There are concerns that deportations from Ireland to the UK are increasing ahead of January due to Brexit. 

The issue has been raised in the Dáil and Seanad by Sinn Féin representatives in the last 24-hours. 

Deputy Louise O'Reilly and Senator Lynn Boylan have expressed concern that this is happening under the Dublin Regulation. 

Often referred to as Dublin III; the European Law determines which country is responsible for examining an asylum application.

It is normally the country where the asylum seeker first entered Europe. 

One of the aims of the Regulation is to ensure that an individual does not make multiple applications for asylum in several member states. 

The UK remains bound by the Dublin Regulation until 31 December, 2020. 

After that date, deportations to the UK will not be able to happen due to Brexit because the common European Asylum system will not apply. 

On 9 December, the Taoiseach told the Dáil that "... unless people represent a threat to national security they should not be deported at this present point in time". 

Responding to the Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore, Mr Martin said "in the context of Covid, I think we have obligations to the health of people - irrespective of status - in terms of sending someone back to a red area or a red zone with the prevalence of the virus,". 

On the same day, the Justice Minister Helen McEntee told the Seanad that no deportations of people who were unsuccessful in their application for international protection had occurred since March of this year. 

She later said on Twitter there have been "only four deportations since March 2020, and three of these applied to deportation orders which were issued before March". 

Ms McEntee told the Seanad: "I believe the low number of deportations since March reflects the discretionary approach which I am applying [as Minister] is working effectively." 

In a written answer to the Independent Deputy Catherine Connolly last month, the Minister for Justice said 469 deportation orders had been issued by the Immigration Service of the Department since 1 March, 2020. 

However, Minister McEntee added that her Department and the Garda National Immigration Bureau were taking a pragmatic approach in relation to Deportation Orders during the current pandemic. 

Yesterday, the Sinn Féin Deputy Louise O'Reilly told the Dáil that a man was deported from Dublin Airport at 11 o'clock in the morning. 

Her understanding was that he was being set to England and from there he would be sent to Sudan. 

Deputy O'Reilly highlighted the Taoiseach's previous statement that people should not be deported during the pandemic. 

Responding, the Tánaiste Leo Vardakar said he was not aware of the case, however, he pointed out that exceptions would be made regarding deportations if there was an issue of national security. 

"I am not saying that this case is an issue of national security. I do not know anything about it but it was not a blanket commitment that there would not be any deportations in any circumstances."

In a follow up letter to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, Deputy O'Reilly said she understood that one deportation had been completed and four Court cases were due this week with planned removals over Christmas.

Lucy Michael who is a member of Fingal Communities Against Racism (FCAR) says that now there is worry over the courts closing on Monday for Christmas. 

She says the asylum seeker who was deported from Dublin Airport yesterday, contacted FCAR from the Airport because he wanted others who are in the system to be aware of the situation. 

Lucy Michael says he not been heard from since.

A second man from Lesotho in South Africa contacted Ms Michael to say he had been given a Dublin III transfer to the UK. 

He has been in Ireland for 2.5 years, completed a post-graduate course in an Irish University and got married to an Irish woman earlier this year.

"He's sitting in Dublin for the GNIB (Garda National Immigration Bureau) to knock on his door", she says, adding that he and his wife are "distraught". 

In questions to the Minister for Foreign Affairs on Brexit last night, Deputy Louise O'Reilly questioned what will happen if a mistake is made - someone is sent to the UK under Dublin III when they should not have been - and they will not have any rights after 31 December. 

Minister Coveney ran out of speaking time before he could respond to individual questions.

Aontú has also said it has been contacted by representative groups for asylum seekers and immigrants who maintain that Ireland is currently transferring people under the Dublin regulation ahead of Brexit. 

In a statement, it has called on the Government to "come clean with all the figures and statistics" on how many people have been transported under the Dublin Regulation in recent days. 

"Deporting people this close to Christmas at the height of a pandemic, where international travel is discouraged, seems very cold-hearted," the party says.

Asked how many people have been transported to the UK under the Dublin III regulation in December and how many are expected to be made under this regulation between now and 31 December, the Department of Justice said "no deportation order is made in these cases and the person is not returned to their country of origin".

It says the EU Dublin III Regulation involves the transfer of the applicant to the responsible European country to have their international protection claim examined there. 

The Department says "one transfer to the UK under the EU Dublin III Regulation has taken place this month" adding "there are no other transfers planned for 2020."