Wednesday, 18 December 2019
Post-European Council: Statements
I raised the Palestinian question at the pre-Council discussion but that has already been asked. I also raised the current situation in Malta. As the Minister of State knows, there have been serious protests and mounting concern over the alleged involvement of the Prime Minister's former chief of staff and other employees in a murder and subsequent cover-up of the investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. She was investigating corruption that went to the heart of government before she was assassinated. Her family have said that the Prime Minister had been left deeply compromised and should resign because he failed to take action to clean up politics in Malta. They argued that as long as he remained in place, a full investigation into her death was not possible. I already raised it with the Taoiseach.
Was the situation in Malta discussed? Did the Taoiseach raise the matter with his colleagues?
I welcome the strong statement from the European Council unequivocally affirming its solidarity with Cyprus with regard to Turkey's illegal drilling activities in Cyprus's exclusive economic zone. Like Ireland, Cyprus is a small, partitioned island. Partition on both islands has had a massively negative effect. I believe the EU should work towards unification in both our countries. Will the Minister of State indicate if the Taoiseach discussed with the Cypriot President Turkey's illegal activities in Cyprus's exclusive economic zone? Did the Taoiseach personally express Ireland's full solidarity with the President?
With regard to Brexit, I welcome the Minister of State's comments on the €100 million in funding in the negotiations. When will this funding be released? The Minister of State has said it will be over a seven-year period, but when can we expect to see the effect of it? I am conscious that Brexit is not just a situation that will impact negatively on the North or the Border region. Has there been any discussion around a relaxation of fiscal rules? When one considers the €20 million being invested in making Dublin Port Brexit ready, this cost could be multiplied across different industries. We know there will be a cost and a price to Brexit. Will the Minister of State indicate if additional funding is to be made available for that?