Ceann Comhairle, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, TD, and Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, Senator Mark Daly, attended the Fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament, hosted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Vienna, Austria
It was the first in-person international conference of the IPU since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. A range of topics were discussed at the two-day event, including sustainable development, gender equality, responses to the pandemic, and countering hate speech.
The Cathaoirleach contributed from the floor on the motion reviewing environmental preservation and economic growth. The Ceann Comhairle was invited by the IPU to be a key contributor to the high-level panel discussion on global governance and national parliaments’ engagement with the UN and other international organisations.
In his opening contribution to the Conference, the Ceann Comhairle said: “Ireland is a small nation which has benefitted from its international outlook. Both the UN and the EU are key pillars of Irish foreign policy. My parliament actively engages with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and, of course, the IPU.
“As Speaker, I chair all parliamentary friendship groups, which proactively seek to strengthen and build important international networks. This engagement by Irish parliamentarians’ feeds into a wider dialogue of global governance.
‘Historic day’ as major parties sign document to reject Troubles amnesty plans
In July, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis announced plans for a statute of limitations.
By Cate McCurry, PA
August 30 2021 04:51 PM
Representatives from all the major parties, North and South, have signed a document outlining their rejection of the UK Government proposals to introduce an “amnesty” for legacy killings.Families of Northern Ireland Troubles victims hailed the meeting as a “historic day”.
The document, signed by all the main parties in Belfast and Dublin, states that they reject the British Government’s proposals on dealing with the past, including amnesty for those accused of murder.
A delegation of Irish TDs and senators – as well as members of the DUP, Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance – met with the cross-community group of victims’ campaigners on Monday.
Among the signatories included Fianna Fail senator Mark Daly, Labour’s Brendan Howlin, Fine Gael senator Emer Currie, Green Party TD Patrick Costello, and Fianna Fail’s James Lawless, as well as SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly and DUP MP Jim Shannon.
Speaking outside Belfast City Hall, Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond Jr was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries, said the document is as important as the Good Friday Agreement.
He said: “The British Government has no choice now. Every major political party in Ireland now support this, they can’t ignore that. The victims’ groups in England is supporting us as well.
“People in the UK and Ireland support this. Boris Johnson is taking on all of the people now.
“It’s not an orange or green issue, or unionist or nationalist, it is the victims.
“I want to see Dublin parties and the Taoiseach (Micheal Martin) on board, I want to see the EU on board and the Americans come on board.”
It is obscene, there is is no justification, no moral or ethical justification for any government, particularly in Westernised society, to try and implement such a piece of law. Julie HambletonIn July, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis announced plans for a statute of limitations which would end all prosecutions for Troubles incidents up to April 1998 and would apply to military veterans as well as ex-paramilitaries.
The proposals, which Mr Johnson said would allow Northern Ireland to “draw a line under the Troubles”, would also end all legacy inquests and civil actions related to the conflict.
Julie Hambleton, whose sister was killed in the IRA’s Birmingham pub bombings, said that victims stand as one.
Ms Hambleton, who founded the of the Birmingham bombings campaign group Justice for the 21, added: “We stand as a voice for those who are not here.
“It is obscene, there is is no justification, no moral or ethical justification for any government, particularly in Westernised society, to try and implement such a piece of law.
“They are looking to introduce and whitewash centuries of legislation and reintroduce new laws that will allow mass murderers to continue to have their liberty and come to any of our cities and kill with impunity without any any fear of retribution.“Is that the kind of society that current generations and future generations want to have for their children? Where any terrorist organisation, no matter who they are, can come to our cites and kill on the basis of a political argument and know they will never serve time because the British Government have stated that if other paramilitaries can get away with it, then why can’t we?
“They are setting a precedent that will make us the laughing stock of the world.
“We are here to fight for them because their lives and deaths matter to us.”
Billy McManus, whose father was killed in the loyalist attack on Sean Graham bookmakers, said there are plans to hold a demonstration outside Downing Street next month.
It dances on the graves of our loved ones who were murdered.Billy McManusMr McManus said the proposed legislation makes a “mockery” of the thousands of people who were killed during the Troubles.
“It dances on the graves of our loved ones who were murdered,” he added.
“Our voices definitely will be heard. We all stand together to ensure this legislation does not go through.”
John Teggart, whose father Danny was killed in the Ballymurphy massacre, described it an a historic day.
“We have victims from all avenues of those who were murdered during the Troubles,” he said.
“Today we have cross-community groups, and all political parties on both sides of the border, this is the first it has ever happened.
“We thank those who made the effort – this is only the first step. This (legislation) can be stopped.”
Senator Daly, Cathaoirleach (chair) of Seanad, said: “We believes victims and their families are entitled to the justice, truth and accountability they deserve.
“I have spoken to members of the European Parliament, the (US) Congress, to get their support and they are willing to support the victims and families to ensure that they get justice that they deserve.”
Mr Shannon said: “Our party is very clear that we are opposing this legislation. We have expressed that opinion to senior Conservative MPs.”
Thank you to all the staff at the houses of the oireachtas, the leader of the seanad & all senators.
