Climate Change Policy

Questions (115)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

115. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the recurring weekly meetings attended by either him or the Secretary General of his Department in 2019 at which climate change and-or preparations within his Department to enact a climate plan has been an agenda item; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31338/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Department of Defence is currently examining the Climate Action Plan 2019 which was approved by Government and published on 17 June 2019. Implementation of policies impacted by the Climate Action Plan on the Organisation will be monitored through standing governance structures, including the Management Board that is chaired by the Secretary General and meets weekly.

The Department of Defence has, since 2007, been proactive in seeking to implement practices which will address climate change. Under the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) the Department is committed to reducing its energy consumption and to improve energy efficiency by 33% by 2020 and meet net zero targets to 2050. By the end of 2017 (the latest date for which figures are available), the Department had reduced it's energy consumption by 25%.  In line with the Public Sector Energy Efficiency Strategy 2017 an Energy Performance Officer has been appointed, at Assistant Secretary level, to provide leadership and accountability in reaching the NEEAP targets. The Department is also engaged in the OPW's Optimising Power at Work Scheme and has won a number of awards under this Scheme.

Most recently, the Department has been working on developing a Resource Efficiency Action Plan with the aim of achieving savings in water, materials and energy use and maximising recycling, in line with the Government Decision of 3 January 2019.

The Department is making every effort and will continue to strive to be more resource efficient to reach the ambitious 2020 and 2050 targets by continuing to implement existing initiatives in a proactive approach in order to improve efficiency. In addition its Green teams will continue to meet on a regular basis to devise and implement new resource efficiency saving initiatives and further support green procurement in order to reach climate change targets. 

The implications of the Climate Action Plan will be also considered in the development of the Department's Capital Infrastructure Investment Programme, a key driver of Defence Forces infra-structural development.

Passport Applications Fees

Questions (116)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

116. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the reason from 15 July 2019 cash will no longer be accepted at the passport service public counters; if credit or debit card information presented on the application form will be accepted for means of payment without the card to hand at the counters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30481/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

As part of the National Payments Plan objective to increase the use of secure and efficient electronic payments methods and reduce reliance on cash, from the 15 July 2019 cash will no longer be accepted at the Passport Service public counters in Dublin and Cork. Payments from that date onwards can only be made via Credit/Debit card, Postal order or Bank Draft. This decision was taken for a number of reasons including for staff security and safety, to improve efficiencies, to simplify account and record management, to reduce the risk of fraud, loss or error and to reduce costs.

Credit /Debit card information presented on the passport application form can only be accepted for means of payment if the customer has the card to hand at the counter appointment. This is because the card needs to be inserted into the chip and pin payment system to be correctly processed and for payment to be accepted. Cash will still be accepted as payment at post offices across the country for Passport Express applications.

Cyber Security Protocols

Questions (117)

Jack Chambers

Question:

117. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the cybersecurity protocols under the remit of his Department; if it has had a cybersecurity breach in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30588/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

My Department has a robust monitoring system and an incident response plan in place to deal with cyber security incidents. The Department works closely with the National Cyber Security Centre to identify and understand risks and act accordingly, and systems are kept under constant review and updated regularly.

Foreign Policy

Questions (118)

Seán Crowe

Question:

118. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade further to Parliamentary Question No. 35 of 18 June 2019, if he has met with the ESB to discuss issues regarding a mine (details supplied). [30652/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

As I have stated in previous answers to parliamentary questions on this matter, I am aware of the complaints that have been made by some non-governmental organisations regarding private sector activities in the Cerrejón mine and I am aware of the negative publicity concerning the mine. I continue to be concerned by reports of the detrimental impact of the mine on the environment and on local communities.  

As the Deputy will be aware, matters relating to the ESB fall under the remit of my colleagues, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment. However, as I have stated in the Dáil, as Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I will look into this matter, and I intend to write to the Chief Executive of the ESB regarding this issue. 

Our new Embassy in Bogotá has also been engaging on this important issue. While officials have not yet visited La Guajira, where the Cerrejón mine is located, they have been following the situation in the region closely. Officials have met with representatives of the mine and have discussed the human rights issues that have been raised by civil society groups in the area. Officials have also discussed the situation with partner organisations in Colombia that are involved in monitoring human rights in the area. 

Embassy officials intend to visit La Guajira in the near future and meet with human rights defenders and civil society groups. Planning for the visit is advancing and the Embassy has engaged with relevant stakeholders to assess the most suitable and constructive time and to ensure the necessary conditions for the visit to take place. This effort requires thorough planning including liaison with EU and UN Missions in Bogotá, and a thorough security assessment to ensure appropriate security measures are in place.  

The Embassy has also been engaging on this issue with the EU Delegation in Bogotá. The EU Head of Delegation has visited the Cerrejón mine in order to hear stakeholders’ views on the allegations and to assess the situation on the ground.  

I can assure the Deputy that we will continue to engage on this very important issue and will monitor developments closely. I will to report to the Dáil with any further relevant information when I have raised the matter with the ESB.

Human Rights

Questions (119)

Seán Crowe

Question:

119. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of his Department’s work on the national action plan on business and human rights; the achievements to date; and the priorities for the rest of 2019. [30653/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I was pleased to launch the National Plan on Business and Human Rights (2017-2020) 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.

The establishment of the Business and Human Rights Implementation Group was a key commitment of the National Plan. The Implementation Group, established in December 2018, is mandated to meet at least twice per year. I was pleased to be able to participate in the inaugural meeting of the Group on 16 January 2019.  The Implementation Group went on to hold its first working meeting on 3 April 2019 and is scheduled to meet again in October.

A second commitment of the National Plan was a comprehensive baseline assessment of the legislative and regulatory framework for business and human rights in Ireland. My Department commissioned independent consultants to carry out this research in 2018, the final report of which is available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s website.

