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Nigerian asylum seekers risk being deported home due to migration row with UK, Helen McEntee tells Cabinet

High Court ruling means international applicants arriving from the UK could be sent back to their home countryHelen McEntee says meeting fast processing times for safe countries has reduced the number of people coming to Ireland by 50%

A senior government source said McEntee told the meeting that there has been an increase in the number of Nigerians arriving in Ireland from the UK.

The minister said Nigerian applicants for international protection now risk being sent back to Nigeria, once their cases are heard by international protection officials, due to the recent High Court case that raised questions about the return of the asylum seekers to the United Kingdom.

McEntee’s comments follow a diplomatic row over comments he made about at least 80 per cent of asylum seekers arriving in Ireland from the UK over the border.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said his government will not accept asylum seekers being returned from Ireland unless other parts of the EU accept the return of migrants from their country.

The Minister told the meeting that fast processing times for safe countries have reduced the number of people arriving in Ireland from those countries by 50%.

Minister McEntee said Georgia was added to the list of safe countries when it had the highest number of applicants. Now it is not in the top ten.

The meeting also heard legislation the cabinet passed to close the loophole following the high court’s ruling that the UK was not safe and would be passed in the House in June.

A High Court case recently ruled in favor of asylum seekers who wanted to be prevented from being returned to the UK because the country was unsafe due to a future policy of sending rejected international applicants to Rwanda.

Minister McEntee is drafting legislation with Attorney General Rossa Fanning to ensure migrants can be returned to the UK under a post-Brexit deal agreed by both governments.

However, Sunak has insisted his government has no legal obligation to accept asylum seekers from Ireland, even if they have UK status.

Ms McEntee told the Cabinet sub-committee that asylum seekers who are being processed through the fast track system, which includes Nigerians even though they are not designated as “safe” countries, will be processed in brief and may be returned to their country of origin if their application for international protection is rejected.

The Government recently decided to expedite applications from countries where most people arrive, even if their home states are considered unsafe. Currently, the largest volume of asylum seekers comes from Nigeria.

The fast-track process, which deals mainly with applicants from safe countries, means cases are decided within three months and asylum seekers are allowed to stay or given deportation orders.

Asylum seekers can appeal, but most decisions are upheld.

The Cabinet Subcommittee on Migration also decided that additional resources will be made available to support communities where asylum seekers are housed.

A senior official from the Integration Department will also be appointed to coordinate the accommodation of migrants with the communities. The Government is also working on a campaign to combat misinformation.

The committee met after Gardaí and other state agencies acted to clear a migrant camp outside the International Protection Office (IPO) on Mount Street in Dublin.

The Government is grappling with the immigration crisis which escalated last week following Ms McEntee’s comments about the Northern Ireland border.

A Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday heard James O’Connor calling for the minister to address a meeting and outline what she is doing to address the current crisis.