Question No. 61 answered with Question No. 53.

School Staffing

Questions (62)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

62. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the principal and board of management at a school (details supplied) in Dublin 2 have permission from his Department to allocate resource hours to mainstream teachers because the school is in an over quota position, thus resulting in a qualified resource teacher losing their job; and if he will confirm that only resource teachers should teach resource hours no matter what the situation or position the school finds itself in. [32207/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Teacher allocations to all second level schools are approved annually by my Department in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment. The staffing arrangements at post primary level for the 2013-14 school year have been published and are available on the Department website. In accordance with these rules each school management authority including the school referred to by the Deputy is required to organise its subject options within the limit of its approved teacher allocation. The recruitment and appointment of teachers to fill teaching posts is a matter for the individual school authority, subject to procedures agreed under Section 24(3) of the Education Act 1998 (as amended by the Education (Amendment) Act 2012). The deployment of teaching staff in the school, the range of subjects offered and ultimately the quality of teaching and learning are in the first instance a matter for the school management authorities.

Arms Trade

Questions (63)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

63. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade further to Parliamentary Question No. 108 of 11 June 2013, if he will provide an update in the provision of legislation in Irish law for the ratification of the arms trade treaty he intends to bring before Dáil Éireann later this year; the steps that have been taken to date by officials in his Department in this matter to ensure early ratification; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32307/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

As I stated in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 108 of 11 June 2013 to which the Deputy refers, the Government wish to see the rapid entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty, ATT, which will take place ninety days following ratification by the fiftieth State. Some of the provisions of the Treaty concern matters that fall within the exclusive competence of the European Union, as they come under the scope of the Common Commercial Policy or affect the rules of the Internal Market. As a result, a Decision authorising member States to ratify must be adopted by the Council before Ireland and its EU partners can proceed to ratification.

A proposal to the Council recommending the adoption of a draft Council Decision is awaited from the European Commission in this regard. The Commission will set out its assessment of the legal position, including whether any European legal instruments need to be amended in order to comply with the terms of the Treaty. Any changes in European legislation identified by the Commission may require corresponding changes in domestic legislation transposing the relevant European laws. This would be a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, whose Department operates Ireland’s national licensing unit.

At the national level, I have instructed officials in my Department to begin preparations to ensure that the necessary steps are taken in good time to allow for early ratification. We are considering what measures, if any, must be taken so that the State will be in a position to meet the obligations it will assume under the Treaty as soon as it enters into force. This involves an examination of the provisions of the Treaty to establish whether legislative, administrative and-or policy measures are required to implement them. Contacts are ongoing between my Department and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in this regard. Early ratification by the 28 EU member States, including Ireland, would advance matters considerably toward the ATT becoming a reality on the ground and starting to save lives. I therefore hope that the necessary steps can be taken quickly.

Election Monitoring Missions

Questions (64)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

64. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade further to Parliamentary Question No.120 of 11 June 2013, the names of persons whom his Department sent on the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe election observation mission to oversee the presidential elections in Mongolia on 26 June 2013; the costs that each person will incur; if he will outline in tabular form the expenses of each person; the activity of the mission during the election and to report on their outcome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32333/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

International election monitoring missions play an important role in the promotion of democracy and human rights. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade maintains a roster of observers for election monitoring missions. We aim to ensure that, when requested, Ireland is represented at an appropriate level in international observation missions for both elections and constitutional referendums. Irish observers participate primarily in missions organised by the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. However, they have also been involved in missions organised by the Council of Europe, the United Nations and the Carter Centre.

A list in tabular form of the persons sent on the election observation mission to observe the Presidential elections in Mongolia, as Short Term Observers, STO, is set out as follows.

-

Role

Forename

Surname

Cost

Mongolia

STO

Theresa

Reidy

€5528

Mongolia

STO

Joseph

Scanlon

€5528

Mongolia

STO

Ronán

O'Brien

€5528

The election observation mission to Mongolia is ongoing. The observers are required to submit a report on their return to Ireland at the end of the mission.

