The Government’s decision to participate in operation Sophia, the European Union’s naval mission in the Mediterranean will have negative consequences for refugees, human rights and Irish neutrality.
Speaking in Brussels, the Dublin MEP said:
"The decision by the Irish Government to participate in the European Union’s attempt to find a military solution to a humanitarian problem will do little to help those dying in the Mediterranean or suffering horrendous human rights violations in Libya.
"Positive work done by the Irish navy as part of the bi-lateral search and rescue missions with Italy will not be replicated through Irish participation in operation Sophia. The EU’s naval operation is primarily focused on countering people smuggling not ensuring the safety of refugees.
"Amnesty International have highlighted the negative impact that EU policy has had on refuge safety in Libya, as part of operation Sophia the EU is attempting to trap refugees in Libya where they are kept in detention centres and suffer from various human rights abuses.
"The refugee crisis will not be solved by simply deploying an EU military mission to enforce the Mediterranean border, European nations should focus their efforts on addressing the root causes of conflict, poverty, and climate change which force refugees to risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean.
"Participation in any joint EU military force will undermine Irish sovereignty. At a time when the European Union is pushing for increased militarisation. The threat to Irish neutrality posed by the potential for future ‘peace enforcement’ coercive action in Libya as part of operation Sophia has been ignored by the Irish Government.
‘’Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s decision to support Irish participation in the EU’s naval mission, operation Sophia, will undoubtedly impact on Irish neutrality, operation Sophia is not a simple search and rescue mission its stated aim is to target people smuggles in Libya and to prevent refugees from reaching European shores, saving people is a secondary concern.
"It is wholly unacceptable that the Irish Government supports the Irish navy participating in an EU mission that aids and abets human rights abuses in Libya and is involved in training the Libyan coast guard who are directly responsible for a number of human rights abuses."