Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

Foreign Conflicts

I believe the Tánaiste is taking Question No. 81 with Questions Nos. 91, 92 and 109 in the names of Deputies Broughan, Howlin and Boyd Barrett.

In order that I am clear, does it mean that I have four times as long as I normally have?

The Minister will take it anyway.

Yes. The Minister has taken twice as long as he normally does anyway.

Is Question No. 81 in my name included?

I have a long script. Tell me when I have 30 seconds left and I will stop.

Does the Minister promise?

Niall Collins


81. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the efforts being made to resolve the situation in Yemen; the further efforts being made to address the issue relating to the millions of persons who are at risk of starvation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48015/18]

Thomas P. Broughan


91. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps he is taking with his EU colleagues to help in bringing the war in Yemen to an immediate end; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47993/18]

Brendan Howlin


92. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has raised the war in Yemen and the famine it has caused with the Saudi Arabian Government; if Ireland will condemn the ongoing war there; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48124/18]

Richard Boyd Barrett


109. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has discussed the humanitarian crisis in Yemen with his counterparts in Europe; the actions the European Union plans to take in that regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47968/18]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 81, 91, 92, and 109 together.

I have already set out in general terms my views on the situation in Yemen, which is shocking. I share the Deputies' concerns about the dire security and humanitarian situation in Yemen and the urgent need to bring about a political solution for the country. There are direct threats to civilians from the ongoing fighting and credible reports of violations of basic human rights in the course of the conflict. The United Nations has warned of an imminent threat of famine on an appalling scale, with millions of people potentially at risk of starvation, as well as significant public health risks due to the almost complete collapse of the healthcare system.

The challenge of resolving this complex conflict should not be underestimated. The civil war which has been ongoing for almost four years has opened fault lines in Yemen which will be difficult to heal. Historically, the country was divided between north and south, with a larger proportion of the population in the north being Shia and the south being largely Sunni. The two parts of Yemen were united in one state in 1990. The internationally recognised Government of Yemen now controls less than half of the country, while the de facto authorities, usually referred to as the Houthis, control much of the north and west, where the largest concentrations of people are located, including the capital.

Both parties to the conflict have the support of outside actors, with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates among those supporting the internationally recognised government, while Iran is closely connected with the Houthis. Rockets have been fired from Houthi controlled areas into Saudi Arabia, including towards Saudi cities. This has put civilians at risk and I firmly condemn the attacks. There are serious concerns about violations of international humanitarian law on all sides, with indiscriminate attacks endangering civilians, unfortunately, being very common. There are reports of serious human rights abuses on both sides, as well as of obstacles being placed in the way of the effective delivery of humanitarian aid, a matter about which we spoke earlier.

Both at UN level and in EU discussions on the issue, Ireland has sought at all times to stress that military action cannot be a solution. Rebuilding stable and inclusive government and rebuilding links between communities across Yemen will require a painstaking and long process. There are already clear challenges in restoring effective governance in these areas where the government has resumed control. This is particularly worrying in a country where al-Qaeda has had a significant presence for over a decade. A ceasefire will be only the first step, but it is essential.

Even prior to the conflict, Yemen suffered from serious underdevelopment, corruption and drought. This has exacerbated the impact of three years of fighting on the Yemeni people. The war has had a severe impact on the economy and public services. Access for humanitarian aid is a key issue, as is access for commercial goods. However, there are reports that even when food and medicines are available for purchase, the devaluation of the currency and the cessation of much normal economic activity owing to the conflict mean that many families have no resources or income left to buy what they need. As the United Nations and humanitarian agencies report, we now have an acute humanitarian situation, with a cholera outbreak and the real risk of starvation for millions of Yemeni civilians. The United Nations' humanitarian co-ordinator in Yemen, Lise Grande, has warned that as many as 13 million civilians are at risk of famine if the fighting continues.

