Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Science, Technology, Research and Development, James Lawless has said that Minister Halligan’s pilgrimage to his former Workers’ Party paradise, North Korea is an embarrassing act of self-importance.

“Deputy Lawless was commenting after Minister Halligan said that he and his fellow Independent Alliance Ministers, Shane Ross and Finian McGrath were planning to visit North Korea.

“Minister Halligan may have shed his Workers’ Party label for that of Independent, but it’s abundantly clear that despite his public transformation, his heart still pines for the 1980s fundraising trips members of his former party enjoyed to the failed communist dictatorship.

“The Independent Alliance Ministers have a habit of going off on tangents and ignoring their roles and duties as Ministers.

“Minister Halligan should be using his office and platform to advocate for research and development funding for higher education institutions.

“How is he happy with a situation where just one Irish institution ranked in the Top 200 in the world this year, when Scotland with broadly the same population had five in the Top 200?

“His colleague, Minister Shane Ross is also clearly undergoing a public transformation in his own right. It wasn’t that long ago when he was the most high profile cheerleader of the capitalist right in this country. Yet, he is now joining in on the pilgrimage to Halligan’s communist paradise.

“Shane Ross should stay put in Ireland, and do his job. Only this week, Ireland’s Rugby World Cup bid suffered a major setback, and we have had the first in a series of Irish Rail strikes that will severely hamper Irish commuters.

“The Independent Alliance has long attempted to portray itself as both a political party and as a group of independents. Now it seems its Ministers are now attempting to pretend they aren’t Government ministers, even though they clearly are, and must follow normal protocols.

“My advice to Ministers Halligan, Ross and McGrath is: do the job the Irish people have entrusted you to do, and leave international diplomacy to the likes of the UN and the EU,” concluded Lawless.