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'A number of young Irish people have left Ireland to fight alongside ISIS'

Irish MEP Brian Hayes says more needs to be done to make sure these people feel part and parcel of Ireland.

File photo:  Fighters from the Islamic State group.
File photo: Fighters from the Islamic State group.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

Updated 10.00am 

A NUMBER OF young Irish people have left Ireland to fight alongside Islamic extremist groups such as ISIS, says Irish MEP Brian Hayes.

Speaking to Owen Stafford of EuroParlRadio in Strasbourg, Hayes said that EU Member states, such as Ireland must ensure immigrant communities are fully included into European society.

We’ve seen cases in Ireland, where some of these people would leave Ireland to take part as fighters as they see it for ISIS. We’ve seen a number of cases like that.

Hayes said this happens because young people can feel marginalised in the country they were born or raised and can become increasingly isolated from mainstream life in Ireland.

Integration

The only way to challenge that is make sure that these young people feel part and parcel of their country, that they have been brought up in, but also part and parcel of the European Union.

A study published last year shows that Ireland is the second highest per capita rate of Muslims going to fight in Syria, out of  a survey of 25 countries.

This however still puts the figure at 0.07% of the overall number of Muslims in Ireland. Out of a Muslim population of around 43,000 only 25 to 30 individuals have gone to fight in Syria.

Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has been vocal on the issue before, stating that Europeans joining Islamic State group is a “serious problem”.

Flanagan said that the only way to prevent this happening is through education and information sharing. He added that criminal sanctions are also necessary.

Neo-right parties

Hayes was also asked about the French politician and president of the Front National, Marine Le Pen’s comments where she lambasted the EU’s border controls, in terms of the French attacks in France.

He said that he thought that the Front National is doing “everything to politicise this issue” and extend her own aim, contrary too majority view across the EU.

Speaking about the attacks on the Charlie Haebdo offices, he said they came from French citizens, “irrespective of freedom of movement” and happened on France’s doorstep. He said Le Pen’s views were “wholly irrelevant” to where the debate is now.

He said that Le Pen’s attack on immigrant communities and the freedom of movement in the EU was “squalid politics” that the far right represents.

Hayes admitted that terror attacks like this were a “real threat we have to face” but said that there shouldn’t be a knee-jerk reaction whereby freedoms established for EU citizens over the last forty years are abolished overnight.

There should be an “integrationist approach” not an “exclusionist neo-right approach”, he said.

He called for further integration in terms of systems of justice and home affairs, as well as police force intelligence.

Read: Ireland is ‘on alert’ after Paris terrorist attacks – Charlie Flanagan>

Read: Homes evacuated as bomb squad called to apartment block in Dún Laoghaire>

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