At the Foreign Affairs Council in which I participated in Brussels yesterday EU Ministers discussed the humanitarian situation in Yemen, the difficulties aid agencies faced in attempting to reach those in need and what the European Union could do to help to alleviate the crisis. We are particularly concerned about the recent violence in Hodeidah which is the entry point for an estimated 70% of goods imported into Yemen. Ireland and the European Union strongly support the efforts of the UN envoy Martin Griffiths who is working to bring the parties together for a new round of peace talks which may take place before the end of this month. At the request of the United Nations, Sweden stands ready to host such talks. The United Kingdom which currently leads on the Yemen file at the UN Security Council is also making efforts to bring this about, for which I thank it.

Ireland is doing what it can to address the devastating humanitarian situation and try to help to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people. Since 2015, it has provided almost €16.5 million in humanitarian assistance for Yemen. This includes a contribution of €4 million made this year to the UN Yemen humanitarian fund which provides assistance in the areas of education, logistics, food security, nutrition and health. Ireland also provides humanitarian support for Yemen through its contributions to EU funds. Since the beginning of the conflict in 2015, the European Union has contributed a total of €438 million to Yemen which includes humanitarian, development, stabilisation and resilience support. On 6 November Commissioner Stylianides announced an additional provision of €90 million in assistance for Yemen, bringing the total this year to €118 million.

Ireland is using its leverage in other multilateral fora to focus on the situation in Yemen. At the Human Rights Council in September 2017 Ireland was part of a core group of countries which ensured the establishment of a group of eminent experts on Yemen to investigate alleged violations of human rights and contraventions of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict. In September of this year Ireland worked to ensure the extension of the mandate of the group for another year to allow the group more time to complete its valuable work. I assure the House that we will continue to support all efforts to bring an end to the violence and to alleviate the humanitarian situation.

Deputy Niall Collins has an extra 30 seconds because I did not call him at the start – my apologies.

The conflict in Yemen has taken a disproportionate toll on the civilian population. As the Tánaiste is aware, almost four years of war has resulted in the world's greatest humanitarian crisis. The UN reports that 17.8 million people are currently categorised as food insecure, including 8.4 million who are categorised as severely food insecure. At the same time the country is suffering the worst cholera crisis in modern history. The unrelenting violence in the city port of Hodeida has impacted on the availability of food and essential supplies. Government regulations have hampered all port commercial activities relating to imports.

We welcome and acknowledge the fact that Ireland is doing what it can to try to help alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people. I note that since 2015 Ireland has provided almost €16.5 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen. This includes a contribution of €4 million made to the UN Yemen humanitarian fund this year. We note that since the beginning of the conflict in 2015 the EU has contributed a total of €438.2 million to Yemen. This includes humanitarian development as well as stabilisation and resilience support.

There are multiple actors involved in the war, as the Tánaiste said, each with their agenda. We acknowledge that efforts are being made to broker a ceasefire. Fianna Fáil fully supports the UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, in his efforts to bring all sides of the conflict to the negotiating table to work on a political solution. Let us be clear: the impending famine and the starvation being experienced by millions are man-made. In addition, the Yemeni Government is withholding salaries from civil servants, including teachers and health workers, in the Houthi-controlled northern part for two years. Most of the Yemeni population live in the north. State employees are a large proportion of the workforce.

Starvation is being used as a weapon of war. The international community must act urgently to unblock imports and ensure distribution of aid. We must remember that the delivery of humanitarian assistance is a requirement under international law.

Will the Tánaiste update us on efforts to broker a ceasefire in Yemen? We read that Yemen's Houthi militia announced that it was halting drone and missile attacks against the country's Saudi-led military coalition and would consider a broader ceasefire. This is of course welcome and I would like the Tánaiste to expand on the detail. Given the high risk of famine, is the Tánaiste aware of any new plans, financial or otherwise, being considered at EU level to protect the people of Yemen from starvation?

I see from the notes before me that Deputy Wallace has requested a short supplementary question.

