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Question: Should Ireland increase the number of asylum seekers and refugees it takes in annually?

There were mixed answers from candidates on whether Ireland should accept more refugees or not.

In our audit of the Ireland South European election candidates, we asked each candidate to answer questions on nine of the most pressing issues facing Ireland and Europe in the coming years. 

Should Ireland increase the number of asylum seekers and refugees it takes in annually to share the responsibility more with EU countries most impacted by the migrant crisis?

Andrew Doyle

Source: Nick Bradshaw

From the outset of the migration crisis in Europe, Ireland has sought to play an active role in protecting the most vulnerable and we voluntarily pledged to accept a total of 4,000 people into the State.

I feel our current system is rather ad hoc and would like to work on introducing a more efficient, transparent and fair system, so that all asylum applicants are treated with compassion and respect.

Diarmuid O’Flynn

Short answer, yes. There’s a myth being spread that somehow Ireland is being overrun by Muslims, with a threat of Sharia law within decades.

The fact is that Ireland’s Muslims make up only just over 1% of our population and of those, the number of extremists/fundamentalists who have slipped through the net is minimal. Those few are of course still a major danger – it doesn’t take many to commit an atrocity, as we know all too well, and people who express fears of this happening in Ireland shouldn’t be dismissed or worse, disrespected, for those expressing those fears.

But, as a nation which itself has many times had many reasons to be grateful to other countries for providing us with asylum and shelter in times of our own dire situations, we shouldn’t have to be mandated to take our fair share in the EU, we should be demanding it.

Liadh Ní Riada

The best way to address this crisis is to deal with the root causes. Conflict and extreme poverty are the two main reasons why people flee their homes. It is a crisis of politics. The Irish government must step up and meet its existing commitments on assisting refugees while pushing for conflict resolution and international action on poverty.

Grace O’Sullivan

In terms of immigration, I think Ireland, again, has to pull its fair share but so do other European countries. What we saw was there was a burden placed on the countries that were closest to the areas where the migrants were coming through. That created a discrepancy and unfairness and imbalance whereas I think each country has to pay its fair share.

We are a country of, once upon a time, huge massive migration and we recognise that and we need to be sure to play our part. To take whoever. To play our part in a fair share of the migrants looking for refuge. But we need to recognise that these people, many of them are highly motivated, highly skilled. we can be educated from these people coming in. I worked in human resources with Greenpeace international for 10 years.

I was a human resources manager and it was a multinational environment. So recognise the skills and anyone who needs refuge, let’s allow them to play their part in the system. Let them get into the labour market, let them get into schooling and education and then become this rich and diverse nation.

Peter O’Loughlin

No. You never know, maybe someday an actual genuine refugee might end up in Ireland. Unlikely considering our geographical location.

Deirdre Clune

Ireland should continue to accommodate and support asylum seekers under the EU agreed relocation programme and should also support people under the humanitarian assistance programme.

Colleen Worthington

Refugee crises are a tragedy, and the international community should do all it can to prevent them from happening in the first place. I accept the data that migrants help the economies of host countries in the long term, but believe that the Irish people must be given the right to set their own immigration policy.

Jan Van De Ven

There should be assistance for Asylum seekers whose lives are at risk if they return to their native countries Refugees should receive assistance until their home countries are safe enough to be returned to. Ireland needs to take care of its homeless Irish people (economic refugees) first before opening up the doors to others. After Ireland gets its homeless taken care off the burden sharing formula should be based on % of total EU population.

So Germany would take 17%, France 13% and Ireland 1%. Burden sharing should also be based on the ability of a country’s infrastructure to handle the influx. The fact that Ireland has patients on trolleys and a huge waiting list for medical procedures should lower the % of refugees accepted.

Seán Kelly

Yes, I believe we should contribute more in solidarity with our fellow member states if requested by the European Union.

Mick Wallace

Absolutely – we have been one of the worst performers in europe in this regard, only taking around half of the extremely modest 4000 that we promised in 2015. On top of this we have Direct provision – an ongoing system of state sanctioned human rights abuse.

Over 6000 people are being warehoused in terrible conditions that are designed to break spirits and act as a deterrent to come to Ireland in search of a better life. Yet we continue to rob the Global South blind through our tax regime, and we continue to support the endless wars that are displacing millions of people and driving them from their homes all over the world.

Breda Gardner

No. Not until we have our own house in order. Obviously we need to have compassion for asylum seekers and refugees, but when we have 10,000 of our own homeless, Irish people should be our priority.

Liam Minehan

Genuine refugees need shelter but I think our focus should be what is creating them.

Countries who create displacement in other countries should be responsible for the people. We should not accept how some European countries are behaving with their foreign policy which creates refugees. The countries that do this need to be prepared to accept the refugees they cause.

About the author:

Kathleen McNamee

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