Sr Stanislaus Kennedy has called on the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, to give leadership on the migrant crisis and visit some of the camps in Europe.
“What I would be saying to the Taoiseach is you must go to the camps,
you must give symbolic leadership, you must speak to the people there
and hear their stories. If Irish people heard their stories they would
jump up out of their chairs and say we’ve got to do something about it,”
“I think we need a new start. I am not taking at all from what has
been done or is being done, but it isn’t sufficient and it isn’t
urgent,” she explained.
In an interview on RTE Radio 1, Sr Stan has likened the escalation of
Irish homelessness to the growing European migrant crisis, stating that
she would never have imagined that homelessness in Ireland could have
become so critical.
“I would say the same about the migrant crisis that we see on the
shores of Europe. Unless we are doing something about it now it will get
totally out of hand because we cannot stem that tide,” she said.
She spoke of the thousands of unaccompanied children at the Calais
camp in France which is now being demolished. She called on the
Government to make a commitment to take 200 children.
“We need to do it properly. We need to make sure that we have the
standards and procedures there to receive them. I think the government,
and particularly the Taoiseach, must lead this. We have had so far a
number of government departments and agencies who have had people in the
camps who have been looking at it. But that sense of urgency about it
has diminished over the past year.”
She admitted that Ireland has not done well in caring for
unaccompanied minors but said the country could care for the 200 if the
political will is there and the department of the Taoiseach took on the
responsibility and appointed a manager with sole responsibility.
She said she has not spoken to the Taoiseach or to his department
about this, but has been in touch with other departments with
responsibility in this area. She said Ireland is a moderate country in
an ever increasing right wing Europe and we could take the lead.
The very strong community spirit across Ireland, seen in groups like
the GAA, convinces her that Ireland is ready to take in refugees. But
there is also need for a public education programme to help diminish
some of the misconceptions out there.
Sr Stan was speaking to Keelin Shanley on the Today with Seán O’ Rourke programme on Tuesday (25 October). She also wrote an article in the Irish Times on the issue.
Separately, the Immigration Council of Ireland, which Sr Stan
founded, commented on what it called “the mass exodus of refugees and
migrants” from the Calais camp.
Chief Executive Brian Killoran said “We are calling on the Irish and
European governments to remember that we are talking about children who
are alone, having survived traumatic experiences and being left in
inhumane conditions without access to formal education.”
The Council said that people in the queues there said they had no
idea where they were going, but that most seemed resigned to leaving.
The camp at Calais, which is also known as ‘The Jungle’, had grown to
become home to around 7,000 migrants and refugees, many of whom want to
go to the UK.
There are an estimated 1,300 unaccompanied minors in the