As news breaks of another horrific, and almost inconceivable, level of human death and suffering in the mediterranean it can be very easy to distance ourselves. [http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-32371348] The water where these people drown can seem very far away from our little island. But this distance is false. It is dishonest.
These people died because they attempted to enter Europe. It was European policies that helped create the circumstances that drove these people. And it is European policies that made that journey even more dangerous.
There is a common experience of being an EU member, that makes it difficult for us to comprehend ourselves as both drivers and recipients of EU policies. When discussing issues that impact on us, like agriculture policy, austerity, or consumer laws we are fully versed in the grammar of the EU. But when it is others who are at the end of EU policy, we forget that we are the EU.
It was decisions made in Brussels that killed these people. Decisions made with our representatives present. With our representatives’ agreement. With our agreement. But we do not debate this. We do not ask these representatives why they agreed to make it harder to save lives, we do not make it an election issue.
This year is worse than others. This is because the Italian government, after spending huge amounts patrolling their seas, stated the cost too great, and begged the EU to take responsibility. They agreed, and replaced those patrols with a paltry presence utterly unsuitable for the scale of the task. This is the same Italian government grappling with austerity controls from Brussels. With the spending limitations drawn from the Fiscal Compact Treaty that we voted to approve.
Irish politicians don’t talk about the deaths of migrants, of men, women and children, on the EU’s borders. They don’t like to talk about that. But, it makes sense. That would mean talking about bodies, and as we know, the Irish government hate to talk about bodies of anyone they don’t immediately recognise as like them.