Fianna Fáil MEP for Ireland South Billy Kelleher raised the unacceptable situation facing the Irish Defence Forces in the European Parliament.

Speaking for the first time in Strasbourg, the Ireland South MEP called on the European Commission to ensure that a fair and shared approach is taken to our collective responsibilities towards the humanitarian crisis.

“We cannot have a situation where the burden falls on a few states to deal with the particular humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in the Mediterranean. There is a moral imperative on us to ensure that we have sensible emigration policies. People who are clinging to boats in the Mediterranean cannot be allowed wait. Urgent action is needed”, said Kelleher.

“I’m calling on the European Commission, along with the Member States who have naval support, to ensure that a proper search and rescue mission is put in place immediately to address the unfolding humanitarian crisis”.
Kelleher warned that any Irish participation in future European humanitarian missions is seriously compromised by the government’s failure to properly and fully resource the Irish Defence Forces.

“The Irish navy was involved in Operation Sophia when it rescued thousands of people. I am disappointed with the government’s current approach to the Defence Forces. The fact that two naval ships are tied up in dry dock because of personnel shortages is a damning indictment of Fine Gael’s attitude to Defence Force members.

“These ships should be in the Mediterranean Sea along with other naval boats from other countries addressing this humanitarian crisis.”