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Address to Seanad Éireann by Ms Anne Brasseur (Resumed)

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Address to Seanad Éireann by Ms Anne Brasseur (Resumed)

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Address to Seanad Éireann by Ms Anne Brasseur (Resumed)

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Address to Seanad Éireann by Ms Anne Brasseur (Resumed)
Snippet Contents:

Madame Brasseur, nous vous remercions beaucoup pour votre visite. It is a great pleasure to welcome Ms Brasseur to Ireland.
Since her election as President in January of this year she has been outstanding in the role. In particular, her handling of the difficult debates on Ukraine, and particularly the debates on possible sanctions on Russia, was excellent. The situation regarding Russia and its Ukrainian policy is a big issue. The Council of Europe, which comprises 47 countries, is the principal human rights and democracy body for the wider Europe and as such has a very important role. It places enormous responsibility on the Parliamentary Assembly to be the voice of reason in this debate and I am pleased that, whereas certain voting rights were taken from the Russian delegation, the option of expelling Russia or cancelling its credentials from the Council of Europe was rejected. It is very important that communication is kept open with Russia, and the Council of Europe is one of the few organisations where east meets west. I urge Ms Brasseur to continue dialogue with the Duma members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, PACE, and to continue with her contacts at ambassadorial level. I am delighted the leader of the Irish members of PACE, Deputy Joe O'Reilly is here. I hope someday we will propose him for the presidency of PACE but that is in the future.
The Ukrainian situation is very sad. There were recent signs of movement, if not improvement, and I hope these will bear fruit and conflict can be avoided.
There have been some concerns about human rights issues in Azerbaijan. It is very important that these concerns are addressed, particularly as the question of the chairmanship of Azerbaijan of the ministerial council arises. I know that Ms Brasseur is using her good offices in this regard.
Since being appointed to the Council of Europe, I have had the privilege to attend plenary sessions. Last week, I attended the meeting of the culture, education, media and science committee in Paris. We discussed a number of issues, including a report from Mr. Piotr Wach from Poland on raising the status of vocational education and training. This is an issue dear to our hearts and Ireland has recently legislated in this regard with the Education and Training Boards Bill and the Bill on further education and training establishing a new and better delivery structure. We need to monitor this education constantly so that our people throughout Europe get the best possible training and education. These people are the backbone of our country. As a former education Minister in her native Luxembourg, Ms Brasseur has always had a deep interest in and concern about vocational education and training and I encourage her particularly to support Mr. Wach's report as it goes through its various stages.
When the Council of Europe was established in 1949, Ireland was a founder member. Yesterday, I had lunch with the grandson of the Taoiseach at the time, John A. Costello who said his grandfather considered bringing Ireland into the Council of Europe as a founding member one of his most important achievements. I have absolute confidence in Ms Brasseur's ability to lead the Council of Europe in all the amazing directions it is going at present. I assure her once again of our full and committed support.