Trade missions are not the place to raise human rights

Opinion: raising human rights issues during a trade mission would represent a token gesture while achieving nothing

“Major deals, which lead to tangible increases in exports and jobs in Ireland, are very often commenced or concluded on these missions.” Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton meets Dr Faleh Mohamed Hussain Ali, assistant secretary general for policy affairs at Qatar’s Supreme Council of Health. Photograph: Lydia Shaw

“Major deals, which lead to tangible increases in exports and jobs in Ireland, are very often commenced or concluded on these missions.” Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton meets Dr Faleh Mohamed Hussain Ali, assistant secretary general for policy affairs at Qatar’s Supreme Council of Health. Photograph: Lydia Shaw

Ireland has a proud history of supporting the cause of human rights around the world. Unfortunately, our record of providing jobs for our people is far less glowing.

I believe that we must continue and build on our strong record on human rights. It is the right thing to do and it reflects our values and principles as a nation – values and principles like those contained in the Just Society platform that was part of my own personal motivation to first run for election in Garret FitzGerald’s Fine Gael.

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