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We are Ireland of the welcomes no more


President Michael D Higgins

President Michael D Higgins

James Connolly

President Michael D Higgins

Most decisions we make require a balance between the heart and the head, showing that one does not necessitate losing control of the other.

To date, our Government's handling of the humanitarian crisis which has spread from the centre of Syria to the centre of Europe runs the danger of being characterised as both headless and heartless. There is no index for human values, but Ireland of the 100,000 welcomes is being downgraded as numbers are tossed about, from 600 to 1,800, while the continent of which we are a part is convulsed by the greatest humanitarian crisis since the war.

Yesterday, President Michael D Higgins attempted to elicit a more compassionate response: "We have to decide at certain times in our life to do what is right and what is right is to come to the assistance of those who, like our own ancestors, were being lost in the sea of the Atlantic three generations ago," he said.

He added: "What is important is that we all share the responsibility of what is a human tragedy unfolding before us."

Bob Geldof also struck a nerve with his emotional reaction to the tragic scenes that challenge us all: "If there's a new economy, then there needs to be a new politics and it's a failure of that new politics that's led to this disgrace, this absolute sickening disgrace," he said.

It is clearly beyond the scope of Ireland to take the kind of numbers that the scale of this unfolding crisis demands.

But that does not absolve us from a responsibility to do much, much more in a desperate hour of need.

David Cameron has signalled a shift in UK policy, saying that he is prepared to admit thousands of refugees.

Integrity and decency must also be reflected in the State's response, which so far has been limited to nimbyism and cold pragmatism.

Once Ireland was not so afraid to call it as it saw it. It had a strong voice in the UN, which it used to good effect.

The movement of millions of people is a global issue urgently demanding a world summit and a coordinated strategy. Through lack of leadership and vision, the strong are failing the vulnerable. As Bob Geldof put it: "I look at it with profound shame and a monstrous betrayal of who we are and what we wish to be,"

We need answers from Callinan

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan has ordered a review of the interim report of the Fennelly Commission and has insisted "appropriate action" will be taken in any areas of policing that need to be addressed.

However, it is understood that the now retired former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan cannot be compelled to co-operate with the review.

This would mean that the disposal of personal papers and the disappearance of a SIM card belonging to the ex-Garda Commissioner, as revealed in the Fennelly report, cannot be part of its remit.

Surely the matter cannot rest there. At the very least, we need an explanation as to why potentially valuable information was not made available to the Commission.

It is surely in the public interrest that the disappearance of the items be the subject of a thorough investigation.

In the commission's report, Mr Justice Nial Fennelly pointed out that it was "striking" how little documentary evidence was available to his team. Mr Callinan has described how he went to a filing unit in the conference room, where he kept personal papers, and requested black refuse sacks as he wished to sort through his files. The issue has even prompted calls to recall the Dáil. One way or another, the full facts must be established openly.

Irish Independent