Human Rights

Questions (106)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

106. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the degree to which he and the international community have identified the worldwide locations at which the most serious breaches of human rights have occurred and in respect of which alleviation measures are in train; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53809/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The promotion and protection of human rights remain at the core of Irish foreign policy and we continue to monitor the human rights situations in many countries across the globe.

Respect for human rights is a fundamental component of the EU's global engagment and Ireland strongly supports the work of the EU Special Representative on Human Rights, former Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, to enhance the effectiveness and visibility of the EU's human rights policy.

Ireland also fully supports the UN mechanisms in the field of human rights, including the UN Human Rights Council, Special Procedures and the UN Human Rights Treaty Monitoring Bodies, which play a crucial role in monitoring and responding to human rights violations and abuses. We consistently and proactively engage with these mechanisms, including through the Universal Periodic Review. We are also active in other multilateral fora focused on human rights, including the Council of Europe and the OSCE, to highlight situations of concern and to call for action.

We also greatly value the role of civil society in the promotion of human rights and regularly consult with civil society organisations and human rights experts, notably through the DFAT Human Rights Committee. Many of our Embassies also integrate human rights issues into their ongoing bilateral dialogue with partner Governments, as well as providing support as appropriate to local civil society organisations and human rights defenders on the ground.

Overseas Development Aid

Questions (107)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

107. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which aid continues to be provided globally whether in a bilateral or multilateral arrangement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53810/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland’s development cooperation programme is an integral part of our foreign policy and an important statement of our global citizenship. The programme gives Ireland a significant global presence and footprint – including in fragile states and conflict-affected contexts.

The 2018 Annual Report on Ireland's Official Development Assistance (ODA), published in October, details the range of modalities and channels involved in the delivery of Ireland's development cooperation programme. In 2018, €449.43 million was allocated through bilateral channels, including over €169 million channelled through NGOs.  A further €342.2 million was disbursed through the EU and the wider multilateral system, where core missions and objectives closely aligned with Ireland’s policy priorities.  Over 130 countries received assistance from Ireland in 2018, either bilaterally or through at least one of Ireland's multilateral or other partnerships.

Our bilateral partnerships and our work through the EU, United Nations and other multilateral organisations, have enabled Ireland to direct vital assistance to people living in challenging and insecure environments.  The Overseas Development Institute, an internationally recognised policy think-tank, has ranked Ireland as the world's leading donor in targeting extreme poverty. 

For 2020, the Government has allocated almost €838 million for ODA. This represents an increase of almost €21 million on the 2019 budget allocation.

Overseas Development Aid

Questions (108)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

108. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the degree to which aid is only provided in lieu of trade by some countries globally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53811/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) assesses the extent to which aid is tied to trade. In 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, they reported that of the approximately US$106 billion in total bilateral commitments, US$13.2 billion was tied with a further US$2.6 billion partially untied, giving an overall total of partially untied and tied aid of almost 15%.

Evidence has shown that such "tied" aid increases the costs of a development intervention/project by as much as 15 to 30 percent. Untying aid, on the other hand, avoids unnecessary costs and gives the recipient the freedom to procure goods and services from virtually any country.     

The OECD in an effort to reduce the volume of tied aid has recommended to its member countries that all aid provided to least developed countries, heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs), Other Low-Income Countries (OLICs) and countries which are only eligible to financing from International Development Association (IDA) should be untied. 

Ireland remains one of the few countries which has consistently provided untied aid. Ireland's new policy for international development A Better World, launched earlier this year, commits the government to maintaining an untied, quality, focused and coherent development programme. During the consultation process there was strong public support for continuing this commitment to untied aid.

Foreign Conflicts

Questions (109)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

109. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab continue to be contained or restricted by the international community; the extent to which their influence and activity are controlled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53812/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland condemns the reprehensible violence and terror inflicted by Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab.  In its engagement across the relevant regions, Ireland places a strong emphasis on tackling poverty, hunger and exclusion that contribute to fostering violence, radicalisation and terrorism. 

