Questions to the Minister for Foreign Affairs

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Dáil Issues, Foreign Affairs, Oral Questions

To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the UN Security Council’s proposal to introduce legislation restricting the travel of foreign terrorist fighters; and if this is a blatant breach of our neutrality.

Clare Daly.
For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 7th October, 2014.
Ref No: 37688/14

REPLY

UN Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014) on foreign terrorist fighters was adopted unanimously in New York on 24 September 2014. Ireland co-sponsored the Resolution along with 103 other States, including all other EU member states.
This Resolution takes a comprehensive, human rights compliant approach to tackling the foreign fighters problem in accordance with international law. It highlights the need to tackle the underlying causes of radicalisation through community outreach initiatives, while at the same time focusing on strengthening legal and security measures. This comprehensive strategy is very much in line with Ireland’s approach to the issue.
The terms of the Resolution are consistent with conclusions of a special meeting of the European Council on 30 August 2014 which called for accelerated implementation of a package of measures agreed in June 2013 concerning four priority areas: prevention of radicalisation, detection of suspicious travel, investigation and prosecution and cooperation with third countries. The European Council will review this issue in December 2014.
On the issue of travel, the Resolution provides that all States shall take steps to prevent the movement of terrorists or terrorist groups. These steps include the introduction of controls on the issuance of travel documents and measures to prevent counterfeiting, forgery or fraudulent use of such documents.

The Passports Act 2008 sets out a range of provisions related to this area. The Act provides a statutory basis for refusal to issue and for cancellation of a passport in defined circumstances including where a person would be likely to engage in conduct that might prejudice national security or the security of another state; where such conduct might endanger public safety or where it might endanger the person or others. Section 20 of the Act also introduced a range of offences concerning the provision of false or misleading information in connection with a passport application, possession or use of a false passport and the making or attempted making of a false passport.

My Department, in consultation with other relevant Government Departments, will closely examine the Resolution to establish whether any further legislation may be required in order to ensure its full implementation in Ireland.

Resolution 2178 is fully in line with the policy of military neutrality that has been pursued by successive Irish Governments. It does not involve participation in any military alliance; it provides for the protection of human rights; and it is designed to promote and maintain international peace and security through the United Nations.

To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps he will take to discourage economic links with illegal Israeli settlements, due to the deteriorating human rights situation for communities on the ground in the West Bank.
Clare Daly.
For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 7th October, 2014.
Ref No: 37687/14

REPLY
The European Union applies a sanction to settlement goods in that they are excluded from the lower tariffs applied to goods from Israel (and many other countries), and administrative measures to implement this distinction are periodically reviewed.
More recently, in 2013, the EU published guidelines to ensure that any EU research funding received by universities or other institutions in Israel, under joint cooperation programmes, could not be spent in the Occupied Territory, that is, in settlements.
In May of this year, my Department published, in common with many other EU partners, advice to citizens and businesses warning them against investing in, or commercial transactions with, settlements.
For further measures, I have called at EU level for the speedy issuance of guidelines on the labelling of settlement goods, to assist consumers in distinguishing them from Israeli produce. This measure was put aside last year when direct negotiations on an overall political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict commenced, and should now be brought forward again.
I have called for a broad discussion in the EU of what our policy on the Middle East Peace Process should be, and active measures to further discourage links with settlements should form part of that. Ultimately, consideration should be given to whether settlement goods should be simply excluded from the EU market.