“As Soon As The Result Was Shared, We Were Disappointed”

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From top: Fine Gael MEP Maria Walsh and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar; vote result yesterday in the European Parliament sitting in Strasbourg

This morning.

Fine Gael MEP for Midlands–North-West Maria Walsh spoke on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland about her  and her party colleagues decision to vote against a resolution to step up search and rescue operations of asylum seekers in the Mediterranean.

The other Fine Gael MEPs who voted against the resolution were Mairead McGuinness, Maria Walsh, Frances Fitzgerald and Sean Kelly.

Green Party MEPs Ciarán Cuffe and Grace O’Sullivan, Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson and Matt Carthy, and Independents Luke Ming Flanagan and Mick Wallace all voted in favour.

No votes were recorded for Independent Clare Daly, DUP MEP Dianne Dodds, the Alliance Party’s Naomi Long or Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher.

The vote lost by two votes – to applause within the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Ms Walsh started her interview with Dr Gavin Jennings saying that there were a number of “red flags” in the resolution which she voted against.

The resolution included the following line:

“Calls on all actors in the Mediterranean to proactively transmit information related to persons in distress at sea to the competent authorities for search and rescue operations and to, where appropriate, any potential vessels in the vicinity that could imminently engage in search and rescue.”

Dr Gavin Jennings: “Why did you vote against the resolution?”

Maria Walsh: “Well, first and foremost, based off, let me be very clear. My colleagues in Fine Gael and the European People’s Party, EPP, support search and rescue for the most vulnerable in the Mediterranean and we’ve been very clear on that. We’ve also been very clear that we want effective and workable solutions for the Mediterannean, working with our new EU Commission, working with our council and, of course, across the European party.

“Not only is it morally right but it’s legally our duty to save our most vulnerable. But this report had a number of red flags to it and you would have seen that based off the 288 voted in favour, 290 voted against.

“Couple of red flags for us so as the EPP group, we made a plan. We needed to make sure that our most vulnerable was protected. So we had four key votes and I’ll just explain one of them in particular that was the one voted down was amendment 59 which was calling, which was proposed by S&D and Greens originally and we had really fought to include this into a key vote into the report as a whole and it wanted information shared to all vessels – NGOs, Frontex, members states.

“Now what we see in Essex and what I’m reading on the reports is the fact that we have an incredible serious issue with human trafficking, incredible. That we need to solve and find a solid solution for. But sharing information of our most vulnerable when they’re at most risk, is not the way to do it.

“So, how, what was proposed by other parties was information would be shared throughout. That, that, I can’t stand over that. EPP couldn’t stand over that. That is just one call. But I do want to stress to listeners and to yourself – this report does not change, this resolution I should say, does not change, does not combat or create any other issues under international law.

“All vessels that come into contact with individuals must assist them and this vote doesn’t change that.”

Dr Gavin Jennings: “OK.”

Walsh: “But what it does is it shows that, it shows that we have to go back to the drawing board, it shows we have to bring in Ursula von der Leyen commissioner-designates in to talk about this and we have to find a solution that works for all, that member states…”

Jennings: “The resolution…”

Walsh: “….and NGOs are not at risk…”

Jennings: “Maria Walsh, the resolution called on all actors in the Mediterranean to transmit information in relation to persons in distress at sea to the competent authorities for search and rescue, all actors in the Mediterranean. Now your party, Fine Gael, as part of the European People’s Party voted alongside ultra-nationalists and far-right parties to defeat this resolution by two votes. Many of those parties were celebrating the result in the European Parliament. Are  your party proud of your achievement?”

Walsh: “Not at all. Actually, I won’t speak for, I won’t speak for any other group, except the EPP. I know the co-ordinator quite well, Roberta Metsola for the EPP, I also know the Shadow Repertoire  on this file Lena Düpont, from Germany. And I can tell you this: we, as soon as the vote was cast, and the result was shared, we were disappointed. We wanted the…”

Jennings: “Many of the parties that votes alongside you were far from disappointed.”

Silence

Walsh: “Well, like I said I can’t speak on behalf of any other group, except the EPP. But the one sentence that came out from again Roberta and Lena’s mouth is: we need to get back to the drawing board. And we need to get back fast. So that issues, and you see a lot of red flags here, that people are clinging on to the fact that four MEPs from Fine Gael voted this down.