I think Deputy Broughan is first.

Sorry, Deputy Broughan is next with a short reply. Do not take advantage of what Deputy Collins has done.

No, I never do.

I asked the Tánaiste about this previously in September. At the time, the Tánaiste expressed grave and serious concern. He has told us today that the situation is shocking. Some 13 million people are in danger of famine. This number includes hundreds of thousands of children. Perhaps up to 50,000 are dead. Is there something more proactive the Tánaiste can do? I asked the Tánaiste about the use of weapons by the Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates coalition and the steps that could be taken in that regard. For example, I mentioned the referring of Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud to the International Criminal Court on foot of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the litany of serious war crimes in Yemen. I note that yesterday Germany issued a travel ban on 18 Saudis who are suspected. The CIA produced a report about the matter recently in which it directly accuses the Crown Prince of bring responsible for the murder. Germany has announced a travel ban on 18 Saudis in the Schengen area. Is that something the Tánaiste will support? It could bring serious pressure to bear on the Saudi authorities to stop this fighting and bring it to an immediate end.

My question is very simple. Why is the Tánaiste not demanding, and why is the EU not imposing, sanctions on Saudi Arabia? The humanitarian catastrophe that is unfolding in Yemen is due, to a large extent, to the Saudi military intervention, the blockade and the deliberate attempts to starve and bomb the population into submission. Of course, standing behind Saudi in this regard are the United States, France and Germany. They are arming the Saudi regime, a regime whose agents murder a man who is a dissident journalist. They dismembered his body and, if the reports are accurate, they burned the remains of his body with acid to destroy them. This is what we are dealing with. There are 22 of these characters around the corner from this building in the Saudi Embassy. Why are there no sanctions? Why is this not being said? Can we impose sanctions on what is an absolutely rogue barbaric regime that is inflicting the sort of humanitarian horror that we are seeing? The Tánaiste knows the answer to this question. We do not do it because France, the UK and the United States make a great deal of money backing these people. Even worse, geo-politically these countries do not mind what those people do. It suits them to have Saudis do this because Saudi is a reliable ally for western interests in the region. That is the truth. We all know it is the truth. Millions of people are suffering. Will the Government not stand up and say that is the truth of it? Can we not expect the European Union to have a little more moral backbone and do something about it?

I do not agree with the manner in which the Tánaiste presents this war. The Minister described it as the Saudi and UAE administrations backing the internationally recognised government against the Houthi, who are recognised by Iran. The Minister referred to the internationally recognised government there. Hadi was put in place in 2011 as a puppet of the US-Saudi alliance. Unfortunately, this happened with the involvement of the UN. The UN has not covered itself with glory in this area.

Reference has been made to the opposition there. The notion that this is a war against the Houthi only is rubbish. A total of six different groups are involved. The people of Yemen are on the other side. It so happens that the Houthi are one of the groups who garnered arms initially. The notion that Iran is getting arms to the Houthi now is not backed up by any evidence. No one has come up with evidence that Iran is giving weapons to the Houthi. Iran says openly that it supports the Houthi politically. Iran tried to bring medicines and food in a civilian airplane to Yemen. The Saudis did not attack the airplane but they bombed the airport where the airplane was supposed to land to stop the supplies from getting through. Iran has tried to bring medicines and food to the Yemeni, not arms. That is the story that is being peddled all the time. RTÉ cannot mention the Houthi but refer instead to the Iranian-backed rebels. There is no evidence for the claims. This is a Saudi-UAE invasion against the people of Yemen. They are starving the people there to death.

There is a great deal of inflammatory language in the House, understandably, because people have genuine concern about this issue. However, it is not helpful for Deputy Boyd Barrett to talk about Saudi citizens who are in an embassy here and who are diplomats. The ambassador, whom I met last week, is from my experience a decent person who is trying to make a coherent case in very difficult circumstances in the context of the Khashoggi murder. I do not think it is either right or accurate to be referring to all Saudi citizens in the way the Deputy has today.