At a bilateral level the Government continues to work to promote and sustain peace in West Africa and the Horn of Africa, including through the Embassies of Ireland in Nairobi and Abuja.  Since 2016 Ireland has provided approximately €17 million in humanitarian funding to states in the Lake Chad region.  In November, the Embassy in Abuja participated in the Inaugural Steering Committee Meeting of the Lake Chad Basin Regional Stabilisation Strategy.  The Lake Chad Basin Commission (LBC) and the African Union (AU) Commission with the support of the UNDP, have developed this Regional Strategy for the Stabilisation, Recovery and Resilience of the Boko Haram-affected areas of the Lake Chad Basin. 

Ireland has also been a consistent supporter of the humanitarian response in Somalia, providing over €45 million in humanitarian assistance since 2012, including to communities displaced by conflict in Al-Shabaab held areas.  Ireland also supports EU initiatives to promote peace and security in East Africa including through capacity-building programmes that ensure that local security forces are better resourced to tackle terrorism.  The EU also maintains three Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions in the region; EUTM Somalia, EUNAVFOR Operation Atalanta and EUCAP Somalia.  Chris Reynolds, the former Director of the Irish Coast Guard, was appointed to lead EUCAP Somalia in September and there are four other Irish nationals deployed to EUCAP.  The EU is one of the key financial contributors to the UN-mandated African Union-led peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) which supports the Federal Government of Somalia in its efforts to combat Al-Shabaab and stabilise the country.  The EU has also pledged €50 million in funding to the Multinational Joint Taskforce to improve security in West African territories affected by Boko Haram.

Foreign Conflicts

Questions (110)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

110. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which the international community is engaged in restoring peace in Libya; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53813/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am deeply troubled by the ongoing violence in Libya, particularly the fighting around Tripoli, which is endangering thousands of civilians and putting already vulnerable migrants and refugees in Libya at further risk. There have been reports of serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law. The EU has called on all parties to immediately implement a ceasefire and to engage with the UN to ensure a political solution to the conflict.

At the Foreign Affairs Council on 9 December, Ministers discussed the upcoming international summit in Berlin, which is part of UN Special Representative Ghassan Salamé’s roadmap for peace in Libya. I believe that Germany is playing a valuable role on this issue, and hope that this summit will pave the way towards a comprehensive and lasting cessation of hostilities.

I am particularly concerned about the effect of the instability in Libya on migrants and refugees in Libya. Human rights abuses against migrants and refugees in Libya, including in detention centres, are a matter of grave concern. During a national statement during the UN Human Rights Council in September 2019, Ireland noted that the system of detaining migrants and refugees in Libya, often in appalling conditions, is reprehensible. I applaud efforts by humanitarian organisations to relocate migrants and refugees for their safety, to the extent possible, in this very difficult situation.

The EU, through cooperation with the UN and the African Union, has helped over 48,000 people stranded in Libya to return voluntarily to their countries of origin, and has evacuated over 4,000 people in need of international protection. The EU has also mobilised €46 million in humanitarian support for people in need in Libya since 2014. Almost €328 million has been mobilised under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa for protecting migrants, refugees and internally displaced people in Libya, and supporting local communities to cope with the migration challenge.

Ultimately, bringing real improvements to the lives of Libyans, and migrants and refugees in Libya, will require the restoration of political stability. Ireland and the EU will continue to support efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution to the conflict and build a better future for the Libyan people.

Trade Relations

Question No. 112 answered with Question No. 105.

Question No. 113 answered with Question No. 104.

Questions (111)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

111. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps being taken to extend trade links globally through consulates and embassies, with particular reference to the need to replace losses through Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53814/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

As part of Team Ireland, Ireland’s network of Missions continues to play a central role in advancing Ireland’s trading relationships.  Embassies and Consulates around the world provide vital support for Ireland’s state agencies, including by supporting their strategic objectives and activities in overseas markets. 

In June 2018, the Government launched the Global Ireland initiative, which aims to double the impact and scope of Ireland’s global footprint by 2025.  Global Ireland's targets include enhanced global engagement, the expansion of Ireland’s embassy network and strengthening of Ireland’s state agency presence overseas.

