Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Questions (163)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

163. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the current civil and political unrest in Brazil; if any Irish citizens have been caught up in the current demonstrations taking place; the plan Ireland has in place for assisting Irish citizens in the region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31676/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am following closely developments in Brazil in light of the wave of demonstrations that have been taking place there. These demonstrations began earlier this month as a protest at a rise in bus fares. Demonstrations have since spread to cities across the country and have become an expression of broader discontent on a range of issues. Grievances are reported to include the quality of public services, corruption and the cost of public spending on preparations for the 2014 World Cup. While most of the public gatherings have been peaceful in nature, there have been regrettable incidents of violence. There are also reports of vandalism and of looting carried out by fringe elements taking advantage of the situation.

The grievances raised by demonstrators highlight complex issues that require work over time. Brazil is a country that has been enjoying strong economic growth and positive social development since its return to democracy a little over 25 years ago. Notably, Brazil has developed and delivered policies that have lifted an estimated 40 million people from poverty. The demonstrations of recent weeks have highlighted issues which many citizens now wish to see addressed by their authorities.

The Government of Brazil has expressed willingness for dialogue on these issues while, at the same time, making clear the need for violence and vandalism to cease. Brazil’s President Rousseff met last week with representatives of those protesting on public transport issues. She also met with Governors and Mayors from across Brazil to discuss the range of issues raised by the protestors. The President has since announced an increase in funding for key public services, and has also proposed consultations on political reforms.

The Ambassador in Brazil and his colleagues continue to monitor the situation carefully. I am informed that no Irish citizens have sought consular assistance as a result of the current unrest in Brazil. From the outset of these demonstrations, the Embassy has been seized of the need to keep Irish citizens informed of developments and, to this end, it has liaised with EU and other Embassies in Brasília, many of which have consulates and networks of citizens across the country, to ensure the widest possible flow of information. The Embassy has also been in touch with many of the Irish citizens resident in Brazil and has also continued to update the travel advisory on my Department’s website. We continue to strongly suggest that all Irish citizens monitor the local and national news for up to date information and that they avoid demonstration locations so far as is possible. Our Embassy in Brasilia and the Consular Assistance section in Dublin stand ready to provide consular assistance to any Irish citizens who may require it.