Remarks by Minister Micheál Martin to the Diplomatic Corps following National Day of Commemoration
In remarks to the Diplomatic Corps following the National Day of Commemoration ceremony, Minster Martin began by paying tribute to Irish peacekeepers saying:
“I am pleased that so many of you could join us on this day when we honour all of the Irish men and women who died on service with the United Nations or in past wars.
Ireland has a long tradition of commitment to the United Nations and this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the first time Irish Defence Forces personnel undertook UN peace-keeping duties.
Our commitment to the United Nations and to international peace-keeping remains extensive, with 836 Defence Forces and Garda personnel participating in fourteen different missions throughout the world. During the past year we have had the command of a sector in Kosovo.
Within the EU and UN Ireland will continue to work intensively for the defence and promotion of human rights and democracy around the globe. Over the past few weeks and months, the attention of the world has been focussed on the dire situations in Zimbabwe and Burma.
Civilised opinion everywhere has been appalled by the widespread violence and sheer thuggery which attended the recent run-off vote in Zimbabwe. The Burmese Government’s tardy and cynical response to the natural disaster of Cyclone Nargis was also appalling.
We cannot be indifferent to the actions of governments, such as those in Zimbabwe and Burma, which so flagrantly abuse the outward forms of democracy while ignoring its essence, and which add to the already intense suffering of their people.
It has been encouraging to note the growing international consensus, including among some of Zimbabwe’s African neighbours and recently on the part of the G8, rejecting the results of the 27 June election in Zimbabwe and holding that Robert Mugabe’s government can no longer be regarded as legitimate.
The UN Security Council’s unanimous expression of deep concern in advance of the election was important and welcome. That is why Friday’s failure to agree on a Security Council resolution was particularly disappointing and regrettable.
I believe that appropriate targeted sanctions are quite compatible with a genuine commitment to mediation and dialogue. I am glad that the EU is continuing to work on strengthening its own restrictive measures.
The Irish Government has been, and continues to be, very strongly supportive of the negotiating efforts of the African Union, led by President Mbeki of South Africa, and passionately wishes to see an early and positive outcome from this critical process.
The long suffering people of Zimbabwe simply cannot be asked to wait much longer for the delivery of their basic human and democratic rights. I believe all our governments expect no less and will accept no less.
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