Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Brussels this morning
Several Irish journalists asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny questions as he arrived for a meeting between Turkey and the EU’s heads of states or government – to discuss the numbers of refugees reaching Europe.
It’s being reported that Turkey is now seeking €20billion in return for Turkey taking back all non-Syrian refugees from Europe.
In addition, Turkey wants faster accession talks and quicker visa-free travel for its citizens within Europe.
Readers may wish to note that Ireland’s naval service rescued more than 8,000 people from Italy-bound boats off the coast of Libya and haven’t been present in the Aegean Sea to date, where boats of refugees, leaving Turkey, are bound for the Greek islands.
Ann Cahill (Irish Examiner): “Can Ireland not do any more? In terms of helping the situation. I mean we have very few of the EU’s first-time asylum-seekers last year and I know we’re taking some but could we not do more?
Enda Kenny: “The problem is not only on the Irish side, we’re actually not, as you know, part of the protocol, Ann, but the thing is that we’ve taken some from resettlement and relocation. We’re committed to taking 4,000 and we’re working towards that with the personnel that we have, from Ireland, coming to both Greece and to Italy and with the hotspots and the personnel working there.”
Cahill: “Can we not take more from Turkey?”
Kenny: “Well I think we should first of all be able to deal with what we’ve got with the commitment that we’ve entered into. I might say, I spoke this morning as well to the Minister for Defence [Simon Coveney], I expect that it’s our intention to send one of our vessels down to the Mediterranean again, in order to help with the situation there, in so far as humanitarian assistance is concerned whether that be as part of the formally, of the European response or on a bi-lateral basis will be worked out. But it’s our intention to send a further vessel down.”
Cahill: “And will they take people back to Turkey if…”
Kenny: “Well that has to be worked out in respect of sending them down first of all and in what role they’ll play there either as part of a formal European, humanitarian response or as a bi-lateral arrangement as we had before.”
Cahill: “And would you favour that, would you..”
Kenny: “I’m fully in support of the call and the intention of sending a further vessel down, they did rescue 8,000 people on the last occasion.”
Watch in full here
Previously: Cannon Fodder