“This report was loose in language, it was not legally binding, it was not looking at support from member states, it was actually putting NGOs, that do amazing work, most at risk.

“And we are looking at and calling for an increase in smuggling and trafficking. And any report that has any grey area with increase of trafficking, I’m sorry. I hope my listeners, your listeners, agree with this: we cannot support.

“I also just want to point out…”

Jennings: “Very briefly..”

Walsh: “Yeah, I just want to point out. This report wasn’t, wasn’t green flagged by everybody. I want to note that four S&D colleagues voted down, five were absent. Renew Europe, ten voted down and four were absent. Now the far, far right, or far left, if you want to give them names…”

Jennings: “I’m afraid we’re going to have to leave it there, Maria Walsh, MEP, thank you very much for speaking to us this morning.”

Listen back in full here

Yesterday: Meanwhile in Strasbourg

Previously: What Fresh Hell…?

Rollingnews

UPDATE:

Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly

This morning, Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly spoke to East Coast FM about the vote.

He told Declan Meehan that he and his colleagues “don’t want to put anything put in place to help the smugglers”.

Asked about the applause that rang out after the vote result emerged, Mr Kelly said: “I think it was terrible.”

He added that those who applauded “had a different reason for voting the way we did”.

East Coast FM

UPDATE:

Conor McCabe tweetz:

After he voted to let people drown in the Mediterranean, Seán Kelly ordered himself a juicy burger and side plate of chips. He even fu**ing tweeted it.

UPDATE:

Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher has tweeted:

Yesterday, I voted on over 140 amendments and resolutions.

Included in these were votes in favour of many GUE/NGL amendments supporting their position on refugees and migrants.

However, voting was slow to start and as such I had to leave at 12:45 in order to compete my 2.5 hour bus journey to Frankfurt in order catch my flight back to Dublin and then onto Cork.

I 100% would have voted in favour of this resolution. I hope that the EU Council and Commission can implement progressive proposals to protect migrants & asylum seekers and save lives.

UPDATE:

RTÉ News reports:

Speaking to RTÉ News, Ms McGuinness said the provision would have required Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, “to share information with all ships in the region, including traffickers”.

Ms McGuinness said that would not have been acceptable and said if the resolution had been passed, it would have “made the situation worse”.

“We had concerns about the actual content of it, not about the objective,” she added.

Ms McGuinness said she “will not allow anyone challenge my ethics or morality around saving lives” and she insisted the parliament “will revisit this issue again” very shortly.

McGuinness and Walsh defend vote against search and rescue resolution (RTÉ)

32 thoughts on ““As Soon As The Result Was Shared, We Were Disappointed”

    1. worker

      really clear to see the lines the FG PR team fed her, as she gets in a tizzy trying to explain she reverts to them.. “our most vulnerable” .. they fed her that. she says it about 5 times. yer man barely speaks, she’s been let at it to explain and save face, and is still in a complete tizzy. she knows it’s bad. she might not even agree with it, but has to do what she’s told. but sure wasn’t her video with space hoppers and rubex cubes great? ‘sake.

  1. baz

    The Irish Naval Mediterranean Taxi Service was used and abused by human smuggling gangs.
    Only a fool could protest otherwise.

  2. class wario

    Word salad from Walsh. “We couldn’t stand over [the sharing of information]” what???

    Usual guff about helping smugglers from Kelly. Desperate people and unscrupulous smugglers won’t be deterred by the possibility of the former dying; it’s just a useful bit of concern trolling and a fig leaf for the likes of FG.

    1. Amy

      Exactly. Walsh is a coward, at least tell people the reason you voted against the measure is because you hate migrants.

  3. DaithiF

    Communications teams for the political parties should read transcripts of interviews like this to audit how utterly incomprehensible and inarticulate some of their party’s spokespeople are.

    1. Otis Blue

      I think it’s actually intentional. Few people bother to try and decode this type of gibberish and bluster. And the politicians know it.

      Whatever you say, say nothing.

      1. Otis Blue

        Damien English is a pro at this type of stuff. He’s usually sent out to bat for FG when no one else will. He then just talks absolute twaddle at 120 mph.

        And on and on we go.