Human Rights Issues

Questions (65)

Finian McGrath

Question:

65. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding human rights at Falun Gong and the organ transplant industry in China; if there is evidence of this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32491/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Government closely follows human rights issues in China, including reports of organ harvesting, and is concerned about the situation. Freedom of expression is an issue which is discussed regularly with the Chinese authorities during both bilateral and multilateral meetings. In March 2012, Ireland and China took a major step forward in strengthening our bilateral ties with agreement on The Strategic Partnership for Mutually Beneficial Cooperation. The Strategic Partnership reaffirms the commitment of Ireland and China to respecting and safeguarding human rights.

As indicated in the joint statement, Ireland and China will conduct exchanges of expertise in governance and rule of law on the basis of equality and mutual respect. Through the formal framework of the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue, which was established in 1995, the EU continues to share with China its experience in the field of human rights protection and promotion, and to urge China to take clear steps to improve the human rights situation. The latest session of this dialogue took place on 25 June 2013 and provided the EU with the opportunity to express its concerns about a wide range of human rights issues in China, including the treatment of ethnic and religious minorities, deprivation of liberty, and criminal and administrative punishment.

At this meeting, the EU also asked about measures taken so far by China to ratify the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, signed in 1998 in view of China’s undertaking made during the 2009 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to ratify the Covenant at an early date. In February 2013, officials from my Department met with representatives of the Irish Falun Dafa Association. During this meeting the Irish Falun Dafa Association discussed the issue of organ harvesting and ways in which human rights issues are raised with Chinese authorities by both Ireland and the EU. Officials in my Department are due to meet again with the Falun Dafa Association regarding the issue of organ harvesting later this month.

Ireland, together with our EU partners, will continue to address human rights issues with China, including those related to the Falun Gong, in frequent and regular dialogue, through our contacts in both Dublin and Beijing and through the relevant multilateral channels, including at the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of human rights in China, scheduled for October 2013.

Undocumented Irish in the USA

Questions (66, 68)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

66. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade further to Parliamentary Question No. 132 of 28 May 2013 and the Immigration Reform Bill that was passed by the United States Senate on a 68-32 vote on 27 June 2013, to outline the measures contained within the Bill and the possible ramifications it will have on future J1 visas that many thousands of Irish college students avail of every summer; if new fees will be introduced on employers who hire J1 students for the usual 12 week period; his views on whether any such fees imposed on US employers will deter them from hiring Irish students, threatening the future of the J1 visa scheme; if it is apparent to him how this measure in the Bill would be paid or who would pay; his views on whether this measure contained in the Bill is unfair and unworkable; the measures he, officials in his Department and the Embassy of Ireland in Washington DC will be taking in the near future to ensure representations are made to every member of Congress, particularly those in support of the Irish cause, before this Bill is voted on in the United States House of Representatives to ensure amendments are made to the Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32493/13]

View answer

Brendan Smith

Question:

68. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding the US Immigration Reform Bill; the proposals, if any, he has to support the work of Irish advocacy groups in support of this legislation; his plans for further discussions with members of the US Congress to progress this legislation to a successful conclusion due to its importance for the undocumented Irish; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32522/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 66 and 68 together.

I very much welcome the vote last week by the US Senate to approve a bill that provides for comprehensive reform of the American immigration system. This is a very positive development that takes us another step closer towards addressing the problems faced by undocumented Irish emigrants in the US and will allow them to emerge from the shadows. I strongly welcome the provisions in the Bill passed by the Senate to address the concerns of our undocumented and the specific E3 provisions for Ireland that provide extensive legal pathway for future migration flows between Ireland and the US.

