Ireland "stands ready to play its part" in addressing refugee crisis - Frances Fitzgerald

Representatives of 193 governments agreed to adopt the New York Declaration at today's UN summit

Ireland "stands ready to play its part" in addressing refugee crisis - Frances Fitzgerald

Image: Richard Drew / AP/Press Association Images

The Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has told the UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants that Ireland is ready to play its part in addressing the crisis.

Representatives of 193 governments agreed to adopt the New York Declaration today, which the UN's Refugee Agency says is a "political commitment of unprecedented force and resonance".

The document calls on countries to "resettle or reunite many more refugees", as well as emphasising the responsibility for "timely and dependable humanitarian funding". 

Ireland has so far taken only 38 refugees from Greece, including one child - despite committing to resettling 2,622 people as part of the scheme, the Ombudsman for Children has said. 

Speaking in New York, the Justice Minister said the humanitarian challenge requires a global response.

Minister Fitzgerald told the summit Ireland recognises that more needs to be done.

She argued: "The international community has a collective responsibility to look at all of the options available to pursue a more long-term and sustainable strategy on this issue. Dialogue and cooperation with countries of origin and transit must be strengthened and operationalised.

"Fundamentally, of course, the true solution to refugee movements is to end the instability, conflict and oppression which force people to leave their homelands," she added.

She also hailed the New York Declaration as a "strong message of our political commitment to a wide range of action" which will "ensure a more humane and compassionate response in future to this issue".

However, the declaration has also received a mixed response from activists and charities.

World Vision Ireland’s Helen Keogh said: “Leaders have re-affirmed support for existing frameworks, which is a good sign, but it’s not really clear how we can keep them accountable for the support they have expressed today.

“We came here wanting to see extraordinary steps taken to deal with extraordinary crises affecting children. We leave here with everything very much business as usual. Leaders continue to sit on the fence, and children continue to pay the price. Children deserve better.”

Following today's UN meeting, Barack Obama will host a Leaders’ Summit on the refugee crisis tomorrow.