Senator Sharon Keogan — EU Fines for limiting immigration
I seek a debate on the Government's future plans for managing international protection applicants in the context of the EU's voluntary solidarity mechanism, which requires member states to accommodate refugees or pay a financial contribution in the event that they choose not to, or cannot, accommodate such persons. The Government has opted for the latter in recent days, agreeing to pay a lump sum of €1.5 million to the European Union's solidarity scheme for failing to accommodate 350 refugees. This money will be used to assist with the relocation of refugees in other countries. While this may seem like a steep sum, it pales in comparison to the financial penalties recently agreed by the EU of €20,000 per head for each refugee a member country cannot house or for member states that cannot host refugees because they have reached or, in our case, exceeded capacity.
Why the change of heart? What happened to the Government's no-limit, open door policy? Surely the Government is not saying that Ireland is full because that would make its members dangerous, far-right figures. Has the reality finally managed to sink in, that in this country there are real logistical limits on how many people can live here? Ignoring that fact does not change it. It is baffling how the Government did not see this coming because it was pointed out, time and again. We could all see that the no-limit, open door policy was unsustainable but apparently the Government could not see it. Apparently Government members are entirely incapable of holding in their heads the abstract concept of the consequences of their actions. It took seeing children sleeping on the street before the penny dropped.