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Thursday, 4 Nov 2021

Written Answers Nos. 279-285

Foreign Conflicts

Question No. 280 answered with Question No. 276.

Questions (279)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

279. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if Ireland has raised the ongoing Tigrayan genocide in Ethiopia in the UN Security Council and in the EU; if the concern that the genocide is being aided by a company (details supplied) which is allowing genocidal posts on its platform from prominent Ethiopians has also been raised; if so, the response received; the further actions being proposed by Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53825/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am deeply concerned by the worsening crisis in Ethiopia, as the conflict in Tigray and other parts of northern Ethiopia extends further throughout the country. The declaration by the Ethiopian government on 2 November of a state of emergency is indicative of a continuing deterioration in the situation. As famine-like conditions are reported, and in light of ongoing military clashes, there is a pressing need for full humanitarian access, a negotiated ceasefire, and political dialogue to find a resolution to the conflict.

Ireland continues to strongly advocate for urgency in the response to the crisis, and for a peaceful resolution to the conflict - through our bilateral engagement, our EU membership, and at the UN Security Council.

Ireland is at the forefront of efforts at the UN Security Council to address the conflict in Tigray and other parts of northern Ethiopia, including calling for the most recent open meeting on 6 October, where the UN Secretary General denounced Ethiopia’s expulsion of seven senior UN officials. In the light of the intensification of military clashes, including recent airstrikes on Tigray, we continue to work for Security Council action to help promote a resolution of the crisis.

The Government also continues to support a strong and constructive EU response to the crisis. At the EU Foreign Affairs Council on 18 October, Minister Coveney and EU Ministers for Foreign Affairs continued their discussion on ways to ensure humanitarian access, and to press the parties to engage in dialogue. The need to support African Union efforts, including that of Special Envoy President Obasanjo, was particularly emphasised. There will be a further discussion on Ethiopia and Tigray at the Foreign Affairs Council on 15 November, in which Minister Coveney will participate. He also plans to travel to Ethiopia when possible to speak directly with Ethiopian leaders.

I am also alarmed by the conflict’s impact on civilians, including harrowing reports of widespread and ongoing sexual violence, and other serious violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. The joint investigation published this week by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to investigate reported atrocities is a vital first step towards accountability.

At the Security Council, Ireland has called on all parties to refrain from using inflammatory rhetoric and dehumanizing language, which serves only to fuel ethnic tensions across Ethiopia. Online hate speech threatens our fundamental aspirations under the UN Charter, to safeguard human rights and achieve fundamental freedoms for all.

The term genocide has a particular meaning under international law, while definitive recognition of a genocide involves a complex analysis of both facts and law. Ireland follows the practice of recognising genocide only where this has been established by a final decision of a court in the State or a final decision of an international court or tribunal, or where there is international consensus on the matter.

Ireland has consistently called for those responsible for any violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law concerning the conflict to be held accountable.

Question No. 280 answered with Question No. 276.

Cross-Border Co-operation

Questions (281)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

281. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the details of the cross-Border Project Ireland 2040 infrastructure projects and the funding allocated for 2021, 2022 and 2023, in tabular form. [53845/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I welcome that Project Ireland 2040 funding will support key cross-border infrastructure projects noted in the National Development Plan, including the A5 Transport Corridor to the North West, the Ulster Canal renovation, cross-border greenways, including the Sligo Enniskillen greenway, all-island research centres, and the upgrade of the Dublin-Belfast rail connection to an hourly service, including new rolling stock. Relevant line Departments are the budget holders for these projects.

I am happy to confirm that the Department of Foreign Affairs recently arranged payment of a supplementary allocation of €1 million by the Irish Government towards the North West Development Fund, which supports strategic collaboration between Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council to address the particular needs of the North West and drive growth across the region.

The funding allocation reflects the commitment made by the Irish Government as part of the New Decade, New Approach agreement to continue its support for the work of the North West Strategic Growth Partnership and to provide further funding to the North West Development Fund.

The North West Development Fund is supported by both the Irish Government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Northern Ireland Executive. Meetings of the North West Strategic Growth Partnership bring together representatives of the two Councils and senior officials from the Irish Government and Northern Ireland Executive to discuss strategic development priorities for the North West.

This is evidence of our strong commitment to supporting local authorities in working together on a cross-border basis to promote economic and social development in the border region.

This funding will allow the continuation of important collaborative work which has been underway since 2015, and brings to €6 million the total contributed to the Fund by the Irish Government (€3.5m) and the Northern Ireland Executive (€2.5m).

The North West Development Fund was established to fulfil a commitment made in the November 2015 Fresh Start agreement to support regional development work in the North West led by Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council.Decisions on allocations from the Fund are made by the North West Regional Development Group, a joint committee involving elected representatives from both Local Authorities.

