Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 5 March 2019
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence
Refugee Situation in Syria: Discussion
I will not prolong the meeting as I arrived late, for which I apologise. I sent earlier word that I was at a meeting of the House of the Oireachtas Commission, which was discussing important legal matters and which overran. Nonetheless, I have taken the opportunity to read the presentations online and I have been briefed by Deputy Niall Collins, who has a particular interest in this.
I welcome and compliment all the voluntary bodies present. I am full of admiration for the work they are doing, not just in Syria but all over the world in difficult circumstances and on limited budgets. They deserve all the support we can give them. Is there any particular measure they would urge Oireachtas Members, particularly members of the foreign affairs committee, to implement - something we could put our teeth into and work on? I have studied the issue as best I can and I am afraid I agree with Senator Bacik that it is a battle that seems to have been won by the Russian-Iranian set-up.
The main emphasis of the voluntary organisations is on peace and normality, and on people having food, safety and security. Unfortunately, there has to be a political end to everything and I agree with Deputy Crowe, who talked about what level of commitment to engage has been evident from the major players. He was very involved in the peace settlement in the North, where some group had to dream up a blueprint and get everybody on board with it. It was a long struggle but, to a great extent, it was a success. I wonder if that level of commitment is evident in this regard.
I have one query. I picked up with interest the fact that we had agreed to take in 4,000 refugees but only 2,000 made it here.
Is that because a block was put into the system or because Ireland was not a preferred destination?