søndag 18. april 2021

‘There’s a duty to confront evil’: the Irish politicians standing up to China

When it comes to Ireland’s relationship with China, “we are an outlier in our timidity”, says Senator Michael McDowell. The former justice minister claims that the Government’s reluctance to challenge Beijing on its treatment of minority groups and its other repressive behaviour shows that “trade trumps human rights”.

He is not alone in his concerns. McDowell is one of a dozen Irish politicians who have joined an international group of legislators calling for stronger responses to China. The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (Ipac) was launched in June last year. Ireland recently became the 20th legislature to add representatives to its ranks, joining the United States, the UK, Germany, France, Australia, Japan and the European Union among others. Ipac says its mission is to “assist legislators to construct appropriate and co-ordinated responses” to China, with a focus on issues such as human rights, security strategies and the “standards of the rules-based order”.

Ireland’s co-chairs for Ipac are senators Malcolm Byrne of Fianna Fáil and Barry Ward of Fine Gael. Eleven Irish senators have signed up, as has the independent TD Michael McNamara. McDowell says China has to be confronted because it is “savage to its own minorities… savage in respect to people who try to express any freedom of expression within China. It’s a totalitarian regime.”