Ceisteanna—Questions . Oral Answers . - EI Salvador Government .

Thursday, 23 October 1980

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 323 No. 5

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[861]14.

Dr. O'Connell: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will outline details of any steps taken to date, at both national and EEC level, to bring pressure on the present Government in El Salvador, to implement its promise to return to democracy and to a policy of social reform.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  : In response to a previous question on El Salvador the Deputy will recall that I expressed the abhorrence of the Government at events in that tragic country, especially the callous murder of Archbishop Romero, and that I promised to raise the situation in El Salvador in Nine political discussions and in other appropriate international fora.

Subsequently, Ireland asked to have El Salvador included on the agenda at various levels of political discussions among our partners in the Community. At a meeting on the 22 July in Brussels, I alerted my fellow Ministers of Foreign Affairs to the concern felt in Ireland at developments in El Salvador and I urged that the situation there be kept under close review, particularly as regards any useful initiative which might be taken by the Nine to assist in averting the danger of full scale civil war.

Because of the Government's concern regarding the violation of human rights by the opposing factions in this tragic situation, I instructed our delegate to include a substantive reference to the situation in El Salvador in his address to the United Nations Economic and Social Council in New York last May. In fact, Ireland was one of the few countries to refer to El Salvador during the session.

The Deputy may be assured that the Government will continue to follow developments in El Salvador closely and with concern and to press, through any channels open to them, for respect for human rights and the restoration of fully representative government in that country.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  : Has the Minister either at national level or EEC level brought up the question of continued US support for [862] this regime by supply of arms, supply of money and training of security forces there or has that aspect of the matter been ignored?

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  : The Deputy can be assured that we have expressed the view that democracy and human rights and an appropriate system of law should be restored in El Salvador. That in itself carries the implication the Deputy referred to.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  : Do I take it that, apart from this long range implication, no such representation has been made or no view voiced to the US of our concern for their continued support of this repressive regime?

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  : I assure the Deputy, and I thought I had done so in my reply, that we have both in meetings of political co-operation of the Nine and at UN meetings, Taken up a very strong line on El Salvador. At present we are with a number of other nations—this is being discussed currently at the UN General Assembly—co-operating in a move to introduce a resolution requesting an investigation of the situation in El Salvador by the Commission of Human Rights as was done in the case of Chile. We have indicated our wish to co-sponsor such a resolution and have taken a lead in sponsoring the debate.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  : The Minister is not aiming at the right target.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  : Is the Minister aware that there have been two separate vigils held outside the American Embassy in Ballsbridge which were organised by Irish people, relatives, friends and returned missionaries, working in El Salvador? If he is so aware does he not think it necessary—it must be left to the Minister to decide the appropriate form within the context of the diplomatic exchanges—not just to affirm support for human rights in El Salvador but to recognise the role the US Government have at present in supporting the regime and to express that to the Government in the appropriate way?

[863]Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  : In diplomatic matters of this kind one takes a positive attitude and co-operates with other countries. We are doing that by way of co-sponsoring a resolution at the United Nations. That is the way things are done. Governments cannot enter into agitation outside embassies and the Deputy should be aware of that. I have to decide the form in which this is done. As far as we are concerned we deplore the type of regime that exists in El Salvador and want to see a speedy restoration of human rights there.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  : Does the Minister not agree that he is breaking the position of Irish neutrality in that he made a specific protest against Moscow over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan by supporting the boycott of the Olympic Games and remains abjectly silent in condemning the US support for the regime in El Salvador?

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  : I emphasised that at present there are discussions taking place at the UN General Assembly as a result of which we will be co-sponsoring a motion on El Salvador being put down by a number of countries who are genuinely concerned about the regime there and the declaration of human rights. The Deputy can be sure that I totally share his views. There is a way of going about these things and we are doing it in the appropriate manner.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : Will that resolution include a call on the United States to cease its support for the regime?

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  : It is not yet at drafting stage but what is being done is that a number of countries are being brought together with a view——

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : Would the Minister seek to have such a reference included in it?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  : That was exactly my question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Padraig Faulkner  Zoom on Padraig Faulkner  : This is the final supplementary.

[864]Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  : I appreciate the Chair's tolerance in this matter, but since it has not been drafted would the Minister take the opportunity to include a suitable diplomatically phrased clause to take account of the point Deputy FitzGerald and I are raising?

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  : I will raise this point with our permanent representative in the UN with a view to incorporating a matter of that kind in the document.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Padraig Faulkner  Zoom on Padraig Faulkner  : Will the Minister get on with the next question.


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