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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 18-25
 Header Item Emigrant Issues
 Header Item Human Rights Issues
 Header Item International Relations
 Header Item Northern Ireland Issues
 Header Item Human Rights Issues

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 808 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 18-25

  Question No. 18 answered with Question No. 12.

Emigrant Issues

 19. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if his attention has been drawn to a case in the USA where the Irish International Immigrant Centre turned over a young Irish immigrant to the US immigration authorities for a minor infringement of their visa conditions; and if his Department has investigated this matter.  [30775/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Since 2009, the Irish International Immigrant Centre in Boston (IIIC) has been accredited by the US State Department as a visa sponsor for the J1 Irish work and Travel 12 month programme. The terms and conditions under which the IIIC participates in this programme are determined by its contractual relationship with the State Department. The IIIC provides legal and welfare services to immigrants from Ireland and other countries, and advocates for the rights of immigrants and changes to US legislation to enable immigrants to become permanent residents and US citizens. Following the incident referred to by the Deputy, our Consul General in Boston met with the Executive Director of the IIIC and requested a full report on the incident. I note that the IIIC has since issued a public apology for the manner in which the incident was handled.

While my Department has expressed its concern to the organisation, it is important to recognise that thousands of Irish citizens have received considerable direct assistance over the past two and a half decades from the IIIC.

Through our Consulate in Boston we will continue to work with the IIIC to ensure that the needs of Irish citizens, particularly the most vulnerable, are recognised and addressed be met.

Human Rights Issues

 20. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if his attention has been drawn to reports that the Laotian Government handed over nine refugees, who escaped from North Korea and fled to Laos, to the North Korean authorities and that this move has endangered the lives of these refugees; and if the Irish embassy in Hanoi, which is accredited to Laos, has discussed the issue with the Laotian Government. [30761/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I am aware of the recent case of nine refugees from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), repatriated to their native country from the Laos People's Democratic Republic in May. I share the concern expressed by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, in a statement on 5 June 2013, and support her call for all States to observe the principle of non-refoulment. All States should refrain from the expulsion of refugees to countries where they may face persecution. This principle is a core tenet of international humanitarian law. The international community is extremely concerned about the dire human rights situation in North Korea. Ireland, together with the members of the Human Rights Commission in Geneva in March 2013, approved a resolution to set up a Commission of Inquiry into the matter. This resolution deplored the grave, widespread and systematic human rights abuses in the country and also called upon North Korea to immediately end the use of torture and labour camps against its citizens, including repatriated citizens. Ireland, as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, and together with our international partners, will continue to urge the DPRK Government to address the dire human rights situation in the country and related issues regarding the repatriation of refugees through the relevant multilateral channels.

International Relations

 21. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the diplomatic relations Ireland has with Croatia, which on 1 July 2013 will become the newest and 28th member state of the European Union; the constructive engagements he has had with the Croatian Government over the past six months during the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU; the measures he will be taking in the months and years ahead for the benefit of enhanced Irish-Croatian relations; his views on whether there will be more significant trade links between the two nations together in the Single Market; when he expects to be in a position to travel to Croatia to meet with his counterpart in Zagreb; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30655/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Diplomatic and bilateral relations between Ireland and Croatia are excellent, and we very much look forward to building on these as Croatia accedes to the Union. The importance that Ireland attaches to Croatian accession and to our bilateral relations was demonstrated when President Higgins paid his first State Visit to Croatia from 5 – 9 June this year. Ireland has been positively associated with Croatia's accession process from the beginning. It was during our Presidency of 2004 that Ireland sought and achieved a decision on granting Croatia candidate status. We have remained closely engaged with Croatia since then, including during our current Presidency. In addition to meetings in Brussels at the regular Council sessions, last month First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ms. Vesna Pusić visited Dublin and held discussions with myself and Minister of State Creighton. I held talks in Dublin last September with Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Neven Mimica, who has since been nominated as Croatia's first European Commissioner. Minister of State Creighton accompanied President Higgins on his State Visit to Croatia earlier this month. Prior to this, Minister of State Creighton attended the Croatia Summit in July 2012 and also met with Foreign Minister Pusić. As Croatia joins the family of members of the European Union, I expect that our bilateral and trade relations will continue to strengthen and deepen. I look forward to representing the Irish Presidency in Zagreb on 30 June for the accession celebrations.