At its meeting in April the Implementation Group considered the findings of the baseline assessment and the establishment of three sub-groups, each tasked with prioritising and delivering key actions under the three pillars of the UN Guiding Principles, namely, the State duty to protect, corporate responsibility to respect and access to remedy. The composition and chair of these sub-groups has been considered by the Implementation Group and the establishment of the groups and the appointment of the chairs is a priority for my Department. It is anticipated that the sub-groups will be constituted and will begin work before the next plenary meeting of the Group in October 2019. 

Passport Applications Data

Questions (120)

Niall Collins

Question:

120. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of persons who applied for an Irish passport in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30655/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

All passport applications are subject to the provisions of the Passports Act, 2008, as amended. The Passports Act provides, among other things, that a person must be an Irish citizen before a passport can be issued to him or her. Entitlement to Irish citizenship is governed by Irish law and in particular the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended.

The following figures reflect the number of passport applications received through all channels for the years requested:  

Year

No. of applications received

2014 

 647,134

2015

 680,442

2016

 746,917

2017

 786,688

2018

 855,283

2019*

 567,141

* To 30 June 2019 

Passport Applications Data

Questions (121)

Niall Collins

Question:

121. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of first time applicants from Great Britain and Northern Ireland who applied for an Irish passport in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30656/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

All passport applications are subject to the provisions of the Passports Act, 2008, as amended. The Passports Act provides, among other things, that a person must be an Irish citizen before a passport can be issued to him or her. Entitlement to Irish citizenship is governed by Irish law and in particular the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended.

The numbers of first time passport applications received from applicants who were resident in Northern Ireland and Great Britain at the time of application for the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019 are detailed in the following table.

Year

First time applications from Great Britain

First time applications from Northern Ireland

2014 

 5,672   

18,067

2015

6,011   

20,325   

2016

 18,263  

29,923

2017

 31,675

 40,089

2018

 22,386

 40,226

2019*

 31,099 

  47,645 

* to 30 June 2019

My Department continues to closely monitor the level of passport demand to ensure that all resources, including staffing, are effectively deployed to meet the ongoing anticipated strong demand for Irish passports.

Foreign Conflicts

Questions (122)

Niall Collins

Question:

122. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade further to Parliamentary Question No. 169 of 2 July 2019, and his acknowledgement that detention centres in Libya should close, the action which will be taken by the EU to close detention centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30657/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

As I have said repeatedly, Libya's system of detaining migrants is unacceptable and must end. Libya, like all other countries, must manage migration in full compliance with international law. This is a matter primarily for the Libyan Government, which bears the responsibility and has the presence on the ground, rather than for external actors such as the EU.

The EU is maintaining its political pressure on the Libyan authorities to end the system of detention centres. For example, when the EU High Representative met with the Prime Minister of Libya and the UN Special Representative for Libya in February, she raised conditions in detention centres. Ireland and the EU will continue to raise this issue at every appropriate opportunity.

The EU is also working to ensure that other options exist to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees and migrants, by supporting the work of UNHCR and IOM, and I had the opportunity to discuss the situation in Libya today with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr Filippo Grandi. In December 2018, the Libyan authorities agreed to the opening of the UNHCR Gathering and Departure Facility, as a hub to help refugees and asylum seekers to be swiftly evacuated. This is only a temporary solution for particularly vulnerable groups, including those who have been evacuated from detention centres near conflict areas. The EU will continue to work with the UN agencies, the Libyan authorities and others to find sustainable alternatives to the system of detention.

Through our cooperation with the UN and the African Union, the EU has also helped over 45,000 migrants stranded in Libya to return voluntarily to their countries of origin, and has evacuated close to 4,000 persons in need of international protection. Since many more people remain at risk, the EU will continue to work with its partners to relocate them to safe places swiftly to receive assistance.

I welcome reports from UNHCR this week that the Libyan Government has decided to release migrants and refugees from Tajoura detention centre, which was struck in a horrific attack earlier this month. I understand that the majority of migrants and refugees decided to leave the detention centre, and are being provided with support by the UNHCR. This is a positive development, but of course it comes too late for those who lost their lives in the attack. I call on the Libyan authorities to continue to cooperate with UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies to empty all the migrant detention centres in Libya as soon as possible, and in line with their responsibilities under international law.

Efforts to ensure the wellbeing of refugees and migrants in Libya remain constrained by the current security and political situation there. Libya is in the midst of a civil war and conflict there has severely limited the capacity of the international community to monitor and influence events on the ground. The EU Delegation to Libya had to be relocated to Tunisia, and most EU Member States with Embassies in Libya had to close these, due to the growing security threat. There is also a governance vacuum in many parts of the country, and access for international organisations seeking to monitor and alleviate conditions for migrants is restricted in many areas. Governments need counterparts, if we are to exert pressure – counterparts which are actually in control of the territory where abuses happen.

Ultimately, bringing real improvements to the lives of Libyans and migrants and refugees in Libya will require restoration of political stability and an end to lawlessness in Libya. This requires the formation of a fully functioning and unified Government, and a return to order throughout the country. The UN Special Representative Ghassan Salamé is working to achieve this. The EU will continue to work with the UN and others to support and reinforce Libya's sovereign institutions. In the meantime, we will maintain pressure on all parties to ensure unhindered access for humanitarian organisations to improve conditions in detention centres, to increase alternatives to detention, and, ultimately, to put an end to the system of detention in Libya.

UN Security Council

Questions (123)

Niall Collins

Question:

123. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of Ireland’s bid for a seat at the UN Security Council; the expenditure to date for the bid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30658/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

There are under eleven months remaining until the expected date of the election for the two available seats in the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) on the UN Security Council for the 2021-2022 term. The campaign to secure a seat for Ireland is a priority across the whole of Government, which is taking the opportunity of all appropriate regional, multilateral and bilateral engagements to raise Ireland’s candidature.

