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Allister voices fears about Republic's open door to foreign travel

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Concerned: Jim Allister

Concerned: Jim Allister

Concerned: Jim Allister

TUV leader Jim Allister has raised questions around incoming flights at Dublin Airport from what he describes as "Covid-19 hotspots".

The North Antrim MLA's comments come after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar ordered an "urgent review" of the rules around workers being flown to the Republic.

It followed controversy surrounding the decision by Keelings fruit company earlier this month to fly in fruit-pickers from Bulgaria. Mr Varadkar said he was uncomfortable with the arrival of 189 seasonal workers. However, the north Dublin firm said it had complied with all health regulations and that not enough Irish people had applied for the jobs.

Mr Allister said yesterday: "Though there is often something of the sanctimonious about the Republic's billing of its handling of coronavirus, there is a dangerous elephant in its midst it doesn't want to talk about, the fact that Dublin Airport continues to operate daily flights from Covid-19 hotspots, including New York, without health checks.

"Just as Northern Ireland's first coronavirus case came via Dublin Airport, so its continuing operation in this fashion poses a direct threat to Northern Ireland.

"What a contrast with Belfast International Airport, which has closed down to all commercial flights and Belfast City Airport, with its single London flight per day."

A Dublin Airport spokesman said it is the Irish Government which decides the Irish State's travel policies in relation to Covid-19 based on its health advice.

"The Irish State is not conducting entry screening at Irish airports or ports as HSE Ireland says that neither the World Health Organisation nor the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control recommend entry screening," the spokesman said.

"The HSE and Department of Foreigh affairs have said that those arriving at Irish airports and ports are required to restrict their movements for 14 days.

“The UK Government has not introduced entry screening at any of its airports. The UK Government said earlier this week that 15,000 passengers per day were arriving from overseas at UK airports. Dublin Airport had a total of 542 passengers yesterday - that’s both arriving and departing passengers. Currently the UK Government and the Irish Government have the same position re health checks.”

Belfast Telegraph