Kenny says Coalition is not split over response to migrant crisis

Taoiseach says special cabinet meeting will be organised this week to discuss situation

Taoiseach Enda Kenny says he does not “accept that there is a split in the Coalition at all” over the response to the migrant crisis. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

Taoiseach Enda Kenny says he does not “accept that there is a split in the Coalition at all” over the response to the migrant crisis. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted there is no split in the Coalition over Ireland’s response to the migrant crisis.

He said a special Cabinet meeting, in addition to Wednesday’s scheduled meeting, would be organised this week to discuss the situation.

“I don’t accept that there is a split in the Coalition at all. There seems to be a fixation about the number here . . . we will step up to the mark on this,” Mr Kenny said.

The Coalition has yet to settle upon the number of refugees Ireland may take in, with Fine Gael saying on Monday a call from Labour leader and Tánaiste Joan Burton to accept 5,000 had not been agreed.

But Ms Burton also insisted there was a united Government approach on the issue.

She said the numbers will be determined at a later date and that the two parties were at one. “Nobody can predict [the number] exactly. I said [5,000] over a period of time. I hope there will be a peace process where people can return home.”

She added: “It is not a numbers game, it is about Ireland stepping up to meet an enormous humanitarian crisis.”

“It is impossible and dishonest for anybody to say I know exactly what is going to happen. It is dependent on a number of things. The main thing is the will of the Government to act.”

Mr Kenny called for a unified European response to the ongoing crisis, but would not be drawn on what number of migrants and refugees he thought Ireland should take.

“I’m not sure. I can’t give you an accurate figure as to what the numbers are now but we will play our part and whether that be a figure mentioned by the Tánaiste or whatever figure, we want to deal with this purely from a humanitarian perspective,” he said.

“So what we will do this week is to have a special Cabinet meeting to deal and focus on making decisions.”

However, he said the Government needed to hear proposals from European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and European Ministers for Justice.

“There is absolutely no split in what we have to do as a Government.”

Mr Kenny was speaking at the announcement that business analytics company SAS would create 150 jobs over three years in Ireland.

Ms Burton and Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton were also present at the event.

The €40 million investment will see the company opening a sales and customer contact centre in Dublin.

The project is supported by the Department of Jobs and IDA Ireland.

The new centre will initially be located at NexusUCD, which is UCD’s industry partnership centre.

Martin Shanahan, chief executive of IDA Ireland, welcomed the announcement.

“SAS is a highly recognisable brand name in the global software industry and a leading player in data analytics,” he said.

Mr Shanahan said the decision by SAS to locate here would further highlight the country as a centre for big data and data analytics, which he said was a key emerging sector being targeted by IDA Ireland.