blaney commented, "On Monday, the Welsh Secretary, Peter Hain MP, said that the British Irish Council would examine the current system. This must be complemented by an investigation by, and consultation between, the relevant Government Ministers.

"Therefore, as Co-Chairs of the BIPA we are seeking to represent the views expressed by members of the Houses of Parliament, the Oireachtas, and each of the devolved institutions, in Swansea, by urging consultations between the two Governments.

"We anticipate having an opportunity to discuss this with our Ministers before Christmas, and to report back to the Assembly at our next meeting in Cavan in February."



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