Sunday 25 September 2016

Ireland to take in 600 extra migrants to ease EU migration crisis

David Kearns

Published 18/07/2015 | 10:22

The LÉ Eithne approaches an overloaded vessel in the Mediterranean
The LÉ Eithne approaches an overloaded vessel in the Mediterranean

Ireland has agreed to accept 600 extra Syrian and Eritrean migrants as part of efforts to ease the migration crisis in the Mediterranean.

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The Government signed off on the relocation scheme before a meeting of European Union justice ministers on Monday in Luxembourg.

The Irish Times reports that this is in addition to 520 migrants the State is accepting as part of a separate resettlement initiative for migrants residing outside the EU.

Read More: Government considering resettling up to 600 refugees from Mediterranean migrant crisis

Ireland has opt-outs from most EU justice and home affairs legislation but it is understood it will now opt in to the relocation initiative. 

The LE Eithne has returned home after rescuing almost 3,400 people
The LE Eithne has returned home after rescuing almost 3,400 people

Under the proposed scheme, migrants will apply for refugee status in the country where they first arrive but the “host” country will process the application.

The extra 600 migrants will be taken in over the next two years as part of a plan to redistribute refugees arriving in Italy and Greece across other EU member states.

Read More: Heroes' welcome for LE Eithne crew after 3,400 refugees' lives saved on Mediterranean mission

The southern European countries have long argued that they are struggling to deal with a crisis that should be shared between all EU member states.

Amid strong opposition from some member states, including Hungary and Bulgaria, the EU is under pressure to present a cohesive response to the migration crisis, which has seen thousands of people lose their lives in the Mediterranean as they try to make their way from Africa to the southern shores of Europe.

Read More: LÉ Eithne crew to get counselling for horrors of mission

Yesterday the Irish naval vessel the LE Eithne and her 69-strong crew returned home after a nine-week mission in the Mediterranean.

The 31-year-old ship was involved in more than 22 rescue missions and saved almost 3,400 refugees.

The ship, which returned to Cork yesterday, is to be replaced by the LÉ Niamh, which will remain in the Mediterranean until September.

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