Defence Forces Resources

Questions (107)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

107. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which each branch of the Defence Forces is adequately resourced in order to ensure its ability to participate as required at all levels nationally and overseas as in the past; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34655/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

My priority as Minister with responsibility for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service is maintained to the greatest extent possible.

The allocation of over €1 billion for the Defence Sector for 2019 emphasises the importance attached by the Government to ensuring that the Defence Forces have the resources necessary to deliver on all roles assigned by Government, both at home and overseas.

In terms of equipment, priorities for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service are considered in the context of the White Paper on Defence as part of the capability development, infrastructure and equipment planning processes. The principal aim over the period of the White Paper is to replace and upgrade, as required, existing capabilities in order to retain a flexible response for a wide range of operational requirements, both at home and overseas.

The mid-life upgrade programme for the Army’s fleet of 80 MOWAG Armoured Personnel Carriers, which is currently well underway, will extend the utility of the fleet and provide greater levels of protection, mobility and firepower. Other recent enhancements have been the acquisition of 24 4 x 4 armoured utility vehicles and 10 new armoured logistic vehicles. These measures will provide essential force protection overseas.

Significant work is also well advanced in relation to updating the Air Corps' fleet of aircraft with the replacement of the existing Cessna fleet with three larger, more capable, fixed wing utility Pilatus PC 12 aircraft which are being equipped for ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance). It is expected that delivery of these new aircraft will commence in 2020. Planning is also in progress to replace the CASA Maritime Patrol aircraft and a tender competition is currently underway in this regard.

The on-going Naval Service ship replacement programme is evidence of the Government's commitment to investment in the Naval Service. Four new Offshore Patrol Vessels were delivered between 2014 and 2018. In addition, planning is now underway for the replacement of the current Naval Service flagship LÉ Eithne with a new Multi Role Vessel.

The examples given, whilst far from exhaustive, demonstrate my commitment to the continued update and upgrade of the Defence Forces equipment and capability, within the financial envelope available. In accordance with the National Development Plan, the capital allocation for Defence increased to €106 million for 2019, an increase of €29 million. The National Development Plan provides for a total of €541 million for Defence over the period 2018-2022. This level of capital funding will allow the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructural development across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service.

In terms of personnel, between 2016 and 2018 over 2,000 personnel were inducted into the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) while, in February 2019, the largest ever cadet class in the history of the State was commissioned. Nevertheless, I recognise that reaching a strength level of 9,500 personnel is a key challenge for the Defence Forces at present but I am committed to ensuring that the Defence Forces have the means to continue to carry out the roles assigned by Government. In this regard, a range of alternative recruitment approaches are being taken including the fact that the competition for General Service Recruits now remains open throughout the year to maximise the Defence Forces' training capacity and to give applicants more opportunities to apply.

In terms of overseas, at present there are some 670 members of the Defence Forces serving in missions worldwide. Defence Forces personnel serving on all overseas missions are equipped with the most modern and effective equipment. This equipment enables troops to carry out the mission assigned, as well as providing the required protection specific to the mission. Ongoing threat assessments are carried out in mission areas and we continually review both equipment and force assets to ensure that Defence Forces' personnel are appropriately equipped to fulfil their roles.

EU Treaties

Questions (108)

Micheál Martin

Question:

108. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if assurances were given in 2008 when the Lisbon treaty was first rejected regarding a veto being applied in future Mercosur trade deals. [31470/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Following Ireland’s first referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, an agreement was reached between the Heads of State or Government of the EU Member States on 19 June 2009 in Brussels consisting of legally binding agreements and political commitments, informally called ‘the Guarantees’. The Guarantees comprise three separate elements, one of which was a Solemn Declaration on Workers’ Rights, Social Policy and other related issues.

The Solemn Declaration was set out in an annex to the European Council conclusions of June 2009. In it, the European Council confirmed the high importance which the Union attaches to social progress and the protection of workers’ rights; public services; the responsibility of Member States for the delivery of education and health services, and the essential role and wide discretion of national, regional and local authorities in providing, commissioning and organising services of general economic interest. The European Council also underlined the importance of respecting the overall framework and provisions of the EU Treaties. Although not specific to any particular trade agreement, in this regard the Solemn Declaration went on to recall that the Treaties, as modified by the Treaty of Lisbon, provide that the Council, when acting in the area of common commercial policy, must act unanimously when negotiating and concluding international agreements in the field of trade in social, education and health services, where those agreements risk seriously disturbing the national organisation of such services and prejudicing the responsibility of Member States to deliver them.

Ministerial Meetings

Questions (109)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

109. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has met with a group (details supplied). [33412/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I have not personally met with the Omagh Support and Self Help Group / Omagh Victims Support Group. However, my Department regularly engages on my behalf with the Group, which provides access to health and well-being services, advocacy and other support services for victims’ families and survivors of Troubles-related attacks and trauma, and the wider community impacted by such acts.

The Group advocates for and works to support many of the victims’ families and survivors affected by the Omagh bombing in 1998.

We must never forget those who lost their lives, those who were injured and the families whose suffering for their lost loved ones continues as a result of this appalling attack.

My colleague, Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, represented the Government at the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing, on 12 August last at the Memorial Garden, Omagh.

The Omagh Support and Self Help Group have successfully applied for funding under my Department’s Reconciliation Fund on a number of occasions, most recently in 2017. My Department looks forward to continuing this constructive engagement with the Group in the period ahead.

The Government also contributes significantly to the EU PEACE IV programme (2014-2020), which includes a specific action on Victims and Survivors. This action is delivered by the Victims and Survivors Service in Northern Ireland which provides funding supports to organisations - including the Omagh Support and Self Help Group - to provide health and wellbeing and advocacy support services for victims and survivors.

This engagement and funding support from the Government is part of our commitment, set out in the Programme for Partnership Government, to continue support for victims’ groups and to promote reconciliation among communities on both sides of the border, which were particularly affected by the Troubles.

The Government is also continuing to work to support the implementation of the legacy framework provided for under the Stormont House Agreement, to provide families with a way to access whatever truth and justice that is possible in their cases, and as a very necessary step in achieving a fully reconciled society.

