Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Address to Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Michael P. Kitt

Question:

1 Mr. M. Kitt asked the Taoiseach if he intends to accept the invitation to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe; if so, the issues he intends to highlight; and if there will be a question and answer session. [17706/95]

The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Mr. Miguel Angel Martinez, earlier this year invited the Taoiseach to address the Parliamentary Assembly in January 1996. The Taoiseach has accepted this invitation. The Taoiseach is scheduled to address the Assembly on Thursday, 25 January 1996. This will be the first address by a serving Taoiseach since Seán Lemass addressed the Assembly in 1966.

The Deputy will appreciate that at this juncture the Taoiseach is not in a position to state precisely the issues he intends to deal with in his address. He does, however, envisage that his address will deal with the role and achievements of and the challenges facing the Council of Europe. In this context he expects that he will have some comments to make on issues to be discussed at the Council's January Parliamentary session. He also anticipates that he will address some of the key issues currently facing Europe. Finally the occasion may well be a suitable one to speak of issues which relate more specifically to Ireland.

The Taoiseach will be available to answer questions at the end of his address as is the normal procedure when Heads of Government address the Parliamentary Assembly.

I thank the Minister of State for his reply. Given that the agenda for the week in Strasbourg includes the plight of refugees in former Yugoslavia and the application by the Russian Federation to join the Council of Europe, will the Taoiseach be addressing those issues?

I would not wish to anticipate the issues the Taoiseach may wish to address. Obviously, these are issues of concern and if they are current I am sure the Taoiseach will take them into account. The Parliamentary Assembly is concerned about these issues, as is the Taoiseach.

The Minister of State will be aware that the Council of Europe is also concerned with the peace process. At what stage does he think the twin track process will be at the end of January when the Taoiseach is scheduled to speak to the Council of Europe?

I think we are having quite an extension of the question.

The Deputy's query is outside the remit of this question. The Taoiseach has dealt with it in the statement he has made and he will be making a statement later.