Navy picThis week I have been contacted by many people about the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean.

It is heart wrenching to see what so many people are going through. The images we have all seen have brought home the reality of it all, these pictures have brought the reality of daily life for thousands of people into our homes. I, like most, am filled with a deep sense of compassion and desire to help.

As a country we should, along with all our European countries, do all we can to help those people who are risking their lives to flee regions ravaged by conflict. The reason we should do this is simple, we should do it because it is the right thing to do.

Ireland has already provided some assistance and we have committed to accepting some refugees. But there is more we can do. This too has been acknowledged by the President, Taoiseach and many Government Ministers. Ireland will not be found wanting and we will do the right and generous thing. The Government has made clear that we are open to accepting additional migrants and will participate fully in the range of responses needed to address this global humanitarian crisis.

We have already provided assistance by deploying two Irish Naval Service vessels on search and rescue operations. This has saved thousands of lives and rescued over 6,300 people. In terms of monetary help, by the end of the year we will have provide €41 million towards assisting those displaced as a result of the Syrian crisis, including through participation in a Regional Development and Protection Programme in the Middle East.

Although these initial efforts are welcome, we must and will do more. Confirmation from Government that Ireland will do more reflects the empathy and compassion that the Irish people have for all those who are the innocent victims of this humanitarian crisis.