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 Header Item Syrian Conflict (Continued)
 Header Item Diplomatic Representation
 Header Item Business of Dáil
 Header Item Topical Issue Matters
 Header Item Topical Issue Debate
 Header Item Planning Issues

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 926 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Gino Kenny: Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny] One name is Peter Greste. He is an Australian citizen who was released under the decree of law 140. The other is a man called Mohamed Soltan, an American citizen, who was also released under the decree of law 140. Why has Ibrahim not been released? That is my simple question.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I am very familiar with both of those cases and the details of them. As I said before, it is important to note that each and every case is somewhat different. We have considered these cases in detail and have extensively engaged in consultations on them. My focus is on our citizen and how best we can proceed to advance matters. My officials are in regular contact with the citizen in question and with the prison authorities on the matter of his health and welfare, both of which are important issues for me also. On the matter of the follow-up to the House motions, I assure the House that both myself and my officials will provide every appropriate support of the Oireachtas, including the parliamentary delegation. This was the subject matter of a conversation I had with the Egyptian ambassador.

However, it is with regret that I note that there was a form of negative reaction to the passing of the motions here in this House in some quarters in Egypt. The speaker of the Egyptian parliament, the Ceann Comhairle's counterpart, made some public remarks that were critical of the intervention on the part of the Oireachtas. This sensitivity is one of the reasons why I at all times wish to be measured and careful in my comments and utterances. My concern and priority is the health and welfare of this citizen and to ensure that the trial does take place in a way that can lead to a conclusion at the earliest opportunity. The next return date is 12 November. I wish to assure the House that my officials and I will be in contact with the authorities prior to that date in the hope that matters can be satisfactorily resolved on that occasion.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We will proceed to Question No. 32-----

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith Can I not respond?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We cannot. Question No. 32-----

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith Do I not get the same time as other people who ask questions? The Minister has said a few things there that I would like to respond to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl No, we cannot-----

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith I will not take all day. I want to take this motion seriously. It was passed in July. We are now hurtling towards November and the sixteenth time that this young man will be before a trial. I bet 50 bucks the trial will be postponed. The Minister said he is worried about the sensitivities of the Egyptian Parliament. I do not see how he is surprised by their sensitivities. They have locked up 60,000 and killed 3,000 in a counter-revolution. I believe we need to stop treating them with kid gloves. This is the impression I and everybody else get. Certainly, the family has that impression. God knows what the poor young fella thinks, languishing in a prison with 30 other people in a squashed-up cell and suffering from mental illness. I believe we have to address it. I want to bring it before the business committee next week. As far as I can see, this House passed that motion and nothing has been done. The Minister tells me that the reason is because some sensitive Ceann Comhairle in Cairo got offended. That is not good enough.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl It is neither the time nor the place for me to intervene on this, but I will say that there has been a series of very positive and constructive meetings with the Egyptian ambassador. There have been attempts made on an ongoing basis, including a meeting with the Irish ambassador in Cairo, where the matter was discussed at length. We will debate it at the business committee meeting.

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith We should implement our own motions.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I wish to add to that. I am bound by the House, as far as the House motions are concerned. The Parliament here is sovereign. Let me assure the Deputy and the House that the Egyptian Government remains in absolutely no doubt about the Irish Government's position and its determination to see the citizen released and have the trial disposed of as soon as possible.

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith It is not the doubting that is the problem, it is the doing something about it.

Diplomatic Representation

 32. Deputy Gino Kenny Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan his views on the reports of statesanctioned death squads and vigilantism in the Philippines under President Duterte; the assistance being offered to a person (details supplied) and his or her family in an appeal in the Philippines against a 12-year prison sentence for a trivial offence; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [30277/16]

Deputy Gino Kenny: Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny I ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the reports of state-sanctioned death squads and vigilantism in the Philippines under President Duterte; the assistance being offered to a person - details supplied, which I will name now in a second - and his or her family in an appeal in the Philippines against a 12-year prison sentence for a trivial offence; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Please do not name anybody.

Deputy Gino Kenny: Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny I will have to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Deputy should not name anybody outside the House.

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith Ibrahim Halawa is outside the House.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I expressed my concerns in this House on 16 September in regards to the severe counter-drugs actions being pursued in the Philippines. Ireland opposes the use of capital punishment and has consistently called for its abolition in the United Nations and other fora. Ireland supports the recommendations which were set out following a UN General Assembly special session on countering the world drug problem held in April 2016. States should promote proportionate policies for drug-related offences and pursue public health and criminal justice approaches that ensure legal guarantees and due process safeguards and that are in full compliance with international law and international human rights standards.

  I am very much aware of this consular case as raised by Deputy Kenny and the very difficult circumstances in which this individual and his family find themselves. I have personally raised my concerns with senior Philippines Government contacts, including most recently on 22 September in New York, when I met with my counterpart, the secretary of foreign affairs of the Philippines Government.

  I and my Department officials are continuing to give the matter priority attention. My Department officials at headquarters in Dublin, at our embassy in Singapore, which is accredited to the Philippines, and at our honorary consul in Manila have all been engaged in the case, provided consular assistance and raised the individual’s concerns with appropriate authorities in Manila.

