TD John McGuinness has no intention of stopping his trips to Taiwan – despite a letter from the Ceann Comhairle recommending just that.
Deputy McGuinness makes regular trips to Taiwan for his work as Chairman of the Taiwan Ireland Parliamentary Friendship Association. He was therefore recently “surprised” by a letter from Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl saying that Taiwan shouldn’t be engaged with.
Ó Fearghaíl believes that McGuinness’ trips could damage Ireland’s relationship with China, who still see Taiwan as part of their territory. In his letter, he expressed concerns that relations with Taiwan 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”.
He reminded the TDs 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.
McGuinness has dismissed the Ceann Comhairle’s warning as “bizarre”, and has defended the relationship he has strengthened with Taiwan over a number of years. He claimed that his group’s trips there are about building and maintaining business links, not political ones.
Despite these instructions from Ó Fearghaíl, his party colleague, TD McGuinness is determined to go ahead with a planned trip to Taiwan in January.
“The relationship is like any other relationship that countries have. And it’s true to say that America has a sizeable relationship with Taiwan and so have many other countries.” McGuinness states. “Who is to dictate who we should speak to and who we should trade with?”