Coalition likely to reject motion to take in Calais migrants

The Government will be urged to immediately take in up to 200 unaccompanied migrant children living in the notorious ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais in a cross-party opposition motion set to be put before the Dáil next week.

Coalition likely to reject motion to take in Calais migrants

However, despite the public pressure, the Coalition is likely to reject the motion because the Calais camp is not an official EU resettlement camp, which means it may not be legally possible to act.

Under plans put forward by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and circulated to a number of parties this week, the union umbrella group has called for political action to address the growing crisis at the French site.

Specifically, ICTU has requested that parties combine to table a motion in favour of Ireland taking in up to 200 unaccompanied migrant children who are living in Calais due to fears of what may happen to them now the location is being destroyed.

Although in its early stages, Sinn Féin, Labour, the Green Party, the Social Democrats, and Independents4Change are understood to be in favour of backing the motion, which is likely to be tabled next week.

Fianna Fáil has also been contacted on the issue and is currently examining how to respond, while AAA-PBP is considering a slightly different wording to the plan.

Despite the clear need for action on the issue given the serious concerns being raised about unaccompanied migrant children in the French site, Government sources last night said legal difficulties may block the Coalition from supporting the move.

This is because the ‘Jungle’ camp is in France — considered a safe European nation — and unlike similar locations on the Greek islands, it is not an official EU resettlement camp.

Raising the issue in the Dáil yesterday, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said there are “10,000 child refugees” in Europe who are at serious risk because they are unaccompanied, adding that Ireland must “agree to take in 200 of those refugees” immediately.

While not specifically ruling out the measure, Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said although she is “appalled at the scenes in Calais”, Ireland is already taking in a large number of migrants from official EU resettlement sites.

Ms Fitzgerald said 40 Syrian refugees arrived from Greece yesterday and that by the end of this year “close to 1,000” migrants will have been relocated to Ireland in this way.

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