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Question

101. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the proposals she put forward at the recent European Union Foreign Affairs Council in relation to the ongoing migration crisis and the recent appalling loss of life in the Mediterranean; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16164/15]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I fully share the horror and outrage at the tragic loss of life in the Mediterranean Sea this week. This is organised criminal activity in the smuggling of vulnerable people who are regarded by the gangs involved as utterly expendable.
My colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan, TD, and I attended an emergency joint meeting of EU Foreign Affairs and Interior Affairs Ministers in Luxemburg on Monday, 20 April 2015, to discuss what the EU and its Member States can do together to alleviate the situation. At the emergency meeting Minister Flanagan and I emphasised the importance of preventing these extremely perilous journeys from taking place and in particular to tackle the criminal activity that drives this trade. However, more than anything, people need to be safe in their home countries, and for this, political solutions to conflicts are essential, as well as increased humanitarian assistance. We stressed that this is an EU crisis requiring an EU solution. If it is a question of funding we in the EU need to find a way to make that happen.
We indicated that the most effective responses to humanitarian crises of this nature have to be primarily grounded in the region where the conflict occurs, tackling the issue at its roots. Ireland is increasing the funding of our humanitarian assistance. As the Deputy will be aware, we have already been a substantial donor in this regard.
We highlighted the importance of resettlement, which we will continue to do. Long term development programmes are critical, in addition to emergency humanitarian assistance. Ireland also agreed with the importance of integrating internal and external policy when it comes to addressing migration to bring a greater coherence to the EU’s response.
The Commission presented a 10 point programme for consideration which the Irish delegation welcomed as an excellent basis for progress.
As the Deputy will be aware the migration crisis in the Mediterranean is the subject of a special meeting of the European Council today at which these issues will be discussed by Heads of Government.