Tuesday, 17 November 2015
Paris Terrorist Attack: Statements
I formally welcome to the Distinguished Visitors Gallery the French Ambassador and his staff in the French Embassy. You are very welcome.
The tragic events of last Friday evening in Paris have shocked and horrified us all. On behalf of Dáil Éireann, I wish to extend our sincere and deepest condolences to the families, friends and everybody affected by these senseless attacks. We stand four square in solidarity and sympathy with the people of France in the face of these murderous terrorists and their misguided actions. Europe must stand firm against those who by their actions are endeavouring to destroy our freedom and our civilisation. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of France at this particular time.
I ask Members to stand for a minute's silence and invite those watching at home to join with us in a mark of respect.
A Friday evening in winter. For many, the end of the working week. In the city of light, Parisians got ready for the weekend. They went home to pick up their children for the match, or met friends for a night out at Bataclan, or called into La Belle Equipe or Le Carillon for a quick bite, a beer or a well-deserved pastis. Back in 1307, almost to the month, the Knights Templar were arrested, interrogated, tortured and charged with heresy. Seven hundred and eight years on, in the particular blue - the cobalt blue - of an evening in Paris, ordinary yet extraordinary men and women, so many of them young, paid with their lives, their futures, for another kind of religious fear and loathing. A fear and loathing that has nothing to do with any God or any faith. Its expression in Paris, and in other parts of Europe and the world, is proof of the observation of Voltaire that those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
It is on Boulevard Voltaire, on Rue Alibert, on Rue de Charonne and at the Stade de France that those absurdities and atrocities changed not only the existence of the 129 dead and 352 injured but of all those who knew and loved them, who had given them a past and had hoped to share with them a future. They rendered a city and a continent speechless - silence, perhaps, being the only adequate response to something so crazed, so mutilating, so annihilating. Silence, perhaps, being the only place in which we could find and re-establish our co-ordinates as human beings, sharing the same human condition, the same inhuman world. On Friday, in the slipstream of young life, lived with such joy and love, came death. Anathema to families, to futures, to the idea of a decent and civil and civilised society. We think of them and their loved ones today. On behalf of the Government and people of Ireland, I extend our deepest sympathies. Go ndéanfaidh Dia trócaire orthu ar fad.
My thoughts are also with the hundreds of people who were injured in Friday's attacks, many critically. They include an Irish citizen, who is receiving assistance through our embassy in Paris. I also extend my sympathy to President Hollande and to the people of France, especially those who call Ireland their home. We recognise and share in your grief at this time. Yesterday, at Cashin Print in Castlebar, I, along with others, observed a minute's silence in respect of those who died. These were ordinary workers, ordinary people, ordinary family members, just like those in Paris. In January, I walked in Paris with President Hollande and other EU and world leaders after the devastating Charlie Hebdoattacks. I repeat now what I said then, namely, that we offer France our total solidarity and support.
The ties that bind our two countries are strong, long-standing and unwavering. Our shared democratic values and the shared way of life we treasure will not bend in the face of terrorism. We believe in respect and tolerance. Respect and tolerance are not weaknesses. We remain resilient and we draw strength from our values and our way of life. We believe in solidarity, togetherness and freedom. These acts of violence are a betrayal of any sense of religion or goodness. They are an absolute betrayal of the common humanity of man. This barbarity will not be allowed to triumph over civilisation. These attacks must be seen for what they are, as an assault on the fundamental values that are held dear, not only in France but in Ireland and throughout Europe and the democratic world. We remain steadfast and united in our determination to counter the threat posed by global terrorism and all forms of radicalism that have at their heart the desire and intention to divide, dismantle and destroy.
We are also clear that the terrible crimes of a small number of extremists, such as we have seen in Paris and indeed elsewhere, do not reflect the views of the Muslim community, either in this country or in other states, and do not represent the honourable decent people who are going about their daily lives and are equally appalled by Friday's attacks. We know from our own experience in this country that this will be a difficult time for them. Our response will be guided by the measures and priorities agreed by EU leaders earlier this year, measures to ensure the security of our citizens, prevent radicalisation, safeguard our values and, most importantly, bring the perpetrators of these terrible acts to justice. In that regard, an emergency meeting of the European Union's Justice and Home Affairs Ministers has been convened for Friday of this week. The Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, will represent the Government at that meeting.
In formulating the international response, we must seek to tackle the root causes. We must not allow this tragedy to deflect us from finding a balanced and humane approach and working to find a solution in Syria and to the migration crisis. We must continue to work for peace and stability in regions where fear and violence hold too much sway. We must work to prevent radicalisation. We need to share information more effectively and deter and disrupt terrorist travel. For our part, we will be vigilant here at home in working to ensure the safety and security of our citizens. The sad reality is that, just like other democratic states, we in Ireland cannot consider ourselves immune from the threat posed by international terrorism and extremism. An Garda Síochána is keeping the situation under constant review and all the agencies here co-operate closely in respect of any threats that are identified. They will continue to work with their EU and other international security and intelligence counterparts in responding to any such threats.
Our approach will, of course, continue to be based on international human rights principles and will fully respect the rule of law. We do this not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because these are precisely the values that were under attack last week. The Heads of State and leaders of the EU said in a joint statement on Saturday that "we stand united with the French people and the Government of France". This shameful act of terrorism will only achieve the opposite of its purpose, which was to divide, frighten and sow hatred. I expect to have a further update and briefing from the Garda Commissioner and the chief of the Defence Forces later in the week.
It should be remembered that Islam is a religion of peace. It is a religion of truth, kindness and compassion. It is not a religion of hatred, violence or terror. Those who murdered 129 people and injured 352 more will never succeed. In fact, with the love and solidarity shown all over the city of Paris and around the world, they are already defeated. Voltaire wrote that to the living we owe respect but to the dead we owe only the truth. That truth is our solidarity, our resolve, our refusal to give in. It is our belief in ourselves and in each other, our belief that it is love and not hatred that will overcome.
Last Friday on the streets of Paris, we saw mass murder on a frightening scale. We saw multiple acts of cruelty intended to denigrate those killed and to challenge the way of life of the society in which they lived. Today, I join with others in expressing solidarity with the families and friends of the victims, as well as with the people of Paris and of France.
Since Friday we have heard something of the lives of those who were killed and the experience of those who lived through the events of that awful night. We have heard the stories of those young people who went out to enjoy a concert and never came home. Much of what happened was about young people in their early 20s setting out to kill other young people. We have heard the stories of those who went out to enjoy an evening with a partner or loved one, only to say goodbye forever on the blood-spattered floor of the Bataclan. We have heard stories of courage, of desperation, of kindness and of fear.
After the horror and the shock, we ask ourselves, why. Why would men look to treat their fellow men and women with such callous cruelty? Maybe they are psychopaths; maybe they are common criminals. In many ways, it would be easier for us to explain and to react if that were true. Whatever is true of the individuals who planned and carried out the attack on Paris, however, it is clear this was more than the individual acts of deranged people. This was a political act, a gesture of hatred, a challenge, an act carried out by a group, Daesh, which sees itself as our enemy and wants to destroy what we believe in.
It is a philosophy of hatred and intolerance. It enforces it with cruelty and uses acts of barbarity to attract others to its cause. This is an organisation which regards all those who disagree with it as apostates and treats them as subhuman. This is an organisation which enslaved, raped and denigrated Yazidi women unfortunate enough to live in the wrong place. This is an organisation which routinely forces children to commit murder, which has thrown gay men off the top of high buildings and encouraged its supporters to thrash their bodies in the streets below. This is an organisation which destroyed the architectural heritage of Palmyra and beheaded the renowned and elderly curator of the site in the public square.
Now it has brought its message of hatred to our European streets. It chose Paris, a city synonymous with culture, with debate, with openness, with joie de vivre. It chose Paris, which has for centuries been part of Europe’s gateway to the world, a city of diversity, which has opened its doors to millions of people from around the world in recent decades. In its fight with us, Daesh has targeted the home of the revolution, the home of the Enlightenment. It has targeted a city and a country which throughout its turbulent history has looked to give meaning to its eternal values of liberté, égalité, fraternité, solidaritié.
Like many others, the Irish people have looked to France for many years as we have struggled to define what it really means to be a republic. We know that behind the idealism of the words, there is a great deal of room for difference and debate. We know our tricolour of green, white and gold is based on France’s tricolour of red, white and blue. We chose that to be our symbol of our Republic and republicanism. We know liberty is not absolute and freedom brings with it responsibility. We know equality is a goal that cannot be achieved without sacrifice. We know fraternity entails embracing people who believe in values other than our own.
Therein lies the greatest challenge of all. Our belief in diversity obliges us to embrace those who do not want to be embraced. Our belief in freedom of speech obliges us to tolerate much that we regard as offensive. At what point, however, do we suspend our belief in tolerance and decide some beliefs or some people are simply intolerable? This is the essence of the challenge which the people and Government of France face in these coming months and years.
The French President, François Hollande, said yesterday that we cannot have liberty without security. He is right. If we are not safe in the streets, then we cannot enjoy the lifestyle of a diverse liberal republic.
In our efforts to defeat those who attack us, however, we risk the very republican values we are looking to defend. In Ireland we know the risks. We know terrorism cannot be allowed to win but we also know that some of the measures aimed at defeating terrorism run the risk of recruiting others to its cause. We know there is a balance to be struck and we should be forever conscious of the consequences of the decisions we take.
Our friends in France will do what they can to defeat the military threat of Daesh. After the events of Friday, the French people are entitled to expect nothing less. There are limits to what can be achieved through military action, however. Daesh will be defeated militarily someday and the sooner the better. There is another battle, however, one which must be won if the threat of extremism is to be defeated. That is the battle for the allegiance of our own citizens. That is the battle to defeat extremism, not just in the Middle East, but in the banlieuesof Paris, the backstreets of Brussels and in the Muslim communities of most of our major cities. This battle will not be won just by bombing Raqqa. It can only be truly won by defining our western society as one that is truly republican, one which imposes rights and responsibility in a way which is blind as to colour, religion, ethnicity and gender. We must be clear that the secular republic is not the enemy of Islam or of any religion. Equally, however, we must make it clear that we will not tolerate fascist beliefs just because those who espouse them seek to excuse their hatred for others by invoking religion and distorting its teachings.
The ties between Ireland and France are profound. Over the centuries, we looked to France for inspiration and support. More recently, contact between our peoples has become routine. Irish people in their tens of thousands have made their home in France, while many French people come and live here. We enjoy the same rights, the same lifestyle in many respects. We share the same games and many of the same values. We know the attacks on Paris are a threat to those values, which we share with our French friends and neighbours. Just as fascism and nazism threatened Paris until it was liberated, we will stand with the people of Paris and France as they look to deal with the new threat. We will stand with them in mourning and reflection. We will stand with them as they look to fight back, sometimes offering full-blooded support and other times advising caution as good friends should, but always on the same side.
This is not just a threat to Paris and France; it is also a threat to all of us who value the democracy of Europe, however flawed it may be. Many people here are very critical of it, understandably so, but, at the same time, we all enjoy valuable freedoms that some of the perpetrators of what happened on Friday were seeking to extinguish, not only in the regions they see as part of their world but on European soil also. That is a threat we can never not seek to bring to an end.
A Cheann Comhairle, a Thaoisigh agus a ambasadóir, ar son ár bpáirtí, ar mo shon féin agus ar son muintir na tíre, déanaim comhbhrón le muintir na Fraince, na daoine atá gortaithe, a muintir agus muintir na ndaoine a fuair bás faoin ionsaí fíochmhar foréigeannach a tharla oíche an Aoine seo caite. Chroith an eachtra uafásach seo an domhan ar fad agus, gan amhras, muintir na hÉireann. Ionsaí ar shibhialtacht agus ar na cearta daonna is bunusaí atá againn a bhí ann. Caithfimid bheith d'aon leith le pobal na Fraince agus le pobal an domhain ar fad chun an t-ionsaí seo a cháineadh agus stop a chur leis. Daoine óga a bhí ag damhsa agus ag éisteacht le ceol, ag ithe, ag baint taitnimh as an saol, ag féachaint ar chluiche agus i mbun ghnáthimeachtaí an tsaoil a ndúnmharaíodh. Easpa sibhialtachta agus easpa daonnachta atá i gcroílár ISIS. Ní féidir le haon duine é sin a shéanadh nó aon leithscéal a ghabháil as.
On my own behalf and that of my party, I extend sincere sympathy to all those who have been bereaved, the families of those who have been injured, the injured and the people of France following the savage and barbarous attack last Friday evening. It was a savage attack on our way of life and civilisation. It was also an extraordinary trauma for those in the theatres, restaurants and outside the stadium. The trauma was eloquently articulated on the 9 p.m. news yesterday evening by Katie Healy who detailed her experience in the Bataclan theatre. She described seeing the foot of a terrorist as he walked by her and saying goodbye to her boyfriend, David Nolan. One gets a sense of the extraordinary fear, anxiety and terror that must have been going through the minds of the people who were listening to music, in restaurants and on the streets of France. Sheer terror was perpetrated on them. There is unspeakable grief and will be ahead. There will be many funerals in the weeks ahead. Many families will be in mourning because of the savagery and barbarity of ISIS. Some 129 people were murdered and 352 injured.
Let us be clear. There is an absence of civilisation at the very heart of ISIS. This is the latest in a significant and long line of atrocities. Some 224 holidaymakers were murdered as they travelled home to Russia on an aeroplane in recent weeks. Irish and British people were shot at and murdered on the beaches of Tunisia. The international order as we know it is being challenged in an unprecedented way and beyond anything we have ever experienced. The scale and random nature of the attacks create a vulnerability and understandable fear and anxiety among our peoples. It is worth reflecting on the fact that in the atrocity last Friday people spanning three continents and 12 countries were killed. We stand united with the people of France, Europe and the world. We stand in solidarity with them because we share common values and basic everyday freedoms we cannot and will not ever compromise on. ISIS attacked the very cradle of civilisation as we know it. It is an iconic cradle of the values we cherish - equality, freedom and fraternity.
We must respond in an intelligent way. We must seek to understand the enemy and the underlying issues and factors involved in order to defeat it. One extremely important element that requires further debate is the issue of intelligence capacity. In the modern era intelligence capacity is a key tool in defeating ISIS and combating this form of extreme terrorism. The debate so far has been too one-sided in terms of the issues that have been articulated. I say this genuinely. We need to have the debate in this country and across Europe because it is the most effective tool we have to protect citizens and prevent atrocities such as this.
As a former Minister for Foreign Affairs, I was briefed on a number of occasions on Omagh-type bombings which had been averted by virtue of good intelligence capacity. Bombs twice the size of that used in Omagh had been planned and bombings were averted through the sharing of information between the PSNI and An Garda Síochána police forces. At European level, there has to be absolute sharing of data and intelligence. There can be no holding back. There is no alternative in dealing with this threat and protecting our citizens. The technological revolution - the Internet revolution - has changed the methodology, modalities and communication strategies of extreme terrorists. States have to respond with an understanding of that revolution and come back like with like.
There should be a convening of the United Nations Security Council to respond and ensure an international response under the UN framework to the barbarity of ISIS's attack on France and its people. There must also be an intelligent geopolitical response. There is no doubt that the weakening and dismantling of Libya, hated regime that it was, Syria and Iraq have created a terrible vacuum which has led to the rise of ISIS and a merge to the critical mass that ISIS now represents across this terrain. This means that we must learn lessons from the past, but it must also inform how we deal with this threat and, in particular, how we respond to the Syrian crisis. The peace talks under way have assumed a greater urgency. The response needs wise heads that will prioritise the issues to ensure, in the first instance, the protection of our citizens and peoples. That is extremely important.
We must be very clear. ISIS and the ideologues in it, in particular, have declared war on our civilisation, way of life, values and people by word and deed. They seek to polarise the world. They seek to create mayhem, chaos, fear and anxiety, as they have written. Through this, they seek to engineer change among Europeans and democrats vis-à-visour values and principles. They want us in Europe to become more repressive, intolerant, exclusive and introverted as peoples and societies. If we follow that path, we will play to the ISIS agenda. Multiculturalism and religious freedom are core values which we cannot abandon. Neither can we tar everyone with the one brush. The Muslim faith is one of peace, compassion and truth.
The vast majority of Muslims throughout the world are horrified and appalled at what has happened. These extremists are anathema to them. In Ireland we know only too well what can emerge and happen, and what injustices can follow, if there is an attempt to tar people with the same brush. We cannot do that.
We must also examine our capacities in the light of this atrocity. Given the enormity of what has happened, we must re-examine our capacity to deal with such atrocities, how we link in with our European colleagues, our intelligence capacity, our capacity to respond to threats and events such as this and the Cabinet security sub-committee meetings and so forth. I would appreciate if a comprehensive statement could be issued on that at some stage, in so far as that is commensurate with intelligence and security advice, and if the leaders in the Opposition and others would be briefed on those threats.
Without question, what has transpired has shaken people to the core. It represents an appalling attack on our civilisation. We stand with the Government and with all parties in the House in uniting in sympathy with the French people on the appalling death that has come to their land.
On behalf of Sinn Féin, I condemn in the strongest possible terms the deplorable, murderous attacks perpetrated in Paris last Friday. Thar ceann Shinn Féin ba mhaith liom cáineadh láidir a dhéanamh ar na hionsaithe uafásacha a tharla Dé hAoine i bPáras. Seasann muid leis na daoine a maríodh agus a gortaíodh agus lena muintir.
