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Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 15 September 2021

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Ceisteanna (354)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

354. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has spoken formally to the United States Secretary of State in the past two months to request when fully vaccinated Irish citizens can visit the US for tourist purposes. [43402/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Since March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, entry to the United States of America has been restricted for most people travelling from Ireland, as well as from a number of other countries.  Vaccination status currently does not have any bearing on such admissions, for tourism, or otherwise. 

Although admission to the United States is solely a matter for US authorities, ease of travel is vital to our economic relationships and for building connections across the Atlantic; therefore, ensuring that it can resume in a safe way is a priority for the Government. We have raised the issue of travel restrictions with the US Administration at the highest levels, both here in Dublin and through our Embassy in Washington D.C. Last month, the Taoiseach wrote directly to President Biden noting the disruptive impact that US travel restrictions have had, and sharing information about Ireland’s successful and ongoing vaccination programme. I myself raised the question of resumption of travel between our two countries during my meeting with US National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, in May this year. 

I most recently spoke with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on 24 May, during which we discussed the importance of building the transatlantic relationship. I am intending to visit the US this month, and will continue to raise these issues during my engagements there.

Our Embassy in Washington D.C. also continues to reach out to contacts in the US Administration and Department of State on the issue, emphasising the impact of the travel restrictions on citizens in both countries, as well as the economic repercussions. Our Ambassador in Washington is in regular contact with the US Administration urging them to ease the restrictions.

At the EU level, there is also continued engagement and outreach with the US Administration regarding the ongoing US travel restrictions. Together with other EU countries, we have written to US Secretary of State Blinken requesting reconsideration of the US travel restrictions currently in place. Following the EU-US summit in June, a joint EU-US Experts’ Working Group to exchange information and expertise to reinstate safe and sustainable travel between the EU and the United States was set up, and has met twice since then. Due to the Common Travel Area, Ireland has also had a role in the UK-US working group. 

I know that the current situation is causing unprecedented disruptions and is placing enormous pressure on businesses, families and individuals. We continue our work to ensure that the restrictions will not have any long-term impact on existing channels of migration, business, tourism and exchange, which benefit our countries significantly.

Question No. 355 answered with Question No. 345.
Question No. 356 answered with Question No. 350.
Question No. 357 answered with Question No. 350.
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