Sunday 22 October 2017

Cabinet reaches 'compromise' after tensions surface over vote on UN's women's rights role for Saudi Arabia

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Damien Eagers
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Damien Eagers
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Tensions have surfaced at Cabinet over the Government’s refusal to publicly disclose Ireland’s voting record at UN level.

Independent Alliance Ministers Finian McGrath and Shane Ross demanded that the Government confirms whether Ireland voted in favour of Saudi Arabia’s membership of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

The vote by UN members has proven controversial given Saudi Arabia’s record on women’s rights. A number of countries abstained from the vote - but Ireland has refused to outline its role in the ballot.

At today’s Cabinet meeting, Mr McGrath is understood to have likened the refusal to disclose the vote to “the days of walls of silence”.

Sports Minister Shane Ross and Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath Photo: Damien Eagers
Sports Minister Shane Ross and Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath Photo: Damien Eagers

Mr McGrath said at the meeting that it was clear from the Government’s response to the controversy that Ireland voted in favour of Saudi Arabia’s membership.

He was supported by his colleague Mr Ross. However, the majority of Fine Gael ministers present spoke up in support of Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan, who has to date refused to disclose Ireland’s voting record.

Following interventions by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Finance Minister Michael Noonan, a compromise was struck.

It was agreed that in future, all such votes will be flagged in advance at Cabinet with the Independent Alliance.

Online Editors

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