I extend my personal sympathies and, on behalf of Sinn Féin, solidarity to the French Ambassador, the victims, their families and the people of Paris and France, with which Ireland has deep, historical and cultural ties. France and Ireland enjoy extremely good relations, not least through our shared revolutionary history and republican values of liberty, equality and fraternity.
The people on this island, like those all over the world, watched with deep shock and horror as the events in Paris unfolded. The victims of these dreadful attacks were innocent people, many of them young people enjoying a Friday night out with friends and family. They come from least 15 countries. They posed no threat to anyone, but were targeted without cause, justification or mercy. Families were cruelly robbed of their loved ones - sons, daughters, spouses, parents and siblings. We have seen, through the widespread and heartening messages and demonstrations of solidarity, that Ireland and the world stand united with the people of Paris and France at this awful time.
All of us also must stand against fundamentalism, bigotry, sectarianism and racism. Agus muid ag amharc ar imeachtaí oíche Aoine, smaoinigh muid siar ar na hionsaithe gránna i bPáras i mí Eanáir. The deaths of journalists, cartoonists and satirists, as well as civilians, in Paris on 7 January last provoked justifiable outrage.
So far this year, 47 journalists have been killed around the world. Tragically, the violence that we witnessed in Paris on Friday has been mirrored in countless other barbaric acts. Last Thursday, twin explosions in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, killed 43 people and wounded more than 200 others. Last month, bomb attacks in Yemen killed 35 people. In the years of civil war in Syria more than 250,000 men, women and children, mostly civilians, have been killed. In October, twin blasts in Ankara claimed the lives of more than 100 civilians. A bomb was responsible for destroying the Metrojet that crashed in the Sinai peninsula on 31 October. All 224 people on board were killed. A total of 51.2 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide. Approximately 3,500 people have died at sea since January making the desperate crossing to Europe in coffin ships. These victims were ordinary, innocent civilians. Sin iad na deartháireacha agus deirfiúracha s’againne.
Like the citizens in Paris who played no part in any of this, the people of the Middle East are entitled to live in peace and to pursue happiness and prosperity. While we think of the victims in Paris, Beirut, Yemen and Syria, let us also remember the thousands, mainly civilians, including hundreds of children, who were killed in brutal assaults in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Last summer, 2,000 people, mainly civilians, including 500 children and 13 journalists, died during the Israeli assault on Gaza. Like the Israelis who died at that time, they bleed like the rest of us, grieve like the rest of us and are equally deserving of our sympathy, compassion and solidarity.
Those behind the attacks in Paris and those who are perpetrating horrendous violence and injustice daily against civilian populations in Syria and Iraq are the enemies of all lovers of freedom and justice. This is not a conflict between east and west or between Islam and Christianity, but between fundamentalism and freedom. Whatever our religion, the colour of our skin or our nationality, there can be no excuse for these incidents. Wherever injustice, oppression or hatred exists, it must be confronted and challenged. Wherever anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sectarianism or racism exists, it must be vigorously opposed. That must also happen with poverty, injustice, inequality, discrimination and imperialism.
ISIS and other fundamentalist groups thrive on the chaos and destruction wrought on Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East, as a direct result of western military and political interference. This reality cannot be ignored. The world has become a more violent, less secure place since 11 September 2001. The horrendous terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York resulted in a misguided war, with western forces first bombing and then occupying Afghanistan. This had major long-term implications for neighbouring countries and, indeed, the rest of the world. The Afghan war played straight into the hands those seeking to promote western militarism all over the globe. Under the leadership of George W. Bush and Tony Blair, war in Afghanistan developed into a general global conflict and war with Iraq. As one war leads to another, including the war in Libya and north Africa, the death toll has grown. The so-called war on terror has extended to Africa with the bombing of Libya and Mali and the growth of Boko Haram in Nigeria as well as the continued problems in Somalia. The US and coalition forces have carried out 8,125 bomb attacks in Iraq and Syria in the last 12 months. We have also witnessed conflict in the Ukraine and growing tensions between Russia and the west.
There must be a much deeper understanding both of the causes of wars and their consequences for everybody. Alongside the dead and injured in Paris, those suffering the most from the actions of ISIS are the citizens of the Middle East. Serious questions must be asked about the funding and arming of groups such as ISIS. Unfortunately, however, the west has an inconsistent and duplicitous track record in its dealings with Islamic fundamentalist groups in the Middle East. We know they have nothing in common with a peaceful religion, but it is clear that arms from western powers have ended up in the hands of these groups. London’s Independentnewspaper in 2013 claimed that the British Government made £12 billion from arms sales around the world, mainly in the Middle East and Africa. Western duplicity and cynicism towards the Middle East must end if there is to be a peaceful, democratic future for the citizens of that region. The running sore that is the treatment of the Palestinian people must be confronted, once and for all, if there is to be peace in that part of the world.
The horrific attacks in Paris must not become an excuse for attacks on Islam or on the rights of Muslim people, or to target or turn away from our responsibility toward the hundreds of thousands of refugees arriving in Europe, many of whom are fleeing the same fundamentalist forces who carried out the Paris attacks.
The actions of ISIS, the attacks in Paris and the alarming rise of far-right parties must act as a catalyst for European governments, the European Union and the Commission to counteract this sentiment. Let us remember that the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy has said all of the attackers in Friday’s massacre in Paris so far identified were European Union nationals. The European Union must do more to combat alienation and promote integration, equality and respect for diversity.
It is our responsibility to stand united in defiance of murder, threats and intimidation and with the people of Paris. However, it is also our responsibility to go beyond mere rhetoric. Therefore, I welcome the Taoiseach's assertion that, in formulating the international response, we must seek to tackle the root causes. That means that Ireland needs to pursue a foreign policy based on peace-making and human values. It is a fact that NATO has expanded and that there are efforts through the Lisbon treaty to link in the European Union. Irish neutrality continues to be weakened and this has included decisions to join the NATO-led Partnership for Peace and the utilisation of Shannon Airport to transport troops to join the illegal invasion of Iraq. Despite plans for the creation of a common European army, Irish citizens deeply value our neutrality and oppose any Irish role in the growing militarisation of Europe. The Government must reflect this view and move to defend and promote Irish neutrality. No matter how difficult it is, there is an urgent need to find a durable settlement to the conflict in Syria. We have to try to understand and confront the causes of conflict and division.
Our thoughts are with the people of Paris and all victims of conflict across the globe. We can only imagine the panic, the shock and the grief of Parisians and the French people, but we are confident that their strength, courage and humanity will see them through and stand in solidarity with them. Sna laethanta amach romhainn caithfimid a chinntiú nach gcuireann freagra an phobail domhanda leis an gcruatan agus leis an bpian atá ann faoi láthair. We know from our own troubled history that there are no purely military solutions. Diplomacy, negotiations and political resolution of conflict are key. As a lasting tribute to the victims in Paris and all victims of global conflict, world leaders must redouble their efforts to resolve conflict and build peace. We and the Government have a positive role to play in that regard. It is the least we owe to the people of Paris and all other victims.
On behalf of the Technical Group, I offer my condolences to the relatives of all those who were killed or injured in the abominable Paris attack. We also offer our condolences to the French people and the democratically elected Government of France.
Like many others in Ireland, I regularly visit France. I travel to Paris, Perpignan and Nantes and will continue to do so, as will many other Irish people. For those who see or use violence as a way of promoting a religious belief, an economic intention or an ideology, or as a way of subjugating people, history has shown that democracy has inevitably been triumphant. George Orwell once said that if liberty meant anything, it meant the right to tell people what they sometimes did not want to hear. If we are to deal with this dreaded organisation, ISIS or Daesh, we have to know what its origins are and why and how it came about because that is how we deal with all terrorist groups.
In 2003, after the invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi army was dismantled, Iraqi infrastructure was destroyed and a government was installed that was not responsive to the people. Hundreds of thousands were imprisoned, many of them innocent of the asserted crimes and many became radicalised. After that, the allies left Iraq to its fate. In 2006 ISIS was formed with the help of former Iraqi officers and in 2011 it entered Syria. The rebels in Syria fighting the Assad regime for which none of us has any time were armed by Jordan, the United States, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. It has now emerged that some American generals said they really did not know where the arms had gone to. We do, however, because we now know that many of them went to this abominable group, ISIS.
Tony Blair has said there probably would not be an ISIS if there had not been an invasion of Iraq. It is imperative for all democracies to deal with the foundations of terrorism and, in particular, how it is funded. The biggest funder of militant groups in the Middle East is Saudi Arabia which has funded Islamic militant groups such as Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba. In 2009 Hillary Clinton, in a private note that became public, urged diplomats to redouble their efforts to stop Gulf money reaching extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Until we come to terms with the so-called democracies that fund some terrorist groups, we are at nothing. This has been the failure of very many governments in that we have not dealt with so-called allies who talk out of both sides of their mouths.
The Taoiseach knows that military action alone will not defeat terrorism. Countries where greed, avarice, poverty and repression abound are breeding grounds for young people who join military groups. I have been in many countries across the Middle East and seen the most appalling suffering. I have met people who have no hope and nothing to live for. These are the ones we must educate and deal with. History has shown what happens if we do not educate, do not deal with abject poverty and suffering and do not give people hope. I remember a song about a person who wakes in the morning with no reason for waking. I was in one country where there were no water, electricity and health services. I was told the only doctors and nurses who were being supplied were supplied by Al-Qaeda, that in one of the richest countries in the Middle East. If the terrorists continue to receive sympathy from people, they will be much harder to find and deal with. We must have people on our side and that means the responsible leaders of the world must show concern for all the people of the world who are subjugated and suffering abject poverty. As I said, groups such as ISIS will not win and have never won. History, from the time of Greek democracy to the present day, has shown that terrorists who seek to impose militarism on democracy have utterly failed. However, we must defeat them by means other than bombing and military action.
I endorse the sympathy expressed by everybody in the House to the French people following the atrocity inflicted on them last Friday and express my sympathy to the ambassador and those present in the Visitors Gallery. I ask them to take home with them the sympathy of everybody in Ireland. Many of us in this House are Francophiles and visit France every year, perhaps many times a year.
To some extent they will understand that this is seen by us not just as an attack on France, but also on Ireland and on those who feel for France and feel a common bond with it. It is something we will join with France in any way we can in combating. It is probably indicative of what happened and what will happen in the future that words of sympathy are not enough. Much of what has been said today is, understandably, rhetoric and not a proposal of concrete measures to combat what happened last Friday. This is not a criticism of anybody in Government, but is a reflection of the fact that we feel helpless in this situation. So much of what has been said has been sympathetic and so much has shown a great deal of determination, but little has been said and there is little I can say that will contribute to producing a solution to this awful problem which raised its ugly head last Friday.
The French response to what happened is understandable and was indeed inevitable. Does it not emphasise the extreme cowardice of those who committed this atrocity that not only were they prepared to shoot in cold blood - French citizens and citizens of other countries indiscriminately - they must have known the result of what they were doing would be a French response of the sort we have seen in the past two days which would result in the death of innocent people - children, adults, grandparents and people not involved - in Raqqa and other places? They did not care. They did not care not only that the targets of their barbarity would die, but that other people to whom they might be closer and other innocent people in parts of Syria would die as well. That is the type of depravity we face. This is something that is completely incomprehensible to people who hold the values the Taoiseach, Deputy Martin and others have expressed so eloquently today.
I do not believe we should, nor do I believe we have any intention of doing it, respond to this barbarity with barbarity. We are dumbstruck and feel helpless at the moment. However, the fact the US Secretary of State has travelled to Paris is a show not of strength, as military solutions in these situations are very difficult if not impossible, but of burying minor differences that occur from time to time in international relationships in the face of a common threat that must be opposed.
Finally, I welcome the fact that when awful occasions like this occur, the differences we in this House manage to find are buried as insignificant in the face of what has been happening in France in the past few days.
Last Friday night in Paris ordinary people going about their lives, socialising, attending a concert and doing the things people do on Friday nights, were slaughtered in an act of coldblooded inhumanity at its worst. It is clear today that the thoughts of all of us are with the people of France and I know the French ambassador here is well aware of the revulsion of the people of Ireland at what happened. I want to pay tribute to him for giving voice so eloquently to the feelings of the people of France here.
Yesterday I had the privilege to attend a meeting of members of police organisations from many countries and we indicated our deep solidarity with the French police. It is right that in this Chamber today we, as elected representatives in a democracy, should take the time to express our outrage at what happened and make clear our solidarity with the people of France and all of those who have suffered at the hands of terrorists. For what was under attack last Friday night was the freedoms we enjoy and democracy itself. The people who carried out the attacks despise those freedoms and hate the values we hold so dear. They want to impose on all of us a dark, tyrannical world. Because of the freedoms we enjoy, democratic societies cannot impose the type of measures that would be necessary to ensure such attacks can never take place. To attempt to do so would be handing a victory to those who seek to terrorise us. What is important is that we take all necessary, proportionate and reasonable steps to try to counter the activities of those who seek to terrorise us.
A difficult balance has to be drawn between the rights of individuals and the powers which a state takes upon itself to counteract terrorism. As I have said, we cannot take measures which fundamentally alter the nature of our societies in response to terrorist outrages. However, I ask people to bear one thing in mind: there is no more fundamental human right than the right to life and states are obliged to take all reasonable measures to vindicate that right. I want to be very clear about one thing. We will not hesitate to take any reasonable action necessary to keep the people of this country safe and to co-operate with our partners to keep all our peoples safe.
Given the bleak history of the troubles on this island, we already have a wide range of legislation in place to deal with terrorism. All the laws that applied to terrorist organisations based here apply to international terrorists too We have added to those laws to deal with specific features of international terrorism. For example, earlier this year the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) (Amendment) Act created new offences of public provocation to commit terrorist offences, recruitment for terrorism and training for terrorism. If more laws are needed at any stage, we will introduce them without delay. It is also the case that because of our history, An Garda Síochána has immense experience in dealing with terrorism. I accept fully that a new factor is the willingness of terrorists to die while carrying out attacks, but we have experience on this island of groups who were prepared to engage in the type of mass slaughter seen last Friday night and attempt to overthrow democracy.
Before looking at organisations that are based far away, we should remember that groups which perpetrated the bombing at Omagh are still involved in terrorism here. I fail to see the moral difference between the activities of dissident republican groups and those of international terrorists. They should stop and stop now. We cannot be complacent about the threat this country faces from the threat of international terrorism. The expert advice is that while an attack is possible here, it is unlikely. Nor is there any specific information that an attack is planned. However, we must remember that we share the values of those countries where attacks have taken place. We are part of a western civilisation whose values are repugnant to the zealots who engage in international terrorism.
I can assure the House that An Garda Síochána, supported where necessary by the Defence Forces, are taking all possible steps to deal with any threat to this country. Unfortunately, there are a small number of people here whose activities are a cause for concern in the support which they offer to international terrorists. They will continue to be monitored and where evidence is available they will face the full rigour of the law. Since the attacks on Friday, and indeed before, the Garda has been taking all necessary security measures. The House will understand that, of their nature, security measures should not be disclosed publicly.
Last Saturday, in the wake of the attacks, I visited Garda headquarters where I was briefed by the Garda Commissioner and some of her senior officers. I was impressed by how the Garda swung into action last Friday night, both in terms of dealing with any threat that might have arisen here and in the context of full co-operation with its international partners.
It was of particular use that An Garda Síochána already had in place a full-time liaison officer based in our embassy in Paris who attended all the appropriate security briefings in the aftermath of the events in Paris. The Garda Commissioner has assured me that priority has been, and is being, given to the training of specialist units which would be at the front line dealing with such attacks. This has included training both at home and abroad and jointly with the Defence Forces. In addition, specialist units here enjoy excellent working relationships with their counterpart units abroad.
While, in the short term, the Garda is taking whatever additional security measures are necessary, we have to recognise that the threat from international terrorism is an evolving one. As quite a number of Deputies have said, our response must also evolve. That is why, for example, the Garda Commissioner is carrying out a review at present and will be letting me know of any additional requirements that may arise. It is vital that all concerned keep their responses to a fluid and challenging situation under continuous and rigorous review and that is exactly what is happening. This is against the background of the elaborate infrastructure which we have in place for emergency planning.
It is, of course, important that the response by the Garda is not just an immediate security one. That is why I welcome the extensive efforts which gardaí make to build fruitful relationships with our new communities. We should not forget that communities from which people feel alienated can be a breeding ground for fanaticism. Clearly, as many have said, the gathering of intelligence and its exchange are most important in preventing such attacks. At the meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council, which I will be attending next Friday, this issue will have a particular prominence, as will issues such as passenger name records and securing external borders in respect of Schengen. The Garda already co-operates extensively with its international partners and Ireland, for its part, will support any necessary measures in this regard.
I want to assure the House too that all reasonable steps will be taken to ensure that migration into this country will not be used as a covert route by those who seek to do us harm. We should be very careful to remember not to attribute terrorism to race or religion. It is the fault of terrorists. The communities which they come from or the faiths which they espouse should not be blackened by their evil deeds. What happened in Paris on Friday night was a stark reminder of the dangers we face from international terrorism but it did not change the fact that a human catastrophe involving many migrants still needs to be addressed. While these are troubling and challenging times, I have no doubt that the strength of democracy and the power of freedom will prevail.
