President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Junker has compared the current refugee crisis facing the European Union to the waves of Irish immigration to the United States.

In his first State of the Union address to the European Parliament, delivered on Wednesday in Brussels, Juncker proposed an emergency plan to address the recent influx of 160,000 migrants from countries in the Middle East and Africa to the EU.

In an impassioned 80 minute speech, Junker made his case for the 28 EU member countries taking in more refugees, and EU-wide standards and protocols for asylum seekers.

Comparing the current crisis to the masses of Irish and Scottish immigrants who sought new lives in the US throughout the 1800s and 1900s, Junker said, "There is a reason the number of O'Neills and Murphys living in the US exceeds the number in Ireland.”

He noted that EU countries located in the south and east could not be left to deal with the crisis on their own, and that all EU members would have to take their share. “Italy, Greece and Hungary cannot be left to deal with the migrant crisis alone,” he said.

Referring to the wall Hungary is building along its border with Serbia in an effort to keep migrants out, Junker said, “We can build walls, we can build fences. But imagine for a second it were you, your child in your arms, the world you knew torn apart around you. There is no price you would not pay, there is no wall you would not climb, no sea you would not sail, no border you would not cross if it is war or the barbarism of the Islamic State you are fleeing...

"We Europeans should know and never forget why the right to asylum is one of the fundamental, most important rights. We should not forget that,” he said.

"It is true that Europe cannot house all the misery in the world. But we have to put it into perspective.”

EU officials will meet on Monday to discuss his plan.

This morning (Thursday) the Irish government has convened a special cabinet meeting to solidify the details of Ireland’s response.

In the initial phase, Ireland will likely take in 1,800 refugees and will establish a scheme to fast-track those coming from war-torn countries such as Syria.

Dr. Kevin Doran has spoken about the viable options to house refugees who are flooding into Europe.Photocall