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Cyprus

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Foreign Affairs

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reunification

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Foreign Affairs\Cyprus\reunification\Statements
Statements\European Council

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European Council

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Deputy Mattie McGrath

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Mattie McGrath

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Snippet Contents:

I am delighted to speak today after the European Council meeting. I spoke ten days ago before the council meeting. There can be no doubt but that Europe stands on the threshold of fundamental change. Many of the crises facing the EU are the products of its arrogance. That cannot be overstated because it is out of touch with ordinary countries and the project we all voted for fadó fadó in the 1970s. It has neglected democratic principles and set aside the democratic will of member countries when it suited. We have seen countless cases of that. Is it any surprise that enormous sections of the population in member states are in open revolt against the increasingly elite view that is at the heart of the European vision which is alien to most ordinary people?
The European Union has come late to the condemnation of the genocide of entire populations of Christian and Muslim minorities in the Middle East. I visited Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon and saw the appalling vista. I saw the grannies and the young children who were orphans. I saw the trauma in their faces and the welcome they gave us but we are doing nothing. When I came back from that trip with Deputy Grealish and Senator Mullen I asked the last Government countless times in this House for a debate on it. I asked the Fianna Fáil party for one. No one wanted to hear about it. See no evil, speak no evil: what we cannot see we will not worry about. Now we are worried. I do not always agree with Deputy Wallace but this is genocide, under the dictators in Iraq, Syria and Libya. Charles Haughey went out to Libya and made deals with Gaddafi on beef. There was control. The Christians and the minority Muslim sects were allowed to practice whatever faith they wanted with total impunity and freedom and they were respected. Now there is a seismic shift. I recently met His Holiness the Pope and he begged us to do something about it. He called it what it was, a world war being waged on Christian communities and minority Muslim communities. We are sleepwalking while it goes on. The Government refused to debate this. I am asking now for more time for a proper and meaningful debate in view of the crisis.
We all acknowledge the deep concerns that exist because of the Brexit vote. The budget paid scant regard to it. I said that in my statement on it.
I welcome the Harrington family and their friends from County Waterford who are in the Visitors Gallery. They are business people and farmers but they are also Christian people who are aghast at what is going on and at our lack of emphasis on Brexit and its impact.
The crisis in Europe was largely self-generated. We dismissed it and took our eye off the ball. We can all say now there are leaks about what Theresa May said then, and dúirt bean liom go ndúirt bean léi go raibh fear i dTiobraid Árann a bhfuil póca ina léine aige. It is an old proverb. It reeks of snobbery to say that the people in the UK are fooled into this decision. They are a democratic people. They always vote wisely. Will it be like the Lisbon treaty? They have a growing sense that the EU has removed itself from us and intruded into sovereign areas in many member states with bully boy tactics. The Taoiseach had a habit of sucking up to Ms Merkel. Last week I told him now it is time to be paid back after being the good boy for years. Now it is time to look after Ireland and if we cannot deal with Britain as a sovereign country let the EU deal with it. The last thing we want is what I saw recently going from Bosnia-Herzegovina into Croatia, a hard border, on a motorway that was easy to travel. There were 52 people on the bus and all our passports were taken away and scanned, which took a full hour. It is unimaginable to think that might happen in Newry or Aughnacloy or places I travelled to in the bad times and can now travel to with freedom. Noises coming from Britain now suggest it wants a hard border. That will have a huge impact.
The mushroom farmers, who have a big industry in Tipperary, have been ravaged and devastated. I know they were given a few bob in the budget but they were struggling already and now the difference in the sterling value is crazy. I met British visitors in my guest house this morning who talked about the poor value they are getting now. There are huge issues. We need a Minister for Brexit. We need proper appreciation of what will or might happen and the impact it might have. We all claim to be Christians. We need to go and see the genocide that is happening and have the courage to have a debate in this Parliament and stand up as a neutral country, which we always were. We were respected all over the world. Our missionaries and emissaries went all over the world as good people. We need that debate here now.