  4. Rob_G

    The European Parliament should vote for a large appropriation to be made to buy additional boats for the Libyan navy. And money to provide the necessary training for their personnel, etc.

    Once its clear that every boat intercepted in the Mediterranean will be towed straight back to Libya, the number of people attempting to cross to Europe in this very dangerous way will drop off hugely, and many lives will be saved.

    1. Kirkbadaz

      You know the Libyans are just running concentration camps where the mistreat and abuse these refugees?

    2. Hector Ramirez

      So you want to buy boats for a naval service to bring migrants (who say they are in fear of their lives) back to a country and back to a situation where they in the middle of a civil war?

      Right so…

      1. Rob_G

        I can’t see how a boat originating in Libya, stopped in Libya’s territorial waters, would be brought anywhere other than Libya.

        Why are these people putting themselves at such dreadful risk travelling to Libya in the first place?

        The situation as it was was providing a huge pull effect – travel to Libya, get yourself into any sort of a boat, and you will get entry into Europe. It was a moral hazard; if it’s clear that the chances of getting into Europe are close to zero, people will stop getting into un-seaworthy vessels at terrible risk to themselves, and indeed stop travelling to Libya in the first place. It’s harsh, but will in the end save lives.

  5. Pat

    That last tweet is stupid. Who cares if Kelly had a burger fffs? Maybe if he tweeted he was off on a cruise of the Med…

    1. Clampers Outside

      Do those giving out about someone having their dinner look at their own dinner and think…
      “I don’t deserve this”.
      .
      .
      .
      .
      s/

        1. Gringo

          Kelly is such a silly he considers mince meat to be haute cuisine, although it probably resembles whats between his ears, Kelleher is a silly billy who cannot be bothered to stay around to do the job he was elected to do, and gets so well paid to do.

  6. Dunno

    Sure how stupid are the voting public to vote in a novice like Maria Walsh into a position of power. Easily manipulate into the party line as she has shown by her actions above. We get what we deserve.

    1. worker

      pretty stupid. she got in off the back of a promotional video where she just listed stuff from the 80s. a real “hey remember space hoppers?” pile of muck. so the fact that it worked, would tell me the voting public are pretty stupid. they also just dont seem to care. you can land yourself in hotwater politically, and it won’t effect you come voting day. people just don’t care.

      1. Clampers Outside

        “That’s progressive.”

        ( to be said in the same manner as one would say… “thaaat’s numberwang” )

  7. Cian

    This was done on party lines.

    The vote was split between the following european parties (number of MEPs in brackets out of the 751)
    S&D (154), Renew (108), Green/EFA (74), & GUE/NGL (41) voted for this. {this group has a potential 377 MEPs}
    EEP (182), ID (73), ECR (62), NI (57) voted against. {this group has a potential 374 MEPs}

    https://www.europarl.europa.eu/hemicycle/

    Our 11 MEPs are aligned to the following parties:
    – Renew (FF x 1),
    – Green/EFA (GP x 2),
    – GUE/NGL (Daly/Ming/Wallace,SF = 4)
    – EEP (FG x 4),

    1. V

      That’s not going to save ye Cian

      Especially since it was Simon Coveney fronting all the applause, praise and plaudits, and people of the year carry-ons when the Irish Naval Service was out rescuing survivors.

      Christ there wasn’t a news camera or accolade missed there a few summers ago

    2. Cian

      Oops. I was incorrect. The “NI” group of 57 are not attached to a party – so I shouldn’t have added them to the “voted against” side. They seemed to mix their yes/no vote.

      A question that should be asked is where were Clare Daly, Dianne Dodds, Naomi Long and Billy Kelleher? 3 of these are aligned to the “yes” side, and had they voted would have swung the vote. Diana Dodds is part of the “NI” non aligned members so we cant predict which way she might have voted.

      Clare was there, and contributed to the discussion… but didn’t vote?
      http://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/CRE-9-2019-10-23-INT-3-416-0000_EN.html

  8. some old queen

    So- FG voted against a resolution to step up search and rescue operations of asylum seekers in the Mediterranean because of political optics but are now upset that it actually passed.

    Why don’t they just state that the pull factor would attract more of the same? That is the real reason why they voted the way they did- then again I’m not a politician- sure I offend people by just yapping on here.

Comments are closed.