Editorial – Politicians put to shame

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Volunteers in Limerick sort donated items for refugees. Photograph Liam Burke/Press 22
Volunteers in Limerick sort donated items for refugees. Photograph Liam Burke/Press 22

THE heartbreaking images of the tiny, lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi lying on a Turkish beach, juxtaposed with the happy, smiling pictures of him with his brother Galip in life, were sadly just the jolt that was needed to prompt Europe to act on the growing refugee crisis.

However, it was not the elected leaders of our continent who sprung into action to answer the plight of the thousands of people fleeing conflict in Syria and elsewhere.

Ordinary citizens in Ireland, the UK, Austria, Hungary and other countries began pledging beds to those in need, calling on their governments to accept more refugees, and holding demonstrations to let politicians and society know that refugees are welcome here.

Across Ireland, groups such as Limerick to Calais sprung up almost overnight to collect donations of clothes, blankets, tents and other goods to send to refugees in Hungary, Greece and France.

Ordinary people are giving up their time, money and belongings to help make the lives of their fellow human beings just a little bit more comfortable until they find a safe place to live.

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And they are putting our politicians to shame.

While Enda Kenny wrings his hands and spouts nonsense about Islamic State wishing to “blow up Newgrange and the Rock of Cashel”, people earning a fraction of his salary are rolling up their sleeves and creating practical solutions to help the men, women and children living in refugee camps.

This week, the Limerick Post contacted every TD and MEP representing Limerick to find out their views on the crisis, and what they plan to do to help. Only two bothered to respond.

Meanwhile, many of those who did not reply to our questionnaire on refugees were still happy to send us the usual press releases about how they’re working hard to get potholes filled and such like.

With an election looming, our public representatives would do well to bear in mind that the thousands of constituents helping out with grassroots movements to assist refugees will not forget the silence and inaction of candidates when they hit the polling stations.