Category Archives: Foreign Affairs, the Irish Overseas and Diaspora

As Seanad Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, the Irish Overseas and Diaspora for Fianna Fáil, Senator Daly plays an active role in finding the best stance for Ireland to take regarding international issues.

Senator Daly has a strong interest in conflict prevention, resolution and reconciliation and consider it a privilege to be in a position to influence national policy on these areas.

Former Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore – ‘I was going great until Senator Mark Daly’

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Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence Debate – Consular Service: Motion

Consular Service: Motion

Senator Mark Daly: I move:

In respect of the recent review of consular and honorary consular services and the importance that appointments are based on reliable information, this committee:

agrees that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Secretary General of the Department and the Head of the Consular section come before the committee regarding the method in which consuls and honorary consuls are appointed;

is concerned over the lack of data available regarding the location of the Irish community living overseas including their specific location;

and calls for members to be supplied with up to date information to ensure the service is fit for purpose and in locations where the Irish community are living.

This motion calls on the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the head of the consular system within the Department to come before this committee prior to the publication of the review of consular and honorary consular services. I am concerned about the lack of data because any policy should be based on data. We should be given information about the service so that we can ensure it is fit for purpose.

As members will be aware, we have asked for information on where Irish people are living around the world. We know there are 70 million people in the Irish diaspora, including 40 million in the US and 6 million in Canada. Those headline figures are reported over and over again. This committee wrote to the consular service to ask for data on where the Irish diaspora is located. When I say we want information, I do not mean we should be told there are 6 million people of Irish descent in Canada.  I mean how many are in each province, for example how many people in Montana are of Irish descent? I understand and this probably has not changed, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade does not have the breakdown of the figures. How can one establish honorary consulates unless one has the data? Government policy is based on data, for example the number of schools and classrooms is based on the number of pupils in the area. I do not think it is acceptable that the Government does not know the states where people of Irish descent live in the United States. I could tell the committee that in Alabama’s first district of the US Congress that 12.3% of people have Irish ancestry, that is 85,045 in Alabama have Irish ancestry. If one goes to Montana, which is served by the consulate in San Francisco and what cover 13 states and a representative may get to Montana once every three years.

The message we are sending to our communities in the United States is that we like them around St. Patrick’s Day, but outside of that we are not going to give them any resources.

Let us compare what we are doing in America to what we did in Canada, the then ambassador, Dr. Ray Bassett, who was there until recently, appointed honorary consulates to virtually every province. We have more honorary consulates in Canada, where there are only 6 million people of Irish heritage compared to the United States where we have 40 million people of Irish descent. This is the result of an ambassador taking an initiative.

I know there are concerns about it. I maintain that policy is based on data. It is shocking that the reply from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to this committee after numerous requests, is that they simply do not have the data. If one went on the census website for England, one would be able to get data on the number of people with Irish ancestry in Birmingham.

If the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is to have a consulate policy, for a start the Department must have the data.

I would like to hear the views of the committee members on this. I think the reply from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is unacceptable.

 I mean how many are in each province, for example how many people in Montana are of Irish descent? I understand and this probably has not changed, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade does not have the breakdown of the figures. How can one establish honorary consulates unless one has the data? Government policy is based on data, for example the number of schools and classrooms is based on the number of pupils in the area. I do not think it is acceptable that the Government does not know the states where people of Irish descent live in the United States. I could tell the committee that in Alabama’s first district of the US Congress that 12.3% of people have Irish ancestry, that is 85,045 in Alabama have Irish ancestry. If one goes to Montana, which is served by the consulate in San Francisco and what cover 13 states and a representative may get to Montana once every three years.

The message we are sending to our communities in the United States is that we like them around St. Patrick’s Day, but outside of that we are not going to give them any resources.

Let us compare what we are doing in America to what we did in Canada, the then ambassador, Dr. Ray Bassett, who was there until recently, appointed honorary consulates to virtually every province. We have more honorary consulates in Canada, where there are only 6 million people of Irish heritage compared to the United States where we have 40 million people of Irish descent. This is the result of an ambassador taking an initiative.

I know there are concerns about it. I maintain that policy is based on data. It is shocking that the reply from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to this committee after numerous requests, is that they simply do not have the data. If one went on the census website for England, one would be able to get data on the number of people with Irish ancestry in Birmingham.

If the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is to have a consulate policy, for a start the Department must have the data.

I would like to hear the views of the committee members on this. I think the reply from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is unacceptable.

