Ceisteanna - Questions (Resumed)

Northern Ireland Issues

Joe McHugh

Question:

1. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Taoiseach if he will outline his support for developing the all-island economy and for collaboration in the provision of public services on this island; if he will update Dáil Éireann on his most recent dialogue with British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron, in this regard; the issues that arose in his most recent relevant discussions as Head of the Irish Government with the Northern Ireland First and Deputy First Ministers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23666/13]

Micheál Martin

Question:

2. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the actions he is considering in view of the constant refusal of the British Government to instigate an independent inquiry into the murder of Mr. Pat Finucane; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23841/13]

Micheál Martin

Question:

3. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will be putting forward for discussion any papers at the next BIC meeting in Derry in June; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23842/13]

Gerry Adams

Question:

4. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach his plans to meet with the First Minister, Mr. Peter Robinson, or Deputy First Minister, Mr. Martin McGuinness. [25205/13]

Micheál Martin

Question:

5. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he or his officials met the Justice for the Forgotten group recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26614/13]

Micheál Martin

Question:

6. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron, has been in discussion with him directly regarding the recent discussion that was held at Westminster in relation to Ireland's tax arrangements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26626/13]

Regina Doherty

Question:

7. Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Taoiseach if he has discussed the matter of integrated education at his recent meeting with British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27355/13]

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

8. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Taoiseach in view of his recent meetings with the British Prime Minister and the First and Deputy First Ministers of Northern Ireland, the progress that has been made in relation to improving relations between the different communities in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27356/13]

Joe Higgins

Question:

9. Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Taoiseach when he will meet with the First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. [27358/13]

Gerry Adams

Question:

10. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach the recent discussions he has had with the British Prime Minister and with the First and Deputy First Ministers in Northern Ireland in relation to the all Ireland economy. [27871/13]

Gerry Adams

Question:

11. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach the issues he plans to prioritise at the next meeting of the British-Irish Council. [27872/13]

Micheál Martin

Question:

12. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has met recently with British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Ms Teresa Villiers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28705/13]

Gerry Adams

Question:

13. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach his plans to meet the Justice for the Forgotten group. [28999/13]

Gerry Adams

Question:

14. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach his plans to meet the families of the victims of the Ballymurphy massacre. [29000/13]

Gerry Adams

Question:

15. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach the steps he has taken in response to the refusal of the British Government to hold an inquiry into the killing of human rights solicitor Mr. Pat Finucane. [29001/13]

Gerry Adams

Question:

16. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach if he has raised the issue of the implementation of outstanding aspects of the Good Friday Agreement in his recent discussions with the British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron. [29002/13]

Micheál Martin

Question:

17. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if his attention was drawn to the £20 billion investment before it was announced on 14 June; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30030/13]

Micheál Martin

Question:

18. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he was invited to the announcement of the £20 billion investment in Downing Street, London; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30031/13]

Micheál Martin

Question:

19. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if the £20 billion announcement was discussed at the most recent North-South Ministerial Council meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30032/13]

Micheál Martin

Question:

20. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach when the next North-South Ministerial Council meeting will take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30033/13]

Micheál Martin

Question:

21. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if there was any discussion with him regarding the £20 billion announcement before or since the announcement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30035/13]

Micheál Martin

Question:

22. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if employment in Northern Ireland will be boosted by the recent £20 billion announcement of investment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30036/13]

Joe McHugh

Question:

23. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Taoiseach if he will update Dáil Éireann on his most recent discussions as Head of Government with the British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron, in respect of Great Britain's role in the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30045/13]

Joe McHugh

Question:

24. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Taoiseach if he will update Dáil Éireann on his most recent engagements as Head of Government with the leader of the British Government, Mr. Cameron, in respect of the all-island economy, pursuant to Strand II of the Good Friday Agreement. [30047/13]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 24, inclusive, together.

When I last addressed the House on Northern Ireland, I indicated that the focus of political leadership in Northern Ireland needed to be on maintaining and creating jobs through economic recovery and building a shared future. These were the principal themes of my bilateral meeting with the British Prime Minister in March and in the discussions I held with President Obama and the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in Washington. Since then, I am pleased to report that there has been very welcome progress in the North in the form of the publication of the “Together: Building a United Community” strategy for good relations and, more recently, the “Building a Prosperous and United Community” economic package agreed between the British Government and the Northern Executive's First Minister and Deputy First Minister. Taken together, these proposals seek to develop the twin and integrated strategies of promoting a stronger private sector and building a more cohesive, shared society.

Work such as this is important in delivering the forward-looking, prosperous and reconciled society we all wish to see in Northern Ireland. While the agreed economic package is primarily a matter between the British Government and the Northern Executive, I welcome the additional economic development and jobs that this package will bring to Northern Ireland. It is a very strong message that Northern Ireland is open for business. I again take this opportunity to congratulate the First Minister and Deputy First Minister on their achievement for all the people of Northern Ireland.

As regards the peace process, I believe the Prime Minister, Mr. Cameron’s, decision to hold the G8 summit in Fermanagh was vindicated. It provided a unique opportunity for us all, but most especially for the political leaders in Northern Ireland, to show to the world the progress being made there and to demonstrate that the peace process can have real and tangible benefits for the people of Northern Ireland and more widely across these islands.

