Friday, 17 December 2004
Order of Business.
David Norris (Independent)
I thank the Leader in particular for the style and panache with which she has conducted the affairs of the House. It is quite unusual that, although she is plainly a party person — more power to her — she has defended the interests of the House when necessary, something that we welcome on all sides. Where would we be without Deirdre Lane and Jody Blake, who we are delighted to have back with us and restored to health? The final person I would like to mention is the apparently sole surviving representative of the media in the Press Gallery, Jimmy Walsh. The rest of the print media seems to have abandoned us, although we do appear in "Oireachtas Report".
I wish to raise the question of the so-called "Colombia three". There are concerns about the judicial process in Colombia. In particular, although I have nothing in common with those people, Ms Sheila Maguire of the Irish embassy in Mexico said that there was evidence, including very significant testimony from Deputy Jim O'Keeffe, that gave one of their number, Mr. Connolly, a clear alibi. However, I was astonished to hear the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Dermot Ahern, say not once but several times last night that the defendants had been absolutely exonerated in their first trial. That is not true, since they were found guilty of travelling on false passports, and the shrill voices of people such as Caitríona Ruane instructing the Irish Government of what it must do are no help.