Airlines hit with staggering fines for bringing undocumented people into Ireland

There has been a sharp rise in the number of fines on airlines and transport operators for carrying passengers into Ireland without documentation.

Carriers were hit with 346 penalties up to the end of April 2023 – a figure that’s on target to exceed 1,000 for the calendar year.

Between January and April, gardai collected €519,000 from airlines and transport operators but they refused to identify which companies were paying how much.

The data appears to contradict then Justice Minister Simon Harris who said last month the number of undocumented asylum seekers arriving had dropped. Statistics obtained under FOI reveal there were 735 individual fines levied together totalling just over €1.1million for 2022.

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Gardai said that in 2021, there was a total of €826,500 in fines paid by operators relating to 547 arrivals.

For 2020 – when international travel was severely curtailed due to the Covid-19 pandemic – there were 410 fines for a total of €624,000.

In 2019, pre-Covid, gardai collected just over €1million from airlines covering 575 separate individuals who arrived without documents.

Overall, there have been 2,613 fines levied over the past five years, yielding €4.075million in revenue for the State. Under immigration law, there is a fine of €1,500 in place for transport operators that have allowed passengers to board without a valid passport or visa.

Gardai said no carrier had been hit with a doubling of the €1,500 fine for failing to pay up within 28 days.

They said the business model for each operator they dealt with differed with some settling accounts monthly while others did so quarterly.

A note said: “The Garda National Immigration Bureau facilitate such accounting arrangements.”

They said they would not disclose which airlines or carriers had contributed to the €4million in fines that have been paid since 2019.

An Garda Siochanaw said it was an operational policing matter and was therefore exempt from release under Freedom of Information legislation.


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