National Security Authority

Questions (74)

James Lawless

Question:

74. Deputy James Lawless asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the agency created or designated as the national security authority as required under European Council decision 2013/488/EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19382/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The National Security Authority is an interdepartmental committee with membership from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Defence, the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. An Garda Síochána and the Irish Defence Forces also participate and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and agencies and the Department of An Taoiseach participate periodically.

The NSA was established by Government Decision in 1998 to facilitate the exchange of classified information between the now defunct Western European Union and Ireland. The Government also decided, in 2001, to extend the responsibility of the NSA to the protection of classified information between the European Union and Ireland as set out in Decision 2001/264/EC, which was subsequently replaced by Decision 2011/292/EU and then by the currently applicable Decision 2013/488/EU.

These Decisions establish minimum rules for the protection of EU classified information.

Under the Decisions, each Member State designates an NSA to be the body responsible for the protection of EU classified information in that State.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade chairs the NSA and in doing so coordinates the responsibilities of Departments with respect to the Decision.

Passport Applications

Questions (75)

Tom Neville

Question:

75. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if assistance will be provided to a person (details supplied) regarding an application for a passport. [18411/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

All passport applications are subject to the provisions of the Passports Act 2008. The Act provides, among other things, that a person must be an Irish citizen before a passport can be issued to him/her. In order to meet this requirement, each person must demonstrate an entitlement to Irish citizenship by providing acceptable documentary evidence of this entitlement.

Entitlement to Irish citizenship is determined by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, under which Irish citizenship may be obtained by birth, by descent, or by naturalisation.

An individual born on the island of Ireland before 2005 is automatically an Irish citizen. For individuals born outside of Ireland, they may claim citizenship if they had at least one parent who was born in the island of Ireland before 2005.

Individuals born outside of Ireland can also claim citizenship through a parent who was not born in Ireland but was an Irish citizen at the time of the individual's birth, or through a grandparent born in Ireland. Individuals who wish to claim citizenship through these means must have his/her birth entered on the Foreign Births Register (FBR). Citizenship commences after inclusion on the FBR. Further details regarding the process can be consulted at the Passport Service's website.

There are no provisions for the spouse or partner of an Irish citizen to acquire Irish citizenship solely by virtue of marriage or civil partnership. Post nuptial citizenship was repealed with effect from 30 November 2005. The Passport Service will accept a valid post-nuptial certificate as evidence of citizenship if this post nuptial certificate was awarded prior to November 30 2005. There is no provision to apply for post nuptial citizenship retrospectively.

An individual may apply for Irish citizenship through naturalisation. Minimum residency terms must be satisfied before an individual is eligible for citizenship through naturalisation. The Department of Justice and Equality is responsible for citizenship matters, including applications for naturalisation.

With regard to this case, the Passport Service has written to the applicant, requesting the submission of supporting documents to establish their entitlement to Irish citizenship. To date, no response has been received.

If the applicant requires any further clarification with regard to their application, the Passport Service operates a Customer Service Centre which provides information via telephone and webchat. The telephone number for the Customer Service Centre is 01 671 1633 and webchat can be accessed through the passport service's website. Telephone lines operate from 9 till 5 Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays) and webchat is available from 9 till 4 Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Human Rights

Questions (76, 78, 80, 87, 89)

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

76. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on the human rights situation in the Kingdom of Bahrain and the efforts made on raising these issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18441/19]

View answer

Seán Crowe

Question:

78. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will work with other countries to table a resolution in the United Nations Human Rights Council to condemn continued and worsening human rights violations in the Kingdom of Bahrain especially against political prisoners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18527/19]

View answer

John Brassil

Question:

80. Deputy John Brassil asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the human rights violations in the Kingdom of Bahrain; the sanctions there will be in response to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18529/19]

View answer

Brendan Howlin

Question:

87. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the worsening human rights situation in Bahrain; the steps being taken at EU and international level to address human rights concerns in Bahrain; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18971/19]

View answer

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

89. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the way in which he is addressing human rights abuses in Bahrain. [19103/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 76, 78, 80, 87 and 89 together.

The human rights situation in Bahrain is a matter of concern. Citizens in Bahrain are living in an increasingly restrictive society and there has been further erosion of fundamental freedoms in recent years, including freedom of opinion and expression. I remain concerned about the detention of a number of people in Bahrain, both in respect of the grounds for detention, and their treatment by the Bahraini authorities.

Concerns arise in respect of the fairness of court proceedings and the decisions in a number of cases to revoke citizenship of individuals. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed alarm at a court decision of 16 April 2019 that revoked the citizenship of 138 people, and has urged Bahrain to bring its broad counter-terrorism and counter-extremism legislation in line with its international human rights obligations. A separate decision to reinstate the citizenship of 551 people on 21 April was a welcome development, though there is still a significant number of former Bahraini citizens who may be effectively stateless.

