Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs

Refugee and Migrant Crisis in the EU: Discussion

12:30 pm

Photo of Terry LeydenTerry Leyden (Fianna Fail)
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I thank the Chairman for arranging the meeting today as this is the issue of the day and will be for some time. I welcome Ms Barbara Nolan and Ms Eimear Ní Bhroin and I thank them for the excellent submission. We are all aware of the issues which arise from the turmoil in Syria, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East. This turmoil is the result of the decisions of the American and British Governments and others to displace the then President of Iraq and to remove the Libyan leader Gadaffi and others. These seemed like good ideas at the time but there was no long-term strategy. I commend the work of the Turkish, Lebanese and Jordanian Governments. At a huge cost to their own people, they have done enormous work in providing refuge for those fleeing from Syria and elsewhere.

Kuwait was rescued by the Americans and the Allies – my own nephew was with the American forces and the Patriot missiles. Young soldiers went out there to free Kuwait when the Kuwaiti Government fled to Paris. The princes there were restored to Kuwait without any elections. It is difficult to understand how, after the enormous sacrifices made, they have refused to accept any of the refugees whatsoever. Saudi Arabia has generously offered to build 200 mosques in Germany while refusing to accept any refugees. The United Nations, the respective Ministers and the governments will have to take action in this regard.

It would be preferable in many cases to retain good quality camps in the areas - supported by the United Nations - until this matter is resolved. If there is an influx of Shi’ites and Sunnis into Europe let us be in no doubt that they will be in conflict in time. This is a deeply serious situation which we did not create but with which we are, rightly, willing to help. Irish people have always helped in this regard. We were those people on ships, we were the 6,0000 who died in the 1840s. We are understandably aware but we should not blind ourselves to what is happening in the world. I commend the German Government which has, by its actions, increased the pressure on the rest of Europe. Germany is being flooded with refugees at present. It is a very serious situation. We need greater involvement by the United Nations which has been relatively silent so far during this crises.