Ministerial Communications

Questions (110)

Micheál Martin

Question:

110. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has spoken to any of his EU counterparts since the last EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting regarding Brexit or other issues. [34412/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I, as well as officials from my Department, continue to have frequent and ongoing contact with representatives from other EU27 Member States and the European Commission in order to promote Ireland’s positions on key policy areas relating to Brexit.

I attended the Foreign Affairs Council of the EU on 15 July and, while Brexit was not on the formal agenda, I held a bilateral meeting in the margins with my counterpart from Poland and will meet with other EU colleagues throughout the summer.

I also met with the EU’s Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier on 19 July to take stock of developments relating to Brexit, ahead of the new UK Prime Minister taking office this week. The meeting strongly reaffirmed the EU’s position on support for the backstop, and that the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for renegotiation. Mr. Barnier also welcomed the recent publication of the Government’s updated Brexit Contingency Action Plan.

At the start of this month, I accompanied President Higgins on his State Visit to Germany, and took part in meetings with the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as meeting with the Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office, Michael Roth. Each of our interlocutors expressed Germany’s continued full solidarity with Ireland, and the view that the Withdrawal Agreement cannot be reopened.

My discussions with Mr. Barnier, and my colleagues throughout the EU, once again underline the strong solidarity with Ireland and the EU's absolute commitment to protect the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts.

We remain firmly of the view that the only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal is to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement. It is vital that the UK, and the new Prime Minister, uses the time up to 31 October to find a realistic way forward. Responsibility for avoiding a no deal Brexit lies firmly with the UK.

Legislative Measures

Questions (111)

Martin Heydon

Question:

111. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the primary legislation enacted since May 2016; and if the legislation in each case placed additional regulatory burdens on small and medium enterprises. [31483/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

My Department has enacted the following primary legislation since May 2016:

- Diplomatic Relations (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2017. No additional regulatory burdens were placed on small and medium enterprises.

- Protection of Cultural Property in the event of Armed Conflict (Hague Convention) Act 2017. No additional regulatory burdens were placed on small and medium enterprises.

- The Passports Act 2008 was amended on enactment of Section 207 of the Data Protection Act 2018. The purpose of this provision is to amend the Passports Act 2008 in line with changes introduced by both the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 and the Data Protection Act 2018. No additional regulatory burdens were placed on small and medium enterprises.

- The Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Act 2019 – the ‘Brexit Omnibus Act’. It focuses on protecting Irish citizens, assisting businesses and jobs, and securing ongoing access to essential services and products. It consists of fifteen Parts relating to matters within the remits of nine Ministers. All Parts of this legislation are ready to be commenced as needed in the event of a no deal Brexit. Parts One and Fifteen of the Act fall under the remit of my Department and are not expected to place any additional regulatory burdens on small and medium enterprises.

Legislative Measures

Questions (112)

Pat Deering

Question:

112. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the secondary legislation enacted since 1 January 2018; and if the legislation in each case placed additional regulatory burdens on small and medium enterprises. [31491/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

My Department has enacted the following secondary legislation since 1 January 2018:

- ICPO-INTERPOL Regional Conference (Privileges and Immunities) Order 2018 (SI No 151/2018)

- Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (Hague Convention) Act 2017 (Commencement) Order 2018 (SI No 299 of 2018)

- Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Act 2008 (Designation of States in Accordance with the Protocol of Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict) Order 2018 (SI No of 300 of 2018)

- Extradition (Protocol to The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict) Order 2018 (SI No 301 of 2018)

- International Committee of the Red Cross (Privileges and Immunities) Order 2018 (SI No 552 of 2018)

- Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Privileges and Immunities) Order (SI No 78 of 2019)

- Maritime Jurisdiction (Bay Closing Lines) Order 2019 (SI No 155 of 2019)

- Extradition (United Nations Convention Against Corruption) Order 2019 (SI No 275 of 2019)

- Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Act 2019 (Part 1) (Commencement) Order 2019 (SI No 280 of 2019)

- European Organisation For Astronomical Research In The Southern Hemisphere (Privileges And Immunities) Order 2019 (SI No 288 of 2019)

- Extradition (Second Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Extradition) Order 2019 (SI No 339 of 2019)

- Diplomatic and Consular Fees (Amendment) Regulations 2019 (SI No 339 of 2019)

None of the above secondary legislation placed additional regulatory burdens on small and medium enterprises.

Legislative Reviews

Questions (113)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

113. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of reviews carried out by his Department pursuant to Standing Order 164A of Dáil Éireann; the pieces of legislation to which each review refers; the number and title of each piece of legislation in respect of which a review pursuant to Standing Order 164A has not been undertaken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31631/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The post enactment reports made under Standing Order 164A for my Department are as follow:

- Diplomatic Relations (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2017 was laid with the Oireachtas Library on 13 December 2018.

- Protection of Cultural Property in the event of Armed Conflict (Hague Convention) Act 2017 was laid on 29 March 2019.

My Department will comply with future review requirements on each piece of legislation when they fall due.

International Election Monitoring

Questions (114)

Paul Murphy

Question:

114. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if undertakings were provided to issue a composite reply to concerns and questions raised by Irish election observers early in 2019 in respect of the establishment of the 2018 election observation placement roster; when the reply will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31755/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade administers and maintains a roster of suitably skilled individuals available to deploy on international election observation missions organised, in the main, by the European Union (EU) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

A new roster was mustered in January 2019. An appeals process was made available to unsuccessful candidates. During that process, a number of unsuccessful applicants asked questions about the election observation roster and the mustering process. As the majority of these questions were outside the terms of reference of the appeals panel, in the interests of transparency and efficiency the Department undertook to issue a composite response to all applicants in due course.

The preparation of the composite response is ongoing. The Department will issue a final communication to all candidates once the security vetting process is complete and we have closed off the roster mustering file.

Brexit Issues

Questions (115)

James Browne

Question:

115. Deputy James Browne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has discussed with his UK counterpart the issue of Border checks on trucks originating here and arriving in the UK from Rosslare Europort but that plan to travel onwards to another EU country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32177/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Officials from my Department, along with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Department of Health and Revenue continue to work with the European Commission and other EU Member States on options in relation the transport of goods to / from Ireland and the European continent via Great Britain (commonly known as the landbridge).

