Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 [Seanad]: Second Stage [Private Members]

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am pleased to present to the House the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party. I commend Senator Frances Black on initiating the Bill and bringing it through Seanad Éireann.

If passed, Ireland and her Parliament will be sending a strong message, that it condemns the occupation of territories which are deemed illegal under international law. This Bill, at its most basic, is about upholding international law. It applies to illegal occupations anywhere in the world and not just to Israel and Palestine. However, I am conscious that it is this occupation that has been the main focus of discussions on the Bill. I want to state clearly from the outset that, if passed, this Bill will not ban trade in Israeli goods. It will only ban those goods produced in settlements built illegally beyond Israel's borders.

The Bill does not propose a boycott of Israel, and Fianna Fáil does not support such a boycott. We recognise and fully support Israel's right to self-determination and to self-defence. We denounce violence against the state of Israel and its citizens, and we wholly and unreservedly condemn the persecution of the Jewish people and the evil that was the Holocaust. Furthermore, my party very much values the strong links forged between our countries. While in Israel I had the opportunity to meet Isaac Herzog, who chairs the Jewish Agency. Ireland recently commemorated the centenary of the birth of his late father, Chaim Herzog, who was born in Belfast, raised in Dublin, and later became the sixth President of the state of Israel. We want the strong ties between our two countries to endure, and we want to continue to work to find a way forward that will help bring about lasting peace in the region. To those opposing this Bill, I state very clearly that our door will always be open to dialogue and constructive engagement.

Fianna Fáil has a long-held interest in the peace process in the Middle East. It was under a Fianna Fáil-led government in 1980 that Ireland became the first European member state to propose the two-state solution, based on a fully sovereign state of Palestine, independent of and co-existing with Israel. The objectives we had then remain largely the same today. We continue to advocate for a two-state solution, an end to this protracted conflict, and the full realisation of human rights for both Israelis and Palestinians. The decision by Fianna Fáil to support this Bill was not taken lightly or without due consideration. I recognise that it is a difficult and multifaceted conflict. Grievous wrongs have been committed by both sides, and it is fair to say that both Israeli and Palestinian authorities have acted at times in a manner that is clearly and deliberately counterproductive to peace. However, as a party we are growing increasingly concerned about the actions of Israel and its continued and blatant disregard for international law. We are deeply frustrated about the imbalance in power, the lack of progress in achieving the two-state solution, the non-existent peace process, the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza and the West Bank, home demolitions and land confiscation, unjustified restrictions on movement, and the sustained systematic expansion of settlements on Palestinian territories which are deemed illegal under international law and which represent physical obstacles to peace.

More recently, the passing of the nation state law in the Knesset, which states that only Jews have the right of self-determination in Israel and downgrades the status of the Arabic language, has only served to make the prospect of peace more remote. Coupled with this, Israel has been emboldened by the US Administration, which has ceased funding to the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, UNRRA, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. These moves have only served to alienate Palestinians and to discredit any peace initiative that is supposed to be forthcoming from the US Administration.

I visited the region with my colleague, Deputy Kelleher, and saw at first hand the reality of the settlement project and the conditions the Palestinians have to endure. We were struck by the fact that the two-state solution will very soon be unachievable because of the manner in which the settlements are interwoven throughout what is internationally recognised as Palestinian land. Land is divided by walls and fences. Certain roads are restricted for use of Israelis only. There is a clear disparity in living standards. Conditions in the West Bank and Gaza are now well below an acceptable standard of living, and reports indicate that Gaza will very soon be considered uninhabitable. We met the NGOs, Al-Haq and Breaking the Silence. We listened, learned, and came to the conclusion that criticism of the settlements alone has proved a futile exercise. Repeated condemnation of Israeli actions by the EU and many in the international community has failed to deter Israel from continuing its settlements project. Even UN resolution No. 2334 in December of 2014, which states, "[Israel's establishment] of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, ha[d] no legal validity and constitute[d] a flagrant violation under international law", has had little or no impact. The situation has in fact worsened since then.

No condemnation has been strong enough to change Israel's approach, and it would appear that the Israeli authorities have become accustomed to tuning out criticism. It has no impact on the actions of the Israeli authorities. It is clear to me that we have to change tack and take time to take a different course of action. If change is to come, we must make the settlement project a less desirable policy for Israel. This Bill is an example of a different but moderate approach and one that I hope can be a vehicle for some change in some small way. To those who have tried to dissuade us from supporting the Bill and say that it is not the time for such a Bill, I say if this is not the time to act, when will that time come? It is evident, given the expansion of the settlements, that unless action is taken, the two-state solution and the sovereign state of Palestine, independent of and co-existing with Israel, will very soon not be feasible. This Bill should not be seen as a radical departure. It is the right thing to do.

I do not wish to repeat anything my colleague has said. I want to address an issue that is relevant to this issue as well as many other Private Members' Bills. If this Bill passes Second Stage in Dáil Éireann, it is not the case that it becomes law. It necessarily requires that the Bill goes on to Committee Stage, Report Stage and Final Stage, before being promulgated by the President. My concern, shared by colleagues in Fianna Fáil, is that if this matter proceeds to Committee Stage, the Government may seek to invoke Article 17.2 of the Constitution. As Members are aware, that provision provides that: "Dáil Éireann shall not pass any law ... for the appropriation of revenue or other public moneys unless the purpose of the appropriation shall have been recommended to Dáil Éireann by a message from the Government, signed by the Taoiseach." That provision has become known as a money message. It was an innovative proposal, inserted into the Constitution by Eamon de Valera, and intended to ensure that the Government would retain control of the purse strings. However, it would be fanciful and inappropriate for the Government to seek to rely upon Article 17.2 for the purpose of preventing this legislation proceeding to Committee Stage.

The concern Fianna Fáil has in respect of this matter arises because of what was said in the Seanad by the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade when this Bill was going through the Seanad. It was suggested that this legislation could impose significant and recurring damages on the State because it might involve fines from the European Union or the European Commission, or it may cost money because it creates new offences. The suggestion that a money message is required because fines may be imposed by the European Commission is inappropriate. Anyone who knows the workings of the European Commission will know that Ireland will be given a warning if it brings the matter before a court, and that after a court decision has been made, we will be given the necessary time to ensure that the law is compatible with European Union law. This is provided for under section 3 of the European Communities Act 1972. We could bring in this change readily without any fine being imposed upon us.

Another concern is that an individual or corporation could take a case against the State. However, that would only give rise to damages in circumstances where the State manifestly and gravely disregarded the limits on its discretion. I also believe that the suggestion that new offences are being created by this Bill which would create a charge on the Exchequer is inappropriate.

Simply because new offences are created does not mean the Garda will require more money for the purposes of investigating any new offences. The Government is perfectly entitled to oppose this legislation on substance, but it would be inappropriate for the Government to seek to misrepresent and misuse the Constitution for the purposes of blocking this legislation or stopping it from getting through the Houses of the Oireachtas.

I am pleased to be here today to support my colleague, Deputy Niall Collins, and my party in moving this Bill in the Dáil. I commend Senator Frances Black and our colleagues in the Seanad who passed this Bill.

As the Tánaiste is aware, previously when I had the role of Opposition spokesperson on foreign affairs, we engaged specifically on this legislation. I was happy to be involved at the time in the preparation and the first presentation of the Bill. Back then, we afforded time to Government. We afforded over six months for Government to respond to a very simple request. The request was that the Tánaiste would raise the issue of settlement goods with his EU counterparts at the Foreign Affairs Council. I asked him to do this in a letter dated 15 February 2018. In his response the Tánaiste said that a discussion on the Middle East was expected to be on the agenda of the next meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council on 26 February 2018. He said, however, that it was likely that discussion would focus mostly on the preparation for a lunch with the foreign ministers of key Arab states.

Deputy Niall Collins has outlined the matter perfectly. The time for waiting is over now. We have tried to engage and gain agreement on this question. Over 46 separate resolutions from the UN Human Rights Council have been ignored by Israel. This Bill would send a message not only to Israel but to other states that illegally annex territory and seek to benefit from the use and exploitation of such territory. The message is that Ireland will stand and be first to say that is not appropriate, like back in 1980, when the former Minister for Foreign Affairs, the late Brian Lenihan, was the first to propose the two-state solution. There is no reason why Ireland should not lead. I am proud of the track record of my party, Fianna Fáil, in that regard. I am proud to be working with colleagues across the House to pass legislation that will make a difference and that will send a message. We would be the first EU state to do so and others may follow. The time for waiting for a pan-European approach is over at this stage. We have tried that. We tried it with the Tánaiste when we asked him to raise this issue on numerous occasions and when we asked him to work with us on the Bill. That has failed. I am happy to support the Bill and I hope the House passes it. As my colleague has said, I hope it is not blocked at subsequent stages by the Government.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this important issue, the Second Stage debate of the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018. The enactment of legislation to prohibit the purchase of goods or services produced in settlements deemed illegal is a proportionate response to breaches of international law. It sends a strong message from Ireland on the need to respect such laws. Ireland and Fianna Fáil-led Governments have a long history of standing up for international law and the Bill is in keeping with that history. Our Bill will not end illegal settlements but it will demonstrate Ireland's significant opposition to them and will send a message to countries flouting international law.

