Seanad recall on Gaza crisis expected on Thursday

New Foreign Affairs Minister set to address Upper House

Palestinian refugees perform Eid al-Fitr prayers at Al-Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp. The Seanad is being recalled from its summer break and Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan is preparing to address Senators about Ireland’s approach to the ongoing crisis in Gaza. Photograph: Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

Palestinian refugees perform Eid al-Fitr prayers at Al-Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp. The Seanad is being recalled from its summer break and Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan is preparing to address Senators about Ireland’s approach to the ongoing crisis in Gaza. Photograph: Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

Mon, Jul 28, 2014, 10:53

Senators are expected to return to Leinster House on Thursday for a special sitting of the Upper House which will focus on the ongoing crisis in Gaza.

The Seanad is being recalled from its summer break and Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan is preparing to address Senators about Ireland’s approach to the situation.

Opposition and Independent Senators will ask Mr Flanagan why Ireland abstained on a vote at the UN Human Rights Council to establish an independent commission of inquiry to investigate violations of human rights.

Tensions in the Ukraine will also be on the Seanad agenda.

Maurice Cummins, the Fine Gael leader in the Seanad, confirmed the recall saying he had been contacted by Fine Gael and Labour senators, as well as Independent senator David Norris.

Fianna Fáil leader Darragh O’Brien said he had also been asking for senators to return as a matter of urgency.

A motion signed by 20 senators is needed for an official recall, but Mr Cummins’ move has pre-empted the need for a petition.

Mr O’Brien said: “I am very disappointed that the Dáil hasn’t been recalled but at least one part of the Oireachtas will be discussing the crisis.”

There have also been calls from Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and others for the Dáil to return but Taoiseach Enda Kenny has indicated this will not happen.

Mr O’Brien confirmed he would ask Mr Flanagan about Ireland’s abstention on the recent UN vote.