During my time at the G8 summit in Lough Erne, I had the opportunity to speak directly with the US President, Mr. Obama, and commend him on his speech on the Monday morning to young people in Belfast and on his strong personal commitment to Ireland, North and South. My Government will continue to support the Executive and political leadership in Northern Ireland in whatever way it can to achieve our shared objectives of peace and economic prosperity.

I have already updated the House on my bilateral meeting in London with the UK Prime Minister, Mr. Cameron, and the key actions that are being jointly taken to develop further economic co-operation between the UK and Ireland and on the island of Ireland within this wider context. There continues to be valuable progress in co-operation through the North-South Ministerial Council, NSMC, and the North-South implementation bodies. The institutional framework of the NSMC is robust and works well. My Government is committed to working for greater cross-Border economic co-operation to accelerate the process of recovery and the creation of jobs on the island.

All members of the Government avail of all opportunities, including meetings within the framework of the NSMC, to have constructive engagement with Northern Ministers on matters of mutual economic interest and to advance initiatives designed to boost economic activity on the island. Ministers are committed to practical co-operation in providing services. Each of the North-South bodies operates on an all-island basis under the overall policy direction of the NSMC.

Tourism Ireland and InterTradeIreland have a particularly significant role to play in the economic recovery of the island. Tourism is especially important, North and South, and the Government is working closely with the Executive to ensure that the sector's potential is fulfilled, maximising the benefits of initiatives, including the Derry City of Culture and The Gathering. Tourism Ireland is a very good example of how an all-island approach can reap dividends. InterTradeIreland provides incentives for companies to compete on a North-South basis, encouraging linkages in areas of shared interest and seeking to foster a new culture of innovation and research excellence throughout the island. With the focus on promoting jobs and growth, there is a special need to maximise co-operation and participation in current and forthcoming EU framework programmes for research and technological development. It has been shown that when institutions from the North and South come together, the chances of accessing funding are significantly increased. InterTradeIreland has introduced two new programmes - Challenge and Elevate - that support SMEs and micro-businesses to grow and develop through innovation and exporting against difficult market conditions in both jurisdictions.

Our Presidency of the Council of the European Union has been helpful in showcasing the benefits of improved co-operation. Executive Ministers have shown considerable interest in the Presidency, and our Ministers have briefed their Northern counterparts on the Presidency priorities in their sectors and invited them to participate in relevant Presidency events.

I look forward to the next plenary meeting of the NSMC on 5 July. It will be an opportunity to make further progress in this important area. While the agenda remains to be finalised, I expect that we will take the opportunity to review Ireland's Presidency, the progress made on key issues of mutual interest and North-South economic co-operation.

The Government's position remains in favour of an independent public inquiry into the murder of Mr. Pat Finucane, in line with the all-party view in this House. The work undertaken by Mr. de Silva, QC, can facilitate this by helping to ensure that an independent public inquiry need not be lengthy, open-ended and inordinately expensive. In my contacts with Mr. Cameron following publication of the de Silva report, I made clear that the Irish Government will continue to seek an independent public inquiry. The Tánaiste has conveyed this message in his contacts with the UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Ms Villiers, and will continue to make it clear that full implementation of the Weston Park agreement remains a moral and political imperative for the Government.

Officials from my Department have recently met the Justice for the Forgotten group and representatives of the Ballymurphy families, and I hope to meet both of these groups shortly.

I have already updated the House on my visit to Washington in March and my joint meeting with the Northern Ireland First Minister, Mr. Peter Robinson, and the Deputy First Minister, Mr. Martin McGuinness. This series of engagements has continued more recently, with the Tánaiste meeting both Ministers in Belfast on 26 April. I had the opportunity to meet them briefly at the G8 summit.

I attended the twentieth summit meeting of the British-Irish Council in Derry on Friday last, which was jointly chaired by the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister. The council received a presentation from Ms Shona McCarthy, chief executive officer of the Derry-Londonderry Culture Company 2013. The presentation highlighted the benefits to the north west arising from Derry's selection as the first UK city of culture, and its aim to act as a catalyst for building the economy of the region and delivering a lasting legacy for the people of the city and surrounding area. The British-Irish Council also discussed the current economic situation in the different member administrations, with particular focus on the creative industries sector, energy costs and youth unemployment. Relevant papers are prepared for the council by the permanent secretariat, which is based in Scotland. The next council meeting is scheduled to take place in Jersey on 15 November.

Mr. Cameron and I have not spoken about any discussions at Westminster in regard to Ireland's tax arrangement, nor did we discuss the subject of integrated education at our most recent meeting. I did not discuss Great Britain's role in the European Union with the Prime Minister at these meetings.

I acknowledge the Taoiseach's comprehensive response and the work that is taking place at institutional and political levels in both Dublin and Westminster. Great work is taking place in Stormont. Just yesterday, there were British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly committee meetings taking place in Dublin and Belfast, and there was a steering committee meeting in Belfast. I am aware that the Taoiseach was in Derry last Friday at the British-Irish Council meeting. I welcome the fact that there will be a focus at council level on youth unemployment. We all hold this matter close to our hearts.