The Bill is not to be interpreted as an encouragement to boycott the state of Israel, the Israeli people or those of the Jewish faith. Israel's right to exist and its right to self-determination are things that I will always support. Like any country, Israel has a right to defend itself with proportionate action. However, Israel also has a moral obligation as a member of the international community to adhere to international law. International law is clear in holding that the occupation of lands in the West Bank and Gaza as well as the establishment of illegal settlements on those lands are illegal. Internationally accepted standards of human rights, proportionality and responsibility must be adhered to by all sides.

I travelled to the West Bank and Jerusalem with my colleague, Deputy Robert Troy. There is little of the state of Palestine left to recognise. Palestinians have fewer rights and less land and freedom than ever before. The restrictions placed on them that I witnessed mean their homeland is little more than an open prison. The despair and hopelessness that I saw among Palestinians was horrifying. They live under a crushing and suffocating administration that denies them dignity. They have been destroyed economically. The situation is desperate and deteriorating. Nevertheless, I met people who refused to surrender. These people demonstrate the courage to endure on a daily basis. We met families whose homes have been knocked down or who have been thrown out of their homes. We met farmers who are not allowed to take stones from their land so that they can grow crops for their families or be productive. It was disturbing to stand in a field where the farmer could barely grow enough food for his family and, yet, when I looked over the brow of the hill I could see a neighbouring field that was as lush as any field in Ireland. That can be attributed to human rights abuses.

A two-state solution whereby Israel and Palestine co-exist side-by-side peacefully is the only solution. Unless a political solution is found the extremists will prevail on both sides. Conciliation and dialogue represent the only path to a political solution. However, the actions of Israel defence forces have made that more difficult and have strengthened the hand of those on both sides who oppose peace. The international community must provide leadership. It must provide a resolution to the conflict. I believe this Bill is a step in that direction.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Bill and put forward several points which I passionately believe need to be discussed broadly in this Chamber and across the international community.

The Bill does not reference Israel or Palestine. However, in the context of illegal occupied territories the case is obviously one of the most high-profile and significant on our globe.

I have seen first-hand the impact that the occupation is having on Palestine as a state and on the quality of life of Palestinians. It is difficult for us to continue to pretend that we are sending out condemnation through the UN and the international community since nothing is being done to advance the cause in terms of promoting the two-state solution. There is no use in making that point if we continue to prevaricate as an international community or if we continue to deny the fact that the Palestinians are living in an open prison. If we continue to deny that, then by the time good minds come together the Palestinian state will no longer exist. Time is of the essence. There is extraordinary pressure on the Palestinian people, including those in the West Bank, which I visited, as well as those in Gaza. Other Members visited Gaza and relayed their testimony. It is incumbent on us to try to keep this very much to the fore. UN resolutions are all very fine, but if we continually allow a state to ignore and flout international law by illegal occupation then the international community does not stand for much in terms of condemnation alone.

I urge people to consider this Bill and look at it. It sends out a message. Although it is from a small nation, it is a powerful message. It is from a country that has a history of major difficulties and political turmoil. We know full well that eventually dialogue and discussion will have to take place. Talking to people on an equal footing is the only way to bring about a lasting peace in the Middle East. I am not naive enough to believe that it is easy to do. This is probably one of the most protracted difficulties and has been with us over many centuries. It has been problematic not only in the context of Israeli versus Arab but Christian versus Arab as well. For many years this has been a fault line between religion, civilisations, ways of life and how we view the world. At this stage as a small nation I believe we owe it to the people of Palestine and other occupied areas to declare that international law must be supported and upheld. Otherwise, we stand for nothing as a parliament, a people or as an international community.

We are aware of proposals on the table from the United States on the Middle East peace process. There have been many initiatives but the initiative most supported - it was put forward by this State initially - is the two-state solution. I am firmly of the belief that if we delay and prevaricate then the two-state solution will cease to be a means to an end. This is because the second state, Palestine, will no longer exist. It is now at a crisis point. Humanitarian issues relating to water, refuse and the breakdown of social order are to the fore. Spitefulness is something that I have seen in terms of the cutting of funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and others. The agency was providing educational facilities for Palestinian children. I appeal to the Tánaiste to use his good offices. I know he is a champion of the Palestinian people. I urge him to support this Bill and send out a strong message from a small nation expressing solidarity with a people who are oppressed. The Tánaiste should support this Bill and allow it to frame the discussions across the European Union and elsewhere in the context of the occupied territories.

I am glad to be able to speak to this Bill. The Bill merits very careful consideration in all its aspects. I have addressed this Bill already in the Seanad. I will not therefore repeat what I have said about my activities on the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I trust Deputies will recognise the priority I have attached to this issue, the time I have devoted to it and, indeed, the public funds that I have committed to it in the context of support for the Palestinian Authority and to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA, in recent times. This has included three visits to the region in my 12 months as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, work on the political process and on Gaza, and keeping up consistent pressure at EU and international level against the expansion of settlements.

Ireland has also been to the fore in shaping EU policies on settlements, including the exclusion of settlement products from normal tariff levels, preventing EU research funding being spent in settlements, preventing misleading labelling of settlement goods, and providing for the specific exclusion of settlements from future EU agreements with Israel. Ireland also supports Israeli, Palestinian and international NGOs which defend Palestinian communities under threat from settlements. No Member of this House attaches greater importance than I do to bringing Ireland’s influence to bear to help end the occupation of the Palestinian territories, to promote a two-state solution that works for Israel and for Palestinians, and to deliver a sustainable peace after decades of conflict.

However, speaking on behalf of the Government, I do not agree that the Bill is the right way forward now. I wish to set out carefully for the Dáil why this is so. There are three broad reasons: legal, political and practical effects. The overriding point that frames the Government’s view is that the Bill asks the State to do something that is not within its power. Ireland is part of a single unified EU market. Trade is an exclusive competence of the European Union. Everyone who is informed in this House should know that. We are not in a position to raise a barrier and declare that it is prohibited to bring to Ireland, for sale or personal use, goods which enter the EU legally and are freely circulating elsewhere in the Single Market. This is the meaning of the Single Market, the defence of which is something which the EU takes very seriously, as we have seen in the context of Brexit. The integrity of the Single Market is in Ireland’s overall interest.

The formal advice to the Government of the Attorney General on this matter has confirmed clearly that passage of the Bill would put Ireland in breach of EU law and would expose Ireland to legal action by the European Commission as guardian of the treaties. Some supporters of the Bill have put forward legal opinions which highlight a so-called public policy exemption, which states that provisions on free circulation of goods do not preclude “prohibitions, quantitative restrictions or surveillance measures on grounds of public morality, public policy or public security”. However, I am strongly advised that the European Court of Justice has shown in previous cases that it will not allow this term to be interpreted broadly. A broad interpretation of the public policy exemption would so obviously have implications for the EU’s exclusive competence on trade that it is entirely foreseeable that a challenge by the European Commission would follow. Our informal soundings lead us to consider that very likely.

Should Ireland be found to have breached EU law, as we would expect, the State would be exposed to potentially very significant fines as well as legal costs. Fines recommended by the Commission in such cases can include lump sums of more than €1.5 million plus daily fines. Cumulative annual costs of these fines can range from hundreds of thousands of euros per year at the lower end of the scale, up to tens of millions of euros per year at the highest end. No Government, nor any responsible Opposition, could support intentionally breaking EU law and exposing the State to such significant penalties.

The Bill could also be challenged by companies or individuals claiming to be adversely affected by it. In addition to legal costs arising in these circumstances, a finding against Ireland in favour of a private party could give rise to damages being awarded against the State. In addition, costs would also arise for the relevant authorities in the implementation of the law, which would create new offences, the investigation, enforcement and potential prosecution of which would have resource implications for the customs authorities, An Garda Síochána and the criminal justice system more broadly, including, perhaps, the Prison Service. Our view is that additional costs will also arise from voted funds for certain Irish diplomatic missions abroad should this Bill be enacted. I should state clearly at this point that because of these costs across a wide range of areas, there can be no doubt that the Bill will require a money message to proceed to Committee Stage.

That is nonsense.

I should also mention briefly some other legal and constitutional difficulties identified with the Bill, including the use of ministerial regulations to extend the scope of the Bill, aspects of the extraterritorial application of this Bill, and constitutional difficulties around the legal certainty and capability of enforcement of some criminal offences contained in the Bill. The political effects of the Bill are also an important consideration for this House. Ireland has a stronger voice and greater influence on Middle East issues generally at UN and EU level than our size alone would justify. That is where we are able to be of most help to the Palestinian people, which is my priority - indeed, both the Israeli and Palestinian people - in achieving a just and lasting peace.

My fear is that if Ireland adopts this Bill, we would be choosing to be a principled voice in the wilderness, satisfied in the righteousness of our course, but largely unable to influence the real action. I am in no doubt, from my experience of discussions on this issue at EU level, that a unilateral move by Ireland on this matter would weaken our ability to influence overall EU policy, not strengthen it. If we allow ourselves to be discounted in the calculations that other states make, about where the centre of gravity on Middle East policy lies, then we cease to shape that political centre of gravity.

The third basis on which the Government must oppose the Bill is the assessment of its practical effects, including practical challenges and costs of compliance for Irish companies which trade internationally. For example, US companies in Ireland and Irish companies in the US could be placed in an impossible conflict of jurisdictions. Legislation was under discussion in the United States Congress in 2018 to forbid companies based in the US from co-operating with trade bans on Israel and Israeli settlements. Such proposals have enjoyed strong cross-party support in the US, so such legislation may well be passed into law. Similar legislation exists at state level in many US states. Irish missions and State agencies in the US have received queries from companies concerned about this impact of the Bill and the lack of clarity on their legal obligations.