While improved direct maritime links to the continent will be helpful, the landbridge will remain very important in moving products to the rest of the Single Market, and vice versa.

Ireland has sought to ensure that the transport of goods is facilitated through the EU’s internal customs transit procedure, and that the necessary sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks on agri-food goods are conducted in the most efficient manner possible.

Upon leaving the EU, the United Kingdom will accede to the Common Transit Convention (CTC). Under the Convention, goods moving from Ireland to another Member State via the UK, or vice versa, will, following the UK's departure from the EU, move under the Customs Transit Procedure. Once Union goods are moving under the Customs Transit Procedure from one Member State to another through a third country, no duties or taxes will be applicable. However a financial guarantee will be required for each consignment. The third country must also facilitate the transit of the goods by completing an office of transit function.

Since December 2018, considerable progress has been made in clarifying the application of EU rules and an agreed understanding has been reached on the continued use of the landbridge under the internal transit procedure. Work continues at a technical level to provide absolute clarity on the application of certain EU rules and procedures with regard to SPS controls on animals and products of animal origin.

All work undertaken to date has been designed to ensure that EU and Irish operators can continue to use the landbridge in an effective and efficient way. However, use of the landbridge after Brexit will not replicate the status quo for operators, and will depend on traders being compliant with the new requirements set out above. In addition, in the event of a disorderly Brexit delays in the movement of trucks to and at ports could be significant. Therefore, over the coming months, both Government and businesses need to take the necessary steps to prepare.

In order to make best possible use of the landbridge after Brexit, I strongly encourage businesses to follow the advice set out in the Government's Brexit Contingency Action Plan Update, published on 9 July.

Consultancy Contracts Data

Questions (116)

Shane Cassells

Question:

116. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of external consultant reports commissioned by his Department in each of the years March 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the cost of same; the company involved; and the title and publication date by report in tabular form. [32249/19]

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 reports were commissioned by my Department from 2011 to date in 2019:

Year

Experts/Consultants

Report/Subject

Cost

Date of publication

2011

Kevin Moore

Support to the Governments of Zambia and South Africa to develop Special Economic Zones for the promotion of inward investment and employment

€17,861

Not Applicable – see footnote*

2011

Paul Sheane

Support to the Governments of Zambia and South Africa to develop Special Economic Zones for the promotion of inward investment and employment

€9,965

*

2011

Stefanie Meredith

Review of Irish Aid Support for Product Development Partnerships in developing countries

€10,100

*

2011

Samia Saad

Review of Irish Aid Support for Product Development Partnerships in developing countries

€9,198

*

2011

Paud Murphy

Development Education Reviews - to examine the current funding support and engagement in each of the priority areas identified in the Development Education strategy (primary, post primary, third level, adult, community and youth work)

€9,064

*

2011

80:20

Development Education Reviews - to examine the current funding support and engagement in each of the priority areas identified in the Development Education strategy (primary, post primary, third level, adult, community and youth work)

€9,870

*

2011

Eilis Murray

Development Education Reviews - to examine the current funding support and engagement in each of the priority areas identified in the Development Education strategy (primary, post primary, third level, adult, community and youth work)

€6,068

*

2011

ISOS

Development Education Reviews - to examine the current funding support and engagement in each of the priority areas identified in the Development Education strategy (primary, post primary, third level, adult, community and youth work)

€42,247

*

2011

Bernard McLoughlin

Review of the Irish Aid Centre, Dublin

€6,143

*

2011

Cathal Higgins

Preparation of a report on the programme of education sector budget support towards school infrastructural development in Karamoja region and skills development in the oil sector (Uganda)

€5,000

*

2011

Mike Williams

Review of Humanitarian Programme Plan for Irish Aid

€18,742

*

2011

Humanitarian Policy Ltd

Review of Security Policy & Practice among Irish Aid Humanitarian Partners

€33,930

*

2012

Mike Williams

Evaluation of the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation

€12,247

July 2013

2012

PA Consulting Group

Evaluating the value of the economic relationship between the United Kingdom and Ireland

€73,083

July 2013

2012

Cathy Roche

Review of the Our World Awards 2005-2011

€6,300

*

2012

Everywhere Consulting

Feasibility Study on the Establishment of a Humanitarian Hub at Shannon Airport

€74,982

December 2012

2012

Fintan Farrelly

Review of the Irish Aid Strategic Environmental Partnership Programme

€6,000

*

2012

Mike Williams

Review of Misean Cara

€15,099

*

2012

Pham Quang Hoa

Local consultancy contract 'Review of P135 infrastructure projects funded by Irish Aid'

€5,453

*

2012

IOD Parc

South Africa Country Strategy Programme 2008-2012 Final Report

€73,256

January 2013

2012

Itad

Evaluation of the Irish Aid Ethiopia Country Strategy Programme 2008-2012

€143,886

May 2013

2013

Peter McEvoy

Evaluation of a number of Organisations funded by the Emigrant Support Programme(ESP)

€13,075

July 2013

2013

Wright Consultancy Ltd

Gender Equality Audit

€14,000

December 2013

2013

Mary Jennings

Review of HRD (Human Rights and Democratisation) Scheme Irish Aid Palestine

€15,500

*

2013

Bronagh Hinds & Karen McMinn Consultants

Report on the implementation of Ireland's National Action Plan on UNSCR (United Nations Security Council Resolution) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security

€20,811

June 2013

2013

Gareth Williams

Review of Financial and Programme of the Camara Education Programme

€20,000

*

2013

John Geraghty

Review of University College Cork’s Programme of Technical Support Internships for Food Security

€7,568

*

2013

Natural Research Institute

Review of Irish Aid Support to Fair and Ethical Trade Initiatives

€19,292

*

2013

Pham Quang Hoa

Review Programme 135 (for Ethnic Minorities) of Irish Aid funded infrastructure projects

€5,588

*

2013

Gareth Singleton

Review of Irish Forum for Global Health

€8,395

*

2013

IOD Parc

Evaluation of Irish Aid's Sierra Leone Strategy Paper, 2011-2013

€77,907

August 2014

2013

Mokoro

Evaluation of Ireland's Support to Timor Leste, 2001-2014

€85,203

August 2014

2014

Gareth Singleton

Review of Royal College of Surgeons

€25,756

*

2014

Tierney & Associates, Risk & Governance Consultants

Audit of grants awarded under Emigrant Support Programme

€19,934

*

2014

Hogan Lovells, Washington

Review of tax, social insurance and health obligations and other conditions of service in respect of locally-recruited staff members at our missions in the United States

€57,756

*

2014

Gallup Korea (Korea Gallup Poll Co. Ltd.)

