Ireland must demonstrate solidarity with EU Member states and support for refugees and vulnerable migrants

Posted On: 13 May 2015

CDv4IjbWMAAyrlI13 May 2015, Joint Media Statement by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland and the Irish Refugee Council

Today the European Commission announced the European Agenda on Migration in response to the escalating humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean. An emergency relocation quota system – a controversial part of the package to which both Ireland and the UK can choose to opt-in – was unveiled as a major part of the intended action plan. The Commission also proposes tripling the capacities and assets of the Frontex joint operations, Triton and Poseidon, and initiating an operation in the Mediterranean to dismantle the networks used to smuggle people.

Under the quota resettlement scheme Ireland would be expected to take in a paltry 272 refugees of the 20,000 people the Commission propose to resettle as a ‘burden-sharing’ act of solidarity between EU member states.

Sue Conlon, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council stated, “The United Kingdom and Ireland have an ‘opt-in’ right under the Treaties. The UK has come out firmly against any form of quota system. The Irish Government has an opportunity to show its independence and leadership on this matter. If Ireland still stands by the founding objectives of the European Union,  now is the time to demonstrate it. Turning our back on people in distress shouldn’t even be considered as an option.”

Director of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, Edel McGinley said, “Ireland has a long history of mass emigration, and what we are witnessing in the Mediterranean today is an echo of what so many of our ancestors endured on coffin ships as they left Ireland out of desperation during the Famine years. Right now, we have the opportunity, the ability and the responsibility to save lives. To fail to do so would be shameful.”

Sue Conlon concluded, “We have a moral duty and legal obligation to offer international protection to people who are in need of it. Today Ireland is asked to take in a small percentage and should not shrink from this responsibility. We must also remember the people already here and ensure that the same recognition and principles of protection apply to them.”

The quota system is a step in the right direction, but the reality persists, vast numbers of people are being displaced and fleeing their homelands for a multitude of reasons. Europe can and should do more to end the mounting death toll in the Mediterranean.




Caroline Reid, Communications Officer with IRC, 085 858 5510

Edel McGinley, Director of MRCI, 087 748 5695


Notes to the editor

European Commission Fact Sheet: Questions and answers on the European Agenda on Migration

European Agenda on Migration press pack

European Commission – Press release

To see responses and reflections on today’s announcement across Europe search #EUmigration on Twitter