Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Trade Mission.

Thursday, 30 April 1970

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 246 No. 3

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10.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  asked the Minister for External Affairs whether there are any trade missions in Ireland other than those attached to diplomatic missions here; and, if so, if he will give details

Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Hillery): Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  Two countries, Poland and Czechoslovakia, which have no diplomatic missions in Dublin, maintain unofficial trade missions here. These missions have no official status.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  If they have no official status, can the Minister say what their particular status is and whether they are regarded as negotiating on behalf of the Governments of the countries in question? If they are not so engaged, on which basis are they here?

[403]Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  It is a trade mission. Those people have access on trade matters to Departments other than the Department of External Affairs. Any negotiating they would do would be on trade, with private firms. There is no question of negotiating with any State representative or any Department of State.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Does the Minister accept that those persons are representatives of the Governments in question, because neither Poland nor Czechoslovakia permit private interests to export from their countries? Their exports are under the direct control of the communist Governments of these countries. That being so, those people are official representatives of their Governments even if not recognised by the Department of External Affairs as such.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  They would be the appointees of a State trading country, probably holding official positions in their own countries. In this State they have no official status. Their status here would be that of aliens, the same as any professional person from abroad living here. It is true to say that the countries from which they come and on whose behalf they operate are State trading countries and that we are not.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I wish to ask one final question. If those people were recognised here, with diplomatic or consular status, and if they were engaged in political activities, would they then be deemed by the Minister to be personae non grata and would the countries in question be asked to withdraw them?

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  That is a hypothetical question. The present position is that they are here on permit. There is no statutory provision in our law to impose any requirements not to participate in political activities.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Would the Minister not agree that there is an absolute right to withdraw permits? One does not need statutory reasons. It is purely licence.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  It is the statutory right of this country to grant or not to grant permits.

[404]11.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  asked the Minister for External Affairs whether he has received any complaints regarding certain activities of a trade mission to Ireland (name supplied); and, if so, what action he has taken in the matter.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  A telephone complaint was received by my Department on 27th February, 1970, in which an allegation was made against a trade mission to Ireland. It was not clear that there was any substance in the allegation which would have warranted action on my part.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Is the Minister not aware that recently a written complaint went to his Department in relation to the same trade mission, that is, the Czechoslovakian trade mission?

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  There was a memorandum from the Czechoslovakian Society.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Is the Minister aware that the Irish-Czechoslovakian Society have been in existence for several years and that since the Russian-organised downfall of the Dubcek régime the members of the society found that the Czech trade mission were endeavouring to take over control of the society and that, having failed in that mission, they then set up a rival Irish-Czechoslovakian society which purports to interpret the interest of the ordinary people of Czechoslovakia, whereas the Irish-Czechoslovakian Society comprises all Czechoslovakians in Ireland plus Irish people who are interested in the maintenance of liberty and fundamental rights in Czechoslovakia? Does he consider it desirable that those complaints should be left uninvestigated and can he justify taking no action in regard to the withdrawal of the members of the Czech trade mission here?

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  Basically, to maintain the rules under which we should like to behave in this country, the affairs of the Irish-Czecholslovakian Society should be managed by the members of that society, and, if they find something which is not to their liking, the members should, in the first instance, handle it themselves. If there is any activity by an alien resident in this [405] country—I point out again the fact that they are members of a trade mission does not change their status from being aliens—which may be undesirable from the point of view of this country, then the Minister for Justice could withdraw or not renew their permits. I should like to get back to the first thing: until it is evident and clear that the activities of any individual make it desirable to withdraw or not to renew his permit, it would be a matter for the individuals in the society to solve their own problems in accordance with the rules of the society.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I suggest it is clear already.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton  Zoom on Mark A. Clinton  Could the Minister say if there is any evidence in any Government Department that this is a genuine trade mission in any respect?

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  We must accept that people doing trade are a genuine trade mission. Unofficial trade missions have no consular status or no political business with the country.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  They should have no political business with the country.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  I do not think it would be desirable to adopt the attitude that anybody coming from that part of the world to do trade is not coming to do trade.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton  Zoom on Mark A. Clinton  I am not taking that attitude. I am merely asking whether there is any trade being negotiated.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  Their purpose is to do trade.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  That is one of their purposes. Their other activity is to prejudice the interests of Czechoslovakians living here.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  In the first place, the aims of the society should be dealt with by the society and they should not call on the Government unless there is clear evidence that individual aliens are engaging in activities which are subversive to the State.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  If they are engaging in activities prejudicial to Czechoslovakian [406] evacuees living here, would the Minister take action?

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  This is for the Minister for Justice, really—the granting, or otherwise, of the permit. I presume the Minister would wish to have all the freedoms we enjoy and cherish existing in this country and, at the same time, to make sure that no individual alien, whatever his country, takes any action against the interests of the State or people enjoying the benefits of the freedom in this State.


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