Explanation needed on rushed visit by Taoiseach to Hungary

03 January 2018

Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin has called for an explanation as to why the last minute visit by the Taoiseach to visit the Hungarian leader Victor Orbán was kept secret until now, and why the Dáil wasn’t informed of this visit on 13th December in response to a Parliamentary Question. He said that Ireland needs to know if our Government will challenge the policies that Hungary has been pursuing.

Deputy Howlin said:

“A last minute visit by the Taoiseach to the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán appears to have been added to his agenda with little publicity

“I understand the Taoiseach will stop off in Budapest to meet Orban on Thursday en-route to Bulgaria which was a visit planned to tie in with their upcoming Presidency of the EU Council

“In the last Taoiseach’s Question session in the Dáil on 13th December I specifically asked the Taoiseach about his planned visits over the next six months. The Taoiseach either misled the Dáil on that date or else these visits has been arranged at the last minute and kept secret until now.

“The Taoiseach will now become one of the few EU leaders to directly visit Orban in Budapest in recent years.

“Unfortunately the visit tomorrow will be seen as an implicit endorsement by the Taoiseach and Ireland of the policies that Orbán’s government has pursued including his recent propaganda campaigns against Muslims, the EU, and also on George Soros that has verged on anti-semitism.

“For Orbán this will be a prestigious visit. However, the Hungarian Prime Minister has implemented policies that many have described as anti-democratic, against EU values and the rule of law

“Orban has removed constitutional checks and balances alongside taking control of state media and the judiciary, and has been seeking to take control of an independent University. He has stoked right wing populism, and anti-migrant sentiment with his publicly funded ‘Let’s Stop Brussels!’ campaign that saw a questionnaire sent to every household asking how Hungary should deal with immigration and other EU related issues he disagreed with.

“I hope the Taoiseach will have the courage to defend both the values Ireland and the EU have upheld when he meets with Orbán tomorrow and to criticise the divisive path that Hungary is pursing within the EU.”

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