Schengen should be alternative to Common Travel Area

The Alliance Party Justice Spokesperson, Stephen Farry MLA, has again called upon the British and Irish Government to sign up to the European Schengen Agreement to enable the continuation of free movement of people between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. This call comes in response to proposals from the UK Borders Agency for the introduction of identity checks for travellers between jurisdictions, and the undermining of the Common Travel Area. Alliance previously proposed a motion in the Assembly calling for the UK and Ireland to sign up to Schengen.

Dr Stephen Farry stated: “The Schengen Agreement is a fundamental part of the architecture of a modern Europe. It covers all members of the European Union, bar the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, and even extends to four non-EU countries, including Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.

“Schengen effectively removes internal border controls within Europe, but it also strengthens common external borders. Security and anti-terrorist information is shared across participating states. So, it provides both for freer internal movement and enhanced public protection.

“The United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland remain the odd men out in Europe. Euro-sceptic sentiment has prevented the UK from participating fully, against its own interests. Ireland has followed suit in order to preserve the Common Travel Area. The argument about two islands separate from continental Europe does not stand up, bearing in mind the participation of Iceland.

“Now even this Common Travel Area, which has served the people of these islands well since 1922, is under threat.

“The time is now right for a major rethink and appreciation of the benefits of signing up to Schengen. Given the particular geographic circumstances facing Northern Ireland, it is imperative that both governments do so.”


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