Ireland to accept 300 more Syrian refugees, Taoiseach tells Dáil
Naval Service praised for LE Eithne rescue of 1,2000 refugees from Mediterranean Sea
Kurdish Syrian refugees in a truck at the Turkish-Syrian border, near the southeastern town of Suruc, in Sanliurfa province. Photograph: Murad Sezer/Reuters
Mr Kenny said the Cabinet had yesterday agreed to accept the additional group of refugees, following a recent decision to accept 220 refugees.
He said the Government had contributed more than €41 million in humanitarian response to the crisis in Syria.
He added: “We have taken 128 Syrian refugees under the UNHCR resettlement programme. We’ve already agreed to take another 220 in 2015-2016.
“And Minister [Frances] Fitzgerald proposed for Government approval for an additional 300 refugees for resettlement in 2015-2016 also.”
The Government’s Syrian humanitarian admission programme offered “temporary Irish residence to vulnerable persons from Syria or who have fled Syria to surrounding countries since the outbreak of the war in Syria” with family members who reside in Ireland.
Earlier tribute was paid in the Dáil to the crew of the LÉ Eithne in the Mediterranean which has rescued about 1,200 people. The Naval Service vessel is operating between Sicily and Libya.
Minister for Defence Simon Coveney said the vessel’s deployment “caused a few eyebrows to be raised at the time because this is the first overseas mission for the Naval Service”. However, most people would now accept it had been a “very worthy mission and decision”.
“Just under 1,200 people have been rescued from boats, some of which were sinking, others had run out of fuel, and others, which had men, women, children and infants on board, had no water or food left.
“Commander Pearse O’Donnell and his crew on the LÉ Eithne are doing an extraordinarily professional and compassionate job in the Mediterranean, and I want to put that on the record of the House.”
He assured Sinn Féin’s Pádraig Mac Lochlainn the mission was exclusively a search-and-rescue operation with the Italian navy.