Against the backdrop of a broken country that we are trying to rebuild and the historic and economic ramifications of partition, which we all know about, it is important to point out that there is an appetite, both North and South, for pragmatic solutions in the form of all-Ireland services. An example is the €90 million that the Government is investing in Altnagelvin Area Hospital in Derry for radiotherapy services and the Narrow Water bridge project, which is to link Warrenpoint to County Louth. These are very pragmatic solutions and they must be welcomed. My question is related to the north west, however. There still needs to be a massive political drive, both North and South, in regard to the A5. I left Carrigart today at 10.30 a.m. and only arrived here in the past hour. This indicates the congestion on the route. We must keep this on the radar. We should also consider tangible projects that link people.

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Varadkar, is present. When I arrived today, I picked up documentation on the new Luas interconnector that is to bring the north and south of the city together. This is very welcome, but we need to bring together the peoples on this island. We must find ways and means of doing so, be it through new telecommunications systems or transport infrastructure. I have no doubt the Taoiseach will be completely aware of the success of the greenway project in his native county, Mayo. We have a great opportunity to advance some type of greenway project on a North-South basis. I have spoken privately to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport about this, and he has put on record his opinion on rail. We can talk about that on another day, however. With regard to the old Victorian railway lines, from Derry through Church Hill and down through Barnes Halt, and the old viaducts into Burtonport, there is already a good drive for grassroots community activism. This would not be about competing with Mayo but would complement the project in that county. The area to which I refer is a region in itself. I am getting a lot of feedback from my constituents to the effect that there is a massive opportunity for a project such as the greenway. With the new round of INTERREG funding, and the enthusiasm at local and local partnership levels, partnership companies are already on record as saying they are interested. It would bring people together. Derry city is the fourth largest city on the island. The project would involve people working shoulder to shoulder and it would be excellent, not just symbolically but also practically, in bringing people closer together on this island.

I am a very strong supporter of the concept the Deputy is talking about.

I know about this first hand from the collaboration and co-operation among communities in localities along particular routes. For instance, I had the privilege of launching the official opening of the Beara-Breifne Way between Castletownbere, County Cork, and Breifne, County Leitrim, the route of the march of O'Sullivan Bere in 1602. That 500 km route was developed by communities, Leader groups and parish groups using different funds and is available for people to walk and cycle. An opportunity arose in the west to develop the old railway line between Westport and Achill Island which had lain dormant, disused and overgrown for more than 80 years and because 127 farmers had agreed to open up the route, the local authority, Leader groups and communities got together and the Great Western Greenway is used by thousands of people very week.

As the Deputy has correctly pointed out, there is a brilliant opportunity in the Derry-Donegal area. I suggest that if he wants to lead a charge, a feasibility analysis be carried out of what it might mean, the number of viaducts to be repaired, bridges built and plantations removed and the provision of access, where land is in private ownership, in order that the route can be allowed to run through or around it, as the case may be. The Deputy needs this to be done first. As the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport has pointed out, INTERREG funds can be used in a creative way to support projects such as this and communities and local authorities are all for them.

Were this to become a reality, one would find that thousands of people would use it, no more than the opportunity presented by the canal towpath between Dublin and Athlone, about which I have spoken to the Minister, or the old rail track through Barnesmore Gap. These are spectacular areas and there is also an interest in developing a route between Glenbeigh and Cahirsiveen in County Kerry and around Clifden, County Galway. There are extensive areas to which this could apply. As co-chairman of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, he should get local authorities and local groups together. It should be considered.

The Erne project involves a waterway rather than a greenway, but these projects are all in the interests of people who want to be out and about involved in healthy activity. They are safe, opportune and well used when they become a reality. We are an outdoor people by nature and all of these facilities around the country provide a necklace of opportunities that we support to engage in healthy leisure activities and seek enjoyment. It is a case of getting the feasibility study right for the Deputy's project and then examining how creatively the different funding arrangements can be put in place, North and South. It would be a wonderful example of practical, pragmatic, cross-Border activity.

I have tabled ten questions in this group on Northern Ireland matters. Questions Nos. 23 and 24 relate to European matters, but they were lumped in to this group for some reason.

On 14 June what was termed "a new economic pact for Northern Ireland" was launched in Downing Street. I watched the launch on television and found it amazing that there did not appear to be any Government involved in the announcement. In addition, there was no mention of the Border region or cross-Border co-operation. The only mention of the Republic in the 15 specific points in the pact relates to an attempt to attract tourists visiting here to spend more money and time in the North. This was not just a discussion about the British budget but also about the economic development of the North. It was almost unprecedented for the all-island dimension to be ignored. I have not witnessed this for some time. I noted the lack of a Government presence at the announcement, but that was a logical extension of the hands-off policy adopted by the Government parties on Northern Ireland. In the past 15 years since the Good Friday Agreement was signed, I cannot recollect an occasion such as this where the Irish Government was outside the discussion on such a pact. A core principle of the Agreement is that the shared economic interests of the entire Border region should be recognised. Will the Taoiseach comment on this and how he envisages that we will return to putting this core strand of the Agreement back into the equation?

