Five take-aways from the Fine Gael Ard Fhéis
The Fine Gael Ard Fhéis saw ministers gather to take questions from members throughout the country. Here are five take-aways from the opening night of the Ard Fhéis.
The decision to make history optional at Junior Cert level will be reviewed
Minister Joe McHugh is to ask officials to review a decision to make History an optional subject at Junior Cert level. The Donegal TD said as we are “talking about our future we have to know about our past”. His remarks were met with applause. Mr McHugh said he had received extensive feedback on the removal of the mandatory status of the subject.
The party plans to push for 30pc of candidates in the local elections to be women
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar acknowledged that with 11 female TDs, while ahead of other parties, the number of elected women in the party was too low. He said there will be work done to ensure more women on the ballot paper in the local elections. Minister of State John Paul Phelan, the party’s local elections director will be tasked with that job.
Ireland is likely to respond favourably to an asylum application from Asia Bibi
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan was asked if Ireland would consider offering asylum to Asia Bibi who is facing death row in Pakistan after being convicted of a blasphemy offence.
“Should an application be received, I would be confident that it would receive favourable consideration,” Mr Flanagan said.
A summit on the Middle East is planned in Dublin for next year
Tanáiste Simon Coveney said the Government remained committed to a programme for government commitment which looks to recognise Palestine in the context of a negotiated peace solution, but he said given the sensitivities currently now was not the time to recognise Palestine. However, he said: “If we see no prospect of a movement in the direction of a real peace negotiation in an effort to ensure that we recognise that the only solution can be based on two-state solution we may have to reassess government’s approach in relation to recognition."
Mr Coveney said there cannot and will not be a lasting peace in the east without US input. He said he was critical of some of the actions the US administration has taken of late.
He said those actions have made achieving peace much more difficult and "have led to the Palestinians feeling that the US are not an honest broker any longer."
Paschal Donohoe felt like he was on Graham Norton’s couch
The Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe opened his answers to the panel by joking that it was the closest he had come to appearing on Graham Norton’s couch answering questions.