I propose to take Questions Nos. 19 and 22 together.
I remain concerned by the recent developments in Hong Kong, in particular the escalation of violence which took place on 1 October. The Consulate General of Ireland in Hong Kong, along with the EU Office and representatives of other EU Member States, have been engaging regularly in Brussels and locally in Hong Kong on this matter and are monitoring developments closely.
As I have noted previously in this House, Ireland supports the right to peaceful assembly as an important element of democracy. We continue to call upon the demonstrators to express their rights in a peaceful manner. At the same time, I urge the security forces to respond to the demonstrations with full respect for citizens’ rights and that any response to violence should be strictly proportionate.
I fully support the statement which was issued by High Representative Mogherini on behalf of the EU on 2 October which emphasises that violence is unacceptable and that the situation in Hong Kong can only be addressed through restraint, de-escalation and dialogue. In that regard, the recent overtures towards dialogue from Chief Executive Carrie Lam are a welcome move. I also note that on 4 September, the Chief Executive withdrew the proposed extradition legislation, which sparked the initial protests in June.
During the most recent session of the Human Rights Council on 10 September, the EU also expressed support for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' call for the demonstrations to remain peaceful and for the respect of fundamental rights and freedoms, including the freedom of assembly.