Respect for human rights is an integral part of Ireland’s foreign policy. Ireland attaches a high priority to safeguarding human rights defenders, and continually advocates for freedom for civil society actors to operate in a safe and enabling environment, without repression. Ireland urges all States to safeguard the human rights of prisoners and detainees and is committed to the prevention and eradication of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. These principles feed into our bilateral dialogue; for example, officials from my Department met with officials from the Bahraini Embassy in March 2019 and raised our human rights concerns directly with them.

Ireland, as a small country, amplifies its voice on human rights issues through multilateral engagement and through measured recommendations offered as part of constructive dialogue.

Through our interventions at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) Ireland has sought to ensure that the human rights situation in Bahrain and in other locations where we have concerns, remains in focus. Ireland has repeatedly raised human rights concerns in Bahrain at the HRC in recent Item 4 Statements ("human rights situations that require the Council’s attention"). For example, in September 2018, Ireland expressed concerns about the ongoing restrictions on civil society space and the treatment of human rights defenders, and called on Bahrain to respect freedom of opinion and expression. In February 2019, Ireland reiterated concern at the ongoing detention of human rights defenders.

At the most recent HRC Universal Periodic Review of Bahrain's human rights record in 2017, Ireland urged Bahrain to accept an open offer by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Bahrain.

With regard to the rights of prisoners and detainees in general, Ireland co-sponsored HRC Resolution 36/16, which calls upon States to ‘investigate promptly, effectively and impartially all alleged human rights violations and abuses suffered by persons deprived of their liberty, in particular cases involving death, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, to provide effective remedies to the victims, and to ensure that detention administrations cooperate fully with the investigating authority and preserve all evidence’. Ireland has also co-sponsored; Resolution 30/7, concerning human rights in the administration of justice; Resolution 31/31, concerning torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; and UN General Assembly Resolution 71/188, also concerning human rights in the administration of justice.

My Department will continue to monitor developments in Bahrain, and to call on the Bahraini Government to deliver on its stated commitment to make progress in relation to human rights. We shall do so both directly with Bahraini officials, as well as at EU and international level, whenever opportunities arise.

Passport Data

Question No. 78 answered with Question No. 76.

Questions (77)

Seán Crowe

Question:

77. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of passports issued to persons over 65 years of age in each of the years 2012 to 2018; and the estimated cost per year if free passports were reintroduced for persons over 65 years of age. [18491/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The cost of the standard ten year adult Irish passport compares favourably with many other jurisdictions. At a cost of €80, which breaks down to €8 per year, the Irish passport fee compares with approximately €8.75 per year for a British passport, €8.60 per year for a French passport, €9.90 per year for renewal of an American passport and €18.50 per year for an Australian passport.

The number of passports issued to persons who were over 65 years of age at the time of application for the years requested is detailed in the table below. Based on the volume of passports issued for the years requested, the Passport Service has calculated the potential annual cost of eliminating the passport application fee for applicants over 65 as follows:

Year

Number of passports issued to over 65s

Passport fees from applicants over 65

2012

45,092

€3,60,7360

2013

47,234

€3,778,720

2014

53,478

€4,278,240

2015

58,074

€4,645,920

2016

69,340

€5,547,200

2017

76,995

€6,159,600

2018

79,180

€6,334,400

At present, a reduced fee is applied only on applications for passports for minors in recognition of the fact that a minor’s passport is valid for only five years. Most adult passports will be issued for a period of ten years. Given that any shortfall in revenue would have to be met by the taxpayer, a decision to waive or reduce the application fee for any category of applicant would require careful consideration.

Question No. 78 answered with Question No. 76.

Human Rights

Question No. 80 answered with Question No. 76.

Questions (79)

Clare Daly

Question:

79. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding the invoking of the genocide convention on Myanmar, a position that should be foremost in a country seeking a seat on the UN Security Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18528/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland, together with our EU partners, is deeply concerned over the findings of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission (IIFFM) of the Human Rights Council (HRC) and of other reports which conclude that gross human rights violations were committed in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States in particular by the Myanmar/Burma Military (Tatmadaw), many of which amount to the gravest crimes under international law.

The IIFFM report also finds that there is sufficient information to warrant the investigation and prosecution of senior officials in the Tatmadaw chain of command, so that a competent court can determine their liability for genocide in relation to the situation in Rakhine State.

Ireland, together with our EU partners, has consistently called for the accountability of those who may be responsible for such crimes and has engaged in a number of actions at international level in this regard. The EU has presented and sponsored resolutions adopted on 27 September 2018 at the UN HRC and on 16 November 2018 at the UN General Assembly Third Committee, to follow up on relevant recommendations of the IIFFM, in particular the establishment of an “independent mechanism” to further investigate and prepare for fair and independent criminal proceedings in accordance with international standards in order to address the issue of accountability.

