In a speech delivered on the opening day of the UN Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul (23 May 2016), President Higgins criticized the Irish State’s delay in accepting the 4000 refugees and migrants it had pledged to take in the aftermath of the Syrian/Afghan refugee crisis that dominated world headlines in 2015. He said he was not interested in ‘applying blame’ to any person or institutions but stated that the process for receiving refugees ‘shouldn’t have taken so long’.
The Irish President also criticized world leaders for what he called “empty pledges”:
“For too long now, empty pledges and fine words have died in our mouths – now is the time to turn promises into action for this generation.”
In his address to the summit which aims to close a €13 billion aid funding gap, President Higgins urged leaders to change how humanitarian aid reaches the most vulnerable. He declared:
“As heads of State or Government, we must be aware of all those women, men and children who yearn for, even weep for, a United Nations that would be supported, resourced and enabled, beyond any competing set of narrow interests, to act decisively against the interrelated issues of global poverty and hunger, conflict, displacement and climate change.
“Let us honour those who have worked so hard to prevent, reduce and respond to conflicts, who have helped pick up the pieces in a broken world, but let us not shrink from the reality of the deep political and intellectual failures, with which we must deal, from which we must depart.”
Read complete Irish Times article.