Thursday, 11 July 2019

Questions (143)

Thomas P. Broughan


143. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the way in which he and his EU colleagues are responding to attempts by the Hong Kong authorities to apparently suppress the civil and political rights of the population to assembly and freedom of expression, in defiance of measures provided under Hong Kong's Basic Law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31146/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland and the EU have been consistent in its support for the full implementation of the Basic Law and the 'One Country, Two Systems’ principle. This system provides Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy, rule of law, an independent judiciary, democratic separation of powers, and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, including the freedom of assembly and expression.

As I have noted in this House in recent weeks in response to questions on developments in Hong Kong, public demonstration and protest are an important element of any democracy and the right to do so should not be curtailed.  At the same time, these rights come with responsibilities and it is important that the demonstrators do so peacefully. It is equally important that security forces respond to demonstrations with full respect for citizens’ rights and with the utmost restraint.

Since the initiation of the demonstrations in early June, Ireland has consistently encouraged all parties to refrain from any actions that may escalate tensions, and urged them to express views in a peaceful manner. We further encourage all parties to work for a constructive solution and to engage in dialogue on the matter.  

The Spokesperson for High Representative Mogherini has issued statements in response to developments in Hong Kong, notably following the disturbances which took place on 12 June and 1 July. These statements reiterate the fundamental right of citizens to assembly and expression, as contained in Hong Kong's Basic Law, while calling for restraint on both sides.

Ireland's Consulate General in Hong Kong, along with the EU Office, and representatives of other EU Member States have been engaging regularly with the Hong Kong authorities with regard to developments. Furthermore, Ireland's Ambassador to Beijing met with Chief Executive Carrie Lam, during his visit to Hong Kong on 20 June.

Our Consulate General in Hong Kong, and officials in my Department, will continue to monitor the evolving situation in the Special Administrative Region, and will continue to engage with the local authorities on this issue.