We will continue to work with our EU and other international partners to urge Myanmar to hold those responsible for these crimes to account.

This approach is considered to be the most effective one at present. While the possibility will be kept under review, Ireland is not currently considering submitting a dispute involving Myanmar under the Genocide Convention.

Question No. 80 answered with Question No. 76.

Passport Applications Fees

Questions (81)

Peter Burke

Question:

81. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if a person (details supplied) has to pay a fee for a passport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18567/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

As only limited details have been supplied about the individual in question, it is not possible to provide specific guidance on the case. I can, however, provide general advice on establishing eligibility to hold an Irish passport.

All passport applications are subject to the provisions of the Passports Act 2008. The Act provides, among other things, that a person must be an Irish citizen before a passport can be issued to him/her. In order to meet this requirement, each person must demonstrate an entitlement to Irish citizenship by providing acceptable documentary evidence of this entitlement.

Entitlement to Irish citizenship is determined by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, under which Irish citizenship may be obtained by birth, by descent, or by naturalisation.

An individual born on the island of Ireland before 2005 is automatically an Irish citizen. For individuals born outside of Ireland, they may claim citizenship if they had at least one parent who was born in the island of Ireland before 2005.

Individuals born outside of Ireland can also claim citizenship through a parent who was not born in Ireland but was an Irish citizen at the time of the individual's birth, or through a grandparent born in Ireland. Individuals who wish to claim citizenship through these means must have his/her birth entered on the Foreign Births Register (FBR). Citizenship commences after inclusion on the FBR. Further details regarding the process can be consulted at the Passport Service's website.

There are no provisions for the spouse or partner of an Irish citizen to acquire Irish citizenship solely by virtue of marriage or civil partnership. Post nuptial citizenship was repealed with effect from 30 November 2005. The Passport Service will accept a valid post-nuptial certificate as evidence of citizenship if this post nuptial certificate was awarded prior to November 30 2005. There is no provision to apply for post nuptial citizenship retrospectively.

An individual may apply for Irish citizenship through naturalisation. Minimum residency terms must be satisfied before an individual is eligible for citizenship through naturalisation. The Department of Justice and Equality is responsible for citizenship matters, including applications for naturalisation.

With reference to the fees that an applicant must pay in respect of a passport application, the fee for a first time adult application is currently €80. Additional postage and handling fees may apply to passport applications depending on the channel through which the application is submitted.

An individual who wishes to have his or her birth entered on the Foreign Births Register must pay a fee of €270 for registration and certification.

Fees applicable in respect of applications for naturalisation are a matter for the Department of Justice and Equality

Undocumented Irish in the USA

Questions (82)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

82. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the discussions held on the topic of the undocumented Irish in view of the visit of the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Mrs. Nancy Pelosi, to Dáil Éireann on 17 April 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18677/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Taoiseach and I have prioritised the issue of Irish immigration in the US since taking office. We will continue our efforts in this regard until we secure progress – both in terms of future legal immigration opportunities for Irish citizens, and also in securing a pathway for those Irish who are undocumented in order to regularise their status. Special Envoy to the US Congress on the Undocumented, John Deasy T.D., has also worked closely on these issues with my Department.

Building on this work, I visited the US in early February, for a series of engagements with the US Administration and Congressional leaders. I raised immigration issues in these meetings, as I have done in all my interactions with the US Administration and US political leaders since taking office. Additionally, the Taoiseach had a range of engagements at the highest levels of the US Administration and with Congressional leaders over the St Patrick's Day period.

I was delighted to host events to mark the visit of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and to have the opportunity to discuss with her and the Congressional delegation a range of topics of mutual concern. Special Envoy Deasy also attended the engagements with the visiting US Congressional delegation, as did officials from my Department. Through those events and also their meetings with the Taoiseach and Minister Donohoe, I believe the Speaker and delegation were fully briefed on Irish interests, including on immigration issues and our concerns for those Irish who are undocumented in the US.

These engagements have already borne fruit. I was pleased to note that an E3 Bill, which if passed, would offer new opportunities for Irish citizens to live and work in the US, was reintroduced into the US Congress on 3 April. A similar Bill introduced at the end of last year unfortunately did not pass. Much work still needs to be done for this Bill to become a reality, and we are under no illusions as to the challenging path ahead. I will report to the Oireachtas over the coming weeks on its progress.

In addition to this work, my Department, including through our Embassy and Consulates in the US, work alongside the Irish Immigration Centres across the US on an ongoing basis to provide support to those Irish who are undocumented. Each Irish Centre receives significant Government funding through the Emigrant Support Programme for its work, including support for vulnerable Irish and the undocumented. In 2018, over €3 million was allocated to 76 organisations across the US, including the Irish Centres.

