Thursday, 11 July 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Simon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
The images we see from some of the detention centres on the southern borders of the United States make for very uncomfortable viewing. When refugees and asylum seekers cross a border, there are international standards that should be expected and delivered, particularly in the protection of children. The migration challenges and the suffering of children is not solely confined to the camps we see in the United States and the European Union must also look at itself with regard to questions around migration. It is not just the need for generosity to be shown to people fleeing conflict, as there are also international standards and obligations that should be adopted.
Today, across the globe, there are over 70 million people who are either refugees, displaced persons or asylum seekers. It is an enormous number and I hope Ireland is trying to give some leadership in how integration can work. We deal with much smaller numbers than many other countries but the collective challenge for the European Union in terms of migration is one on which we need to focus, as well as offering constructive criticism on how other countries manage migration.
I do not want to shy away from this. Like others, I have been concerned about and critical of the border management on the southern border of the United States. Nobody wants to see children separated from parents and they should not be. This is the source of a significant debate in the United States Congress on Capitol Hill and there are differences of opinion. The European Union and its member states need to consider how we, as a collective, deal with the migration challenge, as well as offering criticisms or observations on what happens abroad.