Sunday 18 August 2019

'I would go to the ends of the earth to talk about peace' - John Halligan confirms North Korea trip 'appears to be off'

Kathy Armstrong and Alan O'Keeffe

Junior Minister John Halligan has said that his controversial proposed trip to North Korea "appears to be off" but he said that he still should be able to "speak about peace."

Deputy Halligan revealed last week that he hopes to travel to north Korea with his fellow Independent Alliance Ministers Shane Ross and Finian McGrath to discuss peace with politicians there and to "ask Kim Jong Un to engage in democracy".

Transport Minister Ross said the proposed peace mission was off last night and Mr Halligan agreed with him today.

Speaking on the Sean O'Rourke Show on RTE Radio One, Deputy Halligan said: "It appears to be off, I don't want to engage in controversy, I want to tell the truth.

"I'm not going to row back on that I am a great believer in conflict resolution, I feel that if you can talk to people, why not?

"I make this point that we're politicians in Ireland and we're as good as politicians all around the world.

Transport Minister Shane Ross
Transport Minister Shane Ross

"We should be able to communicate and talk peace with anyone.

"I went to meet the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Israeli authorities, I would go to the ends of the earth to speak as an individual and as a member of parliament so speak about peace and reconciliation."

Despite opposition from Kevin Boxer Moran to the trip, Minister Halligan denied this would impact on their alliance.

He said: "I don't think the Independents will fall apart, we're all individuals with different views and this is what makes us unique - we can sit down and talk about our issues and go public to say if we don't agree with each other.

"I haven't considered resigning, I think that I'm doing a good job and that that could be determined by the people who know what I do.

"I believe in what I'm about."

Children's Minister Zappone said she is happy that she is "absolutely" glad that the planned trip to North Korea had been cancelled.

She said: "I appreciate that my colleagues might ensure and participate in some way positively regarding the international concerns about peace in relation to North Korea and all the issues that are going on there.

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Children's Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Steve Humphreys

"They had an idea. The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Taoiseach said 'not right now, not a good idea.'

"I think at that stage they should have decided  'Okay, we'll listen to what the advice of the appropriate department and of the leader is and accept that.' "

Online Editors

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