July 3, 2023
Government must revoke opposition to illegal Israeli Divestment Bill following UN Database updates – John Brady TD

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow, John Brady, has welcomed an announcement that the UN database of business enterprises involved in certain activities, relating to illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, has been updated by the UN today.

The UN database was set up by the UN Human Rights Council in 2020 following a UN resolution in 2016.

Teachta Brady said:

“In May of this year, I brought forward legislation in the Dáil at second stage designed to compel the Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) to divest its investments in companies contained in the database.

“Rather than support the Sinn Féin Bill, government opted to bring forward an amendment in an attempt to kick the it down the road for nine months. They said this was to allow for a review of the legislation as they did not view the database as a live document, arguing that it was not capable of being updated.

“This development blows the governments arguments out of the water. The 2020 report by the UN identified 112 business entities which it had reasonable grounds to believe were involved in specific activities identified in the Human Rights Council resolution at the UN.

“Although the resolution called for annual updating of the database, no resources were provided for this purpose. But companies continued to work with the UN, engaging regularly with the HRC and seeking their removal from the database.

“In an attempt to scupper the legislation, which was supported by Irish and international NGO’s, along with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, Francesca Albanese, the government framed their opposition within a spurious argument relating to supposed inability of companies to have their names removed from the database.

“Minister Jennifer Carroll MacNeill argued that the database did not have a clear basis for amending the information on it. And that companies could not have their data removed even if they changed their investment strategy. Minister Carroll MacNeill erroneously contended that this impacted on the operationality of the Bill.

“I argued at the time that this was a fallacy – that the database was a live document, and was one which could be continually amended and updated.

“Continuing engagement and dialogue between the UN and business entities on the database has led to the removal of 15 business enterprises from the database as they have either no longer or were in the process of ceasing their involvement in listed activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.

“Of the 15 business entities named today as being removed from the database, one entity, General Mills was on the original list of business entities which the ISIF had invested in. This leaves eight remaining business entities which were impacted by the legislation, which ISIF remain invested in.

“Ireland led out in opposition to apartheid South Africa in the 1980s. That the current government now seeks to manoeuvre to continue to allow the ISIF to maintains its investments in business entities linked to the illegal Israeli settlements, is not only morally repugnant, but also has the effect of making the Irish taxpayer a stakeholder in international war crimes.

“From the outset I have attempted to meet with the Minister for Finance to discuss the legislation, in order to ensure that the government does not get away with burying the Bill in order to avoid having to address what is a key moral issue for the state.

“Developments regarding the UN database render the government’s supposed concerns irrelevant, and I am calling for the government to revoke its opposition to the Sinn Féin legislation, which will remove the stain of Irish involvement in war crimes.”

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