Since Global Ireland’s launch last year, new Embassies have opened in Wellington, Bogotá, Amman, Monrovia and Santiago de Chile, and new Consulates General in Vancouver, Mumbai, Cardiff, Los Angeles and Frankfurt.

These new Missions now bring to 90 the number of diplomatic and consular Missions in the network with 10 opened since the start of the expansion plan.  Embassies are scheduled to open in 2020 in Rabat, Kiev and Manila.   

Locations are chosen based on a range of factors, including their potential to diversify our markets, increase bilateral trade and investment, and enable Irish companies to take advantage of new opportunities.  In light of Brexit, these factors are more important than ever.

In addition, the Department’s officers overseas engage with host country Governments and multilateral institutions on a range of trade-related issues, including market access, regulatory compliance, visas, phyto-sanitary issues, and Double Taxation Agreements.

The Embassy network also supports Irish businesses in market by providing contacts and information, organising visits overseas by Ministers and supporting trade missions, all in partnership with the state agencies.  This approach is aligned with the objectives set out in the Government’s trade strategy Ireland Connected: Trading and Investing in a Dynamic World.

Question No. 112 answered with Question No. 105.
Question No. 113 answered with Question No. 104.

Overseas Development Aid Data

Questions (114)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

114. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the value of aid distributed overseas to various worthy causes in each of the past three years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53817/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

My Department reports each year on the delivery of the Government's official development assistance programme, Irish Aid. These reports are available on my Department's website www.irishaid.ie. The reports show the breadth of Ireland's work, and the impact that it is having across more than 130 countries. The annual report is a flagship for our accountability, transparency and engagement.

In 2017, Ireland's total official development assistance amounted to over €743 million. €181 million of this total was provided in humanitarian assistance.

Ireland's ODA in 2018 was over €791 million which included in excess of €463 million in funding to Multilateral organisations and more than €169 million to NGOs. Over €185 million of this total was provided in humanitarian assistance.

For 2019, the allocation for ODA is €816 million. The 2019 Annual Report is due to be published in 2020 and will report on the expenditure for 2019.

Humanitarian Aid Provision

Questions (115)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

115. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the degree to which the commitments of Ireland in respect of aid in the wake of various disasters worldwide in each of the past three years to date have been discharged in full; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53818/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The past decade has seen a sharp increase in the level of humanitarian need globally, a response to an upsurge in conflict and climate change related natural disasters. The UN estimate that almost 168 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. 

Given the scale of need, donors have increased their level of humanitarian assistance in recent years. Total global humanitarian funding grew from an estimated $22.2 billion in 2014 to an estimated $28.9 billion in 2018.

Ireland has also increased its level of assistance in response to growing needs. Over the three years 2016-2018 Ireland contributed a total of over €559 million in humanitarian response. 

As well as the scale of funding, the efficiency and effectiveness of international humanitarian response is also vital. Ireland is a strong champion of the multilateral system, and has worked closely with the UN Office of the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in improving the coordination of the international humanitarian response.  In the period 2018-2019, Ireland was Chair of the OCHA's  Donor Support Group. In this role, Ireland led discussions with the UN and key donors on improving the effectiveness of the international response to major crises. Ireland also worked closely with OCHA during its own process of reform and reorganisation, helping to improve its ability to effectively coordinate humanitarian responses. 

Since June 2019 Ireland has been co-Chair of the ICRC's Donor Support Group.  In this role Ireland will lead discussions with the ICRC and other major donors on improving humanitarian response, notably with regard to protracted humanitarian crises, and ensuring a gender sensitive approach to humanitarian emergencies.

EU Meetings

Question No. 117 answered with Question No. 104.

Questions (116)

Brendan Smith

Question:

116. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if Brexit was discussed at the most recent General Affairs Council; if so, the outcome of such discussions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53832/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Brexit was discussed at the European Council, which met in Article 50 formation on 13 December, but it was not an item for discussion at the General Affairs Council. In its conclusions on Brexit, the European Council reiterated its commitment to an orderly UK withdrawal on the basis of the Withdrawal Agreement and called for its timely ratification and effective implementation.

