Published: Thu, 10 September 2015
MEP for Ireland South, Seán Kelly has welcomed the Government’s announcement today that Ireland will welcome 4,000 refugees as EU Member States continue to respond to the ongoing migration crisis. Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg today (Thursday), the Kerry MEP told fellow Parliamentarians that “Ireland won’t be found wanting” as efforts to save lives are increased across the continent.
“Ireland has demonstrated strong solidarity in a number of ways, including resettlement, relocation, search and rescue, and humanitarian and developmental assistance. I felt proud to be Irish this morning when Minister Fitzgerald announced that we will offer a place of refuge for 4,000 of those who have tragically been forced to flee their homes.
“We as a nation have historically prospered through our migration around the world and benefitted from being welcomed into other countries; I am pleased that we are now doing our share and returning some of the hospitality that was afforded to our predecessors”.
Of the approximate 219,000 refugees who crossed the Mediterranean Sea seeking asylum in Europe in the past year, some 3,500 drowned at sea. Mr. Kelly pointed out that while accepting as many refugees as is feasible is the most pressing issue at the moment, resources must also be put towards action at sea where the illegal smuggling of refugees is contributing enormously to the losses of lives every day.
“The EU already funds rescue missions along our coastal borders, but it is clear that we need to reinforce the search and rescue missions to prevent further tragic loss of life as witnessed in recent days. Desperate people are being forced to approach criminal smugglers and pursue dangerous routes in search of refuge. European Council President Donald Tusk rightly referred to these smugglers as ‘murderers’ and the international community needs to do more to stop them”
The Fine Gael MEP, who on Tuesday called for “a more coordinated, humane approach on the migrant crisis” to be urgently implemented as Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker addressed the Parliament in his State of the Union address, today added that “in the medium term, the EU needs to reassess its procedures and speed up the asylum vetting process in order to determine the exact manner in which to deal with the accommodation or repatriation of migrants”.
Mr. Kelly was also keen to praise the appeal by Pope Francis, who last week called on all of Europe’s parishes and religious communities to take in one refugee family; a call that could see shelter offered to tens of thousands and significantly contribute to the easing of the crisis.
“This is the greatest humanitarian crisis in recent memory and must be treated as such. The time for discussion has passed and the time for action is more than upon us. For this reason I am pleased with the calls from Pope Francis – a common effort such as the one that he has proposed can go a long way towards saving as many lives as possible”
“The extent of the humanitarian disaster related to migration is enormous. In addressing both the humanitarian and border control issues related to migration, the EU needs to find a balanced, feasible way in which to coordinate a Europe-wide response”, he concluded.