Tag Archives: Refugee Crisis


A dispatch from an Irish volunteer helping with the refugee crisis in Eftalou (above) on the island of Lesbos, Greece.

Bewildered Student writes:

I arrived in Eftalou on Lesbos island, Greece last Saturday week. Located around 70km north west of the island’s main city Mytilene, the village is home to a picturesque pebbled beach, overlooking the Aegean Sea and the Turkish coastline.

I went for a walk heading eastwards along the twisty, hilly, cliff-edge dirt road cut into mountainous terrain that stretches for 17km from Eftalou to the pretty village of Skala Sykaminia.

Reaching the top of the dusty hill at the edge of Eftalou, the the view unfolded to show a breathtaking seascape framed by a necklace-like chain of discarded neon orange life-jackets snaking along the Greek coastline.

I met an elderly Greek man, who was also looking out at the sea that looked as flat as glass under the scorching sun.

‘No boats today,’ he said referring to the daily arrival of almost 7,000 refugees.

But, within hours, they came.

Several days later, the weather changed and it rained solidly for almost three days. The dirt road from Eftalou to Skala Sykaminia – where volunteers drive all day watching out for boats -crumbled from the heavy rainfall and the only way I can describe the situation is utter chaos.

The well-intentioned people who are helping them off the boats, giving them clothes, food, water, and medical attention – before sending them on their way to Camp Moira, where every refugee has to register – are volunteers.

Save for the nurses, doctors and one small team of four Spanish lifeguards, the volunteers are very young and inexperienced.

The effort that’s playing out along this 17km of coastline is super-human but it’s fragmented, splintered, ill-conceived and, because of this, dangerous for both the refugees and the volunteers themselves.

I have rowed in with a Norwegian volunteer group, Dråpen i Havet (A Drop In The Ocean) and, in just a week, I have seen exhausted volunteers weep as they process what they have witnessed, what they have heard and come to terms with what they cannot do.

People are dying in the water; boats are disappearing from sight; refugees who make it to the shores of Lesbos tell of children falling out of the boats; some refugees who are tasked with driving the boat, but who can see how dangerous the journey is, tell of guns being held to their heads when they wish to turn back to Turkey; some tell volunteers that they injected their children with heroin so that they don’t wail throughout the boat trip and risk being tossed over the side of the boat; they tell of passing destroyed boats and seeing people drowning.

The volunteers are everything from dancers to bankers, they do the best they can and use common sense but they still don’t know what they’re doing – all on maybe three to four hours’ sleep.

The refugees come off the boats freezing cold, drenched, tired and scared. Children and babies often have to sleep on the street, in the rain, with no blankets or cover. Some haven’t eaten for days. The shocking lack of logistical expertise means that even when the volunteers have water, food and blankets they literally don’t know how to distribute these essentials because they’re afraid of a mob forming.

A poorly constructed camp with the UN logo emblazoned on its cabins and tent in Skala Sykaminia is run solely by volunteers. I have been there several nights until the early hours of the morning and there are no UN staff here.

There is no significant support from any major organisation that could, first of all, care for the people who land along this 17km stretch correctly and, second of all, co-ordinate and create an efficient manner to help these people reach Mytilene.

Pic: Dråpen i Havet


Current and proposed border restrictions across continental Europe

Don’t fence them out.

Amy writes:

The Dublin Refugee Solidarity are holding a solidarity gathering outside the Dáil today (Wednesday) from 5pm to 8pm and ever Wednesday into the future. to show support, share ideas and create awareness surrounding the current Refugee crisis. But most importantly to say this has to end now. These are our fellow human beings. Bring a banner, bring a candle, bring your love. We’re calling it Solidarity Wednesday.