My other questions relate to the Justice for the Forgotten group and the Finucane case. The Justice for the Forgotten representatives have been active for years on various issues, but, in particular, they are requesting that files be released on the Dublin-Monaghan bombings in order that relatives can access all of the information available at the time. I do not understand why the Taoiseach has not met them yet. Some months ago and again last year I asked him to meet them. I do not understand why he will not meet them. This was one of the worst atrocities in the past 40 years on the island. Many of us have attended the commemorations of the bombings. The relatives at least deserve some recognition from the Taoiseach and the Government. I acknowledge that he has said officials have met them, but I would have thought that by this stage he would have met them and I am disappointed he has not done so. Will he meet them as a matter of urgency? Can he update the House on the issues that the Justice for the Forgotten group has with the ongoing inquires into the bombings?

I acknowledge the Taoiseach's statement that the Government supports a statutory inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane. Prime Minister Cameron is taking a different position. Will the Taoiseach outline to the House the steps he intends to take to have the Weston Park Agreement implemented in full? This is an international agreement between the British and Irish Governments. Is it the case that the family will have to go to the European Court of Human Rights? Is the Taoiseach disappointed with Prime Minister Cameron's response to date? Are there creative ways that can be opened up to have the inquiry agreed by the two Governments and under way?

I welcomed the initiative announced in Downing Street on 14 June which followed publication of the document, Together: Building a United Community, a strategy for good relations from the Northern Ireland Executive. Generally, we have always been involved to some degree or other in North-South developments. This sends a strong message that Northern Ireland is open for business, focusing on the steps needed to improve that position. From that point of view, I continue to work with our colleagues across the water and in the North to further North-South co-operation as part of our continued efforts.

Was the Taoiseach told about this?

I did not have information on it, but perhaps the Department was notified; I do not know.

As I said in reply to the Deputy's earlier question, I met the representatives of those affected by the Kingsmill massacre and the South East Fermanagh Foundation. In most of these cases departmental officials meet the members of the group beforehand to make arrangements for meetings. They recently met representatives of the Justice for the Forgotten group and the Ballymurphy families. I expect to meet representatives of the Justice for the Forgotten group shortly and representatives of The Disappeared. It is not my wish to prolong these things unduly; it is just simply a case of finding the time. While the Deputy says it is a long time without having a meeting, as he will be aware, one's schedule can be hectic at the least busy times.

I met a North-South representative group recently in County Louth at the eBay jobs announcement to discuss the Narrow Water Bridge project, which is important. I am glad Minister Wilson approved it.

We had a couple of engagements on that issue at different times. It will be the first physical connection across the Newry river estuary and will benefit commerce, trade and tourism. We have been continuously supportive of the project both in terms of our support for Louth County Council in making its arrangements and by way of the contribution we are making, together with that of the European Union. The chairman of the council pointed out on the occasion of the formal launching of the Mary McAleese Boyne Valley Bridge that machines will be on the ground at the Narrow Water Bridge site in the shortest possible time.

Deputy Joe McHugh and other representatives from the Border area have been in touch with me in respect of a number of matters relating to the A5 motorway and so on. I spoke briefly to the First and Deputy First Ministers about this issue the other day. Deputy Micheál Martin will be aware that there are a number of legal challenges to the development of the road which are currently being dealt with in the courts. I undertook to have a short meeting with the representative group of Border Members and intend to do so once the Presidency is over.

The North-South Ministerial Council, which was set in train during Deputy Martin's time in government, has been working very well. Ministers on both sides of the Border are in communication between formal meetings and there is a great deal of practical and pragmatic engagement on an ongoing basis. I was pleased to note during the course of the Presidency that Ministers involved in different sectors kept their counterparts in Northern Ireland fully informed and invited them to attend relevant meetings and occasions. A number of colleagues in the North were engaged with the permanent representation in Brussels and were thus kept fully informed on developments in regard to the Common Agricultural Policy, for instance, discussions on which will conclude today and tomorrow. Another example of this type of co-operation will be the appointment of a nominee of the Northern Ireland Minister for Health to the board of the new national children's hospital. Deputy Martin should not read too much into the announcement by Downing Street. We are heavily engaged with the First and Deputy First Ministers on a range of issues and activities. I spoke briefly to both of them at the G8 summit in Fermanagh.

We are conscious of the fragility of certain communities in the North and the need to address the issues they face. I supported the joint statement by the First and Deputy First Minister in regard to the first parade of the marching season, which urged people to reflect on the importance of adhering to proper and peaceful standards of behaviour. That is in the interest of every person and every community in Northern Ireland. I hope to meet in due course with relatives of the disappeared, Justice for the Forgotten, the relatives of those who died in Ballymurphy and others. We have a busy schedule but I will try to accommodate them as appropriately as I can.

I accept that the Taoiseach is extremely busy but I and other Members have been raising the need for him to meet with the Ballymurphy relatives and Justice for the Forgotten for a long time. I hope he will find space to have those meetings. Being from Ballymurphy myself, I understand how a failure to engage can feed back into a sense of frustration and isolation among the community. I say that respectfully, being conscious of the busyness of the Taoiseach's schedule.

The importance of developing all-Ireland solutions to enhance economic recovery is a notion that is gaining increasing acceptance. The Taoiseach cited the example of the Narrow Water Bridge, which is a very commendable project. Unfortunately, notwithstanding the Good Friday Agreement, many of the institutions of this State are very partitionist. We must recognise that partition is a barrier to economic regeneration. I do not know whether the Taoiseach had the chance to read the Dundalk gateway report which was published last month. That independent report made this case very clearly in its argument for greater cross-Border co-ordination and co-operation on energy, health provision, education, infrastructural development and job creation. Such co-operation will benefit the Border corridor and the citizens of both states on the island.

