Northern Ireland Issues

Questions (60)

Clare Daly

Question:

60. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if in view of recent revelations by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary that the Northern Ireland historical enquiries team, HET, failed properly to investigate crimes committed by the British military, and in view of the fact that the HET and PSNI have relentlessly pursued confidential tapes held at Boston College to the exclusion of any other line of inquiry regarding offences committed in this State, he is prepared to assert jurisdiction over this matter. [33705/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

It is vitally important for the future of Northern Ireland that a stable and lasting peace be firmly established. As stated in the Good Friday Agreement, the tragedies of the past have left a deep and profoundly regrettable legacy of suffering. We must never forget those who have died or been injured, and their families. In the context of the “Together: Building a United Community” initiative by the Northern Ireland Executive, the Northern Ireland Assembly will shortly establish an All Party Working Group under an Independent Chair to consider and make recommendations on issues that cause community divisions, including Dealing with the Past.

The HET has an important role to play in ensuring that the families of all of the victims of violence in the past can pursue the truth of what happened to their loved ones, and it plays a significant part in the pursuit of justice. I am aware of the comprehensive Inspection Report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary into the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team. I believe it is essential that the HET operate to the highest standards of effectiveness and impartiality, so that the people of Northern Ireland – and in particular, the families of the victims whose cases are being reviewed – can have confidence in it. Consequently I welcome Chief Constable Baggott’s acceptance of the Inspection Report’s Recommendations and his commitment to work with the Policing Board on ensuring their delivery.

I am glad to inform the Deputy that there is close and ongoing co-operation between the Garda Síochána and the PSNI on all aspects of policing. The two police forces have in place a joint Cross Border Policing Strategy which has as its aims to improve public safety throughout Ireland, to disrupt criminal activity and to enhance the policing capability of both police services on the island. The Garda Commissioner and the Chief Constable of the PSNI who have responsibility for operational policing co-operation have repeatedly emphasised that the close and high quality co-operation between their forces has been instrumental in preventing attacks, combating criminality and saving lives.

Overseas Development Aid Provision

Questions (61)

Niall Collins

Question:

61. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the amount of money granted or donated in foreign aid and to which organisation and or country presented in tabular form for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33598/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Government is strongly committed to Ireland’s aid programme which has been internationally recognised as one of the best in the world. Over the past three years - 2010 to 2012 - Ireland has contributed substantial and stable funding to Official Development Assistance (ODA). In total, in the three years, Ireland has contributed almost €2 billion to ODA, of which about 80% was managed under Vote 27 - International Cooperation through the Development Cooperation Division of my Department – known to the public as Irish Aid. The remainder consists of ODA eligible contributions from other Government Departments - principally the Departments of Finance, and Agriculture Food and the Marine - and Ireland’s share of the EU Development Cooperation Budget. A breakdown of ODA figures for 2010, 2011 and 2012 between Vote 27 and Other ODA is provided in the table.

Breakdown

Vote 27

Other ODA

Total ODA

2012

507.45

121.53

628.98

2011

520.18

136.86

657.04

2010

521.55

154.28

675.83

A detailed analysis of Ireland ODA’s for 2010 and 2011 – across, inter alia, aid sectors, recipient countries and multilateral organisations - is currently published in the statistical annexes attached to the Irish Aid annual reports, and also available for down load from the Irish Aid web site at http://www.irishaid.gov.ie/news-publications/tags/annualreport/. The 2012 statistical annexes are currently being finalised - with a similar analysis - and will be available on the Irish Aid website later this summer. I will arrange for a copy of the 2012 Irish Aid Annual Report to be forwarded to the Deputy following publication.

Human Rights Issues

Questions (62, 65, 66)

Seán Kenny

Question:

62. Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position in respect of illegal organ harvesting and trading; the measures taken to ensure that no Irish company, organisation or individual is involved in such practices; the steps taken to outline concerns in this matter to the Chinese authorities, particularly with regard to the treatment of Falun Gong practitioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33719/13]

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Joe McHugh

Question:

65. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the position of Falun Gong practitioners in Chinese society. [33808/13]

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Billy Timmins

Question:

66. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views regarding forced organ harvesting (details supplied); his plans to bring forward laws that will stop all Irish companies, organisations, persons, physicians and the health services from being accomplices in the heinous crime of organ trafficking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33846/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 62, 65 and 66 together.