Dublin Refugee Solidarity (Facebook)


Ann-Marie writes:

Uplift members delivered Enda Kenny a message in today’s Irish Examiner by crowdfunding (in 24 hours) this full-page ad. The message reads:

The worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War is unfolding before our eyes. 37,477 people have added their signature to a petition calling on Enda Kenny to significantly increase the number of refugees to be welcomed to Ireland. As a community we have the opportunity to show leadership. 14,926 beds have already been pledged. All we need is the government to play their part and match the people’s leadership.

While today’s announcement is a move in the right direction, the government are still a long way off matching the solidarity of the Irish public.


Earlier: A Spin Out Of A Crisis

Our Uncivil War


From left: Tanaiste and Labour Party Minister for Social Protestion Joan Burton with Fine Gael Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan at a media briefing following the special government Meeting on the EU Refugee Crisis.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has said Ireland will welcome 4,000 refugees under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme.


The figure includes the 600 people already committed to earlier this year under the proposed EU Relocation programme, and the 520 programme refugees currently being resettled to Ireland under a previously-agreed programme.


Speaking following a special Cabinet meeting this morning, Ms Fitzgerald said ministers have decided to establish a network of emergency network and orientation centres around the country. Ms Fitzgerald said the cost was was €12m a year for every thousand refugees.

Govt announces plans to accept 4,000 refugees (RTÉ)

Earlier: Our Uncivil War

(Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie)


Taoiseach Enda Kenny arriving at government buildings this morning.

…At the meeting, it is understood the Government will insist that thorough background checks are carried out on all migrants seeking accommodation in Ireland.

This is the first time the EU will ask member states to take in refugees from countries where vetting has not already taken place. There is concern up to 15pc of those seeking to live in Ireland may not be genuine refugees.

“In the normal course of events you would be doing security checks, finger printing and so on. You don’t give up all that,” a Government source said.



Government will insist on strict vetting rules for all new refugees (Philip Ryan, Herald.ie)

(Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie)




By John McFadden.


Further to upset at comments made on last night’s Claire Byrne Show on RTÉ One.

Deirdre O’ Shaughnessy writes:

Cork-Calais campaigner Tracey Ryan (top) spoke to PJ Coogan [on Cork’s 96 FM] about her disgust at alleged racist statements going unchallenged on Monday night’s Claire Byrne show. Ms Ryan had been invited on the show but was never called to speak….

Pic: Examiner.ie

Earlier: Unchallenged


The LE Eithne in the Mediterranean last month

Ireland has taken fewer refugees than any other country in the EU. Many people are understandably concerned about the impact of a refugee influx on Irish workers.

But past experience shows that immigration, even by refugees, can be an economic win/win that benefits native workers as well. A study of Denmark’s experience with refugees fleeing the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s has shown that, far from “stealing” native jobs, low-skilled refugees created jobs and pushed up native workers’ wages by allowing for greater specialisation in the economy. Similar studies, such as of Cuban refugees to the United States, have found no harm to native workers.

Working with the rest of Europe to take a greater number of refugees need not be costly to ourselves. Unlikely as it may seem, they may prove to be an economic blessing in disguise.

Sam Bowman
Deputy Director,
Adam Smith Institute,

Irish Times Letters

(David Jones/RollingNews)


Most other newspapers, in Ireland and worldwide, used versions of the dead child on page one….we used what I think is the strongest image as the lead image on the first foreign news page. On page one we carried a picture of Michael Fingleton matching a report on his evidence to the Banking Inquiry.

…Were we right not to use the picture on page one?

In hindsight probably not – by the time we went to press later last night the images had gone viral and were all over news bulletins and Twitter.

The shock element by the time the paper hit the newsstands this morning was gone and most readers would have understood that these heartbreaking images of a dead innocent child… say more about our failure in Europe to deal with the refugee crisis than an acre of print.

Frank Millar, picture editor of the irish Times

Should this image have been shown at all? Should we have used it on page one? (Frank Millar, Irish Times)

How the photo of Aylan Kurdi resonated with Irish Examiner readers (irishExaminer)

Pic: Paul Sammon