New EU migration laws ‘not perfect, but Ireland can’t do this alone’ – Andrews

New Eu Migration Laws ‘Not Perfect, But Ireland Can’t Do This Alone’ – Andrews
Dublin MEP Barry Andrews (centre) said he ‘wrestled with my conscience’ on parts of the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum. Photo: PA Images
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Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

The overhaul of the EU’s migration system “isn’t perfect”, but a change to handle an increase in asylum numbers is urgently needed, Dublin MEP Barry Andrews has said.

Years of division over the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum appear to have ended after the European Parliament voted the changes through on Wednesday.


The new rules include controversial measures: facial images and fingerprints could be taken from children from the age of six, and people may be detained during screening.

The 27 EU countries must now endorse the reform package before it can take force, possibly in a vote in late April.



Mr Andrews said he “wrestled with my conscience” on parts of the agreement.

“We are in dire need of a robust, efficient and streamlined system of processing international protection applicants,” the Fianna Fáil MEP said.

“In recent years we have seen significant increases in the number of migrants seeking asylum in Ireland.”


The number of asylum seekers arriving in the State has increased significantly in recent years. Amid the housing crisis, the Government has struggled to find suitable accommodation for applicants while their claim is being processed.

Several asylum seekers have been forced to pitch tents in Dublin and sleep in the snow and rain in recent weeks.

“We simply cannot limp on with a system that is not fit for purpose, is riddled with inefficiencies and poses potential risks to our communities and to those seeking our protection,” Mr Andrews continued.

“Ireland cannot tackle this alone. In order to achieve wide-ranging and effective reform, we must work alongside our fellow EU member states and ensure a fair sharing of responsibility across the EU.


“The pact will introduce more efficient asylum procedures, a robust and fair management of external borders and stronger governance of asylum and migration policies.

“This pact isn’t perfect, and I have wrestled with my conscience on aspects of it. Ireland is a country full of welcoming communities who want to continue to help those in dire need but who also know that our current migration and asylum system is losing public confidence.

“If we were to wait until a perfect solution is found, the challenges we currently face will spiral completely out of our control. There is no such thing as a perfect solution.”



Eve Geddie, Amnesty International’s head of the European Institutions Office and director of advocacy, said the EU was “shamefully co-signing an agreement that they know will lead to greater human suffering”.

“For people escaping conflict, persecution or economic insecurity, these reforms will mean less protection and a greater risk of facing human rights violations across Europe – including illegal and violent pushbacks, arbitrary detention and discriminatory policing.”

She added: “Europe has missed a vital opportunity to build a migration and asylum system that places human rights at the centre, and to unconditionally uphold people’s human right to seek asylum no matter where they come from or how they have arrived.

“This is a failure to show global leadership on refugee protection and building safe, fair and dignified pathways for people to reach Europe – whether in search of safety or of opportunity.”

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