Along with previous speakers, I extend my sympathies to the families and friends of those who were killed or injured in Friday night's terrorist attacks. I also extend my sympathies to the people of France and, in particular, the people of Paris on the horrendous violence that befell their capital and their city. Such indiscriminate use of violence against innocent people is abhorrent and I condemn these attacks in the strongest of terms. The murder of 129 people and the wounding of 352 people is an act of barbarity.
The effects of the atrocities in Paris have had global consequences. Citizens from at least 15 countries are known to have died, demonstrating that while the attacks may have been on French soil, their devastating impact has reverberated around the world. One Irish citizen was physically injured in the Bataclan theatre and I take this opportunity to wish him a full and speedy recovery and to also extend our support to Irish citizens living in France.
As a country that has suffered its own terrorist attacks, we know only too well the fear and anxiety that can descend in the aftermath of the attacks and our thoughts and solidarity are with the people of France during this terrible time. Unfortunately, it is only ten months since Paris bore witness to similar violence, when 17 people were murdered when the offices of Charlie Hebdo and a supermarket were attacked. To have to grieve again so soon is shocking and desperately sad. It is an affront to democracy, decency and justice.
In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack, the people of France and, indeed, the people of Europe united in solidarity and in defiance of extremism. European leaders walked arm-in-arm in Paris in defence of European values and free speech. Governments committed to work even more closely together to fight terrorism and religious extremism. The recent attacks will, I hope, only serve to strengthen this unity and solidarity among European nations and compel us to redouble our efforts to rid the world of this evil.
The atrocities in Paris and other recent attacks in Beirut, Tunisia and Turkey, and the blowing up of a Russian airliner in Egypt, expose not only the brutality and ruthlessness of extremist groups, but also their ability to plan and orchestrate large-scale and multiple attacks that lead to significant loss of life. Last Friday night brought home to us that these groups will stop at nothing to undermine freedom and democracy, values held dear in Europe but vehemently opposed by ISIS, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
It is clear that individual national responses will not be enough to fight terrorism. A co-ordinated European and, indeed, worldwide response is required. The advance of social media and use of technologies, such as the Internet and global communication networks, have made it easier for terrorist groups not only to spread their ideology but also to recruit, organise and radicalise groups of people in different countries. Terrorist groups are also using these social media platforms to finance their evil and criminal activities.
The attacks in Paris would appear to have been well planned and coordinated. It was not the work of a few disenfranchised individuals and for that reason, I echo the Taoiseach's call for better security co-operation and the sharing of intelligence across Europe. My party leader, Deputy Micheál Martin, reinforced that point very strongly in his contribution earlier. The sharing of intelligence is crucial to detecting terrorist cells and undermining the work of terrorist groups. The advance of ISIS is no longer confined to the Middle East and the attacks in Paris demonstrate the need for greater intelligence sharing and co-ordination between security agencies. All European nations, including Ireland, have a role to play in this. I note that the State's national security committee met last Saturday and I hope and trust that the Government will do all it can to work with our European colleagues in this regard.
While the threat to Ireland of a terrorist attack by ISIS appears to be low, we must nevertheless remain very vigilant, as the Minister for Justice and Equality has said. Furthermore, we must ensure that young people living in Ireland do not become disenfranchised and take up the ISIS cause. There have been reports that 20 to 30 people have travelled from Ireland to take part in various conflicts in recent years and the Government and our security forces have a role to play in monitoring the activities of such individuals but also in working with communities to ensure that they are not left on the margins of society.
The attacks raise questions and no doubt pose major challenges for Europe but we must be measured in our response and in our approach. Our response should not be premised on an "us versus them" mentality. This would only play into the hands of ISIS and terrorist organisations. Their ideology is skewed and has no place in a civilised, democratic society. All of us who hold dear the principles of democracy and freedom have a role to play in ensuring that fundamentalism does not take hold and that we do not play into the hands of terrorists who want to divide rather than unite and whose aim is to fuel hatred between people of different religions.
The arrival of more than 1 million refugees in Europe this year has posed challenges for Europe and has caused tension between and within countries. Many of these refugees are fleeing war and, in so many cases, a savage and ongoing conflict in Syria. Undoubtedly, there may well be some attempts to use the Paris attacks as an excuse to reject offering any refuge to those fleeing the conflict in Syria. We, in Fianna Fáil, would reject such an approach. We are of the opinion that the overwhelming majority of those seeking refuge in the European Union are trying to escape the horrors of conflicts - conflicts of which those who committed the atrocities in Paris are key protagonists. We do not want the Paris attacks to give oxygen to a xenophobic ideology or fundamentally to undermine the principle of the free movement of people, which is one of the building blocks of the European Union. To that end, Fianna Fáil supports a fair and proportionate EU resettlement programme to be agreed at the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council.
We welcome the acceptance of 4,000 refugees but believe the Government and statutory agencies must constantly and continually engage with NGOs in order to secure a sustainable integration policy for refugees.
The challenges we face are significant but they are not insurmountable. The Paris attacks have consequences that span personal, political, social and economic spheres. The war in Syria, the migration crisis in Europe and the attacks on democracy and freedom by ISIS demonstrate in very clear terms the challenges before us. However, it is imperative that all of these terrible events are not used as an opportunity to exploit radicalism on the one hand and xenophobia on the other. Social cohesion and unity are required. These barbaric attacks must assist in uniting the world against such violence. We, as a nation and as a member of the European Union, must stand collectively in the face of such fundamentalism and work collectively to detect, deter and dismantle such groups.
In a time like this, we must look to the solutions. To dwell on the attacks alone is to empower the perpetrators who seek to undermine some of the core principles upon which our nations are built - freedom, democracy and self-expression. While policing authorities across Europe continue to search for those responsible, and we wish all the emergency services well in the very valuable and important work they do on behalf of all of us all year round, we must trust in the capabilities and professionalism of police and defence forces. We must look to heal the wounds inflicted by terrorism's attempts to darken the world with the light of our humanity through the political system.
Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón ó chroí a chur in iúl do chuile dhuine atá buailte ag an ócáid tragóideach seo. Tá an-trua agam dóibh siúd atá tar éis baill dá gclann a chailleadh agus dóibh siúd a ghortaíodh san ionsaí seo. Tá sé dochreidte gur tharla sé seo do dhaoine óga a bhí amuigh ag baint taitneamh as an deireadh seachtaine. Tá sé deacair a chreidiúnt go bhfuil olc mar seo inár measc.
I offer my sincerest sympathies and condolences to the families and friends of all those who lost their lives in the terrible and shocking attack on the people of Paris last Friday night. I also remember those who were injured and I hope they make a speedy recovery. Our thoughts today at this tragic time are with the people of France and the French community in Ireland.
The attacks in France were rightly condemned across the world and were condemned without any ambiguity whatsoever, nowhere more so than among the Muslim communities in many of the countries which have expressed their shock at the barbaric acts perpetrated by ISIS. It is particularly heartening to see that Islamic organisations in Ireland have condemned the attacks, rightly describing them as heinous and inhumane and dubbing them crimes against humanity. Irish Muslims have thoroughly dissociated their faith and their community in the strongest possible terms from such brutal acts and have denounced those who have perpetrated them. Nothing should be done or said that could incite anger or revenge toward Muslims and Muslim communities in Ireland and Europe because Muslims are not to blame for the actions of ISIS. Islam teaches that human beings have a moral obligation to live in harmony with one another and requires its followers to show respect and tolerance even to those who do not share their faith. The Prophet Muhammad said that God has no mercy on one who shows no mercy to others. Muslims are peaceful and law-abiding citizens of the countries in which they live - none more so than Irish Muslims who have made, and continue to make, valuable contributions to Irish society. So it is with sadness that we are already hearing of attacks directed at innocent Muslims. A petrol bomb attack on family this morning in Ballymena is being described by the PSNI as a hate crime. There can be no recourse to such ignorant and intolerant reactions. This is no response to the tragic and barbaric events in Paris. Our Muslim citizens must not be made to feel they are any less Irish and any less of a citizen than other Irish citizens, regardless of religion, gender or colour, because ISIS wants to isolate Muslims. We must be determined to frustrate its efforts and stand as one - citizen to citizen and human being to human being - in defence of our common liberties and dignity.
As we mourn these horrific deaths in Paris, we must not allow these events to blind us to the continuing refugee crisis. It is worth reminding ourselves that the Mediterranean has become a graveyard for refugees. Almost 3,500 men, women and children are estimated to have died or gone missing this year while trying to cross the Mediterranean. These people are fleeing tragedies and horrific events and are not to blame for what happened in Paris.
Understandably, this is a time of high emotions. At this time of huge civilian losses in Paris, we must work to prevent and be conscious of avoiding further civilian casualties wherever they may occur. We need to make sure multiculturalism is a success story in our societies. We need to fight racist ideologies that seek to divide our communities. We need to help refugees fleeing ISIS in Syria and Iraq and not stigmatise or attack them.
What happened on Friday night was the worst nightmare of any parent, husband or wife - to see their loved ones leave to go to a football match, attend a concert or go for a pizza with their children and not return. How those who are left behind must struggle to understand and make sense of this senseless event. In each event, there are emerging stories of heroism and strength in adversity. The horrific events in Paris touched many nations, including our own. Two Irish citizens on holiday in Paris, Katie Healy and David Nolan, were in the Bataclan concert hall last Friday night. David was shot in the leg. Protecting Katie from a gunman, he covered her as best he could until they were able to escape. Katie dragged him to safety. We send David and Katie our best wishes.
What next? How do we respond to events like these? How do we answer the questions people are asking? How do we make Paris, Brussels or Dublin safe? People are understandably fearful and angry so our responses must be measured and help break down the barriers and divisions between communities. We must be very aware that any political or diplomatic response must be well thought out, rational and productive. Peace, the resolution of conflict, naming and resolving injustice and naming and defeating fundamentalism are the ingredients of peace. They will keep Paris, Dublin and Beirut safe. The guiding values of liberté, égalitéand fraternitémust shape our interventions and policies in the Middle East. This has not been the case to date. Freedom for Palestine and peace and stability in Syria and throughout the region make up the context for safety and peace in Europe.
To defend civilisation we must act from the bedrock of our most civilised instincts, not from revenge or fear but truth. The carnage that occurred in Paris, at the heart of Europe, forces us in Europe and the West to ask very searching and far-reaching questions about interventions, decisions and policies, particularly on the Middle East. We have an opportunity to right the wrongs visited on the people of the Middle East and to drain the swamps of desperation, poverty and brutality which feed fundamentalism and violence. We must seize these opportunities. That is the only fitting tribute to those who lost their lives or were injured in Paris. It is the only response to the question of how we keep our societies safe and civilised.
I convey the sympathy of the Socialist Party and the Anti-Austerity Alliance to all those affected by the sickening violence that struck Paris on Friday night. With over 120 dead and dozens injured, this is a huge calamity for the ordinary people of France. The barbarity as described by eyewitnesses says it all. People were forced to play dead in absolute terror as they watched those with whom they had danced or dined minutes before being gunned down, callously assassinated, young people without a care in the world, after a long week and in the prime of their lives. The attackers struck in the most multicultural parts of Paris, the most working class districts. Nothing whatsoever can justify these mindless attacks, nor those that took place in Beirut on Thursday, in Ankara in October, in Tunisia or similar ones taking place in Kobani, Palestine and other areas. Similar terror is the daily or weekly nightmare in whole regions where imperial and other forces have become involved.
The outcome of the attack in Paris will be utterly backward and reactionary and the first victims of the backlash will be Muslims. Already in France they are paying and elsewhere in Europe, even in Ireland, and all around the world will pay a high price in a renewed wave of Islamophobia which was already prevalent but which will now be stoked up by groups on the far right and racists. Muslims do not support ISIS, IS, ISIL or whichever term we want to use. For example, last year in my area, Blanchardstown, a protest took place on behalf of a group of Muslims against ISIS. Muslims are generally the victims of ISIS. An organisation such as it will never have mass support, which is why it resorts to these acts. The highest numbers of victims of terror around the globe are Muslims. It is really important that we get this message across. Of the top ten countries for terrorist activity, eight are are so-called Muslim states. It is obvious that refugees are becoming another scapegoat for this attack. Ironically, they are mainly fleeing ISIS.
The second result will be the imposition of repressive laws. There is already a state of emergency in France which bans meetings and public gatherings. Following the atrocity perpetrated against the workers in Charlie Hebdo, there were gatherings of different sections of the French people. We will not be able to see such gatherings of solidarity because of the state of emergency. Unfortunately, these laws will be used against democratic movements in the future. That has also happened in Ireland where anti-terrorism legislation is used against democratic parties and movements. The European Union and the French Government’s response to the atrocity has predictably been airstrikes for propaganda value because they can have no other real military effect, but they are not a solution. There will, undoubtedly, be more innocent victims as a result of these airstrikes.
The Taoiseach called for respect and tolerance, but the State should stop giving succour and comfort to violent dictators and those involved in wars. For example, it would be good to hear a condemnation of the Turkish leader, Erdogan, who maintains a reign of terror against the Kurdish people, many of whom are forced to flee and seek refuge in other countries. He has also given aid to ISIS because it suits his own ends against the Kurdish people. The Taoiseach visited Saudi Arabia last year and, amazingly, our flag flew at half-mast there when a Saudi Arabian representative died. The Taoiseach should also condemn those who maintain a reign of terror against people in these countries.
The Global Terrorism Index reports 32,658 died as a result of terrorism last year, an increase of 18,000 on the figure for the previous year. These deaths are taking place because of the increased involvement of imperial powers in these regions.
I express the deep solidarity and sympathy of the Anti-Austerity Alliance and the Socialist Party to everybody affected by the murderous attacks in France. Seeing the pictures and hearing the stories was horrifying and everybody can empathise and express solidarity with those affected. The attacks seem to have been deliberately aimed at a well integrated part of Paris. That brings to mind the French anti-war slogan: “vos guerres, nos morts”, "your wars, our deaths". It is a reflection of the deeply backward obscurantist reactionary ideology of ISIS which incredibly described the concert it attacked as “a party of perversity”. Its aim is to divide people, promote and create repression of Muslims, polarise society and recruit in that situation. The murderous assault came a day after the attack in Beirut, which saw 44 people killed by suicide bombers and a month after the attack on the Russian airline claimed by the IS affiliate in the Sinai Desert in which 224 people were killed. There is no justification, excuse or mitigating factor which explain any of these attacks which are driven by the extremely backward, reactionary ideology of the people involved.
Many around the world will ask how ISIS can be stopped. We can say with a high degree of certainty that beating the drums of war and raining down more bombs on Syria will not stop ISIS. That has been happening in the Middle East for more than a decade of imperialist intervention. It has fuelled the rise of ISIS by allowing it to present itself falsely as in some way the defender of the Muslim world. The drums of war should stop being beaten. All the talk of war and the airstrikes should be stopped and troops from western powers should be withdrawn from the Middle East.
The ongoing support by western governments for the occupation of Palestine and the oppression of Palestinians by the Israeli state should be ended. They are used as a pretext by ISIS to recruit people for its own cause.
The attacks on democratic rights, which unfortunately are ongoing - it appears the state of emergency in France will be extended for three months - will also not stop ISIS. It will prevent an Air France strike taking place. It allows draconian actions to be taken by the French state. It is reminiscent of the Patriot Act in the United States, giving the right to take people's passports from them and to conduct searches without having warrants. That is not the way democratic rights are defended by abandoning and attacking those democratic rights in the context of this crisis. They should be resisted and democratic rights should be defended by acting on them.
The most successful force in the Middle East in fighting ISIS is the Kurdish forces of the YPG and the PYD. They have united not just Kurds but Christians, Muslims and many other people in the region in a battle against ISIS and have scored the most successful defeats of ISIS in the region. They have done so because while not perfect, they offer a vision of fighting for a different, better society where the resources of the Middle East are used in the interests of the majority. They are not based on a backward ideology or simply pawns of western imperialism, and it gives a glimpse of how movements can be built in the Middle East and around the world against terrorism and war and for a better and, ultimately, a social society.
ISIS wants to benefit from polarisation but other right-wing forces in France, Front National, and right-wing Islamophobic, racist forces across Europe want to benefit from these also. We must reject Islamophobia. The logic that says that Muslims have to apologise for the actions of ISIS or that they are in some way responsible is the same logic that affected Irish people in Britain in the past and it should be absolutely rejected. If anything, and it is the case, people should be more welcoming than ever of refugees. It is Muslims, above all, who are the victims of ISIS. This is precisely the horror from which they are fleeing.
It is right that all of us in this House today express our solidarity with the people of France and extend our sympathy and condolences to those who have been bereaved and wish a return rapidly to good health to those who were injured in the horrific events that took place on Friday night last.
The attack on Paris was essentially an attack on European democracy. There are occasions which we must recognise as moments in history when we are confronted by evil and we must have the capacity to recognise it and not equivocate. The cowardly slaughter of the innocent and unarmed by the fanatic warriors of Daesh, or Islamic State, can be given no other description.
This is not the first time we have seen such murderous activities taking place in Paris. In January, 17 people were murdered in the Charlie Hebdoand the Hyper Cacher or Jewish kosher market shootings. Nor have the murderous attacks been confined to Paris. For example, in 2012, seven were murdered in the Toulouse and Montauban shootings, including three school children attending the Ozar Hatorah Jewish Day School.
