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Diplomatic Representation Expenditure (Continued)

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams] I commend that approach and wish the Taoiseach well.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I thank Deputy Adams. I do not believe I would have any influence over the agenda as it is one drawn up by the G8 but if and when an invitation comes, I would be very happy to follow through on that.

The crisis between Israel and Palestine has been raised here on umpteen occasions. I am aware the Deputy has been out there, as has Deputy Martin, and I have been there also. It is a very complex issue. I have seen the scale of housing development on the West Bank and I have been through areas of the Gaza Strip following the second last altercation between Israel and Palestine. It is an issue I will be happy to raise although it will be one for discussion with the American Secretary of State also at the OSCE conference that will be held here.

The issue of poverty raised by Deputy Adams is one we can certainly support. When I had the opportunity to go to the Olympics a special meeting was called by Prime Minister Cameron about hunger, malnutrition and under-nutrition, with particular reference to Africa. He had a number of leaders and those involved with NGOs and agencies at that meeting in support of continuing a high level strategy there to make real inputs into that matter. There will be an opportunity at the G8 summit and if it falls to me to have the opportunity, as the President of the European Council, to raise an issue like that, I would be very happy to do so. Ireland has a very strong record as a small nation in making a disproportionate impact on this not just in Africa, but in other locations around the world. I thank the Deputy for those suggestions.

Deputy Derek Keating: Information on Derek Keating Zoom on Derek Keating I thank the Taoiseach for the comprehensive and detailed reply he gave to my question. It is another indication to me that despite the very difficult economic and financial challenges he and the Government face we are determined to accentuate the positive when it exists and remain focused and determined to bring as much inward investment into the country. Next year promises to be a difficult but exciting year with The Gathering initiative-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Does the Deputy have a question?

Deputy Derek Keating: Information on Derek Keating Zoom on Derek Keating -----the EU Presidency and also because of the G8 summit. I have no other question other than to thank the Taoiseach.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett That is grand. I call Deputy Boyd Barrett.

Deputy Derek Keating: Information on Derek Keating Zoom on Derek Keating I hope the invitation will come to pass.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett There can be no more opportune time than when the G8 summit is taking place in this country at the same time as Ireland will hold the Presidency of the European Union, and when we might have the President of the most powerful state in the world might be visiting this country, to raise issues of global and international importance. We can agree on that. I ask the Taoiseach to raise, not necessarily at the same time and not in a confrontational way, two urgent matters of international importance in regard to the Middle East where Ireland has a particular role. We have a very strong connection to the doctors being persecuted in Bahrain because many of them were trained here and the United States has failed to say what should be said about the persecution of the democratic movement in Bahrain and the persecution of doctors trained in this country. First, I ask the Taoiseach to invite here some time next year representatives of those who are being persecuted to give their side of the story. Second, I ask him to invite a representative of the Gaza section of the Palestinian Legislative Council whose members have asked to come to this country to meet-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Deputy, it is a separate question.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett It is not.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin It is not.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett It is part of the question on the G8.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We are talking about the Taoiseach's visit to the United States.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett In fairness, a Cheann Comhairle, and with due respect-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett You can put down a parliamentary question and by all means I will give you time to question the Taoiseach on it, but this question is about visits to the United States.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett My question is about the G8 summit.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett It is not about the G8 summit.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett My question is about the G8 summit.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett What is your question?

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett To ask the Taoiseach about his intention to invite US President Obama here given the G8 summit taking place.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett You are asking-----

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Come on, a Cheann Comhairle. Deputy Adams just raised the Middle East.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Last week we had an argument here. There are 17 minutes remaining. We have given 43 minutes to this question.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett It will take me 30 seconds to finish asking my question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We are not getting into-----

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Into what?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett -----talking about the Middle East difficulties.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes We need Dáil reform.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett You did not interrupt Deputy Adams when he asked about that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I did. I asked him to put his question.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Can I finish?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Would you please put your question and stick to the subject matter? Put down a parliamentary question on the issue you are trying to raise. It is a separate matter.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Regarding the possible visit of President Obama and the G8 summit, I ask the Taoiseach if he will invite also representatives of the legislative council in Gaza, including the health minister in Gaza who is an Irish citizen and who was trained here - the Taoiseach might not know that - to give them a chance to discuss their side of this intractable conflict.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett That is a separate issue.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny There is no question that the Deputy's comments are about issues that are very important. I do not have any control over the schedule of the American President. I assume the President's schedule is among matters that are sorted out by the G8. When I spoke to him I told him that I hope he can come to Ireland again. As I said, I have no idea of his schedule but on the question of the Bahraini persecutions and the issue of Gaza, we have a seat at the United Nations. The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs has a particular interest in this and in so far as his remit is concerned, not just as the Tánaiste but in foreign affairs holding the chairmanship of the council of the European Ministers, I will ask him to take into account the two points the Deputy raised. I do not think it is for me to invite people here and while they are sensitive issues there are legitimate forums in which they can be raised with validity.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Why not just invite them?

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon I welcome the Taoiseach's initiative to broaden our base to broker a deal on immigration in the USA for the more than 50,000 undocumented Irish in the United States. This Government and this party supported the Kennedy-McCain immigration reform Bill in the US. I would like to know the status of that Bill. I pay tribute to the many Irish-American lobby groups in the United States which also supported the Bill. We have a duty of care towards our citizens in the United States as in every other part of the world.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny That Bill has fallen. There is a new Administration in place. It is a matter for Senator McCain, Senator Schumer, Senator Brown or any of them to raise the matter again and we will be happy to work with them. We are not the only country with an immigrant problem in the United States. We are not the only country on which there is a requirement for visa regimes. President Obama, in the run-up to the election, made particular concessions in regard to the Latino population, particularly about young people who had come to the country as children. It is an issue on which we will work with the organisations and the Administration through our consular offices, the ambassador and the lobby groups in making connections on the Hill, both in the Senate and the Congress, to see how we can play our part in bringing about what is the best and most appropriate outcome for Ireland, whether that be part of a major comprehensive immigration reform policy and platform or something more appropriate to deal with our particular case.


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