Hundreds of migrants are feared dead while trying to cross the sea from Egypt to Europe
President Michael D Higgins has called on the people of Europe to act with compassion in relation to the ongoing migrant crisis.
Speaking on the future of the EU in Dublin today, Mr Higgins posed the poignant question as to whether this devastating issue will be defined by barbed wire, tear gas and rubber bullets.
He also said that some member states took a self-interested stance on this crisis in which more than one million migrants are fleeing war and persecution.
As a result, President Higgins said that Greece, Italy and Malta have been left to rely largely on their own, limited, resources after an EU quota system for migrants was rejected.
The President asked why a continent of 500 million people felt so threatened by those in need.
"European media have tended to conflate the image of Europe with that of the small Greek island of Lesbos; they have presented to us a vision of Europe as a frail isolated rock overwhelmed by a tsunami of uprooted people," President Higgins said."
"When one considers the prosperity and the rich diversity of so much of Europe, where so many people from all regions of the globe have settled peacefully and successfully over so many decades, confidence, not apprehension, should guide our response to the arrival of new migrants."
"Can we leave millions of mothers and fathers, teenagers, children and babies, to wait in uncertainty, hopeless poverty and squalor at the border of Europe?"
"Can we avert our gaze from the even larger numbers of those who are trapped in precarious camps in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan? Is our response to be defined by barbed wire, tear gas and rubber bullets?"
His comments come as hundreds of migrants are feared dead while travelling on four different vessels, from Egypt to Europe. Less than 30 people have reportedly been rescued from the capsized boats.