That is the first thing. Second, I agree with some of what Deputy Wallace said. This matter is more complex than it is sometimes portrayed. There are clans and many different sources of power in Yemen. The impact of this war is devastating across those multiple clans. They are being bombed from the air, and many women and children are being killed alongside soldiers. That has to stop. The EU wants to use all of the influence it has to stop this conflict. I attended the meeting yesterday and heard French and British Ministers, among other EU ministers, speaking about how we can put as much pressure as possible on Saudi Arabia to stop military attacks in Yemen. Deputy Boyd Barrett's portrayal of the western world is driven by an ideology, rather than accuracy, unfortunately.

My ideology is informed by arms sales to Saudi Arabia by the western world.

There is now the prospect of talks due to the work of a number of actors. The United States has been looking for and demanding a ceasefire in recent weeks and we need to build on that positive momentum. There is a clear signal from the Houthi side that it wants a ceasefire, and a lot of pressure is being put on the Saudi side to facilitate real and substantive talks in Sweden before the end of the year so that we can have a political solution rather than the futility and tragedy that comes from continuing military action. From an Irish perspective, we will support collective EU efforts, and indeed Swedish efforts, to provide the basis for those talks. Even if this ceasefire takes hold a significant international effort will be required to prevent a massive famine in Yemen which will cost a lot of money. The EU must be part of that solution, financially and logistically. We also want to be part of that solution. Our focus is very much on ensuring that these peace talks happen and that the humanitarian assistance required is in place. It will involve a long, expensive and difficult process to help to rebuild a country, politically and in terms of infrastructure and social regeneration. Ireland will be a strong, positive voice on this.

There should be a second round of contributions.

We have got through very few questions, but I will allow 30 seconds for supplementary questions. They will be answered together.

The Minister said that he supports collective EU efforts. Does that include supporting the German foreign minister on the travel ban issued to 18 Saudis? The Minister told us about the implementation of the arms trade treaty in 2014, which sought to stop high grade weapons from being used in a country such as Yemen. Every member of the EU has signed up to that treaty. How does that work in reality, in terms of American and British weapons in Saudi Arabia?

My comments about the embassy were not directed at Saudi citizens.

The Deputy said there were 22 people at the embassy.

There are 22 diplomats, which is a disproportionately high number for a small country. Given what happened in the Saudi consulate in Turkey it is ever so slightly alarming. That was the point I made. We are talking about a rogue state that, as we have seen with the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and with its actions in Yemen, is quite willing to engage in barbaric acts. The elephant in the room is that the UK, France and the United States sell vast amounts of weapons to this regime on an ongoing basis. How can that possibly be acceptable?

The Tánaiste said earlier that Ireland buys into the UN collective decision-making process. However, he has accepted that Germany has made the decision not to sell any more arms to the Saudis, given what is happening in Yemen. Could Ireland take a similar role and stand up and say that we support an embargo on all arm sales to Saudi Arabia while it is involved in the conflict in Yemen? If the Tánaiste is talking to the French and UK ministers, he should point out that their countries are still supplying Saudi Arabia with arms. It is not good enough.

On the issue of arms sales, Ireland does not have an arms industry. Some products are sold in Ireland that have been described as having a dual use, but I am not aware of any sales of products used by the Saudi Arabian military. There was a discussion over lunch yesterday, and a number of ministers spoke about the approaches taken in their countries. Some do not sell arms to countries that are involved in wars while the wars are ongoing. That applies to Saudi Arabia in this case. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Ms Federica Mogherini, made it clear that she was not able to achieve consensus across the EU on an arms embargo because there was no agreement on the issue. Ireland has to focus on areas in which it can have an impact. We have focused on humanitarian assistance and are trying to support a talks process that could lead to a lasting political solution. Hopefully Irish aid agencies and Irish funds can play a part in the long and difficult process of rebuilding Yemen, in time. However, until there is a ceasefire such action will be impossible.