This Bill is a sincere attempt to address a real issue. I recognise that and recognise Senator Frances Black who began this Bill’s journey. If enacted, it would provide a moment of solace for Palestinians at a difficult time. However the solace would only be momentary. Legislation must be designed by the head as well as the heart and it is the job of any Government to assess the balance of positives and negatives of any policy option.

The Bill before us will not significantly impact on Israeli settlements. Conversely, it will place Ireland in breach of EU law. That alone should be enough to make it impossible to vote for it. It will also lead to Ireland facing legal challenge and the strong likelihood of very significant penalties, as well as being obliged to repeal the law and possibly pay damages to those with economic interests in settlements. It will diminish Ireland’s influence on behalf of the Palestinians at EU level, which is my main concern. It will also create difficulties for Ireland and for companies in Ireland with compliance, including with US legislation.

Ultimately, despite being well and sincerely intentioned by its original authors, this Bill will do serious damage to Ireland and bring only momentary consolation to Palestinians, and we owe them more than that. For these reasons, no responsible party of Government could support this Bill and this Government must and will oppose it.

Táim fíor-bhuíoch as an deis labhairt ar an mBille tábhachtach seo um thráthnóna. It is my privilege to support the Bill on behalf of Sinn Féin and I commend Senator Black on advancing it.

I listened with a sinking heart to the Tánaiste's speech. He spoke about the centre of gravity as it pertained to Palestine. Let us assess the centre of gravity and the progress that has been made. The Palestinian people are victims of a process of colonisation and an onslaught of building of illegal settlements. Land is taken and rights are denied. People are imprisoned using a form of internment known as administrative detention, a British law that still stands. Their numbers include more than 400 children. Children have been maimed, with their eyes gone, thanks to Israeli defence forces aggression. Young men were jailed - actually, they were children - at the age of 12 years and released at the age of 15. A young woman aged 16 years, Ahed Tamimi, spent six months in jail for standing up to Israeli soldiers. Last year 312 Palestinians, including 53 children, died at the hands of the Israeli army. That is the centre of gravity.

The Tánaiste dishonours this country and our international standing by taking to his feet in this Chamber and attempting to overlook, disregard or justify all of this. The Irish people are prepared to take on the argument at EU level. Public opinion understands this is necessary. People are prepared to take on the commercial complications set out by the Tánaiste. What they are not prepared to do and what no Government worthy of the name should do is stand over trade with illegal settlements or stand by as the state of Israel comprehensively and brazenly flouts international law day in and day out. Above all else, the Government and the State should stand for the rule of international law. In the final analysis, that is what the legislation is about. The Tánaiste can give his political, legal and diplomatic rationale and come up with every excuse under the sun not to support the Bill, but we only need one good reason to support it.

I was in Palestine before Christmas. The Palestinian people look to Ireland to lead and stand in solidarity with them. They want this legislation. I did not meet one person who was opposed to it. As the Palestinian people believe this is the right move, let us make it and lead from the front. That is the honourable and Irish thing to do.

The Bill seeks to prohibit the importation and sale of goods, services and natural resources originating from illegal settlements in occupied territories. It is not extreme. It seeks to establish a legal framework to ban these imports from settlements that are already illegal under international humanitarian law and, most importantly, domestic Irish law. Goods and services only available because of gross human rights abuses and violations of international law should not be on sale in Ireland.

A clear example of how the Bill would work is the stopping of goods and services from illegal Israeli colonial settlements from entering Ireland. Israel has occupied the West Bank region of Palestine since 1967 and in that time transferred more than 600,000 of its citizens to that territory. This has been facilitated by the diversion of water supplies and the widespread confiscation of Palestinian land, particularly fertile farmland. It has also created a system of apartheid between illegal Israeli settlers and Palestinian citizens. For decades Israel has attempted to destroy the two-state solution by increasing the building of these illegal colonial settlements in Palestine which violates international law and is a war crime, yet Ireland continues to allow and facilitate trade with the illegal colonial settlements. As long as we continue to allow the Israeli Government to impose apartheid, maintain its illegal occupation and violate international law with impunity, it will never make the transition and necessary compromises to create a just and lasting peace settlement.

The Irish Government must make a strong and unambiguous statement that Israel cannot continue its illegal occupation of Palestine with impunity. Nothing is going to change in Gaza or on the West Bank until the international community moves on from empty rhetoric and actually applies pressure on Israel. Ireland must stop sitting on the sidelines waiting for the right moment. When real, concrete and tangible steps are proposed, it must give leadership. The Government has refused to abide by the Sinn Féin motion to recognise the state of Palestine that was passed unanimously by the House in December 2014 and is refusing to support the Bill. In the face of war crimes and human rights abuses, the time for empty words is over. It is time for action. That is the call coming from the House.

The Bill does not focus on one occupation or country; rather, its focus is solely on the primacy of international law. It could apply to occupations and breaches of international law anywhere in the world. A "relevant occupied territory" is defined as one that has been confirmed as such by the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court or an international tribunal and designated as occupied for the purposes of this legislation by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, subject to the approval of the Houses of the Oireachtas. There is a strong case for Morocco's occupation of Western Sahara to come with the remit of the Bill.

In its refusal to support the Bill the Government is hiding behind the legal advice the Attorney General has supposedly provided. Like many of us, I would love to see that advice. Senator Black has released her legal advice received on the Bill. The legal basis of the Bill and its compatibility with EU law are detailed in the legal opinions of Mr. Michael Lynn, senior counsel; Professor James Crawford and, most recently, Professor Takis Tridimas. Last year the Government published a summary of the Attorney General's advice on why it should opt for repeal of the eighth amendment. The Tánaiste should now publish a summary of the Attorney General's advice on this Bill in order that all parties would see the legal perspectives and make up their own minds. I am in no doubt that the Bill is fully compliant with EU trade rules and that we should pass it urgently. Let us not forget that South African goods, produced under a system of apartheid, were banned from Ireland in 1987 after a long campaign by Irish workers and anti-apartheid activists. That was done despite the advice of the Attorney General that it was not possible under then EEC trade rules. The Government should drop its opposition to the Bill and join all members of the Opposition in supporting this important legislation.

The next speaker is Deputy Adams. Six minutes will be shared by three speakers.

I thank Fianna Fáil for tabling this Bill. Tá mé fíor-bhuíoch go bhfuil seans agam caint ar an ábhar an-tábhachtach seo. I commend the Seanad on passing the Bill. In particular, I thank Senator Black for her work on this crucial humanitarian issue. By contrast, the Government's policy is reprehensible, but that is not new. Fine Gael's refusal to honour its programme for Government commitment and implement the democratic votes of both Houses to give formal recognition to the state of Palestine is wilfully shameful. Today and yesterday, there were Israeli attacks in Gaza. Ten years ago this month, Israeli forces invaded the Gaza Strip. It resulted in 13 deaths on the Israeli side, while 1,417 Palestinians were killed, including 313. I visited Israel, the Gaza Strip and Gaza city not long after the first assault and was horrified by the scale of the human tragedy.

The UN report into that invasion concluded that it was a deliberate, disproportionate act by Israeli forces designed to punish, humiliate and terrorise a civilian population. The Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, the separation law, and the theft of water rights and of land for illegal settlements have all been well documented and all are in breach of international law.

The State of Israel is a First World, nuclear-armed and economic power oppressing a largely powerless, impoverished Palestinian people. Despite the fine work being done by many Israeli citizens and NGOs, despite support in Israel for a peace process, the Israeli state snubs diplomacy, rejects international criticism, has no interest in peaceful alternatives and does not see armed force as a measure of last resort - on the contrary, it sees brutal military force as its measure of first resort.

We recognise the State of Israel, despite its flagrant breaches of international law and human rights. I have no issue with that. Fair enough, but why is one state recognised and not the other? Why are no sanctions being brought forward?

On Monday, we celebrated an Chéad Dáil. That was an illegal act. If we follow the rationale of this Minister, those who assembled would not have done anything. They would have sat and decided to do nothing. Women still would not have a vote and slavery would still be legal if we followed his rationale and no one anywhere in the world would have won a single right if we followed his rationale. If we, as a former colony still partitioned, still occupied in part by a Government we do not want, with our proud history of freedom struggle and resistance and our peace process, do not support the people of Palestine, then who will?

There is no wrong time to do the right thing. The Government should support this Bill and I would urge all Teachtaí Dála to do likewise.

There are two and a half minutes left.

By opposing this Bill, the Tánaiste is certainly on the wrong side of history.

I commend Senator Frances Black, her team in the Seanad and the Seanad Civil Engagement group on drafting this significant Bill and bringing it forward.

This Bill offers Members of the Dáil a chance to both shine a light on the continued horrendous treatment of people living in Palestine by the Israeli Government and take tangible action to show our solidarity with those living under the cruel illegal occupation.

Senator Black has been a champion for the people of Palestine, and I am proud to lend my vote and that of my party to her Bill here today.

I never fail to be appalled and horrified at how brutal the Israeli Government and occupying army can be to the Palestinian people. The oppressive Israeli Government cannot be allowed to continue to act with total disregard for human life, and with complete disdain for international law. As a nation of people who lived under a brutal occupier for hundreds of years, we should be acutely aware of the need for other states to show their solidarity with nations living under occupation and assist them in any way possible with their aspirations for statehood.

