There are the areas of engineering, airlines, air leasing and food etc. that present real opportunities. I hope they can be followed through.
I will be happy to make the point at the European Council meeting for the inclusion of the moderate opposition and the Kurdish groups. We are only a small country but when we had the issue of 30 years of terrorism on this island, it was important to have everybody included in the discussions so as to have their voice heard. The Good Friday Agreement and the following agreements mean we are still in a position to maintain a peace, although it requires vigilance. It is a point I am happy to make.
With regard to the humanitarian position, we cannot have starvation sieges like we have seen in Madaya; it is absolutely barbaric in this day and age that a situation would apply where deliberate starvation has occurred. The Deputy knows it is prohibited by the Geneva Convention and all international law. In 2015 and 2016, to have aid agencies visiting this location and finding people starving is reminiscent of what happened in Poland and other places during World War II. We have supported very strongly a referral by the UN Security Council of the case in Syria to the International Criminal Court. It is appalling and there is a need for accountability for the multiple crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the conflict.
Deputy O'Brien mentioned the attack in Istanbul and it must be condemned out of hand. These attacks represent an attack on everybody's humanity and the liberty and value that a free society presents. The crimes of mass murder, sexual slavery and ethnic cleansing must be confronted and defeated; there can be no equivocation about that. There is no disagreement on that. This country has articulated very strongly our support for international law. Daesh's systematic crimes against the rights and existence of ethnic, religious, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual and intersex minorities, as well as women and children across the Middle East, must be prevented by all legal means possible. The barbaric actions of these people are an absolute affront to everybody's common humanity.
The Deputy is aware that air strikes have been conducted against Daesh in Iraq and Syria for some time and it is for the individual states to determine how they can best contribute to the concerted international effort under way to tackle the threat posed by Daesh and other UN-designated terrorist groups, of which there are many.
Clearly, France took its own action against acts of terrorism directed against its citizens.
The Security Council clarified the legal grounds for addressing the threat of terrorism in Syria and Iraq. UN Security Council resolution 2249 grants authority for all states to take necessary action or measures to suppress and eradicate terrorist acts by Daesh and the al-Nusra Front, which is an al-Qaeda affiliate in territory under Daesh control within Syria and Iraq, and to eradicate the safe havens that they appear to have established there. Any action taken under this resolution therefore has to be in compliance with international law and the UN Charter, including human rights, refugee and humanitarian law.
Having welcomed the discussions that are now starting in Geneva, we can issue a call from here that all of these groups would participate fully in the work to provide a basis by which discussions might start towards bringing an end to this conflict. Despite the exceptional polarity of opinion, if everybody was to focus on people being slaughtered, murdered and forced out of their homeland, there may be an element of agreement at the end of it.
At the end of 2015, Ireland's support for the Syrian people reached over €42 million, which is the largest response to any crisis in recent years. It is channelled through the UN, Red Cross and NGOs to be spent on food aid, water, sanitation, shelter, education and protection, including child protection and the prevention of gender-based violence. That underlines the humanitarian commitment that this country has always shown over the years. It includes support for the protection of Syrian refugees in Iraq with a focus on gender-based violence being an issue there.
Ireland's engagement with the global response to counter Daesh is a co-ordinated one from the international community. An effective response requires the root causes and contributory factors to be addressed, promotes a counter argument, prevents radicalisation, deters and disrupts terrorist travel, addresses terrorist financing, and brings perpetrators to justice. Our obligations flow from UN Security Council resolutions, such as UNSCR 2161 on freezing the funds and assets of terrorist groupings, and UNSCR 2178 on measures to suppress recruiting, organising, transporting or equipping individuals who travel to one state in order to perpetrate, plan or participate in terrorist activities.
The global coalition set up in September 2014 is a mechanism for co-ordinating all of that international partnership in what is called "lines of effort". Other neutral countries, like Austria, Finland and Sweden, participate in activities that are co-ordinated by the coalition. There are no obligations arising from our participation in the global coalition which involves sharing information and views.
Ireland is not, and will not be, participating in any international military action to combat Daesh. Our primary focus is on the political and humanitarian process. As everybody is aware, this is an appalling tragedy and it will not be easy to figure out where the conclusion lies.
The Deputy mentioned camps in Turkey and Jordan. From speaking to people there, I know a great deal of money is being spent on facilities for children, education and maternity services. Thousands of expectant mothers have given birth in these camps in Jordan and other locations. Apparently, despite the fact that they are camps, a great deal of expenditure is going there to help alleviate the difficulties that people have.
Deputy Martin mentioned the migratory pull towards Europe, which is true. However, it is also a fact that people who went into the camps in Jordan and Turkey in the first instance have now been there for some time. They have seen others making their way to Germany, Austria and Sweden with a perception that there is a better standard of living and better facilities available to them. That applies pressure on those left behind who now say they want to leave as well. That issue has arisen because of that factor.
As regards participating in these measures at the European Council, I confirm that I will be happy to articulate these views on behalf of our country.