Dáil Éireann - Volume 286 - 11 December, 1975

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Canned Fruit Imports.

30. Mr. Lemass asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the value of imported fruits which have been canned in South Africa; if the free import of these canned goods is in conflict with the United Nations decision with regard to countries which practise apartheid; and, if so, if he will take steps to ensure that South African imports will not be sold in stores and supermarkets in this country.

Dr. FitzGerald: The value of canned fruits imported into Ireland from the Republic of South Africa in 1973 was £660,000 and in 1974 £834,000. A precise breakdown in respect of the present year is not as yet available. However, if the Deputy wishes, I can give him an approximate figure for the period January/August, 1975.

The import of South African canned fruit into Ireland is not in conflict with a decision of the United Nations. Under the Charter of the United Nations, the authority to impose sanctions, including the interruption of economic or other relations with a member State, is vested in the Security Council and, whereas the Security Council has imposed an embargo on the sale or shipment of arms to South Africa, it has not decided on any other sanctions against that state.

Resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly have contained calls for the severance of trade links with South Africa. However, General Assembly resolutions have the force of recommendations, not of binding decisions and are, therefore, different from the mandatory provisions of Security Council resolutions which, of course, all member States are legally obliged to implement.

[1538] The Security Council does apply a comprehensive system of sanctions against Southern Rhodesia which Ireland fully implements.

Mr. Lemass: Would the Minister agree than in the case of canned fruits, which I have taken separately from fresh fruits which are seasonal, there are sufficient other sources of supply to enable us to work at least within the spirit of the decision to which he refers?

Dr. FitzGerald: I am not familiar with the details of the trade in canned fruits. My concern is to see that our obligations vis-à-vis the UN are fully implemented. We do fully implement them. There is no decision of the UN on this matter. I do not feel that we should in those circumstances, seek to interfere with trade or to deprive people here of a source of canned fruit which presumably, if this quantity comes in, must be more economic or of a particular quality the people here wish to have.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Is that the Minister's convinced view, that where people here want to import canned fruit he does not feel he should in any way attempt to interfere?

Dr. FitzGerald: Except where there is a decision of the UN in the matter. In those circumstances we implement it.

Mr. O'Kennedy: But we have our own right to decision as well.

Dr. FitzGerald: We have indeed.

Mr. O'Kennedy: The fact that the UN have no mandate in the matter does not prevent us——

Dr. FitzGerald: There are divided views on the efficacy of this kind of incomplete partial sanction. Even the sanctions undertaken against Rhodesia under the authority of a decision of the UN Security Council have not proved very effective for that land-locked country so one may doubt whether this kind of gesture would have any effect in the case of South Africa but this is obviously a matter of opinion.

[1539] Mr. O'Kennedy: I am surprised somewhat by the Minister's views.