Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Questions (70)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

70. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his commitment on business and human rights will be honoured; and if Ireland will be a leader in illustrating the way in which business should operate on increased ethical lines. [17594/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I was pleased to launch the National Plan on Business and Human Rights in November 2017 on foot of the Government's commitment to give effect to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.  The principle objective of the Plan is to promote responsible business practice at home and overseas by all Irish business enterprises.  Ireland is one of only 21 countries worldwide that have adopted national action plans on Business and Human Rights.

A key action was the establishment of the Business and Human Rights Implementation Group, to monitor delivery of the Plan.  The Group is chaired by Ms Breege O'Donoghue and brings together representatives of 23 organisations, from Government Departments and State Agencies, the business sector and civil society.  The Group has had two meetings to date and work is currently underway on setting up three sub-Groups which will take forward actions identified under each of the three pillars of the UN Guiding Principles, namely the State's duty to protect human rights, corporate responsibility to respect human rights and access to remedy for those whose human rights may have been violated

My Department also commissioned a baseline study from independent consultants on the current legislative and regulatory framework for business and human rights in Ireland. The study has just recently been finalised and is available on my Department's website.  It identifies gaps in the current provision and makes a number of recommendations that will be examined by the Implementation Group.

More broadly, Ireland supports the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, which brings together different stakeholders, including business and civil society, to share experiences and lessons learned regarding the promotion of responsible business practice.  We will continue to engage with the Forum and look forward to the next meeting in November 2019.