In the end it came fast…. but slow. The screams from up on board overtaken by the roar of the waters breaking through the entrances filling the space about their feet. And as that cold water rushed into that dark space, they knew that death was creeping up on them. Death they had left behind, they thought. When that boat pulled away from the shore, as they were herded on as darkness approached, they took one last look at the land behind them, a land where they knew mainly death. Where they were numbed by it, stunned by it. Driven to risk death by it. One face of death roaring at them, rushing them towards a meeting with the same fear.
As the water rushed through they knew that they had no hope of escaping, that even if they managed to break through the locked gate in the hold of that wooden vessel, all they would be escaping into was a boat that had capsized in the middle of the Mediterranean. And even though the realisation of their fate was complete, they screamed and hoped and pushed in vain so that they would not go without effort. That even if there was a sliver of a chance of survival, they would grasp it.
So they tried.
And they died.
In death their bodies lost to the water, confined and caged at the bottom of the sea. The final insult to their memory, their dignity.
A vessel that will not be sought out and salvaged like a vast Western world airliner. Their final resting place.
Right now, as you sit in Galway or wherever and inhale the world around you, be sure of the one thing. At this very moment, terrified souls are preparing to try to make a crossing tonight and tomorrow or the day after. A dangerous crossing from a life of torment to a life they think will be better but which may not be, in our Europe. The Europe we are part of. The Europe that is characterised by many great things, but also by many abhorrent things like bigotry and hatred and racism.
When we vote in the European election, we do not think that what we are a part of is more than EU Aid and CAP reform and grants for motorways and education. What we should be voting for is a a continent that protects all who live within it and those who want to live within it with the greatest of dignity.
If the 4,000 people who had died in the waters of the Mediterranean in the last few months had been travelling in an airliner, with passports and luggage and documentation; if they were to be greeted at terminals by loving families, if they had the commercial value of tourists even, we would all sit up more and take notice.
It is incumbent on us all to value the human dignity of those around us so that more will be done to save those who risk everything just to share a fraction of what we have and waste every day.