This morning I took the opportunity to thank all the Seanad & Oireachtas staff, the Leader of the Seanad, the group leaders & whips for all their work this term during these unprecedented times, ahead of the recess of the Seanad.
This morning I took the opportunity to wish Senator David Norris well.
Senator Norris has championed minority causes when they were not popular, he has championed change & he has made change happen, that is an extraordinary service by any public representative.
The Cathaoirleach said: “This week, France celebrates its national day. The storming of the Bastille marked the beginning of the revolution which overthrew the French monarchy and created a republic under the guiding principles of liberté, égalité and fraternité. The process was slow and imperfect. It sparked an undying desire for freedom all over the world, including within these shores. It is well known that young Irish men and women were inspired by the values of the French Republic to pursue our own quest for freedom and independence. Indeed, Ireland's national flag is based on the French tricolour.
“France supported Ireland's aspiration for independence in the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1798, the first Irish Republic was proclaimed by Wolfe Tone and supported by General Humbert. Ireland and the world were transformed by the developments in France 232 years ago. We owe our French friends an enormous debt of gratitude for having blazed the trail for democracy and freedom that hundreds of millions of people enjoy today. On their national day, I wish our nearest EU neighbour, France, its ambassador, His Excellency Vincent Guérend, all French people throughout the world, and particularly the 30,000 living here in Ireland, a very happy Bastille Day. Vive la France, vive l'Irlande et vive la République.”
The Seanad will this evening be debating the Independent Review Group Jadotville report which has been released today.
In our last Seanad debate on Jadotville, I recognised all those who served in Jadotville by naming all 157 Defence Forces members on the record of the Seanad.
1 year on from my election as Cathaoirleach, I would like to thank my family, my father Seán, my mother Eileen, my brothers, & John, my sister Elaine & my campaign team of 9 nieces & nephews for all their support.
To everyone who has supported me since my first election in 2007, thank you.
The Cathaoirleach said: “Today Slovenia celebrates 30 years of Independence with their Statehood Day or Dan državnosti. Ireland and Slovenia have since then developed close cultural, business and sporting links. The reopening this year by Slovenia of its embassy in Dublin is warmly welcomed and will help to facilitate the development of even closer ties between our two countries.
Since Slovenia’s accession to the European Union in 2004 during the Irish presidency of the EU Council, our two countries have developed a close partnership. I, therefore, take this opportunity to extend to Ambassador Stanislav Vidovič, his team at the embassy, and the members of the Slovenian community living across Ireland congratulations on this special 30th anniversary of their independence.”
The Cathaoirleach said: “Since the end of the 18th century, Luxembourg's national day has celebrated the reigning monarch's birthday. Celebrations in the capital usually begin with a torch-lit procession. There are significant historical and cultural links between Ireland and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, not least of which is the fact that Luxembourg's patron saint, St. Willibrord, was educated and got his spiritual education in County Carlow.
“Ireland's embassy in Luxembourg opened in 1973, which marked our accession to the European Economic Community, EEC, as it was at the time. A number of Irish people moved to Luxembourg to take up positions in the European institutions, which led to the establishment of Luxembourg GAA, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Luxembourg, Cumann Gaelach Luxembourg, the Irish Club of Luxembourg and Luxembourg's participation in the Rose of Tralee. Luxembourg is working on establishing an embassy in Ireland.
Hopefully, next year, we will have a new ambassador from Luxembourg in Ireland and will be able to welcome him or her to the Seanad for Luxembourg's national day. I wish the people of Luxembourg all the best on their national day, E schéine national Feierdag. ”
The Cathaoirleach said: “We often mark the national days of our European Union colleagues. Like St. Patrick's Day, the Portuguese national day is a moment to remember one the country's heroes, the great poet, Luís de Camões, the anniversary of whose death is in 1580. That is the anniversary remembered by the Portuguese people. Luís de Camões was the author of the epic poem "The Lusiads", which highlights the voyage of discovery of the seafaring nation between the 15th and 16th centuries.
Portugal's national day unites all the Portuguese people, especially the diaspora on every continent, when they come together to celebrate their culture and history. From our geographical position on the edge of Europe, Ireland and Portugal, as two old nations, share a special relationship with the Atlantic Ocean and the wider world.
Portugal has the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. At European Union level, and indeed in the wider world, we have warm and friendly relations. I extend my best wishes to the Portuguese people here in Ireland and around the world, as well as to the Portuguese ambassador, Miguel de Almeida e Sousa, on their national day. Bon dia Camões."
The Cathaoirleach said: “I would like to mention the National Day of Sweden. It commemorates Gustav Vasa being made king in 1523 and the new government formed in 1809, which is viewed as the foundation of the constitutional monarchy in Sweden. Its roots as a national holiday go back to 1893, when it was known as Swedish Flag Day. This Swedish national holiday comes just before its important midsummer festival.
Our warm relationship with Sweden goes back to the more recent State visit of King Carl XVI Gustav, who travelled to Ireland in 2019, and the launch of the Department of Foreign Affairs’s global Ireland strategy for the Nordic region. This week will serve to promote the economic and political exchanges between our two countries. Of course, we intend to keep working together for a safer, more inclusive and more sustainable European Union.
