According to Irish Member of the European Parliament Brian Hayes, a significant number of youths in Ireland have left to train and fight with the Islamic extremist group ISIS.
The ones who do, Hayes believes, are those with immigrant families who have felt marginalized in society and isolated from Ireland’s mainstream.
In an interview with EuroParlRadio in Strasbourg, France, Hayes said it is the responsibility of the Irish community to ensure that immigrant communities feel included and integrated into Irish society and European society as a whole.
“We’ve seen cases in Ireland, where some of these people would leave Ireland to take part as fighters, as they see it, for ISIS. We’ve seen a number of cases like that,” he said.
“The only way to challenge that is make sure that these young people feel part and parcel of their country, that they have been brought up in, but also part and parcel of the European Union.”
According to a recent CNN study of 25 countries, Ireland, with its small Muslim population, has the second greatest percentage of Muslims traveling to Syria to join ISIS. However, the figure is still as low as .07%.
“Some countries with relatively small Muslim populations have sent a disproportionately large number of jihadis. Finland and Ireland have the highest number of foreign fighters per capita – nearly one per 1,400 Muslims living in those countries has gone to Syria,” the study says.
Europe has recently seen 3,000+ individuals leave to join Jihadist extremist groups, which is causing the US Congress to take a second look at the visa waiver program that allows travelers from 38 countries to enter the US.
However, Hayes said that though the recent terrorist attacks in France are “a real threat we have to face,” there shouldn’t be a knee-jerk reaction that abolishes the freedom of EU citizens to travel, the Journal reported.
He said that rather than an “exclusionist neo-right approach,” there should be an “integrationist approach” that calls for integration in terms of justice systems, home affairs and police force intelligence.
This is coming on the heels of a recent threat to Ireland in the form of a phone call to the Intel plant in Co. Kildare; the caller claimed to be a part of ISIS.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has already held meetings with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister of Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan on the matter.
Flanagan has previously vocalized his concern that some Europeans have joined ISIS, and says it is a “serious problem.” In his opinion, the way to prevent this from happening is through education and information sharing, as well as criminal sanctions.