I had planned on saying something other than what I am about to say because I find it difficult not to run across the Chamber. It was upsetting listening to the Minister. He said that we needed to prevent conflicts from starting. How in God's name can he say that? He is allowing Shannon to be used as a US military airbase. We are giving permits for munitions and armed troops to pass through Ireland on the way to war fronts. How can the Minister say that we are interested in preventing conflicts from starting? That is too bad.
According to the Minister, the Turkish deal is tackling the business end of the problems and will stop the smugglers. On what planet is he living? We are feeding the smugglers. Turkey is a disaster and the deal is nonsense. Approximately ten people per week are being killed because of that deal. We are actually killing people with EU policies. We are drowning them. The Minister said that we would protect them. Five hundred people died ten days ago in one of the boats in question because of the Turkish deal. It will drive them across the Mediterranean, not stop them from coming. Closing off borders and building 30 ft. fences will not stop them. This is crazy.
Deputy Clare Daly: I would wait until the Minister finishes his conversation.
Deputy Mick Wallace: No, he can talk away. He obviously does not listen even when he is looking at me.
An Ceann Comhairle: Minister, I think that the Dáil-----
Deputy Clare Daly: It is a disgrace. His conduct is despicable and shocking.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Wallace, please proceed.
Deputy Mick Wallace: As the Minister knows, we were in Calais and Dunkirk two weeks ago.
Deputy Charles Flanagan: That is the place for you.
Deputy Mick Wallace: The smugglers there are the only people who are doing well. And they are doing really well. They are making more money now than they were six months ago because it has become more difficult to get in. Most people will get into Britain anyway. They just have to pay. Families are paying £20,000 to get to Britain from Dunkirk and Calais. As to where in God's name they are getting the money from, their cousins and other relations back home begged, borrowed and stole to get it. God help them if they believe that they will be in the promised land when they get to Britain or Ireland, but that is neither here nor there. The smugglers are making a fortune. They have doubled their fees lately. The minimum for an individual is £8,000. Most children are still chancing their arms on trucks. They try to jump up between the cab and the trailer in the middle of the night while it is still moving to get onto the roof or into the back. People are dying doing this.
We met so many young people, it was not funny. It is bad. We met many Irish people there working as volunteers who really cared. We met a man called Dylan Longman and another called Dave in Dunkirk. They have given up their lives to try to help people. Karen Moynihan, Sinead, Barbara and Fintan were in Calais. Many Irish families would like to help.
We were invited to dinner in a makeshift cabin in Calais by a man called Khan. Nine men, all from Afghanistan, were there. A couple of them told their stories, but most said that they could not because they were too upsetting. The youngest was 14 years of age, but the average age was 16 or 17. These are children. Could we do something just for minors? Could Ireland become a champion of refugee minors? Could we go to Calais and Dunkirk, process some of these people and see whether we could take them in? It would not cost the State a penny. Irish families are prepared to take them in. I promise to take one in myself.
I met a child of 15 years. He lost all of his family - his brothers, sisters, mother and father - on the Iran-Afghan border. He is 15, and he would like to come to Ireland or Britain. We have often argued in the Chamber that Ireland has great potential to play a positive role in world events as a neutral country, but we have been silent and complicit in the role played by the US, France and Britain in the militarisation of the planet. The Minister said that we wanted to address the causes, but we are quiet about Palestine and the genocide that Israel is trying to carry out there.
Someone from the Government should go to Calais - maybe someone has - and Dunkirk to see what is happening. The Afghans told us about a man who had to leave Afghanistan because one of his family members had worked with the US army, so the Taliban was after them. He spent six months in Calais, but could not take it anymore mentally. He turned himself in to the French authorities and they sent him back to Afghanistan. He was dead within two weeks. Afghanistan is controlled 50% by the Taliban and 50% by ISIS. Its Government is a sideshow. It is not a country to which people should be returned.
Calais is dominated by Afghans and Dunkirk mostly comprises Kurds. I would love to see people from those two nations welcomed in Ireland. The people whom we met were such good people. They are not looking for a free ride in any form. They would like to work and make new lives in Ireland where they would not be afraid of being killed. They are not terrorists. They are running from ISIS and the Taliban.
There is the potential for Ireland to take a different approach. We can do things differently. We can show that we care. I believe that most Irish people do, but the Government's approach has, sadly, been abysmal. I plead with it to send representatives to Dunkirk and Calais and set up a process whereby individuals can be screened, even if they are all under 18 years of age. Let us take minors. We cannot go wrong with that. The Government will find Irish families that are prepared to taken them in. They will not be a burden on the State. They will not have to go through the difficult direct provision process, which I had planned on discussing but will not now.
We are blessed in Ireland with opportunities. We are not afraid of bombs falling on us at night while we sleep. Generally speaking, we are not worried about where we will find our next bite of food; we are not dying of hunger. We seem to forget that these are not even economic migrants, which all of the Irish who left Ireland were. There are millions of Irish people all over the planet. Imagine if they were as unwelcome as the Afghans, Kurds and Syrians are in Ireland.
Please, let us consider this matter again.”