Thursday, 12 July 2018
Topical Issue Debate
I do not have some of the specific answers to the questions the Deputy asked but I will bring his questions back to the Minister. I know that is probably not what he wants to hear but I will say it anyway.
In October 2017 the Tánaiste announced Ireland's intention to open an embassy in Bogotá and the ambassador designate, Alison Milton, will arrive in Bogotá in early 2019 to establish the embassy. This significant step demonstrates the Government's commitment to developing Ireland's relationship with Colombia, particularly our commitment to support Colombia's transition to a peaceful post-conflict society, including the vindication and protection of human and social rights. Colombia has also announced it will open an embassy here in Ireland later this year. These developments will elevate our relationship with the Colombia to a new level.
While the embassy's focus will be on developing political and economic relationships and continuing to support Colombia's transition to a post-conflict society, having a permanent presence in Bogotá means we will be in a much better position to monitor issues such as the impact of the Cerrejón mine on the local community and the environment. Historical strides have been made in Colombia in recent years in the transition to a post-conflict society, and addressing social and environmental issues is part of this process. Significant challenges remain, including in the area of rural development, but Ireland also remains committed to supporting the full implementation of the peace arrangement, which will ensure a peaceful, stable and prosperous future for all Colombians, including the indigenous communities.
With a new president being inaugurated next month, it is hoped and expected that the progress being made will continue for the betterment of the people of Colombia. Nobody wants to see people who have lived in a country all their lives undergoing any kind of disturbance to their work, or see them being used and not properly paid for the work they do. I have noted a number of the issues raised by the Deputy and I will certainly bring them back to the Minister.