The Taoiseach has defended his decision not to pursue a human rights agenda during his ongoing tour of the Middle East.
His visit to the region was not the right "forum" to raise rights concerns as the mission organised by Enterprise Ireland was focused on trade, Enda Kenny said yesterday.
"There are forums that are appropriate for raising specific issues. Ireland has always raised human rights issues individually with different countries through the European Union and through the United Nations where we hold a seat on the UN Human Rights committee at the moment," he said.
He was responding to criticism from home that women's rights issues and conditions for millions of migrant workers from south Asia employed in the booming Gulf states were left off the agenda for his visit to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Mr Kenny was speaking in Abu Dhabi, UAE, where he and the Minister for Jobs and Enterprise Richard Bruton are leading a group of Irish companies on the third leg of a five-day, four-city, tour that ends today.
The Taoiseach appeared to shrug off the criticism yesterday.
"I'm here with Minister Bruton and 87 companies talking as a priority about trade, investment opportunities, jobs (and) growth in Ireland," he said.
But, he rejected any suggestions that rights issues were not a concern for the Irish Government. "Of course Ireland has always been very consistent in highlighting human rights issues," the Taoiseach said.