12 November, 2015

I want to begin by thanking the Government of Malta for hosting this important gathering of leaders from Europe and Africa.  By our very presence here together we are acknowledging our shared responsibility and our shared commitment to work together to address the current migration crisis.

Migration is the story of human development; it is the essential thread to be found in both African and European history.  Ireland’s own history and our global diaspora  tells our story as an emigrant people, while at the same time, contemporary Ireland is enriched by the many immigrants that are contributing to Ireland’s present and future. 

It is so important in coming together today, at this time of crisis, when lives are being lost and endangered; when organised criminal gangs are exploiting vulnerable people; when Governments are struggling to cope with the scale of humanitarian need on a daily basis; that we not lose sight of the positive role that migration has played in our past and can continue to play in our future.

It is crucial that all the countries gathered here work together in solidarity and mutual respect to bring the current migration crisis under control.  It is only in managing and regulating the situation, working together, that we can ensure that the real and lasting development benefits of migration can be achieved.

When migration is well-managed it has the potential to bring real and lasting developmental benefits to countries of both origin and destination. In this regard we welcome the inclusion in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals of a target for all UN member states on facilitating orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration.

Ireland is proud of the role we played as co-Chair with Kenya, in the negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals, and in focussing here today on the migration aspects, it is important that we all re-affirm the imperative of working together to achieve all of these goals.

Ireland fully recognises how important it is for Europe to engage constructively and in a spirit of partnership and equality with countries of origin and transit. We live in an increasingly inter-dependent world, a world in which mobility is a simple fact of life. It is only by working together that we will be able to face up to the challenges of migration and take advantage of the possibilities that it offers.

We believe that the Declaration and Action Plan that we are adopting at this Summit are a substantive and necessary response to the current crisis.  Ireland takes the position that tackling the migration crisis has to also include comprehensive longer term solutions that address the causes of irregular migration further upstream. The Trust Fund that we are launching will provide additional, targeted resources to make our commitments operational and effective, and I am pleased to announce that Ireland is contributing 3 million euro to the Trust Fund.

We see the Trust Fund as a key element of the EU contribution to tackling the root causes of instability, forced displacement and irregular migration in the North, East and West African Regions.  Our contribution to the Trust Fund is in addition to over 41 million euro that Ireland will have contributed to the international humanitarian response to the current crisis by the end of 2015.    

Ireland has many historic links with a number of African countries particularly in the educational field.  More than 40% of our overseas development aid, 250 million euros in 2014, is allocated to Africa and  it will continue  to be a key region for us.

Ireland has also taken part in the efforts to save lives in the Mediterranean and we are very proud that our Naval service have rescued over 8000 people in the course of this year.  We must all work together to stop the people smugglers and the organised criminal gangs that are exploiting these vulnerable people and putting so many lives at risk.  It is incumbent on all of us to live up to our humanitarian obligations and commitments, including by making special efforts to protect children, women and other vulnerable migrants and refugees.

Development remains at the heart of these efforts and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is the surest way to tackle the long-term root causes of irregular migration.  Agreed strategies and actions to end hunger, reduce poverty and sustain our environment, are critical to achieving long term solutions. A comprehensive and coherent approach also requires conflict prevention and conflict resolution to succeed in addressing the many conflicts that are destabilising so many countries in our shared neighbourhood.  Underlining all of these actions is the promotion and protection of human rights which provide the bedrock for functioning democracy and a thriving society.

We believe strongly that it is only by working in a spirit of equality and partnership with countries of origin and transit in Africa that long term solutions will be found. Today’s Summit is a statement of serious intent and commitment on all of our part.  In the days and weeks ahead, follow through in implementing our Action plan in a fair and balanced way should enable significant progress to be made.

Thank you.