United Against Racism have called a protest at 6pm today at Fine Gael headquarters, 51 Upper Mount Street. This is to voice opposition to Four Fine Gael’s MEPs – Mairead McGuinness, Maria Walsh, Frances Fitzgerald and Sean Kelly – who voted against a resolution which called on EU member states ‘to enhance proactive search and rescue operation by providing sufficient vessels and equipment’ for migrants who were drowning in the Mediterranean sea.
The resolution also called on EU countries to open their ports to rescue ships.
The context is that 933 people have drowned in the Mediterranean sea so far this year. When NGOs like Médecins Sans Frontières rescue people, they are prevented from entering EU ports.
Fine Gael voted with the far right to stop this basic humanitarian resolution. It lost by just two votes.
Afterwards, Mairead McGuiness tried to confuse the issue by claiming that they voted against because the resolution also required Frontex, the EU Border and Coast Guard Agency, to be more transparent on is activities. She claimed this would have helped traffickers.
But her excuse only revealed the deep cynicism at the heart of right-wing politics. The resolution explicitly acknowledged Frontex’s ‘legal obligation not to reveal operational information’ which would jeopardise its objectives.
Nevertheless it demanded that Frontex make other information concerning its degree of co-operation with the Libyan coast guard available.
Libya receives money from the EU to stop migrants reaching Europe. It has made it illegal – punishable by imprisonment – to flee the country and last year the Libyan coast guard picked up 15,000 people. Many of these were brought to slave camps where they were tortured and raped.
Mairead McGuinness and Fine Gael want to keep these activities secret – and this is what her ‘excuse’ reveals.
This points to the fake liberalism that lies at the heart of the EU. The EU elite and its dominant grouping, the European People’s Party’ talk about the danger of ‘pull factors’ which attract more migrants to Europe.
They fail, however; to spell out what their ‘push factors’ are for keeping migrants out.
Last week’s vote and Mairead McGuinness’s subsequent excuse, however, helps to spells it out. They are willing to let hundreds of migrants drown in the Mediterranean sea and thousands of others be returned to Libyan slave clamps to ‘deter’ others from coming to Europe.
We live in a very sick world and we need to bring real change. We need to challenge the right wing who scapegoat migrants to protect their own privileges.
People Before Profit are therefore in full support of today’s protest and will work with all individuals, communities and organisations who want to fight for the rights of migrants and for a better society.