Illegal Israeli Imports

Questions (53)

Brendan Smith

Question:

53. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the progress at EU level in developing guidelines on place of origin labelling for products from illegal Israeli settlements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35667/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to his Question No. 65 (30912/13) on 26 June, which included the following: “In all administrations, labelling of goods is a complex matter, involving numerous different Ministries, policy areas and objectives. At EU level, the EAS is now working through these complex issues with the European Commission to produce draft EU guidelines. This may take some time – the UK guidelines in this area were the result of a two year period of consultation. Since this work is ongoing, I cannot predict the details of what will eventually emerge.” I have nothing further to add to this at this point.

Official Engagements

Questions (54)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

54. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will detail each engagement he had on his most recent visit to the United States of America; if he spoke to members of the United States Senate and the other members of Congress in the House of Representatives regarding the future of J1 visas for Irish students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35680/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Immigration reform was a key feature of my programme in Washington DC and I met with a range of the most significant Congressional leaders on immigration issues from both sides of the US political divide and at senior official level in the White House. These included Congressman Paul Ryan, Congressman Bob Goodlatte, Leader Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Pete King, Congressman Richie Neal, Congressman Joe Crowley, Congressman Joe Kennedy, Congressman Mike Grimm, Congressman Tom Rooney, and I spoke with Congresswomen Zoe Lofgren by phone. I also met with the policy director and counsel to the Majority Whip Congressman Kevin McCarthy and with Speaker Boehner's chief of Staff, Mike Sommers. In the Senate, I met with Senator John McCain, Senator Pat Leahy and Senator Dick Durbin. I also met with representatives of Irish-American community groups and others with whom we have worked closely. Summer J1 visa issues have been largely resolved to our satisfaction in the Bill passed by the Senate. Senator Pat Leahy, who I met during my visit, had been a key player in reaching a satisfactory solution on that issue.

Diplomatic Representation Issues

Questions (55)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

55. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to open an embassy in Croatia, in view of its recent accession the European Union, if he will replace the existing honorary consul; his views that such an embassy would be able to manage the wider Irish interests in the Western Balkans, in view of the fact that numerous nations in the region are candidates for EU membership and will become EU member states in the years to come; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35687/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland and Croatia enjoy excellent bilateral and diplomatic relations. This was underlined last month when President Higgins made the first State Visit during his term of office to that country. Subsequently I travelled to Zagreb on 30 June to participate in the celebrations to mark Croatia becoming the twenty-eighth member of the European Union. Croatia’s accession to the EU on 1 July can only strengthen the strong ties between our two countries further.

The Irish Embassy in Ljubljana is currently accredited to Croatia on a non-resident basis and there is an Honorary Consul of Ireland in Croatia. Diplomatic relations with countries of the Western Balkans are maintained by our embassies in neighbouring countries. This continues to prove an effective means for managing relations in Croatia and the wider region. Our mission network is kept under constant review.

Diplomatic Representation Issues

Questions (56)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

56. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to appoint a new honorary consul in Lima, Peru, following the position becoming vacant on 1 August 2013; the medium to long-term plans he has for visa applications rather than applications being sent to the embassy of Ireland in Mexico City, Mexico; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35771/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

No decision has as yet been taken on the appointment of a new Irish Honorary Consul in Peru. In the interim, visa applicants from Peru will submit their applications directly to the Irish Embassy in Mexico. This situation will be monitored by the Embassy to ensure an acceptable level of service is provided to citizens of Peru.

EU Presidency Issues

Questions (57)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

57. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if a proposal was made at the General Affairs Council of the EU meeting on 22 April, which he chaired, by the Polish Minister attending the meeting, that Ireland should not be required to legalise abortion; the stand he took on the proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35774/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

No such proposal was made by Poland at the meeting referred to by the Deputy.

Departmental Staff Rehiring

Questions (58)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

58. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of retired civil or public servants that have been retained by his Department since January 2013 on a short-term contract or on a consultancy basis where normal abatement rules do not apply. [35845/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The information requested by the Deputy, which relates to two short-duration consultancies connected with the Irish Aid programme, is provided in the following table.