This Bill would prohibit the import and sale of goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements, restrict Irish involvement in the provision of services in such settlements and ban the extraction of resources from occupied territories without the consent of the recognised authority of that territory.

The Bill would not impose a ban on Israeli goods in general. It would only affect goods produced in occupied territories built beyond Israel's borders, deemed illegal under international law. This is entirely appropriate and justifiable.

It is completely unacceptable that Fine Gael has steadfastly refused to implement the will of the Dáil by recognising the state of Palestine, in line with a Sinn Féin motion that was passed here in 2014. I ask the Tánaiste to address this issue and tell us when Ireland will officially recognise the state of Palestine or why the Government will not do so. I also call on the Ministers of State, Deputies Finian McGrath and Halligan, and the Minister, Deputy Ross, to use their influence within the Government to ensure this is progressed immediately.

I commend Senator Black on her tireless work for the Palestinian people. I hope the passing of this Bill will be followed by the official State recognition of Palestine and will set an example for other countries across the world to follow and, in turn, force the Israeli Government to change its deplorable behaviour.

Deputy Mitchell has 20 seconds.

Just keep going.

I welcome the cross-party support and thank Senator Black for bringing this forward.

This Bill aims to uphold international law. That is it.

If I can, I will say the following. This Bill lays down a marker. The Irish people stand with the people of Palestine against the Israeli apartheid regime. The Irish people stand for the international rule of law. The Irish people, who have suffered in their own history from the theft of land, will not allow Israel to normalise its illegal occupation and settlement of the West Bank.

Like others, I will begin by acknowledging the work and perseverance of Senator Black in devising this Bill and piloting it through the other House. I also recognise the contribution of civil society organisations, including the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Trócaire, Christian Aid and Sadaka, to the development of the Bill and, indeed, of Fianna Fáil for bringing it into this House today.

This Bill has been given detailed discussion and deliberation in the Seanad where I think it is fair to say that all sides - all speakers in the Seanad - recognised that this Bill is designed on sound moral principles and seeks only to do what is right.

Labour supports this Bill, as Labour has a long history of support for the people of Palestine. Although it has been said and repeated already, it is important to restate that this is not a boycott-of-Israel Bill or a Bill to place a ban on Israeli goods. This Bill is not anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli in any respect. Without equivocation, I utterly condemn anti-Semitism and deplore its rise in the world today. The State of Israel is internationally recognised and is a legitimate member of the international community, and I reject any assertions to the contrary. We want Ireland to continue to be a friend and partner to the people of Israel. Equally, Ireland is and will continue to be a friend and supporter of the people of Palestine. Labour wants to see a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and we support international efforts to restart and re-energise the process of finding a durable two-state solution.

I will focus on the Bill itself. It is a simple Bill, but one that addresses a complex topic. The Bill seek to make it an offence in Ireland for a person "to import or sell goods or services originating in an occupied territory", simpliciter. The Bill seeks to make it an offence for a person "to extract resources from an occupied territory in certain circumstances". The Bill carefully defines an "occupied territory" as a territory which is confirmed as "occupied" by a decision or advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, by a decision of the International Criminal Court or by a decision of an international tribunal, or else designated as such for the purposes of this Act in a regulation made by the Minister. This definition obviously includes the occupied Palestinian territories but it also includes the territories belonging to Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia that are recognised internationally as illegally occupied by Russia, and there are other territories, some already mentioned by other Members, around the world that have been occupied by armed forces operating under the control of a foreign power.

While this law has obviously had its origins in concern for the Palestinian people, it may prove to be significant legislation in respect of the recent aggression by Russia and Russian-backed armed groups all too close to the European Union's own borders. The Bill is addressing one of the most basic aspects of national sovereignty, which is the territorial integrity of a state. It is a blind spot in our law that we do not already make it illegal to trade in goods originating in occupied territories.

As well as being an affront to international law, occupation by armed forces is a costly undertaking. The cost of occupation and warfare, including the costs of reparations, is one of the ways in which Europe has sought to eliminate warfare as a policy choice by aggressive governments.

In that context, it is clear that we should have a law to prevent occupying forces making economic gain from illegal occupation.

The Tánaiste stated that the Attorney General told him that it would be unlawful under European law to implement the Bill but other legal opinions disagree. There is no doubt in my mind that we should proceed with this legislation. Let us test it in the European Commission or European Court of Justice and see what they decide.

We have our own advice.

I heard what the Tánaiste stated regarding potential challenges to the Bill. However, he is aware that the Attorney General regularly provides a written list of potential challenges against the State for breaches of European law. It is a regular part and feature of government and should not prevent us pursuing what is right in this case.

Most Deputies belong to parties that are represented in Brussels and Strasbourg. I will undertake to share a copy of the Bill with my colleagues in the Party of European Socialists and ask them to support this initiative at European level and, indeed, in their home parliaments across Europe. If the law is incomplete or has unintended consequences, those can be addressed. If nothing else, this Parliament is taking an important stand on the issue of the economic exploitation of any unlawfully occupied territory.

Such economic exploitation of occupied territory is an issue that resonates with Ireland’s history. Last Monday, we remembered the Democratic Programme written by the then leader of the Labour Party, Tom Johnson, and which is recorded as one of the first documents to be placed before the First Dáil. Two excerpts from it are directly relevant to this matter. One hundred years ago this week, Johnson wrote “we declare that the Nation’s sovereignty extends not only to all men and women of the Nation, but to all its material possessions, the Nation’s soil and all its resources, all the wealth and all the wealth-producing processes within the Nation”. Our declaration of independence from the British Empire required the nascent Irish State to wrest control of the economy, including the soil and natural resources of the territory of Ireland. There could not be meaningful independence if the economy was excessively under foreign control. That is true for any territory, nation or nascent country if its resources are bled or removed from it before it has a chance to come to full existence. The Democratic Programme further states “while undertaking the organisation of the Nation’s trade, import and export, it shall be the duty of the Republic to prevent the shipment from Ireland of food and other necessaries until the wants of the Irish people are fully satisfied and the future provided for.” All Members know that shipments of corn farmed for absentee landlords continued to leave Ireland during the Great Famine of 1845-49, which left a million dead and caused two million to leave Ireland in the space of ten years. Economist Cormac Ó Gráda calculated that in 1845 alone, more than 26 million bushels of grain were exported from a starving Ireland to England. Research by Christine Kinealy of the University of Liverpool shows that nearly 4,000 vessels carrying food left Ireland for England in 1847, at the height of the Famine.

We know from World Bank studies and other analyses that the occupation of the territories of Palestine has had a great cost for the people of Palestine and to their economy. The UN Conference on Trade and Development went so far as to state that “fifty years of occupation have driven the Palestinian economy into de-development and poverty”. Political leaders in Palestine obviously need to do far more to improve their governance. However, Ireland and this Parliament has a long history of standing with them. The least we can do now is to ensure that economic gains from illegal occupation are not paid for with Irish money. We must support the Bill and its aims and encourage our sister parties throughout Europe to do the same.

The first speaker for the next group is Deputy Paul Murphy, who has nine minutes.

I am sharing time with Deputy Gino Kenny.

I wish to congratulate Senator Black on bringing the Bill forward in the Seanad and thank all those outside the Oireachtas who campaigned for it. If passed, far from being a principled voice in the wilderness as the Tánaiste contended, it would represent a very important signal internationally as part of a global movement of solidarity against the oppression of the Palestinian people.

The arguments that have been marshalled against the Bill and the Government response to it are shameless and utterly cynical. The Tánaiste put forward various spurious legal arguments against the Bill. However, several newspapers today reported him as stating that the Israeli ambassador may leave Ireland if Ministers vote for the Bill, which belies the real story, namely, the pressure being put on the Government by the Israeli state. If the words of solidarity that Deputies Finian McGrath and Halligan previously uttered mean anything, they will be tripping over themselves to run to the Chamber and vote for the Bill tomorrow precisely to force the Israeli ambassador to leave Ireland. We should kick out representatives of the Israeli Government because of its crimes and oppression of the Palestinian people.

When discussing the settlements, we should be clear that they are a weapon of war against the Palestinian people and a perpetuation of what began with the Nakba and continued in the 1967 war. They involve the annexation and occupation of Palestinian land, creating facts on the ground and cutting across a contiguous Palestinian state through ethnic cleansing. They are being expanded at a rate of knots in east Jerusalem in order to undermine the possibility of a Palestinian capital. The project of expansion and settlements, encouraged by Donald Trump, is carried out with brutal violence and involves settlers and the Israeli army working hand in hand against the Palestinian people who live there. It is about creating a system of apartheid within the occupied territories with blatant discrimination: there are different roads, buses, rights and laws for Israelis and Palestinians. There are civilian laws for the Israeli settlers and military laws and rule for the Palestinian people.

Reference is often made to the international community when there is discussion of Palestine. In my opinion, there are two international communities. There is the international community of capitalist states and imperialist powers such as the United States and the European Union which, in spite of occasional crocodile tears, back up and fund the Israeli state and provide it with military assistance. There is also an international community of ordinary working-class people who are part of a global solidarity movement. It is they who have the capacity to assist the Palestinians as part of that movement. They can do so through a targeted boycott of any company or goods which benefit or result from the oppression of Palestinian people, including companies such as Caterpillar and Hewlett Packard, as well as the growing arms trade between Ireland and Israel. Workers should have nothing to do with any such trade.

