SDLP South Belfast MP Claire Hanna has described planned requirements for non-Irish EU citizens to submit biometric facial and fingerprint data to cross the border into Northern Ireland as a non-starter.
UK Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said the plan will initially require people to provide facial images as part of the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme, with plans to provide fingerprint biometrics at a later date.
Ms Hanna said the plans completely ignore the reality of the situation on the island of Ireland.
South Belfast MP Ms Hanna said:
“This poorly conceived plan from the UK Government is yet another consequence of the ill-thought out Brexit process that has caused so much damage across these islands. There are thousands of non-Irish EU citizens who live in border areas and visit the North to work and socialise and they should not be subjected to any form of identity checks to do so.
“The latest update from the Immigration Minister reads like something from a sci-fi novel. It has the potential to cause chaos on a daily basis in border areas and goes against the spirit of the Common Travel Area and the government’s previous commitment not to impose any form of border on this island. This plan could also spell disaster for the island’s burgeoning tourism industry by making people think twice about visiting, especially the North, due to the extra checks and confusion involved.
“The Nationality and Borders Act is a shameful piece of legislation that SDLP MPs have opposed at every turn. I had hoped the new government would see sense and radically alter or drop this legislation altogether due to the damage it will do not just here, but across the UK and to asylum seekers and refugees in particular. Attempting to plough ahead with this plan will damage the UK’s reputation on the international stage and impact on fragile relations with the Irish government. I would urge Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to think again and ditch this preposterous proposal.”