Foreign Naval Vessels

Questions (83)

Clare Daly

Question:

83. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the way in which three Royal Navy vessels (details supplied) were authorised to conduct military exercises in Irish waters in the Dublin Fingal area on 16 April 2019; and the authorisation which was provided for same. [18687/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

In response to a request from the British Embassy, my Department granted permission for a visit by University Royal Naval Unit (URNU) vessels, HMS Explorer, Archer and Example, to visit Dublin, Waterford, Cork and Kinsale from Thursday 11 April to Thursday 18 April 2019.

The Ireland-UK Memorandum of Understanding on defence and security co-operation provides for bilateral engagement on exercises, training and military education.

As is the case, for all requests for ships to pay routine calls to Irish ports, my Department seeks the views of other agencies including An Garda Síochána and the Naval Service prior to permission being granted.

In seeking permission for this visit, clear assurances were received from the British Embassy that the vessels in question would not be carrying any nuclear weapons and would not engage in any military exercises while in Irish territorial waters. These conditions are imposed in line with Ireland’s longstanding policy that visiting naval vessels not carry nuclear weapons and not engage in military exercises while in Irish territorial waters.

Routine courtesy visits by naval vessels to foreign ports are a regular feature of international relations and help to further bilateral ties between friendly nations. Ships from our own Naval Service also regularly pay such visits to foreign ports. Permission was granted in this case in consideration of the deep ties of friendship between Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Middle East Peace Process

Questions (84)

Micheál Martin

Question:

84. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the pre-election promises annexing the settlements in the West Bank made by outgoing and incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel; if this will be discussed at EU level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18693/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Middle East Peace Process is at a critical impasse and the actions taken by both sides in the conflict can have serious repercussions. Promises made during the recent elections in Israel, including some reportedly threatening to annex lands in the West Bank, are unhelpful and have a damaging impact on the prospects for a positive outcome.

Unhelpful election rhetoric is not unique to Israel, and Ireland and the EU will judge the new Government, which is still to be formed, on what it actually does, rather than on what may have been said in the heat of the campaign. But that does not mean such words are of no consequence, since they send dangerous messages to militant settlers, and contribute to a climate of fear and insecurity among Palestinians.

Annexation of territory by force is illegal under international law, including the UN Charter, and the position of Ireland and the EU is clear on this.

In a statement on 8 April I condemned the reported decisions by the Israeli authorities to advance plans for further settlement construction and related activities in the West Bank. On 11 April, there was a clear and principled EU statement, also referring to these decisions on construction in settlements and on the legal status of settlement outposts. The statement reiterated that "The European Union's position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory is clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law. It erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace..."

The relentless process of settlement expansion and related activities in the West Bank, including forced removal of Palestinians from their homes, is critically damaging the viability of a future Palestinian State, and thus the prospects for a peace agreement and an end to the conflict. I have consistently made this view very clear - in the Oireachtas, at EU and international level, and directly to the Israeli authorities during my visits to the region.

Settlements are illegal under international law, undermine the very basis of the two state solution, and erode the credibility of Israel’s commitment to a peaceful solution to the conflict. The pursuit of the settlement project also inevitably involves a range of injustices to Palestinians, such as evictions, demolition of homes, and seizure of land, and a wide range of security and other measures discriminating against Palestinians in their daily lives for the benefit of settlers. For all these reasons Ireland has focussed on settlements as a major driver of the continuing conflict.

Continued expansion of settlements in these areas is not compatible with a good faith effort to reach a peace agreement, and this is undermining the faith of many Palestinians in a political path.

It has long been proposed that a future peace agreement may involve some agreed mutual border adjustments, if the parties so wish it. But such changes can only be by mutual agreement. Any unilateral statement of annexation by Israel of occupied territory would have no legitimacy, and would not be recognised or accepted by Ireland or the international community more generally.

With the prospects for peace continuing to deteriorate on the ground, EU Foreign Ministers have discussed the peace process on numerous occasions over the last year.

Most recently, I convened a meeting in February on the present state of the Middle East Peace Process with a small group of EU and Arab Foreign Ministers, and the Secretary General of the Arab League. At this meeting we considered how the EU, together with the international community, can productively engage and better use all the levers at our disposal to influence the parties to the conflict.

Ireland and the EU stand by the internationally agreed parameters for a negotiated peace agreement and continue to urge the Israeli Government to uphold its international legal obligations, including under the Fourth Geneva Convention, on the treatment of a civilian population.

Human Rights Cases

Questions (85)

Seán Crowe

Question:

85. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied); if he has raised the issue with his Emirati counterpart; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18753/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am aware of the case raised by the Deputy, and I am increasingly worried about reports of the deteriorating health of the individual in question. Concerns have been raised by UN human rights experts, the European Parliament, and various human rights organisations, both regarding the fairness of the individual’s trial and reports of poor detention conditions.

