Dáil debates

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Topical Issue Debate

Refugee Numbers

3:10 pm

Photo of Damien EnglishDamien English (Meath West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Deputies for raising the resettlement programme and many other issues, including that of Shannon Airport. The Deputies have debated Shannon here on numerous occasions with various Ministers, most recently with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Charlie Flanagan. I will ask these Ministers to review today's discussion to feed into the debate.

The Deputies are correct that the Irish Government does have a role in prevention. Ireland is involved in a number of initiatives at European level to try to prevent the displacement of people. It is not just about helping out when circumstances reach crisis point but about arriving at long-term solutions. We are involved in discussions on this. There are many initiatives in this regard throughout Europe.

The commitment to resettle an additional 300 vulnerable people, announced yesterday, is part of the wider Government contribution to the crisis in the Mediterranean. It includes sending a naval vessel to the region to engage in search and rescue. Violence, conflict and instability have a horrendous impact on civilian populations. As the Deputies stated, families are faced with repeated displacement due to conflict and have very limited access to basic services. Ireland will continue to assist people affected by conflict and persecution. This year, it will provide nearly €80 million in funding to support communities affected by humanitarian crises, including in Syria, Yemen, northern Nigeria, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and other conflict-affected areas. The EU Commission proposals published yesterday are comprehensive and cover a number of issues that require detailed answers before the European Council meeting in June.

The Minister for Justice and Equality has previously expressed her horror and outrage at the tragic loss of life in the Mediterranean Sea. She has consistently said that the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Mediterranean is an EU issue that requires a co-ordinated EU response and that Ireland will play its part in that. This is what the Deputies are calling for.


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