On Thursday I attended and spoke in the Dáil debate on the conflict in Syria and in particular the crisis in Aleppo.
During the debate I added my voice to those of my colleagues, and many people across our country, in condemning the violence being inflicted on Syria and its people. I further called for an end to the bombing campaigns being carried out by countries, particularly Russia.
As my colleague, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan TD pointed out the use of violence by the Assad regime, its allies and others against civilians in Syria has been excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate. In short, it is unacceptable and deplorable.
Ireland is a small, neutral nation committed to peace. As such our efforts have, as in the past, focused on using diplomacy and international organisations to try and end conflict and uphold human rights. Our country is engaged in a number of ways to try and end this conflict.
Firstly, Ireland, along with our EU partners have very recently co-sponsored an UN Security Council resolution which sought to restore with immediate effect a cessation of hostilities, permit unimpeded humanitarian access, renew a political process to end the Syrian conflict, and immediately end all aerial bombardment and military flights in Aleppo.
I deeply regret that Russia chose to veto this resolution. On five occasions now Russia has chosen to use its veto to prevent UN action to protect the population of Syria. The Irish Government believes that Russia’s actions put the Syrian people in danger from further military action by the Assad regime and grant impunity to those committing war crimes in Syria.
Secondly, in recognition of the 13.5 million people remaining in Syria we have allocated €62 million since 2012 to alleviate suffering and tackle the humanitarian crisis.
Thirdly, Ireland has committed providing a home for 4,000 refugees from Syrian. Achieving this has been slower that we wished it to be and during the debate I urged Minister Flanagan to work with the relevant agencies to speed this up.
Fourthly, our defence forces have been working in the Mediterranean and have saved thousands of lives as refugees desperately attempt to escape from the conflict.
As a government, on behalf of the Irish people, we will continue to direct humanitarian aid to those most in need. We will continue to press for an end to the conflict through all the means available to us. And we will press for those responsible to be held accountable in accordance with international law.