Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, has criticised Fine Gael MEPs for voting against a European Parliament resolution calling for improved search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean to save refugees from drowning. The resolution was defeated by just 2 votes, with 288 votes in favour and 290 against.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“For more than a year now, humanitarian ships that rescued refugees and migrants from dangerous boats have been blocked from docking or disembarking passengers in Italy or Malta. EU countries have also ended their search and rescue missions. As a result more than 1,000 people have died in the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach Europe in 2019.

“These refugees are desperately fleeing conflict, persecution, and hunger. They are looking for sanctuary but tragically many men, women and children are drowning in the Mediterranean.

“This resolution was meant to send a strong message on the need to reinforce search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea and allow NGOs to disembark rescued migrants and refugees at their ports. Instead its defeat is being celebrated by the far right. This narrow defeat was possible because Fine Gael’s 4 MEPs voted against it.

“The failure of EU countries to prevent refugees from drowning and to provide safe and legal pathways to asylum is a disgrace. It is an outrage that any Irish MEPs voted against this resolution and supported the far right’s efforts to defeat it.

“I am calling on the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, to immediately clarify if there has been a change in Irish government policy regarding search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean and if he directed these MEPs from his party to vote against this resolution to improve search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean.”