Saturday 25 February 2017

No time scheduled for Dáil to mark death of Fidel Castro, Sinn Fein complain

Cormac McQuinn Political Correspondent

The late Fidel Castro. Photo: Reuters
The late Fidel Castro. Photo: Reuters

Sinn Féin has complained that no time has been scheduled for the Dáil to mark the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin told the House that statements on Mr Castro’s death had been included in a draft agenda by the business committee but this item was deleted.

He said he hoped this had only happened for “technical reasons” and asked that time be set aside today, or later in the week for remarks on Mr Castro’s passing.

“I think it is appropriate that the House does indeed record its sympathy to the people of Cuba,” he said,

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin asked: “Can we get the precedents and protocols for when leaders of states die, former leaders, because I’m not aware of it.”

“I can think of former leaders of other states who passed away and there would be uproar in here if there was attempts made to debate those.”

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin (SF)
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin (SF)

He said he wasn’t “casting aspersions” in the case of Mr Castro but he wanted to establish what the protocols are.

Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall suggested that the business committee seek to reach agreement on the matter this evening ahead of tomorrow’s Dáil sitting.

Leas Ceann Comhairle Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher agreed that this should take place.

Mr Ó Caoláin said: “I’m willing to accept that the business committee will reconsider the proposition and I would hope that they would strongly take on board my commendation”.

There has been stark difference of opinion between Irish politicians on Mr Castro’s record.

President Michael D Higgins came under fire over the weekend for remarks that some claimed did not fully reflect what many argue is Mr Castro’s poor record on human rights.

Mr Higgins’ spokesman later released another statement insisting Mr Higgins’ comments referenced concerns about human rights and saying he had always raised the matter with the Cuban government.

President Michael Higgins and his wife Sabina sign the book of condolence for the late Fidel Castro at the Cuban Embassy on Pearse Street, Dublin. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
President Michael Higgins and his wife Sabina sign the book of condolence for the late Fidel Castro at the Cuban Embassy on Pearse Street, Dublin. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

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