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Community / Carmichael stands up for RNLI after migrant rescue criticism

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael has received assurances that the matter will be looked into. Photo: Shetland News
Isles MP Alistair Carmichael. Photo: Shetland News

NORTHERN Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has voiced his full support for the national lifeboat service in fulfilling its remit to help those in danger at sea after the RNLI came under fire from right wing politicians for rescuing migrants in the English Channel.

The RNLI seeks to protect all of those in danger, regardless of nationality, and has received overwhelming public support after being branded a “taxi service” for asylum seekers by political extremist Nigel Farage.

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There have also been reports of lifeboat crews being heckled by members of the public for rescuing migrants.

The RNLI, which is a registered charity serving coastal communities around the UK and helping a wide range of people in distress, has received over £200,000 in donations to support its work this week.

Carmichael, who is the Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesman, said: “Like everyone else in [the] isles, I know and value the work that the RNLI does day in and day out, from supporting fishermen in dangerous seas to rescuing individuals in distress.

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“As a former member of the RNLI National Council I know too well how dedicated their volunteers are. They are an essential part of our island communities and of communities all along the coast of our country. We owe them thanks for their selfless actions – not baseless name-calling.

“It is a pretty basic principle that no one should ever be criticised for saving lives, wherever they are and whoever they are saving. It is not a matter of public policy.

“To politicise the work of the RNLI, as some have sought to do, is downright dangerous. If we start expecting rescuers to do a passport check before they help those in need then that is a worrying sign of where we are as a country.”

Carmichael said that “not for the first time” prime minister Boris Johnson and home secretary Priti Patel had been “happy to stoke grievance for political gain, only to wipe their hands of the negative consequences when good people are attacked”.

He added: “Whatever our political stances we should reject those who want to drag us down to their level of selfishness – and stand shoulder to shoulder with the RNLI.”

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