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Address by Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission (Continued)

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 970 No. 6

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett] My question is how can we trust you, President Juncker. The European Union shoved €60 billion worth of toxic banking debt down the throats of the Irish people and we are still dealing with the consequences, with dire housing and health crises. The European Union has allowed 15,000 desperate migrants to drown in the Mediterranean Sea because of its fortress Europe policies-----

A Deputy: Shame.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett -----which it is escalating. Why should we trust President Juncker with our Border or the interests of the people in this country? I have a simple question about the Border. If negotiations fail and collapse with the Tory Government on the exit agreement, we know that we cannot trust Theresa May with the Border. Will President Juncker give us a clear commitment that the European Union will not impose a border, customs posts or any other infrastructure of a frontier to protect the European borders in the way he is doing to the detriment and loss of life of people in the Mediterranean? That is the question. We do not trust the Tories. Can we trust you?

Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker: Yes.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett No border, under any circumstances.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I call Deputy Barry. We have limited time. Can we have order for Deputy Barry, please?

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry Other Deputies have chosen to address President Juncker primarily on the issue of Brexit. I choose to address him on an issue no less important, which is now an emergency in Irish society. There is a housing emergency here. Rents skyrocket and 10,000 are officially homeless. More than 500,000 young people are locked out of the housing market, unable to afford rents, let alone being able to afford the purchase of their own home. The Irish State has billions of euro in the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and in the National Asset Management Agency, NAMA. We need to spend this money on social housing. This is where President Juncker comes in. We are told again and again that the money cannot be spent because it would breach the EU fiscal rules that he helped to design, that it would breach the expenditure benchmark and it cannot be done on the balance sheet. If our parliamentary grouping held the reins, we would build the houses and break President Juncker's fiscal rules-----

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Hear, hear.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry -----but we do not hold the reins yet so instead I ask him to relax those rules. He should agree to relax those rules to allow the emergency to be addressed before a social explosion takes place in Ireland on this issue.

Deputy Catherine Connolly: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly Go raibh maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle. Tá fáilte chroíúil faighte ag an Uachtarán i Seomra an daonlathais inniu agus tá sé sin ceart agus cóir. Ní hionann an dá rud: fáilte chroíúil agus a rá go bhfuilimid go léir den tuairim chéanna ó thaobh an treo a bhfuil an tAontas Eorpach ag dul, go háirithe ó thaobh cúrsaí daonlathais de, cúrsaí teifeach agus cúrsaí míleata. Tuigeann an tír seo an focal meitheal, daoine ag teacht le chéile ar son leas an phobail, b'shin bunús Chomhphobal Eacnamaíoch na hEorpa, nuair a cuireadh tús leis. Tá an togra sin, áfach, imithe chomh fada ón mbunphrionsabal sin nach féidir glacadh leis. Táimid anseo an lá i ndiaidh Lá Idirnáisiúnta na dTeifeach. Ó na figiúiri atá agam, 2017, bhí trí mhillún duine lasmuigh dá dtír féin. Chomh maith leis sin, tá 75 mhilliún teifeach ar fud an domhain.

Tá moladh tuillte ag an Uachtarán ar leibhéal amháin, mar is fear díreach thú, agus tá sé ráite agat go bhfuil gá le harm Eorpach. Chomh maith leis sin tá sé ráite agat gurb é an tUasal Viktor Orbán an deachtóir is ansa leat. Tá sé sin díreach. Tá a fhios againn cá seasaimid.

President of the Commission, you are welcome here today and have received a very hearty welcome. It is not the same thing as saying that we are all of the same opinion about where Europe is going, with its increased spending on defence and going down the road of a European army, which Mr. Juncker has clearly articulated. He has also indicated that the Prime Minister of Hungary is his favourite dictator. Today or yesterday, it was just confirmed that legislation has been passed in the Hungarian Parliament, telling the people that it will be a criminal offence if they help somebody who is seeking asylum. We are also seriously worried about the state of democracy in Europe. If we are to learn anything about Brexit, which certainly poses an enormous challenge for this country but a positive one with solutions, it is to realise that many of the countries in Europe, including Ireland, are saying that they are unhappy with the way democracy is happening in Europe in their name. When we go back to the Lisbon treaty, it includes a specific article that said decisions should be taken as near to the people as possible. We have entirely left that principle. There is also the principle of "do no harm", the precautionary principle. We are certainly not doing that either. Later this month, I understand there will be a meeting of the leaders of Europe about a policy of containing refugees, a policy of disembarkation before returning them. I am certainly a committed European. There are intimate connections between my family and various countries in Europe but I will not stand over a European Union that is going down the militarisation route, a European army and putting vast amounts of money into a European defence fund and agency, while at the same time becoming a fortress Europe. Yesterday, we condemned the President of the United States, rightly so, with a unanimous motion. I condemn the European Union in the same manner for our approach to militarisation and refugees. It is a scandal.

Tá tuiscint faoi leith ag an tír seo ó thaobh teifeach de, na milliúin duine a d'fhág an tír seo, bliain i ndiaidh bliana, tá an-tuiscint againn. Do not do this in our name. We will not have a fortress Europe. We want to welcome people in. We want a different type of Europe, a democratic Europe, on every level. President Juncker is ignoring our neutrality, the rules of the European Union that talk about opening and welcoming policies and on making decisions as close as possible to the people on the ground. Tá fáilte roimh an Uachtarán, ach dúirt sé linn éisteacht leis. Tá mise ag rá leis éisteacht linn faoi na rudaí a bhfuilimid buartha faoi. Go raibh míle maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath On behalf of the Rural Independent Group, I want to welcome you, Mr. Juncker, and your delegation to our Parliament. We want to work with Mr. Juncker and our European partners to advance the hard-won peace, economic stability and future of our State. We recognise that the challenges are many and diverse, each requiring sustained and complex negotiations. We hope that EU will display a more conciliatory attitude toward our friends in the United Kingdom who are seeking in all sincerity to have their democratic vote honoured in the best way possible. Some of the recent language from the European Union has seemed purposefully designed to create a sense of division between this State and our nearest neighbour. We do not want that. We want to work closely with our allies and in particular with our trading partners in the UK. Entire sectors of the Irish agri-sector are being exposed due to the inability or unwillingness of the EU and the UK to nurture a deal that will be acceptable to all. As President Juncker's colleague, Mr. Barnier, stated some time ago, we are working on an international agreement between the UK and the EU that will seek the precision, rigour and legal certainty that is required for all international agreements. That is what we want here.

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