In addition to political level engagement, officials at my Department in Ireland, at our Permanent Representations in New York and Geneva, and across our entire diplomatic network, have been actively promoting our candidature and seeking support.

In making our case to the 192 other Members States of the UN, we are highlighting our consistent record at the UN throughout more than six decades of active membership. We believe that Ireland’s record is recognised and respected, including in the areas of peacekeeping, sustainable development, humanitarian action, disarmament and human rights.

Representatives from more than 30 Small Island Developing States (SIDS) visited Ireland last month to participate in the annual Seafest/Our Ocean Wealth Summit. During their visit, the President, An Taoiseach, myself and a number of Ministers engaged with the representatives of the island nations and discussed Ireland’s values and our shared commitment to the multilateral system. Such visits offer the opportunity to UN Member States to travel to Ireland and develop a greater understanding of our country and of our candidature.

Campaign costs to date have been approximately €650,000 including the launch event at UNHQ in New York, promotional materials and campaign related travel and subsistence. Total spending by the end of the campaign will be dependent on a range of factors, particularly the number of lobbying visits and attendance at key international events undertaken over the next eleven months.

Visa Agreements

Questions (124)

Niall Collins

Question:

124. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of Irish students who participated in the J1 visa programme from 2012 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30659/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The J1 visa programme for Irish citizens to work and travel in the US is managed by US based sponsors and their agents in Ireland under authority of the US Department of State’s Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs.  All figures related to the J1 programme are maintained by US authorities.

 My Department, through the Americas Unit in Dublin and through our Embassy in Washington, D.C., liaises closely with the US authorities on matters of visas and immigration.

 Figures shared by the US Authorities only show data from the most recently available full years, 2016, 2017 and 2018. These figures show that for the most popular category, the J1 “Summer Work and Travel” scheme, the numbers of Irish citizens availing were 4,347 in 2016, 4,190 on 2017 and 3,522 in 2018. For the next most popular category “Camp Counsellor” scheme, the figures were 1,384 in 2016, 1,683 in 2017 and 1,667 in 2018. As the J1 season is currently underway, figures for 2019 are not available.

 Officials in my Department have met recently with the two J1 sponsors in Ireland, SAYIT and USIT.  Officials specifically discussed the J1 programme and the decline in the number of  Irish citizens availing of the programme in recent years. Our Ambassador in Washington and his colleagues regularly meet with the US-based sponsors.

We are actively looking at ways of working with US authorities, the J1 sponsors in the US and their agents in Ireland to improve the uptake of J1 places. My officials also worked closely with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) this year to develop a J1 guide for Irish students. This guide offers practical advice for undertaking a J1 and staying safe when abroad, and it is available on the USI website. A key issue for all involved in the programme is how to ensure the welfare of participants and to remind them of the need to scrupulously respect the rules and regulations set out by the US authorities. 

Diplomatic Representation

Questions (125)

Niall Collins

Question:

125. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the meetings attended in the United States of America by the special envoy to the United States since his appointment; the costs incurred as a result of this appointment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30660/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Taoiseach appointed Deputy John Deasy as Special Envoy to the United States Congress on the Undocumented Irish in June 2017. As the Taoiseach indicated at the time of the appointment, no additional remuneration is paid to the Deputy Deasy in his role as Special Envoy.  

Deputy Deasy is supported, from a logistical perspective, by my staff in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The staff resources required are drawn from existing resources in relevant sections of my Department, as needed and on a case by case basis. Likewise, Deputy Deasy’s travel and subsistence expenses are covered from within the existing resources of my Department, as and when he undertakes activities in connection with his role as Special Envoy. 

In 2017, Deputy Deasy made four trips to the US in connection with his role as Special Envoy. In 2018, Deputy Deasy made ten trips, and he also had a series of engagements in Ireland with visiting US officials in the summer of 2018. To date in 2019, Deputy Deasy has made two trips to the US in connection with his role as Special Envoy.  

The total costs for Deputy Deasy’s flights, accommodation and subsistence in 2017 were €11,103.44. The cost in 2018 was €27,722.70 and the cost, to date, in 2019 has been €7,867.17. The total costs incurred by Deputy Deasy in connection with his role as Special Envoy amount to €46,693.31. 

Over the last year, Deputy Deasy has particularly engaged with key US stakeholders on the issue of E3 visas for Irish citizens. In this regard, Deputy Deasy has met with senior officials in the US Administration as well as with key representatives from the US Congress in relation to this visa bill. Over St. Patrick’s Day 2019, Deputy Deasy also accompanied the Taoiseach on some of his engagements in Washington, D.C. He also participated in the key elements of the visit of US Speaker Pelosi and her accompanying Congressional delegation in April, and more recently with a bi-partisan congressional delegation.

Global Footprint Initiative

Questions (126)

Niall Collins

Question:

126. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of Ireland’s plan to double its global footprint by 2025; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30661/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Since its launch a year ago my Department has been working closely with the Department of the Taoiseach and a range of other Government partners to ensure the effective delivery of the ambitions set out in Global Ireland, Ireland's Global Footprint to 2025. 

On July 8th, the Taoiseach and I hosted a summit in Dublin Castle to mark one year since the launch of the plan bringing together key stake holders from across Government and civil society to review progress to date and to set priorities for the year ahead. The year one detailed Progress Report was published concurrently with the summit and is available on www.gov.ie

To date new Embassies have opened in Wellington, Bogotá, Amman, Monrovia and Santiago de Chile, and new Consulates General in Vancouver, Mumbai and Cardiff. This brings to 88 the number of diplomatic Missions in the network. The expansion will continue this year to include new Consulates General in Los Angeles and Frankfurt. Embassies in Kyiv, Manila and Rabat will follow shortly thereafter.