I commend Deputy Joe McHugh on his very fair and balanced chairmanship of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. My own anecdotal sense is that many of the Deputies who have travelled North have had their eyes opened to several of the outstanding issues. The more frequently people visit, the greater the likelihood that they can speak with credibility on these issues. The Taoiseach will recall a recent Sinn Féin Private Members' motion in which we identified aspects of the Good Friday Agreement that are not yet implemented. In fact, the Government's amendment to the motion acknowledged that failure. The introduction of an Acht na Gaeilge and an all-Ireland charter of rights, the establishment of a North-South consultative forum, these are all provisions of the Agreement which are within the authority and remit of both Governments either to implement or to encourage very actively.

Peace is a process, not a single event, and we must keep working at it, nurturing and developing it. Perhaps the greatest single achievement in our time has been the Good Friday Agreement. If, 15 years later, important dimensions of it have not been implemented, that is our fault. I spent yesterday in Belfast and was reminded that the Unionists are reluctant to embrace some of these very important matters, but that should not put us off. The Taoiseach has committed himself to the full implementation of the Weston Park agreement and to an independent inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane, both of which are welcome. Progress will not be made, however, unless the Government has a strategy in place. I have argued numerous times in this House for an international diplomatic strategy and an institutional linkage into the British Government. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade or another appropriate Department must have a facility to hold to account that Government.

We have had several instances of turbulence in Northern Ireland in recent times. The Tour of the North parade culminated in a Minister, Ms Carál Ní Chuilín, being injured and a local MLA, Mr. Gerry Kelly, being treated in a very dangerous and reckless way by PSNI officers. The record shows that Sinn Féin activists in those areas go in there to keep the peace, maintain calm and offer assistance. The recent arrests of Mr. John Downey and Mr. Michael Burns are totally contrary to the Good Friday Agreement and the Weston Park agreement in particular. Both these individuals were in receipt of letters from the British Government, in accordance with the agreement between that Government and the Irish Government, indicating that they were not sought in connection with any criminal charges. This is a very narrow issue applying only to former republican activists, but it nevertheless creates difficulties in republican heartlands. I urge the Taoiseach to press the British Government to abide by its agreements. We all welcome the release of Ms Marion Coyle, but she remained two years longer than she should have in prison without charge or trial. Mr. Martin Corey is still there because he does not have the same profile. Will he be left in prison forever? The Government must raise these matters with its British counterpart.

My main question concerns the need for persistent vigilance, the need for the Government to have an all-island view, to Good Friday Agreement-proof everything and for the Taoiseach to ensure this Tory Government which may enjoy excellent relationships state to state but is remiss in its responsibilities to fulfil the all-island nature of the Good Friday Agreement keeps to its commitments and obligations.

I thank the Deputy for his comments. I will, of course, be very happy to continue to make the case very strongly that we in this House and the Oireachtas believe a full public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane should be carried out. I repeat this every time I have the opportunity to address the British Prime Minister directly. It is the view of all parties in the House, without dissent, that it should follow. In talking to the Canadian Prime Minister before the recent G8 summit I actually reminded him of and thanked him for the appointment of Judge Cory and General de Chastelain from his country who were outstanding personalities, particularly General de Chastelain who was probably the man who eventually oversaw the taking of the guns out of the Northern equation. I will be happy to follow that through as firmly, strongly and often as I can.

On the question of a Bill of Rights, I have said when the Deputy has raised this question before, that we are fully committed to the effective implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and the St. Andrews Agreement. In contacts with the British Government we continue to stress the importance of implementation of all aspects of the Agreements, including a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland which takes account of the separate and specific context of Northern Ireland. We also continue to work with and urge all parties in the Assembly to engage in constructive discussions with a view to reaching agreement on the substance of a Bill of Rights because if a Bill of Rights is drawn up by agreement between the main parties, it could set out precisely and formally the legal rights on which a shared society in Northern Ireland could be based. I believe all parties here, including Deputy Gerry Adams's party, share frustration at the lack of progress in the production of a Bill of Rights, but it is a matter for the parties in the Assembly to do this. I will be happy to associate myself with it in working with the British Government and the Northern Ireland Executive on this issue.

In contacts with the British Government we continue to stress the importance of implementation of the Irish Language Act for Northern Ireland. It is not to be treated as some sort of Cinderella issue that should be shoved aside. All parties to the Good Friday Agreement recognise the importance of respect, understanding and tolerance in respect of linguistic diversity in Northern Ireland, the Irish language and the languages of the various ethnic communities which are part of the cultural wealth on the island of Ireland. The St. Andrews Agreement called on the incoming Northern Ireland Executive to work to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language. The British legislation giving effect to the St. Andrews Agreement included a specific requirement on the Executive to adopt a strategy setting out how it proposed to enhance and protect the development of the language. I hope that specific requirement will be dealt with, as is required in the terms of the Agreement.

