Ministers offer to help bring peace talks to North Korea

Ministers offer help bring peace talks North Korea
10/10/2017 Budget Day 2018 (LtoR). Members of the Independence Alliance John Halligan TD, Minister for Transport Shane Ross TD, and Minister of State for Disability Finian McGrath. Photo:

An offer by the Independent TD ministers in the Irish government to mediate with North Korea over the nuclear missiles crisis received short shrift from their boss, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Waterford TD John Halligan, Ireland’s Minister of State for Training and Skills, said last week he was be prepared to go, with the other ministers, at their own expense, to lead peace talks in North Korea to spark peace talks.

He said that Ireland’s Minister for Transport Shane Ross and Minister of State for Disability Finian McGrath would also travel to North Korea with him.

Speaking to journalists at a job announcement in California, Mr Varadkar said that any visit from an Irish minister to the country is something he couldn’t “envisage going ahead”, but added that he was sure “that it is motivated from good intentions”.

Mr Halligan’s offer to help initiate peace talks came just hours before North Korea threatened to increase its nuclear arsenal as Donald Trump toured Asia. Speaking on RTE radio Mr Halligan said the ”greatest threat to peace in the world is on the Korean peninsula”.

“Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump are a threat to bringing the world to nuclear oblivion,” he said.

Mr Halligan said he would personally ask the North Korean leader “to engage with democracy.”

He said the ministers would pay their own way and do it in their own free time. Mr Halligan said that he hadn’t discussed the issue with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar or Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney.

“Any TD is at liberty to go to a country and visit, we’re not doing anything sensational, we’re not talking sides, we’re trying to initiate peace talks. I do think the (Irish) government should get involved,” said Mr Halligan.

“I think there’s an inevitability. We’ve two choices, will there be war or will there be talks, will there be peace? We are prominent, neutral politicians, and we’re highly respected for our neutrality.

“We’ve nothing to lose? What is there to lose by attempting to talk peace with North Korea? Mr Varadkar, in the US, told reporters North Korea is “a dangerous place to go” and that he feared something “beastly” could happen to Halligan and colleagues on such a trip.

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