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Common Travel Area

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 June 2021

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Ceisteanna (354)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

354. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the steps being taken to normalise the common travel area. [29650/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The Common Travel Area (CTA) has continued to operate throughout the pandemic and, over the last number of years, significant steps have been taken by the Irish and British Governments and the European Union to safeguard CTA rights and privileges for the future. 

Over the last year, in a range of areas, the two Governments have legislated to ensure continued access to CTA rights and privileges for Irish and British citizens, following the end of the Brexit transition period. We agreed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Common Travel Area healthcare arrangements and brought into force an Ireland-UK Social Security Convention in late 2020. Work on finalising an MoU on education arrangements in the CTA is also at an advanced stage. 

Importantly, both the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement and EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement explicitly take account of the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK. This allows for the protection of established bilateral arrangements so that Irish and British citizens can continue to live, work and study - and access healthcare, social security and public services - in each jurisdiction.

The Government has had to introduce a range of restrictions on domestic and international travel to address the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. These restrictions were developed on the basis of public health advice and are being amended on the basis of such advice, as conditions allow. The restrictions remain consistent with the CTA, in that they apply equally to all passengers arriving into Ireland, including Irish citizens, with only very limited exceptions.

The CTA of course allows for Irish and British citizens to move freely between Ireland and the UK. I want to see this travel taking place in as seamless a manner as possible, as soon as this is feasible and safe. The CTA plays a vital role in facilitating the way in which Irish and British people live on these islands, and it will continue to underpin our bilateral relationship.   

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