I also propose to make a statement on the matter. The Government follows closely reports of human rights violations against Falun Gong practitioners, including reported cases of organ harvesting, and is concerned about the situation. Human rights issues, including the treatment of Falun Gong practitioners, are issues discussed regularly with the Chinese authorities during both bilateral and multilateral meetings.

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 enquired 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 meeting again this week with the Falun Dafa Association regarding the issue of organ harvesting.

In relation to measures taken to ensure no Irish company, organisation or individual becomes involved in the mistreatment of Falun Gong practitioners, a Common Position adopted by the European Council in 2008 outlines that Member States shall deny an export licence if there is a clear risk that military technology or equipment to be exported might be used for internal repression. 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 next United Nations Universal Periodic Review of human rights in China, scheduled for October 2013.

Public Sector Staff Recruitment

Questions (63)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

63. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to advertise all temporary, contractual, permanent and other similar forms of attaché positions at various embassies and diplomatic missions publicly through forums such as the Public Appointments Service and publicjobs.ie in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33749/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Commission for Public Service Appointments (CPSA) has a statutory role in ensuring that appointments in the organisations that are subject to its remit and to which it has awarded public service recruitment licences, which includes the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, are made on merit and as a result of fair, transparent, impartial and ethical appointment processes that embrace genuine equality of opportunity. This role is pursued through regular audits of the recruitment activities of the organisations concerned. In its recruitment practices at headquarters and abroad my Department is particularly guided by the CPSA Code of Practice on Appointment to Positions in the Civil and Public Service which lays down minimum standards for all aspects of appointment processes.

However, the Deputy will appreciate that recruiting staff to local posts by Missions abroad involves locally-tailored selection processes that may reward additional candidate competencies including proficiency in the English, local and Irish languages, knowledge of Ireland and local knowledge. Also, while endeavouring to recruit from the widest possible pool of available and relevant talent and experience, which we are committed to under the Code of Practice, Missions are constrained by the need to keep advertising costs to a minimum or avoid them altogether. This is done by targeting candidates through use of relevant local free websites.

Passport Applications

Questions Nos. 65 and 66 answered with Question No. 62

Questions (64)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

64. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if a second passport can be issued to Irish citizens which they require to travel to certain countries around the world for whom it would provide an inconvenience to display stamps in their passports from particular countries that would create some difficulty for them to enter into other countries for the reason of their previous travel history; the documentation an individual would need to supply to his Department in order to avail of a second passport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33750/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am pleased to confirm that the Passport Service does operate a system to provide a second passport to Irish citizens who are regularly required to travel into countries where possession of an entry/exit stamp or visa from another state would likely prevent a person’s entry into that country. Applicants are required to complete the standard passport application form and additionally include a letter from their employer detailing the circumstances of the case and providing sample travel plans which show regular travel into the countries concerned.

Questions Nos. 65 and 66 answered with Question No. 62.

Overseas Development Aid Issues

Questions (67)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

67. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade further to Parliamentary Question No. 67 of 3 July 2013, if he will further outline details on the number of Irish companies with interests in Africa; the countries in which they operate, in view of the fact that the information is not commercially sensitive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33931/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

In 2012 some 160 Irish companies participated in the Africa Ireland Economic Forum, an annual event hosted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with the objective of supporting Irish companies interested in investing or trading in Africa. The range of interests expressed by Irish companies in Africa varies from agribusiness to financial services and telecommunications. The majority of companies are interested in initially trading and investing in the more mature South African market, often using South Africa as a basis to penetrate other markets in the region. In November 2012, I led an Enterprise Ireland trade mission involving 35 Irish companies to South Africa to further strengthen Irish private sector links with the southern Africa region.

Last year I also led a trade focused visit to Nigeria and Ghana, which involved senior representatives from Enterprise Ireland and An Bord Bia. This has resulted in a significant increase in the level of interest by Irish companies in West Africa. During July, visits are taking place by officials from my Department, Enterprise Ireland and An Bord Bia to Nigeria to prepare for a trade mission, which will involve a number of Irish companies, scheduled for November 2013. Irish companies are also involved in pursuing additional business opportunities across African markets without necessarily linking directly with my Department or with state agencies.

The Africa Strategy of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade launched in 2011, outlines a new relationship with Africa which not only includes development aid but also seeks deeper political and economic relations. This approach has been warmly welcomed by all of our partner countries in Africa and has created a framework for closer relations with the Irish private sector that is already engaged across the continent.

