By Ann Marie Foley - 03 May, 2016
The Immigrant Council of Ireland has welcomed the new Irish navy mission to the Mediterranean to help rescue migrants and refugees from the sea.
The charity cautioned that the incoming Government should continue the navy missions and honour its other refugee commitments.
“Today belongs to the men and women on board the LÉ Róisín and their families – and it is right that they should be central to our thoughts as the Navy again becomes a source of national pride,” said Brian Killoran, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
He explained that more than 8,500 people survived the perilous crossing, thanks to the actions of Irish Navy officers and crews in 2015 and many more will be saved in the coming weeks.
“As the Róisín sails out of Cork Harbour it is important that a commitment is given by politicians to continue the mission for as long as necessary and that further ships will follow later this year,” he said.
“As the country heads towards a new Government it is vital that there is a new focus on meeting other commitments given on the refugee crisis last September – including ending the delays in giving people shelter and hope in Irish communities,” he added.
The Immigrant Council will work with all agencies of the Government and frontline organisations to end the delays.
Brian Killoran said that Ireland could become “an example to others”, not just in search and rescue but also in generosity and solidarity in welcoming people to Ireland.
When the Naval Vessel LÉ Róisín departed from the Haulbowline this weekend, the number of men, women and children missing and drowned on the Mediterranean had passed 1,200.
The ICI stated that the Irish ship not only represents hope for those fleeing for their lives but is an inspiration at a time when Europe’s political leaders have failed to find a humanitarian response to the crisis.
The Immigrant Council successfully nominated the Navy for a People of the Year Award last year.
The Irish Navy ship’s search and rescue operations are conducted in conjunction with the Italian authorities. This is the fourth Irish Navy ship to help in the rescue effort in the Mediterranean.
The LÉ Eithne, LÉ Niamh and LÉ Samuel Beckett have been involved during 2015.
The 57-member crew of the LÉ Róisín have been in training for some time and on Sunday they left for the Mediterranean on this three-month humanitarian mission to aid migrants fleeing Syria and other Middle Eastern and African countries.