Order of Business
Senator Mark Daly:
I have previously asked the Leader to organise a debate with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade on the US-Ireland Alliance and the future of the Mitchell scholars programme, the funding for which was cut by the US State Department. The programme is a fitting and appropriate tribute to George Mitchell, the extraordinary man who helped to bring peace to the island. In March the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade extended an invitation to the president of the US-Ireland Alliance which was greeted yesterday with a letter stating she could not come before the committee because funding had been cut, about which she had only learned recently. The US State Department cut the funding available on 13 February. Either she was unaware of it – which means possibly she is not up to the job – or she was and is slightly misleading us, which is disturbing in itself.
The letter also stated the scholarship was not going ahead in September. That is amazing given there is $3.8 million, some of which is Irish taxpayers’ money, sitting in the US-Ireland Alliance account to run the Mitchell scholars programme. The letter also stated the board regretted it was not possible to meet up at this moment in time, yet when the president came to Dublin in May and would only meet the chairman, not the committee, she brought a barrister, Mr. Brian Barrington.