Monday 24 October 2016

Consider the facts before criticising Greece over migrant crisis

Published 22/08/2015 | 02:30

A migrant hugs her son after safely arriving on a beach on the Greek island of Kos
A migrant hugs her son after safely arriving on a beach on the Greek island of Kos

The problem of migrants is nothing new to Greece, which currently has more than 1.5 million migrants within its borders. Most of these unfortunate people fleeing wars get to Greece by boat and as we have witnessed on our TV screens, these boats are far from sea-worthy, seriously endangering the lives of those onboard.

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The Greek coast guard strictly follows the guidelines set by the SOLAS convention. This dictates that the master of a ship at sea that is able to provide assistance, on receiving information from any source that persons are in distress at sea, is bound to proceed with all speed to their assistance.

And over the years they have saved tens of thousands of lives, so you can with absolute certainty know that the Greek coast guard did not deliberately sink a migrant boat. No matter how poor Greece is at present, the coast guard is there to protect and to serve without discrimination.

Kos, which has been heavily impacted by this crisis, is an island geared towards tourism. It is not geared for international humanitarian crises of the scale of 1,500 migrants landing on its shores every week - and, over the last month, every day!

It is also inevitable under such circumstances that fear grows, creating a tense uncertainty. The sheer volume of numbers coming in makes it impossible to manage and ultimately leads to a reactive approach, which in the case of Koss resulted in some violence, but no one was harmed.

In view of this, I find the recent comments made by an aid agency to be one-sided, with little sympathy or consideration for the 13,000 inhabitants of Kos.

The island, which has less than half the population of Co Leitrim, simply doesn't have the infrastructure or resources to manage a crisis of this scale.

How would Leitrim manage an influx of 1,500 migrants per week/per day? Would it not be a reasonable assumption that the Irish State would also adopt a reactive approach, at least initially?

The situation for Kos will begin to ease off thanks to the help of the Elevtherios Venizelos, a ferry boat which has been chartered by the Greek state, to assist with the huge task of getting these tragedy- stricken people temporarily homed and processed.

It is all very easy to criticise a country like Greece, but the facts have to be taken into consideration, such as the fact that Greece has a longer coastline (including islands) than any other EU country and is the first country to the west of these war zones.

This makes Greece the first stop for people fleeing war-stricken countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

Andreas Latridis

Address with Editor

Devastating effects of adultery

Ashley Madison touts itself with the catchphrase "life is short - have an affair".

Yes, life is short, but how that translates into a licence for wrongdoing is unclear.

An affair, by definition, is another term for cheating on your partner, especially in the context of married relationships.

It seems incredible that anyone would encourage such activity, given the well-documented destructive influence affairs have on spouses and children.

Ashley Madison has the gall to complain that the recent hacking of its website is going to have "a devastating effect on families".

No, sites like Ashley Madison and their cheating customers are already having a devastating effect on families - the families just didn't fully know it before.

Nick Folley

Carrigaline, Co Cork

Irish Water's good service

I read with bewilderment Martina Devlin's account (Irish Independent, August 20) of her recent customer experience with Irish Water.

In the piece, she writes about how she had a leak outside of her property as a result of a meter installation, which can happen. When it does, a good utility should fix the leak quickly and ensure the customer is happy with the work.

If I understand it right, this customer reported a leak, it was repaired "almost immediately", the customer got calls from Irish Water telling her the issue had been resolved, and then got a customer satisfaction questionnaire in the post.

What Ms Devlin received was good customer service and a timely response from the utility. It is shame that she felt the need to turn that positive experience into a negative opinion column for a national daily paper.

Irish Water accepts valid criticisms and we would certainly not expect a your paper or any other to publish a positive article about a utility going about its normal business - it is simply not news.

However, I wonder how the piece would have been written had we taken our time about repairing the leak, not called this customer to say it had been resolved, and not given her a chance to tell us whether she was happy overall with the way the matter had been handled?

The establishment of Irish Water included the development of national asset management system. This has allowed Irish Water to streamline the process for customers to report a fault and for the utility to schedule, complete and follow up on repairs throughout our network.

Irish Water is now mapping what work is carried out, on what assets, when, at what cost, with what benefits in terms of customer service.

This information has never been recorded or analysed before. It will form the basis for developing all operational and investment planning in the future.

Jerry Grant

Head of Asset Management

Irish Water

Wise political advice

The wisest political advice is often the simplest. One thinks of the Government and water, and the phrase "when you're in a hole stop digging" comes to mind.

But when you are in a lake or possibly very far down a particularly malodorous creek with neither a shovel nor a paddle, it is that much more difficult to know how to best navigate.

One can chose to drift, drop anchor, or even capsize. Much depends on the coolness of those on board. Other options are to throw someone overboard, or else start bumping each other off and then devouring the remains.

All have been tried before in desperate circumstances. Watch this space.

T G O'Brien

Dalkey, Co Dublin

Irish Independent

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