FF Condemn Latest Settlement Plans by Israel
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Brendan Smith TD, has condemned the latest settlement plans by Israel to claim almost 1,000 acres near Bethlehem in the West Bank.
Deputy Smith believes the latest move will serve to undermine the recently declared fragile peace between Israel and Palestine.
“The latest actions by the Israeli Government threaten the peace which was recently agreed between Israel and Hamas and will only further escalate already heightened tensions in the region. Not only is this move ill-advised in the circumstances, it is also contrary to international law. These actions will further undermine the possibility of a two state solution in the Middle East.
“These actions are totally unacceptable. It is time for the EU to send a clear message to Israel that we will not tolerate further settlement advancement. The often promised labelling requirements both at EU and at national level for products from Israeli settlement areas and other sanctions against these goods must be implemented across the Union now.”
Statement issued Sept 1st 2014
This statement was issued Wed August 13th 2014
Decisive action needed at EU emergency meeting – Smith
Minister Charlie Flanagan should spell out Irish policy position on key crises to avoid repeat of UN abstention mess
Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Smith TD has welcomed the decision to hold an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council this Friday. The meeting will discuss the escalating situations in Ukraine and Iraq.
Deputy Smith commented, “For too long the European Union has sat back while the crises in Ukraine, Gaza and Iraq intensified. We have seen an appalling humanitarian disaster unfold on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq, yet as a union we have been slow to respond to this emergency. I welcome the Government’s announcement today of additional funding for aid agencies on the ground, but what we really need to see is a comprehensive EU approach that deals with both the humanitarian crisis and the political instability. Over the past number of weeks, Fianna Fáil has repeatedly called for the international community to respond and deal comprehensively with these crises.
Speaking about the situation in Ukraine, Deputy Smith said, “I’m very concerned about the increased tension and political rhetoric from both Russian and Ukrainian elements. The latest stand-off concerning a Russian convoy apparently carrying aid, bound for East Ukraine has the potential to further destabilise the region. One of the proposals I would like to see discussed by EU Ministers on Friday is the possibility of an international role being taken in relation to humanitarian aid.
“There was shock and surprise when the Government decided to abstain from a vote to establish a UN inquiry into violence in Gaza. I believe to avoid confusion and questions over Ireland’s position on international matters of concern that the Government should clearly set out what Irish policy is on these issues and what we hope to achieve with our European colleagues this week. We should be taking a more proactive role in helping to shape the decisions made by the EU, and I would urge Minister Flanagan to explain his proposals in advance and take a more hands on approach to our engagement in these discussions”.
Fianna Fáil calls for Government to demand urgent EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting to discuss Gaza-Israel crisis
Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Smith TD is calling on the Government to seek a special meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council to discuss the ongoing crisis in the Middle East. The EU’s lack of intervention, as well as its abstention from a UN resolution to establish a commission of inquiry into human rights violations in Gaza and condemning Israel for potential violations of international law, has angered many people in Ireland.
Deputy Smith commented, “I am calling on Minister Charlie Flanagan to seek an urgent meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council to address the escalating humanitarian disaster in Gaza. The Israeli ground invasion has entered its fourth week. More than 1,800 Palestinians and over 60 Israelis have been killed in the violence. Images of badly injured women and children have dominated our TV screens for the past month demonstrating so clearly the scale of the situation.
“All loss of life must be condemned in the strongest possible terms, but the bombing of UN schools and designated shelters by the Israeli military is intolerable. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the latest attack on a school in Rafah as a “moral outrage and a criminal act”.
“The EU cannot be allowed to continue with its hands-off approach and must be spurred into action. How many more lives will have been lost before the Foreign Affairs Council meets again? How many more innocent civilians must suffer before the EU and the international community can be forced into action? Measures must be taken to stop the bloodshed.
“EU Ministers must change their approach and demand a ceasefire in the region to allow for meaningful talks to take place. Violence solves nothing, discussions and mediated negotiations are our only hope of a resolution to this decades old conflict. The current wave of aggression must be stopped and the EU, led by Ireland if necessary, should impose sanctions on goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements. The EU needs to take a tougher, but united stance and prove that indiscriminate killings and maimings are not acceptable. It needs to go further than it has to date, and I am urging the Government here to play its part and seek a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council at the earliest possible date”.
