Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has said his opposition to the Occupied Territories Bill is not political, but based on clear advice from the former attorney general.
The Bill, which would ban imports from illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, has been opposed by Mr Coveney and Fine Gael on the basis that it would contravene EU law.
The issue of the bill was a sticking point in government formation talks in recent weeks, and was removed from the programme for government at the behest of Fine Gael.
Speaking in the Dail on Thursday, Mr Coveney said his opposition to the bill is informed by legal advice.
“I don’t know many times I have to say it but people don’t want to seem to hear it. The reason why I have opposed as a Minister, the introduction of the Occupied Territories Bill is because I have very clear legal advice from the previous attorney general which I believe to be very credible and that is that we can’t do it, we can’t enforce it and we can’t implement it”, he said.
“People just don’t want to accept that. It’s as if to say the legal advice from the AG is not valid because we have some other legal advice from somebody else, somewhere and it says otherwise, ” he said.
He continued: “As a Government Minister, I have to respect and act upon the legal advice the State’s legal advice has available to it. It is the State’s legal advice.”
“So this is not some kind of strategic opposition by me to a piece of legislation. It is a legal position. I can understand the frustration behind the Occupied Territories Bill, but on many occasions I have explained why we can’t do it and people don’t want to accept that for political reasons.”