Wednesday, 2 February 2005
Tsunami Disaster: Statements.
Ulick Burke (Fine Gael)
I thank Senator Phelan for sharing his time.
I endorse all that has been said regarding the officials in the Department, the Minister and the Minister of State and the work that has been done at a time of crisis. It is important also to recognise the contribution of many Irish people who were in the vicinity of the tsunami, who travelled from surrounding areas and volunteered to help the various agencies. These people were on holidays and forfeited their holidays to go to those areas in greatest need and work in what were obviously very difficult circumstances.
The co-operation and co-ordination of the agencies in carrying out their work and spreading their efforts and endeavours must be acknowledged. There was no competition between the voluntary agencies representing Ireland. They went into various areas by agreement and did their work in those areas rather than competing in a particular targeted area. Wherever there are advisers on the ground representing the agencies and the Department and where restoration and redevelopment is taking place, I ask the Minister to indicate the necessity of advice that was perhaps lacking in the haphazard way development took place in the past. There is a huge volume of money available that should be targeted in a planned way in the future.
We were touched locally by the tsunami in that a Sri Lankan priest who is studying in our diocese and was in the area lost some of his family. When he returned to complete his studies a week or a fortnight ago he acknowledged the work of Irish volunteer groups on the ground. While we can all say it from a distance, it is important that someone who has been to the region should come back and report on the value of the agencies' work.