I wish to conclude by making some general points from the point of view of the socialist party, Solidarity, and our sister party in Israel and Palestine, the Socialist Struggle Movement, about what can defeat the Israeli state's occupation and oppression when combined with this movement of global solidarity. We point to the mass uprising from below of the first intifada and to strikes, demonstrations and marches on border checkpoints, which show the power of mass movements. There was an important echo of those in recent months with the protest in Gaza against the siege, for example. A new upsurge of struggle from below, democratically controlled by committees of struggle, is needed to end the siege of Gaza, the occupation of the West Bank, and the discrimination against Palestinians in Israel and to achieve the dismantling of the settlements.

The working class in the region has enormous power and is a vital ally. This week, there was a general strike in Tunisia and important strike movements in Iran, echoing the movements of the Arab revolution which began in 2011. There are other key potential allies within Israeli society. The Israeli Government represents the interests of the rich, rather than those of ordinary Israeli Jewish working-class people. Recent social movements such as the strikes against violence in December and the demonstrations against LGBTQ discrimination have seen unity between Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews.

We need an overthrow of the regimes in the region and the economic, political and social order they represent. We need economic and political power in the hands of working class people and out of the private ownership of the parasitic ruling classes across the region. On that basis, one could have the exercise of the equal right to national self-determination and an independent socialist Palestine alongside democratic socialist Israel.

I congratulate Senator Black on introducing this historic Bill to the national Parliament of Ireland. It is a great Bill, although the economic impact it would have on the state of Israel would be limited. It is highly significant for the rest of the world and, of course, the Palestinian people. The world is watching and we hope the contagion of boycotting the state of Israel is just beginning. People Before Profit would like to go further and have a complete boycott of all Israeli goods entering the European Union, including Ireland, and see the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from this country.

The House has a moral obligation to pass the Bill. The Minister's statements are complete drivel, an issue to which I will return. We need to send a signal to apartheid Israel that its policy of murder and occupation can no longer go unhindered under international law. There have to be economic consequences. We can hide behind the legal jargon and protocols of the Dáil, while the European Union cries crocodile tears on a consistent basis, but the trade in goods between Israel and the Union is worth €35 billion. On a daily basis, ordinary Palestinians are murdered and imprisoned for no reason. Therefore, it is a matter of taking sides. It is a matter of being on the side of the occupied rather than the occupier, the side of the Palestinian rather than the illegal settler and the side of justice, not injustice.

There is a precedent. In 1987 in this House Ireland became one of the first countries in the world to ban the importation of fruit from apartheid South Africa. That sent a signal across the world that a small country had stood up for justice and against the atrocities of apartheid. Nobody in his or her right mind, regardless of political persuasion, would try to defend apartheid South Africa. In 1990 Nelson Mandela came to this country to receive the freedom of Dublin. On the Dunnes Stores strike from 1984 to 1987, he said "ordinary people, far away from the crucible of apartheid, cared for our freedom." He said the strike had kept him going through the darkest days of his imprisonment. That is what this Bill is about. Thousands of people have been killed in the past four or five years by the Israeli forces, but the Bill is giving the Palestinians hope in the darkness of occupation. We must pass it and not hide behind the bureaucracy and jargon of EU law. Public opinion favours the majority in this House. The Minister is on the wrong side of history and public opinion in Ireland.

Deputy Clare Daly is sharing her time with Deputies Wallace and Joan Collins.

I am absolutely delighted to speak to this important Bill. It is so incredibly rare here to express pride in something we are doing as a Parliament. Like everyone else, I compliment Senator Black and salute Fianna Fáil for introducing the Bill to this House. Obviously, the Government is the odd one out. Since its arguments against the legality of the Bill are so utterly and transparently nonsense, I am not even going to waste any time on them; suffice it to say it feels as if the only time anything positive is achieved here, it happens against the will of the permanent government. That sends a signal to me. Is it not a mark of how bleak things have become that we are proud of ourselves for taking steps to end trade with illegal entities and illegal settlements that are the result of war crimes committed against the Palestinian people? It is a mark of the nauseating hypocrisy of the European Union that we are doing this alone and that no move has been made by the Union as a bloc to end trade with the settlements, even as EU sanctions are imposed on other countries.

On Israel, there is absolutely nothing. It is worse than nothing. Israel is one of the partners in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, a key initiative that implies we have a privileged relationship with Israel because of our common values. Let us be clear: Israel is a violent, criminal, racist, apartheid state that is engaged in a slow but relentless genocide of Palestinians. It is wonderful that this parliament is standing up on behalf of the Palestinian people. The Bill is not a panacea, but it does send a signal. It is incredible and I am delighted that it is is before the House.

I am pleased that this Bill has been introduced. I thank Deputy Niall Collins for introducing it. I also congratulate Senator Black who initiated it and the Senators who passed it in the Seanad last year. I thank those campaigners outside the Dáil who put in a huge amount of work to highlight it.

It is important to state what the Bill calls for. It has been and no doubt will be denounced by the Israeli embassy as anti-Israel, or even anti-Semitic, because any criticism of Israeli policy in the illegally occupied West Bank always is. The Bill calls for a ban on the importation of goods produced in Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine. These settlements are illegal under international law and constitute a policy of colonisation on the West Bank.

I was very pleased to sponsor a public meeting in my constituency last year at which Senator Black explained the purpose of the Bill. The meeting was packed and there was great support for the Bill. The meeting was addressed by a husband and wife, Fayez and Mona al-Taneeb, Palestinian farmers who are not allowed to work their farmland because of its proximity to the Israeli settlement. It is fenced off. On the occasions the two farmers have gone onto their land and planted crops the crops were destroyed by the Israeli army. Fayez and Mona made it quite clear at the meeting that they would continue to try to farm their own land and that they fully supported the Bill.

The settlements serve a number of purposes for the Zionist project. There is a great difference between the concept of the state of Israel existing side by side with an independent, viable Palestinian state and the project of Zionism, the ultimate aim of which is the annexation of all of the West Bank and its incorporation into a Jewish state. The settlements are a key part of the project. They provide a foothold in Palestinian territory, justify the presence of the Israeli army and are blocking the creation of a Palestinian state with a viable economy.

Recently there have been leaks about US President Donald Trump's so-called deal of the century in finding a resolution of the conflict on the West Bank. The so-called deal is extremely favourable to Israel, accepts the reality of the settlements and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. What has been reported as being included in the deal has been rejected by spokespersons for the Palestinian Authority, but it has also been rejected out of hand by a Likud Party Minister. He has called for the imposition of sovereignty over the West Bank and the acceleration of settlement construction to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. Passing the Bill would be an important step forward. I hope it would be followed by other states in applying international pressure on Israel and forcing it into meaningful negotiations to recognise the rights of the Palestinian people.

Earlier this month the Israeli ambassador to Ireland stated, "The clear line between supporting Palestinians and becoming anti-Israeli is a thin one and unfortunately one that is being crossed all too often." What he did not say was that Palestinians were living under the tyranny of a brutal apartheid state. They are suffering and dying every day at the hands of the Israeli Administration, its military and settlers in the illegally occupied territories. The Bill by Senator Black, in attempting to uphold and, in a small way, enforce international law, acknowledges the right to exist of the Palestinian people and other oppressed peoples of an occupied land. Since the brutality of the Israeli occupation of Palestine has driven the Palestinian people to the point where merely existing is their greatest act of resistance, acknowledgment by Ireland that this is a gross violation of international human rights law would provide valuable moral support for the people of Palestine.

The Israeli Administration does not hear the voices of Palestinians or anyone else calling for equality. The ambassador says we are dealing with a complex issue. We are not. It is about equality, human rights and dignity. In the actions of the Israeli Administration we see the most sustained violations of the principles of law. If the Palestinians appeal to the United Nations or the International Criminal Court, the Israelis call it diplomatic terrorism. Peaceful protest is terrorism. Every form of resistance is terrorism. Even the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and its supporters are smeared by the Israeli lobby as supporters of terrorism.

The Bill has been designed to uphold international law and impose a modest economic penalty on anyone who uses force and violence to steal and occupy another people's recognised territory. This is being called extremism by Israel's representative in Ireland. Standing up for human rights is anti-Semitic if those humans are being killed by Israelis. The claim of anti-Semitism is used as a tool not just against people with whom the Israelis do not agree but also against people such as Mr. Jeremy Corbyn. If it was genuinely concerned, I imagine the Israeli Administration might stop selling weapons to openly anti-Semite neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine.

I listened to the Tánaiste's speech and do not accept it. He said trade was an integral part of the European Union. Yes, it is, but there is more to life than trade. He stated that if the Bill was passed, Ireland would be found to be in breach of EU law. Spain, Germany, Austria, France and Italy have all broken the 3% law in recent years, but none of them has paid a fine. What about the fact that Israel is in breach of international law? Does this matter? Is it a factor?

Of course, it is.

Is the European Union concerned? The Tánaiste has said we will be in breach of EU law if we introduce the Bill. Does it matter to the European Union that Israel is in breach of international law on a daily basis? Does it bother it? Is it a factor? When the Tánaiste attends foreign affairs meetings, is it recognised that Israel is breaking international law on a daily basis?

