Saturday 1 October 2016

'We will do more to share the migrant burden' - Howlin says Ireland likely to take in many more refugees

David Kearns

Published 03/09/2015 | 11:14

The smiling faces of Alyan (3) and Galip (5), the two brothers who drown while trying to reach Europe with their mother
The smiling faces of Alyan (3) and Galip (5), the two brothers who drown while trying to reach Europe with their mother

Ireland will accept its share of the migrant crisis says Minister Brendan Howlin, who indicated Ireland would likely take in more refugees than the 600 it has already pledged to accept.

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Speaking this morning, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said he had been moved by the image of a Turkish border guard cradling the lifeless body of a Syrian-Kurdish child, washed ashore on the beach of a holiday resort.

The image of the dead child was published across the world under headings such as "humanity washed ashore".

Read More: Two little boys - parents of tragic Alyan Kurdi (3) and Galip (5) dreamt of a new life in Canada

He told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland: "Looking across the pictures in today’s papers I am struck by what the Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy said, it really resonates with anybody linked to their conscious now.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin

"We can’t but feel challenged by what we’re witnessing. I think there is a requirement for Ireland to step up to the plate – but it’s not simply a European issue, it is a world issue.

"Ireland will certainly measure up to whatever is asked of us.

A Turkish border guard carries the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi (3) after a number of migrants died and others were reported missing when boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized near Bodrum in Turkey
A Turkish border guard carries the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi (3) after a number of migrants died and others were reported missing when boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized near Bodrum in Turkey

Asked if Ireland would take more than 600 people, the minister responded: "I am sure we will - Ireland will measure up to accepting its allocated share, there is no doubt about that."

"Certainly we have to take people who are in absolute peril, who are destitute in dreadful circumstances."

Read More: Desperate migrants storm train at Budapest's main station after police withdraw

The body of little Aylan (3), who died along with his mother and five-year-old brother as they tried desperately to escape Syria for a new life in Europe, is washed up on the idyllic Turkish sands at Bodrum Photo: Reuters
The body of little Aylan (3), who died along with his mother and five-year-old brother as they tried desperately to escape Syria for a new life in Europe, is washed up on the idyllic Turkish sands at Bodrum Photo: Reuters

Mr Howlin added however, that he felt taking in people is not a long-term solution.

He said this is not just a European issue, but a worldwide issue and one of the most challenging issues for human kind.

"This is not simply a European issue... it's a world issue. Some of the difficulties dislodging people from their homelands in Syria and Iraq were not caused by Europeans.

“We need to have a world response with a real sense of solidarity and humanity and Ireland will certainly measure up to what was asked of us" 

Mr Howlin said there would be a discussion at EU level in the first instance, and then he hoped for a broad UN discussion.

Read More: Migration crisis: Pressure mounts on UK and Ireland to do more for Syrian refugees

"Certainly I think there has to be an allocation across the European Union and within the European Union there will be a quota and I think Ireland will measure up to accepting its allocated share."

Mr Howlin made his comments as the body of a little boy, still dressed in bright red T-shirt and shorts, was found lying face-down in the surf on the beach near the resort town of Bodrum, 400km west of the city of Antalya on Turkey's idyllic Turquoise Coast.

As Europe's politicians struggle to reach consensus over how best to handle the worst migrant crisis since the Second World War, many have said the image has captured the human tragedy of the continent's migrant crisis.

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