This case is being monitored closely by the Irish Embassy in Abu Dhabi, in coordination with other EU Member States. The EU delegation in Abu Dhabi has raised the case directly with the UAE authorities on multiple occasions, and has sought updates regarding the status and health of the individual, and requested permission to visit the person.

It is unacceptable that anyone should be imprisoned for peacefully exercising their fundamental freedoms. Ireland continually advocates for freedom for civil society actors to operate in a safe and enabling environment, and Ireland urges all states to safeguard the human rights of prisoners and detainees.

My Department will continue to monitor this case and will continue to relay Ireland's human rights concerns to the UAE authorities, whenever opportunities arise.

Human Rights

Question No. 87 answered with Question No. 76.

Questions (86, 95)

Seán Fleming

Question:

86. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to support the UN binding treaty on business and human rights in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18755/19]

View answer

Micheál Martin

Question:

95. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to support a UN binding treaty on business and human rights in 2019 as per the policy of an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19587/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 86 and 95 together.

I am aware of the petition that has been circulated to Members of the House regarding a UN binding treaty on business and human rights.

The question of a legally binding treaty to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises has been under consideration by the Inter-Governmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises. The Working Group was established on foot of a resolution to the Human Rights Council in 2014 led by a number of developing countries, including Ecuador and South Africa.

Four sessions of the Working Group have taken place to date. In advance of the fourth and most recent session in October 2018, Ecuador circulated the "zero draft" of a legally binding instrument. The next session of the Group will take place in October 2019. Notwithstanding our serious concerns about the way in which the work of the Group has been conducted to date, Ireland will work with EU partners to engage actively and constructively in the negotiation process.

While we are open to looking at options for progress on a legally binding treaty, we believe that all economic operators should be treated in a non-discriminatory manner. The "zero draft" treaty that has been circulated focuses on transnational corporations and it is Ireland's view that any new treaty should cover both companies engaged in purely domestic operations as well as transnational corporations.

Such a treaty should also reflect essential human rights principles, reaffirm the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights and stress the primary responsibility of States under existing human rights obligations to protect against human rights violations.

Ultimately, if it is to achieve its objectives, any legally binding instrument should enjoy broad support among UN Member States to ensure its effectiveness as well as international coherence in the framework of business and human rights. On this point, I would note that of the 21 countries which to date have adopted National Plans on Business and Human Rights, 16, including Ireland, are EU Member States.

We would like to see any new initiative build on, rather than duplicate, existing measures such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy. Above all we believe that it should be rooted in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. In this regard, we are of the view that the UN Working Party on Business and Human Rights and the annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights provide appropriate fora for consideration of any new initiatives.

Question No. 87 answered with Question No. 76.

Northern Ireland

Question No. 89 answered with Question No. 76.

Questions (88)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

88. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps he is taking to pursue the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, in particular the need for the Assembly and power sharing Executive to reconvene and take up their devolved powers on behalf of the population of Northern Ireland in view of the ongoing Brexit negotiations and the threat of paramilitary violence; the additional resources being provided for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19036/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The continuing absence of vital institutions of the Good Friday Agreement is a source of deep concern for the Government, as it is for the British Government.

Yesterday, 7 May, I and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland convened the inclusive multi-party talks in Belfast, which the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach announced on 26 April, involving all five main parties and the two Governments.

The objective is to seek to quickly re-establish to full operation the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement - the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive and the North-South Ministerial Council.

A meeting of the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference is taking place in London today, 8 May. I and the Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr. Charles Flanagan TD, are participating for the Government. The Conference agenda includes discussion of political stability in Northern Ireland, legacy issues, security, and economic cooperation between the two Governments.

The awful killing of Lyra McKee and the outpouring of public feeling that followed demands a serious response at political level. People want to see real progress made. There is no patience for anything except urgent and determined progress.

Ultimately the challenge is for the parties to find an agreement. This will be difficult, but the two Governments believe that this can, and must, be achieved.

The Prime Minister and the Taoiseach will review progress in these talks by the end of May and consider any necessary further steps.

The devolved institutions of the Agreement are urgently needed so that the Assembly and power-sharing Executive can represent the interests of all of the people of Northern Ireland and address issues of concern. There are pressing decisions and issues across a range of areas, which require a functioning Executive and Assembly. The North South Ministerial Council is also essential to oversee and develop North South cooperation on matters of mutual interest, as provided for under the Good Friday Agreement.

The Government will continue to do everything in its power, in accordance with its responsibilities as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, to secure the effective operation of all of its institutions.

Question No. 89 answered with Question No. 76.

