Coalition denies rift as it plans meeting on refugees

The Coalition has denied there is a rift over how many refugees Ireland can accept amid contradictory signals from Government.

The Cabinet will tomorrow hold a special meeting and consider options to house, support and feed potentially thousands of refugees fleeing conflict. Funding from Europe to accommodate refugees here is expected to heavily influence the Government’s decision. Refugee applications could also be fast-tracked.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker is set to outline a package of proposals for member states today.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the situation facing families in Syria was “horrendous”, as he described terrorist atrocities there and what potentially IS would do here. “Look at what’s happened in Syria with the growth of Isis. Purely from the historical point of view, you want to blow up Newgrange and the Rock of Cashel. You want children shooting others in the head. This is horrendous.”

He denied there was a split in the Coalition after Tánaiste Joan Burton earlier this week said 5,000 refugees could be accommodated here over a number of years. Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald had earlier said Ireland could accommodate only 1,800. Ms Burton admitted her figure was based on “practical experience in this kind of situation”, including when she was a minister for development.

But Mr Kenny refused to get “bogged down” on numbers.

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