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NUJ welcomes Irish cancellation of Saudi conference event

18 October 2018

The NUJ has welcomed the decision by Ireland's biggest business lobby group to cancel its joint conference with the Irish Saudi Arabia Business Council (ISABC) originally scheduled to be held today in Dublin. 

Séamus Dooley, Irish secretary of the NUJ, said:

"We note IBEC's decision of to cancel the conference and welcome its prompt reaction. This conference had been planned for some time and it is appropriate that, given the worsening situation in Saudi Arabia, the government and Irish companies take a new look at plans to strengthen links with the Saudi regime."

The National Union of Journalists in the UK and Ireland (NUJ) had urged IBEC to withdraw from the conference, aimed at promoting trade links between Saudi Arabia and Ireland, following the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week.

IBEC and the Irish Saudi Arabia Business Council were scheduled to host what was billed as a joint "speaking event" at the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin, at 11am on 18 October. According to the council’s website, guests included the Saudi ambassador, Nail Al-Jubeir, and the CEO of IBEC, Danny McCoy. The NUJ had said McCoy should at least withdraw from the seminar.

IBEC's move follows the example of Christine Lagarde of the IMF and a host of business figures who have withdrawn from an investment conference due to take place in Saudi Arabia from 23 to 25 October. Séamus Dooley said:

"It is inconceivable that representatives of Irish business would sit down in the Shelbourne Hotel to discuss trade links with Saudi Arabia against the backdrop of the most horrific treatment of Jamal Khashoggi. 
"This latest incident brings into sharp focus the human rights record of Saudi Arabia. The fact that the safety of an embassy was violated raises fundamental issues for the global community. 
"A number of other state agencies and bodies are also affiliated to IBEC and I hope that they will also bring pressure to bear on the leadership of the organisation."

Tags: , saudi arabia, jamal khashoggi, ireland