I am glad the Deputy has given me the opportunity to put a statement on the record concerning what has been happening in Hong Kong. The disturbances in Hong Kong last week are a matter of deep concern. However, I welcome that the demonstration which took place on 16 June passed off by and large peacefully. Public demonstration and protest are an important element of any democracy and the right to protest should not be curtailed. These rights come with responsibilities and it is important that the demonstrators protest peacefully. It is equally important that security forces respond to demonstrations with full respect for citizens' rights and the utmost restraint. I hope the situation develops calmly and the authorities and demonstrators find ways to accommodate legitimate protest, which is a hallmark of democracy.
The European Union released a statement concerning the disturbances in Hong Kong through the spokesperson for High Representative Mogherini on 12 June in which Ms Mogherini reiterated that the fundamental right to assembly and freedom of expression must be respected while calling for restraint on all sides. The statement set out that the EU shares the concerns of the citizens of Hong Kong regarding the extradition reforms and that it has conveyed these concerns to the Government of Hong Kong. Ireland fully supports this statement.
While I have not had any direct contact with Chinese ambassador or my Chinese counterpart on this matter, our consul general in Hong Kong, together with the EU office and other EU member states, has engaged directly with the Hong Kong authorities with regard to the proposed Bill. Officials in the consulate general in Hong Kong, the embassy of Ireland in Beijing and my Department are closely following developments relating to the demonstrations.
An updated travel advice notice alerting people to the demonstrations and advising that areas of potential unrest should be avoided has been issued by the Department. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and, together with our EU partners, we will engage with the Hong Kong authorities and others. The statement by the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region that this legislation has been suspended indefinitely is a very welcome development