At its meeting of 13 December, the European Council reconfirmed its desire to establish the closest possible future relationship with the UK in line with the Political Declaration and based on a balance of rights and obligations and to ensure a level playing field. 

To this end, the European Council has invited the European Commission to come forward with a comprehensive mandate for the EU-UK future relationship immediately after Brexit takes place. The General Affairs Council will adopt the relevant decisions and negotiating mandate. 

Alongside our EU partners, we welcome the Commission's decision to reappoint Michel Barnier for the negotiations on the future relationship. These negotiations will continue to take pace in a manner of unity and transparency with all Member States and the European Council.  

We have consistently supported the closest possible relationship between the EU and the UK in the interests of Ireland, North and South, and British Irish relations, as well as in terms of our economic and trading priorities. Ireland also has significant interests in ensuring adequate level playing field provisions to facilitiate open and fair competition. 

The European Council will follow negotiations closely and will agree further political decisions as necessary.  Between European Council meetings, the General Affairs Council and COREPER, assisted by a dedicated working party, it will ensure that the negotiations are conducted in line with the overall positions and principles agreed by the European Council as well as the Council's negotiating mandate, with the aim of reaching a result that is fair for all Member States and in the interest of our citizens.

Question No. 117 answered with Question No. 104.

Human Rights

Questions (118)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

118. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the degree to which he continues to influence the international community to make provision for the elimination of trafficking and violence against women; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53863/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland has put in place strong legislative, administrative and operational measures, including a multi-agency approach, to combat and prevent human trafficking. 

Ireland is party to the Council of Europe’s Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings which aims to prevent trafficking, protect the human rights of victimsand prosecute traffickers.  We are party to the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.  Ireland has also transposed the EU Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims. On International Women’s Day this year, Ireland ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention). 

Ireland’s new policy for International Development, A Better World, prioritises preventing and responding to gender based violence.  Ireland's Third National Action Plan on Women Peace and Security reiterates Ireland's commitment to intensifying investment in prevention and response to gender based violence, especially in fragile and conflict affected states.

Through our engagement at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), Ireland works to promote gender equality, to combat all forms of discrimination against women and prevent gender-based violence.  In addition to supporting gender-specific resolutions at the HRC, we promote the mainstreaming of gender issues across the broader UN agenda. Through our participation in the HRC’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Ireland regularly raises concerns regarding gender equality and gender based violence. At the most recent UPR session in November 2019, Ireland made recommendations to four countries on gender based violence: El Salvador; Fiji; Bosnia and Herzegovina; and Madagascar.  

Finally, my Department is also an active member of the Irish Consortium of Gender Based Violence (ICGBV),  an alliance of Irish and international human rights, humanitarian and development organisations and the Irish Defence Forces.  We support the Consortium to promote increased understanding of gender based violence and ensure high quality programming and policy responses in both development and humanitarian settings.

Human Rights

Questions (119)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

119. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the degree to which he continues to influence the international community to make provision for the elimination of trafficking and violence against children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53864/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland has put in place strong legislative, administrative and operational measures, including a multi-agency approach, to combat and prevent human trafficking. 

Ireland is party to the Council of Europe’s Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings which aims to prevent trafficking, protect the human rights of victims and prosecute traffickers.  We are also party to the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.  Ireland has also transposed the EU Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims.

At the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly earlier this year, Ireland co-sponsored a resolution on “Improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons”.   We also made a statement reiterating Ireland's support for the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.  

2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Ireland co-sponsored a  resolution at the General Assembly on the promotion and protection of the rights of children  which called on all countries to ensure the enjoyment by all children of their civil, politicial, ecomomic, social and cultural rights.  

The resolution urges States to take appropriate measures to protect children who are victims of trafficking and are deprived of parental care, as well as to enact and enforce legislation to prevent and combat the trafficking and exploitation of children in care facilities.  The resolution also urges countries to support children who are victims of human trafficking in returning to their families and in receiving appropriate mental health and psychological assistance that is victim-centred and trauma-informed.

