[Sinn Fein]

10 December 2001

Death of refugees ``an international scandal''

Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has described the death of eight refugees in a freight container in Wexford as an ``international scandal'' and has called for action from the Irish government and the EU. He said:

``The tragic deaths have appalled the Irish people. I extend deepest sympathy to the relatives of those who died and to those who are seriously ill. This was a tragedy waiting to happen. It was only a matter of time before the type of fatalities, which have occurred en route to other EU countries, happened here also.

``The unscrupulous traffickers responsible for placing people in such horrendous conditions should be dealt with severely.

``This tragedy also challenges the asylum system and the immigration system in this State and throughout the EU. Economic migrants in particular are the victims of a `Fortress Europe' policy by which people from poorer states outside the EU find it almost impossible to enter the labour market here. In this State they are accorded no permission to work in their own right but can only gain entry on request from an employer.

``The Irish government and the EU need to re-examine and reform their policy with regard to labour from outside the EU. Otherwise the walls of `Fortress Europe', like the Berlin Wall in the past, will continue to claim victims.''

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