Deposit Protection Scheme

Questions (68)

Michael McGrath

Question:

68. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the total amount of deposits covered by the State across banks and credit unions under the deposit protection scheme; the number of financial institutions participating in the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33841/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Deposit Guarantee Scheme covers deposits by individuals in participating credit institutions. All deposit-taking credit institutions in Ireland are required by law to participate in the Deposit Guarantee Scheme. The scheme currently covers all 395 credit unions in Ireland and 37 banks and building societies. Further information can be found on the Central Bank of Ireland’s website at http://www.centralbank.ie/paycurr/paysys/dgs/pages/about.aspx. The Deposit Guarantee Scheme is funded by a charge on the credit institutions participating in the scheme. The cost of compensation payments is met from the balances in the Deposit Protection Account. In the event of the Deposit Protection Account being insufficient to fund a compensation event, any difference is made up using advances from the Central Bank or the State; the remaining participating institutions are then responsible for the repayment of these advances.

The Central Bank of Ireland (“the Bank”) is responsible for the operation of the Deposit Protection (Guarantee) Scheme - DGS. I am advised by the Bank that it currently holds data on total deposits held by financial institutions. The Bank has explained that while it holds data relating to total deposits, not all of the deposits are covered by the DGS scheme (e.g. only amounts up to €100,000 are currently covered and there are various exclusions from coverage, such as large companies and inter-bank deposits).

The Bank advises me that it is currently working with Credit Institutions in order to receive data on actual coverage under the Deposit Guarantee Scheme. Formal powers to request this data are in the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Bill 2011. The Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Bill 2011 has passed all stages in the Oireachtas and is currently with the President for signature. I anticipate that the bill will be signed by the President in the coming days and following this the Central Bank will make the necessary arrangements to ensure that such information is fully accessible to it where required.

Tax Forms

Questions (69)

Jack Wall

Question:

69. Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare may be facilitated with the appropriate forms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33666/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a form P45 was received by them on 13 August 2012. If the person concerned has not yet received a copy of the P45 this should be requested from the former employer. As the person concerned ceased employment in August 2012, a form P60 would not be issued by the employer for 2012. The relevant form is the form P45. PAYE Balancing Statements (P21s) for 2011 and 2012 will issue to the person concerned shortly.

Banking Sector Investigations

Questions (70, 71)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

70. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 220 of 3 July, the exact dates as to when the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation was issued a court order; when it took possession of the evidence outlined in the question response; the date the bank was compelled and the date on which the Nyberg banking commission received the evidence outlined; the dates on which civil litigants were provided with evidence; and if he will list the litigants. [33670/13]

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Pearse Doherty

Question:

71. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the reason the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement used a court search warrant to seize information from Anglo Irish Bank in 2009 while the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation used a court order to seize its information. [33672/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 70 and 71 together.

Neither I nor my Department have any role in the on-going Garda or other regulatory investigations into Anglo Irish Bank or any other Irish Bank. It would be completely inappropriate for the Department of Finance to act outside of its legal powers and interfere with any investigation that could compromise potential future criminal or civil investigations by the bodies responsible under statute. I am advised that all of the covered banks are fully complying with those investigations and it would not be appropriate for me to comment any further.

IBRC Liquidation

Questions (72)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

72. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the number of staff currently assigned to the special liquidator of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation; and to confirm if they are current or former employees of KPMG. [33673/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Special Liquidators have confirmed that there is on average a total of 192 people from KPMG working on IBRC (in Special Liquidation) part time and full time.

Public Interest Director Responsibilities

Questions (73)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

73. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if the former public interest director (details supplied) at Anglo Irish Bank informed the Government of the existence of recorded phone conversations at the bank. [33674/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The person named was a director but not a public interest director at Anglo Irish Bank. There were two public interest directors appointed to the board of Anglo Irish Bank in December 2008. However after nationalisation there were no further specific public interest directors on the board of IBRC. Mr Alan Dukes had been appointed as a public interest director in Dec 2008 and was made Chairman of Anglo Irish Bank in June 2010. Mr Frank Daly was also appointed as a public interest director in Dec 2008 and left the board in Dec 2009.

The Department of Finance was aware of the existence of tape recordings of phone conversations in the bank and that there were a number of investigations progressing into Anglo Irish Bank and that the Board and senior management of Anglo/IBRC were fully co-operating with them. It is not the role of the Department to interfere with investigations that are being conducted by the authorities. I am not aware of the content of the recorded phone conversations held by the bank being raised with my Department by any member of the board of IBRC.