Address to Seanad Éireann by Mr. Gay Mitchell MEP

Thursday, 24th January 2013

I welcome Mr. Gay Mitchell, MEP, to the House. I ask my question in light of the fact that Mr. Mitchell has twice won the title of MEP of the year for development. I did not necessarily know that he was the leading figure who successfully negotiated the development co-operation instrument in 2006. While that may sound like nothing much, that co-operation instrument has a budget of €16.9 billion between 2007 and 2013 and ensures scrutiny by the Parliament in development work. I also point to his more recent report on establishing a financing instrument for development co-operation and the lessons learned from that.

My question is in light of a Seanad debate in November on sexual violence in conflict and rape as a weapon of war. I spoke about Burma, Sudan’s Darfur region and, in particular, the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC. I am very concerned about the escalating conflict in the DRC and the lack of attention it receives here. Given Mr. Mitchell’s role and experience as vice chairman of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, I would like his advice on the positive role we could play in highlighting what is happening. While we know the DRC has had many wars, the current war has claimed 3 million lives, both as a direct result of the conflict and as a result of disease and malnutrition. As Mr. Mitchell’s speech today showed, there is a clear link between conflict and poverty. What role can we play?

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