Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, has called the EU’s Agreement with Turkey, which has started mass deportations from the EU to Turkey, as a capitulation to the forces of reaction in Europe.

Crowe was speaking in the Dáil on Statements on the Refugee Crisis when he strongly criticised the agreement which also classifies Turkey as a ‘Country of Safe Origin’, despite its deplorable human rights record.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“The backdrop to today’s debate is that Europe is facing its biggest refugee crisis since World War Two.

“The EU’s response to this refugee and humanitarian crisis has been shameful, inhumane, indifferent at time and just wrong.

“The International Organization for Migration estimates that from 1 January to 25 April of this year 181,476 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain.  That is roughly 3.4 times more than this time last year. During this short couple of months 1,232 desperate people have died while attempting theses dangerous sea crossings.

“How do we respond to this tragedy? The EU, with Ireland’s full support, has established an Agreement with Turkey to deport vulnerable and desperate men, women and children from the EU to Turkey.

“Turkey is a country with a deplorable human rights record and a history of discriminating against minorities, and the EU’s Agreement with Turkey is a capitulation to the forces of reaction in Europe.

“5 leading Aid groups have taken an unprecedented step and are now refusing to work with Brussels on its implementation of this agreement.  We are being assured that everyone will first been screened and only those who are deemed what the EU calls ‘irregular’ will be deported back across the Aegean Sea, but Human Rights Watch (HRW) believes  the deportations were ‘rushed, chaotic, and violated the rights of those deported’.

“The UN Refugee Agency has also said that 13 of those recently deported had expressed a desire to seek asylum in Greece and should have granted them amnesty in that country.

“Sinn Féin along with many others welcomed that the Government agreed to relocate 4,000 refugees to Ireland, but so far only one family of 11 Syrians have been relocated. 31 Syrians will be relocated in the coming weeks, but this is completely out of kilter with the scale and urgency of this issue.

“Another direct consequence of the EU’s deal with Turkey is that desperate people are now starting to attempt a perilous journey from Libya to Italy, a much more dangerous sea journey than from Turkey to Greece. The UN estimates that over 500 migrants travelling between Libya and Italy have drowned in the last month

“While I welcome acting Minister Coveney’s commitment to send another Irish vessel on search and rescue missions in the coming weeks, I am extremely concerned about the increased militarisation of these missions.

“Reports from the G5 summit this week indicate that American warships may now join European Union vessels off the coast of Libya by this summer in a Nato-led attempt to militarily stop refugees.

“Irish military vessels must play no part in using military force to push refugees back to the failed state of Libya. The Irish Government should instead use its voice in clear opposition to deploying military vessels against rubber dinghies overflowing with children and families seeking sanctuary and a new life.”