asked the Minister for External Affairs whether supplies despatched by Ireland to Europe, for distribution by the Red Cross, were, in fact, consigned to the Swiss International Red Cross or to the Paris Conference of National Red Cross Organisations.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Relief Supplies.
Supplies despatched to Europe for distribution by the Red Cross were consigned to the International Red Cross at Geneva and were distributed, up to the end of 1946, by the Joint Relief Commission of the International Red Cross, and, since that date, by the International Centre for Relief to Civilian Populations.
Does the latter body described by the Taoiseach correspond with the Association of Red Cross Societies which was established at a meeting in Paris some time ago for the distribution of relief? If it does, would he not think it very much wiser that the supplies which we send abroad should be sent to the headquarters of the International Red Cross in Switzerland, inasmuch as some of the National Red Cross Institutions in Eastern Europe are bodies far different from what Deputies ordinarily understand Red Cross Societies to mean?
As I understand it, the position is that we consign the goods to the International Red Cross at Geneva. They formerly arranged for the distribution through the Joint Relief Commission of the International Red Cross, which was a joint body set up by the body that was referred to as the League of Red Cross Societies and the International Red Cross. For certain reasons, that was disestablished last year and in its place is the International Centre for Relief to Civilian Populations, which does the same kind of work in conjunction with the International Red Cross as the previous body. So far as we are concerned, it would seem to me that the body handling the distribution now is equally worthy of confidence with the body that preceded it.
Has any suggestion reached the Taoiseach in regard to some of the National Red Cross Societies in Eastern Europe that the same objections might apply to them as have in certain places applied to U.N.R.R.A. in the past?
No, I have not heard anything. The establishment of the central body handling it now, namely, the International Centre for Relief to Civilian Populations, was sponsored by the League of Red Cross Societies, and it works in conjunction with representatives from the International Red Cross.
Distinguishing between the International Red Cross at Geneva and the other body whatever it is, would the Taoiseach look into the question as to whether the latter body corresponds as closely to what he knows would be the wishes of this House, and if, on balance, it appears that the body at Geneva would carry out our purpose more effectively, would he consider ensuring that such supplies as we send are committed to their care for distribution?
Our supplies are primarily committed to its care and they hand them over to this other body for distribution. Of course, the Deputy will notice that the International Red Cross has to deal rather with prisoners of war and so on, not with civilian populations. That was why they had to set up this other body to deal with the distribution of relief to civilians. There is a distinction between the International Red Cross Committee, which is set up and works under a treaty, and the Association of National Red Cross Societies.
Perhaps the Taoiseach will look into the matter.
I will certainly, but I think I can assure the Deputy in advance that the position is as we would like it to be.
I will be satisfied if the Taoiseach looks into it.
I will look into it, but I have no apprehension at the moment.