‘They don't know what they're doing’ – McEntee slams SF over ‘ludicrous’ asylum pact opposition

'They have opposed every single good thing that has come out of Europe' - McEntee slams Sinn Féin over EU asylum pact stance.
Michael Staines
Michael Staines

10.14 11 Apr 2024

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‘They don't know what they're...

‘They don't know what they're doing’ – McEntee slams SF over ‘ludicrous’ asylum pact opposition

Michael Staines
Michael Staines

10.14 11 Apr 2024

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Sinn Féin’s calls for Ireland to reject the new EU asylum pact and 'go it alone' on immigration are ‘absolutely ludicrous,’ the Justice Minister has told Newstalk Breakfast.

The European Parliament yesterday passed the Asylum and Migration Pact after more than eight years of debate and deadlock.

The pact will see common rules introduced across the bloc – with countries legally obliged to process asylum applications in a faster manner.


It also aims to eliminate ‘pull factors’ encouraging migration to Europe as well as secondary movements – where people move from one EU country to seek asylum in another.

The pact is opposed by parties on both the far right and left of the political spectrum – with right-wing parties frustrated that it is not tough enough and left-wing parties concerned that it represents the abandonment of European values of compassion and human dignity.

Human rights organisations have also criticised the pact – which includes plans to hold some asylum seekers in ‘designated locations’ while their applications are fast-tracked and even send them to countries outside the EU that are deemed “safe”, in some circumstances.

Ahead of the vote, Sinn Féin urged Irish MEPs to vote against ‘the vast majority’ of the pact – insisting that Ireland is “better off outside it” and can create a fair asylum system without “interference from Brussels”.

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Justice Minister Helen McEntee slammed Sinn Féin’s stace – claiming the party doesn’t ‘know what it’s doing’ when it comes to immigration.

“I mean, look, this is an absolute game changer,” she said.

“Sinn Fein essentially wants us to go it alone, which is absolutely crazy – I have to say that.

“This is a global challenge, this is a global problem and we're not the only country where we've seen an increase in people seeking protection and coming to our shores.

“The idea that we would say we don't need any support, we don't need any help, we're not going to align with our European counterparts – it's absolutely ludicrous.”

"Game changer"

Minister McEntee said compared Sinn Féin’s stance to the route UK parties took with Brexit, adding, “we know exactly how that has worked out”.

“There is nothing in this migration pact that doesn't benefit Ireland,” she said. “I genuinely believe this is a game changer.”

The minister said the pact will ensure Ireland processes applications “much more quickly” and will make it much easier to remove” anyone who has no right to be here.

Secondary movements

She said more than half the people who arrive in Ireland seeking asylum have come from another EU country where they have already sought protection.

“If we do not opt-in to this pact, the idea that we could tell other countries to take back those who have already been offered protection in their countries again, it's absolutely ludicrous,” she said.

“We have actually helped to make this pact; to form it, to get it to where it is and there's genuinely nothing in it that doesn't benefit Ireland, so why we would go it alone and try and deal with this on our own?

“It's absolutely crazy.”

'They don't know what they're doing'

Asked why she believes Sinn Féin is opposing the plan, Minister McEntee said: “Because Sinn Fein have opposed every single good thing that has come out of Europe.”

“We as a country have benefited so much – from free movement, from people's ability to live, to work and to study, our economy has flourished because of Europe and Sinn Féin have voted against every single measure that has allowed for those benefits.

“This is no different here. They don't know what they're doing; they have no plan.”


Minister McEntee said Ireland also needs to ensure there clear legal routes available for people who want to move here to live and work.

“Let's face it, we're at full employment here,” she said. “Anybody who says Ireland is full needs to look at what's going on in our country.”

In the European Parliament last night, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil MEPs voted in favour of all ten parts of the EU pact.

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus voted against all ten.

Green Party MEP Grace O’Sullivan voted in favour of just two of the ten texts.

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