Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Illegal Weapons Dealing.


asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the implications of the recent South African involvement in supplies of arms to Northern Ireland and the alleged involvement of Israel; and the action the Government have taken or propose to take as sufficient time has now elapsed to consider the data available.

I refer the Deputy to the detailed statement by the Tánaiste in the Dáil on 25 April, when he expressed the Government's deep concern at the profoundly disturbing implications of this affair and informed the House of the diplomatic contacts with the French and British Governments and the strong protest made to the South African Government.

Since that time, there have been a number of developments including the decision by the French Government to expel three members of the South African Embassy in Paris, and the decision by the British Government to expel three members of the South African Embassy in London.

The French authorities have charged four men with a number of offences in relation to this incident and we need to be conscious of this aspect in our comments here.

The circumstances surrounding this incident and its implications are the subject of on-going diplomatic exchanges. I can assure the Deputy that the Government are continuing to closely monitor all aspects of the affair and will take any further action as circumstances require.

These are priority questions and I require the co-operation of the Members concerned in order to ensure that the questions tabled are answered within the time laid down by Standing Orders.

What time have we now?

A quarter of an hour to dispose of the four questions, Deputy.

Is the Minister for Foreign Affairs aware that in the intervening period an incident has occurred where a rocket believed to be sourced in South Africa was used in a sectarian attack in Northern Ireland and that arising out of that Séamus Mallon of the SDLP asked that further sanctions be instituted against South Africa? I would like to ask the Minister of State if he shares the view that there is no active debate on change in South Africa, a subject which seems to have gone into the doldrums at EC level recently?

The Deputy will be fully aware that the Government already support within the EC and the UN the adoption of effective sanctions in order to dismantle apartheid in South Africa.

Is it not a fact that that debate has been virtually dormant for up to 12 months and that arising out of this incident, which brings the problems of apartheid that much closer to home, there is a responsibility on us, unless we are to shrug our shoulders and say this sort of thing should just be accepted as a run of the mill affair, to raise or initiate discussion at EC level? Have the Government raised this matter at EC level with a view to considering the implications of it and the need for some action in response to it? Is it forgotten now? Is it irrelevant?

I must appeal for brevity.

The Government continuously raise the question of apartheid withour partners in the Community. We have been endeavouring over the last number of years to get them to take unilateral action.