Our new Missions are working to enhance Ireland’s international visibility; promote our prosperity, build new community and political contacts; protect and advance Ireland’s interests and values; and deliver on our commitments under Ireland’s new policy for International Development ‘A Better World’. We continue to make progress in increasing the number of officers in missions that currently have one or two officers. 

We have sought to deepen our engagement with the multilateral system with the launch last July of Ireland’s campaign for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Officials from my Department both at home and abroad have been actively presenting Ireland’s case and seeking support among the other 192 UN Member States. This has provided Ireland with an invaluable opportunity to build relationships and contacts across the world, which will stand to us long after the campaign has ended.

In October we obtained observer status at the Organisation of the Francophonie – an important step in increasing our engagement with the French speaking world.

More recently I launched a new strategy for the US and Canada and a White Paper on International Development Policy. Work is underway on strategies for Latin America and the Caribbean as well as the Asia Pacific Region. And a series of consultations are also underway for a new Diaspora policy.

A critical component of the Global Ireland programme is identifying new opportunities to diversify our markets in a post-Brexit world. €8 million was allocated in budget 2019 to support the expansion of Ireland’s enterprise development network internationally. This investment will allow for a more targeted expansion of our State Agencies in both emerging and established international markets. 

 In my Department planning is underway for Ireland’s participation at Expo 2020 in Dubai. Expo will showcase Ireland to a global audience, in a region with huge trade and investment potential and will support a 'Team Ireland' approach to promoting Ireland as a global partner for the development of new ideas and technologies, as well as an attractive location for business and investment.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (127)

Niall Collins

Question:

127. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of staff in each embassy and consulate in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30662/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland’s diplomatic network of Missions around the world is critical to the achievement of our foreign policy and trade goals such as ensuring the efficient delivery of passport and consular services to our citizens, supporting emigrant organisations and outreach to the diaspora and other networks of influence.

Our Embassies and Consulates contribute directly to safeguarding our interests in negotiations on the UK exit from the European Union and they are helping to ensure that Ireland plays a full part in shaping the future development of the European Union.

The work of my Department in promoting a more just, fair, secure and sustainable world continues through mission engagement with multilateral institutions and agencies, including those of the United Nations, and via implementation of the Irish Aid programme in partner countries.

Our staff in Embassies and Consulates also make a strong contribution to job creation, exports, tourism and education in Ireland by assisting Irish businesses overseas in close cooperation with State Agencies.

Our capacity to deliver on these key goals will increase with the expansion of my Department’s Mission network abroad under the Global Ireland Initiative. This includes the opening of Embassies in Wellington, Amman, Santiago, Monrovia and Bogotá, and the opening of Consulates General in Vancouver, Mumbai and Cardiff, Los Angeles, and Frankfurt. New Missions will open in Rabat, Kyiv and Manila by the end of 2020.

Our Missions are staffed by Departmental officers posted from headquarters; by staff seconded from other Government Departments in certain missions including the Permanent Representation in Brussels and visa officers seconded to missions from the Department of Justice, and by locally recruited staff.

