A SENIOR United Nations official has warned that Ireland must do much more to help the EU cope with the worst migrant crisis since the end of World War II.
Peter Sutherland, UN migration special representative and former Irish Attorney-General, warned that it was simply not sufficient for Ireland to accept just 600 to 1,000 refugees until 2017.
Mr Sutherland, who is also a former European Commissioner, stressed that Europe now has no alternative but to impose a quota system for all EU member states to accept refugees flooding into southern Europe.
“I think Ireland could, and should, take more (refugees),” Mr Sutherland said.
The UN expressed grave concern at the spiralling humanitarian crisis as tens of thousands of people arrive into Europe from war-torn countries in North Africa and the Middle East, in particular Syria.
Charities expressed horror at the death toll across Europe’s southern borders, with photographs yesterday of a dead Kurdish baby washed up on a Turkish beach.
Mr Sutherland’s warning came as both Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Joan Burton signalled that Ireland may be willing to accept more than the 1,000 refugees already agreed.
However, Defence Minister Simon Coveney said that Ireland cannot be “generous but naive” in terms of accepting greater numbers of refugees than there are resources to handle them.
“Ireland has a different position to those who have opted out and are staying out (of the crisis),” Mr Sutherland told NewsTalk.
“(Ireland) is making an effort. I think, obviously, that effort can be and should be increased.”
“We are talking here about huge numbers (of people). We are talking about the Germans taking 800,000 applications for asylum by the end of the year.
“That, proportionately, would require significantly increased numbers from Ireland.”
“Ireland, therefore, is not in the position of being a rejecter of common responsibility. We have helped also in the Mediterranean by sending a (navy) ship to help take people and then, it must be said, to leave them in Italy.”
Mr Sutherland said Ireland should take more refugees. but he refused to say how many.
“I wouldn’t be willing to put a figure on it because I think the EU Commission is right in saying this should be worked out objectively,” he said.