Thursday, 14 March 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I thank the 18 Members for their contribution to the Order of Business.
To Senators Horkan, Conway-Walsh, Ó Ríordáin, Wilson, Ó Donnghaile and Mark Daly, it is a time for calm reflection and to take on board the announcement by the PPS in the North this morning. It is also important we remember the 14 people killed so tragically and their families. It is also important to thank these families for their contributions, the sacrifices they have made, the passion they have brought and the way in which they held themselves with dignity in the intervening years.
As Senator Ó Donnghaile said, all of us remember the publication of the Saville inquiry and what it meant. Today is a bit confusing, however. I have not got all the details but the point made by Senator Ó Ríordáin is one on which we should reflect, namely, the hand of the UK has a strong influence on our history and what has happened in our country. Equally, it is important we do not react in a way that would jeopardise what we have achieved so far on this island in terms of peace, reconciliation and healing.
I know the families of the 14 people killed will have been looking for more than one soldier to be prosecuted. I know from the report that Soldier F has been charged with two murders and four attempted murders. People on all sides will find it extraordinary that the insufficient evidence argument was presented.Rather than divide the House this morning, I have put in a request to the Minister, Deputy Coveney, on foot of Senator Conway-Walsh's proposal. The Minister is not in Dublin today but I have a commitment from him and the Department that he will be in the House for statements on the report on Wednesday, 27 March at 4 p.m. I hope the Senator will not divide the House on a very important and sensitive issue, on which I have given my bona fides. I understand where the Senator is coming from but the matter is too important for that. Members on this side of the House, who are also republicans, want to see justice and to see people held to account. We also recognise the words of Jackie Duddy's sister this morning, that this is about justice and about healing, peace and reconciliation.
As the Senator said, it is also important to remember the families of those who died in the R116 tragedy, namely, the Fitzpatrick, Duffy, Ormsby and Smith families. It is important to remember and acknowledge the sacrifice the four people made. As Senator McFadden said, it is about remembering volunteers and the community spirit in Blacksod and in Mayo and Erris. There was huge outreach from the community which held the nation captive and warmed the nation as it grieved. It was St. Patrick's weekend and there was a dark chill in the country from the tragedy. I believe Senators Conway-Walsh, Swanick and Mulherin will be there tonight and I hope they commend the people there on their community activism and volunteerism.
I am disappointed with the decision of Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin Members to put down an amendment to the Order of Business. Senators Ardagh, Mac Lochlainn, Nash, Bacik, Ó Domhnaill, Horkan, Wilson and Mark Daly spoke on the Sea-Fisheries (Amendment) Bill 2017. All of us want to protect our fishermen and the fishing industry and the Minister, Deputy Creed, is doing that. A Government amendment on Report Stage will insist on the size of a boat on both sides and will ban vessels of 18 m. I appreciate the sincerity of comments made by Members opposite but this Bill is time-critical. Are we happy to have Irish fishermen arrested? Do we want to continue the partitionist mentality by this Bill?