Working Holiday Agreement Report

€7,217

March 2015

2014

Andy Pollak

Review of Irish Aid support for Initial Teacher Education

€11,564

*

2014

ADETEF

OECD DAC EVALNET Study on Collaborative Partner- Donor Evaluation Work

€25,000

*

2014

Tran Thi Ngoc Diep

Local input into Review of Irish Aid scholarship programmes

€1,502

*

2014

Tom Collins

Feasibility Study - Celebrating and Sustaining Ireland’s relationship with Africa

€5,000

*

2014

ITAD Limited

Mid Term Review of the Civil Society Support Programme

€68,135

*

2014

David Goodman Payne

Review of Irish Aid Civil Society Facility in Vietnam

€8,549

*

2014

Cathy Gaynor/Niamh O’Grady/Gill Roe

Evaluability Assessment of the Programme of Strategic Cooperation

€43,200

*

2014

Willis Risk Services (Ireland) Limited

Consultancy for insurance policy report and tender documentation for the Rapid Response Corps

€6,150

*

2014

Mekong Dev Research Institute

Impact assessment of Irish Aid funded infrastructure projects under P135 in 2011 & 2012

€43,912

*

2014

Karen McMinn

Report and final review on the implementation of Ireland's National Action Plan on UNSCR (United Nations Security Council Resolution) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security

€9,750

2015

2014

Mokoro

Evaluation of Irish Aid’s Uganda Country Strategy Paper 2010-2014

€113,739

2016

2014

ASM (B) Ltd

Payroll System Audit

€11,636

*

2014

Ground Work Consultancy

Review of Nutrition Options for Irish Aid in Mozambique

€5,000

*

2014

Ground Work Consultancy

Review of performance and lessons learned for Irish Aid funded OFSP projects

€3,500

*

2014

Ground Work Consultancy

Review of Irish Aid Nutrition programming in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos PDR

€13,829

*

2015

ASM

Audit of grants awarded under Emigrant Support Programme

€24,500

*

2015

Coffey International Development Ltd

Review of the Irish Aid Programme Grant Mechanism

€23,588

*

2015

Tran Thi Ngoc Diep

Local input into scoping study to explore Ireland’s cooperation in the agriculture & agribusiness sector under the IDEAS programme

€4,442

*

2015

Johnny O ‘Regan

Organisational Assessment of Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice

€4,400

*

2015

Mazars

ICT Audit

€29,520

(paid between 2015 & 2016)

*

2015

Crowleys DFK

Payment System Audit

€19,004

*

2015

Saferworld

Conflict Analysis input to the Embassy of Ireland Country Strategy Paper(CSP) development process - Uganda

€15,450

*

2015

Dr Cornelius Chipoma

Review of the education Sector programme in the context of Irish Aid Zambia 2013-2017 CSP - Zambia

€3,738

*

2015

Charles Abola

Review of Irish Aid support to Acholi Education initiative (AEI) - Zambia

€12,000

*

2015

Firetail Ltd

Evaluation of the MVIWATA Strategic Plan 2010-2014 - Tanzania

€21,450

*

2015

Centre for Social Research

Review of Irish Aid’s support of the Forum from Women’s Educationalist – Uganda Chapter(FAWEU)

€18,942

*

2015

Gemma O’Reilly

UNFCCC Reporting and Climate Finance Mapping 2014-2015

€27,041

*

2015

Wilberforce MUHWANA

Design of the Quality Education Component for the Development of the Country Strategy Paper 2016 - 2020

€14,400

*

2015

Transparency international

Consultancy to assess the current Governance and Management status of institutions in Education Sector to appraise Performance, and propose Recommendations to improve Accountability and Transparency

€15,362

*

2015

Stephens Moore

Audit and Verification of Grants awarded to the Platform for Social Protection Zambia for 2013 and 2014

€31,550

*

2015

Ann Nolan

Review of the Irish Aid – HSE collaboration – 2015

€6,300

October 2015

2015

Sebastian Kevany

Review of Irish Aid- Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) Partnership 2011-2015

€21,368

*

2015

Ms Mpala Nkonkomalimba

Mid Term Review Process Irish Aid Zambia Country Strategy 2013-17

€6,300

*

2015

Kate Bridges

Review of Partners Logic Models/ theories of change- Zambia

€6,680

November 2015

2015

Mr Isaac Ngoma

Mid Term Review Public Financial Management (PFM) Assessment - Zambia

€5,000

November 2015

2015

Lahluva Consultores

Annual Planning Report of G19 and Government of Mozambique and Assessment of Irish Aid Annual Comm to GBS - Mozambique

€24,000

March 2016

2015

OPTIMOZ

Facilitation & Capability Strengthening for Niassa Provincial Leadership Team re Design of Niassa Provincial Strategic Framework for the PEN – 2027 - Mozambique

€25,000

November 2015

2015

OPTIMOZ

Capability Assessment and Initial Facilitation of Planning Exercise for Niassa Provincial Leadership Team 2017-27 - Mozambique

€4,900

October 2015

2015

Option Consultancy Services Ltd

Review of Social Accountability Approaches in Health

€12,872

January 2016

2015

Anne Nolan

Review of HSE MOU

€8,100

October 2015

2015

Michael Shannon

Asia Pacific Ireland Business Forum Review

€4,951

January 2016

2015

Alasdair Collins DP Evaluation

Evaluation of IDEA’s (Irish Development for Education Association) Capacity Development Programme 2013-2015

€5,212

*

2015

Cathal Reidy

A review of Ireland’s Humanitarian Emergency Relief Supplies

€36,290

*

2015

Ground Work Consultancy

Review of Irish Aid Nutrition programmes in Tanzania

€6,558

*

2016

Raiseaconcern.com

HR Reports

€64,362 (paid between 2015 & 2016)

2016

Consensus Research

Evaluation of Cooperation Ireland programmes supported by the Reconciliation Fund

€14,188

*

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

March 2017

2016

The Institute of International and European Affairs

Comprehensive study mapping the 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)

February 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

Baseline assessment of the legislative and regulatory framework pertaining to business and human rights as it applies in Ireland.

