‘Visa move needed for young children from Chernobyl’

SDLP MP Mark Durkan.jpg

SDLP MP Mark Durkan.jpg

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SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has called on new Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill to ensure visa flexibility for Chernobyl children who are visiting Donegal and Derry .

Mr Durkan flexibility must also be afforded to Syrian refugees now resident on both sides of the border.

Speaking during a recent Westminster Hall debate on the implications of the EU referendum on the UK-Ireland border, Mr Durkan said:

“I note what the Minister has said about developing and strengthening the Common Travel Area. Of course, the Common Travel Area does not apply in terms of visas for visitors coming in from outside Britain and Ireland, except for Chinese and Indian visitors.

“Will he, in his new role, look at ensuring that similar flexibility can be available to people such as the Chernobyl children who visit on a charity basis? They are not allowed to come in from Donegal to avail themselves of offers of swimming or bowling in a place like Derry because they need a separate UK visa.”

Mr Durkan added: “Similarly, visa systems mean that refugees from Syria who are on either side of the border, with some in Letterkenny and some in Derry, are not allowed to cross the border to meet one another.”

The Minister for Immigration, Robert Goodwill, replied: “Those are all areas we can review. Indeed, they may well be a central part of the negotiations.

“The UK Government are committed to working with the devolved Administrations as we prepare for a new negotiation with the EU.”