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Time for Europe to show a softer side to refugees

LISTENING to news of the tragedies at Lampedusa, it is hard not to be reminded of Ireland's own history of "coffin ships" heading to America. This should be our guide in responding to the terrible human loss of life.

It should also strengthen us in our resolve to support the countries of southern Europe as they seek EU action to end the scourge of human trafficking.

We should offer strong political and diplomatic support to Malta as it seeks to put the crisis on the agenda of EU leaders and foreign ministers.

This is a time for Europe to show a compassionate side, which is too often sacrificed for bureaucracy, red tape and indecision.

The strength of our response should reflect the values which we think are the true measures of our success as a people: compassion, empathy and a determination to tackle injustice.

To do nothing would not only be callous and cruel, but would also be a betrayal of our own history and a failure to learn from some of its most tragic episodes.

TIERNAN BRADY

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