€24,293

April 2019

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)

*

2018

Democrashe (Bronagh Hinds and Debbie Donnelly)

Final Review of Ireland's Second National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 (the Women, Peace and Security Agenda). Building on a mid-term review undertaken in 2016, the purpose of the final Review was to measure progress in the implementation of commitments and plans set out in Ireland’s Second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security 2015-2018.

€14,367

June 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

June 2019

2019

Gumfoot Consultancy

Review of Programme Grant II in Ethiopia

€14,080

*

*Certain reports commissioned by the Department are for internal management usage and not for publication. However, many Departmental reports are published on www.irishaid.ie and www.dfa.ie

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (117)

Shane Cassells

Question:

117. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the photography costs for his Department in each year since March 2011 including costs incurred from use of the ministerial allowance; the occasions for which photographers were booked; the photographers used; the costs associated with each occasion that a photographer was used in tabular form; if there is a policy regarding the booking of photographers within his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32266/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

My Department only avails of the services of external photographic agencies where it is warranted, in particular for major events and State occasions. This is a service which my Department provides so that the media can easily and freely avail of photography where their own staff photographers cannot be fully accommodated. Events in 2018 such as the State visit by the Italian President, the visit of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Pope Francis all resulted in positive overseas media coverage of Ireland.

Through the Office of Government Procurement, an updated Multi-Supplier Framework Agreement for the provision of Professional Photography and Videography is now in operation. My Department procures the services of external photographic agencies via this Framework where necessary. In addition, my Department frequently uses in-house resources for photography whenever possible.

In relation to photography costs for the period March 2011 to December 2017, I would refer the Deputy to the reply issued to Question No. 349 of 13 December 2016 and the reply that issued to Question No. 108 on 13 February 2018.

The cost of photography to my Department for events which took place in 2018 to date is listed in Table 1 below. In the time available, it has not proved possible to compile a breakdown of photography costs associated with events organized by Ireland’s network of 87 diplomatic missions abroad.

TABLE 1 2018 - to date

Description

Date

Cost

Minister

Photographer

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

18/01/2018

€ 351.85

Mr. Pat Breen, T.D

Maxwell Photography

Closing ceremony of 60 Years of diplomatic relations between Japan and Ireland

23/01/2018

€ 676.50

Minister Cannon

Julien Behal

New Years Greetings at Aras

12/02/2018

€ 665.56

Mr. Ciaran Cannon, T.D.

