Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Questions (108, 109, 110, 111, 112)

Joan Collins

Question:

108. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of staff by grade and location involved full-time in the operation of the election observation roster; his plans to increase the number of staff and to have all staff located in the same location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30125/19]

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Joan Collins

Question:

109. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if a review of the election observation roster is being undertaken; if so, if this review will include consideration of the provision of reasonable accommodation to observers with disabilities during the application process and subsequent phases; if persons committed and interested in election observations matters will be invited to participate in the review of the roster; when the review will be completed; if steps to form a new roster will be put into place shortly after the review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30126/19]

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Joan Collins

Question:

110. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the annual Irish Aid budget and the budget for the election observation roster in each of the past six years in tabular form; the reason the election observation budget has not been increased in line with the overall Irish Aid budget; his plans to increase the budget to allow an increase to the size of the roster and ensure that more observers are placed on election observation missions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30127/19]

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Joan Collins

Question:

111. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the names of the members appointed to the 2018 election observation roster; the number of members who passed and failed security clearance, respectively; if those who failed have been allowed to undertake missions abroad; if his attention has been drawn to concerns that a number of the old 2013 roster members who did not go on elections missions in the previous six years of the old roster have now been reappointed to the new roster; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30128/19]

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Joan Collins

Question:

112. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he conducted research in 2018 into the way in which other countries selected and recruited election observers, in particular the deployment of former politicians; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that half do not have former politicians on their selection panels and that those that do treat them like all other observers; the rationale for the policy to reserve 5% of the roster places for former politicians; the reason this policy was not detailed in the call to proposals that issued in 2018; if the place on the roster becomes vacant in the event that a former politician on the roster is re-elected to public office; the way in which vacancies on the roster are filled; if vacancies on the roster have been filled to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30129/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 108 to 112, inclusive, together.

The elections desk is based within the Development Cooperation and Africa Division of my Department. Staffing of the elections desk is proportionate to its budget and that of the Division as a whole, whose purpose is to deliver on the objectives set out in A Better World, the Government's policy for international development published in February 2019. A review of the management of the election roster will be conducted by the Department's independent Evaluation and Audit Unit later this year.

The budget of the Irish Aid programme (known as Vote 27: International Cooperation) of my Department from 2013 to 2019 is set out in the following table. The table also includes the election observation budget. A new five-year roster was established in January 2019 and will run its course. The increase in the budget for election observation in 2018 was in part to offset the costs of the mustering exercise which allowed the establishment of that new five-year roster. A mid-year review of the election observation budget is carried out each year and, if necessary, prudent and proportionate to other calls on the international development budget, additional funds may be allocated.

As the security vetting of the persons short-listed to the new roster continues, the position regarding the disclosure of the list of names of the new roster remains as stated in the responses to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 73 of 29 May and 117 of 25 June 2019. Roster members are only circulated with information on election observation missions once they have completed National Vetting Bureau, or equivalent, procedures.

The issue of reasonable accommodation has been addressed in the responses to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 60 of 23 January, 153 of 5 February, 65 of 6 February, 58 of 7 February, 124 of 12 February, 100 and 105 of 26 February, 117 and 119 of 5 March, 74, 76 and 81 of 6 March, 68 of 12 March, 157 of 26 March, 115 of 16 April, 73 of 29 May 2019 and 119 of 25 June 2019, and in the Information Note attached to this response.

A characteristic of the Irish roster has been the broad base of expertise which Irish volunteers have brought in its different iterations since it was first established. Each new mustering is an opportunity to refresh the roster, and to extend the opportunity to volunteer to a range of new potential observers of differing backgrounds. Election observers who have been elected to national office bring unique perspectives into observation missions, which can enhance their quality and credibility.

Year

Vote 27

International Cooperation Budget

(in € million)

Election Observation Budget

(in € million)

2013

497.08

0.25

2014

479.16

0.18

2015

476.62

0.18

2016

486.43

0.18

2017

486.61

0.20

2018

500.13

0.25

2019

544.93

0.18

Information Note