SDLP MP Claire Hanna raised the implications of Britain’s Nationality & Borders Bill with the Secretary of State Brandon Lewis and Colin Perry, Director, Economy and Protocol, Northern Ireland Office.
“You will know that a substantial proportion - I think around 50% - of tourists coming to and spending time in NI come via the Republic. They will not all have a nailed-down itinerary.
“This will be problematic for people who are having a few days in Donegal and want to go across to the Giant’s Causeway and to spend some money. How are you going to mitigate that, given that so much of that traffic comes through Dublin, because it has the international flights, etcetera?” she asked.
Mr. Lewis replied that the ‘reality is that we do not have a border between NI and Ireland’; however, he said: “We are very clear that people - if they are coming into the UK and are non-British or Irish citizens, who therefore do not benefit from the Common Travel Area, when the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) comes in—should have an ETA, in the same way that a visa-holding national should have a visa at the moment.”
Ms. Hanna said: “We have discussed it previously in the Committee. If people do not have one, they could find themselves in contact with law enforcement, through an accident or whatever. Is your message that, if somebody is in Donegal, they should not come across if they do not have an ETA? Is that the clear message?”
Mr. Perry responded: “It is very much that we would be encouraging people to do that. If they came across, we are really only looking if there are egregious cases.”