Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Ceisteanna (76)

Thomas Byrne


76. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the continuing steps he is undertaking to highlight and address the persecution of Christians worldwide with particular reference to the recent Easter bombings in Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25216/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The heinous attacks which took place at various locations across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday were an affront to humanity. At the time, I condemned them in the strongest possible terms as a violation of the freedom of religion and belief.

Shortly after the attacks took place, the Taoiseach, wrote to his counterpart, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, condemning those attacks and expressing condolences on behalf of the Government of Ireland to the victims.

Beyond the abhorrent events in Sri Lanka, I again condemn all forms of persecution on the basis of religion or belief, irrespective of where they occur or who the victims are. Ireland is committed to promoting freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as the rights of persons belonging to religious minorities. This commitment to promoting freedom of religion and belief is reaffirmed in the Global Island: Ireland’s Foreign Policy for a Changing World.

Ireland consistently raises the issues of intolerance and advocates for inclusive societies at the UN’s Human Rights Council, (HRC), during the Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the human rights records of UN Member States and through the European Union.

We are also members of the International Contact Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief, a cross-regional and informal network which aims to encourage information sharing and cooperation between governments to discuss joint advocacy strategies in the promotion and protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief internationally.

Ireland consistently supports EU-led resolutions on freedom of religion or belief, most recently at the 40th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2019 and the 73rd Session of UN General Assembly in November 2018.

I can assure you that officials from my Department, including at the Embassy of Ireland in India, which is also accredited to Sri Lanka, will continue to monitor the situation.