Seanad debates

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

4:05 pm

Photo of Fiach MacConghailFiach MacConghail (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Costello, to this Chamber. I listened on the monitor to his moving account of his visit to Jordan. It brings home to us in the Seanad what is happening in Syria. May I ask a personal question? It seems there is a sense of resignation, and the sense of the impotency of the United Nations. I read the oral update issued in June on the independent international commission of inquiry in the Syrian Arab Republic. We are witnessing a human catastrophe in terms of human rights. There is evidence of the sexual violation of children. The commission of inquiry acknowledges that the joint special envoy's six-point plan, supported by the United Nations mission in Syria offers the best framework for the resolution of the conflict. I would like to hear the Minister of State's political viewpoint. We are looking for a non-violent resolution to the conflict but at the same time we are also bearing witness to a catastrophe and, in my view, war crimes. I have been careful in my use of language. I know the Minister must be careful also.

I got a sense of resignation when listening to the Minister of State. He did say, however, and we might tease out this point, that the Russian Federation was beginning to get involved. We may look at how it might engage with the humanitarian side.

I feel very helpless about what is happening. There was a report in The Irish Times on Saturday which brought the situation home to us. Irish citizens from the Muslim community are involved in the fighting and are implicated in the anti-Government side. We have a moral responsibility to our citizens, which means that for all of us, Syria is not that far away. I would like to get a sense of reassurance or qualification on my feelings that what the United Nations is trying to do is not good enough, whether there is another way of resolving the issue or that we should stick to the framework suggested by the United Nations mission in Syria.


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