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Snippet Contents:

I appreciate the Minister's work. With regard to the humanitarian crisis, I compliment the people working in our Naval Service. As Deputy Wallace rightly said, they are picking people from the water they should not be in. We should not have allowed the humanitarian crisis to get to where it is. Every effort, political and otherwise, should be made to address this issue. There must be a better answer to the problem than people putting themselves in that kind of danger to get to what we would call a better place. Through dialogue, work and politics, many from this House and other parliaments were involved in stopping people killing each other on the streets of the North every day. Surely be to God, if that could be done, this humanitarian crisis can also be dealt with to allow us to reach a position where people can express their religious beliefs. I do not care what religion a person is and respect whatever religion it is wherever he or she is from in the world. That must be reciprocal, however. Where Catholics are willing to accept other religions, other religions should reciprocate and accept the Catholic religion and other Christians. That is only common sense, right and fair.
I turn to Brexit. Since becoming Chairman of the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs, I have embarked on a weekly dialogue with ambassadors from different countries. Earlier today, for instance, I met the Spanish ambassador. Spain faces many of the same implications from Brexit as we do. We have one very important thing in common with the UK, which is the Border. We are unique in that respect. The difficulties and problems we face represent unprecedented and uncharted waters. We are in a place with regard to our farming and business communities where we really do not know what the implications of Brexit are going to be. What we do know, however, is that we must be political and sensible about it. We have to be workmanlike in trying to minimise the negatives while maximising the positives if there are to be any for us as a nation. I compliment people like Deputies Mattie McGrath and Seán Haughey who are members of the committee and are doing Trojan work to grasp the problem we face. Last week, we met Members of the House of Lords and Commissioner Phil Hogan was here from Europe to give his overview. We might not have agreed on a lot of things in the past, but we respect the implications of the problem we all have currently. We have to deal with the situation we are in. We are all willing to put our shoulders to the wheel.
Deputy Mattie McGrath touched on the following a few moments ago. I would like to remember fondly and positively the great work that was done in the past on international relations. Deputy Haughey is in the Chamber and I refer in particular to his late father who did great work on our behalf and on behalf of our farming community. I acknowledge that because it is time things like that were said publicly. I will not back down from that for anybody. I am very concerned about the implications of Brexit and we have a job of work to do together in that regard. I will continue to do my best. Meetings are scheduled for many weeks to come with ambassadors and officials to grasp the problem we have and the committee and I will not be found wanting in that regard. We will work in co-operation with the Minister because this is too serious an issue about which to be political. The Minister and his colleagues in government are our Ministers. I want to be proactive, workmanlike and sensible about this and not score political points because for the farming community and business people, it is too important a matter about which to be politically adversarial.