The Irish section of AWEPA, which has over 160 members in the Irish Parliament, is regarded as one of the most active sections in Europe. It has been active since 1984, the time of AWEPA’s original anti-apartheid campaign.
In mid-2011, the AWEPA Irish Section elected a new leadership team in the Irish Parliament. This team now consists of independent MP, Hon. Maureen O’Sullivan TD, as Head of the Section, supported by Hon. Olivia Mitchell TD, as a member of the AWEPA Executive Committee. There is also a new group of Irish parliamentarians engaged in the Irish AWEPA Section including Seán Crowe TD, Thomas Pringle TD, Senator Alice-Mary Higgins and Michael Harty TD
The Irish section of AWEPA is composed of TDs, Senators and former Oireachtas Members who are dedicated to “keeping Africa high on the agenda of the Oireachtas”. Members come from across the political spectrum and the Irish Section is regarded as one of the most active sections of AWEPA in Europe. The Section has carried out a number of high-profile campaigns in recent years, raising human rights and humanitarian concerns in Darfur, Zimbabwe and Somalia.
The AWEPA Irish Section usually holds at least one main meeting or campaign event every month while the Oireachtas is sitting. It also holds many more regular, smaller policy briefings on issues related to Africa, usually with a visiting speaker in attendance. The AWEPA Irish Section uses all of the procedures of both Houses of the Oireachtas, and the joint committees, to discuss Africa-related issues and Ireland’s relationship with Africa.
In 2014, the Section organised a visit of parliamentarians from Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia and Libya to Ireland to discuss their new constitutional arrangements, at the same time as Ireland carried out a review of its Constitution. The visit resulted in a number of recommendations for parliamentary action that were agreed among the delegates from the five countries.
The major ongoing concern of the Irish Section of AWEPA is Development Effectiveness and, along with the AWEPA secretariat and Irish Aid, the Section has created the AWEPA “Joint Monitoring Teams” – small teams of parliamentarians working from country-to-country to carry out oversight of development resources. This programme has now created teams of Irish MPs and MPs from Mozambique and Tanzania in order to jointly monitor development resources in their respective parliaments. This initiative has great potential to deliver new development results.
This video interview was conducted on the sidelines of the AWEPA International Parliamentary Seminar on Peace, Security and Sustainable Development, held in Brussels on 8-9 October 2015.
Hon. Mitchell was elected for the fourth consecutive general election with 9,635 first preference votes. Olivia has been a TD for Dublin South since 1997 and has in that time been front bench Spokesperson for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Transport, Health and Local Government.