Human Rights Cases

Questions (90)

Seán Crowe

Question:

90. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied); and if he has raised the case with his Israeli counterpart. [19112/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am aware of the case raised by the Deputy. The arrest and harassment of the person in question, a human rights defender and activist, is a matter of concern. The person is being tried by an Israeli Military Court on 18 charges, all related to his human rights work and protests against occupation policies and actions. This case has gone on for some time: the latest court hearing was on 7 April and the next hearing is scheduled for 26 June. The Irish missions in Tel Aviv and Ramallah have followed the case, and staff based in Ramallah have attended previous hearings of the case.

The Israeli military court system, which is applied to Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, is itself a matter of deep concern which I have raised directly with the Israeli authorities during my visits to Israel and Palestine. These military courts have a near one hundred percent conviction rate, a statistic which raises serious questions about the system’s compliance with international standards of due process. Palestinian defendants do not enjoy the same legal rights and protections as those which apply to Israeli citizens living in the same area.

The person in question is simultaneously facing trial in a Palestinian court in Hebron, where he has been indicted on several charges, including under the 2017 Electronic Crimes Law. The next hearing in the Palestinian court is set for 22 May. I have concerns about the potential impact of the Electronic Crimes Law on freedom of expression. The EU has raised the issue of this person's detention, as well as the Electronic Crimes Law, directly in its dialogue with the Palestinian Authority.

I have previously expressed my concern at the increasing measures taken by Israel in particular to impede and prevent the actions of human rights defenders, both local activists and international observers. While Israel remains in military occupation of another territory, it should expect both local protests and international scrutiny, and should tolerate and accept this to the greatest degree possible.

Ireland firmly opposes actions designed to limit the space in which civil society can operate and expects that the same standards of human rights and fundamental freedoms should be applied by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, to all people under their jurisdiction. It is unacceptable to imprison individuals for peacefully exercising their fundamental freedoms. Ireland consistently advocates for the right of civil society actors and human rights defenders to operate in a safe environment, without fear of reprisal for speaking out. This is a cornerstone of a truly free and democratic society.

My Department regularly raises our concerns about the protection of human rights and human rights defenders with both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities.

Passport Applications Fees

Questions (91)

Peter Burke

Question:

91. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the cost implications for British-born spouses of deceased Irish citizens in obtaining an Irish passport; if the law was recently changed relative to this instance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19191/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

All passport applications are subject to the provisions of the Passports Act 2008. The Act provides, among other things, that a person must be an Irish citizen before a passport can be issued to him/her. In order to meet this requirement, each person must demonstrate an entitlement to Irish citizenship by providing acceptable documentary evidence of this entitlement.

Entitlement to Irish citizenship is determined by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, under which Irish citizenship may be obtained by birth, by descent, or by naturalisation.

There are no provisions for the spouse or partner of an Irish citizen to acquire Irish citizenship solely by virtue of marriage or civil partnership. This applies equally to cases where the Irish citizen in question is living or deceased. Post nuptial citizenship was repealed with effect from 30 November 2005. The Passport Service will accept a valid post-nuptial certificate as evidence of citizenship if this post nuptial certificate was awarded prior to November 30 2005. There is no provision to apply for post nuptial citizenship retrospectively.

For individuals born outside of Ireland, they may claim citizenship if they had at least one parent who was born in the island of Ireland before 2005. Individuals born outside of Ireland can also claim citizenship through a parent who was not born in Ireland but was an Irish citizen at the time of the individual's birth, or through a grandparent born in Ireland. Individuals who wish to claim citizenship through these means must have his/her birth entered on the Foreign Births Register (FBR). Citizenship commences after inclusion on the FBR. Further details regarding the process can be consulted at the Passport Service's website.

An individual may apply for Irish citizenship through naturalisation. Minimum residency terms must be satisfied before an individual is eligible for citizenship through naturalisation. The Department of Justice and Equality is responsible for citizenship matters, including applications for naturalisation.

The fee for a first time adult passport application is currently €80. Additional postage and handling fees may apply to passport applications depending on the channel through which the application is submitted. An individual may incur additional fees in securing the documents necessary for establishing entitlement to citizenship. However, the acquisition of these documents and the associated fees are independent of the passport application process.

Human Rights

Questions (92)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

92. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if an interdepartmental committee will be established to oversee and monitor Ireland's response to Christian persecution in view of the fact that Christians are the most persecuted religious grouping globally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19462/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland strongly condemns all forms of persecution on the basis of religion or belief, irrespective of where they occur or who the victims are. We are committed to promoting freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as the rights of persons belonging to religious minorities. This commitment to promoting freedom of religion and belief is reaffirmed in the Global Island: Ireland’s Foreign Policy for a Changing World.

