President's wise words on migrants and the EU
It's not possible to walk across a watery grave, but yesterday, when reports of hundreds of more deaths in the Mediterranean came through, it felt like someone had done precisely that. For, almost to the day, 800 people were drowned last year trying to make the crossing from Africa to Europe. It is still unclear how many died yesterday, but that there should have been any deaths at all raises searching questions.
Yesterday, President Higgins criticised the response of Europe to the refugee crisis, describing it as being characterised by "ruinously narrow self-interest".
He felt we ought to be able to rise beyond tear gas, razor wire and rubber bullets. He wondered how one of the wealthiest parts of the world should feel so threatened by the need of others. Another Irishman, Peter Sutherland, the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for Migration, has also questioned the legality of the new EU deal that repatriates migrants. He pointed out that deporting people without considering their asylum applications would break international treaties. One would hope that it was within the power of a bloc of more than 500 million people to offer the marginalised something more than further marginalisation.