Why is the European Union not doing something about it? Why is it still paying lip service? It might give Israel the odd smack on the hand, as the Tánaiste knows. I do not think he believes some of what he says as.he is defending the indefensible when he refuses to stand by what the Bill is offering to do. I honestly believe his heart is not in it. We should stop defending the indefensible - the behaviour of the state of Israel. We are not anti-Semitic, but we are certainly against the violence and brutality of the Israeli Government against the Palestinian people and several other entities in the region.

I am happy to speak to the Bill which I have consistently opposed as I have made clear to the various groups that support the right of Israel to defend itself against the blatant bias in organisations such as the United Nations which the Bill seeks to promote. I am aware that the Government’s position is that the matter is best dealt with at EU policy level, with all EU member states acting in a concerted manner to aid the finding of a just resolution to the ongoing crisis. It has been ongoing for a long time and is very stark. However, there are many aspects to how Israelis are treated that I find particularly disconcerting.

On Wednesday, 17 January 2018, during the debate on a Dáil motion on the review of the Irish Aid programme I asked the Tánaiste to provide details of Ireland's bilateral overseas aid funding between 2011 and 2016. There is a need for absolute clarity on where our overseas aid funding goes. In particular, we need to ensure strong governance and accountability protections are in place. I raised these matters because I was aware that some of the funding provided was being used to indirectly support non-governmental organisations with very dubious links with groups with questionable agendas. I honestly believe this to be the case.

NGO Monitor has claimed that Ireland, via its programme of overseas aid development, Irish Aid, provides millions of euros through direct and indirect funding processes for politicised non-governmental organisations operating in Ireland, Israel, on the West Bank and in Gaza. It also claims that Irish Aid is funding lead campaigns and political activities that are inconsistent with Ireland's policies to promote peace and a two-state framework in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Some of the groups also promote anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish rhetoric and have alleged ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine which the United States, the European Union, Canada and Israel have designated as a terrorist organisation.

All of these questions and more need to be thoroughly examined. In that light, I hope it is clear why I will not support the Bill. The Jewish people, just as much as the Palestinian people, have a right to live in peace and security. We must all endeavour to ensure this. We know about our own fragile peace process and the pressure being exerted on the Good Friday Agreement at this time because of the impasse caused by Brexit and owing to the non-engagement of the two political parties.

That is not true.

I will say the non-activity. I do not know what is going on, but we have no active government sitting and engaging. I am not blaming one side over the other; I am just indicating how fragile it is, as we know from the negotiations last week with the Tánaiste, the briefing on Brexit and what the Taoiseach said last night. It was dearly fought for and hard earned. Our former colleague, Dr. Martin Mansergh, was a negotiator and worked on that peace agreement, as did many others, including Teachta Adams, Mr. Martin McGuinness and Fr. Alex Reid. We know how delicate the situation is. We saw what happened last weekend in Derry on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the ambush at Soloheadbeg. We are never that far away from mayhem, madness and the derailing of the process.

I am very concerned that money can be misdirected within and around the perimeters of NGOs. It is money given by Irish taxpayers for a specific purpose in order to take our rightful place in the world by supporting initiatives, but some organisations get carried away. Perhaps some have been hijacked and skewed, not by a deliberate policy, but it can happen. We have seen how money from abroad was used to interfere in the democratic process in this country. We can also see it in how money is used at home, given that very wealthy entrepreneurs now control half of what we do. We must be careful in our spending and providing support to protect our image. Will they be fair and transparent and achieve what the House has voted for? In what the Tánaiste, in his role as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and his colleagues sign up to with the European Union and other international agencies we must get bang for our buck, not just in financial terms but also in terms of the integrity of the process. Above all, there must be accountability for the funding provided.

I commend Senator Black on her extensive work on the Bill and I am very pleased that she has joined us.

In an interview recorded in 1976 the then Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, said the settlement movement was akin to a cancer for Israel that would eventually undermine the democratic nature of the country.

More than 40 years later we can see how accurate was his assessment. The international community has to a large extent stood back and watched as the land bank that would have constituted the majority of the future Palestinian state has been carved up and fractured by illegal Israeli settlements. The construction of settlements has caused untold misery for the Palestinian people. Land is seized for illegal residential and commercial developments. Olive groves are uprooted. Palestinians are not free to travel in or cultivate their own farmland. Access to water, electricity etc. is severely restricted.

In the past 30 years, the lines between illegal military occupation and outright annexation have become so blurred that it is almost impossible to envisage a resolution to the conflict. Today, the prospect of a two-state solution seems very remote and a lifetime away from the promises of the Oslo Accords. The unwillingness of the Israeli Government to engage in meaningful talks on the future of Palestine, emboldened as it is by the rhetoric of the current US administration, means that as long as the Palestinians can be kept contained peace is unachievable.

It is in this context that we must situate Senator Black's Bill. The Social Democrats strongly welcomes the objectives of this legislation. It amounts to a simple recognition of the illegality of the annexation and occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The status of these settlements was affirmed by the International Court of Justice in 2004. It called on states not to render aid or assistance in maintaining them. If we are to adhere to the Government and EU position that the settlements constitute a major obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible, then we simply should not be engaging in trade with those settlements.

To continue to do so will further embolden Israel to annex more than the 42% of the West Bank that it now controls and to approve the building of more settlements. The most common exports from the illegally-occupied territories are agricultural products such as fruit and vegetables, as well as some types of cosmetics that use Dead Sea mineral extracts. This is simply theft. While the value of products imported from the settlements into Ireland is low, somewhere between about €500,000 and €1 million per year, the passing of this Bill would send a strong message of solidarity to the Palestinian people and also to other EU member states.

As a whole, the EU imports goods worth €230 million each year from the illegal settlements, whereas imports from Palestine amount to a mere €15 million. Make no mistake, through our inaction we have turned a blind eye and allowed this situation to continue. In trading with the settlements we give them legitimacy and provide them with the vital economic support that allows them to sustain and, indeed, expand. In supporting this Bill, we do not wish to position ourselves against the state of Israel. We acknowledge it as a component state of the two-state solution, but only within the borders of 1967. That means accepting that to engage in trade with the illegal settlements is to grant them an unwarranted legitimacy. We cannot continue to allow this to happen as it is a disservice to the pursuit of peace in the region.

I am very happy on behalf of the Green Party to support this Bill. I commend Deputy Niall Collins on introducing it here and Senator Black for initiating it in the Seanad, where it was co-signed by colleague, Senator Grace O'Sullivan. I spoke briefly at the centenary anniversary of the founding of Dáil Éireann and my central message was that we have to play our part in trying to create a world at peace. It behoves us to take a position on one of the critical issues of our time. What is happening in Palestine is simply wrong, it is not justified, it is not legal and it is not morally correct. We have consistently taken that position. We need to follow it up now and act to carry through what we state in words.

In my few short minutes I want to reflect on some of the comments the Minister made in his speech and to make counterarguments to those. He argued firstly that EU trade rules preclude us from doing anything and cited the example of our negotiations with the UK. As we will argue, that shows that if there is a no-deal hard border the application of market rules on our Border has to have a political context as well as just a narrow reading of the rules. Similarly, when it comes to trading with the settlements there is a political context that has to be taken into account. This Bill is not against the State of Israel or the Israeli people and what we are proposing is very specific and targeted.

On the Minister's supposition that in taking that political context into account we would be breaking EU law, I put it a slightly different way. We would certainly be testing it or we could be testing that law if a challenge was made. Sometimes it is the right thing to do to seek such a challenge, go to the European Court of Justice, make the case and then let that court decide. Sometimes laws are there to be changed and the dial to be moved. That can only be done by testing the law and that is what we would be doing here. The Minister also argued against supporting this Bill for fear that we might affect the centre of gravity of what is happening in the Middle East, Middle East policy and that we might lose our influence.

I am sorry. I see the centre of gravity in the global political response to the Palestinian issue as wrong. The centre of gravity is heading in the wrong direction as we see the US Government deciding to set up its embassy in Jerusalem. We know that is completely contrary to the direction in which we should be going. We need to act in our small way and sometimes, as small as we are as a State, we can shift the centre of gravity globally. That is what we should be attempting to do here. Turning to the Minister's contention that we might face difficulties with US companies and others in the application of these sanctions, I cite the example of where we take a directly opposite view, as I understand it. I am referring to the threats made by the US Government to levy sanctions against those companies or countries not following its rules on the Iran deal. That is a similar situation. We do not always have to follow what that US administration states. It is right and appropriate for us to set our own course.

I am deeply concerned that the Minister is intimating in his speech that the Government would use the money message mechanism to stop this Bill going on to Committee Stage. The Government has to be very careful with the use of that mechanism. It is being used on a whole range of legislation now to stymie further debate and the progress of that legislation. I believe the reason there is universal agreement, as I hear it, among the Opposition in support of this Bill is because it reflects the will of the Irish people. We have to be careful that we are not using statutory or Standing Order mechanisms to stymie that effort. I believe the Irish people want to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. This Bill is a completely appropriate, legitimate and, to my mind, legal approach. We should take it.

I call Deputy O'Loughlin. She is sharing time with Deputies Ó Cuív and Eugene Murphy.

I commend Senator Black for all of her work, and that of her colleagues, in initiating this Bill. At its most basic, this Bill is about upholding international law and surely that is something that we should do. If passed, Ireland and our Parliament will be sending a very strong message to the international community that we condemn the occupation of territories which is deemed illegal under international law. I was fortunate many years ago to visit Israel and spent some months there getting to know the Israeli people and, indeed, some Palestinian people. One of the kibbutzim I was on was six miles from the Gaza Strip and, thankfully, there was a strong relationship between some of the Palestinians who worked on the kibbutz and the kibbutzniks themselves. I found the Israelis to be very welcoming and kind to me as a traveller there.