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Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement meeting 9th Feb 2017

Implications for Good Friday Agreement of UK Referendum Result (Resumed): Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly As my colleague, Deputy Smith, pointed out, the difficulty about the Dutch Parliament’s understanding of our position is that it is not unique. I understand from meetings Fianna Fáil members had with some of the Sicilian and Italian parliamentarians that they thought Ireland is leaving the EU because Northern Ireland is leaving. This is the challenge we face. Malta had some understanding but, in reality, it requires a lot of education because there is so much going on and so much information-sharing and laying out of our position. One of the big challenges the Government faces is that while Theresa May has made her statement, we need to set out our asks and say what we want. Deputy Sherlock pointed out the votes that took place in Westminster. What is being said by the British Government and what it is doing are two entirely different things. Theresa May when she was Home Secretary said the hard Border would of course return if there were a Brexit. Then she became Prime Minister and said there would of course be no return to a hard Border. Now she says the Border will be as frictionless as possible. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, says there will be no special deal for Northern Ireland. The lack of understanding in Westminster could be put in the following way. While Westminster was trying to emphasise the importance of Northern Ireland in terms of the impact of Brexit, one of its reports which the House of Lords produced stated that – I thought it was a very telling line – the relationship between Ireland and Britain has not always been a smooth one. This would have to be the greatest understatement of any diplomat in the history of the State. The report’s analysis of the impact was such that its authors dismissed everything that would suit us and would do everything to suit themselves. The UK currently has an operation called Operation Gull whereby people leaving Belfast, Derry and Larne are profiled and 752 people have been arrested on immigration grounds.  It already has immigration controls between the North of Ireland and Britain. That is the solution to not having a hard Border. It has to accept that when 40,000 people were employed in the security forces in the North, the Border could not be secured. Trying to secure it now would be foolhardy, whereas it is already carrying out immigration controls at the three exit points from Northern Ireland to Britain. Yet, it will not reimpose that. The House of Lords has said that it cannot be done for political reasons, even though exactly the same system was in place between 1939 and 1952 and, under it, identify checks were carried out on people travelling from the North to Britain.

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Implications for the Good Friday Agreement of UK Referendum Result

Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement Debate

Implications for Good Friday Agreement of UK Referendum Result (Resumed): Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark DalyAs my colleague, Deputy Smith, pointed out, the difficulty about the Dutch Parliament’s understanding of our position is that it is not unique. I understand from meetings Fianna Fáil members had with some of the Sicilian and Italian parliamentarians that they thought Ireland is leaving the EU because Northern Ireland is leaving. This is the challenge we face. Malta had some understanding but, in reality, it requires a lot of education because there is so much going on and so much information-sharing and laying out of our position. One of the big challenges the Government faces is that while Theresa May has made her statement, we need to set out our asks and say what we want. Deputy Sherlock pointed out the votes that took place in Westminster. What is being said by the British Government and what it is doing are two entirely different things. Theresa May when she was Home Secretary said the hard Border would of course return if there were a Brexit. Then she became Prime Minister and said there would of course be no return to a hard Border. Now she says the Border will be as frictionless as possible. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, says there will be no special deal for Northern Ireland. The lack of understanding in Westminster could be put in the following way. While Westminster was trying to emphasise the importance of Northern Ireland in terms of the impact of Brexit, one of its reports which the House of Lords produced stated that – I thought it was a very telling line – the relationship between Ireland and Britain has not always been a smooth one. This would have to be the greatest understatement of any diplomat in the history of the State. The report’s analysis of the impact was such that its authors dismissed everything that would suit us and would do everything to suit themselves. The UK currently has an operation called Operation Gull whereby people leaving Belfast, Derry and Larne are profiled and 752 people have been arrested on immigration grounds.  It already has immigration controls between the North of Ireland and Britain. That is the solution to not having a hard Border. It has to accept that when 40,000 people were employed in the security forces in the North, the Border could not be secured. Trying to secure it now would be foolhardy, whereas it is already carrying out immigration controls at the three exit points from Northern Ireland to Britain. Yet, it will not reimpose that. The House of Lords has said that it cannot be done for political reasons, even though exactly the same system was in place between 1939 and 1952 and, under it, identify checks were carried out on people travelling from the North to Britain.

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WATCH: Senator Mark Daly discusees Trump’s immigration policy and the undocumented Irish on Claire Byrne Live

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Filed under Active Citizenship, Foreign Affairs, the Irish Overseas and Diaspora, United States of America