Mission

Number of Staff 2016

Number of Staff 2017

Number of Staff 2018

Number of Staff

April 2019

Abu Dhabi

12.5

13

15

13+2 Vacancies

Abuja

11

14

13

14

Addis Ababa

8

9

11

11

Amman

0

0

0

2

Ankara

11

12

12

10 

Athens

6.3

8

7

7

Atlanta CG

3

3

4

4

Austin CG

3

4

4

4

Bangkok

8

9

10

8+2 Vacancies

Beijing

23

25

25

25

Berlin

13.6

20.6

21.6

18.6+3 Vacancies

Berne

5

5

5

5

Bogota

0

0

0

6

Boston CG

5

7

7

7

Brasilia

5

6

5

5

Bratislava

4

3

3

4

Brussels incl Brussels PFP

12

12

14

12+2 Vacancies 

Brussels PR

91

99

97

98

Bucharest

6

7

7

7

Budapest

6

6

6

5+1 Vacancy

Buenos Aires

6

5+1 Vacancy

5

5

Cairo

9

9

12

11+1 Vacancy

Canberra

10.6

11

11

11

Cardiff CG

0

0

0

2

Chicago CG

6.4

5.4

6.4

6.4

Copenhagen

5.9

6.9

6.5

6.5

Dar-es-Salaam

8

8

9

9

Edinburgh CG

4

3+1 Vacancy

5

5

Edinburgh BIC

1

1

1

1

Freetown

4

4

5

5

Geneva PMUN

15.5

16

16

17

Hanoi

9

10

11

11

Helsinki

5

5

6

6

Holy See

2.75

2.75

3.75

2.75

Hong Kong CG

5

5

5

5

Jakarta

8

7

7

7

Kampala

7

8

9

10

Kuala Lumpur

5

6

6

5+1 Vacancy

Lilongwe

7

7

9

9

Lisbon

6

6

6

6

Ljubljana

5

5

5

5

London

56.5

66.6

65.6

68.6

Lusaka

7

7

7

7

Luxembourg

4.5

3.5

3.5

3.5

Madrid

13.5

14

15

14+1 Vacancy

Maputo

7

11

13

13

Mexico

9

9

8

8

Monrovia

0

0

3

3

Moscow

17

18

18

18

Mumbai CG

0

0

0

2

Nairobi

3

9

8

7+1 Vacancy

New Delhi

14

14

15.6

16.6

New York CG

17.5

16.5

17

16+1 Vacancy

New York PMUN

17

17

28

23

Nicosia

4

4

4

4

Oslo

5

5

4

5

Ottawa

10

10

10

11

Paris

18

21.2

20.2

23.2

Paris OECD

4

6

7

7

Prague

7.5

7

7

7

Pretoria

10

13

13

13

Ramallah

6

6

6

6

Riga

3

3

3

3

Riyadh

9

10

9

9

Rome

13.3

13.42

14.72

14.72

San Francisco CG

6

6

9

9

Santiago

0

0

0

3

Sao Paulo CG

4

4

4

5

Seoul

6

6

6

6

Shanghai CG

8

7

8

8

Singapore

6.5

6.3

6.3

6.3

Sofia

6

6

6

6

Strasbourg CoE

5

6

7

7

Stockholm

5.62

5.62

5.62

5.62

Sydney CG

5

6

7

6+1 Vacancy

Tallinn

3

5

3

3

Tel Aviv

5

5

6

5+1 Vacancy

The Hague

9

10.8

10.6

10.6

Tokyo

10

10

11

11

Valletta

4

4

5

5

Vancouver CG

0

0

3

5

Vienna

9

9

9

8+1 Vacancy

Vienna OSCE

4

4

6

6

Vilnius

4

4

5

5

Warsaw

8

8

10

10.5

Washington DC

20

18

18

18

Wellington

0

0

3

5

Zagreb

3

3

3

3

TOTAL

750.47

811.59

862.39

870.89

Emigrant Support Services

Questions (128)

Niall Collins

Question:

128. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if all recommendations from the report published on addressing barriers facing returning Irish emigrants have been implemented; if not, the outstanding recommendations; when he expects them to be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30663/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Interdepartmental Committee on the Irish Abroad has dedicated its work stream over the past year and a half to evaluating and, where possible, implementing the thirty recommendations contained in the Indecon Economic Report on Addressing Challenges Faced by Returning Irish Emigrants.

Of the 30 recommendations, 20 have been addressed. Of the remaining 10 areas, 8 have been partially addressed or are pending further policy development. 2 recommendations were not accepted.

Perhaps the most beneficial among the recommendations that have been addressed is the development of a single window information service for returning Irish emigrants. This information is currently available on the Global Irish section on the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and will shortly be replaced by information on the website of the Citizens Information Board. This service allows returning Irish emigrants to plan more effectively for their move back home.

The work carried out to date to address the Indecon Report recommendations has resulted in an improved environment for returning Irish emigrants, although it should be noted that challenges still remain, including the need to ensure effective implementation of recent policy changes.

The Interdepartmental Committee on the Irish Abroad, at its meeting in July 2019, will discuss progress that has been made over the course of its work dedicated to addressing the recommendations contained in the Indecon Report. A summary of this progress will be made publicly available in the autumn.

Departmental Contracts Data

Questions (129)

Niall Collins

Question:

129. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the expenditure incurred since May 2016 and to date in 2019 on external consultant reports by report in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30664/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is responsible for two votes - Vote 28 (Foreign Affairs and Trade) and Vote 27 (International Cooperation).

The Department commissions external expertise where highly specialised skills are not available internally and in particular where ongoing independent evaluation of programmes and projects is required. During the course of their engagement, these consultants and experts may prepare reports and other documentation for the Department.

In-depth analysis of issues by external experts has informed, and continues to inform, the Department’s policies, allowing for a more targeted use of resources and greater accountability in the allocation of budgets.

These services are procured by open competitive tendering processes in accordance with EU and national rules and comply with the overall value for money objectives.

A small number of consultancies are engaged directly by our Missions abroad from time to time and in some instances they prepare technical reports relating to Ireland’s overseas development aid programme.

The following expenditure was incurred by my Department from 2016 to date in 2019: 

Year of commission  

Experts/Consultants  

Report/Subject  

Cost  

2016

Right to Change

Planning of Irish Aid Country Strategy Programme Tanzania 2017-2022

€13,974

2016

Bronagh Hinds

Debbie Donnelly

Midterm Review of the 2nd National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security

 

€15,506

2016

The Institute of International   and European Affairs

Comprehensive study mapping   that Ireland Japan relationship to mark the 60th anniversary of Ireland-Japan Diplomatic Relations in 2017

€22,000

2016

Grant Thornton

Audit Services

€100,000

2016

Emily Mates

Stocktake of Nutrition Engagement

€13,612

2016

Noel Casserly

UNFCC Reporting and Climate Finance Mapping 2015-2016

€25,370

2016

REEV Consult International

Evaluation of the CSF and the   Partnership Fund

€25,000

2016

ASM

Audit of grants awarded under Emigrant Support Programme

€26,533

2016

Emmanuel Sulle

Land Rights Scoping Study /   Consultancy

€7,500

2016

Ishihaka Mwandalima

Gender Based Violence scoping study

€3,750

2016

McQuillans

Accounting, Audit and Financial Services

€6,240

2016

PWC

Internal audit of Embassy, and external audit of selected   projects/programmes

€75,000

2016

Dr Cornelius Chipoma

Review of the Irish Aid Zambia   Education programme

€9,000

2016

Luiz Genedio Mendes Jorge

Review of the Supreme Audit Institution’s report and opinion on the   State Accounts 2014

€4,800

2016

Southern Cross Consulting

Review of Embassy of Ireland’s   approach to Fellowship in Tanzania

€11,430

2016

Willis Towers Watson

Study of Compensation Levels - Locally engaged staff in diplomatic missions (USA)

€3,150

2016

Mercer International

Study of Compensation Levels - Locally engaged staff in diplomatic   missions (Irish Aid)

€13,200

2016

Eamon Brehony, Alais Nakuyukuyo   Morindat

Review of Irish Aid support to   Pastoralism in Tanzania

€10,450

2016

Centre for Law and Democracy

Analysis of anti-corruption legislation in Tanzania

€2,670

2016

CASE International

Consultancy to evaluate the Civil Society Fund

€49,800

2016

Ingrid Obery

Review of partner results and internal capacity building on results based Management

