Census of Population

Questions (1)

Emer Higgins

Question:

1. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Taoiseach the cost of census enumerators during the gathering and processing of data for census 2016. [7387/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

For the delivery of the 2016 Census, approximately 4,700 Enumerators were employed on a temporary, unestablished part-time, fixed term contract basis for a 10-week period from 21st March to 27th May, 2016 to deliver and collect census questionnaires to/from every dwelling and communal establishment nationwide. The entire field force for a census comprises various levels of temporary managerial, supervisory and public facing staff, of which Enumerators are the most numerous. The cost of the census field operation in 2016, which includes the pay for the field force, related allowances and the undertaking of the operation was in the region of €31 million. The cost of the Enumerators was approximately €17 million of this total, in the form of fees and allowances on a piece meal basis.

In terms of the processing of the Census 2016 data, this was completed by temporary clerical and supervisory staff based in the Census HQ office. At the height of the processing work approximately 100 of these staff were employed by the CSO.

Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

Questions (2)

Seán Canney

Question:

2. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Taoiseach if he plans to travel to Washington for the St. Patrick's Day celebrations. [6142/21]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

The relationship between Ireland and the United States of America is an important and historic one. While arrangements for marking the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are not finalised, any arrangements will take account of the situation with regard to COVID-19 and related measures both here and in the US.

Shared Island Unit

Questions (3)

Ruairí Ó Murchú

Question:

3. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Taoiseach the dialogue forums with which the shared island unit has consulted to date. [6425/21]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

On 22 October, as part of the Government’s Shared Island initiative, I launched the Shared Island Dialogue series to foster inclusive and constructive dialogue on all aspects of a shared future on the island, underpinned by the Good Friday Agreement.

The first Shared Island Dialogue was held online on 26 November on the theme ‘New Generations and New Voices on the Good Friday Agreement’. I took the opportunity to address more than 80 young people from across the island who participated, representing different backgrounds and interests, and who put forward their ideas for a shared future on the island across a range of themes.

A Shared Island Dialogue was held on 5 February, with the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, on the theme of ‘Environment and Climate - addressing shared challenges on the island’. There were over 100 participants in this online dialogue, including civil society groups, business and agriculture representatives, academic and research experts, local authorities and environmental and sustainable development agencies. The Dialogue addressed how we can best work together on the island to tackle the climate emergency and address the biodiversity crisis and future priorities for all-island co-operation on the environment.

In December, as part of the Dialogue series, the Shared Island unit convened roundtable sessions with women’s representatives and with ethnic minority communities on the island, to hear their interests in and priorities for a shared island, and reflecting the Government’s commitment to ensuring the inclusion of often under-represented voices in the Peace Process.

The Shared Island Dialogue series will continue through 2021, to foster civic engagement on important issues for the future of the island, including on health, education and economy, and on key civic aspects of the Good Friday Agreement, including on identity and equality. Plenary sessions are available online at www.gov.ie/sharedisland/dialogues.

Shared Island Unit

Questions (4)

Carol Nolan

Question:

4. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Taoiseach if a unit has been established within his Department to work towards a consensus on a shared island, as promised in the programme for Government; and if he will outline the work of the unit to date. [6547/21]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

On 22 October, I set out the Government’s vision and priorities on Shared Island in an online event at Dublin Castle. Over 800 people participated online, comprising a broad range of civil society, community, sectoral, and political representatives, across the island of Ireland and in Britain.

A Shared Island unit was established in my Department in September to drive and coordinate the Shared Island initiative, as a whole of Government priority.

In Budget 2021, the Government announced the Shared Island Fund, with €500m to be made available out to 2025, ring-fenced for Shared Island projects.

The Shared Island Fund provides significant new, multiannual capital funding for investment on a strategic basis in collaborative North/South projects that will support the commitments and objectives of the Good Friday Agreement.

The Government’s priorities for such investment are set out in the Programme for Government and include:

- Working with the Executive to deliver key cross-border infrastructure initiatives, including the A5, the Ulster Canal, the Narrow Water Bridge, and cross-border greenways, including the Sligo-Enniskillen greenway;

-Working with the Executive and the UK Government to achieve greater connectivity on the island, including for instance, to examine the feasibility of high-speed rail connections;

- Working with the Executive and the UK Government on new investment and development opportunities in the North West and Border communities, including coordinated investment at University of Ulster Magee Campus in Derry; and,

- Supporting a north/south programme of research and innovation, including an all-island research hub.

In December, the Government approved over €6m in funding from the Shared Island Fund to launch the delivery of Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal and we are continuing to work in partnership with the Executive and through the North South Ministerial Council on the other cross-border investment projects, which are part of our Shared Island commitments in the Programme for Government. Progressing these projects was a key focus of our discussions at the North South Ministerial Council Plenary on Friday, 18 December.

I have also had constructive engagement with British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, on the Government’s Shared Island objectives and commitments, and have made it clear that we are happy also to engage on an East-West basis as we take this work forward.

The Shared Island unit in my Department is progressing a comprehensive research programme, working with the Economic and Social Research Institute and other partners. My Department has also asked the National Economic and Social Council to prepare a comprehensive report on Shared Island issues in 2021. This will provide valuable input from economic, social and environmental partners.

Strengthening social, economic and political links on the island and the promotion of all-island approaches to the strategic challenges facing Ireland, North and South are key objectives.

On 22 October, I launched the Shared Island Dialogue series to foster constructive and inclusive civic dialogue on all aspects of a shared future on the island. The first Shared Island Dialogue was held online on 26 November on the theme ‘New Generations and New Voices on the Good Friday Agreement’. I took the opportunity to address more than 80 young people from across the island who participated, representing different backgrounds and interests, and who put forward their ideas for a shared future on the island across a range of themes.

