Wednesday, 27 February 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
While we are discussing the issue of transport, we might also consider the Luas. I live along the green line. When the service started, it was a comfortable way to come into town, but it has now reached the stage where, from approximately 7.30 a.m. until 10.30 a.m. and from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. or 8 p.m., it is like getting into a sardine can. Trams are so overcrowded, it is not funny. Someone cannot scratch his or her nose for fear of assaulting someone in the process. We might, therefore, include the Luas in any discussion on transport.
Last week the Leader and I met the Iranian ambassador. I compliment the Leader on addressing the issue of human rights in Iran, rightly so. He left the ambassador in no doubt as to his views. There is no getting away from the fact that the situation in Iran and other countries has to change, but that is no reason for Ireland to cut off its nose to spite its face. There are 80 million people in Iran who provide a massive market for beef, lamb, chicken and turkey. There are also massive opportunities in petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, ICT, exchange programmes for academics and co-operative academic work between the two countries. I cannot for the life of me understand why when almost every European country has an embassy in Iran and those who impose sanctions on Iran are trading with it on a daily basis, despite there being an open market in which to compete, we will not open an embassy there. We will not even put one official on the ground just to have a presence. Yesterday my colleague in the Dáil, Deputy Michael Collins, raised the issue of the cattle market in west Cork last week and the frustration of farmers who were unable to sell their beasts because the price was too low. The situation was the same in Galway and Kilkenny. Farmers have beasts that are ready for sale but we cannot get a market for them. The market is flat throughout the country. I will let my colleagues who are more involved in agriculture than me address that issue. However, could the Leader invite the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to the House for a debate on Iran and the opportunities there? Perhaps we might get a clear explanation, not the usual old waffle about the fullness of time and the right juncture, of the reason no embassy is open there. We have a good relationship with that country. The Leader, the Cathaoirleach and I were in Iran and we were treated with the utmost respect and, by and large, we found the people to be happy-go-lucky and, like the rest of us, trying to scratch out a living. We might have that debate as it is something we should address urgently. There is an opportunity there. It is knocking on our door but we are not opening the door.