Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 13 July 2017
Select Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence
Framework Agreement between European Union and Republic of the Philippines: Motion
I could get into an argument with the Minister of State who gave as examples two countries looking to join the European Union. However, the countries that are relevant to this discussion are not seeking to join the European Union and not subject to European human rights law. There is a difficulty in that regard. I gave as an example what was happening in Gaza. There are war crimes and the world is looking on helplessly. Meanwhile, we have a favourable trade agreement with Israel and have not really been able to do anything to this day, but we know what conditions are like in Gaza. I can also give as an example what is happening in Colombia where trade unionists, land activists and so on are being assassinated, but, in its wisdom, the European Union decided to go ahead with the agreement.
I do not want to argue with the Minister of State; I just think what we are doing is wrong. While I am conscious of Irish citizens, I am also conscious that we need to stand up to these regimes. What is the worst case scenario? At worst, we would not have this agreement, but Ireland would have stood up for human rights. It is not only about the people who are impacted on directly, it is also about Irish citizens. On the information we are going to share with the Philippines Government and its security organisations, what they are doing is wrong and I do not think it can be justified by anyone. They are not even bringing people to court. They are killing them on the streets and in their homes. They are extrajudicial killings. Someone is making that decision and it is wrong.
I have outlined my position. The Minister of State says there cannot be a discussion on the framework agreement. It is not the first to be left until the last minute in order that we do not have an opportunity to discuss it. It is the wrong way to do things and another agreement that will slip through, although I welcome the Minister of State's commitment that it will not happen in the future. It may not happen under his watch, but it may happen under another Minister's. It is something we all accept that we need to address. There was enough time since March to discuss the agreement in the Dáil. We know for a fact that there were times when there was no legislation being brought forward and nothing was going through the Dáil. There were long gaps during which we could have had this debate.