Lafayette Graduation Services

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

19/02/2018

€ 351.85

Ms. Helen McEntee TD

Maxwell Photography

State Visit of Italian President

20/02/2018

€ 2,767.50

N/A

Julien Behal

Head of Mission Conference 17th January 2018

20/02/2018

€ 233.70

N/A

Maxwell Photography

Head of Mission Conference 16th January 2018

20/02/2018

€ 270.60

N/A

Maxwell Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

20/03/2018

€ 351.85

Minister Katherine Zappone

Maxwell Photography

Visit of French Foreign Minister and Minister Mc Entee

20/03/2018

€ 738.00

Minister Mc Entee

Maxwell Photography

Visit of Columbian Rugby Team

04/04/2018

€ 522.75

Minister Cannon

Julien Behal

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

12/04/2018

€ 351.85

Minister Pat Breen T.D,

Maxwell Photography

Visit of German Foreign Minister

25/04/2018

€ 676.50

Tánaiste

Julien Behal

Brexit Media Trip

02/05/2018

€ 1,469.85

N/A

Julien Behal

20th Anniversary of Good Friday Agreement

02/05/2018

€ 515.00

Tánaiste

Paul Faith

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

04/05/2018

€ 351.85

Minister of State Brendan Griffin T.D

Maxwell Photography

Visit of Chinese Minister

21/05/2018

€ 553.50

Tánaiste

Julien Behal

Visit of French Foreign Minister

21/05/2018

€ 615.00

Tánaiste

Julien Behal

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

05/06/2018

€ 351.85

Minister of State John Paul Phelan T.D

Maxwell Photography

20th Anniversary Good Friday Event

11/06/2018

€ 522.75

N/A

Julien Behal

Citizens Dialogue Launch

12/06/2018

€ 1,094.70

Tan Coveney/Min Mc Entee

Maxwell Photography

Visit of Prince Charles

19/06/2018

€ 2,429.25

Tánaiste

Julien Behal

Iveagh House Lecture Lord Patten

12/07/2018

€ 430.50

Tánaiste

Maxwell Photography

Visit of Duke and Duchess of Sussex Prince

20/07/2018

€ 2,149.43

N/A

Julien Behal

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

26/07/2018

€ 436.98

Minister Ciarán Cannon T.D,

Maxwell Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

26/07/2018

€ 436.98

Minister Mary Mitchell-O'Connor, T.D

Maxwell Photography

Visit of Pope Francis

11/09/2018

€ 1,014.75

Tánaiste Coveney

Julien Behal

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

01/10/2018

€ 351.85

Minister Patrick O’Donovan T.D

Maxwell Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

02/10/2018

€ 351.85

Minister of State Damien English T.D

Maxwell Photography

Getting Ireland Brexit Ready Launch

08/10/2018

€ 522.75

Tánaiste, Min Humphries and Min Creed

Julien Behal

Visit of Palestinan Authority President Mahmood Abbas

08/10/2018

€ 1,100.85

Tánaiste

Julien Behal

Ploughing Championship

08/10/2018

€ 738.00

Tánaiste

Julien Behal

Brexit Media Trip October

01/11/2018

€ 1,476.00

N/A

Julien Behal

Getting Ireland Brexit Ready Galway

01/11/2018

€ 522.75

Tánaiste

Julien Behal

Getting Ireland Brexit Ready Monaghan

01/11/2018

€ 522.75

Tánaiste

Julien Behal

Getting Ireland Brexit Ready Dublin

01/11/2018

€ 522.75

Tánaiste

Julien Behal

Visit of Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs China

05/11/2018

€ 522.75

Tánaiste Coveney

Julien Behal

British Irish Inter-Govermental Conference

05/11/2018

€ 861.00

Tánaiste Coveney & Minister Flanagan

Julien Behal

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

14/12/2018

€ 351.85

Mr. Ciarán Cannon T.D

Maxwell Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

09/01/2019

€ 351.85

Mr. Ciarán Cannon T.D

Maxwell Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

10/01/2019

€ 351.85

Jim Daly, T.D

Maxwell Photography

Visit of German Foreign Minister

23/01/2019

€ 768.75

Tánaiste

Julien Behal

Visit of Dutch Minister

04/02/2019

€ 120.00

Minister McEntee

Drone Services

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

15/02/2019

€ 454.00

Minister Ciarán Cannon, T.D

Maxwell Photography

New Years Greetings ceremony

15/02/2019

€ 307.50

Mr. Ciaran Cannon T.D

Maxwell Photography

Visit of Dutch Foreign Minister

21/02/2019

€ 522.75

Tánaiste Coveney

Julien Behal

Meeting of EU & Middle East Foreign Ministers

21/02/2019

€ 553.50

Tánaiste

Julien Behal

Reconciliation Fund Conference

25/03/2019

€ 768.75

Tánaiste

Julien Behal

Visit of Speaker Nancy Pelosi

24/04/2019

€ 731.85

Tánaiste

Julien Behal

Cultural performace at GPO for Speaker Nancy Pelosi

24/04/2019

€ 854.85

Tánaiste

Julien Behal

Host County Agreement Signing

29/04/2019

€ 522.75

Attorney General, Seamus Woulfe

Julien Behal

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

15/05/2019

€ 615.00

Ms. Katherine Zappone, T.D

Maxwell Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

16/05/2019

€ 454.00

Minister Kevin "Boxer" Moran, T.D

Maxwell Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

16/05/2019

€ 454.00

Minister Paul Kehoe, T.D

Maxwell Photography

Photography President of Seychelles

19/06/2019

€ 522.75

Tánaiste

Julien Behal

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

28/06/2019

€ 340.50

Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D

Maxwell Photography

Women Peace Security Conference

28/06/2019

€ 922.50

Tánaiste

Julien Behal

Cost at DFAT Missions

N/A

€ 7,948.84

N/A

N/A

Total

€ 45,742.04

Legal Costs

Questions (118)

Shane Cassells

Question:

118. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the expenditure incurred in respect of external legal fees in each year since March 2011, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32283/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

My Department generally seeks advice on domestic legal matters from the Office of the Attorney General and/or the Chief State Solicitor’s Office.

Depending on the subject-matter, litigation is dealt with on my Department’s behalf by the Attorney General’s Office, the Chief State Solicitor’s Office or the State Claims Agency which engage lawyers to act for the Department where necessary. The costs of any external solicitors or counsel engaged for such matters are not charged to my Department’s Votes.

The expenditure incurred in respect of external legal fees in each year since March 2011 is presented in tabular form below:

Year

Name

Cost

2019

Byrne Wallace

€2,339.95

The Department’s Missions abroad engage local legal advisers from time to time to deal with a range of miscellaneous matters.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (119)

Shane Cassells

Question:

119. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the expenditure incurred in external information technology costs in each year since March 2011, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32300/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

My Department operates a large information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure in support of its work at home and abroad, including the Passport Service.

A large network connecting over 100 offices contains a wide array of ICT hardware and software including desktops, servers, data centres, mobile devices, video conferencing and telephony. Services and equipment are regularly procured using Government frameworks and other procurement arrangements.

The expenditure incurred in external information technology costs for each year is outlined below.

YEAR

External Costs

2011(Mar- Dec)

€6,043,329.34

2012

€7,862,572.00

2013

€7,773,626.43

2014

€10,339,318.58

2015

€9,407,410.60

2016

€11,908,312.25

2017

€11,015,128.84

2018

€13,995,262.67

Total expenditure over requested period

€78,344,960.71

EU Migration Crisis

Questions (120)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

120. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on preserving the fundamental rights of persons crossing the Mediterranean to EU countries. [32351/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am very concerned about the situation in the Mediterranean. I discussed these issues with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi during his visit to Dublin on 11 July. I also expressed full support for the work of UNHCR, and signed a contract for €9 million in core funding to the organisation for 2019.

Saving lives at sea is a priority for Ireland and for this reason we have been active in operations to tackle people-trafficking in the Mediterranean since 2015, first through Operation Pontus, a bilateral agreement between Ireland and Italy running in parallel to Operation Sophia. Ireland has been a full member of Operation Sophia since 2017. Since 2015, Irish naval vessels have rescued thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean.

In 2015, Ireland committed to accept up to 4000 people through the EU Relocation Programme (concluded in March 2018) and the UNHCR-led refugee Resettlement Programme. Since then, Ireland has admitted over 2,500 people under EU relocation and resettlement programmes. Ireland has provided humanitarian assistance in solidarity with other Member States on separate occasions, where possible, by making pledges to take migrants who were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea and to process their applications for international protection.

In addition, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was adopted at a UN Intergovernmental Conference in Marrakesh, Morocco on 10 December 2018.

The Global Compact for Migration is the first-ever UN global agreement on a common approach to international migration in all its dimensions and is aimed at addressing the root causes of forced migration.

It aims to reduce the risks and vulnerabilities migrants face at different stages of migration by respecting, protecting and fulfilling their human rights and providing them with care and assistance. It also seeks to address the legitimate concerns of states and communities on the issue of migration and strives to create conducive conditions that enable all migrants to participate in and contribute to social economic development.