Essentially, we are now confronted by a worldwide phenomena of radicalised Islamic fanaticists. In 2008, in Mumbai, 164 died. The events that took place in Mumbai tragically resemble the events that took place in Paris on Friday evening. Some 68 people were slaughtered in the Westgate Mall in Nairobi. In June, 38 died on a beach in Sousse in Tunisia. As other speakers have mentioned, 224 people lost their lives in the plane crash that took place close to Sharm el Sheikh, all Russian tourists. Only a short few weeks ago, 103 people lost their lives in Ankara in Turkey. On Thursday last, 43 died in Beirut. On Friday last, 26 died in Baghdad, all at the hands of terrorists.
In Iraq, it is estimated that in 2014, 17,045 civilians died. Deputy Coppinger is right when she says the highest number of victims of terrorism are members of the Muslim community, be it Sunni or Shia. By comparison in Iraq, 4,600 civilians died in 2012, an enormous increase of deaths in two years.
We have had Bali, Madrid, London and the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States. We have had over a decade of atrocities committed by fanatical terrorists and, as we view the events in Syria and Iraq, only this week mass graves were found in Sinjar when the Kurdish forces liberated that town from Islamic State.
Deputy Murphy is wrong about one thing. The Kurdish forces which succeeded in Sinjar only did so because of the support they got from the United States. The United States is not always the enemy as perceived by those in the Socialist Party. We may disagree on occasions with it but essentially, it shares our values and our commitment to freedom.
Islamic State or Daesh, as it should be known, first emerged in Iraq. It is a mixture of urban terrorism and conventional warfare. Its hallmark is a nihilistic theology of intolerance that does not reflect the views of the overwhelming majority of Muslims, as so many people have said in this House.
We have heard it said on a number of occasions, and I would have said it when I was Minister for Justice and Equality and Minister for Defence, that there is a low level of threat in Ireland but this does not, in any sense, render us immune to risk. In an age of international mobility, our citizens are at risk when travelling abroad and we saw this only in recent days. Many thousands of Irish people will travel to France for the European soccer finals and we, like every other state who has visitors going to France, have a crucial interest in ensuring that these type of attacks are brought to an end.
We not only have a European communal interest in co-ordinated EU action to confront and prevent terror but what could be described as a selfish vested interest in co-ordinated EU action to confront and prevent terror. I believe we must proactively engage to defend our European and Irish values, our way of life and our freedom, and not take our freedoms for granted. We must not succumb or surrender to an ideology that glorifies death, celebrates brutality and cruelty, enslaves women and whose objective is to foster division and hatred.
We must also continue to recognise that it is this ideology of intolerance, death and barbarism that has driven hundreds of thousands of people to seek sanctuary in Europe and not turn our backs on them. A reinforced fortress Europe which leaves men, women and children to drown in the Mediterranean or to be tortured, beheaded or shot and buried in mass graves within Islamic State territory is no solution to the terrorist threat with which we are confronted.
We must not equivocate or make excuses for fanaticism. Innocent people in Paris, London, Madrid, Nairobi, Mumbai, New York, Garissa, Ankara, Jerusalem and elsewhere are the victims of fanatical Islamic terror, not its causes.
On occasion the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is raised in the context of the discussion we are having this afternoon, and that has happened in this House. The tragically intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict has no relevance to what happened in Paris, Madrid, London or other places mentioned. Why is it that those who say otherwise are blind to the murderous Sunni-Shia internecine warfare or the bloodshed resulting from the divisions between Hamas and Fatah?
More than 250,000 people have lost their lives in Syria. Central to that conflict is a tyrant, Assad, on one side and Islamic fanatics, Daesh and the al-Nusra front on the other. Within the fragmented groupings opposing Assad, there are others who have a different vision for Syria's future to those seeking a worldwide caliphate. Tragically, the divisions, rivalries and differences are such that bringing an end to that bloody civil war is enormously difficult but should it end, the threat from radicalised Islamic fanatics will remain.
What is required in addressing the difficulties are realism and an understanding of the complexity of the events in the Middle East and their contagion in Europe. When Minister for Justice and Equality, I participated in informal meetings on terrorism of European Ministers for justice . At that time I recall the Ministers in Belgium and France were particularly concerned about the type of tragic event that occurred in Paris on Friday night. There were plans to try to ensure a co-ordinated approach at European Union level to deal with terrorism. Within the EU we need to do better. We need an EU-wide co-ordinated anti-terrorism response. We need joined-up thinking in areas of internal and external security and greater intelligence monitoring of online communications. We need better exchange of intelligence between states and within states. I discovered, when both Minister for Justice and Equality, and Minister for Defence, that on occasions there was a lack of joined-up thinking between intelligence services within the security and justice area, and the defence area within individual states.
We need greater use of CCTV to monitor our streets where there are major vulnerabilities. It is used to great effect in the UK but to lesser effect in other European capitals. We need targeted interference of jihadi websites and other social media outlets.
Of course, we also need to tackle alienation and marginalisation in Muslim communities. We need to encourage educators and leaders in Muslim communities to constantly confront the sources of radicalisation. I believe the leaders in the Muslim communities in Ireland do not need that encouragement; they are already doing that work. I welcome the condemnation of the Paris atrocities by leaders of the Muslim community in Ireland. Members of that community contribute in so many positive ways to the life of our country and many of them have been proud to celebrate their acquisition of Irish citizenship.
More recently prior to the tragic events in Paris, much of the conversation about European vulnerability focused on the possibility of lone-wolf attacks by individuals. On Friday night we saw an organised attack that poses additional difficulties for European security services. Air power alone is unlikely to defeat Islamic State in the Middle East and end its occupation of land in Iraq and Syria. We need the sponsors of tyranny and sectarianism to recognise that bloodshed will continue until a rational settlement of the Syrian conflict is achieved. No one should expect rational engagement from fanatical Islamists who believe they have a direct line to God and the god they pray to has sanctified martyrdom, cruelty, slavery, death and destruction to achieve the unachievable goal of a global caliphate.
Anyone who doubts this should simply read the sickening statement of Islamic State acclaiming the onslaught on Paris on Friday night, celebrating mass murder of innocents. Paris is described in that statement as "the capital of prostitution and obscenity, the carrier of the banner of the Cross in Europe". Of course, what Paris stands for is what Islamic State most fears. Paris is one of Europe's great capital cities. It is a symbol of liberty, equality, democracy and fraternity. It is a centre of art, literature, culture and vigorous intellectual debate. It is a city of tolerance which respects the individual right to religious freedom or to follow no religion at all. In essence it is all of those things that religious fanatics most fear.
I again extend my sympathy to all those who were affected by the horrors of the events on Friday evening in Paris.
I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate and raise the issue of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris that resulted in scores of casualties and left countless more injured. Like all my colleagues in the House, I start by extending my sympathies to the families and friends of those who were killed or injured, many of whom remain in hospital, in Friday night's terrorist attacks.
The violence inflicted on the people of Paris was truly horrifying and appalling. It exemplifies the barbaric nature of ISIS, which has since claimed responsibility for the attacks. The attacks at the Stade de France, the Bataclan concert hall, and restaurants and bars signify ISIS's hatred of the European way of life that we hold dear in this part of the world - that of solidarity, freedom and democracy.
Such hatred cannot be allowed to fester and to grow, and it is clear that a co-ordinated European response is required to rid the world of this terrible evil. The terrible atrocities in Paris should be used to unite Europe and will not, I hope, be used as a catalyst to undermine European cohesion and solidarity. People of all races, cultures and creeds were indiscriminately attacked and citizens from 15 countries lost their lives with many more injured. This was not just an attack on France, but an attack on our democracy, freedom and way of life.
Let us remember that the European Union was founded with the aim of ending frequent and bloody wars between neighbouring countries. The founding fathers sought a peaceful, united and prosperous Europe. That goal is as relevant today as it was in 1951 when the Treaty of Paris was signed to establish the European Coal and Steel Community. The European Union, as it is now known, has changed fundamentally since 1951. It now comprises 28 countries, but the founding principles that underlie it, while sometimes challenged, remain the same: freedom, peace and solidarity. While ISIS has struck at the heart of Europe, we, as a nation and as a member of the European Union, must stand united and work collectively to overcome the scourge of terrorism and protect these principles which are the bedrock on which the European Union was founded and has continued to grow and develop over the intervening years.
Any action we take must be firm, resolute and focused. However, it must also be measured, balanced and proportionate. Of course, that is difficult right now. In some cases the immediate reaction to an event such as this can be more unhelpful than helpful in the long term. We need to be focused, measured, balanced and thoughtful in the way we address the matter.
The attacks in Paris underscore the need for greater co-ordination among and between European member states, and highlight the need for sharing intelligence. The truth of the matter is as Guy Verhofstadt, MEP, leader of the ALDE group in the European Parliament, wrote in The Guardianyesterday, "terrorists know no borders, while our 28 national state security agencies cannot cross borders". It is clear that intelligence needs to be more effectively shared and we all have a role to play in ensuring a more co-ordinated response to such attacks. As the article succinctly puts it, "borderless terrorism can only be tackled by borderless intelligence".
To dismantle and undermine these terrorist groups it necessary to understand the causes of such extremism and fundamentalism. If we do not at least try to understand the root causes, radicalisation will continue unabated with the devastating effect we saw on Friday night. The causes, of course, are complex and multifaceted. Poverty, social exclusion, discrimination and ghettoization are only directing young people towards extremism, which gives those who have become disenfranchised a sense of identity and purpose, and often a sense of brotherhood. People in these circumstances in their vulnerable state are easy fodder for those who wish to take them into a radicalised environment and use and abuse their vulnerability for the aims, ideals and vision of other more sinister characters who have a completely different agenda at heart.
How we deal with this requires efforts from all sides and all communities, both within and between countries. It requires a multi-layered response, which should encompass both a top-down and bottom-up approach. It requires education and understanding on all sides. It requires Europe taking a progressive role and formulating concrete proposals that will unite Europe and its people, and will turn the tide against radicalisation.
We must ensure that the attacks in Paris are not used to add further fuel to the fire and are not exploited to radicalise disaffected youth on the one hand and create xenophobia in Europe on the other.
Let us not play into the hands of the terrorists. The extremists who carried out these awful attacks want an extremist reaction. It is essential we do not give them one. Furthermore, it is critical that the events in Paris are not hijacked by others to advance the politics of exclusion, hatred and division.
We must remember that there are approximately 1.8 billion Muslims in the world and they are not represented by these terrorist groups. We must ensure that our approach is inclusive and the language of "us and them", "insiders and outsiders", does not permeate our thinking and our responses. We must all stand in solidarity and work collectively to ensure that we remain staunch in our opposition to such indiscriminate acts of violence and an ideology that undermines democracy and the greater good.
We in Ireland have a unique opportunity to work with European member states and to play our part to stop the rise of extremism. I note from reports that between 20 and 30 people have travelled from Ireland to take part in conflicts abroad. While the risk of attack appears low in Ireland, based on intelligence provided by the Garda Síochána, we must ensure that people living here do not pose a threat to other nations. It is important that the Government would work and liaise with other European colleagues to prevent fundamentalism from taking hold both here in Ireland and in states across the European Union as a whole.
We cannot ignore the issue of Syria and the migration crisis in Europe, as they are both fundamentally intertwined. Solving the ongoing conflict in Syria is pivotal if ISIS is to be dismantled. While there may be some attempts to use the Paris attacks as an excuse to reject offering refuge to those fleeing the conflict in Syria, we must resolutely oppose such thinking.
We believe the vast majority of those seeking refuge in the European Union are trying to escape the horrors of conflict and the ravages of war. While I believe Ireland must play a part in providing a safe home for those escaping conflict, we must put in place robust safeguards to ensure that those who seek refuge in this country and elsewhere in Europe are genuine migrants. What happened in Paris must not prevent us from taking a responsible and collective approach to the migrant crisis. I reaffirm the support of the Fianna Fáil Party for a fair and equitable resettlement programme to address the migrant challenge.
In defining our response, we must continue to respond to the crisis and to extend a welcoming hand and a safe home to those who seek refugee status. We must not move away from a position of caring and wanting to reach out and help those people. If the attacks on Paris were to change the mood, mindset or thinking of Irish people then it would be a success for ISIS, because what it seeks to do is to dismantle the efforts that are being made between and within countries to reach out, connect and to be at one. That is not in the interests of ISIS, as is evident from the way it has responded to what has happened.
There was a powerful article in The Guardiannewspaper today, written by a former hostage of the terrorists. He said the terrorists:
will be heartened by every sign of overreaction, of division, of fear, of racism, of xenophobia; they will be drawn to any examples of ugliness on social media. Central to their world view is the belief that communities cannot live together with Muslims, and every day their antennae will be tuned towards finding supporting evidence. The pictures from Germany of people welcoming migrants will have been particularly troubling to them. Cohesion, tolerance - it is not what they want to see.
That I believe is how we in Europe must respond - with cohesion and tolerance.
Like other speakers I welcome the opportunity to comment and to express sympathy with the people of France following the atrocities on Friday night last. Most of us were watching the end of the “Nine O’Clock News” when news filtered through of shootings in Paris. The information came slowly but it kept coming.
Most of us also remember last July when we heard the news that six young Irish people died following the collapse of a balcony in Berkeley. We all remember the grief of the six families that suffered as a result of that horrific accident. Following the events of last Friday night, there are almost 200 families grieving for the loss of their loved ones. People from 25 different countries were affected by the atrocity. In addition, people must deal with life-changing injuries. A total of 390 people were injured as a result of the bombings and shootings on a very quiet evening in Paris when young people were out enjoying themselves, eating in restaurants, attending a match between France and Germany and attending a concert.
Those events have shattered not just the people of Paris and France but people throughout the world. The atrocities on Boulevard Voltaire, Rue Alibert, Rue de Charonne and at the Stade de France may have changed the world and in particular Europe for a long time to come. We saw how the events of 9/11 changed the world. The events in Paris will also change Europe because we are living in very difficult and challenging times. This was the worst atrocity in Europe since the Madrid bombings more than 11 years ago. The targets were young people, people who congregated in restaurants, at a sports venue and young and old in a concert hall. We heard some of the horrific stories of the survivors and others who were affected by the events and they will stay in our memory for many years to come. I refer in particular to the Irish girl who spoke last night about the bravery of her boyfriend who shielded her in the midst of blood and tears in the concert hall.
Today the Russians acknowledged the fact that the Metrojet Airbus was brought down by a bomb. That brings home to us the challenging times in which we live. The current events all started in the Arab Spring and also because of what happened in Syria. Countries such as Morocco were able to overcome the difficulties, as was Tunisia up to earlier this year when ISIS attacked there as well and where many Irish people were affected.
What everyone has said today is that we must all stand together. That is extremely important. In the Stade de France, after the bombings, people congregated on the pitch and as they left the stadium they sang the French national anthem. This is liberty. This is freedom. They are the values we all stand for in Europe and in the world, and that is extremely important.
We know that 3,000 to 4,000 Muslims from all over Europe went to Syria in recent years. Deputy Dooley alluded to the fact that 30 Muslims went from this country but most of them have come home. The indication is that three of them died in Syria. It is estimated that between 200 and 300 people in Europe have been radicalised. I hope this event will be the last such occasion but it is difficult to know whether that will be the case. Britain is on high alert. It is highly likely that something could happen there. We are at the exact opposite end of the scale. It is considered highly unlikely that a terrorist incident will occur here. What is very important for all of us, which is evident from the information emerging from the Paris shootings, is to be mindful that the event started in another country, namely, Belgium, and those involved were able to commute on the TGV or by car to Paris to commit the atrocities on Friday night last.
This is where joined-up thinking is needed and clearly, closer relationships between the police force are required. Here at home, the Garda has done a very good job in this regard. It is monitoring the position in Ireland, where there are approximately 50,000 Muslims, and has a close relationship with the Muslim community here. The majority of those 20 or 30 fighters who went to the Middle East to fight travelled to support their fellow Muslims in the overthrowing of oppressive regimes or for humanitarian reasons. Nevertheless, there always will be people who return home radicalised and I must commend the Garda, which mixes with the Muslim community, in this regard. The Garda also has members who speak the ethnic languages, who build on that relationship with the Muslim community and who engage with it. This extremely important because that is where the Garda will get its information.
No Members thus far have spoken about the lone wolves who also engage in attacks. These are people about whom nothing is known because they do not travel abroad and are not part of the groups of people who travel to Syria. As Members are aware, it is easy to go to Syria, as one can travel from Dublin to Istanbul and then go overland to Syria very quickly. However, there also are lone wolves operating, that is, people who have been radicalised on the Internet. Consequently, joined-up thinking is also needed in this regard. As I stated, the approach taken by the Garda here has been commended by the United Nations counter-terrorism committee and that is important because the Garda both communicates and engages.
As Chairman of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, I engage with the Muslim community and have met the imams here many times. As I have stated, they are moderate in their outlook and as the Taoiseach noted earlier today, "Islam is a religion of peace. It is a religion of truth, kindness and compassion. It is not a religion of hatred, violence or terror". That message has been sent across the globe by most Muslim people, which is very important.
