Brian Hayes urges Government to ‘move quickly’ on Calais minors

Fine Gael MEP says relocation of 200 unaccompanied minors to State ‘right thing to do’

An estimated 1,400 unaccompanied children, some as young as six, remain at the site of the makeshift camp known as the “Jungle” on the outskirts of Calais. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

An estimated 1,400 unaccompanied children, some as young as six, remain at the site of the makeshift camp known as the “Jungle” on the outskirts of Calais. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

 

Ireland should “move quickly” to take unaccompanied minors stranded in Calais, Fine Gael MEP for Dublin, Brian Hayes, has said.

Responding to comments by party colleague, Government chief whip Regina Doherty, that it was a “no-brainer” to relocate 200 unaccompanied children here, Mr Hayes said: “Fair play to Regina for saying that”.

“We should take action here,” said Mr Hayes. “Given that we have a large number of minors there [in Calais] as a humanitarian gesture we should move quickly on this. It’s the right thing to do.”

An estimated 1,400 unaccompanied children, some as young as six, remain at the site of the makeshift camp known as the “Jungle” on the outskirts of the French port town.

Calls for to bring 200 of them here are being spearheaded by the Not On Our Watch campaign and supported by the Children’s Rights Alliance, the Immigrant Council of Ireland and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Dáil motion

Mr Hayes’s comments come as the Dáil prepares to hear statements tomorrow on the situation. Richard Boyd Barrett TD, of the People Before Profit-Anti Austerity Alliance has put down a motion calling for the “immediate” action on the issue.

It will be discussed at Cabinet this afternoon – the meeting had been due to take place tomorrow but has been rescheduled – and a Government position decided. Ms Doherty said it was hoped a cross-party motion could be tabled in the Dáil next week enjoying unanimous support .

“But, speaking personally,” said Ms Doherty, “I think we should do it. I think it’s a no-brainer. There are about 1,500 children and young people floating around there in awful conditions not knowing what’s going to happen to them.”

She said Ireland assisting France and Britain to accommodate the children would be a “responsible thing to do”.

The camp has been home to up to 8,000 migrants fleeing war and poverty in countries including Syria, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and Iraq, hoping to make the final leg of their journey across the English Channel.

French authorities have almost completed its demolition and dispersed about 6,000 adult migrants around France.

However, an estimated 1,400 children and teenagers remain, currently being accommodated in more than 100 shipping containers.

Dozens of children and teenagers, unable to get into the containers, are sleeping rough nearby – without access to education, sufficient food or money.

A vigil, supporting the relocation of unaccompanied children here from Calais, takes place outside the Dáil at 7pm tomorrow.