  The citizen and his family are in regular contact with my consular officials in Singapore and Dublin. The consul from our embassy in Singapore and our honorary consul in Manila met with the individual in Manila on 12 October 2016. Officials from my Department have met with the wife of the individual concerned. Our ambassador in Singapore has raised the case on a number of occasions with the Philippines Government when visiting Manila, most recently with the foreign ministry on 19 October 2016.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

The case has also been raised formally with the Ambassador of the Philippines to Ireland.

  I understand that there is to be an appeal in this case to the Supreme Court. For any Irish citizen subject to criminal proceedings abroad, my Department officials will offer non-judgemental advice and any appropriate practical help that they can, irrespective of the alleged offence and regardless of whether the individual is ultimately deemed to be innocent or guilty, is on remand or has already been sentenced by a court of law.

  I can assure the Deputy that the Philippines authorities are fully aware that I and my Department are following this case closely, and that we are concerned about the individual’s health and wellbeing.

  My Department officials, especially our Embassy in Singapore and our Honorary Consulate in Manila, will continue to maintain contact with this citizen and his family and will provide whatever further appropriate consular assistance we can.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I will have to stop the Minister there because we are running out of time.

Deputy Gino Kenny: Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny I appreciate that things have been done in the background. Mr. O'Cochlain was found in 2013 with a tiny amount of cannabis and he is stating that it was put on him for reasons of bribery. The worrying thing is that this Philippino president sounds like a maniac. The stats are quite incredible. Since 1 July, 3,600 people have been killed in the Philippines. There are extra-judicial killings, death squads and incitements to kill from the president in raging a drugs war. Amongst all this, Mr. O'Cochlain is in fear of his life. I believe he is living under pretty horrible circumstances. He has been there for the last three years. Terribly, three of his relatives have died in those three years. He has not been able to come back to Ireland. I am hoping that the Minister and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade can do everything in their power to get this man's passport back.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I wish to say briefly to Deputy Kenny that I am aware of the concerns and of the issues regarding the health and welfare of the individual concerned. I wish to assure the Deputy of my own personal action on this issue and those of my officials both here and in the district.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl That concludes questions to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. My apologies to all of those Members who were waiting for further questions to be taken.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.

Business of Dáil

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl For the information of Members, I wish to announce that the National Tourism Development Authority (Amendment) Bill 2015, which was passed by the House on Wednesday last, is certified to be a Money Bill in accordance with Article 22.2.1° of the Constitution, and has now been sent to the Seanad.

Topical Issue Matters

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The following matters in respect of which notice has been given under Standing Order 29A were received by the Ceann Comhairle, and this is a list of the name of the Member in each case: (1) Deputy Thomas P. Broughan - supports needed for St. Joseph's national school, Marino, Dublin 3, on its application for DEIS 1 status; (2) Deputy James Lawless - the reason volumes of waste from the greater Dublin area are currently being deposited in Drehid landfill site, north-west Kildare and related issues; (3) Deputy Carol Nolan - the ongoing increases in motor insurance premiums; (4) Deputy Sean Fleming - the reduction in services at an Alzheimer's day care unit in Monasterevin, County Kildare; (5) Deputy Eugene Murphy - the deportation of an individual whose marriage has been confirmed by the HSE; (6) Deputy Josepha Madigan - the closure of Notre Dame school in Churchtown; (7) Deputy John Lahart - Airbnb properties and planning permission; (8) Deputy Niamh Smyth - the need to address the issue of substance abuse following a recent case at Cavan general hospital accident and emergency department; (9) Deputy Catherine Murphy - the disparity between sterling and euro in retail prices; (10) Deputy Jonathan O'Brien - industrial action by members of An Garda Síochana; (11) Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Bríd Smith, Joan Collins - school management concerns over staffing at the Assumption girls school in Walkinstown; (12) Deputy Clare Daly - the terms of reference of the O'Neill investigation and the undermining allegations; (13) Deputy Pat Buckley - to discuss allegations of historical abuse at Clonmel Mental Hospital; (14) Deputy Mick Wallace - the terms of reference of the NAMA commission of inquiry; (15) Deputy Jackie Cahill - competition concerns in the beef industry; (16) Deputy Catherine Connolly - the withdrawal of a bus service in Galway; (17) Deputies Richard Boyd Barrett and Gino Kenny - the demolition of the refugee camps in Calais; (18) Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan - the impact of puppy farms and the need for stricter enforcement; (19) Deputy Anne Rabbitte - the staffing of maternity services in University Hospital Galway; (20) Deputy Frank O'Rourke - the resourcing of the adult degenerative spine service in Tallaght Hospital and the Dublin/Midlands Hospital Group; (21) Deputies Thomas Byrne and Mick Barry - measures being taken to prevent school closures during the upcoming strike by ASTI members; (22) Deputy Barry Cowen - the withdrawal and relocation of ambulance services from Edenderry to Tullamore; (23) Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony - the closure of the only waiting list for free eye tests for children; (24) Deputy Mattie McGrath - the time period allotted for slurry spraying on agricultural land; (25) Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin - the reduction of services in the Alzheimer's day care unit servicing south Kildare; (26) Deputy Martin Heydon - the need for improved youth services in County Kildare including a dedicated youth officer.

The matters raised by Deputies John Lahart, Josepha Madigan, Jonathan O'Brien and Frank O'Rourke have been selected for discussion.

Topical Issue Debate

Planning Issues

Deputy John Lahart: Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart I am grateful to be able to raise the Airbnb subject under Topical Issues today. It is a highly topical issue that has been commanding attention for the last number of days.


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