I am particularly pleased that the Bill includes provisions that will allow for continuation of the summer J1 visa programme. Earlier drafts of the bill had threatened the future viability of the programme. I raised these concerns directly with Senator Patrick Leahy, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. I am pleased that the Bill as passed by the Senate no longer classifies J1 summer participants as foreign workers, which would have imposed significant additional requirements on them and their potential employers. Earlier texts had also proposed a further fee of $500 to be paid by the sponsoring organisations; the Bill as passed introduces a fee of $100, and the conditions surrounding payment of this fee would allow for it to be paid by either the sponsoring organisation or the participant.

I pay tribute to hard work and persistence of Senators Leahy, Schumer, McCain and other members of the US Senate bi-partisan group who brought forward the original proposals. I also welcome the considerable bi-partisan support that has emerged in support of the Senate bill and hope that this bodes well for its further prospects.

The prospects for a successful outcome remain uncertain as the focus now moves to the House of Representatives. I look forward to visiting Washington D.C. next week to meet with key figures on Capitol Hill and the Government will continue to use every possible opportunity to secure a positive outcome. I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my appreciation for the active support we continue to receive from a number of Irish community organisations, including the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, the Chicago Celts and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. In pressing to secure a solution for the undocumented, we continue to work closely with them. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, through the Emigrant Support Programme, has provided funding to a number of organisations active in this area. They will be crucial partners as the immigration debate moves forward and I look forward to meeting representatives of these groups during my visit to Washington DC next week.

Overseas Development Aid Issues

Questions (67)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

67. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will outline the main points regarding the Minister of State with responsibility for trade and development's address to the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa EU Presidency Seminar in Dublin on 27 June 2013 entitled Africa's Development Future: land, hope and hunger; the number of persons on the African Continent who are employed by Irish companies; if he will detail where this data and statistical information is available; the Irish companies that interact with his Department that operate in Africa and the sectors they are involved with; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32495/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

On 27 June 2013, I attended a two day seminar in Dublin entitled Africa’s Development Future: land, hope and hunger. The event was organised by AWEPA, the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa. It sought to promote a dialogue on the roles, responsibilities and efforts of both European and African parliamentarians in developing policies relevant to Africa’s development future concerning land ownership, water scarcity and chronic hunger. In the context of my participation in a panel discussion at the seminar, I emphasized the Government’s commitment to reducing hunger and referenced the conclusions of the Dublin Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Climate Justice, which was held in April. I stressed the importance of the participation of smallholder farmers in policy discussions on agriculture, the need for a better appreciation of the links between HIV-AIDS and food security and the importance of ensuring the equitable use of domestic resources in responding to the problem of hunger and malnutrition.

I emphasized that in order that economic growth can support efforts to reduce poverty and hunger, it must be complemented with strong political leadership and sound policies. Such policies could include the introduction of appropriate social protection programmes, support to universal access to essential services, support to multi-sectoral initiatives to address malnutrition, such as the Scaling-Up Nutrition movement, support to smallholder agriculture, industrial policies which promote value addition and support decent jobs; and the development of fair and efficient tax systems.

Finally I referenced One World, One Future, Ireland’s new Policy on International Development, which commits the Government to deepening efforts to help developing countries improve their business and investment environment, and to support their ability to trade. Ireland has a long history of trade with Africa and it is now an important market, particularly for the Irish food and drink industry. In 2011 exports of food and drink from Ireland to Africa grew by 26% to €500 million.

The most direct influence of trade on poverty reduction is through employment. It is not possible to provide the Deputy with precise statistical data on the number of persons on the entire African continent that are employed by Irish companies. Such data is not readily available from any reliable source or combination of sources, and Irish companies may choose not to report all details of their business transactions, where there may be commercial sensitivities involved.

However, we do know from our ongoing contacts with the private sector, State Agencies and other relevant stakeholders, that Irish companies employ approximately 13,000 people in South Africa and over 15,000 people in West Africa, and that Irish business engagement in Africa is growing and generating employment. For the past two years, my Department has organised an annual Africa Ireland Economic Forum in Dublin and we will do so again in 2013. We expect some 200 Irish business representatives to attend the event form a broad range of sectors, including energy, construction, health care, education services, information technology, communications and financial services.