Taiwan letter branded ‘bizarre’

Ceann Comhairle Sean Ó Fearghail has been attacked by his own party colleague John McGuinness in a row about a forthcoming trip for TDs to Taiwan.

Taiwan letter branded ‘bizarre’

Ceann Comhairle Sean Ó Fearghail has been attacked by his own party colleague John McGuinness in a row about a forthcoming trip for TDs to Taiwan.

Mr Ó Fearghail has written to TDs to warn them not to engage with Taiwan for fear it would “cause serious offence and grave concern to our Chinese friends and has the potential to cause serious damage to Ireland’s developing relationship with China as well as being a danger to Ireland’s national interest”.

As chair of the Houses of the Oireachtas commission and of the Dáil business committee, the Ceann Comhairle wrote to TDs to respectfully remind members of the position with regard to Taiwan.

“This issue is a very important one for our Chinese friends and I would remind members that Ireland, along with all other EU states, as well as the EU itself, adheres to the One China policy.

As a result, Ireland does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan,” he wrote.

Mr McGuinness, who is chairman of the Taiwan Ireland Parliamentary Friendship Association, branded the warning as “a bizarre political act”.

Speaking to the the Irish Examiner, Mr McGuinness said he and his group are aware of the One China policy and his activities pose no danger to that.

Our engagement is not political, but about extending trade and cultural links. I feel the Ceann Comhairle has gone a step too far in his bizarre warning.

Mr Ó Fearghail had written that: “Active engagement between members of the Oireachtas and Taiwan can damage the relations between Ireland and China and is in conflict to the long-standing One China policy.”

He warned that parliamentary engagement with the Taiwan authorities could have implications “on the excellent relations currently enjoyed by Ireland with China”.

As Ceann Comhairle, I have no intention of telling Oireachtas members who they, as elected public representatives, can meet or what functions they can attend.

"That would never be my wish. I write to members merely to remind them of the One China policy long in place, and to highlight the implications that a parliamentary engagement with the Taiwanese authorities can have on the excellent relations currently enjoyed by Ireland with China,” he wrote.

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