Europe and a humanitarian catastrophe


Sir , – Your editorial (September 2nd) rightly calls the present refugee crisis a “humanitarian catastrophe” and that we “should prepare to accept a substantially larger number of refugees”.

The Government is taking a far too complacent and irresponsible attitude to this growing crisis.

The people of Ireland, I believe, are ready to step up to the mark and accept multiples of the Government’s acceptance of 560 refugees over the next two years.

These extra refugees could be placed in emergency accommodation around the country, while there are thousands of volunteers like myself around Ireland who would be willing to help out in their settlement and later education.

This is the time for our Government to reverse its stubborn and irresponsible stance and move to restore the good name of the Irish as a people who are willing to greet the stranger into our midst with a warm welcome and to share generously what we have. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – What are we afraid of? Is it their colour, their religion or could it be that if we take more immigrants they might work too hard for less? The Germans have spotted an opportunity; taking in 800,000 people means 800,000 more customers for their businesses, 800,000 that have to sleep somewhere, eat something, wear something, buy something. As we have taken a lot of monetary advice from Germany, could we perhaps now take some of their values and common sense? – Yours, etc,



Sir, – The debate on how to deal effectively with the resettlement of refugees and migrants is dominated by talk of EU law, of personal documentation, and of finance. It is unconscionable that such concerns even enter into the discussion. This should not be a question of logistics, but a question of ethics. Should we not be asking ourselves when aid will be provided? Instead, the powers that be remain fixated with the “who”, the “what”, the “where”, the “why”, the “how”, and even the “how much”.

A great deal of animosity has been directed towards the incoming migrants – animosity that is, in most cases, unjustified.

Many of these people are escaping persecution, horrific abuse and extreme hardship. How can we look them in the eyes and turn away from their plight? Is that the way we would wish to be treated if circumstances were reversed?

How Europe conducts itself during the humanitarian crisis that is rapidly unfolding will be remembered for years to come. Will we put aside our differences and reach out to those in need, regardless of where they hail from? When this crisis is finally resolved, I hope we will be able to say that we stood on the right side of history. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – Reflecting on the plight of refugees from war zones in the Middle East, I mused that ideally, if only there were a very large and super-rich country nearby with a low population density and sharing a language with those of the refugees, logically it would be first to welcome them. I checked my atlas and saw Saudi Arabia.

Our western-oriented media outlets have not reported on any Saudi aircraft picking up refugees in Turkey or Greece, and flying them out to a safe and prosperous Saudi haven. In the interests of impartiality, I think they should report not only on the numbers of refugees welcomed by European countries, but also the numbers welcomed by Saudi Arabia. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 17.

Sir, – Those who are refused refugee status, as many should be, must be sent back, but where are they going to be sent back too? Under EU asylum law it is forbidden to send asylum applicants back to a country that is unsafe. So regardless of how many there are, who they are, or how they got into Europe, they are automatically in to stay. They must only breach one border and then they can travel freely through the EU legally, chose where to try and get to stay for certain, regardless of the outcome of their claim. When this reality sinks in to all those millions watching, then the storm of people trying to avail of this must grow.

This is not an asylum policy according to any law or piece of worked-out legislation; this is a surrender of sovereignty and sustainability. It is madness. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 9.

Sir, – So, Pope Francis leads prayers for the migrants seeking sanctuary in different European states. Given that the Vatican is recognised as a state, and he is its leader, how many such refugees is he prepared to take in? – Yours, etc,


Shrule, Co Mayo.

Sir, – These are exceptional times when the bounds of our generosity are being severely tested. Let us not be found wanting. Could I make one suggestion that could be given at least a chance? There are 26 dioceses in Ireland and about 1,300 parishes. If each parish were to “adopt” an individual, a couple or a family, that would mean that over the next year or so we could accommodate, absorb, and care for about 5,000 people who currently find themselves without a place to call their home. The details of the nitty-gritty could be teased out at local level with some guidance and support from both Government and diocesan personnel.

I think if we could embark on such a programme it would be a wonderful opportunity for local faith communities to renew themselves and to give flesh to the social gospel and in particular Matthew 25:35 – “I was a stranger and you received me in your homes.” – Yours, etc,



Co Laois.