Fianna Fáil has raised concerns about the Government’s refusal to make any commitment to stepping up the response to the escalating refugee crisis in Europe.

The party’s Spokesperson on European Affairs, Timmy Dooley TD, was commenting after Minister Dara Murphy refused to commit to increasing the number of refugees that Ireland would accept in an interview with RTE’s This Week today.

Deputy Dooley commented, “Minister Murphy’s interview raised serious questions about Ireland’s commitment to taking an active role in helping ease what has become a grave humanitarian emergency on Europe’s shores.

“The Minister was making a concerted effort to distance himself and his Government from the crisis. Rather than show leadership in keeping with Ireland’s reputation as a compassionate nation, it seems the Government is content to sit back, do as little as possible and take direction from Europe.  This is simply unacceptable.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the appalling level of death, suffering and pain as thousands of desperate asylum seekers look to Europe for help.  These are people who are risking literally everything just for the chance of salvaging some kind of life for themselves and their children.  As a country that is all too familiar with this story from our own past, how can we turn our back on them.

“I am calling on the Government to immediately establish a forum to formulate a comprehensive response to this crisis.  We need to bring together experts from humanitarian organisations, along with representatives from the health, social protection, local government, justice and defence sectors to establish what Ireland can reasonably offer in terms of support for these refugees.  What infrastructure and resources do we have available to play our part in helping the genuine asylum seekers who have nowhere else to go?

“It is only by bringing together these experts that we can prepare a fully comprehensive response to this crisis. It is time for the Irish Government to step up and show some leadership.”