Monday 25 March 2019

Taoiseach: Ireland will consider taking more refugees

The LE Eithne rescued men, women and children from two barges
The LE Eithne rescued men, women and children from two barges

Ralph Riegel

Ireland will carefully consider any EU request to accept more Mediterranean refugees, according to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who warned we can never forget the "coffin ships" in our own history.

He paid tribute to the crew of the LÉ Eithne, who have helped save over 3,500 refugees off the coast of north Africa since May.

The LÉ Niamh, which sailed for the Mediterranean last Friday to relieve LÉ Eithne, will begin rescue operations from next week.

A third vessel, LÉ Róisín, will be deployed from September on rescue duties.

Ireland is taking 300 refugees but there is pressure for more to be accepted.

"There are two things here - relocation and resettlement. In respect of the refugees from Syria, we have already taken twice what was recommended that we should take," Mr Kenny said.

"In respect of the new situation, these are people that are currently in Greece and Italy. We are not obliged to take any of those because they are outside of the protocol.

"But, because of our tradition and our understanding of this from our own history, we will consider of course taking numbers of people who are currently in Italy and Greece.

"Given our history with coffin ships [from the Great Famine] - where we lost tens of thousands of our people in the Atlantic, - Ireland understands this," he said.

The LÉ Eithne and her crew are due back in Cork on Friday.

Irish Independent

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