Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Questions (45)

Seamus Kirk

Question:

45. Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his response to the recent terrorist attack on Nairobi’s Westgate mall in Kenya; if he has liaised with Irish Aid workers and Irish charities based in Kenya; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41202/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Government condemns in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack at the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi which, so far, is known to have left 72 people dead, and over 200 people injured. I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the families of the deceased and injured. As I stated while the attack was still happening, Ireland, along with our EU partners, stands in solidarity with the government and people of Kenya at this most difficult time.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has closely monitored the situation as it has developed, through our Embassy in Dar es Salaam and our Honorary Consulate in Nairobi. Throughout this period our Honorary Consul has been in direct contact with a wide range of contacts in Nairobi, including the local Directors of Irish NGOs including Concern, Trócaire and Goal. He was also in touch with Irish Business contacts, the Kenya-Irish Society and others across Nairobi to establish if any Irish were caught up in this terrible tragedy. My Department also received offers of assistance from Irish business engaged in Kenya to help in responding to the tragedy as it unfolded, which was greatly appreciated. Most fortunately no Irish citizens were the victims of this terrorist attack. However, tragically, the son of the former Kenyan Ambassador to Ireland, Catherine Mwangi, and his fiancée, both lost their lives. On behalf of the Government I have extended our deepest sympathies to the Ambassador and her family.

The Somali Al-Shabab terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which underlines the impact the continuing instability in Somalia is having on the wider Horn of Africa region. The EU is implementing a comprehensive Strategy for the Horn of Africa which was adopted in 2011 and which covers the entire region, including Somalia. It addresses all dimensions of the situation including conflict, underdevelopment, and issues related to governance and human rights. Kenya is a key regional leader in the African led efforts to assist Somalia on its long journey to national recovery.

The EU’s support in the area of security includes funding for the African Union peacekeeping mission, and direct engagement through a number of Common Security and Defence Policy Missions including the EU Training Mission, EUTM Somalia, which is building the capacity of the Somali National Security Forces to enable them to take over responsibility for security and law and order. Ireland is providing the Commander for EUTM Somalia, as well as a significant contingent of personnel.

We will continue to work with our partners in the EU and in Africa to tackle the impact of instability in the Horn of Africa region and to help build a peaceful, secure future for its people.