Question No. 15 answered with Question No. 10.

Diplomatic Representation Issues

Question No. 17 answered with Question No. 12.

Questions (16)

Billy Timmins

Question:

16. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of ambassadors to Ireland that have called to his office since taking office to register an official complaint; and if so the detail of same. [41064/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

My understanding from the Tánaiste is that no Ambassadors have called on him to lodge a complaint since he took up his current office.

Question No. 17 answered with Question No. 12.

International Relations

Questions (18)

Michael Colreavy

Question:

18. Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the protests in Catalonia on 11 September for self-determination; if he supports the demand of the majority of Catalan people to hold an independence referendum in 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41174/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The constitutional status of Catalonia in Spain is currently the subject of public and political debate in Spain, including in Catalonia itself. As I have previously stated, it is a matter for the people of any country of the European Union to establish the arrangements for their own democratic governance and it would not be appropriate for me to comment on that process in any particular country.

Overseas Development Aid Issues

Questions (19, 76)

Brian Stanley

Question:

19. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the independent audit by the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman published in February 2013 of the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation's lending to the financial sector, in particular its concerns over the IFC’s use of financial intermediaries and lack of adequate social and environmental safeguards; his view on the audit’s findings; and if the findings change the way Irish Aid engages with the IFC. [41170/13]

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Pearse Doherty

Question:

76. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in view of the concerns about the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation’s lending to the financial sector through intermediaries, if Irish Aid has a clear set of criteria on ethical investment which guide its engagement with the Irish private sector and its investment in the global south, or if it plans to develop one. [41171/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 19 and 76 together.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), is a member of the World Bank Group, and is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector in developing countries. The private sector, as an engine of growth, innovation and investment to developing countries, has a major role to play in development. Ireland’s membership of the IFC is led by the Minister for Finance as Governor of the World Bank. Ireland has been a member of the IFC since 1958. Through Irish Aid in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ireland partners with the IFC to support technical assistance and advisory services to the private sector for investment climate reform activities in Sub-Saharan Africa and for fragile and conflict affected states in Africa. The aim of this support is to reduce poverty through inclusive private sector growth. Irish Aid has provided €900,000 to the IFC for this technical and advisory support in 2013. Ireland does not provide financial resources for investments through IFC.

Officials in my Department have taken note of the “Compliance Audit of IFC's Financial Sector Investments” by the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) as well as the management response by the International Finance Cooperation. This compliance audit was the first sector wide analysis undertaken by the CAO and provided an independent and fresh perspective on the investment work of IFC. It identified areas for improvements in relation to environmental and social standards by IFC financial Intermediary clients, particularly at a sub-client level.

IFC management have expressed in their management response their openness to further enhance and improve their environmental and social standards and to enhance their engagement with external experts, civil society and other stakeholders. Ireland, through the Minister of Finance, will continue to engage with the IMF and the World Bank to ensure that their structures and processes better reflect the modern world.

With regard to ethical investments by the Irish private sector, Irish Aid has guidelines in place for the Africa Agrifood Development Fund (AADF) which is the only example where Irish Aid funds are used to directly support Irish business. The Fund has adopted internationally validated principles for responsible international investment in agriculture that respect rights, livelihoods and resources. Recipients of AADF funding must undertake to follow these guidelines in their investments and must confirm this in their application for funding.

Human Rights Issues

Questions (20, 80)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

20. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will restate the position on the alarming increase in violence, discrimination and ill-sentiment against LGBT persons in the Russian Federation, particularly against young persons; if he has communicated this position directly to the Russian ambassador and, if so, if he will share any response he received; if he will indicate the specific measures he is prepared to take to ensure this matter is pursued with the Russian Government at EU and Council of Europe level, including any channels pursued by Irish delegates to last week's Council of Europe parliamentary plenary session on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41087/13]

View answer

Patrick Nulty

Question:

80. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will specifically raise with the Russian Government the impact of the potentially homophobic legislation that was passed by the Russian Parliament; and the steps being taken to vindicate the human rights of gay persons in Russia and prevent homophobic violence. [41321/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 20 and 80 together.

