Fianna Fáil supports Defence Forces recommendation to participate in Operation Sophia

Ireland has an obligation to respond to this migration crisis

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Defence Lisa Chambers says the participation of the Irish Defence Forces in Operation Sophia will ensure that Ireland plays its part in responding to the horrific humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean as well as fulfilling our duty of members of the European Union.

Deputy Chambers was speaking in the Dáil during a motion to approve the deployment of the Defence Forces to serve as part of Operation Sophia.

“Fianna Fáil has consistently recognised and commended the work of the Irish Navy since it was first sent to the Mediterranean to assist in the humanitarian operation. They have made an extremely valuable contribution and have saved many thousands of lives. Our decision to support this motion is based on the recommendation and advice from the Defence Forces themselves to participate in Operation Sophia”, explained Deputy Chambers.

“To date, the Irish Naval Service has rescued more than 17,000 migrants in the Mediterranean and we are immensely proud of the role they have played despite operating in such difficult conditions. Ireland is part of an international community and the migrant crisis is not something that we can ignore and suggest that other countries address. We will be working closely with 25 other EU member states, several of which are neutral like ourselves, and we will be fulfilling our duty as members of the European Union.

“Integrating our efforts with our EU partners is the most effective way to deal with this crisis. In practical terms, larger integrated search missions allow refuelling and resupply at sea, as well as integration with air support such as medevac, which would offer greater protection to our troops.

“With Brexit, Ireland has a visible and direct interest in demonstrating greater EU solidarity. This is a high-profile Irish contribution. Ireland’s humanitarian efforts are strengthened and better secured within a multilateral mission. We do better with a collective force and we will continue in our rescue role as mandated by the UN Law of the Sea. It is not a case of either-or humanitarian vs security operations – we have to do both.

“When we consider that 25 other EU member states are currently participating in this operation, I see no reason for Ireland not to. We are part of the European and the international community. This is a migration crisis to which we must fully respond as best we can and I am pleased to pledge Fianna Fáil support for the motion”.