The challenge of preventing further atrocities from happening again is very difficult. While President Hollande has stated France is at war, I reiterate the importance of the police and the communities having a good relationship. This will be very important as we move forward. We are challenged by several terrorist groups, not just ISIS, which include al-Shabaab, a group that operated in Somalia, Boko Haram, which is another terrorist group operating in Nigeria and, of course, al-Qaeda. It is a challenging task. In January of this year, I visited Morocco where I met the Prime Minister. Deputy Dooley referred earlier to migrants and this meeting took place just before 800 people were drowned in the Mediterranean. It was at that stage that Europe woke up to what was happening. The Prime Minister of Morocco painted a frightening picture for me as to the lawlessness in Libya and the people crossing into it. It is very important that people here should be sympathetic towards the genuine refugees who come here from Syria but there also are economic migrants who are coming in from other countries. Moreover, this business of people crossing into Europe is highly lucrative.
In this context, I met the Deputy Speaker of the Slovenian Parliament recently and he told me that of the 1,400 people who were screened at the Slovenian border, only 47 of them were from Syria; the rest were economic migrants. There is a challenge here for all of us, in that we must be welcoming of those genuine people who have been affected by the violence in Syria but at the same time, we must protect our borders. As I stated, it is important to recognise the work that is being done by the security services and for there be greater co-operation between the forces. I am pleased the French ambassador and his staff came into the Visitors Gallery today to hear these statements, which show the close solidarity between our two countries. Members remember the victims, as they remember the victims of previous terrorist atrocities, and hope their deaths will mark a turning point in how we deal with the crisis currently facing the world.
I wish to express my condolences to the families and loved ones of everyone who lost their lives in Paris as a result of the attacks last Friday night and to those who since succumbed to their injuries. I also send my well-wishes to all who were injured or traumatised by these despicable and brutal attacks. I hope for their recovery and that they might be able to return to their lives and pick up the pieces. The French people are no doubt strong people, who have endured fascism previously and survived and will do so again. All of us were shocked by the terrible scenes we saw unfold on our television screens on streets, which are familiar to many of us. In a city not far from here it all seemed very close to home. Many of us knew people who were in Paris that night or who have made it their home and we thought of them. It was impossible not to think of friends and families who were out that night to socialise, to drink, to eat, to attend a music show or even a football match. While it is human nature to connect through one's experience and what one knows, for us it is but a short, flickering and terrible glimpse of the life of many people around the world who endure the barbarism of ISIS and its ilk on their streets or across the parapet of a moving frontier.
Paris joins a long line, unfortunately, of places where people have first-hand experience of the carnage and indiscriminate murder ISIS brings with it. Members are also aware of the awful attacks in Beirut, which happened the night before the events in Paris. There, 43 people were killed by two ISIS suicide bombers motivated by nothing other than a hatred for humanity. A further 239 people were left injured, many with debilitating wounds which will haunt their lives. In Baghdad on Friday morning, 18 more lives were taken by this group, which also shot a Russian aeroplane out of the sky this month, killing everyone on board. However, these killings happened far away and in places where perhaps we have become far too willing to accept such things.
Many will claim that ISIS has attacked the West but in fact it has attacked all of humanity and has been doing so since its inception. We are now forced to not turn away because ISIS will not turn away. It will not remain in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt or Turkey. Its aim in the attack on Paris is clear, it is to foment hatred among us, to put Europe on the back foot and to create distrust and anger against the refugees who have fled ISIS and against the Muslim communities in our country. Europe must respond with humanity for the victims of ISIS who have risked everything to make it to our shores. These are victims who have thrown themselves upon the mercy of Europe and the ideals with which it is now claimed ISIS is at war. These ideals, if they are genuine, have never been so important and must be cherished and built upon. The vast majority of Muslims are completely opposed to ISIS, which is as much their enemy as it is ours.
I also wish to express my solidarity with the activists of the People's Democratic Party of Turkey, the HDP, who have lost 37 comrades in bombings at their rallies since June. These attacks were orchestrated by ISIS and permitted by a Turkish Government intent on using ISIS to consolidate power and defeat the Kurdish people. The HDP has defended the right of the Kurdish people to defend themselves and championed their fight against ISIS. Brave and dedicated Kurdish people in the YPG and other groups fight ISIS on the ground. They are giving their lives every day to defeat fascism. They deserve our solidarity, as do those who have travelled across the world to aid the fight against ISIS.
Many have died but their comrades fight on. They fight for the existence of their people in the face of what can only be described as evil. They also offer the people of that region a progressive, tolerant and fair way forward.
Again, I offer my condolences to the victims of ISIS in Paris and elsewhere. In the words of the French anti-fascist movement: "Ni oubli, Ni pardon; Never forgive, Never forget".
Ba mhaith liom ar dtús báire comhbhrón ó chroí a dhéanamh le pobal na Fraince, atá buailte chomh dona sin leis an uafás a tharla ar an Aoine nuair a tharraing buíon bunúsaithe marfacha an tragóid anuas orthu siúd, leis na clanna atá tar éis duine a chailliúnt ach go háirithe, agus leo siúd atá gonta chomh maith leis sin. Guím suaimhneas síoraí orthu siúd atá marbh, dá gclann agus dá gcairde, agus tá siúl agam go dtiocfaidh biseach orthu siúd atá gonta tar éis na hionsaithe marfacha sin amach anseo.
Mo leithscéal nach bhfuil sé ar mo chumas an méid atá le rá agamsa a rá as Fraincis. Bheadh sé go deas dá mbeadh ar a laghad roinnt dóibh siúd a bhí Fraincis acu tar éis na guíonna sin a rá as Fraincis, ach ní raibh féigh na Fraincise ná féigh foghlamtha na Fraincise orm riamh, fiú gur dhein an t-iar-Teachta Tony Gregory iarracht é a tharraingt asam nuair a bhí sé do mo mhúineadh. Níl sé foghlamtha i gceart agam riamh.
Ba chóir go mbeadh bród orainne agus ar an ambasadóir a bhí anseo níos luaithe agus muintir na Fraince as an slí a d'iompar pobal Pháras iad féin ar oíche Dé hAoine, an dínit a bhí acu in ainneoin an ionsaithe bharbaraigh a bhí ag tarlú timpeall orthu agus an chrógacht a léirigh siad ar an oíche sin agus ó shin i leith in ainneoin an uafáis. Fanfaidh an íomhá liomsa go deo de lucht leanúna sacair a bhí sa Stade Français agus iad ag canadh os ard nuair a bhí siad ag fágaint na staide, le bród agus mar dhúshlán don ionsaí a bhí ag tarlú. Níorbh fhios ag an am cé chomh dona is a bhí sé, ach thuig siad cé chomh marfach is a bhí sé, b'fhéidir, agus iad ag canadh an amhráin náisiúnta, an Marseillaise. Na namhaid a bhí á n-ionsaí ag an am, is namhaid iad do bhuntréithe an phoblachtachais air a bhfuil ár ídé-eolaíocht bunaithe agus air a bhfuil stát na Fraince bunaithe air, na hidéil atá taobh thiar de liberté, fraternité, equalité. Is bua é dóibh sin a dhein an ionsaí sin má dhéantar cúngú ar na saoirsí a bhain poblachtánaigh agus daonláthaithe amach thar na cianta. Sin go díreach atá ag teastáil uathu siúd atá ag déanamh na n-ionsaithe seo, go mbeidh na saoirsí sin maolaithe nó cúngaithe. Níl siad i bhfábhar an daonlathais. Níl siad i bhfábhar an phoblachtachais. Níl siad i bhfábhar go mbeadh daoine ó chiní difriúla, ó inscní difriúla, ó aicmí difriúla ná ó thíortha difriúla ag marachtáil le chéile mar is féidir.
Measaim féin gur shin an príomhrud gur féidir linne a léiriú don domhain agus dóibh siúd atá ag déanamh iarracht na bunchoincheapanna sin atá taobh thiar den phoblachtachas agus de na poblachtaí atá bunaithe timpeall na hEorpa agus i gcéin: go bhfuilimid sásta seasamh leis sin, go bhfuilimid sásta an lámh chúnta a thabhairt dóibh siúd atá i gcruachás, agus go háirithe dóibh siúd atá ag teitheadh ó a leithéid de na hionsaithe atá siadsan ag déanamh sa Mheánoirthear ach go háirithe.
Chomh maith leis sin, ba chóir dúinn déanamh cinnte de go ndéanaimid cur leis an méid atáimid tar éis a bheith ag tógáil san Eoraip ach go háirithe ó thaobh gur féidir linne maireachtáil le chéile. Sin an dúshlán is mó dúinne, but chomh maith leis sin, measaim gurb í an teachtaireacht is mó ar cheart dúinn a chur i gcoinne an sórt ionsaithe mharfaigh a tharla ar an Aoine ná nach bhfuilimid sásta cur suas leis an méid atá siadsan a dhéanamh, but táimid fós ag gabháil an togra atá romhainn, domhain níos fearr a thógáil bunaithe ar na hidéil sin.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of standing with diplomats and the ambassador for a minute's silence at the embassy. As I did on that occasion, I join with all contributors in the House today in extending condolences to the people of France.
As I listened to the news as the horror unfolded I asked myself, "How can human beings be so inhumane to their fellow man?" That the people attending the rock concert were, according to reports, told, "Look in my eyes and die" causes one to wonder to what type of inhumanity and brutality can man descend. I then began to wonder if we on this side of the world could produce people like this and was reminded of the vicious hatred in Ireland when loyalists in Northern Ireland in two co-ordinated gun attacks on 4 January 1976 murdered six Catholics in cold blood, which later became known as the Reavey and O'Dowd killings. This made me think about whether men in this country could look a person in the eye and kill that person because of his or her religion. I then recalled the Kingsmill massacre on 5 January 1976 in which 12 workers travelling home after a day's work in a mini-bus were stopped, taken out of the mini-bus and lined up against it, following which 11 of them were then shot by IRA thugs and murderers because they were Protestants. One man escaped being killed because he was a Catholic.
The question that we must ask ourselves is: "Are there lessons in terms of what is happening in the world today for Ireland?" The answer is, yes, there are lessons to be learned and we need to learn them quickly. I would like at this point to read into the record the sentiments expressed by John Lennon, of whom many of us were fans, in the song "Imagine".
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace,
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one.....
They are very important sentiments as expressed in the 1960s that are worth repeating today.
I concur with the expressions of contempt and despair in regard to the sentiments expressed by Republicans in the United States of America, which were similar to those expressed by certain countries in Europe, not least Hungary, namely, that the victims of the war in Syria, who are escaping to save their lives, should be segregated into Christian or Muslim refugees. I congratulate the fine sentiments as expressed by the American President when he said, "We do not have religious tests for our compassion".
It is a sentiment that should be applied internationally. There are forces at play whose view on whether a person should be given sanctuary depends on his or her religion. That is a most reprehensible, vulgar and dangerous attitude. We cannot allow Republicans in the United States, Marine Le Pen in France or any other leader in Europe or elsewhere to use the horror of the Paris attacks as an excuse to select on the basis of religion who of the people fleeing war and hunger should be afforded refuge. We must not allow people to be denied sanctuary on the basis of religious discrimination which prioritises Christians. That would be repugnant. We must fight the ultra right-wing forces at play in the United States and across Europe, from Hungary to France and every other country that produces such sectarian religious bigots.
We in Ireland must play our part to safeguard the rights of those who are living in the horror camps on the borders of Lebanon. As I understand it, some of the programme refugees coming to this country will be from these camps. We do not have a Molenbeek or Gennevilliers in Ireland we must intensify our resolve never to allow any minority to be ghettoised in such fashion. In the past five years we have given Irish citizenship to approximately 40,000 people from some 120 countries, people from a range of cultures, who speak different languages and have diverse religious beliefs. There is now that diversity in our capital city and country. The Taoiseach said that we must tackle the root causes of terrorist attacks and ask ourselves to what degree religion acted as one of the causes. I take the opportunity to congratulate Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on the incredibly progressive comments he made recently on the position of the Catholic Church in Ireland. He said: "The church must change not to go along with society and neither to opt out of society but to find the best space possible to be free and unencumbered to bring the challenging messages of Jesus Christ to society". He went on to say: "The church must free itself and become unencumbered even from positions which may in the past have been positive and useful to both church and society, including in the control of schools and institutions". If we are serious about our democracy, we must no longer allow a baptismal certificate to be a badge of entry to schools. We have a diverse population, including, as I said, 40,000 new Irish citizens in the past five years. It is improper, repulsive and reprehensible that people who are not from the Catholic tradition may not be able to find a school place for their children. I applaud the religious orders such as the Presentation Sisters in Warrenmount, the Loreto Sisters in Crumlin and the nuns in Basin Lane whose schools have accommodated great cultural diversity. It is incredible how many Muslim children are attending these schools and they are a shining example to the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy. Their example has shown that accepting non-Irish students in significant numbers is not a threat to a school. We should be strong in our support for the archbishop's call for a more open policy of admittance to schools.
Of course, we in Ireland have an example of conflict on our doorstep. In Northern Ireland it was two Christian groups, Catholics and Protestants, which engaged in mutual slaughter. While religion was not the only basis for the conflict, it played a very important role and reference is constantly made to the need for greater integration of Catholic and Protestant children from an early age. Why are schoolchildren segregated when school is the most natural place to facilitate mixing between different nationalities and cultures? It is the way forward for a modern society to embrace that integration. We must keep that lesson in mind in considering the challenge highlighted by the Taoiseach of tackling the root causes of terrorism. Religion is not necessarily the root cause, but it probably is one of the causes. Why do most Muslim children in this city go to school in Clonskeagh? Why do Catholics attend the local Catholic school, while Protestants opt for places in schools such as the High School in Rathgar, for example? Why do Jewish children attend Stratford College? If this is really a modern democracy, the State which is funding the education system should be able to accommodate children of all religions.
The people of Rialto and Marrowbone Lane consider it a privilege to have accommodated in their communities Muslims who do not have a mosque to use local facilities to celebrate Ramadan and other occasions. It has been an important lesson in intercultural and inter-religious understanding for inner-city people. We must fight everybody who obstructs such integration or target Muslims as their enemy. It is a credit to the people involved in the South West Inner City Network that they intend to recognise a local imam next Thursday in their annual youth, community and lifetime achievement awards. We must not allow any right-wing fascist to disrupt the developing community interaction that is occurring in the city.
I begin by extending my personal sympathy to the people of Paris and France in the wake of the atrocities carried out in the city last Friday evening. It was an attempt to terrorise a whole community, city and country. That is probably the only thing most of us can understand of the aims of those who carried out the attack. However, it is important to put the Paris attack in context by bearing in mind that several such attacks have taken place in recent weeks. Last week a bomb attack in Beirut caused the deaths of more than 40 people. Was that attack any less horrific or terrorising than what happened in Paris? It was not. The bombing of a Russian aircraft over Egypt some weeks ago was another act of terror and equally as horrific. We should always ask ourselves whether attacks are any less terrorising or awful simply because they take place closer to the war zone in Syria. The people who die in such incidents are just as innocent as the unfortunate people who died in France on Friday night and their families, too, will suffer for years to come.
This is the time to examine why such atrocities take place. Over the weekend we saw how Deputy Mick Wallace was attacked for the tweet he had sent in which he expressed his sympathy for the victims of the attack in Paris while also pointing to the things we in the West had done and were doing that led to actions such as these. We cannot remove ourselves from the obligation to consider that point. It is dangerous to consider only the security response and decide the only response is to bomb Syria into the ground. Is that the right response? We must examine the policies that countries of the West, including some in the European Union, have carried out which have laid waste to Afghanistan and Iraq and perhaps planted the seeds that allowed Islamic State to build the position it has gained in Syria. We must consider what we can do, what changes we can make, to prevent attacks from happening in the future. That is a more long-term and probably more difficult approach than what we are seeing. It is very easy to have a knee-jerk reaction which involves declaring war and bombing and killing more innocent people in an act of revenge.
We have to look at how we can change the way we behave in the world to ensure these attacks do not happen again.
Like every civilised person on this planet, I was appalled and outraged at the events in Paris last Friday night. I want to express my deepest sympathy and solidarity with the victims of this outrage, their families and the French people. Nothing can justify these atrocious acts which have left 129 people dead and 352 injured. Only for the security guard in the Stade de France stopping one of the attackers, the toll would be much higher.
I want to make clear my complete and utter rejection of the reactionary and semi-fascist ideology of Daesh, Islamic State, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra Front, Boko Haram and the Taliban fundamentalists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I also want to put on record my disgust at western support for the ruling elite in Saudi Arabia which has spent more than $100 billion exporting the same reactionary fascist ideology of salafism throughout the world over recent decades. These are the same western powers, particularly the US and the UK, which today label as terrorists their former allies and freedom fighters. There is no question that al-Qaeda was a creation of the CIA in its war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Al-Qaeda was not deliberately fostered by Iraq but arose as a consequence of the US-British invasion. Al-Qaeda in Iraq operates as the al-Nusra Front in Syria and has received funding and arms from the US, Britain, the Saudis and the Qataris. Islamic State, itself, has been funded by the Saudis and, particularly, by the equally reactionary regime in Qatar. We cannot ignore the fact that there is a wider agenda at play.
We now have a very odd situation whereby US imperialism and its western allies support one group of rebels against the Assad dictatorship while bombing another group. In effect, the US is carrying out military operations in Iraq with its archenemy Iran while, on the other hand, it is supporting the military campaign by Saudi Arabia against the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen. What is one to make of all of this? For a start, I have no illusion that great power politics, as engaged in by the US and its allies or by Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia, shares a responsibility not just for what happened in Paris but also what has happened to the millions who have been maimed, killed and displaced from Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The solution to these horrors will not come from those responsible for them unless they recognise they are responsible and then implement the economic, social, cultural, educational actions needed to embrace all the peoples of colour, creed and race.
