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Snippet Contents:

I am happy to be able to address some of these issues. As I understand it Minister - the Taoiseach is gone - the European Council will be discussing economic and monetary union, EMU, which governs the euro area as well as the Union's budget. We know that one of the major illegal activities affecting the EU's financial interests is fraud and smuggling in the European customs transit regime.
I would like the Minister of State, Deputy McEntee, however, to bring concerns from Ireland around a different and more tragic form of smuggling - I refer to human trafficking. In one year alone, European countries reported 15,846 victims of human trafficking. Of these, 76% were women and young girls. We know that two out of three, 67%, of the registered victims were trafficked for sexual exploitation, 21% for other types of forced labour and 12% for other reasons such as begging, organ removal or domestic slavery.
The majority of identified victims were from an EU country. That is appalling, if the Minister of State wants to listen. We also know that Members of the European Parliament, MEPs, adopted an anti-trafficking directive in 2011. It covered issues ranging from prevention to victim support and prosecution of offenders. Then, in 2016, MEPs assessed the current European legislation to combat human trafficking and recommended several measures to improve the situation. Two resolutions were adopted in May and July of that year. MEPs called on EU countries to implement better existing laws and to provide better support to victims. In light of that, I hope the Taoiseach and his Ministers will raise this matter at the Council and seek immediate clarity on attempts to implement anti-human trafficking laws. I am aware that economic issues will be on the table but I am asking the Government to use this occasion to highlight this terrible aspect of the violent and brutal underground economy, where profit is made on the back of the human suffering of innocent men, women and children. It is appalling.
I condemn completely how Deputy Boyd Barrett quoted someone calling the elected president, President Trump, a pig. That is outrageous language and should not be tolerated in any parliament. Mr. Trump is the duly elected leader and President of the United States. Many of our people are living there and many American companies are based here. Deputy Boyd Barrett spoke of being racist but that type of language is completely racist. It is disgraceful and there is no place in a parliament for something like that. I do not agree with the bombing that took place in the Middle East, and with the EU and the Americans, and do not want us to be associated in any way with it.
I thank the Ceann Comhairle for allowing us a triple Topical Issue debate. It is the only way that we could get a debate here for the last five years on the persecution of Christians and minority Muslims in the Middle East. It is still going on. There have been allusions today about ships and rescues and I salute our Naval Service for the work it has done there. This Parliament, however, will not even discuss the persecution. Those who live in glasshouses cannot throw stones. We want to be on the attack and yet we do not want to take any responsibility ourselves for what our EU partners are doing in the Middle East. There is ongoing and horrible persecution and we have taken in very inadequate numbers of migrants who are fleeing that persecution.