Irish companies under pressure following alleged use of aircraft to traffic migrants

ireland
Irish Companies Under Pressure Following Alleged Use Of Aircraft To Traffic Migrants Irish Companies Under Pressure Following Alleged Use Of Aircraft To Traffic Migrants
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said Ireland is aware of its responsibility and would support further sanctions against Belarus. Photo: File image.
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Irish firms that lease planes are coming under increased pressure following alleged use of aircraft to traffic migrants from the Middle East to the borders of the European Union by Belarus.

As reported in The Irish Times, several European countries have called for action on the issue, with diplomats suggesting Ireland's significant airline leasing industry is in the spotlight.

This comes as EU foreign ministers meet to discuss potential further sanctions on the Belarusian regime of Alexander Lukashenko.

The Belarusian regime is accused of deliberately ferrying migrants to the borders of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to put political pressure on the EU.

In recent weeks, there have been a number of fatalities on the border of Belarus and Poland where migrants have been trapped in a forested area with increasingly cold temperatures.

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EU border force have been preventing migrants advancing, with Belarussian guards then stopping them from returning.

Additional sanctions

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said Ireland is aware of its responsibility and would support further sanctions against Belarus as well as the curbing of future aircraft leasing agreements.

However, breaking existing contracts could be legally complex.

“We think, like many other countries, that Belarus is exploiting vulnerable people, bringing migrants into Minsk and then effectively passing them to the borders of the EU, which is putting huge pressure on countries like Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and so on. That has to stop,” Mr Coveney said.

“A lot of aircraft leasing takes place out of Ireland, it’s a very big business there. We are open to a new round of sanctions, targeting individuals in Belarus who are clearly responsible for exploiting vulnerable people in the context of bringing migrants into Belarus, and then effectively encouraging them to cross borders.

“But I think we would also make the distinction between sanctions that would involve no further or future aircraft leasing to Belavia –in contrast to existing contracts that are in place, where there are legal obligations. So, this is a difficult area from a legal perspective.

“We’re conscious of Irish responsibility here, of course we are,” he added.

“It’s a completely unacceptable situation that Belarus are deliberately bringing migrants from other parts of the world and then putting them in a very vulnerable situation.”

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