I too extend my sympathy and express solidarity in respect of all those killed in Paris last weekend. Nobody of a rational mind would try to justify what happened. It was beyond horrific. I have a niece who lives in Paris and has three small children. Five people were killed on her street. It was not a great place to be on Friday night. Twice I have been to one of the restaurants where people were killed with my niece and I can just picture the scene. It is just too bad for words.
While it is hard to talk about all this, it is also hard to explain what is wrong and how can this happen. The number of people now being killed by military hardware has gone off the Richter scale. The five largest exporters of arms over the past five years were the US, Russia, China, Germany and France. How many repressive and autocratic regimes in the Middle East region has France not sold arms to? That is a difficult question. It has sold arms to Kazakhstan, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Turkey and Pakistan.
Last Saturday morning, my niece said that for the first time in her life she got an idea of what it must be like to live in the Middle East. What happened in Paris happens there regularly. Can one imagine not being able to go to a concert, a restaurant or a bar for fear of being killed? This is what people in the Middle East face all the time. Last year, we gave permits for 190 tonnes of bullets to go to Afghanistan. I cannot imagine they did much good for peace. Since 2001, up to 2.5 million troops as well as huge quantities of military armoury have gone through Shannon Airport while huge amounts have flown over it. Yet, we are okay with that.
Over the past three days, shares in arms industry companies have, on average, gone up by 4%. It was a good weekend for them because it now looks like even more arms will be used. The French President, François Hollande, said, “We are going to lead a war which will be pitiless”. They, however, are already bombing ISIS and others. They are giving guns and arms to Saudi Arabia which is then giving them to ISIS, as are the United Arab Emirates. They will give arms and guns to anyone who will fight Assad. Western countries are arming both sides. We have created ISIS.
We are not going to defeat ISIS militarily. Only Iraq and Syria will eventually defeat it. ISIS wants France to react in a strong military fashion. It does not want us to take a peaceful position on this and to stop militarising the region. It does not want us to take a rational position on it. We are feeding ISIS with the whole militarisation of the region.
I extend my sympathies to the citizens of Paris, the bereaved families, the French people, the French ambassador, who was in the Chamber earlier today, and to the French President, François Hollande, and his Government on an atrocity that shook all of us to our core. This terrible atrocity raised the most fundamental questions about man’s inhumanity to man and how, if at all, politics can play a role in resolving what appear to be intractable issues involved.
Like the events of 9 September 2001, most of us will remember exactly where we were when this happened. Courtesy of the digital media age, we watched it unfold before our eyes over several hours last weekend. When the toxic ideology of ISIS reaches out into the rural heartland of my constituency and injures a young man, David Nolan, who hails from outside Millstreet and who was in Paris at the Bataclan theatre with his girlfriend, we have to realise we live in a global village. For those who preach an approach of retreat and retrenchment in Irish foreign policy, I believe that is a bankrupt ideology. We have to play our part in shaping and influencing the global response. It is a global village. We might like to think we are far removed from a threat from ISIS but we can never be certain about that. We can be certain, however, that if ISIS felt it would advance its case one iota by having an attack on our shores, then we would be centre stage. We are all vulnerable.
Can the global village speak as one voice? What has struck me forcibly over the past several days is the entire absence of the United Nations as a voice in condemnation or advocating a roadmap resolution to what appears to be an intractable problem globally. Syria is the root source of this evil.
It has manifested itself elsewhere. People made reference to previous atrocities in Lebanon. We had what happened to the Metrojet Airbus over Sinai. During the summer we had the bombings and shootings in Tunisia. No citizen is safe. No location is entirely safe. We have to collectively engage. Some colleagues have spoken about Irish neutrality but that is not sufficient. We cannot abdicate or absolve ourselves of responsibility to what is a global threat by running away or burying our heads in the sand.
It is clear that the United Nations is a powerless talking shop. It has failed not just in this global theatre of arms and insurrection but in many other areas as well. A question arises. How do we mould an international coalition and set an agreeable road map to resolve this? How do we engage with all the parties? We talk about the arms response. I do not want to dwell on that issue today but it strikes me that the most powerful recruiting tool being used by these people today is social media. The courtship of the vulnerable on social media is where most of the recruitment in western Europe is happening. They are being reached out to by this toxic ideology on social media. We have failed to use our collective intelligence. I am not talking about military or Garda intelligence. We have failed to use our innate intelligence to tackle that recruiting arm of this toxic daesh ideology, which is something that should not be beyond us.
I often regret very much that even in this House we regularly appear to undermine our loyalty to our State in the pursuit of political advantage. We need to build a loyalty to the State and our flag which is greater than any political party. This is a transnational and international issue and social media know no borders. They do not recognise them. We need to realise their potency and be able to tackle that recruiting arm of ISIS by preaching a message of loyalty to the State, tolerance, respect for difference and mutual and peaceful co-existence. If we start to use our innate intelligence, we will be able to make some progress at one level. Where appropriate, we need political and military solutions as well.
Probably like many other Irish people who were watching the match last Friday evening when word started to break on this attack, for me sport was put into perspective when I saw what was unfolding. Again probably like many Irish people who went to bed Friday night not knowing what they would wake up to Saturday morning, it was for me too atrocious and terrible to watch the number of people shot and murdered continue to rise. One simply did not know where the next attack was coming from; it had all the hallmarks of 9/11. As Deputy Creed stated, we all remember where we were when we heard that news. I imagine last Friday night will be no different in our psyche given Paris is so close. It is on our doorstep. There have been many atrocities over the past six months to 18 months. However, given Paris is so close to home and most people in this Chamber and country have been to France at some stage, there was a fear and a risk that Irish people were caught up in the attack as well. This fear will have brought the situation home for us.
We need to be careful of history repeating itself. We all know what happened with 9/11 and what happened after it. We all know the international response by certain countries. I have no doubt there will be a need for a military response, but we need to consider how we roll it out on both diplomatic and political levels. We need to be honest. Some of the actions taken after 9/11 probably led us in some part to where we are today. Instability has been created in the Middle East. I am no expert in the politics, history or culture of the Middle East. I do not think many are. If one were to get involved in it, it would take an awful lot of time to understand. It is a part of the world that has a very rich history, but it is a complicated place and perhaps our involvement at times has not been correct.
The point I am trying to make is this. Who would deny any European or French person their wanting for a pound of flesh after what happened? However, we have to ask ourselves if we will end up recreating the same problems again. Perhaps it is time for people to stand back a little, analyse the situation and see how best we can create a better situation. There is no doubt ISIS needs to be removed quickly. It has no solidarity in the country and the world we want to live in, but how do we go about removing it? It is being funded by someone and it is recruiting in other ways. It is time the whole world came together.
I agree with Deputy Creed's remarks on the United Nations. Talk is cheap. The future of all of this lies in its ability to bring countries together to come up with a proper resolution to this problem. We need to be very careful over the next few weeks and months that our response is fair and accurate and that, whatever we decide to do, there is a long-term plan.
I am often concerned about the language of war. We talk about how we will deal with the problem and how we will get them out, yet the moment we do it, we abandon the region. That is when ISIS starts to grow. Leave a country in turmoil and ISIS can easily recruit young people into its cause.
The ultimate fact last Friday was that it was not a political gesture. The people involved did not care who they killed. They did not kill world leaders or decision makers. They killed innocent people. ISIS is able to radicalise people by saying this is what the West has done to them and telling them they can help in the fight back.
I extend my sympathy to all French people and, in particular, the families of those who lost their lives. If anything positive can come from this, it would be for us to take a step back and analyse what our next actions might be. We have to do something about ISIS but let us not make the situation worse.
The Paris attacks were an outrage and should be condemned by this House without qualification. The scale, proximity and familiarity associated with the attacks make it all the more real and horrific. We can easily identify with the location and environs. The portraits of those murdered could be portraits of a family member or the person next door. For many they were a family member or the person next door. One can imagine the grief and pain they are now experiencing. This same pain was suffered by some in this country following the terrorist attack on a Tunisian beach a few short months ago. We easily forget such tragedies.
Social media meant the tragic scenes were followed in real time leading to a real sense of helplessness and inadequacy. Only those who experienced the horror can really identify with it and the resulting chaos. To witness scenes of young women hanging from balconies and bodies being dragged across narrow laneways was almost surreal.
In recent decades conflict has escalated in the Middle East as one terror organisation after another seems to mushroom while the Western world seeks to design a solution. Not long ago the Palestinian question lay at the heart of conflict. Today the problems have fragmented and grown. ISIS grew from the Sunni communities of Iraq initially fighting against American occupation. Many of their leaders are former Iraqi military who were demobilised after the fall of Saddam Hussein and have remained dormant for the past ten years. They are financed through commerce, the sale of oil and the black market being the main source of income and giving rise to more than $1 million a day.
Their grievance against the Western world is based not on a clash of civilisations but on the discrimination by the Shia Government of Iraq. While one's initial reaction is to strike back, I do not believe there is a military solution to the monster ISIS has become. Airstrikes, carpet bombing and targeted drone strikes have not and will not work. There are very few angels in the Middle East. However, diplomacy, no matter how long or laboured, is the only way forward.
During my time in the Army, I served for a period in the Middle East. Since that time extremism has grown and the terrible scenes in Paris last Friday have been a frequent occurrence.
For our part, we must push the concept of diplomacy.
On a practical level, we must protect and assist everybody in the fight against such fundamentalism. We should contribute to protect democracy and our way of life. Where stands our neutrality in the face of such threats? To whom do we turn? Have we a satisfactory moral position with respect to our concept of neutrality, where we use the UN as a comfort blanket? The UN has proven to be ineffective in such situations. In so far as we can, we must ensure that adequate resources are made available to our security forces to anticipate and counter the threat. We must respect the necessity for confidentiality in such matters and, while reassuring the public, there should not be a necessity for Government Minister or members of the security forces to establish or outline what our plans are. Suffice to say that we must plan for every eventuality. Our greatest weapon for dealing with such terrorism is intelligence and the sharing of intelligence.
It is important that we play a vital role in Europe. However, we must again ask ourselves where we stand with respect to our military. It is an issue that was the subject of much debate in this House in the early part of this century, but it has lain dormant until recent times. We must have the moral courage to protect what we believe in. It is not satisfactory to turn to the Americans and hope that they can provide protection for us on every occasion. What voice have we at the table if we are not willing to contribute to the hard work of putting our own necks on the line?
I conclude by extending sympathy to all those who have suffered loss. This tragedy should not impact in any way on our refugee policy. When one is dealing with ISIS one is dealing with an organisation that possibly has the support of millions and that is spread across territory in Iraq and Syria. It is not a simple organisation and will not be tackled by military means. It must be tackled through diplomacy. However, we must look into our hearts and decide if we are going to contribute more than soft utterances from this House.
Je dis simplement et vraiment à chaque citoyen de la France que nous sommes de tout coeur avec vous. This was a horrible distortion of human behaviour, to randomly tear apart the lives of young people innocently going about their social intercourse. It is really the mark of the ripping out of civility in our modern world and human family that such events can occur.
France is close to my heart. I had the happiest student exchange experience when I was a teenager with a family with whom I kept in touch until two years ago, when the parents died in their nineties. When I was a college student I worked as a stagiairein a bank, Société Générale - an interesting name for a bank - at the Place de l'Opéra. On 1 November last, All Saints' Day, I attended a memorial service outside Paris, on the Ouse River, where one of the bravest women of our times, Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the exiled opposition to the tyrannical regime led by Khamenei and the mullahs in Iran, has her headquarters to keep alive the flame of hope for the 85 million Iranian people. On Thursday, 29 October, at approximately 5 p.m. our time, a barrage of 64 missiles was launched against Camp Liberty - an ironical name - and 23 people were slaughtered. They were innocent civilians among approximately 2,500 people compounded in that small area, who were supposed to be under the protection of the United Nations and the United States under written guarantee that they had international refugee status before they moved on to safer places.
The memorial service was held in Paris. I was honoured to be there with Professor Alejo Vidal-Quadras, who was the Vice-President of the European Parliament for 14 years until last year and is now président de Comité international pour l'Application de la Justice, and with Haitham al-Maleh, an 85 year old courageous lawyer from Damascus in Syria who has been exiled for the last 40 years or so and directs all his energy and efforts to the freedom of his country, Syria. He explained that the tyrannical Iranian regime has 60,000 troops in Syria supporting Assad. There are approximately 250 million people in that part of the world, between Iraq, Syria, Iran and Palestine, who are suffering, as Deputy Wallace said in a gentle but powerful way. It is wrong. We are part of the human family. Where there is civility there is courtesy and graciousness. However, leaders of so-called developed countries remain remote, stand back and do not get to know the people. Haitham al-Maleh told me that there are 24 million people in Syria. We know about the 5 million who are bursting out as refugees. There are 14 million who are homeless, and we talk about our homelessness crisis. This is because tyrants have ruled that part of the world. Maryam Rajavi is the modern Mahatma Gandhi of that part of the world. She has a ten point plan with principles that would eliminate fundamentalism and introduce democracy, respect for human rights and respect for women's rights.
I entreat Members to Google Maryam Rajavi's name and look at the connections and links. One is the anthem of the survivors. Approximately 15 survivors composed a song within 12 hours of that massacre. We did not even hear about it on the news. That song is as powerful as "Riverdance" was when it exploded onto the "Eurovision Song Contest" stage. Listen to that song on YouTube and see the spirit of a nation that is prepared to sacrifice for true liberty, not the liberty we think we can get from slugging it out with armaments and money. It is the liberty of the soul and the mind and of respect for human rights. I urge Members to look up Maryam Rajavi and the link I mentioned.
Ingrid Betancourt was also at the memorial service. It was touching when 23 white doves were released into the sky. That is the human spirit we should support.
Déanaim comhbhrón le muintir na Fraince agus muintir na daoine a ndúnmharaíodh ag an deireadh seachtaine ar son gach duine sa tír agus iadsan i gContae Lú ach go háirithe. Ní féidir meon na ndaoine a thug faoin ndúnmharú seo a thuiscint. Molaim liberty, equality agus fraternity - rudaí a d'eascair ón Fhrainc. Is iad san bunchloch an náisiúnachais agus an poblachtachais sa tír seo. Ní thuigfidh mé go deo an fáth go dtarlaíonn rudaí ar nós an méid a tharla sa Fhrainc ag an deireadh seachtaine seo caite.
It is difficult for me, as a republican who follows the French republicanism of liberty, equality and fraternity, to understand or appreciate the callous minds of the killers who carried out the appalling outrages in France last weekend and, indeed, before that on the Russians who were killed so appallingly and needlessly by a bomb blast on an airplane as they travelled from their holidays in Egypt.
These are the callous and cowardly acts carried out in the name of ISIS.
Of any city, for most of us, probably the most beautiful city in the world is Paris. It is the centre of history, culture, art and literature. It represents to me and all of the people I know all that is good in our civilisation. The standards and principles of the French Revolution - liberty, égalitéand brotherhood - transcend all boundaries, all creeds and all religions. They are universally acclaimed and acknowledged as the centre of the culture that brought us the rights of man. Since the French overthrew their tyrants during the revolution, notwithstanding the appalling terror that followed, those principles have been universally established and respected. I hold them dear, as we all do in this country. The fact these acts were carried out by those whom we believe to be citizens of France and Belgium - people from our own European civilisation - makes it all the more difficult to understand.
When I saw that France was retaliating, I went on the Internet to see what the city of Raqqa looked like. When I searched Google images, up came the most appalling images I have ever seen. Regrettably, they included images of crucifixions, of beheadings, of a gay person being thrown off a building and of women being stoned to death for adultery. The most barbaric, evil images I have ever seen are what represents ISIS, although, admittedly, this is through a one-word search on the Internet. The question is the clash of cultures and how we can understand, appreciate and come to grips with the people who carry out these appalling acts. We must ask what their misnamed state actually represents and how it appeals to the young people who carried out these barbaric acts in Paris. That is the challenge for all of us in this House and for all of our people.
The last time I stayed in France was during the summer a couple of years ago. My wife and I stayed in the Boulevard Voltairein a three-star hotel, the Grand Hotel Voltaire, which was €100 a night and was a lovely place. My wife and I walked along the boulevard and would have passed many of the places involved, such as the Place de la Bastilleand the Canal St. Martin, were we took a cup of coffee in theHotel du Nord- anybody who knows Paris will know where we are talking about. The acts of evil that were carried out on the citizens and the people visiting Paris last weekend took place in the quietest, loveliest part of Paris. It is an appalling vista which has been visited upon our civilisation by these people.
The thought in my mind, and in everybody's mind, is what caused these young people to carry out these acts. They killed people of their own creed, given many of the people who died were Muslims. When we look on the Internet, we see the faces of young people who were killed in the most appalling way. It reminds me of what happened in our own country. I listened tonight to those who spoke from the opposition benches, including from Sinn Féin. I welcome Sinn Féin into this House. I welcome Deputy Gerry Adams into this House and I share a constituency with him. However, I can never forget the evil acts that Sinn Féin and the IRA carried out in our own country and in my own county. I am reminded of the fact a citizen of Belfast was carried to my county, murdered and buried there in an unmarked grave for over 30 years by so-called republicans. I find that just as unforgivable an act of evil as what has happened in France. Paul Quinn was murdered by paramilitaries, or people unknown, in 2007, when every single bone in his body was broken. He died in the constituency of myself and Deputy Gerry Adams in what was an appalling, evil act.
