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Gulf states trade trip 'not time or place' to bring up human rights concerns

Minister Richard Bruton said that concerns can be raised through other forums including the UN and European Union.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

JOBS MINISTER RICHARD Bruton was questioned today on whether the subject of human rights concerns would be raised during this week’s trade trip to the Gulf states.

He appeared to confirm that it was not the right time or place to raise these concerns – but that the Irish government had other forums in which to raise them.

As of yesterday, the Government had declined to say whether Taoiseach Enda Kenny had or would raise specific concerns about human rights issues with leaders in the Gulf states of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he is on a trade mission with other Irish officials this week.

One of the members of the mission is Minister Bruton, who spoke to RTÉ radio show Morning Ireland from Abu Dhabi this morning.

So far, the trade mission has led to business contacts worth €25 million.

Bruton said “we are very conscious of human rights issues, and for example the Taoiseach welcomed Saudi Arabia joining the Human Rights Council of the UN”.

He said of raising concerns that “clearly we will work with other countries through UN agencies but also through our membership of the European Union”.

When it was put to him that the trade mission is there to do business, and that in terms of bringing up anything negative or any concerns, “this is not the time, this is not the place”, Bruton said “that would be correct”.

Bruton pointed out that there are requirements in the trade negotiations, and there are standards that have to be met as Ireland develops trade agreements with these countries.

He said that this visit mainly involves business-to-business meetings where Irish businesses are meeting their counterparts. “Our focus here is exports and jobs, clearly that is the focus,” concluded Bruton.

Read: Government won’t say if Taoiseach has or will raise human rights concerns with Gulf states>

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