Friday, 17 December 2004
Order of Business.
Maurice Hayes (Independent)
I thank you, a Chathaoirligh, for the courtesy you have extended over the past year and also thank the staff of the Houses. I extend good wishes to all.
When matters are clearer and the dust has settled on events in Colombia, and people have had the opportunity to read whatever judgement might have been handed down, it would be appropriate if the Leader could arrange for the Minister for Foreign Affairs to come to House, perhaps early in the new year. Like other Members, I remain entirely unconvinced regarding the reasons these men gave for their presence in Colombia. However, that should not blind us to the fact that, as Senator Ó Murchú stated, where Irish citizens are involved, there is a certain responsibility for seeing that standards of law are maintained.
It seems the men were convicted of a relatively minor offence and on appeal have been given a sentence which was entirely disproportionate. We would object if under Irish law people were sentenced for the graver offence which could not be proved rather than sentenced for the lesser offence which could be proved. There is an issue to be considered and we should do this at calmer time, when events unfold.