Foreign Affairs Council: Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade

We will deal with the private business after we have dealt with the public business.

This purpose of this meeting was to give the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Coveney, an opportunity to discuss matters that have arisen at recent meetings of the EU Foreign Affairs Council. Our meeting has been delayed considerably due to votes in the Chamber. I understand that the Tánaiste has commitments in Belfast and that we may have to defer this meeting with him to a future date. We will arrange another meeting as soon as possible. I know he is under pressure timewise to travel but does the Tánaiste wish to comment briefly?

I want to apologise to people because this is not the way it should be in terms of trying to rush to have conversations, questions and so on. However, I have to be in Belfast for 5 p.m. for an important commitment this evening. If I stay for an hour now I will be an hour late for that meeting and I ask for people's understanding on that.

I would like to rearrange the meeting if we could have one before we break up for the summer. There are many foreign affairs issues on which I am sure members would like to ask me questions from the Middle East to Venezuela, Libya, Brexit and Northern Ireland, as well as some of the US relationship issues. Members probably have other issues in which they have a personal interest and I would like to give them the courtesy of a proper questions and answers session to allow us dig into some of those rather than giving them a brief summary here, which essentially is not giving any detailed information. If the committee will facilitate it, I would like us to try to reconvene the week after next, if it is possible to do so, and try to find a time that week that would be convenient for people before the Dáil breaks up for the summer. I am in the Chairman's hands. It is totally up to him. If he wants to do it in September, we will do it in September but I will certainly try to make myself available, if possible, the week after next even though there is a lot happening that week, particularly around Brexit. However, it might be an opportunity for us to have a more detailed discussion on some of those issues. We will be bringing a number of Brexit papers to Cabinet that week, and I suspect there will be statements in the Dáil that week on those papers in respect of Brexit preparedness and so on but if we could schedule an hour or two for a questions and answers session on foreign affairs issues here, I would happily try to accommodate the Chairman.

The committee understands the pressures in that regard and wishes the Tánaiste and other participating parties well in the talks in Belfast this evening. The clerk to the committee will discuss with his office the possibility of holding a meeting the week after next.

The joint committee went into private session at 3.10 p.m. and adjourned at 3.20 p.m. until 2.15 p.m. on Tuesday, 2 July 2019.