The commitments in the Compact are non-legally binding and form instead a normative framework for cooperation on migration. The aim of the Compact is to work towards making migration, where it does occur, safe, orderly and manageable.

Ireland supports the Global Compact for Migration as it represents a balanced approach for cooperation on migration between countries and regions which have very different perspectives on and experiences of migration.

Ireland also supports measures to address the root causes of irregular migration, through humanitarian and developmental programmes in developing countries. Indeed, Ireland’s pledge of €15 million for the EU’s Trust Fund for Africa is the third highest per capita contribution by an EU Member State.

Solving the migration crisis will ultimately require deeper political, economic and development relationships between the EU and neighbouring countries, including many in Africa, that will form a basis for dealing with a variety of challenges on the basis of shared responsibility.

Protected Disclosures Data

Questions (121)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

121. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of protected disclosures for which he has engaged an external consultancy and-or legal firm since 2014 to date; the name of the firms engaged; the year and the costs associated with engaging the consultancy and-or legal firms in respect of protected disclosures; the way in which persons are protected in cases in which an external consultancy firm is engaged in respect of protected disclosures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32400/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

No external consultancy and or legal firms have been contracted by my Department to advise on protected disclosures from 2014 to date.

Human Rights Cases

Questions (122, 123, 124)

Brendan Smith

Question:

122. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has recently raised concerns regarding the persecution of a group (details supplied) with the Chinese authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32721/19]

View answer

Brendan Smith

Question:

123. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps being taken at national and EU level to safeguard a group (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32722/19]

View answer

Brendan Smith

Question:

124. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the practice of organ harvesting from a group (details supplied); the actions he has taken to address the practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32723/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 122 to 124, inclusive, together.

The Government closely follows reports of persecution against Falun Gong practitioners, as well as the reports of organ harvesting. Since 2013, officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have met with representatives of the Irish Falun Dafa Association and human rights lawyers on a regular basis, most recently in June 2019.

Human rights concerns are discussed regularly with the Chinese authorities in bilateral meetings and raised in the appropriate multilateral fora, including rights related to freedom of religion or belief. The issue of Human rights was raised by the Tánaiste during his visit to China in March 2018 where he met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and during the visit of the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Chao, to Dublin in November 2018. Ireland also urged China to respect freedom of religion and belief in our intervention during the Universal Period Review of China in November 2018. As the Deputy will be aware, the Chinese Government denies accusations of human rights abuses against those who practice Falun Gong.

The EU-China Human Rights Dialogue is the primary formal framework through which Ireland and other EU member states share with China our experience in the field of human rights protection and promotion, and to urge China to take clear steps to improve the human rights situation. The latest session of this dialogue took place on 1-2 April 2019, and provided the EU with the opportunity to have a detailed exchange of views on a wide range of human rights issues with China. The EU raised a number of issues relating to freedom of religion and belief, as well as the rights of persons belonging to minorities, freedom of expression and association, arbitrary detention, and the death penalty.

New laws on organ donation came into force in China at the beginning of 2015 with a view to ending the practice of forced organ transplants, including from prisoners. The Embassy of Ireland in Beijing, in cooperation with our EU partners, continues to monitor the implementation of this legislation.

The Irish Government, together with our EU partners, will continue to address human rights issues with China, in frequent and regular dialogue, through our contacts in both Dublin and Beijing, and through the relevant multilateral channels.

Social Welfare Code

Questions (125)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

125. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the provision made under the social welfare code for those who volunteered with APSO towards pension entitlements; the relationship of his Department with APSO; the years provided for; if a review is planned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32754/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Overseas volunteering was previously within the remit of the Agency for Personal Service Overseas (APSO). In 2004 the functions of APSO were integrated into the then Department of Foreign Affairs.

Individuals who volunteered overseas via APSO for a minimum period of six consecutive months may be in a position to avail of certain social welfare provisions under the Volunteer Development Worker Scheme (VDWS) or and the Public Service Pension Scheme for Volunteer Development Workers (PSPS). These two schemes are administered by Comhlámh, the Association of Returned Volunteers and Development Workers.

The Public Service Pension Scheme for Volunteer Development Workers (PSPS) was introduced in 1995 by the Department of Finance. It allows public servants, in defined circumstances, to have their pension contributions paid while volunteering overseas while on an authorised leave of absence or career break from the public service. The period of service must be for a minimum of six consecutive months and up to a maximum of two years. This scheme applies to overseas service undertaken after 1 January 1995 on a placement which was co-funded by Irish Aid, that is to say the development cooperation programme managed by my Department. Where the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is satisfied from evidence provided that a qualifying assignment was undertaken since 1995, it retrospectively covers the superannuation costs involved. Such costs are calculated by the parent Department of the volunteering public servant and are forwarded through Comhlámh, the Association of Returned Volunteers and Development Workers, to DFAT.

The Volunteer Development Worker Scheme (VDWS) permits volunteer workers, in certain circumstances, to qualify for credited social welfare contributions in respect of a period of up to 5 years working as a volunteer in a developing country from April 1983. Comhlámh also administers VDWS, on behalf of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

The Government Departments responsible for the two schemes (the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform) have advised that there are no plans to review these schemes.

Undocumented Irish in the USA

Questions (126, 127)

Niall Collins

Question:

126. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the action he will take in view of reports of a clampdown on undocumented immigrants in the United States of America, particularly in the context of the undocumented Irish; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32779/19]

View answer

Niall Collins

Question:

127. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he or his officials have spoken to the US authorities in recent days regarding the undocumented Irish and efforts to regularise their status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32780/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 126 and 127 together.

I am aware from reporting by our diplomatic and consular network in the US and from statements by the US Administration of potential enforcement action against undocumented immigrants in the US.

Officials in my Department, including our Embassy in Washington, D.C. and our six Consulates General across the US, are monitoring the situation closely and are continuing to actively support Irish community groups that work with undocumented Irish citizens.

My officials engage with US officials on immigration issues on an ongoing basis, including with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Officials in the Americas Unit of my Department met just this week with the US Embassy in Dublin to discuss visa and immigration issues.

