The Government supports the “principle” of a Sinn Féin Bill seeking to compel State investment funds to sell off their holdings in companies listed on a United Nations’ database of firms operating in occupied Palestinian territories.
The Coalition agreed on Tuesday to seek a timed amendment to the Sinn Féin Bill, which will effectively stall its progression through the Oireachtas for nine months, amid concerns that its progression could leave the State open to legal action.
However, a Government spokesman said on Tuesday at a post-Cabinet briefing for reporters that the Coalition was “very much in favour of the principle” behind the Bill and the Government had approved several steps to progress the “broad intention” behind the legislation.
Minister for Finance Michael McGrath is to write to the chair of the Oireachtas committee on foreign affairs and defence seeking a report on the most appropriate way to progress that intention, the Government spokesman said. Mr McGrath will also write to the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) to seek its views on how to bring forward proposals on the matter.
The Coalition is concerned that codifying the requirement to sell off holdings in specific companies held by the NTMA or the Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) would open it to legal challenge. The spokesman said there was no agreement that the UN would update the list in the future due to the “significant political difficulties around adding or removing companies from it”.
Speaking after the Dáil debate, Sinn Féin TD John Brady said “clearly” the Government had decided that the “rights of the Palestinian people are certainly not worth standing up for” which was “shameful”.
Elsewhere, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien told the Cabinet that staffing levels at the scandal-hit An Bord Pleanála would bring the increase in staff to 50 per cent since 2021. He told Cabinet that the board had advised his department that it was now running simultaneous board meetings and that given 15 board members were now appointed, it had the capacity to hold board meetings in both the morning and evening to progress decision making as it sought to work its way through a backlog.
Cabinet was told the board missed its statutory deadline for making a decision on 134 Strategic Housing Development applications, incurring a total of €1.3 million in penalty payments to applicants.
Minister for Defence and Tánaiste Micheál Martin got approval to work on proposals for high-level structural changes within the Defence Forces. This includes the creation of a new post of chief of defence, which will replace the current chief of staff post, as well as the creation of three service chiefs and deputy service chiefs for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service.