Taoiseach praises Defence Forces for work in Mediterranean

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has praised the work of the Defence Forces after revealing that the army and navy have saved the lives of 15,600 refugees since the Mediterranean migrant crisis began.

Mr Kenny awarded the representatives of the Defence Forces with the group European of the Year Award at a European Movement Ireland award in Dublin.

Speaking as Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone announced plans to bring 80 Syrian refugees to Ireland every month from next year, Mr Kenny said the army and navy are performing heroic work abroad.

Describing the Irish army as “the only Óglaigh na hÉireann we have” in Ireland to applause from the audience, he said this country should have deep pride in the “sobering thought” that the Defence Forces have rescued so many people in need.

Separately, Ms Zappone confirmed that Ireland will take in up to 80 Syrian refugees from Greek and Italian camps every month from next year.

Her comments came as the ESRI found that the number of refugees resettled to Ireland doubled between 2015 and 2016.

LE Samuel Beckett
LE Samuel Beckett

However, the overall number resettled remains low, both in the context of the crisis and compared to some other countries in Europe.

Ireland pledged to resettle 520 under the EU programme, almost double the number proposed by the European Commission.

As of November 2016, Ireland had resettled 98% of this total, ahead of schedule. The majority of those resettled have been of Syrian origin.



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