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Snippet Contents:

I welcome the debate and the fact that we are allowed to have post and pre-summit debates, as in the case of the Bratislava and Brussels summits. The reform was introduced following the rejection of the Lisbon treaty.
A lot of the discussion in the House has centred on Brexit. I note that the Taoiseach informed the House that Ms Theresa May was attending her first meeting of the European Council since becoming Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Interestingly, he went on to say there had been no discussion of the issue at the meeting, which certainly says a lot. There was a brief comment on the Prime Minister's intervention by President Tusk.
We are all aware of the concerns in Ireland and our unique circumstances arising from the vote of UK citizens. There are concerns about the common travel area, the possible introduction of a hard border, the introduction of barriers to trade and the sustainability of the peace process. Does the Minister of State, Deputy Dara Murphy, think there is now an understanding of the special circumstances of Ireland arising from the vote of UK citizens? Obviously, the Taoiseach has met Ms Angela Merkel, François Hollande, Commissioner Michel Barnier and others, but I am interested in hearing the perspective of the Minister of State, given that he has mixed with his counterparts from other member states, on whether we have got the message through that Ireland has unique circumstances.
I understand the Minister of State will deal with the position of Russia and the civil war in Syria in his closing remarks. Despite repeated claims to the contrary, the direct Russian intervention in the civil war in Syria a year ago was aimed at bringing about a shift in the balance of power in the conflict. The prospects for a diplomatic solution to the conflict have never been favourable, with a number of international and regional actors putting their strategic interests above a resolution of the conflict. However, the direct Russian intervention was characterised by military stalemate. With the aid of Russian air support, the brutal regime of Bashir al-Assad has been emboldened and believes a decisive military victory is possible. Direct Russian involvement in the conflict has further undermined the prospects for a sustained cessation of hostilities and a negotiated resolution of the civil war.
The horrifying reality of the current situation is no more apparent than in the city of Aleppo, much of which has been subject to a sustained arterial bombardment by the Syrian regime and Russian military. The indiscriminate bombing campaign has led to significant civilian casualties and brought terror to the 250,000 inhabitants of eastern Aleppo. There was some talk prior to the summit that sanctions would be imposed, but this does not seem to have taken place. What action against Russia was considered by the summit?
There has been a lot of discussion about the dismantling of the jungle in Calais. I ask the Minister of State to outline the position on the over 1,000 unaccompanied minors in the camp and whether the Government can respond to the crisis.