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 Header Item Human Rights (Continued)
 Header Item Business of Dáil
 Header Item Topical Issue Debate
 Header Item Middle East Issues

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 959 No. 2

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  5 o’clock

Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan: Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan Before the current crisis, the Rohingya were recognised as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. I had a question on this for the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade some years ago when the persecution first came to light. Since it was not dealt with adequately then, space was made for it to be exacerbated. We are seeing that now. What is alarming is the way the Government is not accepting the reports of the UN. It is accusing the UN of false representation. I acknowledge the Rohingya community in Carlow, whose family members have been affected.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett To be honest, I am surprised by how tame the criticisms are and by the use of the word "excessive". Even according to the French President, Mr. Macron, this is genocidal violence. It is textbook ethnic cleansing, as the UN representative implied. Some 400,000 people have been driven out. The treatment of these people is reminiscent of scenes from "Apocalypse Now" or "The Deer Hunter". It is absolutely appalling. What is most shameful of all is that the winner of a Nobel Peace Prize, Aung San Suu Kyi, is apologising for this stuff. That is what she is doing. She accused the Rohingya of being Bengalis and, incredibly, of burning their own homes, thus giving licence to the military, which has been doing this for years, to genocidally attack and ethnically cleanse the Rohingya in vicious Islamophobic violence, at an enormous human cost. We should be absolutely forthright in demanding the stripping from Aung San Suu Kyi of the freedom of this city and of her Nobel Peace Prize. There should be absolutely forthright criticism and an end to any kind of co-operation with the Burmese regime, the Myanmar regime, while it continues with this activity.

Deputy Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien This, in itself, deserves a specific debate. I ask the Minister of State to convey this to the Minister. What specific efforts is the Government making at UN and EU levels? This is genocide. Deputy Boyd Barrett and others have covered it. We know and we can see what is happening. I know importance is attached to the freedom of the city, which I understand, but we want to know what the Government is willing to do at a practical level. Would the Government support immediate sanctions against Myanmar? Would it propose this at EU level? These are real, fundamental steps. I heard members of the Rohingya community on the radio last week. There is quite a significant community here. They are seeking something tangible. We just cannot stand by. Even though our voice is small - I get that we are not going to save the world in the morning - we could propose immediate sanctions against Myanmar. People would listen to us. We have a very good track record on human rights internationally and we should actually follow that. I ask the Minister of State to outline the practical measures the Government can take.

Deputy Helen McEntee: Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee Regarding the freedom of the city, it is a matter for Dublin City Council. It was a decision made by the council in the first place, so any decision on this has to be taken by it.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins Fine Gael has members on the council.

Deputy Helen McEntee: Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Government absolutely condemns the violence that is taking place, including the attacks by the Salvation Army or the "excessive actions" of the security forces. We absolutely condemn this violence. I was asked about the Irish position. As a member of the European Union, Ireland is seeking to find solutions both in a bilateral context, with Myanmar, and via participation at international level through the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council. They are meeting this month in New York and Geneva. The EU has led a resolution on the human rights situation in Myanmar. The Human Rights Council addresses such matters annually. Most recently, in March of this year, the mandate of the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar was renewed by the council for another year. These concerns are being raised directly with the Government of Myanmar. The EU delegation, which was led by the EEAS, raised this matter when it met the Myanmar authorities in early September. The EU delegation continues to do so regularly. As a member of the European Union, Ireland is very much part of that process.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.

Business of Dáil

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The following members have been appointed to serve on the special committee on the future of mental health care. Representing the Government are Deputies Tom Neville, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Joe Carey and Tony McLoughlin. Representing the Fianna Fáil Party are Deputies James Browne, John Brassil, Fiona O'Loughlin and Anne Rabbitte. Representing the Sinn Féin Party are Deputies Mary Lou McDonald and Pat Buckley. The Labour Party will be represented by Deputy Alan Kelly. Solidarity-People Before Profit will be represented by Deputy Mick Barry. Independents 4 Change will be represented by Deputy Mick Wallace. The Rural Independent Group will be represented by Deputy Michael Harty. The Social Democrats-Green Party group will be represented by Deputy Catherine Murphy.

Topical Issue Debate

Middle East Issues

Deputy Paul Murphy: Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy We have already discussed this matter to some degree during Question Time. We know that on Saturday, 9 September, four Irish citizens, Elaine Daly, Fidelma Bonass, Joan Nolan and Stephen McCloskey, were deported from Tel Aviv in Israel. They were deported because they were organising and travelling with a delegation of 31 people, primarily Irish citizens, on an awareness-raising visit to the West Bank. I understand their itinerary was to include meetings with Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations and individuals, a visit to a refugee camp and a tour of settlements, together with day trips to some of the main towns in the West Bank. The aim of the trip was to bear witness to the everyday hardships suffered by Palestinian people as a result of the restrictions imposed by the apartheid wall, permanent checkpoints and settlements. The other 27 members of the delegation, two of whom are present today, were allowed to continue into Israel–Palestine and they arrived back to Ireland a week ago. The Minister accepted that we do not have a good explanation from the Israeli State.

For all four deportations, the grounds given were considerations concerning the prevention of illegal immigration. This is a utterly bizarre because the individuals were travelling on valid Irish passports. An additional reason was given for Ms Elaine Daly involving considerations associated with public security, public safety or public order. Again, this is complete nonsense. She did not even participate in the completely legitimate protests in Bil'in in which she was accused of participating.

The conclusion that is strongly pointed towards is precisely that the Israeli Government, at a time of increasing repression and oppression, is increasing the rate of illegal settlement-building and attempting to put an end to any possibility of a viable Palestinian state through brute force, effectively through house demolition, etc. It does not want people to make these trips. It does not want people to see the reality of what is happening. In doing so, ironically, it demonstrates in a small way the absence of freedom of movement, repression and interference by security forces faced by the Palestinian people on a daily basis. What is the Government going to do about it? It can rightly state the explanation but that it does not really know what lies behind it. More has to be done, however.

I was deported from Israel four or five years ago, or maybe more, along with others. At that time, the Irish Government said it was going to ask the relevant questions and that we would be out quickly and get back our laptops, telephones and everything else. The authorities still have all the stuff they took from me then. The Government did not make any very loud public pronouncements about it afterwards. What is the Government going to do about this to illustrate the oppression facing the people in Palestine on a daily basis? Has any contact been made with the Israeli ambassador in Ireland? Have we had a meeting with him and asked for a clear explanation? Has there been any mention of consequences if we do not get a clear explanation? Can we get a commitment that we will not have these deportations in the future? Will the Israeli Government just be able to discourage people from going to witness what is taking place and to witness the human rights abuses by deporting people in this completely arbitrary and illegal way?

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