Since then, I have always retained an interest in the politics of the region and always hoped a peaceful resolution to the conflict would come. Alas, that seems further away than ever. In 2004, the then Newbridge Town Council, of which I was a member, worked hard with the Newbridge branch of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign on twinning Newbridge and Bethlehem.

As we reflect this week on 100 years of our independent democracy, it is a good time for us as a nation to reflect on who we are, what we stand for and our place in the world. We may be a small country but our voice carries significant weight internationally, sometimes disproportionate to our size. Accordingly, the Bill is important in stating our opposition to illegal occupations that take place in the world. It is a moral imperative for the Irish people to protest against the infringements of the rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories. The Minister spoke earlier about the Bill’s financial implications. I feel strongly that the need to oppose injustice absolutely outweighs that. We cannot be content to buy products from settlements which deprive the Palestinian people of their homes, farms and livelihoods. Ireland needs to be a world leader in refusing to countenance illegal settlements built on Palestinian land. This historic Bill is an important message from us as a small nation, expressing our solidarity with the Palestinian people who are living in dreadful conditions in the occupied territories.

I was disappointed by some of the language used by the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. I know he is a humanitarian but I expected him to have shown more of this. He stated that, on behalf of the Government, he was unable to agree the Bill was the right way forward. He said there were three broad reasons for this, namely, legal, political and practical effects. That is worse than what Trump is trying to do with the wall between Mexico and the US. By using those three words, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade closed off any attempt to deal with the issue.

The Government is out of touch with the Irish nation on this issue. Whatever their political beliefs, over many years the majority of Irish people have been outraged at the way the Palestinian people have been treated. I recall the efforts of a former foreign affairs Minister from our party, Brian Lenihan Snr., who was outspoken on this issue and did much work on it as far back as 1980. He was very much in favour of changes to ensure the Palestinian people had a better quality of life.

Senator Black and Deputy Niall Collins must be highly commended on their work on this Bill. I applaud them and will stand firmly behind them as they try to progress it.

Much has been said here today about what has been done to the Palestinian people. Access to and the distribution of water, a basic human right, has been for many years and still is an ongoing fundamental issue in this conflict. The Israelis continue to try and disrupt the poor water supply to the Palestinians. That is an outrage in this day and age. It is completely unacceptable. Water consumption by Israelis and Palestinians reflects these stark inequalities. Due to the allocation of transboundary water resources agreed in the Oslo II Accord, Israel controls approximately 80% of water reserves in the West Bank. Military conflict in Gaza in summer 2014 left more than 1 million residents without access to water. The Israelis continue to disrupt the poor water supply in the area.

We can all talk about this issue day in and day out. However, Members in both Houses want to do something about it. We can lobby Europe and have meetings about it like we have for other issues. We can take a stand on this issue and fight the case in Europe.

I congratulate Senator Black on bringing this Bill forward and educating people around the country on this great justice issue which is far away from home. I congratulate my colleague, Deputy Niall Collins, on introducing the Bill in this House.

As my colleague, Deputy Eugene Murphy, said, the argument put up by the Government is that there are legal, political and practical reasons for opposing the Bill. On the legal reasons, the Government has much greater access to legal advice than we have. It always depends, however, on how one asks the question. In other words, if one asks if such an approach is legal, the reply might be “No”. The other question is much more pertinent when one is in government, namely, how does one legally achieve this political end. I am sure the Minister of State will find a legal way to do what we need to do.

There are times we are told we cannot do this because of Europe. I think it is time we tested some of these rules. If they are as draconian as they are made out to be, then we have a problem. A small country like Ireland with our history should have the ability to stand up for other persecuted people. I see no point in having commemorations of the First Dáil in the Mansion House if it is only commemorating in a dead way something that happened 100 years ago. I see them as reminders of from where we came, what we sought and what we did not get in terms of recognition from other countries at that time, recognition we had to fight hard to get. We should never forget our struggle. We all empathise with the Jewish people in their horrendous sufferings. One would think, however, that would have given them an understanding of the need for generosity and openness.

I have had reliable evidence from colleagues and other people of what is going on in this regard. One interesting point is this Bill deals with the occupied territories. If the cap does not fit, do not wear it. Does anybody dispute these are occupied territories in Palestine and that Palestinian lands have been occupied? That in itself is wrong. The treatment meted out is doubly wrong. It is time we took a stand as a nation. If we get a rap on the knuckles after four or five years by Europe, so be it.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade has made clear in numerous Seanad debates that the Government respects absolutely the motives and the intentions of the proponents and supporters of the Bill. We reject attempts made in other jurisdictions to demonise people who sincerely support this political approach and we will continue to do so.

There are few foreign policy matters on which Ireland has been more consistently active than the Israel-Palestine conflict, and I share the major frustration expressed today because of the absence of movement to end the occupation of the Palestinian territory. Settlements and the unjust and destructive policies associated with them are at the centre of this matter, and the Government is absolutely seized of the issue. We know we are most effective when we work with others to maximise our impact rather than going it alone. We have been active and instrumental in achieving EU policies to differentiate settlements from Israel and, nationally, Ireland has highlighted Israeli settlement policies, including in the Tánaiste's address to the United Nations General Assembly last September and the United Nations Human Rights Council.

On a practical level we provide support to Israeli, Palestinian and international non-governmental organisations, NGOs, that defend Palestinian communities under threat from settlements. Irish and European Union representatives have visited communities under threat and have attended court hearings of their cases. During his first visit to the region as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade 18 months ago, the Tánaiste signed Ireland up to the West Bank Protection Consortium, a group of countries working together to defend Palestinians under pressure in area C. The Government remains very focused on the settlement issue. However, the Government cannot support this Bill and must oppose it for the reasons set out in detail by the Tánaiste.

The crucial overriding argument is the incompatibility with EU law. It is our clear legal advice, in line with the view held by successive Ministers and Governments on precisely this matter, that Ireland would be in breach of EU law if it enacted the type of measures contained in the Bill. The Tánaiste has set out why Ireland would be exposed to legal challenge not only from the European Commission but also from secular interests or injured parties like traders in another EU member state who hold settlement goods legitimately present inside the EU market and who wish to sell them here.

As the Tánaiste briefly alluded to, in addition to the EU aspect, the Attorney General has identified other legal difficulties with the Bill, including the use of ministerial regulations to extend the scope of the Bill by designating further occupied territories without recourse to the Oireachtas, which is contrary to Article 15.2 of the Constitution. The Bill provides for extra-territorial application, and as a matter of international and constitutional law, there are limits on the extent to which extraterritorial jurisdiction can be exercised. There are difficulties in how the criminal offences are structured and defined, and this may give rise to constitutional difficulties with respect to legal certainty and capability of enforcement. For example, the definition of "settlement services" is very unclear and may be unenforceable. The essential problem with EU law is, however, fundamental to the purpose of the Bill, and even if solutions could be found to the constitutional issues we have flagged, that central matter would remain.

I will respond to a number of points raised by Deputies in the debate. Deputy Crowe asked if we would consider publishing the Government's legal advice from the Attorney General. That advice is very clear and it has been summarised by the Tánaiste. All Deputies know it is a general principle of Government in aspects wider than this issue that the Attorney General's advice would not be published, and we cannot get into an argument of competing lawyers. The Government takes the advice of its legal adviser, the Attorney General. Many Deputies referred to private legal opinions, arguing there are provisions in international or EU law under which we are entitled to enact this Bill. It is not for me or the Tánaiste to engage in detailed legal arguments today, but I am clear that the Government has seen but is not convinced by these opinions. The proponents of this Bill have, understandably, set out to build the test case that they can for their policy objective, which in this case is a ban on settlement goods. On the other hand, the Government must weigh the legal arguments on both sides and determine the expected outcome. Previous case law of the European Court of Justice has demonstrated that it will not allow the term "public policy" to be interpreted broadly. Consequently, this exception could not be relied on to defend the Bill.

Deputies Howlin and Eamon Ryan asked why we would not give this a try and lead the way. They asked why, if there is at least an argument to be made that the Bill is compatible with EU law, would it not be attempted to see what happens. That is the language of protest and not government. No Government would choose to adopt a policy that it considers in breach of EU law. It would not only expose Ireland to legal challenge, significant financial penalty and humiliating reversal-----

The hard border would be under pressure then.

-----but it would also be a betrayal of our principles as members of the European Union and as a member state with a foreign policy based on rules and respect for the commitments into which we have entered. The Government is in no doubt that if the Bill is passed, Ireland would be brought before the European Court of Justice and found in breach of the treaties, with all the negative costs and consequences, as the Tánaiste has outlined. Any symbolic victory for the Palestinians that might result from the passage of the Bill would be eclipsed by the symbolic victory for their opponents down the road of such a setback at EU level. This would not send the signal to Palestinians and Israel that Deputies in this Chamber hope for.

For settlement interests, the overturning of the Bill at EU level could be more than a symbolic victory. If the Bill entered into force and was later determined to be in breach of EU law, the State could also be vulnerable to claims of damages relating to any period within which the law was in force. It would be misleading in the extreme to suggest there could be some sort of cost-free trial period for the Bill. This action would instead marginalise and diminish Ireland's voice in the EU and international circles exactly in the areas where we are and can be of real help on an ongoing basis to Palestinians.

