In what might strike some (including, I’ll admit, this writer) as a remarkably rare outburst of common sense, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told a special EU summit on migration that phoney asylum seekers should be deported.
The Taoiseach’s remarks came as a host of EU member states called for action on the huge increases in irregular migration they are facing.
“Refugees are welcome in Ireland.” he said adding that “People who need our protection should get it.” Fair enough but there’s more:
Varadkar continued, “We also need to be firm with people who come to Ireland with a false story or false pretences,” This friends, is more or less exactly what the thousands attending protests in response to the government’s reckless asylum seeker and refugee policy have been demanding.
He added that a key area of police concern was “how we can better secure our external borders around Europe”.
Again, saying what her clearly understands a growing majority of Irish voters to feel, the Taoiseach said “We should decide who enters our country, not criminal gangs,”.
His comments concluded with, “Lots of people coming into Europe gain refugee status or the right to remain, but others don’t, and they should be returned.”
Buladh bos for Leo for finally saying what a growing section of the electorate – probably a majority – thinks.
But the question is this: Isn’t this “far right rhetoric”? Isn’t it precisely the kind of thing that would traditionally have gotten you shushed with the most outraged tone on RTÉ, and then never invited back?
Isn’t it also exactly what all those “dangerous” far right mammies and daddies have been saying on their bigoted and irresponsible far right hate marches (to use the general media characterisation)?
Here’s the thing: If the media gives Leo a dressing down for turning his coat on decency, and embracing the power of the far-right dark side, then at least we can say of them that they are consistent. But watch to see if that happens. Or if, instead, the media carries these comments as if they were always Government policy and there was never any doubt of it.
You see, it strikes me that the big difference between Varadkar and the media on one side, and these protestors on the other, isn’t simply what they think. If Varadkar can say “deport them” and be a centrist, and the protestors are “far right” for saying the exact same thing, then the difference must be something else.
Maybe it’s their accents. “Deport them” does sound less threatening coming in a nice Castleknock lilt. Whatever it is, it sure isn’t a difference in their arguments. Leo and these protestors are now roughly on the same page, in their rhetoric.