Our Embassy in Washington, D.C and six Consulates also have close working relationships with the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centres in the US. The Coalition and its member organisations receive annual funding through the Government’s Emigrant Support Programme for their work, including their support for vulnerable Irish and the undocumented. The Coalition and its members stand ready to provide reliable and accurate information to any Irish citizen in the US with concerns in the current context.

Syrian Conflict

Questions (128)

Niall Collins

Question:

128. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if concerns have been raised at EU level regarding a Russian-led assault in Syria in recent months, which has resulted in a significant number of civilian deaths and the bombing of hospitals leaving thousands without access to healthcare; the action that has been taken by the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32781/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The escalation in violence in north-west Syria is a matter of deep concern. The fighting in recent months has led to the death of more than 230 civilians and the displacement of more than 330,000 people. I condemn, in particular, the airstrikes that are reported to have targeted medical facilities and schools.

The position of the EU on the most recent developments is clear. On 27 June 2019, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini issued a statement on behalf of the EU expressing deep concern over the situation in north-west Syria, strongly condemning the indiscriminate attacks on civilians, and calling on all sides to immediately cease hostilities, and to ensure the protection of the civilian population. At the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) on 12 July 2019, the EU issued a statement condemning the indiscriminate attacks on civilians, hospitals and schools in Syria, and reaffirmed the EU’s determination to hold accountable those who violate international humanitarian law.

The bombing of hospitals is an extremely serious violation of the laws of war. We take every appropriate opportunity to speak out against human rights abuses and breaches of international humanitarian law in Syria. On 8 July 2019 Ireland co-sponsored a Resolution on the human rights situation in Syria at the HRC which condemned the indiscriminate or deliberate targeting of civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law.

Russia has a responsibility to ensure that civilians are protected, and to exert its influence on other parties to the conflict to do the same. Our concerns around Russia’s involvement in the conflict have been raised with the Russian authorities directly on several occasions. Ireland has been clear in its condemnation of attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure. I discussed the conflict personally with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on 2 July 2019.

Promoting accountability for crimes committed during the war is an important part of deterrence. Ireland and the EU provide financial support to a range of measures which aim to ensure full legal accountability for all war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria. Ireland has called for the referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. We support the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria established by the HRC, and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) established by the UN General Assembly. Ireland will contribute €200,000 to the IIIM's work in 2019, which will bring our total contribution to €500,000 since 2017.

Ireland is also a strong and consistent humanitarian donor to the Syria crisis response. In March 2019, Ireland pledged a further €25 million to the crisis, bringing the total amount of humanitarian assistance committed to the Syria crisis to over €143 million since 2012 – our largest ever response to any single crisis.

Business Regulation

Questions (129)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

129. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps he has taken to develop an official position on areas of national competence for the negotiation of a legally binding instrument to regulate the activities on transnational corporations and other business enterprises; and if he will participate with other EU countries and UN member states in the fifth session of the open-ended intergovernmental session in Geneva in October 2019. [32908/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland is committed to giving effect to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. To this end, I launched the National Plan on Business and Human Rights (2017-2020) on behalf of the Government in November 2017. The principal objective of the Plan is to promote responsible business practice at home and overseas by all Irish business enterprises.

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 Group was established on foot of a resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council in 2014, led by a number of developing countries, including Ecuador and South Africa. Four sessions of the Group have taken place to date. In advance of the fourth and most recent session in October 2018, Ecuador circulated a draft of a legally binding instrument. The Group also held an informal consultation relating to the proposed instrument in Geneva last month, which Ireland attended. The next session of the Group will take place in October 2019 and Ireland will continue to work with our EU partners to look at how we might actively and constructively engage in the negotiation process, notwithstanding our serious concerns about the way in which the work of the Group has been conducted to date.

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 draft treaty circulated last year focussed 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. A revised draft treaty circulated last week by the Group chair in Geneva will be carefully examined to assess whether deficiencies identified in the earlier document have been addressed.

We would wish to see essential human rights principles reflected in any possible instrument, which should 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.

Departmental Reports

Questions (130)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

130. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of feasibility studies conducted by his Department in County Galway in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the names of each project being studied; the amount allocated and drawn down for each study; the person or body that sought each study; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32943/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

My Department had no feasibility studies conducted in County Galway in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019.

Passport Applications

Questions (131)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

131. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the way in which a person can cancel an online passport application in order that he or she can make an appointment for the rapid renewal service in the event that his or her passport will not issue for the intended travel date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33336/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Passport Service encourages all applicants to check their passports are in date before making travel plans and to apply for their passport in good time before travelling. It is also important that applicants chose the most appropriate application channel.

The Online Passport Renewal Service offers the convenience of an online application system 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for Irish citizens anywhere in the world. The online service offers a turnaround time of 10 working days with a significant proportion of online applications processed in 5 days or less. Passports issued via the online system are delivered within the State via An Post’s next day delivery service.

For those who are travelling within the next three days, the Passport Service operates a Rapid Renewal Service at the Passport Office in Dublin. This service is strictly by appointment only. Appointments can be booked online at www.dfa.ie/passports. An additional fee is associated with the Rapid Renewal Service.

If an applicant makes an online application and subsequently realises they will need to travel before the passport is likely to issue, the applicant should contact the Passport Service’s Customer Service Hub, via webchat or phone, to explain the situation and inform the Passport Service of their intended travel date. Contact details for the Customer Service Hub can be found on the Department’s website: www.dfa.ie/passports

Staff in the Customer Service Hub will provide advice to applicants based on their particular circumstances.

If appropriate, applicants will be advised to seek an appointment for the Rapid Renewal Service in order to obtain a passport in the desired timeframe. The applicant will be advised to book an appointment online and to cancel their online application.

When making an application at the public counter, the applicant will be required to present all the required documentation at the time of their appointment, including a fully completed application form, suitably witnessed and accompanied by photographs, the relevant passport fee and proof of travel. Other supporting documents may be required depending on the category of application.

Application fees in respect of the original online application will be refunded following processing of the cancellation request.