I acknowledge the thoughtful speeches of the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and Deputy Micheál Martin today. We see what ISIS has done in Palmyra, which was a centre of civilisation 2,000 years before Christ. The vandals who destroyed the archaeology, history and culture there are striking at the heart of civilisation. I would say the barbarians are at the gates of Paris. How do we deal with them? The question France has to ask itself is how to deal with the minority community in that beautiful city of Paris. Why did these young people feel so disenfranchised? What is it in their upbringing and culture that makes them object so violently and aggressively? What can we do to make sure it never happens again?
Obviously, the meeting over the weekend of President Obama and President Putin will bring some solace and, hopefully, there may be peace or a ceasefire in Syria, which would certainly help. However, given the fear, the loathing and the hatred in the people who carried out these acts of appalling evil last week, we must look further, into the heart of our society and our civilisation, to discover what is making them hate all of us so much. France needs to reach out to its minorities in a greater way. In our own country, we need to further integrate into our society people of different cultures and religions, and people of no religion. We need to ensure we are very careful about the way our society appears to them, if minorities are on the outside and feel excluded. We need to reach out in our own representation of the equality that they need and are entitled to in our society, and in terms of the fraternity which we must offer them in a way they appreciate and understand.
This is a very important debate and I welcome the opportunity to make my contribution. As I conclude, the one thought that is in my mind is that, in my life and in my community, as a Dáil Deputy, I must reach out to minorities in order to ensure they participate fully, and feel they participate fully, in our society. I utterly, absolutely and unconditionally condemn the barbarity and evil that I saw on my television screen. My heart, as with all our hearts, goes out to the people of France and the families of those who have been murdered so callously and cruelly, and those who have been injured.
Tá áthas orm go bhfuil Aire Stáit na Gaeltachta anseo agus muid ag caint ar an ábhar fíorthábhachtach seo. I dtús báire, maraon le chuile duine sa Teach, déanaim comhbhrón ó chroí le gach duine a maraíodh nó a bhí gortaithe sa sléacht uafásach a tharla Dé hAoine seo chaite i bPáras. Is cuma cé as ar domhain a dtáinig na daoine sin, nó cén tír ón ar tháinig siad, ba cheart dúinn an comhbhrón céanna a dhéanamh leo. Níl sé ceart idirdhealú a dhéanamh riamh de bharr cine, nó cé chomh gar nó cé chomh fada ón tír seo atá aon duine a mharaítear trí sléacht den choinneáil a tharla sa Fhrainc.
Ba mhaith liom comhbhrón speisialta a dhéanamh leis an bhfear ó Éirinn a gortaíodh agus tá súil agam go mbeidh biseach iomlán air go luath.
Tá ceist mhór le plé againn anseo. Cá seasann muid mar thír, cén fealsúnacht atá againn, maidir le foréigean?
Ba droch lá don Fhrainc é, do gnáth pobal na Fraince, nuair a d'fhógair Uachtarán na Fraince cogadh fuilteach mar thoradh ar an ár seo. Tá a fhios againn ón stair: má bhíonn muid i mbun cogaíochta, go dtiocfar in ár éadan agus nach réitonn cogadh tada.
Caithfimid breathnú ar an seasamh atá againn mar thír. Tá dualgas an Rialtas i leith na ceiste seo leagtha síos dúinn sa Bhunreacht. Deireann an Bunreacht:
Dearbhaíonn Éire gur mian léi síochán agus comhar, de réir an chothroim idirnáisiúnta agus na moráltachta idirnáisiúnta, a bheith ar bun idir náisiúin an domhain.
Deireann an Bunreacht freisin, in Airteagal 29:
Dearbhaíonn Éire fós gur mian léi go ndéanfaí gach achrann idir náisiúin a réiteach go síochánta le headráin idirnáisiúnta nó le cinneadh breithiúnach.
Tá sé leagtha síos dúinn nach bhfuil ach bealach amháin gur féidir linn feidhmiú go bunreachtúil, agus sin faoi mhodhanna síochánta. Ní focail folamh iad sin. Níl muid neodrach agus ní raibh muid neodrach riamh. Táimid in aghaidh cogaidh. Tá a fhios againn céard a tharlaíonn le cogadh. Tá a fhios againn an rud a dúradh: "Súil ar shúil, fiacal ar fhiacal agus ag deireadh an lae bíonn an domhain uilig dall." Ar ndóigh, ní féidir linn ar an nóiméad dul bealach difriúil ón mbealach a bhí leagtha amach romhainn ariamh mar thír, ó vótáil an pobal i 1937 i bhfábhar na síochána.
Caithfimid a bheith gníomhach. Caithfimid a bheith gníomhach ag leibhéal na hEorpa agus caithfimid a bheith gníomhach ag leibhéal na Náisiúin Aontaithe ag rá go gcaithfear dul bealach na síochána agus nach bhfuil aon cheart ag aon tír ar domhain cogadh a fhearadh ar aon tír eile, bíodh sin ina ISIS nó aon dream eile, agus go gcaithfear dul i mbun eadrascáin.
Caithfimid seasamh suas agus caithfimid cuimhniú ar na dreamanna ar fad nárbh fhéidir labhairt leo sa stair, fiú le linn mo shaol. Is cuimhin liom nuair nach raibh cead ag an tSín a bheith san Náisiúin Aontaithe. Lena cheart a thabhairt do Frank Aiken, sheas sé suas sna Náisiúin Aontaithe ar son go mba ceart an cheist sin a phlé agus breathnú ar iad a thabhairt isteach. Féach ar an leas a tháinig as sin. Is cuimhin liom freisin Meiriceá ag tabhairt tacaíochta do Saddam Hussein, ach ansin nuair a bhíodar tuirseach de Saddam Hussein, chuireadar ina gcoinne. Níl sé i bhfad ó shin nuair nárbh fhéidir labhairt leis an Iaráin. Níl aon athrú réimis ansin, ach tá cainteanna tar éis a bheith ar bun le teacht ar chomhréiteach leo. Is cuimhin liom nuair a dúradh ar feadh 30 bliain sa tír seo nach bhfeadfaí leis an dream i mbun foréigin, ach breathnaigh anois ar an leas a tháinig as labhairt agus as bealaí síochána a thógaint seachas an lámh láidir.
Ní thugaim aon tacaíocht nó ní thabharfainn aon sólás do dream ar nós ISIS ná don rud a gcreideann siad ann, ach cuirim an cheist seo orm féin: Dá mbeinn ag cónaí i dtír agus dá mbeadh tíortha eile ag leagaint buamaí orm oíche i ndiaidh oíche, gan aon chead idirnáisiúnta, as a stuaim féin, mar a tharla i Libia agus mar atá ag tarlú anois agus i gcónaí, an mbeadh seans ann go dtiocfainn ar thaobh an dream a cheapfainn a bhí ag cosaint mo thír? Nach sin a tharlaíonn? Ní fhéadfadh ISIS feidhmiú murach an ionradh síoraí atá á dhéanamh. In ionad a bheith ag maolú an fhoréigin, táthar ag cur leis lá i ndiaidh lae.
Chomh maith le sin, caithfimid breathnú inár gcroíthe féin. Nuair atáimid ag iarraidh ar an taobh eile athrú agus nuair atáimid ag iarraidh ar an domhan athrú, an chéad rud a chaithfimid a dhéanamh nó breathnú ar féidir linn féin athruithe a chur i bhfeidhm. Tá sé thar a bheith spéisiúil breathnú ar an gcúig tír ar domhain is mó a sholáthraíonn airm, mar tá an-chaint anseo ar shibhialtacht. Is iad sin: na Stáit Aontaithe, an Fhrainc, An Bhreatain, an Rúis agus an tSín. An bhfuil freagracht ar daoine, an bhfuil freagracht orainn, má táimid báúil agus ag tacú le sin? Tá sé mar pholasaí ag an Aontas Eorpach a bheith ag forbairt an tionscail sin.
B'fhéidir go gceapfar go bhfuilim imithe ar strae, agus seans go bhfuil, mar creidim sna focail a dúirt fear ón Meánoirthear, a fear a bhunaigh an creideamh Críostaí, gur fearr agus láidre an grá aon lá ná an fuath ná an foréigean. Tá an rud a dúirt an Pápa bliain ó shin spéisiúil. Sílim go bhfuil sé tábhachtach go gcuirfeadh muid an cheist seo orainn féin: An bhfuil an méid sin den cheart againn má táimid ag rá go bhfuilimid leis an mBreatain, an Fhrainc agus na Stáit Aontaithe ina bpolasaithe? Dúirt an Pápa go bhfuil córais eacnamaíochta ag brath ar chogadh le maireachtáil. He said: "Accounts are balanced with the manufacture and sales of arms in economies that sacrifice men at the feet of the idol of money." He went on to say:
And no thought is given to hungry children in refugee camps; no thought is given to forced displacements; no thought is given to destroyed homes; no thought is given now to so many destroyed lives. How much suffering, how much destruction, how much grief there is. Today, dear sisters and brothers, the cry for peace rises in all parts of the earth, in all nations.
Is ceart dúinn breathnú orainn féin agus ceist a chur orainn féin faoi seo. Muna bhfuil muid ag seasamh suas sna Náisiúin Aontaithe agus taobh istigh den Aontas Eorpach ag cur in aghaidh gionachta na nairm agus ag cur in aghaidh tionscail an airm agus muna bhfuil de chrógacht againn seasamh suas agus cur in aghaidh na rudaí sin, ná bíodh muid ag ceapadh nach bhfuil páirt againn ann.
Tá go leor ama caite agam thar na blianta ag plé le cúrsaí síochána. Cáineadh mé dá bharr. Cáineadh mé as dul chuig na priosúin sna 1990í agus cáineadh mé as dul chuig na priosúin, mar a chuaigh mé inné - thuas i Maghaberry ag caint le dílseoirí agus poblachtánaigh, ach creidim ó m'athair, má tá síochán uait, ní gunna a theastaíonn uait ach labhairt le daoine, tuiscint a fháil ar an dtaobh eile agus iad a mhealladh chugat. Tá a fhios againn féin gur fearr i bhfad é sin, gur lú cogadh a bheadh sa domhain dá dtiocfadh muid an bealach sin, seachas an bealach atá tríailte ó thús aimsire, cogadh a thosnú agus ansin gan a bheith ag súil go dtiocfadh daoine ar ais ag troid i d'aghaidh.
Most of those who spoke this evening started by offering sympathy to the families of those who were murdered in Paris and to the French people. I join in that. This was an appalling atrocity that could have happened anywhere. France was picked, for whatever reason, but it could have happened anywhere, in any capital in Europe or the western world.
I attended an event a couple of weeks ago in Ballinacurra, close to where I live, at which a First World War hero, a soldier named Barrett, was being honoured.
He had been in the First World War in the Somme. He had been machine gunned with all his people, who were gun fodder, and when the Germans came along they would kick the bodies to see if they were alive. If they moved or made any noise, they were shot. He got a ferocious kick but did not make any noise. He managed to crawl back over no-man's land in the blood, the mud and the dark. He came across a young officer who was impaled on barbed wire and managed to drag him with him over the terrain. He got a medal for that.
What I heard over the weekend reminded me of that. Those people went in and fired all over the place with their automatic rifles, reloaded, and then the shooting changed to single shots. They went around to see who was left alive that they could finally execute with the single shots. Deputy Creed mentioned his neighbour and his girlfriend who were there and barely escaped. That is the kind of terror we are talking about - cold-blooded killing and murder. That could happen anywhere.
I maintain that ISIS is a completely evil regime. It operates by pure terror and murder. Deputy O'Dowd mentioned crucifixions, beheadings, dropping people off buildings and so on. It is totally anathema to us. Other colleagues spoke about diplomacy. I would always advocate diplomatic ways of doing business, yet I am not sure ISIS is interested at all in any form of diplomacy or discussion with anybody. Its modus operandi seems to be to terrorize. It uses social media. I know from my work that the various facebooks, twitters and so on are trying to curtail that methodology of spreading the message by monitoring and controlling it and so forth. It is quite important for that to carry on. We should not allow modern technology to do that.
Different colleagues have gone back through history. We could go back as far as the crusades or further to trace this, but I am not sure what the value of that is. We are faced today with growing terrorism. In 2014, there were 32,658 people killed in terrorist attacks. That is not counting those who were injured. It is an 80% increase on 2013. A lot of this terrorism is rooted in Islamic fundamentalism. I also agree with colleagues who have said that the vast majority of Muslims are appalled by this activity. Islam is a peaceful religion in the main. What we see occurring is a vile corruption of it - total evil, total terror and totally at variance with everything we believe in.
A author called Steven Pinker wrote a book which I suggest people might read, called The Better Angels of our Nature. He talks about the history of violence through the millennia. His thesis is that we have never lived in a more peaceful age. That is probably true, looking at the statistics he brings forward. He talks about the reasons this is the case, for example the rise of the modern nation state, judiciary and the rule of law. That is not something we should take for granted anywhere. The rule of law is important. We might not always agree with laws that we pass in here, for instance, but they are the law and we should obey the law and get other people to do so. I always maintain that democracy is a very fragile flower. It is fine to change the law but no-one should be breaking it or advocating breaking it.
The book also discusses commerce and points out that people become more valuable alive than dead in the modern nation state. There is also an increasing respect for the interests of women, whereas women are not treated well at all under the rule of daesh and others like that, in fact they are treated appallingly badly. Literacy, mobility, mass media, empathy and so on, and the escalation of reason are the five points Pinker puts forward for the decrease in violence. We cannot take that decrease in violence for granted. This could happen anywhere. We also have to be very careful that we make sure the Garda and Defence Forces are properly equipped, and that we share information with our neighbours and partners.
One of the reasons we are so appalled by this in Ireland is that France is so like us in many ways. The French are our neighbours, cousins and partners just across a small stretch of water going back an awful long time. We can empathise with them and feel for them. In Iraq last year, however, 9,900 people died in terrorist attacks. In Nigeria it was 7,500; in Pakistan 1,700; in Afghanistan 4,500; in Syria 1,600 and so on. I get those figures from the Institute for Economics and Peace, which has listed 162 countries according to peace. We are very high up on that list. It is very peaceful here. Iceland, Denmark and so on are similar. With these other countries it is shocking - we have no idea what is going on.
There is a link there with being forced to flee. Some 4.29 million people have fled Syria, while 369,000 have fled Iraq according to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. Melissa Fleming, the communications person in UNHCR, has a very poignant story about a boat carrying 500 refugees which sank at sea with two survivors. She tells the story on a TED Talks video. It is heartbreaking. The boat was deliberately sunk by the traffickers. One of the survivors was a young woman who was a student, and the other was the baby she was given by a mother who subsequently drowned. The mother handed the baby to this young student who happened to find a life raft. Melissa Fleming makes the point that the Islamic state wants us to hate refugees. Many colleagues have made that point. They would love to see us turning against refugees because of this but refugees should not be turned into scapegoats, as Fleming points out. We have got to be careful about that ourselves. At the same time, we have to ensure that our own people are safe. We cannot take it for granted. The evil we are up against wants to destroy us and our way of life. Just flying a neutral flag is not going to protect us here.
Another awful thing is that the terrorists make the development strategies impossible. The people who would go in to help refugees and victims of war cannot do so. The Geneva Convention does not fly and is not recognised there in any shape or form.
In recent times, they have changed tactics and are now attacking civilians and private citizens. They want to inculcate fear and mayhem among our citizens. We must stand with our colleagues in Europe, the western world and other countries across the world that abhor these tactics. We have to see that there is a total philosophy at play which is completely at variance with anything we value.
I ask Deputy Mathews not to turn his back on the speaker. If you could just sit down, Deputy. The next group is Sinn Féin and I understand Deputy McLellan is sharing time with Deputy Colreavy. They have five minutes each.
I reiterate what has already been said by my colleagues in extending my sympathies to those victims in Paris on Friday night. We are with the people of France at this very difficult time. The French republic will prevail and come through the adversity it faces at the present time.
The incidents we witnessed were nothing more than sheer terrorism - cold and callous acts of hate intended to destroy the lives of many for the agenda and beliefs of a few. My condolences are also extended to the victims' families and friends and the city of Paris. May they find healing and peace in global solidarity. We will all stand with them.
People are understandably fearful. Their most basic human rights and liberties were infringed in a horrific manner. It is, therefore, understandable that the feeling of security and safety is rocked by what happened and the sense of invincibility is no longer there. We are used to seeing the headlines of equal magnitude from far-off countries and as much as we sympathise with these various daily atrocities, it becomes more sobering when something so catastrophic happens so close to home.
Unfortunately, on the back of the weekend's events, I have seen a spike in bigotry both online and away from social media and to my dismay, the painting of 1.6 billion people with the same brush. Although it is indicative of a society that is scared, very negative elements of the far right within Europe are making stringent efforts to distort the weekend's sadness into a feeling of anger, all for their own political gain. An example is the petrol bomb attack on a Muslim family in Ballymena in the early hours of this morning. My fear would be that these attacks will increase as a result of ignorance.