Deputy Gerry Adams raised an important matter in respect of the arrest of Mr. John Downey and the impact of the British Government's approach to the "on-the-runs", OTRs, as they are called. I understand Mr. Downey was arrested while in transit through Gatwick Airport on 20 May. He was with his wife and daughter on his way to a family holiday. On 22 May the Crown Prosecution Service announced its decision to charge him in connection with the 1982 Hyde Park bombings in which four soldiers lost their lives. Consular assistance has been provided for Mr. Downey and an official in the Irish Embassy in London visited him last Wednesday afternoon. The embassy has made arrangements to continue to provide full consular support. I do not want to comment on Mr. Downey's individual circumstances, but the peace process has been very firmly bedded down, as are the institutions established by the Good Friday Agreement and they have stood the test of time. I am aware of concerns expressed to me directly about the impact of this arrest and its wider implications. The Tánaiste has also raised them directly with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. I will leave that issue at that point.

The Deputy also raised a question about an incident involving an MLA arising from the Tour of the North Parade on Friday last. I am aware of this incident involving the PSNI and elected politicians at Carrick Hill. As it has been referred to the Police Ombudsman, it is outside my remit to comment on it. Overall, the police handling of the complexities of the Tour of the North parade ensured it passed off without significant trouble. I take the point Deputy Gerry Adams has made about the involvement of community activists and elected representatives in trying to calm situations that could conceivably get out of hand. I expect that everybody here will agree that the setting up of the new police service in Northern Ireland has been one of the big successes of the entire peace process. The recent advances in public confidence in policing should be defended and built upon and protected. I fully recognise the scale of the challenges facing the PSNI on the security and public order front and the widespread concerns about the marching season, so important for the reputation of Northern Ireland, for its integrity and also for the continued good relations between communities. I urge community leaders in Belfast to re-engage with the commitments they made recently in Cardiff to de-escalate tensions to improve the situation. I also strongly support and did so publicly a couple of days ago at a press conference in Derry the appeal made by the First Minister, Mr. Robinson, MLA, the Deputy First Minister, Mr. McGuinness, MLA, the Minister for Justice, Mr. Ford, MLA, and Chief Constable Baggot for calm and respect in the challenging marching season that lies ahead. If everybody could understand his or her responsibilities and the issue of parades and behave properly, this would be a very beneficial outcome for communities in Northern Ireland and society in general.

I acknowledge that the Taoiseach said that at his last meeting with Mr. Cameron it was not discussed, but I think he will agree that there is no question that integrated education is a vital step in Northern Ireland's peace process, followed by housing integration and the integration of the entire society. That is where we are missing the message. This was highlighted superbly last week during the visit of President Obama and his wife to Northern Ireland by a young lady, Hannah Nelson. She is a Methodist College student who completely upstaged our distinguished visitors with the candid simplicity of her speech. She said: "We should not let the past pull us apart and stop us from moving forward ... We need to work together, not apart. We need to listen to each other and we need to compromise." The issue of segregation in childhood needs to be addressed. She attends Methodist College where Protestant and Catholic children sit side by side, play, learn and grow up together, but the majority of children in Northern Ireland do not have that facility and remain segregated. If Catholics continue to have their schools and Protestants have theirs, if we cannot see one another in ourselves, if fear, resentment and growing hatred are allowed to harden, that will encourage division and non-co-operation. I ask the Taoiseach, the next time he meets the British Prime Minister, Mr. Cameron, to make it a priority to sit down with him, not just to discuss this issue but to make sure clear and achievable objectives are defined within a timeframe in order that we can see some real change in the integration of education and all of the integration that needs to follow.

I share the Deputy's view in this regard. I note the comments made by President Obama in Belfast and it is more than appropriate that he should make them, given his own background and the situation that arose in the southern states of the United States in the 1960s when James Meredith arrived to go to college, or following the decision taken by Rosa Parks not to give up her seat on the bus, which allowed civil rights to be introduced in the United States after the assassination of President Kennedy.

In many ways this was a contributory factor to the election of Mr. Obama as President so many years later. When I saw the speeches in Northern Ireland, I was struck by the candour, confidence and positivity of the young student who introduced the First Lady. In her closing remarks she said, “Northern Ireland is my home. The reality is it has a past. ... It [also] has a future.” She is correct. We have to learn the lessons of the past but focus on what we can do for the future.

The Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Quinn, is involved intensely with his counterpart in Northern Ireland, with many discussions about education and shared opportunities and potential. I will see to it that the subject of integrated education is raised at the next meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council and will have both Ministers work on a paper dealing with it.

Yesterday, I attended a British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly committee meeting at Stormont. One issue that emerged was the implementation of new models of education, which Deputy Regina Doherty has just mentioned. Another interesting issue concerned the overall implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. Listening to the various representatives of different communities, be they loyalist or republican, it was noticeable that people genuinely feel the dividend of peace has not trickled down to ground level.

Without giving a commitment today, would the Taoiseach consider with his British counterpart the possibility of an annual report, prepared jointly by the Taoiseach’s office and the UK Prime Minister’s office, on the implementation of the agreement that could be laid before both sovereign Parliaments in Britain and Ireland, as well as the Northern Ireland Assembly, as guarantors? This would provide a further level of support for the agreement and for institutions such as the Assembly, the Executive, the North-South Ministerial Council and the British-Irish Council. With the flags protest and other recent engagements, people are beginning to wonder about the dividend of peace in Northern Ireland. This suggestion of a joint report, which came up at yesterday’s meeting, would ensure here and in Westminster that we give a real voice to the cause of peace. Such a report could put forward proposals on the agreement which would allow us to go forward.

