PLANS by the Westminster government to plough ahead with plans to introduce a visa system for non-Irish nationals, which it is looking likely will see checks on the Fermanagh border.
While in Stormont all focus is on the Brexit Protocol, which was agreed between the UK and EU in order to keep the border fluid and open, the British government has been ploughing ahead with plans to introduce an electronic visa system later this year.
Known as a Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), the visas will become a legal requirement for entry into the UK by anyone from outside the Common Travel Area (CTA).
This includes cross border workers, as well as tourists, with fears the plans could decimate the local tourism economy.
The Irish government last week expressed deep concern the ETA requirement would harden the border, regardless of the Protocol arrangement.
In a statement to the Irish News, a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin said the implementation of the system “threatens the fluid nature of movement on the island and North-South cooperation, including tourism and cross border service provision” and was “highly problematic.”
“The impact on tourism in Northern Ireland, for example, could be very significant as many tourists arrive in Northern Ireland via this jurisdiction. The Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance and Tourism Ireland have articulated the risks very clearly,” the department said.
“At political and official level the Government has been working to address concerns about the ETA proposals with the UK Government since late 2021.”
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