Undocumented Irish in the USA

John Curran


82. Deputy John Curran asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding the efforts being made on the needs of the undocumented Irish in the United States of America; the extent to which ongoing negotiations continue to take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48127/18]

I ask the Tánaiste to outline the efforts the Government is making on the issue of the undocumented Irish in the United States, the extent to which negotiations continue to take place, and specifically the role Deputy Deasy is playing as the Government special envoy to Congress on the undocumented Irish citizens.

The Government continues to pursue two key objectives with regard to Irish immigration to the United States: first, increased pathways for legal migration by Irish citizens to the US; and second, seeking some form of relief for undocumented Irish citizens living in the US. The Taoiseach and I continue to prioritise this issue in all our engagements with the US Administration and Congress. I discussed the Ireland-EU-US relationship with my Government colleagues earlier this month and we reiterated the priority that the Government attaches to Irish immigration issues in the US. The Government’s special envoy to the US Congress on the undocumented, Deputy Deasy, has been active on the issue, and our embassy in Washington, D.C. continues to engage on an ongoing basis with the administration and with a wide range of contacts on Capitol Hill.

I welcome the recent tabling of a bill in the US Congress that, if passed, would allow Ireland to avail of E3 visas and provide another very welcome pathway for Irish people to gain experience in the US. I do not underestimate the significant difficulties involved in securing the passage of this bill, requiring as it does a two thirds majority in the House and 60 votes in the Senate.

The Government, through the work of the embassy and of Deputy Deasy, will continue to engage proactively with the US Administration and elected representatives, both Democratic and Republican, on Irish immigration issues and specifically on this bill.

The Government's efforts to assist the undocumented Irish in the US will also continue, as they have under previous administrations. This remains a very challenging issue, however, as immigration reform has been a sensitive and divisive issue within the US political system for decades.

On the welfare of the undocumented Irish, the embassy, as well as our six consulates across the United States, work closely with Irish immigration centres which support the needs of Irish citizens in the United States, including those who are undocumented. These centres all receive annual funding from the Government’s emigrant support programme to support their important work.

I acknowledge the role the Taoiseach played in appointing Deputy Deasy as a special envoy.

It was a very good thing to do. Being politicians, most of us in this House know the importance of somebody from another country lobbying and maintaining contact with us. From a practical point of view, the reason I have raised the issue is that under the current administration in the United States there is heightened awareness of the immigration issue and people are concerned. The families of Irish people who have been living there for a long time and happen to be undocumented are concerned about their welfare. We have all seen cases where they are not able to return to Ireland for family occasions and so forth. I listened to the Minister's reply in detail, but I would like him to elaborate on it. He mentioned that he was dealing with two key issues. One of the issues of real concern is relief for the undocumented, that is, those who are living there. I know that the Minister is not the US Administration and cannot answer for it. I can only hold him to account by seeking assurances that both he and the Government are doing everything possible for the undocumented and trying to secure relief for them.

All I can say is we want to try to do as much as possible to provide an avenue by which Irish people who want to travel to the United States can do so legally. It is really important that we continue a tradition that has been followed for many decades where there is a continuing flow of talented, bright, motivated young Irish people to the United States to be part of decision-making, politics and all of the other things in which Irish people are involved. That is in our interests and those of the many people who want to continue to do this by choice, rather than necessity. We also need to help the thousands of undocumented in the United States who are now living in a far more coarse political environment when it comes to immigration and feel a lot more vulnerable than in the past. However, we also have to be realistic about what is achievable. We have gone down the E-3 visa route to find a way of introducing legislation that could actually get a result for us in the short term. The United States has an arrangement with Australia whereby E-3 visas are provided for Australians who want to travel to the United States. Each year a quota is provided. In many cases, that quota is not used in full. Therefore, we are hoping to use visas that would otherwise not be used. In fact, it can be shown that they have not been used and it will be the following year when they could potentially be available for use by Irish people. I have been on Capitol Hill with Deputy Deasy. We have met people like Representative Paul Ryan, Representative Nancy Pelosi, Representative Richard Neal and many others from both parties to try to get this done in a sensible way.