EU ignoring Iraqi displacement crisis – Smith
Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Smith TD is calling on Minister Charlie Flanagan to prioritise the escalating displacement crisis in Iraq and to move this situation up the European agenda at the next meeting of EU Foreign Ministers. France has now offered asylum to the thousands of Christians, who have been forced to flee their homes because of the threat from the Islamist jihadists group ISIS.
Deputy Smith commented:
“What is happening in Northern Iraq is appalling. ISIS is engaged in very straightforward, brutal, but largely unreported ethnic cleansing. Northern Iraq was home to one of the oldest Christian communities on earth, with Mosul having been a centre of Christianity for almost 2,000 years. Today, under death threats, the Christian community has fled in what has been described as the largest mass flight of Christians in the Middle East since the Armenian massacres and the expulsions of Christians from Turkey after the First World War.
Before the allied invasion in 2003 there were around 1 million Christians living in Iraq. Almost three quarters have left following the onset of the civil war and targeted attacks by jihadist terrorists.
Deputy Smith continued:
“Fianna Fáil has raised this issue in the Dáil with the former Tánaiste, but we have been deeply disappointed by the Government’s apparent disinterest in what is happening. Sectarian displacement on this scale should be a cause for much greater concern for policy makers across Europe than it has been to date – I would like to see Ireland taking a lead role in moving this situation further up the agenda at a European level.
“There are many very difficult conflicts and legitimate demands on international attention at the moment; however we need to be careful that this massacre, which is truly historic in scale, does not simply pass unnoticed and unchallenged. Minister Flanagan has an opportunity in his new role to shine a light on the situation in Iraq, and I would urge him to raise the issue with his European counterparts at their next meeting”.
In a joint statement, Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Brendan Smith TD have criticised Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan’s decision that Ireland should abstain from a UN Human Rights Council resolution to set up a commission of inquiry into atrocities in Gaza.
“Like many people across the country, we listened in disbelief to the news that Ireland had joined other European states in abstaining from the vote at the UN Human Rights Council. What is happening in Gaza is an outrage and it is happening in plain sight.”
“If the international community is not able to find the moral courage to speak out on an issue which is as clearly unacceptable as the killing of young children or the bombing of a UN school housing refugees, one is left to wonder what level of atrocity is needed before we say stop.”
“The attempt to justify our abstention on the basis that the resolution did not adequately condemn rocket attacks by both sides is depressing. We utterly condemn the reckless attempt to target civilians using rocket attacks, but does that mean that we cannot also put our name to a resolution to investigate the slaughter of four innocent children on a Gaza beach?”
“Ireland once had a proud tradition of strong, principled and independent foreign affairs policy. The decision to sit on our hands and abstain from what should have been a very clear position on this UN resolution is a dereliction of this country’s proud history in foreign and humanitarian affairs.”
“I am calling for UN troops to be sent to the site of the Malaysian Airways crash to secure the evidence necessary in order to establish the truth of what happened to this plane”
Fianna Fáil Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Brendan Smith TD has said that UN troops should be deployed to secure the scene of the Malaysian Airways crash scene immediately to preserve evidence and facilitate a full investigation. He stated that if this tragedy is proven to have been caused by a missile strike, it would represent a crime against the international community.
Deputy Smith commented: “The scenes from eastern Ukraine are deeply shocking for many people. As families across our country prepare to travel for foreign holidays, the images emerging of families in Holland, Malaysia and elsewhere devastated by this terrible event have added a sense of horror.
“I am calling for UN troops to be sent to the site of the Malaysian Airways crash to secure the evidence necessary in order to establish the truth of what happened to this plane. The international community is entitled to know how it is possible that a modern commercial aircraft was shot out of the sky over European airspace. If this was a missile attack, we must establish who the perpetrators were. Only UN troops will have the confidence of the international community to secure this site.”
What is happening in Gaza is disproportionate and irresponsible… It is immoral and wrong
Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD and Party Chairman and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Brendan Smith TD have jointly called on the Taoiseach to bring the Israeli Ambassador to Government Buildings today to express this country’s revulsion at events in Gaza and to make clear Ireland’s rejection of the tactics being deployed by the Israeli Defence Forces.