I am very concerned over reports of a recent upsurge in violence and ill-will against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people in the Russian Federation. In particular, I am aware of deeply disturbing footage which has been circulating on the internet purporting to show young LGBTI individuals being lured to a location only to be violently assaulted. Let me state quite clearly that any acts of violence directed against members of the LGBTI community in Russia, or anywhere else for that matter, are unacceptable and to be deplored.

As I reiterated to the Dáil last month, Ireland is firmly committed to combating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. I have put on record our strong disagreement with recent Russian LGBTI-related legislation. As I said, such legislation, while purporting to protect young people, is more likely to result in the further stigmatisation and, indeed, criminalisation of LGBTI young people. My Department has made our position known to senior officials at the Russian Embassy in Ireland. I, myself, have not spoken to the Russian Ambassador but it is my intention to raise the matter at my next meeting with a Russian Minister.

In the meantime, I have asked officials in my Department to actively engage on this issue in various international fora and explore what avenues can most effectively be pursued in voicing our concerns, including with our partners in the EU. For example, with other like-minded partners, Ireland was instrumental in ensuring that the EU statement at the 24th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 17 September contained a strong reference to our serious concerns over Russian LGBTI legislation. The statement called on the Russian Federation to strive for greater inclusiveness and tolerance for minorities in Russian society.

Discussions continue within the EU on how best to ensure that our concerns are kept firmly on the agenda of the Union’s structured dialogue with Russia. That dialogue includes specific consultations on Human Rights with Russian officials, the next round of which should take place this autumn. Ireland will continue to participate actively in the EU’s preparations for these and other senior-level meetings with Russian representatives.

I presume the Deputy is referring to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers’ Deputies which met last week in Strasbourg. One of the cases on the Committee’s agenda was Alexseyev v The Russian Federation concerning the prohibition of the Moscow Pride Marches in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe intervened in the session to restate Ireland’s position and to note that respect for the rights and freedoms of LGBTI persons was now an accepted norm across Europe and that society had benefitted from this.

Overseas Development Aid Issues

Question No. 22 answered with Question No. 9.

Questions (21)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

21. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has read the World Bank-IMF Watch 2013 report from the Debt and Development Coalition Ireland; his views on the recommendations of the report; and if it will inform the positions Ireland will take at the World Bank Group and IMF meetings in October. [41169/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am aware of the “World Bank – IMF Watch 2013” report from Debt and Development Coalition Ireland, a grouping of Irish development NGOs which has focused on the burden of debt on developing countries and on issues of resource mobilisation for development.

Ireland has played a strong role internationally in addressing the alleviation of the debt burden on the poorest countries. Irish Aid in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has also engaged regularly with the Debt and Development Coalition Ireland on a broad range of policy issues, particularly during the consultation phase in the preparation of the Government's new policy for global development, 'One World, One Future'. We take the clear view that all development interventions, including those of the International Financial Institutions, should be framed explicitly in the context of sustainable development, inclusive economic growth, poverty reduction, country ownership and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Ireland strongly supports the ongoing process of reform within the World Bank and the IMF to ensure they can adequately meet the development challenges of a changing world.

Question No. 22 answered with Question No. 9.

Overseas Development Aid Issues

Questions (23)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

23. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the way his Department is implementing commitments it has entered into as part of the International Aid Transparency Initiative processes. [41149/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Consistent with Ireland’s international reputation for the quality of its overseas development programme, the Government is committed to ensuring that all information related to official aid flows is published in a standardised comparable and open format. We are committed to the implementation of the Busan Partnership for Global Development, one of the commitments of which is to improve the accountability and accessibility of aid expenditure. These commitments are explicitly stated in Ireland’s new policy for global development, One World One Future, which was approved by the Government, earlier this year. They are consistent also with the Governments plans for full membership of the Open Government Partnership.

The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) is a coordinating body established in 2008 to guide all development agencies in publishing aid information. Ireland is now a full member of the International Aid Transparency Initiative. A detailed plan, outlining how Ireland will comply with IATI requirements with respect to aid transparency has been completed. This plan is now being implemented. More information in respect of official aid flows is being made available in consistency with this plan and partner organizations, in receipt of Irish Aid funds are encouraged to publish their aid information also. This detailed plan has been posted on the Irish Aid website. A dedicated team, with responsibility for overseeing the implementation of IATI commitments has been established, and reports to the Director General of Irish Aid.