Irish MEPs’ vote on search and rescue

 

Sir, – The reasons cited by certain Irish MEPs to excuse their voting against last week’s European Parliament resolution on search and rescue in the Mediterranean are disingenuous at best (“Fine Gael MEPs reject claims they aligned with far right on migrant vote”, October 25th).

More than a thousand people have already died in the Mediterranean this year alone, according to the International Organisation for Migration. It is deeply disappointing that the European Parliament failed to adopt a resolution aimed at saving lives, and by just two votes. It is particularly shameful that four of our own elected officials voted against it.

Since the vote, these MEPs have paid lip service to their support for the EU and member states doing more to save lives in the Mediterranean. Let us be clear: voting against this resolution puts lives at risk.

Their statements regarding one particular provision in the resolution – transmitting information on persons in distress at sea – are simply not true. The provision sought to address recently emerged information that states are failing to relay distress information to civilian vessels that could engage in search and rescue. Instead, Maria Walsh claimed it called for intelligence-sharing “about operational activities with every boat in the Mediterranean”. The four MEPs claimed it would thus endanger lives by facilitating smugglers and human traffickers.

In reality, such information-sharing is crucial to enable civilian vessels to ensure persons in distress are promptly rescued. Moreover, it is already required by international maritime law.

Adopting this resolution could have been a turning point for European policy in the Mediterranean. Instead, this vote has become yet another failure by the EU to take concrete action to save lives at sea.

The EU was founded on the principles of solidarity and respect for human rights. This resolution would have gone some way to living up to those ideals. Instead, we are left with business as usual. And business as usual continues to cost lives. – Yours, etc,

COLM O’GORMAN,

Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland,

Dublin 2.