Call for more refugees to be allowed into Northern Ireland

A Hungarian police officer checks the border searching for refugees entering the country illegally next to the town of R�szke
A Hungarian police officer checks the border searching for refugees entering the country illegally next to the town of R�szke

Some Northern Irish politicians have issued calls for the Province – and the UK at large – to take in a greater number of refugees.

Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said Northern Ireland may be able to act alone to try and implement this policy.

However, his preference is to work in co-operation with the UK Government.

He said: “I have no doubt the people of the north – and indeed Scotland and Wales – would gladly welcome any moves to allow more refugees to come here.”

He said the Prime Minister has indicated to him that he “is open to such a discussion”.

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has tabled a motion in the Assembly calling for the UK to accept what he called a “sizeable number of refugees”.

In addition, the party tabled the crisis as a “matter of the day” issue, with the aim of having it debated in the Assembly on Monday.

SDLP Belfast councillor Declan Boyle submitted a motion to the council calling for an increase in places available in the city to refugees, specifically those from Syria, while party leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell said the Prime Minister must “commit to offering sanctuary to those so desperately in need of our help”.

Dr McDonnell also said that it was “factually inaccurate” to talk about those crossing the Mediterranean being “migrants”; a term often reserved for those who are choosing to relocate for employment reasons.

The DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson said while the “Government must do more to assist refugees”, individuals can help through donations to aid agencies.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said: “Northern Ireland has limited resources and can play a very small part in any solution, but the humane thing to do is play that part.”

A demonstration took place at Londonderry’s Guildhall on Thursday evening in support of refugee rights.

It follows a rally held in Belfast on Monday.

In recent weeks, hundreds of men, women and children have perished as a result of taking to the sea in over-crowded vessels.

Last week, more than 70 people were found suffocated in a lorry carrying refugees through Austria.