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MEP Maria Walsh defends voting down move to enhance rescue operations for migrants

The European Parliament rejected the vote asking member states to step up efforts to save asylum seekers making the crossing.

Image: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

MEP MARIA WALSH has defended voting down an EU resolution which would have stepped up search and rescue for refugees in the Mediterranean.

The European Parliament rejected the vote asking member states to step up efforts to save asylum seekers making the perilous crossing on Thursday.

All of Fine Gael’s MEPs – Mairead McGuinness, Maria Walsh, Frances Fitzgerald and Sean Kelly – voted against the resolution, which lost by two.

The resolution called on the “EU Member States to enhance proactive search and rescue operations by providing sufficient vessels and equipment specifically dedicated to search and rescue operations and personnel, along the routes where they can make an effective contribution to the preservation of lives”

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Walsh said that parts of the resolution relating to information sharing were some of the main reasons why she voted against it. 

She said: “First and foremost let me be very clear that my colleagues in Fine Gael support search and rescue for the most vulnerable. We want an effective and working solution in the Mediterranean. Not only is it morally right but it is legally our duty to save our most vulnerable but this resolution had a number of red flags.”

Walsh said an amendment to the resolution which would have seen emergency information shared to all vessels in the Med was dangerous as it could tip off human traffickers operating in the area. 

She added: “What we see in Essex is that we have a incredibly serious issue with human trafficking that we need to solve but sharing information on the most vulnerable is not the way to do it. 

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“We need to get back to the drawing board and fast. This report was loose in language. It was putting NGOs at risk.” 

Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson, who voted for the resolution, said the European Parliament failed to commit to protecting human life in the Mediterranean.

“The motion fell by two votes, further adding to a damning record of the EU on the deepening humanitarian crisis,” she said

“It is a matter of deep shame that four Fine Gael MEPs actively voted to maintain a ‘fortress Europe’ status quo that has seen thousands of men, women and children drown simply for seeking sanctuary.

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