In a joint statement, the two Fianna Fáil deputies commented: “Fianna Fáil has always accepted Israel’s right to self-defence, but like any other nation Israel has a duty to abide by internationally accepted standards of proportionality and responsibility.
“What is happening in Gaza is disproportionate and irresponsible. Completely innocent men, women and children who are already forced to live in squalor are being slaughtered in this campaign. It is immoral and wrong.
“The Hamas regime’s rocket attacks against Israel are also completely reckless, irresponsible and counter-productive. However, the tactics being employed by IDF and the Israeli Government serve only to further brutalise the people of Gaza.
“In the past, Ireland was able to play a constructive role in helping shape international opinion. When we visited Gaza in 2010, we were the first European state to do so in more than a year and we were able to focus international opinion on the devastating effect that the blockade was having at that time.
“Ireland simply must do more to help influence international opinion on what is currently happening. As a nation we know better than many the despair and waste of pointless brutality and sectarian violence. As the beneficiaries of international support for our own peace process, Ireland has a moral duty to find our voice and use it to oppose the pointless slaughter in Gaza.
“As a first step and as a bare minimum, we are calling on the Taoiseach as Head of Government to bring the Israeli Ambassador to Government Buildings and explain in clear terms that Ireland rejects what his country is doing in Gaza. Equally, if Israel pulls back from the brink and is prepared for peace, Ireland will be a strong supporter of any process that gives the people of Israel and Palestine a chance of a decent future.”
Fianna Fáil Condemns Renewed Violence in Middle East
“EU must take a more hands-on approach to Middle East crisis” says Brendan Smith TD, Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs & Trade
Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, Brendan Smith TD has called for a renewed urgency in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in light of the outbreak of recent violence in the region.
Deputy Smith stated: “The endless cycle of violence and recrimination is appalling and a total failure of politics and diplomacy.
“The European Union must try to raise its game and play a more active role in peace talks. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton should request a meeting with the leaders of both governments and seek to lift the pace of progress. The Lisbon Treaty expanded the powers that the EU has in foreign affairs. The failure of the Quartet on the Middle East to develop a comprehensive and lasting roadmap for peace is lamentable. The EU must seek to re-energise this process also.
“We know in our own country how difficult and challenging it can be to win peace. Nonetheless, peace is achievable with committed effort and support. This latest pointless violence shows how necessary it is for the international community to apply real pressure in pursuit of peace”.
According to the latest Live Register figures, the Border region is lagging far behind the rest of the country when it comes to tackling the jobs crisis.
Deputy Smith explained, “As of the end of March, there were 6,553 people on the Live Register in Cavan and 5,885 people on the Live Register in Monaghan. That’s a tiny decrease from the 6,713 and 6,012 respectively at the end of February. The decrease is more than offset by the numbers who have been forced to leave the area for work, the numbers who have dropped off the live register to engage in education and training and the numbers who have been kicked off the Live Register because their Job Seekers entitlements have expired.
“It means that we have seen virtually no improvement in the employment situation in Cavan, Monaghan and right across the border region. It adds to the strong sense that there is a two-tiered recovery underway in this country. While Dublin may be benefiting from some improvements, this region is being left behind. There has been a major fall-off in IDA visits to this region over the past three years and little or no focus by this Government in creating jobs in Cavan, Monaghan and the border region.
“It’s extremely frustrating for job seekers across Cavan and Monaghan to hear the Government praising itself for the ‘improvements’ in the labour market, when unfortunately there is little evidence of any improvements in communities across the border. The Government cannot afford to sit back and claim that we no longer have a jobs crisis. This is simply not true. Over 200 people a day are still emigrating. There are now 180,000 people across the country who have been out of work for over 12 months. And we have serious regional imbalances in employment rates that seem to be growing month on month.
“I am once again calling on the Government to recognise the extent of the job crisis in the border region and start making a targeted effort to create jobs here. We cannot continue to allow a situation where parts of the country experience some economic recovery while other parts, like Cavan and Monaghan, are left behind. It’s time that this Government made this region a priority.”