I thank the Tánaiste for his response, a significant element of which concerned people who want to travel in the future, new visas and so forth. I want to reflect on a comment he made previously. About six months ago he said, "The Government has been exploring a number of different options, including the possibility of a reciprocal agreement covering the undocumented Irish in the US, on the one hand, and US citizens looking to move to Ireland, on the other." Has the Government made any progress in dealing with that element, in particular? I am clear on what the Minister is saying about people who are looking for new opportunities, but the focus of my question is on those who are in the United States who are classed as undocumented and effectively in limbo. Has any progress being made on the reciprocal arrangement since the Minister made that comment?

The legislation being proposed includes a reciprocal arrangement by which US citizens who want to come to or retire in Ireland, as many would like to do, would be facilitated in so doing in a more streamlined way. It is currently possible to do so, but we could improve the conditions under which it happens. We continue to explore ways by which we could both help the undocumented and ensure a visa system was available. There is nothing available, except for students in the summer. Let us take this one step at a time and try to deal with what is possible in the short term, without losing sight of the other priorities such as constantly looking for avenues and opportunities to make progress for the undocumented.

Foreign Policy

Seán Crowe


83. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the President-elect of Brazil, Mr. Jair Bolsonaro, has stated he will merge the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply and the Ministry of the Environment in Brazil; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that this would be a huge attack on environmental protections in Brazil and pose a huge risk to the Amazon, which would be an environmental catastrophe for the planet; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that environmental defenders and land rights activists are increasingly under serious threat in Brazil; and if he will discuss the issue with his Brazilian counterpart. [48136/18]

I referred to the fact that a far-right fascist was the President-elect of Brazil in a parliamentary question tabled for written reply on 6 November. Mr. Bolsonaro's campaign was based on fear, division, racism, sexism and homophobia. He poses a major threat to human rights protections, indigenous communities and, as outlined in this parliamentary question, the environment. The Minister has refused to condemn his far-right policies or even to state his concern in response to my question. Perhaps he might do so now.

Mr. Jair Bolsonaro was elected as President of Brazil on 28 October and will be inaugurated on 1 January 2019. Officials in my Department in Dublin, at the Irish Embassy in Brasília and the Consulate-General in São Paulo followed the election process closely and have continued to monitor political developments since, including proposals the incoming government is considering. It is important to note that the full plan of the new government will not be clear until after President-elect Bolsonaro assumes office on 1 January. The President-elect has stated some final decisions on government policy and the structure of individual ministries, including those to which the Deputy referred, will not be made until he is in office. He has indicated that he longer wishes to merge the agriculture and environment ministries which has reassured many. I am aware of the difficult situation for many environmental and land rights activists in Brazil and throughout Latin America and my Department continues to monitor the issue closely. I wholeheartedly condemn any act of violence or intimidation against peaceful activists or civil society actors. I call on all relevant stakeholders to respect these groups’ rights to engage in a free and open civil society space, which is essential in a functioning democracy. Officials at the Irish Embassy in Brasília and the Consulate-General in São Paulo and in our offices in Dublin engage regularly with civil society groups and human rights defenders present on the ground in Brazil, including environmental and land rights groups.

Ireland will continue to monitor developments closely, as well as continuing to engage with EU and local partners and raising these issues at EU and UN level, as appropriate. However, I do not think there is anything to be gained for Ireland by slagging someone off before he even takes office. He was democratically elected. Of course, if decisions are taken in Brazil with which we have a fundamental difficulty, I will not be shy in being vocal about them, but he is not even President yet.