Ireland advocates for inclusive societies through our work with the UN’s Human Rights Council, in particular through the Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the human rights records of UN Member States. We are also members of the International Contact Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief. This is an informal cross-regional network which aims to encourage information sharing and cooperation between governments to discuss joint advocacy strategies for the promotion and protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief internationally.

Within the EU, Ireland works with partners to address the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities. We played a key role in the adoption of EU Guidelines on Freedom of Religion or Belief during our Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2013. The current EU Action Plan for Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019 includes an express reference to the promotion of freedom of religion or belief, and we will continue to work to ensure that Freedom of Religion or Belief is addressed within the framework of the EU’s external human rights policy.

Here at home, freedom of religion or belief, including the persecution of religious minorities, is discussed at the DFAT Committee on Human Rights, which brings together representatives of civil society, including NGOs and academics, to consider human rights issues in the context of Ireland's foreign policy. In addition, my Department coordinates the Inter-Departmental Committee on Human Rights, which is chaired by my colleague Minister Ciaran Cannon and which comprises officials from relevant Government Departments.

Human Rights Cases

Questions (93)

Clare Daly

Question:

93. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps taken to secure the release of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19483/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Government is aware of and very concerned about the case of Human Rights Activist, Mr. Azimjan Askarov and has communicated these concerns to the Government of Kyrgyzstan. The promotion and protection of Human Rights is a cornerstone of Ireland’s foreign policy. In particular, we work closely with the EU, the UN, the Council of Europe and the OSCE to promote human rights and to support human rights defenders across the world.

At the United Nations, Ireland has consistently prioritised the issue of Human Rights Defenders (HRDS) by co-sponsoring resolutions related to HRDS and participating in relevant discussions with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Mr. Michel Forst. Ireland also supported the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in 1998.

In late 2014, former Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore, now the EU Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, travelled to Kyrgyzstan and visited Mr Askarov in prison in Bishkek following which he made an appeal to the President of Kyrgyzstan to release Mr Askarov on humanitarian grounds.

In January 2015 Ireland participated in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Kyrgyzstan in Geneva. The UPR is a mechanism through which the United Nations Human Rights Council examines and addresses the human rights performance of its Member States. In our intervention we expressed our concerns over reports of intimidation, reprisals and threats against human rights defenders, including Mr. Askarov, in Kyrgyzstan.

Moreover, Ireland recommended that Kyrgyzstan protect human rights defenders from intimidation and violence and that it ensure prompt, impartial and thorough investigation of allegations of harassment, torture and ill-treatment of human rights defenders. We expect that Kyrgyzstan will be reviewed again in January 2020 and this will be another opportunity for us to reiterate our Human Rights concerns.

Ireland is very supportive of the EU's structured, regular human rights dialogue with Kyrgyzstan which is held on an annual basis, most recently in June 2018 where the EU highlighted the positive role of Human Rights Defenders and civil society for creating civic spaces both in the EU and Kyrgyzstan. The next Human Rights Dialogue is expected to take place next month.

Ireland attaches considerable importance to the vital work of human rights defenders and condemns all acts or threats of violence against organisations and individuals working to protect human rights. I can assure the Deputy that we will continue to monitor the situation closely in conjunction with our partners in the European Union and the United Nations.

Passport Applications Administration

Question No. 95 answered with Question No. 86.

Question No. 96 answered with Question No. 94.

Questions (94, 96)

Clare Daly

Question:

94. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the way in which persons working for Irish Aid abroad can gain access to new passports (details supplied); the way in which they can operate while waiting four weeks to obtain a new passport; if an online facility can be made available for them regarding same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19524/19]

View answer

Seán Crowe

Question:

96. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to challenges Irish citizens face in securing passports in insecure environments (details supplied); and if the policy regarding same will be reviewed. [19686/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 94 and 96 together.

My Department is greatly appreciative of the important contribution made by Irish citizens working in humanitarian activities in crisis-hit areas around the world. The Passport Service recognises the unique challenges faced by many of these citizens, and those living and travelling in such difficult environments, when renewing travel documents.

My Department, including through its network of missions worldwide, is committed to providing the best possible access to consular and passport services to all Irish citizens throughout the world.

The Passport Service recognises that some Irish citizens who travel frequently for reasons relating to their employment require a second passport to allow for travel when their primary passport book is being held by an embassy for visa-issuing purposes.

All applications for second passports are considered on a case by case basis and the applicant must be able to demonstrate a compelling need for a second passport.

In addition to the supporting documents required for a standard passport application, an application for a second passport must include the following:

- A letter on headed paper from the head of the applicant’s employing company or organisation outlining why a second passport is required. The letter should detail the applicant’s position and length of service and certify travel commitments.

- A detailed list of projected business travel for the coming months to countries where visas are required.

- Evidence that demonstrates the applicant’s personal passport was held for regular periods of time at Embassies while waiting to obtain a visa.