€25,000

2016

Anne Nolan/Janet Gruber

Review of Global Health and HIV AIDS

€39,535

2016

Technopolis

Review of Product Development partners

€19,375

2016

Caoimhe Hughes

Review of Annual Reports of Programme Grant Partners

€4,000

2016

Mr. Sean Mc Gearty

Review of Co-Operation Ireland

€14,188

2016

M Horizon (UK) Ltd

Analysis of recent recommendations   issued by the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf

€1,788

2017

ASM

Audit of grants awarded under Emigrant Support Programme

€59,292

(paid between 2017 & 2018)

2017

Tierney & Associates, Risk   & Governance Consultants

Systems review of Emigrant Support   Programme

€15,375

2017

Indecon Consultants

Economic Report on Addressing the   Challenges Faced by Returning Irish Emigrants

€73,628

(paid between 2017 & 2018)

2017

Ernst & Young (EY)

External Quality Assessment of   Internal Audit

€18,450 (paid between 2018   & 2019)

2017

Amárach Research

Brexit Research: Understanding the likely demand for Irish passports from citizens in U.K

€21,000

2017

M Horizon (UK) Ltd

Continental Shelf NE Atlantic

€3,163

2017

Mary Brady

Overview of Humanitarian Mine Action

€4,500

2017

Noel Casserly

UNFCCC Reporting and Climate     Financing Mapping 2016 – 2017

€25,537

2017

Rachael Twinem

Internal review of the management structure and roles in the DICE (Development and Intercultural Education) project

€5,721

2017

Mercer International

Study of Compensation Levels - Locally engaged staff in diplomatic missions (Irish Aid)

€19,188

2018

FitzPatrick Associates

Review of VIBE programme

€11,234

2018

FitzPatrick Associates

Review of ROR’s approach to   Fellowships in Palestine

€18,761

2018

MEPS Consulting

Feasibility Study on Gaza Solar Energy   Proposal

€38,787

2018

Brian Casey

Review of the Humanitarian Programme Plan in Somalia

€9,591

2018

Brian Casey

Review of the Humanitarian Programme Plan in Burundi

€4,500

2018

Brian Casey

Review of External Quality Assurance HPP 2019-2021

€2,250

2018

Julia Lewis

Review of the Humanitarian Programme Plan in Cameroon

€9,383

2018

Niall Roche

Review of the Humanitarian Programme Plan in Tanzania

€8,548

2018

Sherry McLean

Review of IRC Strategic Partnership and IRC Kenya Country Programme

 €13,925

2018

Mercer International

Study of Compensation Levels - Locally engaged staff in diplomatic missions (Foreign Affairs and Trade)

€38,376

2018

The Geneva   Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces / International Security   Sector Advisory Team

Member States’ Systems of Secondment to Civilian CSDP and Recommendations for   Strengthening and Expanding Ireland’s   Participation.

€50,000   approx.

(awaiting final invoice)

2018

Leading Edge

Giving effect to a commitment in the   National Plan on Business and Human Rights, a tender was awarded to Leading Edge for the baseline assessment of the legislative and regulatory framework pertaining to business and human rights as it applies in Ireland.

€24,293

 2018

 

ASM (B) Ltd

Audit of Grants awarded under the   Emigrant Support Programme 

 

€81,402

 2018

National Centre for Research on Europe at the University of Canterbury

Undertake a benchmark analysis of how Ireland is perceived in New Zealand. The   study is led by the National Centre for Research on Europe at the University of Canterbury and will take the form of surveys, media analysis and interviews with key stakeholders in New Zealand.

€13,500

 2018

 AECOM

External Services for the analysis of Rio Markers and Climate Finance in Irish Aid - Funded Programmes, 2017 to 2018

€3,000

 2018

 Deirdre Clancy

Ireland's engagement with Somalia

€11,782

 2018

 Mazars

Support to ICT Audit (ICT Security, ICT Governance, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery)

€15,990   (paid in 2019)

 2019

 Red C

Perceptions of Ireland in Japan

€11,624   (co-funded with Tourism Ireland)

 2019

 Dr. Maria Gallo

Scoping research study on alumni engagement of Ireland's Diaspora.

€23,000 

 2019

Brian Casey

Review of the Emergency Response Fund

€11,850

Brexit Negotiations

Questions (130)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

130. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his European counterparts or representatives of EU member states have contacted his Department to discuss the way in which Ireland will protect the integrity of the Single Market in the event of a no-deal Brexit; if so, if he has responded to these communications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30729/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Brexit remains a priority issue for this Government, and the Taoiseach, my cabinet colleagues and I take every opportunity to engage with EU partners and the UK to advance Ireland’s priorities.  

Without the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop, there are no easy answers. A no deal Brexit will have severe economic and political implications for Ireland, North and South. The process of engagement with the European Commission, with its twin objectives of protecting the integrity of the Single Market and Ireland’s place in it and at least avoiding physical infrastructure at the border on the island of Ireland, continues. 

I have spoken with my EU counterparts about this work, and made clear that in addressing the border, Ireland is committed to protecting the integrity of the EU Single Market and Ireland’s place in it. Our place in the Single Market is a vital part of our economic model and crucial to Ireland's prosperity. 

EU partners have repeatedly made clear the EU’s solidarity with Ireland on this issue. The EU has been clear that it is determined to do all it can, deal or no deal, to avoid the need for a border and to protect the peace process.

Unfortunately, any such arrangements in a no deal scenario will be temporary and will be sub-optimal compared to the backstop. This is why the backstop is an essential part of the Withdrawal Agreement, and why we remain focussed on securing its ratification. As Michel Barnier has stated, it provides a “solution which preserves, on the one hand, the integrity of the United Kingdom and on the other, the Single Market, while respecting what we have committed to respect: the Good Friday Agreement.”

