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Saturday 2 December 2023 Dublin: 3°C
European elections 2019

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 Midlands North West European election candidates, we asked candidates 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?

Peter Casey

An important discussion on immigration needs to take place as the current situation facing asylum seekers is a tragedy. You shouldn’t bring people in if you’re not going to look after them properly. But the evidence suggests very strongly that substantial numbers of those seeking refuge are not genuine, that they are attracted to Ireland by our generous benefit system. That’s not fair.

We can’t have people coming into our country and taking advantage of our generosity especially when we are in the middle of a housing crisis ourselves. The whole system needs urgent review.

Matt Carthy

The Irish government should focus on actually delivering what they committed to in terms of numbers of refugees to be resettled and relocated in Ireland. The Irish government should also play a leadership role in tackling the root causes that create refugees and force vulnerable people to leave their homes, by opposing wars and exploitation internationally.

Fidelma Healy Eames

Ireland needs to decide what it can take care of, within limited resources.

Anne Rabbitte

It seems inevitable that migrant flows will continue to escalate over the coming decades due to an increase in conflict, climate change and economic desperation. For some, Ireland will be the country they arrive into and, to date, Ireland has been broadly successful in integrating “new Irish” communities.

However, we cannot become complacent and let the sinister rot of racism gain a foothold. The growing migrant challenge propelled by climate change and a lack of economic opportunity will continue to put pressure on how we effectively integrate new arrivals across the EU. The EU should assist member states in drawing together the disparate strands of migrants in their countries.

We need to make sure that we have a humane policy that respects the human dignity of people trying to access better lives in Europe while maintaining the integrity of our borders and the states they protect. A humane, collective EU-wide asylum process should provide an expedited mechanism to process applications in every state. Additional funding is needed to address root causes of the migrant challenge as well as fair trade deals with source countries to create new economic opportunities.

Maria Walsh

We need to extend our hand and accept people from different societies and cultures, when they are in danger and at risk. By welcoming those in need we enrich our communities.

Brendan Smith

We need a humane approach in dealing with the migrant challenge. The majority of these people seeking asylum have left their homes because they have been terrorised and attacked.

So, asylum claims across the EU must be processed speedily to avoid leaving people in a legal limbo and placing the burden on a small number of EU member states.

We must also remember that there are many people from around the world who contribute greatly to our society and our economy.  For example, the nurses, doctors and carers who look after those who are sick.

Fianna Fáil supports boosting funding for the Green Climate Fund and European Union Emergency Trust Fund to address root causes of the migrant crisis. In addition, we need fair trade deals with these countries to help remove the causes of economic migration.

Patrick Greene

No. We as a nation are effectively bankrupt – the state forcing the nation to pay hundreds of billions of euro to foreign banks including bond holders of unsecured debt, a bailout forced upon Irish families who are now without a dwelling. We cannot house the thousands of dwellingless Irish families and we need to sort out our own house before we invite guests in.

Michael O’Dowd

Ireland should not continue to be a ‘soft touch’ for Asylum seekers from countries that our government considers safe. In the UK people from those countries don’t get past the airport, we should be the same allowing them to contest any decision from abroad.

We should of course meet all our obligations for those coming from war-torn countries.

Mairead McGuinness

Ireland should firstly honour its commitment to take in 4,000 migrants fleeing war and conflict.

EU countries aren’t sharing the burden fairly on migration. Southern EU countries are on the frontline. And Sweden and Germany are taking in the most compared to the size of their populations. But some EU countries, particularly those in central and eastern Europe, have refused to participate in the current system.

The EU needs a sustainable, fair and proportionate system for external migration – that said, numbers arriving in Europe have decreased from a peak in 2015.

We must also address the root causes of mass migration – war and conflict, but also poverty and lack of economic prospects. That means providing money and resources for humanitarian aid and development.

Cyril Brennan

Europe should open its doors to migrants. It is a disgrace that the EU is giving money to repressive regimes in North Africa to imprison would be migrants to Europe. Even worse is the way that thousands of migrant have been let die in the Mediterranean. And yes, Ireland should Ireland should increase the numbers it takes in.

Saoirse McHugh

Yes, we should take more asylum seekers and refugees to share the burden more evenly. We should end direct provision and treat those we do take in with dignity and respect.

Kathleen McNamee
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