This year, Sweden celebrates the 100th anniversary of the introduction of universal and equal voting rights. I wish Ambassador Lars Wahlund and the Swedish people in Ireland and around in the world a happy National Day of Sweden. Glad nationaldag.”
The Cathaoirleach said: “We mark, as we often do, the national holiday of an EU member state. The Kingdom of Denmark celebrates Constitution Day, its national day that marks its first constitution in 1849 and its current constitution in 1953.
The close bonds between Denmark and Ireland stretch all the way back to the Viking era. Today, we cherish some of the lasting Viking influences on Irish culture. The largest Viking warship, which is on display in the Danish national Viking Ship Museum, is called the Sea Stallion. It was built in 1042 and made from oak from County Wicklow. Our literary icon, James Joyce, began learning Danish at the age of 18 and he was convinced that he had Danish or Viking heritage. Seamus Heaney also had strong links to Denmark. On the island of Bornholm there is a street named after him.
Irish and Danish bonds grew when we joined the European Union together in 1973. We both actively support the United Nations, the rule of law and international human rights. This week’s launch of the Department of Foreign Affairs global Ireland strategy for the Nordic region will further deepen and strengthen the bonds between our two nations. We wish Ambassador Balslev and all the Danish people in Ireland and around the world a happy Constitution Day. Glad forfatningsdag.”
Speaking in the Seanad, the Cathaoirleach said “Italy's Republic Day marks when the establishment of the Republic of Italy in 1946 is celebrated. The Irish and the Italians have a history of immigration and are known as builders of nations, particularly in the United States of America. Migration between our two nations has been going on for thousands of years. Irish monks led by St. Columbanus founded a monastery in Bobbio, near Genoa, in the 7th century.
There is a strong Italian-Irish community here, dating back to the late 19th century and early 20th century. They still have strong links to their ancestral homeland near Valle Camino in the Frosinone province near Rome. We all have enjoyed the fish and chips which they gifted us. There are approximately 11,000 Italians living in Ireland, working in the hospitality, financial services and technology sectors.
This year, Italy marks the 700th anniversary of the death of the father of the Italian language, Dante, who was one of the giants of world literature and culture and who is famous for The Divine Comedy. I would like to wish Ambassador Serpi and the Italians living in Ireland and around the world a happy Republic Day. Buona festa della Repubblica.”
Speaking in the Seanad, the Cathaoirleach said “The day commemorates when the first multi-party parliament was constituted in 1990, an event that paved the way for democratic change, freedom and independence in Croatia. As small nations that struggled for so long for independence, Ireland and Croatia share a common bond.
Next year we mark the 30th anniversary of Ireland's recognition of Croatia as an independent state but our links go back further. Count Laval Nugent, born in Westmeath in 1777, was a field marshal in the Austrian Army. He was a strong advocate for Croatian nationhood and served as a member of the Croatian Parliament.
We share a love of language and culture. The Croatian language is an examination subject in our schools. A statue of one of Ireland's greatest writers, James Joyce, stands in the city of Pula, commemorating his time there. Eight Croatian cities took part in the global greening initiative to mark St. Patrick's Day, reflecting the growing friendship between our two countries.
"We wish the Ambassador, H.E. Vidiš, the Croatian community in Ireland and the Croatian community throughout the world a happy Statehood Day. Sretan Dan državnosti.”
An Cathaoirleach's Message For International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers 2021
On Saturday May 29th An Cathaoirleach paid tribute to United Nations Peacekeepers for the International Day for UN Peacekeepers 2021.
Ireland has a long and proud history of service as UN Peacekeepers. This is a source of immense pride to the Irish people and we are truly indebted to those brave men and women who choose to put their lives on the line in the name of peace.
On this day we honour both active and former Peacekeepers in Ireland and around the world.
Senator Mark Daly Addresses Greek Business & Arts Festival with the Hellenistic Community Ireland
On April 10th An Cathaoirleach was honoured to be asked to be interviewed by the Hellenistic Community Ireland for the 5th Greek Business and Arts Festival.
Senator Daly spoke about the work of Seanad Éireann on behalf of minority groups across Ireland, the connections between Ireland and Greece, and the general functioning of the Seanad.
Syttende Mai, National Day of Norway
On May 17th An Cathaoirleach paid marked Syttende Mai, the National Day of Norway. On this important occasion, Senator Daly was privileged to have been a keynote speaker at the Norwegian Embassy's virtual festivities.
Senator Daly would like to wish Ambassador Skåre and all the Norwegian people a happy Constitution Day.
Cathaoirleachs Message on National Guide Dogs Day
On Friday May 7th An Cathaoirleach paid tribute to volunteers around the country who were raising much needed funds for National Guide Dogs Day.
Senator Victor Boyhan has worked hard for this cause for many years. The last few months have been incredibly difficult for charities and Senator Daly was happy to acknowledge the hard work of Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind.
The Economist Article on a united Ireland