22/04/15 Senator Daly addresses the Seanad and Chairman for the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade Pat Breen on Foreign Conflicts.

Chairman Breen: Senator Daly has submitted a second motion that relates to the suffering and loss of the Armenian people on the centenary of the Armenian genocide. The motion reads as follows: “That the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade recognise the suffering and loss of the Armenian people on this the year of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.”

Senator Daly: This is very relevant in light of the fact that it is the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. A range of countries have acknowledged it as genocide. They include Canada, which did so in 1996; Vatican City and Italy, which did so in 2000; and Switzerland, Argentina, the Netherlands, Chile and Germany. The European Parliament passed a non-binding motion on the issue. I realise it is a sensitive issue for the people of Turkey but we must remember that one of the first people to acknowledge it as genocide was Turkey’s great leader, Kemal Ataturk, who acknowledged in the 1920s that what happened was not just a tragedy, as has been said by others, but genocide. As the Pope said, it was the first genocide of the 20th century. Unfortunately, it was the not last.

I ask colleagues to support this motion. I note that other countries have not had the courage of their convictions, have been lobbied and have said that it is sensitive. It is 100 years later. A wrong was done. Women and children were massacred in a crime against humanity that was by any definition genocide. Ireland, which knows a lot about suffering, should acknowledge the suffering of others. We are not alone if we support this motion. Many countries have supported the motion and I ask colleagues to support it.

—- Later—-

Senator Daly: Sorry, Chairman, I have to press the motion because it is important. This is the 100th anniversary. Next week is not the 100th anniversary. Of course it is a sensitive issue. It will remain a sensitive issue whether it is this week or next week.

I had the pleasure and honour of serving on the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs with our President. I am sure he has an opinion. I would not dare to venture what that would be, but I think many of us could guess what it would be. The facts are there. We know how the system works in this House. I am asking my colleagues to abstain if they cannot support the motion so that it can be passed. The reply from the officials is not going to change. If the Minister, who signed off on that reply, believed it deserved attention, he would have given a different reply. The reply is not going to change.

There is nothing offensive about it. What we are acknowledging is the suffering and loss of the Armenian people in a genocide that has been acknowledged by the European Union and others throughout the world as a genocide. Others, for political reasons, have chosen not to acknowledge it. The statistics say 1.5 million people but the fact is it was a genocide. Therefore, I will press the motion.

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