The need to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process will not disappear in a no deal scenario. We, with our EU partners, will insist that the issue of the border and protecting the Good Friday Agreement will need to be resolved as a condition for opening wider negotiations on the EU’s future relationship with the UK.

Brexit Preparations

Questions (131, 133, 138, 154)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

131. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of plans to publish a new Brexit contingency plan; the date it is expected to be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30730/19]

View answer

Lisa Chambers

Question:

133. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of planning for all Brexit scenarios, including a no-deal Brexit by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30756/19]

View answer

Brendan Smith

Question:

138. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the preparations in the event of a no-deal Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30932/19]

View answer

Lisa Chambers

Question:

154. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to mitigate delays at ports and disruptions to supply chains in the event of a no-deal Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31359/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 131, 133, 138 and 154 together.

Let me state clearly at the outset that the Government remains firmly of the view that the best and only way to ensure an orderly Brexit is for the UK to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement, as agreed by the UK Government and endorsed by the European Council. However, given the ongoing political uncertainty in the UK, it is our assessment that there is a significant risk of a no deal Brexit on 31 October. While we continue to plan for all scenarios, work on no deal Brexit preparations has the highest priority across Government departments and State agencies.

Following its approval by the Government, the updated Brexit Contingency Action Plan was laid before the Oireachtas and published on Tuesday 9 July. Its contents will be debated in detail in this House today. The Contingency Action Plan reflects the extensive work which has taken place at EU level and on a whole-of-Government basis to prepare for a no deal Brexit, including by setting out the next steps to be taken between now and 31 October.

At EU level, there is agreement on a range of temporary contingency measures in key areas, including maintaining basic air connectivity and road haulage access between the EU and the UK in the event of a no deal Brexit. These measures have been undertaken in tandem with our ongoing engagement with our EU partners and with the European Commission, on key outstanding issues, including on potential supports for Ireland and affected sectors. 

With regard to the Government's work to reduce delays at ports and disruptions to supply chains, additional infrastructure has been put in place to manage the necessary checks and controls on our trade with the UK on an east-west basis post-Brexit. Work at Dublin Port has involved nine projects across eight sites to deliver 13 new inspection bays, documentary and identity check facilities, office facilities and parking for up to 128 heavy goods vehicles. Plans are in place for a further 18 inspection bays. A 24-hour service will be provided at Dublin Port, and extended hours to match arrival times will be provided at Rosslare Port with on-call service provision outside these hours.

Revenue accelerated and expanded recruitment and training schedules to meet the 12 April 2019 deadline, with an additional 400 staff trained and ready by that date. Revenue will continue to build on this and will have 450 additional staff in place by 31 October. Additional staff recruited in preparation for Brexit are deployed across a number of functions, with approximately half on import and export trade facilitation activities. Revenue will continue to monitor the need for further recruitment, deployment and training.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) had approximately 190 staff ready to carry out import controls and export certification on 12 April 2019. Further staff will be ready to carry out controls in the additional inspection facilities that will be available by 31 October.

The HSE had 59 staff trained and available to conduct no deal Brexit (import and export) activities in time for the 12 April deadline. The HSE is progressing recruitment for a further intake of staff before the end of October.

Revenue are confident that their IT systems will handle the increased transaction levels in a no deal scenario. DAFM’s necessary IT systems were in place by March 2019. 

As stated in the Action Plan, there should be no illusion - a no deal Brexit will be highly disruptive and will have profound political, economic and legal implications. Our need to prepare prudently is more pressing than ever. Citizens and businesses cannot assume that because a no deal Brexit was averted in March and April that the same will happen in October. 

The time between now and the extended Article 50 deadline of 31 October must therefore be used wisely and effectively, by exposed businesses in particular, on increased preparedness measures. It is only by Government, business and citizens working together, both nationally and with our EU partners, that we can aim to mitigate, as far as possible, the impacts of a no deal Brexit.

We are determined to be as prepared as we can be, deal or no deal, for the changes Brexit will bring. We will continue this work as a fully committed EU Member State and with the unwavering solidarity and support of our EU partners.

State Visits

Question No. 133 answered with Question No. 131.

Questions (132)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

132. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on his recent trip to Germany; the discussions he had relating to Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30731/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I accompanied President Higgins and his wife Sabina on a State Visit to Germany last week, from 2 to 5 July.  

The State Visit was a truly memorable event which highlighted the historic and contemporary links between our two countries.  The success of the visit will, I believe, form a strong basis for further deepening and growing our already excellent bilateral relations in the years ahead. 

The President’s programme included engagements in Berlin, Leipzig, Würzburg and Frankfurt. I accompanied President Higgins to number of meetings where there were discussions on Brexit, including with the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier; the Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel; and the Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office, Michael Roth. 

In addition, I had a bilateral meeting with the Minister of European and Federal Affairs of the State of Hessen, Ms. Lucia Puttrich, where I briefed the Minister on Brexit issues. During the State Visit events, I also met with a number of Bundestag parliamentarians and took the opportunity to informally discuss Brexit with them as well.  

I appreciate Germany’s unwavering support in the Article 50 negotiations, including clear support for an operational and legally sound backstop to avoid a hard border. This solidarity was reaffirmed last week during the State Visit when President Steinmeier stated that Ireland's core interests are and will remain the EU's core interests. 

Question No. 133 answered with Question No. 131.

Living Wage

Questions (134)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

134. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the estimated cost of implementing a living wage of €12.30 for all employees directly employed and-or in agencies under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30772/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The remuneration of the directly employed staff of my Department is sanctioned by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in line with Government policy.

