Minister has 'undue influence' over policy regarding Palestine


SEANAD REPORT:TERRY LEYDEN (FF) said he believed that there was an undue influence by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter on Government policy concerning recognition of a Palestinian state.

He also claimed that US president Barack Obama was a tool of Israel and that the stand taken by the US at the United Nations this week would mark the beginning of the end of his presidency.

He hoped that the 40 million Irish-Americans would remember Mr Obama’s UN statement when the next election came round. There was a massive Jewish vote in the US. “They influence government policy.”

Mr Leyden had earlier urged that the Seanad adopt a motion, tabled by Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and several Independents, that the House call on the Government to formally recognise, at the current UN General Assembly meeting, a Palestinian state based on Israel’s pre-1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps.

Ireland had a very proud tradition in regard to Palestinian statehood, Mr Leyden added. It had been the policy of the Labour Party.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore must be a mouse or a lion in the Cabinet, “because I believe there is an undue influence by Minister Shatter to ensure that this Government vetoes the policy of the Irish State in relation to recognition of Palestine and the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

“I think the Labour Party has to assert themselves or they will become irrelevant in this Government. That’s what’s happening at the moment. This is a very serious situation for the Labour Party.”

Seanad deputy leader Ivana Bacik (Lab) intervened to say that she had made her party’s position clear last Wednesday.

Seanad leader Maurice Cummins (FG) said the Government had put forward a reasonable motion on the issue of Palestinian statehood. He thought that some of Mr Leyden’s remarks had been very close to being anti-Semitic.

Mr Leyden: “I reject that. That’s an unfair comment.”

Tom Sheahan (FG) said he believed there was a cancer in Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) which was the main reason why Ireland’s showjumpers had not qualified for the London Olympics. The Minister for Agriculture or, preferably, the chief executive of HSI should attend the House to explain the health of that body.

The legislation to enable the Houses of the Oireachtas to conduct full parliamentary inquiries could be a powder keg, Darragh O’Brien, Fianna Fáil leader in the House warned. There were many bodies and individuals who needed to be brought into the relevant committee, without their good names being put at risk.

However, if it happened that individuals had their names blackened and it was afterwards found that the committee had acted improperly, the committee would fall; it would be open to legal challenge and there would be an “Abbeylara Two”.