Wednesday, 27 February 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I thank the 16 Members of the House who contributed on the Order of Business today. Senator Clifford-Lee raised the very important issue of Dublin Port and the contribution of the chief executive, Mr. Eamon Reilly, to the debate on Brexit. We should reflect on his contribution and his belief that there will not be any additional congestion, notwithstanding that there will be a pinch point. As the Senator rightly said, Dublin Port is a pivotal access point for goods entering and leaving our country.
In the context of Dublin and transport, it is important to recognise that the Government is committed to extensive capital investment in public transport. The BusConnects programme will bring about a significant reduction in journey times of between 40% and 50% which will greatly improve the customer experience. It is important that we have that debate and I am happy to invite the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to the House to discuss the transport issues raised by Senator Craughwell. The Senator also raised the very important issue of trade in the context of Iran. A parliamentary delegation made a very successful trip to Iran last year. We must stress to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade the importance of opening dialogue around the possibility of reopening our embassy in Tehran. We should not be dictated to by another super power in that regard. Significant trade opportunities can be opened up, notwithstanding the issues around banking and the persecution of Christians and those of LGBT persuasion. These are issues that also need to be addressed as part of a dialogue. Discussion is healthy and I commend the Cathaoirleach for having discussions last week with the Iranian ambassador in Dublin. It is through dialogue and exchange visits between our parliamentarians that we can open up new channels of communication which will ultimately lead to the reopening of our embassy in Tehran, which I support.
Senators Conway-Walsh, Feighan, Wilson and Coughlan spoke about Northern Ireland and about Brexit. I also welcome the ruling of the British Supreme Court today on the Finucane case.It is important that we read what the Supreme Court said, namely, that an "effective investigation" into Pat Finucane's death had not been carried out. In the Lower House this morning, the Tánaiste reaffirmed the Government's position that there should be a public inquiry into the death of Pat Finucane. The former Prime Minister, David Cameron, gave a commitment but that was reneged upon for whatever reason. It should now be honoured. We all recognise that, as part of reconciliation on our island, there are people on all sides of the political divide seeking answers and justice for their hurts. Today is no exception. This House should send a strong message that a public inquiry should be initiated by the British Government.
Senators Marshall, Feighan, Coghlan and Wilson referred to Brexit. I concur with the wise contribution of Senator Marshall. If the British Government needs more time, let us give it that time. If it cannot get a majority in the Parliament, let us have a second vote. We were all warmly receptive to yesterday's comments by Michel Barnier when he said that he was doing all he could to reach a resolution but that the backstop was not renegotiable. That is the fundamental point. There will be another vote today in the UK and further votes later, but it is critical that the UK as a parliament and a people recognise that we are here to continue our relationship and work with it. There is no good Brexit, full stop. We commend the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Minister of State, Deputy McEntee, on their work.
Senator Conway-Walsh raised the issue of waiting times in Mayo. I do not have an answer for her, as I am not familiar with the issue. Senator Leyden will be glad to hear that.