The UK and Irish governments have signed an agreement to preserve the Common Travel Area and help crack down on illegal immigration.
The Common Travel Area is a passport-free zone that comprises Ireland, Great Britain, the Isle of Man and the Channel Irelands and can be crossed by Irish and British citizens with only minimal identity documents.
The agreement outlines work being taken on by both countries to prevent abuses of the Common Travel Area, while protecting its long-established benefits of trade and tourism.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘This agreement will help us quickly refuse those with poor immigration records, identify asylum shoppers and speed up the removal process in those cases where people have entered the Common Travel Area.
‘The benefits the Common Travel Area brings to travellers and the economies of our countries are well-established but it should not be exploited by those with no right to be here.’
Immigration Minister Damian Green met his Irish counterpart Alan Shatter in Dublin to sign the accord to work towards joint entry standards and ultimately enhanced electronic border systems.
It also sees a commitment to the exchange of information, such as fingerprint biometrics and biographical details, particularly from ‘high risk’ countries, as part of the visa issuing process.
Close co-operation between the two countries has already brought significant benefits. So far this year data swaps have shown that of 1,516 failed asylum claims made in Ireland, nearly 500 have been identified as being known to the UK Border Agency.