Written Answers. - Council of Europe Meetings.

Louis J. Belton

Question:

41 Mr. Belton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of ministerial meetings of the Council of Europe held since June 1997; and the Irish Minister who attended each of these meetings. [8237/98]

The Department of Foreign Affairs has responsibility for meetings of the Committee of Ministers, the Council of Europe's decision making body, which comprises the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the 40 member states or their Permanent Representatives. The Committee of Ministers meets at ministerial level twice a year in Strasbourg. In the case of Ireland these meetings have usually been attended by the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, or in their absence by our Permanent Representative.

Only one such ministerial level meeting has taken place since June 1997. Ireland was represented at that meeting by our Permanent Representative.

The Council of Europe, as part of its programme of intergovernmental co-operation, has established twenty standing Conferences of European Specialised Ministers covering the various fields of activity of the organisation. Since June 1997, meetings of six such conferences have taken place. The 21st Conference of European Ministers for Justice took place in Prague on 10-11 June 1997 and was attended by the then Minister for Justice. The 25th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Family Affairs took place in Vienna on 16-18 June 1997 and was attended by the then Minister of State at the Department of Social Welfare. The 19th Conference of European Ministers for Education took place in Kristiansand on 22-24 June 1997, the Minister for Education was represented at the conference by a senior official of that Department. The 11th Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning took place in Limassol on 15-17 October 1997 and was attended by the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment and Local Government with special responsibility for Housing and Urban Renewal. The 4th Ministerial Conference on Equality between Women and Men took place in Istanbul on 6-7 November 1997, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform was represented at the conference by a senior official of that Department. The 5th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy took place in Thessalonika on 11-12 December 1997, the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands was represented at the conference by a senior official of that Department.