We already have a committee dealing with the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, of which Deputy McHugh is well aware. The two Governments are co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement. I do not see why we cannot put together an assessment of what has worked well in it. We know the issues that are still outstanding. The Oireachtas committee, the Assembly committee and both Governments can reflect on the agreement. I do not see why we cannot have an appropriate discussion on this matter here. Deputy McHugh has raised this matter with me before and I will come back to Deputy O’Donovan on it.

I find it somewhat incredible that the Taoiseach was not made aware of the investment announcement in Downing Street by the British Prime Minister, the Northern Ireland First Minister and the Deputy First Minister. The essence of the Good Friday Agreement and the processes around it was that the British-Irish dimension would be central to it at all times, as well as the totality of relationships, such as the North-South relationship, the British-Irish relationship and the relationship between the different traditions in the North. The Taoiseach said that perhaps his officials were informed in advance of the announcement but it was not brought to his attention. That is an incredible and very worrying development which reflects a distancing of the Republic in engagement with the issues.

I am also surprised the Deputy First Minister went along with this, because it has a certain partitionist resonance to it. We have made our contribution to economic development in the North with road network developments and other initiatives. The concept of the all-island economy is important for jobs both North and South. In the future, will the Taoiseach ensure there is greater engagement between the British and Irish Governments on such initiatives and announcements?

I do not believe there was any deliberate intention of not keeping us in the loop, as it were. I have seen some of the comments that it was expected such an announcement was to be made. I will have to come back to the Deputy on whether we got a copy of the announcement in advance.

The relationship between both Governments is very good, as well as that between officials in my Department and those in Downing Street. The Prime Minister invited me to attend the recent G8 summit, both as holder of the Presidency and because it was on the island of Ireland.

While Deputy Martin is concerned about prior knowledge of the announcement, it may well be that we had advance knowledge of it but it was overshadowed by other Presidency activities. I will find out about that for the Deputy. However, I do not believe there was any deliberate intention of moving off to a point of individual connections or not keeping us informed. We have been engaged with our Northern Ireland counterparts on a whole series of fronts. My officials may well have been informed of the substance of the announcement in Downing Street before it was made. I will check it for the Deputy.

It is a fact that many citizens in the North have not had any benefit of an economic dividend from the peace process. That is very clear in areas that have borne the brunt of conflict and that suffered from decades of disadvantage and discrimination.

What about the dividend of peace?

Arguably, there are also citizens in this State who have not had any economic dividend from decades of so-called sovereignty.

One of the difficulties is that the Assembly does not have fiscal powers. Sinn Féin has been arguing for the transfer of fiscal powers for some time. The British Government retains control, by and large, through a block grant, which has become a matter of deliberate misinformation in this Chamber. The Taoiseach knows that the British Government unilaterally cut £4 billion off this grant recently. We need to achieve a transfer of fiscal powers to the Assembly, which will help people across the entire island. We also need to continue to make representation on the British Government’s responsibilities for the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements. I have no doubt there is a very good relationship between the Government and the State and the British Administration. We would make an awful and grievous mistake, however, if we did not institutionalise the overseeing of the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

If there is not at this time in existence an implementation body or a group charged with that responsibility, we are heading into trouble in the time ahead.

I commend the matter of fiscal powers being transferred and in terms of people's economic entitlement, that requires regeneration and a focus by Irish Government as well as the British Government on the respective responsibilities.

We all share the view that with the peace process operating well the general economy improves as a consequence. That is why, in order to keep these things very much in focus, President Obama said in his contribution in Belfast that the United States will continue to work with the British Government, Irish Government, the Executive and the Assembly in the context of support for Northern Ireland, and that is an important factor in all of this. That is why Europe has recognised the importance of the inclusion of the Peace IV moneys; it is €150 million but it is for fragile communities and that is important, and we hope that it comes through under the MFF. We can see the connections with the Narrow Water Bridge project and the economic impact of commerce, trade, tourism and community facilities by virtue of the investment in that project of €16 million from Europe, Northern Ireland, the Government and Louth local authority. We can see the evidence of the value of having the peace process operating very much up-front with the Irish Open last year with young McIlroy and the impact of that and the good feeling it generated in terms of tourism and the hospitality industry and people getting to know the Northern Ireland area and all the facilities there.

Derry has been transformed. It was a privilege to walk across the Peace Bridge again last weekend and to see the transformation of the old military barracks, which is a massive site that contains enormous potential for cultural activities and artisan features. I was informed that more than 1 million people have walked across that bridge in the past two years and that speaks for itself. The city of culture presentation given by Ms McCarthy, who I mentioned earlier, was fascinating in terms of the potential it highlighted and added to that the Fleadh Cheoil to be hosted there later in the year. All of the north west is working hard with the citizens of Derry and its environs to make this a real success.

