The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

EU border agency plane to monitor French coast following Channel deaths.

The European Union’s border agency will provide a plane within days to monitor France’s northern coastline in an attempt to stop people making the dangerous Channel crossing, as the French government insisted it would “not be held hostage” by British domestic politics on the issue.

Speaking after an emergency meeting of EU ministers in Calais that excluded the UK, the French interior minister Gérald Darmanin said France was ready for a serious discussion with Britain on illegal migration, but would not be held hostage by London’s domestic politics.

Mr Darmanin said the EU border and coast guard agency Frontex would provide an aeroplane from December 1st to monitor France’s northern coastline. Ministers also discussed using drones and Frontex border guards, as part of wider efforts to clamp down on people smuggling gangs in northwestern Europe.

France invited representatives from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the European Commission to the meeting, which was called last week after 27 people hoping to claim asylum in the UK died making the perilous crossing, the biggest loss of life in the Channel since such records began in 2014.

Speaking after the meeting, EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson said criminal groups were operating on “an industrial scale” to smuggle people to the UK. She called for more police co-operation and efforts to return people denied asylum to their country of origin.

“We need to work together with the UK to address this of course,” she added citing the need for information exchange, intelligence sharing and a common approach to criminal gangs with British authorities.

In a joint statement that focused on security, rather than humanitarian questions, ministers agreed to strengthen police co-operation, intensify information exchange and make use of EU agencies, adding they called “on the United Kingdom to follow a similar approach”.

Smuggling networks

The French government has said five suspected people smugglers arrested near the Belgian border last week had bought unspecified materials in Germany. People seeking to reach the UK often come to France via Belgium to find the shortest crossing point.

Sunday’s meeting focused on smuggling networks, who charge from €3,000 to €7,000 for the journey across the Channel. Mr Darmanin said a car with German license tags was seized in connection with the investigation.

British home secretary Priti Patel had been due to attend the meeting but was disinvited after prime minister Boris Johnson published his proposals to tackle the issue in a letter to Emmanuel Macron that was released on Twitter before the French president had received it.

Mr Macron said Mr Johnson’s methods were “not serious”. The French government objected to the prime minister’s ideas, including a proposal for all people who cross the Channel to be sent back to France, but also the fact the letter was made public.

Mr Johnson’s call for an agreement to return asylum seekers to the EU – a right the UK lost after Brexit – “wasn’t discussed in a concrete way” said one source.

Relations between France and Britain have hit a low point, with simmering disputes over post-Brexit fishing licences and wider EU-UK relations.

The diplomatic spat came as more details emerge of the people who lost their lives in the Channel last week. They included a 45-year-old woman from the Iraqi Kurdish town of Darbandikhan and her three children, a 22-year-old daughter and two sons aged 16 and seven.

Most of the 27 people who drowned in Wednesday’s tragedy are believed to be Kurds from Iraq. Families in the region hope that bodies of their loved ones will be repatriated, but officials said they have yet to have confirmation of those dead from the French authorities.

France says it has saved the lives of 7,800 people since the start of the year and arrested 1,500 people smugglers. The French government insists there needs to be a European solution.

Also taking part in the meeting were directors from Frontex and the EU police agency, Europol.

EU member states can call on these agencies and the commission for emergency funds, staff and equipment, such as drones, to patrol the border.

– Guardian

Prince Andrew ‘on collision course with Palace’ after demanding trial by jury.

Prince Andrew ‘on collision course with Palace’ after demanding trial by jury.

PRINCE Andrew is "on a collision course with the palace" after he sensationally demanded a trial by jury overnight in his battle against sex abuse claims, a source has said. Court documents from New York show the royal denies all of the allegation...

Sweden boosts patrols on Gotland island: Could Russia invade? DW News.

Sweden boosts patrols on Gotland island: Could Russia invade? DW News.

The US and NATO have formally rejected Moscow's sweeping security demands, refusing - among other things - to rule out future NATO membership for Ukraine. In its written reply to Moscow's proposals, Washington offers what it calls 'a serious diplo...

Gutfeld slams Pelosi after re-election announcement.

Gutfeld slams Pelosi after re-election announcement.

'Gutfeld!' panel discuss Nancy Pelosi’s re-election announcement and ‘for the children’ comments. #FoxNews #Gutfeld Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompassing...

Controlling thug kidnaps girlfriend before she falls from van at 60mph.

Controlling thug kidnaps girlfriend before she falls from van at 60mph.

THIS is the harrowing moment a controlling thug kidnapped his teen girlfriend before she fell from a van travelling at 60mph - leaving her unable to walk or talk. Angel Lynn, 19, was found lying in the carriageway of the A6 near Loughborough, Leic...


Jimmy Failla rips Smithsonian for ‘crazy’ tribute to Dr.

Jimmy Failla rips Smithsonian for ‘crazy’ tribute to Dr.

The ‘Fox Across America’ host discusses kids claiming they were ‘traumatized’ by the famous novel, Dr. Fauci being honored at the Smithsonian, and Minnie Mouse’s costume change. #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox ...

The next US Supreme Court justice

The next US Supreme Court justice

President Joe Biden is expected to name the next U.S. Supreme Court justice to replace the retiring Justice Steven Breyer. ABC News’ Em Nguyen has the details on the possible nominees.