Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle: EU must focus on addressing causes of migration

Thomas Pringle - EU must focus on addressing causes of migration

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said the EU Migration Pact will add to the suffering of refugees without addressing the causes of migration.

Addressing the Dáil today, Deputy Pringle said: “This proposal seeks to strengthen laws regarding migrant smuggling, while at the same time, MEPS are today voting on the EU Migration Pact to reform asylum policies, which multiple NGOs have said would make it much harder for refugees to seek protection in Europe and which would force more refugees to seek other methods, such as smuggling.

“This is nonsensical and completely inhumane. We are forcing people into these dire situations and then punishing them for it. Official statistics show that most people who seek protection are fleeing persecution and violence. They will of course use any means possible to leave if it means leaving with their life.

“The EU Migration Pact will have devastating implications for the right to international protection and it allows for abuses across Europe, including racial profiling and de facto detention. I am particularly concerned with the pact’s expansion of biometric data gathering from migrants,” he said.

The deputy was speaking on the Motion re Proposed approval by the Dáil of a proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council on enhancing police cooperation in relation to the crimes of migrant smuggling and trafficking, and amending Regulation (EU) 2016/794.

Deputy Pringle said: “The pact, as well as this proposal, signify to me that the EU is completely abandoning its values of human dignity and human rights,” saying: “Neither the pact nor the proposal seek to stop the significant amount of deaths at the EU’s external borders. They only seek to lock people, including many children, in border procedures with no obligation to take in any asylum seekers.”

He said The Irish Refugee Council and Amnesty International have expressed serious concerns over the pact, with Amnesty saying it will set back European asylum law for decades to come.

Deputy Pringle said: “This is what the European Parliament will vote for today and I am disappointed, but sadly not surprised, at the amount of Irish MEPs backing this.

“It is clear to me that this proposal on migration smuggling will also impact negatively on refugees and will only add to their suffering. Although I support the proposal’s intention to combat trafficking, especially given that Ireland is failing to meet minimum standards to combat trafficking, it doesn’t seek to provide assistance to refugees and fails to recognise that refugees usually only turn to smuggling when there are no other alternatives available,” he said.

The deputy said the explanatory memorandum on the proposal states: ‘migrant smuggling to and within the EU is reaching new heights, fuelled by increasing demand due to emerging and deepening crises, most notably economic recessions, environmental emergencies caused by climate change, as well as conflicts and demographic pressure in many third countries.’

Deputy Pringle said: “Yet instead of tackling the actual issues, the EU has decided to target migrant smuggling, which is merely a result of these issues. This is not only incredibly cruel and inhumane, but senseless. As long as these issues remain, migrant smuggling and mass migration will remain. We need to start tackling these issues, or at the very least stop contributing to them.

“The uncomfortable truth is that all of us in Europe have contributed negatively to the climate crisis, which has caused environmental emergencies and has resulted in the migration of people forced to leave their homes. We cannot continue contributing to this problem and then refuse to accept the consequences.

“We need to stop putting all our resources into tackling migration and start focusing on tackling the actual causes of migration. Otherwise, migration will only continue to rise and I fear EU migration policies will only continue to get worse. We need to approach this in a humane and compassionate way that assists countries that are experiencing recession, environmental disasters and conflict. This is where we should be focusing our peacekeeping activities as a neutral country.

“I have often said Ireland has far more to offer in peacekeeping than we do in military might and our strengths have always been in speaking out against injustice. This is an example of where we can actually use these strengths to make a real and impactful difference,” he said.