When I spoke to Prime Minister Abe from Japan, he told me it was the first time a Japanese Prime Minister ever came to the republic since we achieved independence but he was anxious to be associated with Northern Ireland and he invited the First and Deputy First Minister to go to Japan. Japanese investment of 400 jobs in Belfast speaks for itself. These are opportunities for the communities and the economy of Northern Ireland to build on the Good Friday Agreement and on the peace process, and that is important. We should keep all these factors very much to the fore.

The success of the G8 at Lough Erne in Fermanagh was outstanding. We had the impact of the meeting of the leaders of the eight most industrialised countries in the world and they expressed that they were very happy at being able to visit Northern Ireland to see the facilities there and get a short-term flavour of the personality and hospitality of the people. That generated a great deal of coverage internationally and that is the best way to promote Northern Ireland and the island as a whole. There were literally thousands of people in the backup entourages of those eight leaders staying in Northern Ireland and south of the Border which was of benefit to the general economy. They are all pointers to what can be achieved if everybody focuses on the future of Northern Ireland - that the young student, to whom Deputy Regina Doherty referred, spoke about - its people and the communities and the integration towards that objective of growing the economy is where we should be focused. We will support that in every way that we can and at every conceivable turn of the road.

We can move on to Question No. 25 as we have three minutes remaining.

Can I ask a supplementary on the previous group of questions?

On the questions I tabled on the Justice for the Forgotten and the Finucane case, I know the Taoiseach's schedule has been extremely busy but in regard to the Justice for the Forgotten, as has been said by others in the House, this was the largest atrocity during the Troubles. I am talking about Dubliners and people from Monaghan. They have watched other groups being met and in essence they are very disappointed at this stage that the Taoiseach has not met them. He seems to be indicating that will happen sooner rather than later. Can he indicate if he will meet the relatives in the next month or in the next six weeks before the summer recess? Can we say that to them or can the Taoiseach say that to them in the House? It is the least they deserve. They are a constructive group and have legitimacy on their side in terms of the issues that they wish to pursue.

Regarding the need for a statutory inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane I am unclear from the Taoiseach's earlier reply as to how he intends to progress that with the British Prime Minister. He has indicated that his relationship with the Prime Minister is a good one, notwithstanding the earlier criticisms I had in terms of what happened on the economic side but in terms of the full implementation of an agreement between the two Governments, for the past two and a half years we have been asking the same question in essence. There is a deadlock between the two Governments on this issue. Are creative solutions being worked on by both Governments? Is there any meaningful discussion under way between both Governments to find a way through this particular impasse? Failure to implement the Weston Park agreement in full undermines the credibility of the process and gives ammunition to those who want to undermine and pour scorn on it and its achievements. I ask that some initiative be taken to find a creative way of ending the deadlock and the impasse that has clearly emerged in regard to the fulfilment of an agreement between the two Governments on an independent statutory inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane.

I endorse what Deputy Martin said and appeal to the Taoiseach, if he possibly can, to meet the Justice for the Forgotten, the Ballymurphy families and the families of the disappeared with the others who are waiting to meet him before the recess.

I wish to make a brief comment and also a suggestion which I have made a number of times in the past. The Taoiseach cited thanking the Canadian Prime Minister for the work of General de Chastelain, Judge Cory and so on. He may have done this but a useful advance on that would be to ask Canadian Prime Minister to quietly raise these outstanding issues with the British Prime Minister. That is one of the ways the British have been encouraged to move in the past and I would commend it again.

We discussed that issue and, as I said, both nominees from Canada were of significant importance here. We have a very good working relationship with Prime Minister Harper. I hope the European Union can conclude its trade negotiations with Canada in the near future. That is a matter that has been ongoing for some time.

I would like to be able to say that I can meet Justice for the Forgotten, the families of the disappeared and the Ballymurphy residents before the House rises for the summer recess. As far as I can recall, we had fixed a date for the Ballymurphy people but they did not want to take it up on that occasion and it had to be rearranged. I would hope to be able to do that before we rise for the summer recess. The way the legislation is building up we might be here through August. I say that in jest, a Cheann Comhairle.

Is the Taoiseach sure he did?

Regarding Pat Finucane, obviously I cannot direct the British Government here. I have reminded the Prime Minister clearly that this House unanimously, without dissent, agreed that there should be a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane. That was the decision of Judge Cory. That was the decision at Weston Park. That was the decision to which both Governments signed up. I did make the point to the British Government that because Sir Desmond de Silva went through whatever extensive paperwork there was in regard to the Finucane report, which he conducted, that in itself would create a situation where a public inquiry need not be as long or as extensive in drawing together all the paperwork that now exists and that, as a consequence, need not be as costly as might be imagined.

It would fulfil the international agreement and the recommendation of Judge Cory that there be a public inquiry. This is an avenue we could pursue and, over a period, I hope it might become a reality. I understand that Sir Desmond de Silva drew together all the paperwork on this matter and analysed it in coming up with his report.

That report was unacceptable to Geraldine Finucane and her family. I spoke to the family about the matter. We have agreed to continue pressing for a full public inquiry and we stand by that. In my view, a significant amount of work has been done on the matter through the preparation of the de Silva report. If the British Government was now to announce its intention to hold a public inquiry, a great deal of the material would already have been collated and made available. The fears that are always expressed about the extent, length and cost of public inquiries need not apply. I will continue to press that very strongly.

Written Answers follow Adjournment.