Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on Remarks by Jim O'Keeffe
Mr Hasib Ahsan Mozzaffar was one of twelve candidates interviewed for the post of Honorary Consul in Pakistan by the Irish Ambassador. He was deemed suitable in every way. Deputy O' Keeffe implied in the Dail this morning that “the recommendation for the appointment of Mr Ahsan came from an unusual source “ that is, a member of the House, Deputy John Ellis T.D. It is in fact common practice for public representatives on all sides of the House to bring to the Department's attention the names of people who may be suitable as Honorary Consul. The point to note here is that such candidates are always interviewed and vetted as was done in this case.
The Deputy further implied that there was a problem with the fact that the Honorary Consul had been connected with the travel business. There is nothing in the regulations to prevent such an appointment, in fact the Honorary Consuls in Rhodes and Corfu are both in the travel business. There is no question of a conflict of interest in that respect.
On the question of fees, immediately after setting up the Consulate in late June, applicants for visas were being charged courier fees in addition to the regular visa fee. The Honorary Consul was charging the applicant a courier fee rather than absorbing this charge and then claiming this amount back from the Department. This was an administrative error, which involved no net gain for the Honorary Consul .It was noticed by the Embassy in Teheran which supervises the Consulate. The Honorary Consul was advised in late August that this practice should be discontinued and he complied immediately.
The Consul has been asked to repay applicants the courier charges.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is satisfied that the Consular service in Karachi is operating satisfactorily and that there is no cause for concern.