Comments described as ‘brit-bashing’ during Derry City Council and Strabane debate on refugee crisis

A debate over the refugee crisis following the tragic deaths of at least 27 Channel migrants has angered with Derry City and Strabane Council, an adviser calling the comments “Brit-bashing”.

DLP adviser Martin Reilly raised the issue during the plenary council meeting.

He said the tragedy was “heartbreaking news”.

“Our hearts go out to all of these people, and I use the word people intentionally because they are often treated as migrants, refugees and other titles are applied to them. At the end of the day, they are human beings, people who died trying to reach the UK to seek asylum, ”he said.

“This Council, through a motion I presented earlier this year, has already indicated and documented our concern over the UK proposals for the Immigration Bill which are under consideration in the Commons and my party member Claire Hanna spoke to Parliament about it. “

He added: “To those who would say that we have no space or that we should not take in refugees, I would respond by stating that we clearly have, especially at this time of year when Christmas is approaching, the need to understand that our hostel and the stables are not full and that we have room.

“There is clearly a lot of ignorance and fanaticism applied to those who try to suggest that we should not take in refugees.”

The sinking of an inflatable boat on Wednesday marked the biggest drowning loss of life in the English Channel in many years, with the deaths of 17 men, seven women and three children.

Suggesting that the council support a United Against Racism rally on Sunday at 2 p.m. in the city, People Before Profit Maeve O’Neill strongly blamed Westminster Gate and the EU.

She said: “I agree with Councilor Reilly, refugees are welcome here. It was really awful to see (these) people drowning in the English Channel.

“We have to be very honest and say it was no accident given that the governments of the EU and Westminster are directly responsible for the deaths of these people due to their inhumane immigration policies.

“Boris Johnson said it was a tragedy, but these are really empty words because it was not a natural disaster but a man-made crisis that caused this, fueled by hatred and division and a £ 30 trillion war enterprise.

“Whether it is Westminster or the EU, the treatment of people who migrate to seek refuge here is shameful, it really is Fortress Europe.”

Echoing the sentiments of previous speakers, Sinn Fein adviser Christopher Jackson added: “We agree that those seeking refuge on these islands should be greeted with compassion, not hostility.

While sympathetic to the loss of life, UUP Alderman Derek Hussey described some of the previous speakers as being “engaged in what I would call a bit of” brit-bashing because everything is in our hands. mistake “.

He added: “Let us not forget the derogation from the duty of the French government. The French government has a duty not to allow such dangerous people to travel to the English Channel in an attempt to reach the United Kingdom.

“It’s not all due to the British, the French have a duty here because that’s where they come from. Let’s go to the other side, Belarus pushing people to the border with Poland and the EU saying no, we support you Poland in its efforts to keep these people out. There must be a global solution to this scenario, not just a national solution. “

Describing the incident as “shocking and sad”, UUP alderman Ryan McCready said he had “objected to some of Member O’Neill’s comments”.

“It’s very easy to single out a few in terms of blame,” he said. “We didn’t mention France or other European member countries or anyone else in the West. It is only when he arrives in the Channel that the risk of movement of people illegally is so high by (those) who have been lost and it is absolutely regrettable and abhorrent. “

Independent adviser Gary Donnelly described some of the advisers’ comments as “a point because they struck a chord,” before adding: “Yes, France and the EU are to blame as well, but that doesn’t take away not the responsibility for these and what happened. “

He added: “Myself, Councilor Gallagher and a number of others went to Calais and saw with my own eyes some of the conditions in which these people live and that was several years ago, and it was just shocking.

“We have to get the message across that there is room at the hostel, but when we bring people here it is also important that we take care of them. I know Syrian refugees who live in this city and in their opinion and in my opinion they have been completely abandoned and they have not even received basic assistance even for some of their disabilities.

Alliance adviser Philip McKinney called the debate “sad” before adding: “It is a bad reflection on our advice when we are trying to score points on such a sad event.”

Saying shocked and saddened by the deaths, DUP alderman Maurice Devenney called the crisis a “serious problem”.

“When we look at the media and the thousands of people who come from all over Europe to the UK, I think there is a bit of British shattering here,” he added. “All the blame does not lie with Great Britain or the United Kingdom, Europe has its role to play.

“Let’s look at the geography, some of these people pass Germany, they pass France and these are also big economies and what are they doing to improve the situation.”

Closing the debate, PBP adviser Shaun Harkin spoke of the importance of “speaking up and sending a message”.

He said: “I think some people have chosen to ignore Councilor O’Neill talking about the guilt of the European Union. France follows the European Union, so it comes down to the responsibility and guilt of the EU and the UK government in creating a context of a British fortress, a European fortress and the people in Ireland who would try to create an Irish fortress.

The motion calling on the “Council to support a rally organized by United Against Racism on Sunday at 2:00 PM. Members also voted to encourage those who cannot attend to light a candle at the same time to show their support.”

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