News & Media

BACIK QUESTIONS MINISTER FLANAGAN ON SYRIA

20 October 2016

Statement by Senator Ivana Bacik
Seanad Group Leader, Spokesperson on Communications, Climate Action and the Environment

Senator Ivana Bacik has welcomed the all party support in the Seanad for the Labour Party motion on Syria, and today questioned the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the delay in resettling Syrian refugees.

She said "I share the grave concern and outrage of Irish people at the appalling bombardment of civilians in Aleppo. As Labour spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, the motion I drafted below has received all - party support in the Seanad."

"At the Joint Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee today I questioned Minister Charlie Flanagan about Ireland's response to the crisis in Syria."

"I asked the Minister to express in the strongest possible terms Ireland's condemnation for Russia's support of the Syrian government and for their role in the horrific and inhumane bombardment of Aleppo; to support extension of sanctions against Russia and to vote against the admission of Russia to the UN Human Rights committee. I also asked him to support the stronger approach that is now being adopted by the German and French governments against Russia's complicity in war crimes being committed against civilian populations in Syria."

"I have been critical publicly of the delays in welcoming those fleeing the war to our shores here in Ireland, and will continue to press for greater urgency in the resettling and relocation of Syrian refugees. I asked the Minister to confirm that delays in the relocation programme were being caused by difficulties in Italy, in particular with issues relating to admission of Irish personnel into Italy to help process applicants for the programme."

"The Minister confirmed this delay, and I pressed him for the time frame for admission of the full 4000 refugees we had committed to receive under the previous government, but he said a time frame was not possible at present."

"Ireland is ready to provide safe relocation for those fleeing war and it is critical that his Department works to remove the delays as quickly as possible."

"The Labour Party was disappointed that only an extra €10 million was provided in the Budget for overseas development aid, with no increase in the allocation to Irish Aid. We still have no clarity on where the €10 million extra will be spent apart from being an increased contribution to the EU budget."

ENDS


MOTION PROPOSED BY LABOUR SENATORS FOR CROSS-PARTY SUPPORT IN THE SEANAD:

That Seanad Éireann:

Recognising the six year-old conflict in Syria as one of the world’s gravest humanitarian crises since the Second World War, involving 8 million displaced people inside Syria, 4.5 million people under siege or inaccessible, 4.5 million refugees beyond Syrian borders, 1.5 million people injured and more than 250,000 people killed;

Noting that the parties involved in the war in Syria have received political, military and operational support from foreign countries;

Further noting with concern that UN efforts to broker a ceasefire are being stymied;

Appalled at the Syrian regime’s treatment of its own population; and

Deploring the ongoing attempts to block the Security Council from addressing substantively the crisis in Syria, uphold international law and ensure the protection of the civilian population;

Condemns the breaches of international humanitarian and human rights law in exposing civilian populations to indiscriminate attack, loss of life and the destruction of essential infrastructure services including basic medical care;

Calls in particular on all parties to respect the rules of warfare and to allow humanitarian agencies to reach civilians in desperate need of help in Aleppo, and in other areas of need;

Calls for the protection of all civilians from excessive, indiscriminate and disproportionate military force and terrorism;

Calls for full accountability for crimes under international law;

Calls on the Government to continue to use all available diplomatic means and forums to raise this issue, to co-operate with like minded states in the EU and the UN, and to work towards an end to aerial bombardment, a genuine cessation of violence, and humanitarian aid access throughout the country.

Proposed by: Labour Senators group, with support of: Fine Gael Senators group; Fianna Fail Senators group; Sinn Fein Senators group; Civic Engagement Senators group; Senators Marie Louise O'Donnell, David Norris.