Some advocates of the Bill have argued that other EU states will follow Ireland's example, but this is wishful thinking and we do not need to speculate. Ireland is in nearly continuous discussion with EU partners about the Middle East and we know very well their views on all aspects of this conflict. Many have inquired about this Bill but there are no partners that are ready to contemplate a ban of this nature.

A number of Deputies also queried whether the Bill requires a money message, but it is clear that a money message is required. Although as a Private Members' Bill the legislation has not yet received full scrutiny, a number of cost implications are immediately obvious. For example, the Bill creates new criminal offences, with consequent costs relating to the investigation and prosecution of crimes, as well as the prison system. If the Bill were enacted, it is anticipated costs would arise because of EU legal proceedings against the State as well as fines and daily penalties relating to infringements. Costs are also likely to arise as a result of private legal action against the State.

Nobody in the Government is arguing for a moment that the Palestinian people are not suffering significant persecution. No previous Minister responsible for foreign affairs has been as proactive as the Tánaiste, Deputy Coveney, in visiting Palestine, meeting leaders of the Palestinian community and allocating very significant funds for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA. This is a relief and human development agency that supports 5 million registered Palestinian refugees. Ireland's total contribution last year to UNRWA was €9 million, with total funding from the Government to the Palestinian people at more than €15 million. At the United Nations General Assembly in September last year, the Tánaiste also encouraged other member states to increase their funding to UNRWA.

We want to see this problem solved and to do it we must remain influential and credible in our engagement with the EU in particular. To pass a law that would immediately put us in breach of EU law and undermine our ability to engage, negotiate and advocate on behalf of the Palestinian people would, in effect, achieve the opposite of what this legislation attempts. The past two years have underlined the harm that can be done when some individuals advocate policy choices that take no account either of the realities of international trade or the complexities of the EU Single Market. The Government and the Oireachtas must weigh the real benefits and negatives in this proposed legislation as well as the significant financial costs associated with it. Having done so, the Government is opposing the Bill.

It is important to begin by saying that supporting this Bill is absolutely the right course of action. It is morally correct to take a stand against legal occupations right across the globe, regardless of the strength of the state involved. This Bill seeks to prohibit Ireland from trading in goods and services from occupied territories by prohibiting the import and sale of those goods and services. It is no surprise there is such widespread support for the legislation. I commend Deputy Niall Collins and Senator Black on their work, which they carried out despite strong opposition from the Government.

To put it simply, this Bill is about upholding international law and every state should be held to account in the same way. It is recognised that the conflict in the Middle East is complex and we have always supported a two-state solution between Palestine and Israel.

However, the continued expansion of illegal settlements on Palestinian land cannot be condoned and is contrary to international law. The international community, of which we are a part, has a duty to call out and try to stop the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza and the West Bank. We cannot just sit by and do nothing. We have a moral duty to speak out. Ireland has a proud peacekeeping tradition and we are well respected in the international community. We also have our own history of war and violence on this island, so we acutely understand the challenges and the complexities attaching to that and what it takes to move beyond violence to peace. We are not seeking to boycott Israel and we, of course, respect its territory, but we cannot support the illegal settlements. What we need to see from both sides is a genuine commitment to achieving peace.

This Bill very practically seeks to make it an offence for a person to import settlement goods or services that come from an occupied territory or to extract resources from an occupied territory. If all countries adopted the same approach, it would make it far less worthwhile or desirable for a state to occupy a territory illegally, so the positive impact is obvious. Why not lead the way? It is a non-violent way of encouraging compliance with international laws. The penalties are a fine or imprisonment and show that we are serious about tackling this issue.

The Government's view of the Bill is that while Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are clearly illegal, Ireland cannot ban trade in settlement goods unilaterally because trade is an exclusive competence of the EU. Generally this is true, but there are exceptions to this rule and the Minister of State knows that. These exceptions are on a public policy basis. We in Fianna Fáil disagree with the interpretation of our EU commitments by the Government and have legal advice to the contrary. The Government is hiding behind unpublished advice from the Attorney General. In reality, there are other reasons the Government does not want to support this Bill and people know full well what those reasons are. While it does make trade an exclusive competence of the EU, EU law also provides that member states can unilaterally introduce restrictions on trade if they can be justified as a matter of public policy. We have had legal advice to suggest that, in this instance, this Bill can be justified on that ground. To be honest, it does not really take a lawyer or expert to come to that conclusion.

Fianna Fáil has always respected the state of Israel and continues to do so. We do not question the right of the Israeli people to exercise their right to self-determination and self-defence, but this does not extend to condoning illegal settlements. The human rights infringements we witness are serious and very real. The way in which the Palestinian people have been treated is appalling and has caused widespread anger. We know there is pressure on the Government from other quarters not to get involved and essentially to ignore what is happening, but we cannot and should not bend to this pressure. Money and power have a lot of influence in this debate, but when one strips them away and asks whether this is the moral and correct thing to do, the only answer is "Yes".

Given that the Government's only reason for not supporting this Bill is its belief that it contravenes EU law, surely it should be looking for a way out of that to try to find a solution whereby it can support the Bill. Will the Minister of State undertake to get a direction from the EU to see if the legal opinion we are putting on this side of the House holds up because we believe it does?

I thank all the speakers and parties for their contributions to this debate. I also thank many of the NGOs that have played a very important role in informing all of us and advocating on behalf of people in the occupied territories who are negatively affected. They include Trócaire, Christian Aid, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and Sadaqah, which has done significant work on this. I also thank NGOs in the Middle East that have given us their insight and advice such as Al-Haq and Breaking the Silence. I also mention a fabulous Irish human rights activist, Dr. Susan Power, who works with Al-Haq and is very much to the fore in helping to advance this legislation. Needless to say, I thank Senator Black, who has single-handedly spearheaded this legislation through the Seanad.

It has all been laid out quite clearly for the Minister of State. This Bill is being supported because it is the right thing to do. It is about people standing up to uphold international law. Why should we turn a blind eye to blatant breaches and abuses of international law because of the agenda of others with which we do not agree? We need to do the right thing here, which is simply what this legislation sets out to do. It sets out to challenge the status quo because, at the moment, the status quo says it is okay for a country to occupy other people's territories illegally and profit, make a livelihood and benefit from occupying those areas to the detriment of the people who rightfully own those territories. We must stand up, call it out and say it is wrong. That is what we must do. If there are challenges relating to EU law, we need to test it and change it if necessary. The Government made a big play regarding the opinion of the Attorney General. There is plenty of alternative advice out there. We would love to see the Government's legal advice but it will not publish it. Perhaps it could publish a summary of it. The three reasons the Government is opposing this legislation do not stack up because the public policy exemption cites morality, security, and protection of human health and life, all of which are at the centre of the contributions of everybody here today.

The political objection raised by the Government is that we would somehow be out of step and become an outlier in Europe. I would like to be an outlier for the right reasons. There are many who are outliers for the wrong reasons, particularly in eastern Europe and the far side of Europe, advancing far-right agendas that are offensive to the LGBT communities and that seek to shut down democracy, freedom of speech and the proper openness and transparency that is required for our democracies. I am happy to be an outlier on this issue and Ireland should take a stand, just as we did in 1987. We were an outlier then but I remind the Minister of State that when the then Attorney General, Peter Sutherland, vacated the role and John Rogers assumed the role, the legal advice to the then Government changed and the Government was able to support the ban on the importation of produce from South Africa, and rightly so. Look at the impact that had and how it changed apartheid and led to a pathway. We should be brave and bold enough to learn from the experiences of the past and believe that we can bring others with us.

I do not agree regarding the practical effects. We need to challenge two things in particular. First, we must challenge the outrage and offence being built up by Israel that we are somehow anti-Semitic. We are not and I have outlined in my speech how we recognise the state of Israel and will trade with it. However, it is offside in terms of the occupied territories. We also need to challenge corporate America. Regarding the idea that we are now being offensive to corporate America, we all value the jobs that have resulted from foreign direct investment, but if we look at one of the leading figures in Facebook who came here this week to announce 1,000 jobs, we can see that one of the first things she did was to put her hand up and say that Facebook needs to do a lot more to clean up its act regarding electoral interference and people's privacy rights. Airbnb has taken an especially strong stand. It will not list any properties in the occupied territories. While we value the jobs that corporate America brings, it must clean up its act in terms of corporate responsibility, morality and social responsibility in many regards. We cannot give it a free pass on everything simply because it provides us with jobs.

The legislation has popular support, not populist support but popular support for the right reasons. Given our history, experience and all that has been outlined here today, we intend to pursue this matter through Committee Stage and beyond and challenge the Government regarding how it intends to try to block this with a flagrant abuse of the money message system. I will give two brief examples.

Legislation recently passed through this House which put new criminal offences on our Statute Book - the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 and the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2018. There were no issues with money messages in the case of those Bills. This legislation will give An Garda Síochána and Customs and Excise expanded roles similar to those given under the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill and the Public Health (Alcohol) Act. There were no issues with money messages with regard to those Bills so the idea of a money message being required simply does not stack up. This is about doing the right thing at the right time and taking the lead. We should proceed and do it.

Question put.

In accordance with Standing Order 70(2), the division is postponed until the weekly division time on Thursday, 24 January 2019.