I come from a position of concern. I see his election as a clear threat to democracy in Brazil. He was a captain in the military during the brutal dictatorship and said its only crime was that it did not kill enough people. He has called indigenous communities "parasites", called for tens of thousands of his opponents to be arrested and the police to extrajudicially kill more people and told a Senator famous for promoting human rights that she was too ugly to be raped. That is the type of individual about whom we are talking, yet the Minister suggests he should remain silent and has no comment to make yet on any of these actions. Last week the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence heard from the representative of an NGO in Brazil. She detailed the extreme fear Mr. Bolsonaro had created in the country. In his written reply to me the Minister stated: "Ireland looks forward to maintaining our strong relationship with Brazil in the future and will continue efforts to advance our interests and values in our engagement with the new government." Is any of it based on human rights due diligence? Last November the Minister launched a national plan on business and human rights, but in his written reply to me there was no mention of human rights. I am concerned about where this is going.

With respect, this seems to be a Sinn Féin approach. That party judges people on the basis of them as individuals.

By what they say and what they do.

We will judge people by what they do.

What will the Tánaiste do?

He is not the President of Brazil yet. The job of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is to have appropriate relations with countries around the world. I do not write off our entire relationship with Brazil because we disagree. Clearly, I disagree with much of what he has said but he is the Brazilian President-elect who has been democratically elected and we will judge him on the decisions that he makes once he is President.

Our job is to look out for Ireland's value system and our interests. This is a very large country in South America. In many ways, it is one of the world's superpowers. Ireland will reach out and try and work with people, even if we disagree with them.

The Sinn Féin approach is to just shut people off if they do not agree with the party's perspective. We try to win the argument with these people rather than write them off before they take office.

It is a different approach. I suppose the Tánaiste might have a different approach to dealing with fascism than I have. It is not the case that Sinn Féin's approach is not to deal with people.

I am glad the Tánaiste stated he does not agree with some of the Brazilian President-elect's policies. The Brazilian President-elect's policies and what he stated in the run-up to that election were appalling. Anyone in his or her right mind would say that what the Brazilian President-elect was saying was wrong. Where a person who is running for public office asks for extrajudicial killing, is homophobic, racist, sows fear and division, and states that more people needed to be killed during the military junta, how could anyone have any empathy with a President-elect like that?

Ireland is concerned about its exports and so on.

I did not say that Ireland was concerned about its exports.

That is the subtext of what the Tánaiste was saying.

It is not the subtext.

Do not say anything.

It is not the subtext. It suits Deputy Crowe's sub-text.

The Minister will have an opportunity to respond.

We say it about some countries but we are not saying it about Brazil.

I have not expressed any support for this particular individual. For the Deputy to start talking about people's past and their role now in politics is a bit rich from his party.

Does the Tánaiste want to develop that?

I will develop it, if you want me to. Sit down and let me develop it.

Go on. Do not tell me what to do.

Please, Deputy Crowe. The Tánaiste, without interruption.

My job, as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, is to uphold Irish values and to look for Irish interests in terms of the relationships that we have abroad. Of course, there is concern about the direction that politics has taken in Brazil but we will have to work with the new President. We will have to build a relationship with that Government. We will be critical of him or any other world leader, if it is appropriate to do so. That is what we try to do, through UN structures and through EU structures, to support multilateralism, to support a rules-based order and to make sure that human rights organisations and NGOs are protected where possible. Our actions have been fairly consistent in that regard.

Whether we like it or not, there is a new President-elect in Brazil. We must judge that person on how he performs as President when he takes office on 1 January and we will do that without fear or favour.

Apologies to Deputies Wallace and Penrose. We cannot take their questions.

It is a waste the way it is being run.

I have been sitting here for an hour. It is a disgrace. Everybody was let run over time.

I am just after walking in.

I merely want to let the Acting Chairman know that it is a disgrace-----

I want to move on to the Topical Issue debate.

-----to have Members mouthing here and others waiting an hour and a half and not getting to a question.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.