Official

Duration of consultancy contract

Details

Retired official of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

01.02.13 – 28.02.13

To identify and develop five case studies from the Irish Aid programme, in cooperation with Dublin City Council, for World Alliance of Cities against Poverty (WACAP)

Retired official of IDA Ireland

01.05.13 – 30.06.13

To prepare and present Ireland’s contribution to the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific – European Union (ACP-EU) Joint Parliamentary Workshop

Haddington Road Agreement Savings

Questions (59)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

59. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide a yearly detailed breakdown of the sectoral measures and accompanying savings for the duration of the Haddington Road agreement applicable in his Department and-or non-commercial State sponsored bodies under the aegis of his Department. [35862/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Haddington Road Agreement measures applicable to Government Departments are set out in the collective agreement therein relating to the civil service. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has confirmed that the Agreement will facilitate an overall reduction of €1bn in the public service pay and pensions bill by 2016.

In relation to my Department, appropriate reductions in its vote allocations for 2014 and beyond will be made in due course, in addition to that already made for 2013.

There are no State agencies under the aegis of my Department.

Official Engagements

Questions (60)

Niall Collins

Question:

60. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade when he last met the chairman or chief executive of the North-South bodies InterTrade Ireland, Waterways Ireland, the Food Safety Promotion Body, Foras na Gaeilge, Foyle Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35906/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I do not have direct responsibility for any of the North South Implementation Bodies established under the British Irish Agreement. However, the Ministers who exercise that direct responsibility, together with the corresponding Ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive, meet with the Chairmen and Chief Executive Officers of the Bodies at meetings in sectoral format of the North South Ministerial Council which are held on a regular basis. In this jurisdiction the responsibility for the Bodies is exercised by five government departments: the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Waterways Ireland and the North/South Language Body which comprises Foras na Gaeilge and the Ulster Scots Agency), the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (InterTrade Ireland), the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (the Foyle Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission - Loughs Agency); the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (the Special EU Programmes Body); and the Department of Health (the Food Safety Promotion Board). In addition, Tourism Ireland is the responsibility of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

North-South Implementation Bodies

Questions (61)

Niall Collins

Question:

61. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the actions he has taken to extend the remit of the North-South Implementation Bodies; and the consideration he has given to widening the number of areas of cross-Border co-operation and the consultations he has had with the Northern Ireland Executive regarding same. [35907/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The three terms of reference of the review of the existing North South bodies and of North South co-operation generally which is being undertaken in accordance with the St Andrews Agreement, are to examine the existing bodies in terms of efficiency and value for money, to look at the case for additional North South bodies and areas of co-operation and at a replacement for the Irish Lights Agency. The review was a subject of discussion at the recent meeting of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) in plenary format which was held in Dublin Castle on 5 July 2013 and which was attended by members of the Government and of the Northern Ireland Executive including the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. It was noted that Term of Reference One of the Review is now largely complete; that senior officials from both administrations have met and initiated a work programme to take forward Terms of Reference Two and Three; including expanding on the areas of North South cooperation, and that they will conclude their work and present a report with proposals to the next NSMC Institutional meeting in the autumn.

Northern Ireland Issues

Questions (62)

Niall Collins

Question:

62. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has sought meetings with, and the details of any briefings he has had on the work of, the Parades Commission in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35908/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Parades Commission is an independent, quasi-judicial body established under the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998. All organisations and individuals seeking to hold a parade in Northern Ireland must apply for permission to do so from the Commission. In most cases the parades are allowed without any restrictions, however in the absence of local agreement it is required to make determinations on contentious parades. Last year it dealt with over 4,000 parade related applications, of which it made determinations on 146 contentious parades. The Commission is fully independent in the discharge of its functions, and should be seen to be so. It would not be appropriate for me to seek to influence its decisions. However, my officials in the British-Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat in Belfast provide me with regular briefings on the Commission’s determinations and activities which are in the public domain.