The most accurate estimate of the cost per annum is in the region of €836,000 to €1,500,000 to include permanent and temporary staff. It is difficult to determine the exact cost of introducing an hourly rate of €12.30 for relevant employees of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as those affected by any change would include temporary clerical officers and this figure varies from year to year. 

There are no State Agencies funded by my Department.

Departmental Data

Questions (135)

Denis Naughten

Question:

135. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the different income streams directly paid by persons to his Department or agencies under his remit, such as motor tax; the number of persons making annual payments; the value of same; the number of payments made through staged or incremental payments; the value of same; the additional income generated as a result of payments being made on an incremental basis; if incremental payments are not available, the reason for same; the corresponding figures for 1999 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30855/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The principal income stream, directly paid by persons to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is the payment of passport fees.

In this regard, there are no annual payments, staged or increment payments. For administrative and other reasons there is no proposal to introduce incremental payments.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Question No. 138 answered with Question No. 131.

Questions (136, 137, 140, 141, 142)

Jack Chambers

Question:

136. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the capital projects which have been delayed under Project Ireland 2040 under the remit of his Department and agencies in tabular form; when these projects will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30884/19]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

137. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the capital projects which have commenced under Project Ireland 2040 under the remit of his Department and agencies in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30920/19]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

140. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if expenditure estimates for capital projects under Project Ireland 2040 under the remit of his Department and agencies match projected cost requirements in tabular from; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30966/19]

View answer

Barry Cowen

Question:

141. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of capital projects being undertaken by his Department; the final agreed tender price; the estimated cost of each capital project in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31076/19]

View answer

Barry Cowen

Question:

142. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the capital projects completed since 2010; the final agreed tender price for each project; the actual cost of each project; if the actual cost exceeded the tender price; the reason therefor in each case in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31092/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 136, 137 and 140 to 142, inclusive, together.

The total capital allocation for my Department in 2019 across its two Votes – Vote 27: International Co-operation and Vote 28: Foreign Affairs and Trade - is €21 million. The corresponding 2018 capital allocation, in the first year of Project Ireland 2040/National Development Plan 2018-2027 was €13 million. 

The main focus of capital investment in 2019, as was also the case in 2018, is on the cost of constructing and maintaining State properties overseas under Global Ireland 2025, the on-going Passport Reform Programme, Ireland’s participation at EXPO 2020 and the continuing investment in ICT to support the Department’s global ICT network.

The projected breakdown of the 2019 capital allocation of €21 million, across the various areas referred to above, is as follows:

 

2019

State properties overseas  

€8.5 million  

Passport Reform Programme  

€5.5 million  

EXPO 2020  

€4.0 million  

ICT

€3.0 million  

Total

€21 million

Insofar as the current and future budgets for State properties overseas is concerned, details of the major current projects follow. It is planned to complete building works in 2019 at the Permanent Mission to the UN in New York at a total cost of €5.6 million. This project will be completed on budget. Preliminary works continue to facilitate the construction of a new Embassy/Ireland House in Tokyo for which a site was purchased in 2017 for €7.7 million. This project is currently under tender for design and management with construction tendering expected to be completed in 2020. The estimated construction cost for this project is €16 million.  Tendering for the construction of new Chancery and Official Accommodation buildings in Abuja, Nigeria, is expected to take place in 2020. In 2018, the Department purchased a building for €3.7 million for an expansion of the Washington D.C. Chancery. This project is still under development.

Under the on-going Passport Reform Programme, the main projects due for completion in 2019 will be the automated mailing project, the business process automation project, the bedding-in of the improvements to the on-line renewals service, on-going improvement to customer systems, and the commencement of the Passport Integrated Processing System. The overall budget for the Passport Reform Programme of €21.4 million, for the period 2015-2021, is on target, in line with the business case.

An allocation of €4 million in 2019 is provided for building costs associated with Ireland’s participation in EXPO 2020 in Dubai.  Ireland’s national Pavilion is being designed by the Office of Public Works.  The total capital cost of the pavilion will be €5 million and is expected to come in on budget. EXPO 2020 is expected to attract some 25 million visitors.  In a competitive global environment, participation will promote increased awareness of Ireland in the UAE and other key markets as a place to do business and as a destination for FDI post-Brexit.  Ireland’s presence will also aim to support trade and tourism opportunities for Ireland in the UAE and wider Gulf region.

For 2019 there are also smaller planned capital projects in respect of ICT Services comprising infrastructure upgrades, rollout of new business systems and improved communications technology. Provision is also being made for ICT services to new Missions under Global Ireland 2025.

Question No. 138 answered with Question No. 131.

Northern Ireland

Questions (139)

Brendan Smith

Question:

139. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if talks will continue throughout the remainder of July and August 2019, if necessary, to reach agreement in the event of agreement not being reached shortly by the Irish and British Governments and the political parties in Northern Ireland to have the Assembly and Executive restored; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30933/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The continuing absence of the power-sharing Executive and Assembly in Northern Ireland and the North South Ministerial Council is of grave concern for the Government as it is for the British Government. 

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.

I have engaged extensively with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland throughout this latest talks process, to encourage the parties to reach an accommodation. That engagement continues and will do so in the coming weeks as we work to secure agreement between the parties.  

Last week, the British Government introduced an amendment to UK legislation to extend the period for calling an Assembly election.

This step underlines the seriousness of the absence of the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland, and the urgent requirement for an agreement between the political parties on operating the institutions again.

All five political parties have engaged constructively throughout the talks process that the two Governments convened with the objective of getting the institutions operating again.

Progress has been made by the parties across a range of important issues. However, some key outstanding issues remain and finding final agreement on these issues will require genuine and courageous dialogue between the party leaderships.

The awful murder 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, and an openness to new thinking.

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 to get the devolved, power-sharing Assembly and Executive and the NSMC functioning again as quickly as possible.