A Shared Island Dialogue took place on 5 February, with the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, on the theme of ‘Environment and Climate - addressing shared challenges on the island’. Over 100 participants participated in this online forum, including civil society groups, business and agriculture representatives, academic and research experts, local authorities and environmental and sustainable development agencies.

The Shared Island Dialogue series will continue through 2021, to foster civic engagement on important issues for the future of the island, including on health, education and economy, and on key civic aspects of the Good Friday Agreement, including on identity and equality. Plenary sessions are available online at www.gov.ie/sharedisland/dialogues.

Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

Questions (5)

Richard O'Donoghue

Question:

5. Deputy Richard O'Donoghue asked the Taoiseach his views on retracting the State apology given after the mother and baby homes report was finalised. [6979/21]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

The Final Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes was considered by Government and published on 12 January.

On 13 January, I issued a formal apology in the Dáil on behalf of the State for the hurt experienced by many former residents of Mother and Baby Institutions and County Homes. I apologised for the profound generational wrong visited upon Irish mothers and their children who ended up in a Mother and Baby Home or a County Home and for the shame and stigma which they were subjected to. As part of that apology I acknowledged that the State had failed in its duty of care to the mothers and children who spent time in these institutions.

This apology was one of the first steps taken by Government to respond to the findings of the report. The overall response is being driven by the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and the priority now is to plan and advance a wide range of actions across the following themes, which are in addition to the apology that already issued:

- A survivor-centred approach

- Access to Personal Information

- Archiving and Databases

- Education and Research

- Memorialisation

- Restorative Recognition

- Dignified Burial.

Citizens' Assembly

Questions (6)

Thomas Gould

Question:

6. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Taoiseach if more than one citizens' assembly can run at once, particularly in view of the new online format; and, if not, the reason for same. [7132/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

Consideration is being given to all possibilities with regard to methodology for future Citizen’s Assemblies, but any decisions in this regard will be guided by the experience of the current Assembly which aims to report in June this year.

This is also being evaluated by an independent researcher who has been appointed to monitor and record, amongst other things, the perceived deliberative quality of the Assembly

Shared Island Unit

Questions (7)

Neale Richmond

Question:

7. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Taoiseach the priorities for the shared island unit of his Department for 2021. [7293/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

The Government’s Shared Island initiative involves:

- Working in partnership with the Northern Ireland Executive, through the North South Ministerial Council and with the British Government to address the strategic challenges facing this island;

- Further developing the all-island economy, and deepening cooperation in key areas such as Health and Education and investing in the North West and border regions; and

- Fostering constructive and inclusive dialogue and supporting a comprehensive programme of research to support the building of consensus around a shared future.

The Shared Island unit in my Department is tasked with driving and coordinating our Shared Island initiative, working with Departments across Government, and this will remain the focus of its work throughout 2021.

In Budget 2021, the Government announced the Shared Island Fund, with €500m to be made available out to 2025, ring-fenced for Shared Island projects.

The Government’s priorities for such investment are set out in the Programme for Government and include:

- Working with the Executive to deliver key cross-border infrastructure initiatives, including the A5, the Ulster Canal, the Narrow Water Bridge, and cross-border greenways, including the Sligo-Enniskillen greenway;

- Working with the Executive and the UK Government to achieve greater connectivity on the island, including for instance, to examine the feasibility of high-speed rail connections;

- Working with the Executive and the UK Government on new investment and development opportunities in the North West and Border communities, including coordinated investment at University of Ulster Magee Campus in Derry; and,

- Supporting a north/south programme of research and innovation, including an all-island research hub.

Progressing these projects was a key focus of our discussions at the North South Ministerial Council Plenary on 18 December and the Government will continue to work in partnership with the Executive and through the North South Ministerial Council to progress these cross-border investment projects which are part of our Shared Island commitments in the Programme for Government.

I have also had constructive engagement with British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, on the Government’s Shared Island objectives and commitments, and have made it clear that we are happy also to engage on an East-West basis as we take this work forward.

As part of the Shared Island initiative, the unit is progressing a comprehensive research programme, working with the Economic and Social Research Institute and other partners, with research outputs to be published through 2021 and subsequent years. The National Economic and Social Council is also preparing a comprehensive report on Shared Island issues in 2021. This will provide valuable input from economic, social and environmental partners. Strengthening social, economic and political links on the island and the promotion of all-island approaches to the strategic challenges facing Ireland, North and South are key objectives.

On 22 October, I launched the Shared Island Dialogue series to foster constructive and inclusive civic dialogue on all aspects of a shared future on the island. The first Shared Island Dialogue was held online on 26 November on the theme ‘New Generations and New Voices on the Good Friday Agreement’. I took the opportunity to address more than 80 young people from across the island who participated, representing different backgrounds and interests, and who put forward their ideas for a shared future on the island across a range of themes.

A Shared Island Dialogue took place on 5 February, with the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, on the theme of ‘Environment and Climate - addressing shared challenges on the island’. Over 100 participants participated in this online forum, including civil society groups, business and agriculture representatives, academic and research experts, local authorities and environmental and sustainable development agencies.

The Shared Island Dialogue series will continue through 2021, delivered by the Shared Island unit in cooperation with Government Departments, to foster inclusive civic engagement on important issues for the future of the island, including on health, education and economy, and on key civic aspects of the Good Friday Agreement, including on identity and equality. Plenary sessions are available online at www.gov.ie/sharedisland/dialogues.