Archbishop Eamon Martin calls for ‘prompt action’ on refugees

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh.
Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh.

The Primate of All-Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, has called for politicians to take “prompt strategic action” when tackling the issue of refugees in Ireland.

In a Pastoral Letter, dated October 25th, 2015, Archbishop Martin encouraged prayer for refugees, humanitarian workers and for a just response to the crisis in Europe.

“Some of the most moving contributions at the Synod on the Family have been about the plight of migrant and refugee families in many parts of the world,” said Archbishop Martin.

“I found myself deeply moved on several occasions as we listened to accounts of families separated, grieving and oppressed because of war and persecution in their homelands. An African bishop told us that massive numbers of refugees have poured into Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Malawi.

“Some of the poorest countries in the world such as Malawi have been inundated with people fleeing war and destruction. Malawi has been dealing with over 400,000 refugees. So far, we have been asked to take only a small fraction of that number into Ireland as a whole.”

Whilst conceding that the issue of refugees settling in Ireland is a decisive one, Archbishop Martin said the onus was now on governments in both Stormont and Leinster House to ensure the human rights of refugees are protected.

“Although the resettlement of refugees is a complex issue, the governments in both parts of Ireland must do more to protect the human rights of refugees,” said Archbishop Martin.

“We are being confronted with a human tragedy that requires a generous political and church partnership to help meet the needs of these vulnerable people. We have not always handled refugees with the respect that they deserve and lessons need to be learned from the mistakes we have made in the past.

“There is a pressing need for prompt strategic action that weds together a cohesive plan for welcome, integration and provision of sustainable resources for the refugees. I ask you to stress this to all political figures local, national and international,” he added.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Martin will officially visit the Derry diocese for the first time since he was installed as Primate of All-Ireland last September.

Archbishop Martin will arrive in the diocese on November 5 and will celebrate Mass in St. Eugene’s Cathedral at 7:30p.m. and that celebration is open to the public.