For this reason, we as public representatives have a major responsibility in distinguishing between refugees, Muslims and the terrorists groups making an attempt to destabilise Europe. They are the monsters from which the refugees are fleeing, making the choice between life and death and making one of the most dangerous journeys anyone could make in an attempt to flee from the persecution of these terrorists. The attacks which were carried out in Paris are similar to those happening on a daily basis in Syria. Even the most hardened human being, when analysing matters rationally, will accept the plight of Syrian refugees. Muslims all around the world stand in their solidarity and their condemnation of the atrocities in Paris. They are as against violence as you and I. They do not envisage a utopia where death and destruction are part and parcel of day-to-day living. They want the world to be an accepting place as much as each one of us here today in this Chamber.
ISIS is not representative of Islam. It is representative of a fundamental terrorist group which has very little in the way of political aims other than to terrorise and maim. Islam is a religion of peace and love like all other world religions. Throughout history, there has always been a minority which will use the mask of religion to pursue its own agenda but this mask is beginning to slip. They are being seen globally as the bloodthirsty tyrants that they truly are. We need to come together and oppose the slaying of innocent civilians in any part of the world, stand against violence and not let a discourse prevail that promotes a hierarchy of lives or deaths, whatever colour or creed the victims may be.
I do not know what the solution is in dealing with these people but I do know that whatever happens, I do not want another innocent civilian to lose their life. We must stand united as global citizens and tackle these issues head on in a way that prevents something of such horrific magnitude happening again, be it here in Europe or in any other part of the world.
Like the attacks of 11 September 2001 in New York and all the atrocities over the past decade, the events of last Friday in Paris show us and the world that a new fascist imperialism exists in this world because this is what it is. It is difficult to understand the reason for this war and it is a war. War can be understandable when a Government power rules unfairly and does not leave any scope for political change. War can be understood in such circumstances. War can be understood where a nation with greater military power invades and tries to exploit another nation. War is understandable then. There have been religious wars down through the centuries and some are calling this a religious war. I would argue that it is not a religious war. To describe it as a religious war is to fail to understand the rationale behind it and if we fail to understand the rationale behind it, we will not ask the right questions let alone solve this. Why do I say it is not a religious war? How could any religion condone people who feel they will reach a heaven or a state of nirvana by killing innocent men, women and children; who will treat people of other beliefs as subhuman; and who will treat women as vessels for their vanity? That is not religion. How can we begin to understand people who do all of this and are quite willing to blow themselves up while they are killing innocent men, women and children?
There is a new reality that the world must quickly get to grips with. Do we need to look at the role, operations and consequences of operations of the UN? Is there a risk that using the traditional model in the face of this new reality, the UN will end up being regarded as well-meaning but ineffective? Do we need to know who is providing the funding for and who is arming these fundamentalists? Do we know how many, if any, of the guns and explosives being used were manufactured in nations that are now shedding tears for those killed and injured in Paris on Friday night? Where did the arms come from? Where were they manufactured and who paid for and provided them? Do we know how many innocent men, women and children have been killed by retaliatory drone strikes in response to ISIS atrocities? Do we understand the impact of those killings on the families of the dead and wounded men, women and children and the wider community? Finally, have we identified progressive people and organizations in these places who support equality, fraternity, justice and fairness and who could with our support make a difference?
We cannot forget that ISIS has killed infinitely more Muslims than Christians. We must offer our hearts, minds and support to Muslims. It is a little frightening to see some organisations of the far right trying to get the people of our nations to turn against Muslims. That is the last thing that should be allowed to happen. Muslims should be welcomed with open arms and understood.
One has to sympathise and empathise with our neighbours in Paris and France on the atrocity perpetrated against them last Friday evening. One can only imagine the scenes of chaos and confusion, the loud explosions, the staccato bursts of automatic weapons, the sound and smell of gunfire, the smell of blood and terror that prevails in such situations and does not go away. It could happen to anybody, anywhere at present. Some speakers have different attitudes to what has happened and how it should be dealt with. I do not know but I am certain that slowly, inexorably we are moving in a direction that I am not happy about. I do not know that anything can be done to stop that because it would appear we are heading towards a major confrontation unknown since the Second World War. If that happens it will be a disaster.
There are ample opportunities for the perpetrators to think carefully because where the world is heading is not a place the world will want to go. I do not know that there is any sense in blaming ourselves because we all know that when the US went into Iraq it was not a good idea. The President of Iraq at the time however was not exactly a gentleman in the true sense of the word. He did not treat his neighbours, friends or enemies in a way that would be in accord with the Queensberry rules. The US and Britain went into Afghanistan. People condemned that but we need to be reminded the regime there was not very affable either. It had a rather arbitrary attitude to almost everybody. It had an appalling attitude to minorities, to women and to society around it and it acted on that.
Over the past couple of years numerous aircraft have been downed, with terrorist attacks all around the world. In those circumstances there is a message: “we are coming at you, we are coming for you”. There is perhaps very little we can do because there appears to be a great deal of hatred. Over the past couple of years we have seen countless instances of people being beheaded. Appalling atrocities have been committed in front of television cameras, the purpose of which is to terrorise the people at whom they are directed, whether in the East or West is immaterial.
Somebody else started on that route in the early part of the 20th century. People pointed out their grievances and said society was being penalised unnecessarily and people should address it. They did, with what appalling consequences: 70 million people died in the course of that war. If we learn one thing from that appalling war it should be that we try never to let it happen again.
With whom are we dealing? Are they people who wish to pursue revenge for past atrocities? If so, we have to go back 3,000 or 4,000 years because one attack begets another and so on. We have seen that in this country and all over the world. Where does it stop?
Daniel O’Connell was in France during the revolution and came to the conclusion that to pursue a political objective was not worth the cost of a single life. He was opposed to the use of violence to achieve a political objective. I am concerned that we may find ourselves sliding into something the result of which nobody can see. There is no sense blaming ourselves for this. We may be called. We may have to face the reality in this country and activate our defences however we can. This is coming towards us and all we can do is alleviate it as best we can.
I am very grateful to have the opportunity to speak on this topic. I extend my sympathy to all those who were killed, injured and affected by what happened last Friday night. It is quite astounding. No words could describe it. However, it has opened a new vista to Europe and the world we live in.
We have to stand by our French brothers and sisters and our fellow human beings and say this is an absolute travesty and if we can at all we need to prevent it happening again. It is a challenge to life as we know it. Europe thankfully has had a relatively peaceful existence for quite a while but we cannot forget that war ravaged Europe for many decades. I visited Lithuania ten years ago. The country had five different administrations in the previous 100 years with devastating consequences for the normal people. That percolated through their being and upset an awful lot of people but they moved on. We certainly do not want to return to that.
The majority of Muslims and members of other religions are peaceful people. We have to try to tackle this problem because we cannot allow a mindset that brands everyone as the same, much as the Irish unfortunately were branded or mistrusted in England for many years for other reasons. We need to try to identify with those who want peace and work with them to tackle this developing problem.
We should not forget that the world population is spiralling. It took decades to increase by 1 billion but once we hit the 19th century it moved up 1 billion in a short few years because of better health care and better food. The world in the past three years has produced the largest harvest ever. We are producing vast quantities of food but we have vast populations. Unfortunately, the food is not being equally distributed and there is competition for it. Democracy is at the centre of all this. We might disagree over economic decisions and reject the philosophies of others but no matter how difficult the arguments are there needs to be a respect for democracy. Sometimes it is forgotten that it is hard won. Most of the places we are discussing where problems arise do not have a functioning democracy. Whatever the failings of democracy we need to recognise it.
I was very privileged to have an intern a few years ago whose father sailed in a canoe or some type of single person boat across the sea to Italy. He worked, got his family across, risked life and limb and she is an amazing person who will reach the top echelons, I hope, in law or whatever she is studying.
Many who come to Europe desperate to escape terrible conditions have huge potential to offer our community. We need to try to put a system in place that will welcome those who will contribute to our society and make us more multicultural and give us a true perspective on what a multicultural society can give to us. It will take many like-minded people from various European nations and otherwise to engage constructively if we are to get a multi-pronged approach to this problem. That means understanding the people who carry out terrible acts like this.
We need to counteract it immediately but we must take the long-term view in terms of educating these people to stop committing acts that are against human nature.
European defence policy may have to be discussed at some point. It was great to hear people say after the devastation in Paris that we need political leadership. Now is the time for the European leaders to stand up to this terror because it is hoped that will bring us the answers in time. May those who lost their lives rest in peace.
The attack by ISIL in Paris was a vile and barbaric atrocity which must be condemned unreservedly. We must do everything to defeat the poisonous, inhuman ideology that drove such an attack. That should be clear to all of us but for precisely that reason I would appeal to the Government to raise its voice against the moves and actions now being taken by the French Government, the United States Government and the Russians in response to this atrocity and the situation in Syria. They are compounding it further by bombing people in cities like Raqqa and elsewhere in Syria. To do that is to pour petrol on an already disastrous fire and to ensure that the fire spreads. For them to bomb as a response to this attack will not prevent atrocities like the ones we saw on Friday but it will ensure that we have more of them, and we must avoid that. If our concern and shock means anything, we must act to prevent such atrocities happening again.
We must recognise that US, Russian and American bombing, for example, has claimed 457 innocent Syrian lives over the past year. Every one of those deaths, 100 of which were children, is just as tragic, barbaric and inhumane, and must be condemned just as equally. Killing more innocent people as a response to the Paris attacks will be a disaster. That was the point the anti-war movement made after the atrocities on 11 September 2001 in New York. Millions of people went on the streets and begged countries like the United States and Britain not to compound that tragedy by bombing countries like Afghanistan and Iraq because it would make the situation worse, spread the instability and guarantee that more people would be pushed into the hands of vile Jihadist extremist, which is exactly what happened.
If we are to deal with this problem we should not pour petrol on the fire that makes it worse. We must deal with the inconsistencies and hypocrisy of western and big power policy in supporting brutal, despotic regimes in Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq and Egypt and stop giving finance, arms and political support to those regimes that create the conditions that give rise to extremist groups like ISIL and the chaos we are seeing in Syria.
I want to offer my sincerest sympathy to all the families of the Paris atrocity that occurred last Friday night. The horrific attack on innocent people was a bad day for humanity. No words from me tonight will bring back those people, and their families will grieve for a long time.
One could not but be moved to hear Katie Healy, from County Louth, who was attending the rock concert with her boyfriend, David Nolan, from County Cork, speak on a radio programme this morning. Eighty-nine people were killed, yet they managed to escape, although David was shot in the leg. The fear, violence, intimidation and the nightmare experienced by many of those young people shocked us all. It is something that will live with them for years, but they did escape. To me, all human life is precious and I wish them and their families well. Their families will be glad to have them back.
All Deputies in the Dáil today are united in their grief for the people killed and injured in these attacks. It is important that these victims are given all our support and solidarity but, equally, it is important to express our support, solidarity and sympathy for the 222 victims of the recent attack on the Russian civilian aircraft, the 45 people killed in Lebanon, and the 132 Turks, most of whom were secular leftists and Kurds, killed in the 10 October massacre in Turkey. We also have the nightmare for the Palestinian and Iraqi people, and the ordinary men and women of Syria. To me, all lives matter and there must never be a hierarchy of victims, as some would try to claim.
It is also important not to label the Muslim population, blame migrants or attack anti-war voices genuinely opposed to all violence. It is important to react in a calm and sensible manner. Ireland can lead on this from our own history and vision of peacekeeping. Last Wednesday, I met some of the families of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and they still suffer the pain and hurt. They still look for truth and justice. We should unite and support all the victims and their families.
If we are serious about stopping these atrocities we must support a United Nations approach that would protect the innocent and implement an international policing policy impartially and fairly. It has got to be fair and balanced, but also decisive. Some western powers have to face the reality that their actions, and their history, has not helped the situation. Shooting or bombing people in pubs or at concerts, or families in their beds, is never an option, regardless of any political or religious disagreements.
I too would like to put on record my solidarity with the French people for the appalling slaughter that occurred on the streets of Paris on Friday night during what should have been the happiest and most relaxing of times for the innocent citizens who had nothing to do with the conflict that led to their deaths.
I have listened today to expressions of sympathy and solidarity from all sides of the House, and in the media. I believe those expressions to be well meaning and sincere but I have to say that they are just not good enough. The people of France, Beirut, Iraq and Yemen deserve more than kind words. We need to get to grips and come up with solutions to what is going on in this world.
On Friday night, Deputy Wallace tweeted his horror at what was happening in France while also connecting it to French military action, which is one of the biggest superpowers in the world. We were condemned for asking "Why?". At no time then or now would we ever justify the barbaric, monstrous conduct of ISIS but we have a right to ask "Why?", and we do so on a regular basis because everybody knows that ISIS exists in the areas that were subjected to western bombardment. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen are the places where ISIS lives. Everybody knows it is the Saudi Gulf princes, the UAE and Qatar who are funding these monsters, yet the Minister, Deputy Richard Bruton, had no problem here last week, when Deputy Wallace questioned him, with our country doing business with the Saudis and giving them money which, undoubtedly, will be used to fund or arm ISIS. Can the Minister not see the hypocrisy in that? Can he not see the hypocrisy in the fact that Shannon Airport was probably used today to transit munitions or troops to the Middle East or that last year, two flights carrying munitions and explosives to Saudi Arabia overflew Ireland? How do we know they did not end up in the hands of ISIS? We do know that weaponry belonging to the West in Iraq ended up in the hands of ISIS so how do we know that some of the weaponry that transited over Ireland to Afghanistan did not end up in its hands also? We do not know because we do not search the planes and we do not ask, but we do allow ourselves to be willing allies of that process.
Earlier the Taoiseach said that our response needed to be increased security and increased vigilance but did not open his mouth about our complicity in the horror that is unfolding. That is not good enough for the families who are grieving in France. It is not good enough for Irish citizens who are rightly worried about what is going on in the world. People are struggling to make sense of the nightmare because it does not make sense.
Based on what is happening in stock exchanges, it is clear there are winners from this. America, on the one hand, condemns what is going on and signs a multi-billion dollar arms contract with the Saudis. US defence firms' share prices are skyrocketing today and the defence industry in Britain is getting an extra €2 billion for its coffers. Money is dictating. We need to do things differently if we are to get a solution. With our peacekeeping history, Ireland could have a pivotal role in this, if we were truly neutral. It is about time we started playing our role on the world stage in that way.
I have listened carefully to the contributions and it is abundantly clear that this House stands foursquare with the French people at this moment of national crisis. We are united in offering our solidarity and our sympathy at this difficult time.
Like so many others, I was appalled, shocked and saddened when I heard about the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday evening. It beggars belief that the lives of 129 innocent people were so callously ended in these acts of terror. My thoughts and prayers are first and foremost with the families and loved ones of those who died.
I also want to remember the hundreds of people who were injured, many very seriously, who will carry the legacy of this attack for the rest of their lives. They are in all our thoughts as they embark on the long road to recovery.
Ireland and France enjoy ties of friendship that go back hundreds of years. We are sociable people, and share a love of conversation, food and, of course, sport. Thousands of French people have made Ireland their home and vice versa. We stand with the French people like family at this very difficult time.
Like many others, I was struck by the random nature of Friday's attack. This was an act of savagery perpetrated against humanity, against free societies, against life itself. It was perpetrated by people who have shown by their actions over many years that they attach little or no value to human life, or indeed to artistic or cultural achievement. Young or old, Christian or Muslim, charity worker or journalist, none has been considered worthy of their compassion or understanding.
Following news of the Paris attacks, officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade were instructed to activate the Department's emergency consular response centre to provide assistance and advice to Irish citizens and concerned families. Experienced consular officials in Paris and Dublin worked through the night on Friday to provide assistance, and the Department's consular response centre remained in operation until lunchtime on Sunday. Both the embassy team and the consular division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade here in Dublin remain ready to assist any citizens in need or concerned for loved ones. Anyone with concerns should contact the consular division of my Department.
One Irish citizen was seriously injured by gunfire in the Bataclan theatre incident but thankfully is making a recovery following surgery. Officials in the embassy in Paris and in headquarters here in Dublin are in close contact with the citizen and his family, and with the French authorities, and have been providing extensive consular assistance.
Paris remains in a state of emergency and Irish citizens there should exercise caution and follow the instructions of the local authorities. While airports and borders remain open, anyone travelling within, to or from France should expect additional security measures and possible travel disruptions.
It is extremely important at times like this that entire communities are not stigmatised because of the actions of a few. The vast majority of people in our minority communities are entirely peace loving and the appalling actions of a small number of extremists in Paris do not reflect the views of the Muslim community in this country, or in other states.
There was a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council yesterday where all member states showed determination to stand in solidarity with France and to work together to do all we can to protect our citizens. EU justice Ministers will meet on Friday to discuss what further measures should be considered at a European level.
The war in Syria or instability in the Middle East is no justification for these evil acts of terrorism whether in Paris, Beirut or Istanbul.
Clearly, these attacks will require a rapid and effective response at the European and national level. Here in Ireland, we are keeping our national security under close review. Were acts of this horrendous nature to go unpunished or to be accepted as the new norm, clearly many of the values that we cherish including the right to express one's beliefs, the right to travel, and the right to enjoy the company of our family and friends in peace and without fear, would be under threat. This is a time to be vigilant, a time to increase our efforts to combat terrorism and a time to stand in solidarity with our EU partners in combating this menace to our common security. This is, of course, also a time to be clear that our response to acts or threats of terror should never be at the expense of the very values we espouse - the rule of law, human rights and respect for diversity, which are at the heart of our European identity.
I again convey my sympathy and that of this House to all those whose lives have been irrevocably changed by Friday's terrible tragedy, and I send a message of support and solidarity to France and the French people from the people of Ireland.