Written Answers - Human Rights Issues

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 752 No. 1

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  33.  Deputy Timmy Dooley  Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley   asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade  Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore   the steps he has taken in conjunction with his EU colleagues to address the undermining of individual and press freedom in Hungary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2679/12]

  34.  Deputy Timmy Dooley  Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley   asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade  Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore   his views on the Hungarian constitution; and his further views on whether it is compatible with the democratic principles of the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2680/12]

  35.  Deputy Timmy Dooley  Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley   asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade  Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore   if he has met with Hungarian representatives to raise concerns regarding the series of measures taken by the Fidesz party; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2681/12]

  36.  Deputy Timmy Dooley  Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley   asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade  Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore   if he has met with his EPP colleagues in the Fidesz party to discuss concerns regarding the new Hungarian constitution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2682/12]

  37.  Deputy Timmy Dooley  Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley   asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade  Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore   if he met with the Hungarian Prime Minister, Victor Orban, during his visit under the Hungarian EU Council Presidency in June; the issues they discussed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2683/12]

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  40.  Deputy Timmy Dooley  Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley   asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade  Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore   if he has issued a formal protest with his EU colleagues regarding the Hungarian constitution; if not, if he would support such a protest; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2690/12]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I propose to take Questions Nos. 33 to 37, inclusive, and 40 together.

The Deputy is referring to the new Hungarian constitution which came into force on 1 January, its associated cardinal laws and the media law adopted in 2010. While the stated aim of the new constitution — the consolidation of democracy in Hungary — is commendable, aspects of the new Constitution and the cardinal laws have given rise to concerns expressed by many parties, including the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the United States. These include concerns about the impact on the fairness of the electoral system, and on the judiciary, the Fiscal Council and the national data protection authority.

The media law was revised following discussions with the European Commission, and the Constitutional Court of Hungary ruled in December that a number of its provisions were unconstitutional. The modified version of the law remains, however, the subject of continuing concern.

The medium for EU engagement with Hungary on this issue is the European Commission, as guardian of the Treaties. The Commission has written to the Hungarian authorities on a number of concerns including in relation to the judiciary. The European Commission has noted that it stands ready to make full use of its prerogatives to ensure that Member States respected the obligations that they have accepted as Members of the European Union. Foreign Minister Martonyi has recently written to EU Foreign Ministers and the European Commission on these issues. While recognising the very real concerns that the new Constitution and Laws have prompted, I welcome the Minister’s intention to engage in discussion of the issues and I would encourage Hungary to engage substantively with the European Commission.

In response to the Deputy’s question, I can confirm that I did not have a meeting with Prime Minister Orban during his visit to Ireland under the Hungarian Presidency of the EU.


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