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News Every Day |

Migrants are fleeing the UK by using fake tickets to board coaches from Belfast to Dublin dubbed the ‘Brexit Express’

COACHES from Belfast to Dublin have been dubbed the “Brexit Express” because so many migrants are boarding them to flee the UK.

Drivers say they aretransporting more than half-a-dozen asylum seekers on the typical journey from Northern Ireland into the Republic, we can reveal.

Darren Fletcher
Many migrants are boarding buses at Belfast to flee the UK[/caption]
Darren Fletcher
The buses have been dubbed the ‘Brexit Express’[/caption]

The trend started six months ago and shows no signs of abating following the passing of the Safety of Rwanda bill, with Rishi Sunak pledging to process refugee claims in the African nation.

One worker with Dublin Express said they are growing exasperated with the number using fake tickets to make the two-and-a-half-hour trip south.

The coach driver said: “They’re often travelling using a photograph of a ticket that has clearly been bought by someone else. We can tell because they’re all using the same name, but it’s hard to stop because we don’t scan the tickets. There is a customs post on the border and we occasionally get pulled over so they can check ­passports and send people without them back, but not that often, maybe once a month.

“I would say we have about eight asylum seekers on board each coach journey, on average.

“This has been going on since November last year. Before that we didn’t see many asylum seekers.”

The Republic of Ireland’s under-fire government this week vowed to return UK migrants by the end of this month as it battles to curb fast- rising asylum figures.

But a Sun on Sunday probe has found refugees find it easy to cross the country’s 310-mile open border.

And asylum seekers say they will simply turn around and re-enter the Republic if they are deported to the UK, as Irish prime minister Simon Harris has promised.

There are 17 trips a day from ­Belfast to Dublin on the Dublin Express and they normally cost around a tenner one way.

After 125 days this year — and a total of 2,125 journeys — it means the coaches have transported a possible 17,000 asylum seekers, if eight are on board each one.

Ireland has been living under a false sense of protection thinking, we are an island and the sea will provide protection

Louisa Santoro, head of the Mendicity Institution homeless charity

Louisa Santoro is head of the Mendicity Institution homeless charity in the Dublin 8 area, where asylum seekers now make up 90 per cent of those arriving for hot meals.

She said: “Fifteen per cent of the people we help here have UK phone numbers. Why are they moving to Ireland? It’s not for the weather and the wonderful services. Largely, they rely on word of mouth. I think people living in the UK have been feeling uncomfortable for a while.

“This could trace back to Brexit and it’s taken a while for it to manifest into people coming here.”

She added: “Ireland has been ­living under a false sense of protection thinking, ‘We are an island and the sea will provide protection’.

“But we have the Common Travel Area, which is protected by the Good Friday Agreement, so these things are complicated.

“What we are reaping is years of bad policies and lack of planning.”

‘Go home’

Nigerian farmer Akeem, 51, is one of many to have taken a Dublin-bound coach from Belfast’s Europa Bus Centre.

After arriving in Ireland, he spent three weeks sleeping rough outside the International Protection Office, where asylum claims are made.

On Wednesday, Irish police dismantled the 200-strong “tent city” that had grown outside the building.

Father-of-two Akeem said: “It was really hard sleeping in a tent and racist people would shout, ‘Go home’ at us. But I believe the treatment we get here is better than we would get in the UK.”

He added: “Some have gone as far as Canada. The threat of being sent to Rwanda has made them scared.

“We won’t have the life we want in Rwanda. Also, we won’t have access to the same medical facilities in an African country and that’s one of the big advantages of coming to the western world.”

Darren Fletcher
Asylum seekers camp around the international protection office in Dublin[/caption]
Darren Fletcher
The camp stretches around the block[/caption]

New routes fear

Exclusive by Andy Robinson

MIGRANTS are risking death by embarking on longer and more dangerous crossings of the English Channel.

Many leave camps around heavily policed Calais and Dunkirk, where the journey along the Dover Straits is 21 miles.

But one inflatable, packed with 66 people, got into difficulty on Wednesday off Dieppe in Normandy, 65 miles from Britain. Women and children were among those rescued.

Dozens of migrants made the journey across the Channel yesterday on two rubber dinghies.

Border Force picked them up and took them to Dover.


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