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We have learned nothing from our history of famine and coffin ships

Recently (Letters, May 11), Fergus O’Leary defended his Conservative (with a big C) values and charged me with being one of those “self styled liberals who perpetuate the myth that conservatives (note the small c) are all unreconstructed misogynistic xenophobes”. 

To reinforce his charge Mr O’Leary sought to separate the hateful rhetoric of Jean-Marie Le Pen from conservative values by depicting him as a “pedagogue who appeals to the very worst in human nature”. This is disingenuous, Mr Le Pen’s xenophobic outrage is shared by millions of European Conservatives who rail against immigration, even that of desperate refugees.

On the same day Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief pleaded for UN help to tackle the criminal Libyan gangs who traffic Africa’s refugees to a Europe, which does not want them. This was clear in the supine response of our government, which is opposing the proposed EU quota system to offer refuge to these people.

Peter Sutherland, our former EU commissioner, berated his colleagues in his new role as a special representative on migration issues by stating “the fundamental issue here is saving people who are drowning in the Mediterranean, this is not about getting into battles about quotas when we are facing a humanitarian crisis”.

Moreover, with our own emigration history of famine and coffin ships, even if the plight of the refugees doesn’t move conservatives, it should resonate with politicians, it clearly doesn’t, shame on them.

Dr Kevin McCarthy


Co Cork


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