10 Sep 2021, 10.52

Ceann Comhairle, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, TD, and Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, Senator Mark Daly, attended the Fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament, hosted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Vienna, Austria, earlier this week. 

It was the first in-person international conference of the IPU since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.  A range of topics were discussed at the two-day event, including sustainable development, gender equality, responses to the pandemic, and countering hate speech.  

The Cathaoirleach contributed from the floor on the motion reviewing environmental preservation and economic growth. The Ceann Comhairle was invited by the IPU to be a key contributor to the high-level panel discussion on global governance and national parliaments’ engagement with the UN and other international organisations. 

In his opening contribution to the Conference, the Ceann Comhairle said: “Ireland is a small nation which has benefitted from its international outlook.   Both the UN and the EU are key pillars of Irish foreign policy.  My parliament actively engages with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and, of course, the IPU. 

“As Speaker, I chair all parliamentary friendship groups, which proactively seek to strengthen and build important international networks.  This engagement by Irish parliamentarians’ feeds into a wider dialogue of global governance.

He added: “And if global governance means anything, it means an acknowledgement of the many competing ideas and priorities which must be seen in their international context.   Political isolation serves no one well, least of all the people we are elected to represent.  Large international organisations such as the UN and EU are far from perfect.  But global governance must start locally.  Global governance must start in our own parliaments.”

Speaking after the panel discussion Parliaments and Global Governance: the unfinished agenda, the Ceann Comhairle said there was overwhelming agreement in the session on the importance and need to integrate members of parliament in processes of global governance.

He said: “Having heard reference, quite rightly made to Afghanistan, it was particularly poignant that the session heard a submission from the parliament in exile of Myanmar and we took the opportunity to extend our very, very best wishes to that parliament in exile to the people of Myanmar and indeed to the Rohingya people, that they move rapidly towards a solution to what has been a very difficult problem. Global problems require global solutions. We heard much support for greater co-operation and co-ordination on international universal problems, such as the pandemic, the climate crisis and how to ensure we deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals,”

The Ceann Comhairle said the responsibilities of those in the developed world to “aggressively ensure” those in less well-off countries receive Covid-19 vaccinations was highlighted.

He told the Conference: “I consider myself privileged to come from Ireland where 83 per cent of the population over 12 years of age have been vaccinated. We all must do more to ensure that those less developed countries get the essential support they need.”

Read further information on the conference. https://www.ipu2021vienna.at/

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