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More migrants entering Republic from Northern Ireland, Leo Varadkar says

Ireland can take steps to strengthen its borders, the Irish premier has said.

The Irish Government has said it cannot guarantee accommodation to asylum seekers amid increasing numbers of arrivals.

Leo Varadkar said it is “very evident” that rising numbers have been seen across Europe and the US due to “push factors” of poverty, climate change and war.

He said: “I think there’s a bit of a myth out there that somehow we’re inviting people to come to Ireland to claim asylum or that we’re welcoming them in in big numbers – that’s not the case. It’s the push factors that are causing people to travel.”

Mr Varadkar was speaking to the media in Washington DC as part of his week-long trip to the US for St Patrick’s Day events.

The Taoiseach said there are many ways for people to come the country legally through work permits and work visas.

He said: “So we dissuade people coming to Ireland irregularly if they’re not genuinely entitled to international protection, but if they are genuinely entitled to international protection, we don’t dissuade them.”

Asked if the Government could take any steps to dissuade migrants, Mr Varadkr responded: “I think there are things that we can do to strengthen our borders, we’re doing that.

“We’re getting much stronger controls in our airports, for example.

“What we’re seeing now is increasing numbers coming over the border from north to south, which is an open border, of course, and that’s a different situation.

“And what we’re doing is working with our European colleagues to strengthen our borders around the European Union because most people who come to Ireland to seek international protection have already passed through the United Kingdom or other European countries.

“So they’re the kinds of things that we’re doing, but I wouldn’t want to create a false impression. We’re not dissuading or discouraging genuine refugees from coming to Ireland if they needed protection. That’s not the case at all.”