Human Rights

Questions (120)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

120. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which he and the international community have endeavoured to eliminate the use of child soldiers globally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53865/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The recruitment and use of child soldiers remains a serious problem with tens of thousands of children recruited and used as soldiers in conflicts around the world. Since 2002, the Secretary-General of the United Nations has issued an annual report on children and armed conflict, listing violations committed against children during armed conflict. The most recent report, published in July 2019, found that 2018 was the worst year on record for children caught up in armed conflict.

The recruitment and use of children as soldiers is explicitly prohibited under international humanitarian law and human rights law. In 1999, the UN Security Council passed its first Resolution, UNSCR 1261, on the impact of armed conflict on children and condemned violations in that context. In the same year, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child entered into force. Article 22 of the Charter sets out a prohibition on the recruitment and direct participation in hostilities of any person under the age of 18 years.

Ever since, the Security Council has established important tools to strengthen child protection and to strengthen implementation of international standards, including the position of UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict who investigates and develops best practices to address the recruitment and use of child soldiers. 

Ireland remains committed to the eradication of the recruitment and use of child soldiers. In addition to the focus in our development programmes on addressing the socio-economic causes of conflict, Ireland supports more targeted interventions by working with organisations such as UNICEF, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Criminal Court.

In 2018, Ireland co-sponsored UN Resolution 2427, which states that children recruited by armed groups should be treated primarily as victims of violations of international law. In 2019, Ireland co-sponsored UN Resolution 2475, which contains important language on the specific needs of children with disabilities affected by armed conflict.

This year, Ireland also joined the Group of Friends of the Reintegration of Child Soldiers and is supportive of reintegration programmes which are fundamental to realising the Rights of the Child, ending the cycle of violence, and ensuring sustainable peace. Ireland is also a signatory to the Safe Schools Declaration, which is an inter-governmental political commitment to protect students, teachers, schools and universities from armed conflict.

 Ireland is committed to working with our international partners to protect all children from aggression and violence.

Brexit Preparations

Questions (121)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

121. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Finance if new customs infrastructure will be required at local and regional ports and airports under the terms of the revised withdrawal agreement reached in October 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53464/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that during 2018, Revenue chaired an interdepartmental group established to consider the adequacy of port and airport infrastructure and facilities post Brexit. The group included representatives from Revenue; the Departments of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Health; the HSE's environmental health service; the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; the Office of Public Works; the Department of Justice and Equality; and An Garda Síochána.

The group identified infrastructural requirements at three locations - Dublin Port, Dublin Airport and Rosslare Europort. No infrastructural requirements were identified for other local or regional ports or airports. The terms of the revised withdrawal agreement do not impact this position. While additional customs infrastructure is not required at these local and regional ports and airports, I am advised by Revenue that the position is kept under ongoing review considering any relevant developments as regards the movement of goods or persons between Ireland and the UK or between Ireland and mainland Europe, through the UK.

Brexit Preparations

Questions (122)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

122. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Finance if an impact assessment has been conducted of the revised withdrawal agreement agreed in October 2019 on the economy; if it is in the process of being carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53461/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Budget 2020, including the macroeconomic outlook which underpins it, was based on the prudent assumption that the UK would leave the EU on 31 October without an agreement. The macroeconomic outlook is set out in the Economic and Fiscal Outlook published with Budget 2020. This included, at Box 4, an assessment of the macroeconomic outlook that would apply in the event of an agreed exit by the UK at end October. 

The Withdrawal Agreement endorsed by the European Council, will now require ratification by the European Parliament and the UK Parliament. Pending ratification of the deal, it is not possible to say if the outlook will be different to that set out in Budget 2020. 

If the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified, the UK will enter a transition period until at least the end of 2020. In this situation the outlook would be broadly similar to that set out in Table 4 (Box 4) in the Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2020. This shows that, in the event of an agreed exit, GDP growth is forecast to be 3.1 per cent in 2020, with employment growth projected at 1.7 per cent next year and the unemployment rate expected to be 5.1 per cent. 

