Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) said, “We are in extraordinary times. This is the greatest refugee crisis since WWII, and Europe is failing to respond to desperate cries for help. The response so far has been totally inadequate. Unless we act quickly with courage and compassion, more lives will be lost, more families will be destroyed, and the bodies of more children will wash up on European shores.”
Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) Director Edel McGinley stated, “Incredible generosity has been shown by ordinary people and communities in Ireland and across the EU – but at a state level, only Germany and Sweden have stepped up. Ireland must now stand with them. We commend the work of the Irish Navy’s Mediterranean Rescue Mission, which has rescued over 6,000 people so far. However, we need to do more in offering to relocate and resettle more refugees. Right now, the Irish public is ahead of politicians. We are being inundated with offers of help and assistance from concerned people across the country. It’s time for our political leaders to show the same humanity and leadership.”
Five steps are urgently needed from the Irish government:
1. Be a strong voice for refugees and migrants at a European level and advocate for safe and legal access to Europe for all those seeking protection
The people suffering at our borders need a strong advocate in EU meetings, and as a country with a long history of emigration, Ireland can be that voice. Ireland’s representatives should stand firm against scaremongering, political racism, and dangerous policies of ‘rapid return’. Ireland must demonstrate leadership by calling upon Europe for safe and legal avenues of access to protection for all those fleeing persecution.
2. Relocate and resettle more refugees in Ireland
Ireland must share responsibility in providing refuge to those seeking protection in Europe and pull our own weight. We have the capacity to accept significantly larger numbers of refugees under the EU relocation proposal and to resettle more refugees in Ireland. Germany is to welcome 800,000 refugees this year. Ireland has agreed to relocate and resettle 1,120 over the next two years. As a high-income country with a similar GDP per capita to Germany, we too must pull our weight. If we go by Germany’s example, Ireland should relocate and resettle some 40,000 refugees. We should at minimum be considering relocating and resettling 10,000 people as soon as humanly possible. This is a humanitarian emergency and requires an emergency response.
3. Establish a transparent process for quick and efficient relocation
Establish a task force, inclusive of civil society organisations, to assist with identification of people for relocation and arrange direct transfer to Ireland. Guidelines for the task force must be transparent.
4. Suspend the return mechanism in the Dublin Regulation in Ireland
The Dublin Regulation is often applied in a way which separates families, traps refugees in overburdened systems in Italy and Greece, and allows Ireland and other EU member states to abdicate responsibility in this time of extraordinary need. It is impractical and inhumane, and returns to other Member States should be suspended for the time being apart from when refugees expressly wish to be reunited under the Dublin procedure with family in other Member States.
5. Relax administrative restrictions in family reunification procedures and make family reunification easier for refugees
Ireland can help support families by easing administrative restrictions for family reunification procedures and enabling family members and relatives to safely travel to Ireland without undertaking hazardous journeys to be together. Sufficient resources should be put in place to ensure that family reunification applications are prioritised for those most in need.
If the Dáil must be recalled in order to implement these steps, then it should be recalled immediately.
While we wait for our politicians to act, we are asking everyone in Ireland to do at least one of the following:
- Sign the Uplift petition, which has already been signed by over 30,000 people in just two days https://uplift.ie/refugee-crisis/
- Get in touch with your local TDs (http://whoismytd.com/) and let them know how you feel, making it clear that you believe Ireland must welcome more people.
- Join your local Day of Action event on Saturday https://www.facebook.com/events/818780111562470/
- Pledge a bed to a refugee https://uplift.ie/pledge-bed/
- Donate to the IRC Budapest appeal http://www.irishrefugeecouncil.ie/news-media/solidarity-with-refugees-how-you-can-help
- Support your local Calais solidarity group http://bit.ly/irlcalais
Aoife Murphy, MRCI Communications 01 524 1454