Four members of Ireland’s Oireachtas have joined an international cross-party alliance of legislators as part of a coordinated effort to secure a tougher stance on China from the Irish Government.
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) works to reform the approach of democratic countries to China. Since its launch last June, IPAC’s membership has grown to over 200 legislators, with Ireland becoming the 20th legislature represented. Key members of the group include US Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez, former leader of the British Conservative Party Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, former Prime Minister of Belgium Guy Verhofstadt MEP and former Japanese defence Minister Representative Gen Nakatani.
Ireland’s representation to IPAC is led by Malcolm Byrne, Fianna Fáil Senator for the Cultural and Educational Panel; and Barry Ward, Fine Gael Senator for the Industrial and Commercial Panel. Both will act as co-chairs for IPAC, leading the Alliance’s work across the globe. Earlier this month both had led calls in the Seanad for the Irish Government to offer safe refuge to those fleeing the political crackdown in Hong Kong.
Other Irish members of IPAC include Teachta Dála Michael McNamara (Independent) and Senator Michael McDowell (Independent). Earlier this month McDowell tabled a motion in the Seanad, condemning the detention of Irish citizen Richard O’Halloran in China.
Senator Malcolm Byrne commented:
“As democratically elected legislators we have a responsibility to uphold the cause of democracy not only at home but also abroad. The Chinese government’s crushing of democracy in Hong Kong is an unacceptable breach of international law and a clear challenge to the international rules based order.”
“Ireland must play its part in holding the Chinese government to account for these abuses. We will only succeed if we stand together, recognising that this challenge is too important to be divided by national or partisan differences.”
Senator Barry Ward commented:
“Ireland is in a unique position, diplomatically and internationally, both as a member of the UN Security Council and as a State that does not directly compete with China in terms of military issues or industry. We have the opportunity to use this position to show the Chinese government that abuses of human rights are not the actions of a responsible global power and will not be tolerated by the international community.”
“Our criticism is not of the Chinese people, but of the Chinese government. A deep love and respect for the Chinese people and their culture does not stop us from standing resolutely against the grave human rights abuses committed by the Chinese government in Xinjiang, Tibet and elsewhere.”
Senator Michael McDowell commented:
“China under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party represents a clear challenge to the stability of the international rules based order. The unlawful and protracted detention of Irish citizen Richard O’Halloran shows that this threat is much closer to home than we like to think. Ireland can no longer ignore this reality, we must work with our European and international partners to stand against these actions.”
“For too long our government has been timid in its approach to the Chinese Communist Party. Engagement with China cannot come at the cost of our values. We must work with our partners across the democratic world to hold the Chinese government to account for its abuses of human rights in Xinjiang, Tibet and elsewhere. Ireland must stand resolutely by the people of Hong Kong and Taiwan as they come under increasing pressure from Beijing.”