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Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald PA WIRE/Brian Lawless
refugee crisis

Most of the refugees Ireland will take in EU plan will be here at Christmas

Up to 600 refugees are expected.

Updated 12.01 pm

A LATE NIGHT meeting between EU members last night failed to reach an agreement on the resettlement of 120,000 asylum seekers.

It had been hoped that the meeting between interior ministers would produce a plan to redistribute refugees away from Greece, Italy and Hungary, which have struggled over the past number of weeks due to the huge influx in numbers.

The EU Justice and Home Affairs Council came to an agreement to relocate 40,000 people, with Ireland expected to take on 600 applicants.

Speaking after the unresolved meeting, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, said,

“This is a humanitarian crisis which has continued to escalate and to which there are no simple answers. No one State can deal with this issue on their own and a coherent EU-wide response is needed.

On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, she added that most of the 600 asylum seekers Ireland will take are expected here at Christmas after their status is assessed in Europe:

The 600 will start arriving once these hot spots have been established and they are established this week, I would expect that the refugees will be assessed there and will be relocated to Ireland in the coming weeks. And certainly before the end of the year I would expect quite a large proportion of that 600 to have arrived.

These 600 refugees are part of an EU-wide plan that Ireland has opted-into. Fitzgerald said that Ireland may choose to opt-out of any new additions to the crisis plan.

Ireland may agree to accept further refugees of its own accord, she added. Last week the government said that Ireland will welcome 4,000 refugees as part of the country’s direct response to the current crisis.

Yesterday’s failed EU meeting came as Hungary effectively sealed it’s main border with Serbia preventing refugees from entering the country. A state of emergency has now been declared at the border.

Separately, Austria and Slovakia also said they would copy economic powerhouse Germany, the main destination for migrants, in reinstating frontier controls.

The move caused long traffic jams on the Germany-Austria border and major disruption to rail services.

Poland said it was considering similar steps while the Netherlands said it would have “more patrols” on its frontiers.

EU states can impose temporary controls for security reasons under the Schengen treaty but there are fears the very ideal of a borderless Europe could collapse.

With reporting by Rónán Duffy and © – AFP 2015 

Read: Migrant crisis talks: No agreement on quotas until next month

Also: Why can Germany close its borders and what does it mean for the EU?

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