Sinn Féin’s no confidence motion in Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney is a cynical attempt to remove a dedicated and diligent public servant whose record has been exemplary on relations between Ireland and the United Kingdom, according to Fine Gael Senator Emer Currie.
Senator Currie said it speaks volumes about Sinn Féin’s priorities that the party is using its first Private Members Bill of the forthcoming Dáil session to table a no confidence motion in a Minister who was instrumental in restoring power-sharing in the North and bringing Michelle O’Neill, their own leader in the North, to power.
Senator Currie, whose father Austin founded the SDLP with John Hume, said: “Much has been rightly said about Simon Coveney’s outstanding contribution on issues like Brexit, his dedication in bringing back power-sharing after nearly three years, his personal commitment to reconciliation and delivering for all communities on this island.
“Frequently over the last five years, at pivotal times, our Oireachtas including Sinn Féin, has been unified in relation to the potentially devastating challenges of Brexit. That approach has served us well.
“Why then, at such a pivotal time in relation to legacy issues, would Sinn Féin want to remove a vital negotiator, someone engaged and aligned with victims’ groups, when all stakeholders passionately agree a victims-led approach is needed.
“Political parties north and south are united – a rare occurrence in itself – in the rejection of the proposals put forward by the British Government to introduce a statute of limitations which would end all prosecutions for Troubles incidents up to April 1998.
“The move has been described by a Queen’s University Belfast report as more expansive than any other post-conflict amnesties around the world, a broader form of impunity than was introduced by Pinochet. It’s has been coined ‘Pinochet-Plus’.
“Does consistency and unity not matter to Sinn Féin on this most sensitive of issues? This is a critical time in relation to pushing back on the British Government about their amnesty, about the need for effective investigations and a process of justice for all victims, and for reconciliation on our island to be built on truth and the rule of law.
“Simon Coveney has a hugely important role and voice in the Irish Government standing up for those principles.
“Sinn Féin’s no confidence motion is nothing more than a cynical political move to remove someone highly effective in northern, all-island and east-west issues and relations. Someone who is highly influential in the future direction of our island.
“In doing so, the party is putting their own narrow political agenda before hugely important issues on our island, and to myself and many others, reconciliation based on human rights, truth and justice, is one of the most important,” Senator Currie concluded.