THE number of people trying to sneak into Ireland through Cork Airport and the Port of Cork has increased in the past year, with gardaí believing many want to access the UK before Brexit.
Approximately 180 people have been detected attempting to illegally come through Cork Airport from a number of different routes, according to Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin.
A further 34 people attempted to enter Ireland through the ferry port in Ringaskiddy, with the majority being deported again, with a small number remaining here to seek asylum.
Chief Superintendent McPolin said there has been a noticeable increase in the numbers trying to illegally enter the country in 2019.
Countries of origin include Syria, Iraq, Albania and various African countries.
In situations where immigrants' travel documents do not match up, they are repatriated.
The majority of stowaways are males but, in some cases, juveniles are detected and are typically handed into the care of Tusla.
The Santander to Cork route, set up in May 2018, is a popular one with stowaways, particularly those from Albania.
Large numbers of Albanians have flocked to the UK in recent years.
Gardai do not believe those risking travelling on board the Santander to Cork service are being trafficked here. However, sources said they are putting their lives at risk by undertaking the journey.
Gardai are in contact regularly with the Guardia Civil in Spain, as both agencies try to stamp out use of the route by opportunistic migrants. Gardai have also travelled to Spain to meet with authorities over there to discuss the issue.
It is understood that those taken in to care of the State will be put into the direct provision system when they turn 18 years old.
Chief executive of NASC, Fiona Finn, said there are "rumours" of people coming into Ireland to try to enter the UK, but added that NASC is not aware of such incidents.
She said however that there is an increased number of people coming into Ireland for asylum. She concluded, "But that is from a low base."