The revised Political Declaration envisages an ambitious trading relationship for goods on the basis of a Free Trade Agreement, but until there is greater clarity on the post-transition relationship there is likely to be continued uncertainty, particularly with respect to private sector investment. My Department has been in contact with the ESRI on the economic impact of the revised Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the future relationship. I am satisfied that the existing analysis in the joint research by the Department of Finance and ESRI, published in March this year, broadly captures the range of possible future relationships. The analysis included a free trade agreement (of which there could be many forms), and a trading relationship under World Trade Organisation (WTO) frameworks. The impacts of these were modelled and estimated in the joint research which was published in March this year. 

Under these scenarios, over the medium-term (i.e. 5 years) the level of GDP would be of the order of between 1.9 and 3.3 per cent lower, respectively, compared to a situation where the UK remains in the EU. The negative impacts will be most severely felt in those sectors with strong export ties to the UK market – such as the agri-food, manufacturing and tourism sectors and also SMEs generally – along with their suppliers. The impact will be particularly noticeable outside the main cities.

My Department will continue to monitor developments with respect to the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, and the future relationship with the UK, and will update the macroeconomic and fiscal projections to take account of any developments in the Spring of next year at the latest.

Brexit Preparations

Questions (123)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

123. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Finance the number of companies still without an EORI number; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53463/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that currently 63,984 businesses have a customs registration and acquired an EORI number. 23,939 of these businesses obtained an EORI number in 2019.

When Revenue analysed the 2018 VAT Information Exchange System (VIES) returns, they identified some 94,000 businesses that traded with the UK in 2018. Of these 94,000 businesses, approx. 55,000 do not currently have an EORI number.

However, Revenue advise that 91.7% of the value of imports from the UK in 2018 and 97.5% of the value of exports to the UK in 2018 was carried out by businesses who now have an EORI number.

Of the businesses with import or export trade of more than €50,000 on an annual basis, and therefore with a potentially significant supply chain exposure to trade with the UK, the number without an EORI number is approximately 3,000. This indicates that a significant number of the businesses that are going to be significantly impacted by Brexit have responded to the call from Revenue to prepare for Brexit by taking the important first step of acquiring a customs registration.

Central Bank of Ireland Investigations

Questions (124)

Michael McGrath

Question:

124. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if the Central Bank has information on the prevalence of money mule accounts (details supplied); if so, the details of completed or current investigations under way on the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53523/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Central Bank’s role in relation to anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism is to monitor credit and financial institutions’ compliance with the systems and controls requirements as set out in Part 4 of the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010, as amended (‘the CJA 2010’).

The Central Bank is not responsible for the investigation of money laundering and terrorist financing which is the role of law enforcement. Where credit or financial institutions identify instances where they form a suspicion in relation to money laundering or terrorist financing, they are required to make suspicious transaction reports to both the Gardaí and Revenue Commissioners.

Banking Sector Remuneration

Questions (125)

Michael McGrath

Question:

125. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the report commissioned from a company (details supplied) on remuneration levels within banks here; if he has received and read the report; when he plans to publish the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53537/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Deputy will be aware that Government policy on banking remuneration has remained unchanged since the financial crisis. Extensive restrictions are in place and these are not simply confined to a small number of senior bankers whose pay is restricted by the €500,000 pay cap (excluding a standard pension contribution). These affect c.23,000 workers across the three banks in which the State has a shareholding. The policy dictates that variable pay including bonuses and any other fringe benefits including the likes of health insurance and childcare cannot be paid to any staff members from the most junior lowest paid staff to the most senior ranks.

As a result I undertook to carry out a review of Government bank remuneration policy to determine if it remains fit for purpose. My department worked with the specialist advisory division of Korn Ferry to undertake this review. Stakeholders engaged with included the major institutional investors in the banks, proxy advisory firms, the Financial Services Union (FSU), the chairs of the remuneration committee in each of the banks, the Central Bank of Ireland and representatives of the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) in Frankfurt.

I have received and read the report. However I am still considering the findings contained within and discussing it with officials in my department. Once this process is complete, my intention is to publish the report.