Citizens who wish to apply for a second passport are requested to submit their current passport with their application. In cases where applicants need to retain their current passport while their application for a second passport is being processed, applicants can submit a photocopy of all pages of their current passport book with their application. Alternatively, applications can be submitted in person at the public counter in the Passport Office in either Dublin or Cork or at the applicant’s nearest Irish Embassy; a copy of the applicant’s current passport will be taken and then returned to the applicant.

First time applications for an additional passport book cannot be submitted through the online passport service which is currently limited to renewals only.

It is possible to use the online renewal service to renew a second passport online if the applicant's main passport book has not expired.

Citizens who require extra visa pages to accommodate large numbers of entry and exit stamps and visas should also consider applying for a larger passport which contains 66 pages instead of the standard 32 pages.

Question No. 95 answered with Question No. 86.
Question No. 96 answered with Question No. 94.

Council of Europe

Questions (97)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

97. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if Ireland will oppose cuts of up to 15% to the youth sector and youth programme budget of the Council of Europe when the matter comes before the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers in the coming weeks; if the strong support of Ireland will be indicated for the work of the youth programme of the Council of Europe (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19773/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland, as a founding member of the Council of Europe in 1949, has always been and continues to be a strong supporter of the Council’s work on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

We fully support the work of the youth programme, which helps young people to become engaged and responsible European citizens who advocate human rights and participate fully in democratic life. The Council of Europe’s work with young people is aimed to empower them to engage in the development of democratic, inclusive and peaceful societies across our continent.

In 2019 Ireland’s total contribution to the Council of Europe, calculated on the basis of our GDP and population, was €3,908,197.41 . More specifically our contribution to the Youth Foundation in 2019 was €39,708.75, and to the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Youth Mobility through the Youth Card was €4,251.57.

Since 2013 Member States of the Council of Europe have implemented a Zero Nominal Growth policy for budget contributions, which has required the organisation gradually, but steadily, to reduce its budgeted activities. While initially envisaged as a means of driving reform, this policy's cumulative effect has been to create a challenging budgetary situation for the organisation which is affecting its capacity to deliver.

This has been compounded by enhanced financial difficulties since 2017, when one of the major contributors, Turkey, decided to change its status from “grand payeur” to ordinary contributor thereby reducing its contribution by almost €20m. At the same time Russia has suspended paying its contribution to the Council of Europe. The cumulative effect of this non-payment is an €87m budget reduction.

Against this challenging financial background, the Council of Europe is working on a number of financing options which have been presented as part of a Contingency Plan, and these involve cuts to a wide range of areas, including the youth sector. This plan and the issue of Council of Europe funding will be discussed at the Ministerial Session in Helsinki on 16-17 May 2019.

It is hoped that a political solution can be found to resolve the current difficulties and that it will not be necessary to implement the budgetary reductions contained in the Contingency Plan. A number of options are under consideration for the funding of the Youth Sector. However, at this stage it is not possible to prejudge the outcome of the negotiations underway that will culminate at the Ministerial meeting in Helsinki later this month.

Passport Applications

Questions (98)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

98. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of an Irish passport for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19939/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

As only limited details have been supplied about the individual in question, it is not possible to provide specific guidance on this case. I can, however, provide some general advice in relation to establishing eligibility to hold an Irish passport.

All passport applications are subject to the provisions of the Passports Act 2008. The Act provides, among other things, that a person must be an Irish citizen before a passport can be issued to him or her. In order to meet this requirement, each person must demonstrate an entitlement to Irish citizenship by providing acceptable documentary evidence of this entitlement.

Entitlement to Irish citizenship is determined by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, under which Irish citizenship may be obtained by birth, by descent, or by naturalisation.

An individual born on the island of Ireland before 2005 is automatically an Irish citizen. For individuals born outside of Ireland, they may claim citizenship if they had at least one parent who was born in the island of Ireland before 2005.

Individuals born outside of Ireland can also claim citizenship through a parent who was not born in Ireland but was an Irish citizen at the time of the individual's birth, or through a grandparent born in Ireland. Individuals who wish to claim citizenship through these means must have his/her birth entered on the Foreign Births Register (FBR). Citizenship commences after inclusion on the FBR. Further details regarding the process can be consulted at the Passport Service's website.

An individual may also apply for Irish citizenship through naturalisation. Minimum residency terms must be satisfied before an individual is eligible for citizenship through naturalisation. The Department of Justice and Equality is responsible for citizenship matters, including applications for naturalisation.

The Passport Service would be happy to provide further information and guidance to the person in question. The Passport Service operates a Customer Service Centre which provides information via telephone and webchat. The telephone number for the Customer Service Centre is 01 671 1633 and webchat can be accessed through the passport service's website. Telephone lines operate from 9 till 5 Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays) and webchat is available from 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).