Wednesday, 2 February 2005
Northern Ireland Issues: Motion.
John Minihan (Progressive Democrats)
I thank the Minister of State for his presence and his address here this evening and thank all my colleagues across the parties who spoke on this motion. Some valid points were made with maybe some slight differences in emphasis and opinion about the direction in which we should move. Democracy is about debate and sharing views and we cherish that fact. Debates such as this give people the opportunity to reflect on the views of others. The peace process brought people together to reflect on their differing views and grievances, to achieve unity of purpose and direction, as we try to achieve a complete cessation of all paramilitary activity and restore peace on this island.
I will not delay the House by responding to everything that was said. However, I will answer a few points. Lest there was any misconception about my remarks on the Taoiseach's strong stance in recent weeks, on which I congratulated him, I also congratulated him on his incredible effort and patience in leading this Government and the talks in Northern Ireland. I said that when he was in this House recently.
I wish to reassure Senator Maurice Hayes that I made no remarks about the people of Northern Ireland standing up to be counted. My reference to the elections in Iraq may have been misinterpreted. In talking about the great turnout in the face of militancy there, I emphasised the price people are willing to pay and the risks they are willing to take to embrace democracy. The people of Northern Ireland have stood up to be counted over the years.
Senator Ryan said there are no international or national conventions of war that would cover the atrocities that took place in Northern Ireland. The Geneva Convention, however, lays down for any army that one gives medical aid and assistance, and espouses Christian values in the presence of a wounded member of an enemy force. When Jean McConville showed her Christian values in coming to the assistance of a wounded British soldier no conventions of any army were observed. When referring to the Irish Republican Army one should bear in mind that armies are governed by conventions. I thank all Members who contributed to the debate and thank the Minister of State for his attendance.