Northern Ireland Issues

 22. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he will request the British and Northern Ireland authorities that a person (details supplied), imprisoned in Maghaberry Prison, will be immediately released on unconditional bail due to the serious lack of evidence of any crime being committed and the concerns expressed by human rights organisations.  [30487/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The detention of the person referred to does not arise by virtue of powers vested in the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland but under devolved powers vested in the Northern Ireland Courts which are independent in the exercise of their functions. This is in keeping with the devolved settlement arising from the Good Friday Agreement and the Hillsborough Agreement. As such it would be inappropriate for me to seek to influence the matters to which the Deputy refers.

Human Rights Issues

 23. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore in view of the recent events in Turkey, if he is satisfied that the criteria set out in that country's efforts to become a member of the European Union are being met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30488/13]

 25. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he is monitoring the ongoing protests and street demonstrations in Turkey; if his attention has been drawn to allegations that the Turkish police have fired extra strong tear gas and used acid in water cannons aimed at protesters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30760/13]

 40. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he will report on the engagements of his Department's officials with their counterparts in the European Union and elsewhere in respect of the ongoing protests in Turkey; if he will be recommending engagement between governments of the European Union member states and the authorities in Turkey to resolve the ongoing problems being experienced there; and if he has been contacted by the Turkish Trade Union and Social Democratic People's Party regarding the current crisis.  [30484/13]

 51. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he will condemn the violent assault on protestors in Turkey which has resulted in the deaths and injuries of many young persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30754/13]

 63. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he has discussed the ongoing protests and street demonstrations in Turkey with the Turkish embassy in Dublin and with his counterparts in the EU; and his views on whether the Turkish Government’s response to the protests and street demonstrations will affect Turkey’s EU accession talks. [30762/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I propose to take Questions Nos. 23, 25, 40, 51 and 63 together.

I am deeply concerned by the violent clashes which have been taking place in Turkey. Pluralism of opinion, freedom of expression, and the right to peaceful protest, should be part of every democracy, alongside the rule of law. The disproportionate use of force by the police against mostly peaceful demonstrators has been deeply disturbing and should be thoroughly investigated. Those responsible should be held fully accountable before the law.

In order to avoid any further escalation and to restore calm, it is imperative that the Turkish government engages fully with the protestors. I understand that Prime Minister Erdoğan met representatives of the protestors on two occasions. This is to be welcomed, as is his offer of public consultation on the future of Gezi Park.

However, it is clear at this stage that the protestors now have a broader agenda seeking greater freedoms, and protesting excessive police violence. I would urge the Turkish government to address these legitimate concerns also. I would also call on the government to refrain from using divisive language. I urge all sides to show calm and restraint in the period ahead.

I spoke with the Turkish Foreign Minister by phone earlier this month and expressed my concern at the heavy handed police response to protestors. While, personally, I have not had any direct contacts with Turkish trade unions in recent days, my Department, and the Irish Embassy in Ankara, continue to monitor the situation closely, and to liaise with counterparts on developments. I engaged with my EU counterparts at Council this week, and there was general agreement that developments in Turkey are of deep concern.

Turkey is a candidate for membership of the EU. As such it is expected to uphold the democratic values of the EU. Ireland has long been supportive of Turkish EU membership, and the Irish Presidency has been active in efforts to reinvigorate the accession process. We believe that the EU accession process exercises a positive influence on Turkey. Significant reforms, inspired by the accession process, have been undertaken. However, the demonstrations show that Turkey remains a country in transition and that, while a space for civil society has been opened up, further reform is needed.

Now is not the time to weaken the hand of the reformers by turning our back on Turkey. This would not serve the aims of the civil society demonstrators. We should be strengthening the hand of the reformers by ensuring that accession – which is a lengthy process with some distance to run – continues. This is not the moment to disengage from Turkey, but to engage more closely. We should continue to focus on pursuing the accession process, while at the same time pressing Turkey to live up to its commitments.

  Question No. 24 answered with Question No. 8.

  Question No. 25 answered with Question No. 23.


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