Mick Wallace The #US and #EU are increasingly using #sanctions as a weapon against countries that don't bow to their financial i… https://t.co/qMbVI1XYfc
Mick Wallace How bad that the #EU of the so called 'European Values' has supported this Terrorism against the people of #Syriahttps://t.co/wRXMSubfYi
Mick Wallace Western Colonialism never really stopped, it just got a make over - It's now called 'Financial Imperialism'. Are we… https://t.co/KoMpQ69bBw
Mick Wallace RT @wallacemick: Would mean something for Irish people and the notion of 'Irish Neutrality' if Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs @simoncov

Dáil Diary no 14 – 19th February 2015

Drowning Migrants- Smugglers don’t care, EU don’t care…

More than 400 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean this year, raising serious concerns about the logic and morality of Europe’s decision to downsize maritime rescue operations last Autumn. In comparison , by this time last year, only 27 migrants had drowned in the same sea. In October, Italy ended its full-scale coastguard operation known as Mare Nostrum, and the EU replaced it with Operation Triton, an under-resourced scheme whose primary focus, officials admitted, was securing maritime borders rather than rescuing migrants. European governments believed the move would discourage migrants from trying to make the dangerous crossing to Europe from Libyan, Egyptian and Turkish beaches. Britain’s Foreign Office minister Lady Anelay, excused Mare Nostrum’s cancellation, claiming it had had “an unintended pull factor”. While EU countries take decisions that lead to migrants being allowed to drown at sea, they refuse to take responsibility for the stark truth that Western Militarisation of Middle East and North Africa region is the root casue of the massive numbers risking the sea crossing. The largest number of migrants at the moment are coming from Libya, which has descended into total anarchy. Back in 2011, Government Ministers and TD’s were vocal in the Dáil Chamber in their support for NATO bombing of Libya – as expected by many, the NATO campaign was a cynical exercise, mainly driven by Britain’s David Cameron and French President Sarkozy, both eager to boost their ailing popularity ratings, and it has been a total disaster. Here’s my Dáil contribution on the issue on Tuesday-
 
The Minister of State, Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, will no doubt agree that events on the Mediterranean are a terrible reflection on the European Union and the West in general. Aside from the destruction being caused in the countries from which people are fleeing, it is a mark of the terrible hardships they face that they are fleeing across the Mediterranean which is, by all accounts, an incredibly dangerous waterway. This year alone, more than 400 refugees have drowned making the crossing. The European Union, under pressure from countries such as Britain, stopped the Mare Nostrum project which rescued more than 100,000 people in the year before it was discontinued in October last. That this has been done in response to the argument that the project was encouraging immigrants to come to Europe is frightening. We have decided to allow a few refugees to drown to see if it will put people off making the journey in the future. Instead of spending €9 million per month in addressing the problem on the Mediterranean, the budget for the Mare Nostrum project has been cut to one third of that. The European Union has admitted that the main focus of the new Triton mission is border control as opposed to helping people at sea.

This terrible tragedy did not fall out of the sky. Libya is the foremost country from which people are fleeing. More than three years ago, with other Deputies on this side, I argued against the madness of allowing NATO to bomb Libya. As a result of the NATO bombing raids, the death toll in the Libyan conflict increased from 2,000 to 30,000 within six months. The British Prime Minister, Mr. Cameron, who is partly responsible for the decision to stop the Mare Nostrum service was one of the leading lights in the group of countries angling to invade Libya at the time. He and the then French President, Mr. Sarkozy, did so to boost their popularity before abandoning the country once the damage had been done.

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin:  The Government shares the concerns of the Deputies about the ongoing human tragedy on the Mediterranean. At EU level, since the more than 300 migrants drowned off the Italian island of Lampedusa in October 2013, this issue has appeared on the agenda at almost every Justice and Home Affairs Council and was a major priority of the Italian Presidency. We should never forget that this is essentially an issue of enormous human tragedy…

…There are no easy answers. Nobody can guarantee that there will be no further deaths. As long as people set out on these hazardous voyages, that will be inevitable, in spite of the best efforts of everybody involved in maritime missions. It is a case of working together within the European Union on both cause and effect. The contribution Ireland can make, apart from its support for EU initiatives in the area generally, is primarily humanitarian, with particular reference to Syria. We are one of the highest contributors to the humanitarian response on a per capita basis.

Mick Wallace:  At this stage, a number of measures are needed and the Government should be pushing for them in the European Union. First, a better rescue service needs to be reinstated. The numbers crossing the sea from Libya and other countries have increased this year by more than 50%. The argument that cutting the rescue service would prevent refugees from travelling is not working and the European Union has a responsibility, given that western powers are largely responsible for the problems of the people concerned in the first place.

Second, a more coherent EU immigration policy is needed. It is challenging and not easy, but there must be a more coherent policy at EU level, for which this government should push.

Third, we all argue in the House for greater accountability on the part of all Departments and officials. The bombing of Libya has been an unmitigated disaster. Ministers came into the House and told us that it was a good idea, that it was in the interests of democracy and that it would improve the situation in Libya. That has been proved to be 100% wrong. Will the same Ministers who supported the bombing of Libya come into the House and admit that they got it 100% wrong?

 

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