The North West Development Fund has supported a range of strategic initiatives led by the two Local Authorities, including joint research on the impact of Brexit on the North West region, joint trade missions and greenway projects.

Cross-Border Co-operation

Questions (282)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

282. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the details of his Department’s current cross-Border initiatives, goods and or services committed to and the funding allocated to each for 2021, 2022 and 2023, in tabular form. [53863/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

My Department currently provides funding for cross-border initiatives in the context of its financial contribution to the North West Development Fund and through its operation of the Reconciliation Fund over many years.

I am happy to confirm that the Department recently arranged payment of a supplementary allocation of €1 million by the Government towards the North West Development Fund, which supports strategic collaboration between Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council to address the particular needs of the North West and drive growth across the region.

The funding allocation reflects a commitment made by the Government as part of the New Decade, New Approach agreement.

The North West Development Fund is supported by both the Government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Northern Ireland Executive. Meetings of the North West Strategic Growth Partnership bring together representatives of the two Councils and senior officials from the Irish Government and Northern Ireland Executive to discuss strategic development priorities for the North West.

This is evidence of our strong commitment to supporting local authorities in working together on a cross-border basis to promote economic and social development in the border region.

This funding will allow the continuation of important collaborative work which has been underway since 2015, and brings to €6 million the total contributed to the Fund by the Irish Government (€3.5m) and the Northern Ireland Executive (€2.5m).

Through my Department’s Reconciliation Fund, the Government also provides support for civil society organisations working to promote reconciliation and create better understanding between communities in Northern Ireland, between North and South, and between Ireland and Britain. The Fund has supported over 3,000 projects with more than €60 million in grant funding since its establishment in 1982.

The operation of the Reconciliation Fund is essentially cross-border in nature, with the vast majority of the funding awarded by my Department going either directly to groups working within Northern Ireland or to southern based organisations working in peacebuilding on a North-South basis. The projects supported can build meaningful links across communities, addressing the issues that are impacting on their lives, including sectarianism, and working to create better understanding between people and traditions on the island of Ireland.

The annual budget for the Fund was increased from €2.7 million to €3.7 million with effect from 2019 and in the New Decade New Approach agreement the Government committed to maintaining that level of funding.

In light of the Government’s continuing commitment to supporting the work of peace and reconciliation on the island of Ireland, and recognising in particular, the impact of Brexit and the effects of Covid-19 on the organisations we support, the budget of the Reconciliation Fund will see a further increase this year, with the total of grants awarded likely to reach €4.0 million by the end of the year. My intention is that this will be increased further to €5.0 million in 2022.

To date in 2021, the Reconciliation Fund has awarded grants of almost €2.8 million. The list of organisations awarded funding is provided below in tabular format. A further tranche of grants will be awarded before the end of this year when ongoing funding rounds have been completed.

Decisions on grants to be awarded during 2022 and 2023 have yet to be taken, but once awards are made in the context of our funding rounds during that period, information on those grants will be made available on the Department’s website.

Reconciliation Fund grants awarded in 2021

No.

Organisation

Amount in €

1

4 Corners Festival

25,100

2

An Gaeláras Ltd

12,268

3

Ardoyne Association

9,800

4

Ardoyne Youth Club

9,891

5

Banbridge Rugby Football Club

6,110

6

Bardic Educational Arts and Media

9,980

7

Belfast Charitable Society

2,700

8

Belfast International Arts Festival

40,000

9

British-Irish Association

40,000

10

Centre for Cross Border Studies

70,500

11

Centre for Democracy and Peace Building

20,000

12

Cinemagic

18,000

13

City Centre Initiative

12,000

14

Cliftonville Community Regeneration Forum

9,971

15

Clones Family Resource Centre CLG

34,245

16

Clooney estate Residents Association

9,950

17

Community Dialogue

40,000

18

Conradh na Gaeilge

45,000

19

Cookstown Youth Football

9,990

20

Co-operation Ireland

47,200

21

Co-operation Ireland

67,000

22

Co-operation Ireland

72,000

23

Co-operation Ireland

75,000

24

County Fermanagh Super Cup NI

3,600

25

Cregagh Wanderers Football Club

3,000

26

Creggan Enterprises Limited

25,000

27

CRIS - Community Relations In Schools

60,161

28

DCU Institute for International Conflict Resolution

55,303

29

Dialogue For Diversity

9,922

30

Diversity Challenges

11,359

31

Dorsey Emmets GFC

6,000

32

Ellen Finlay

8,150

33

Eoghan Rua CLG

8,000

34

Gasyard Wall Féile

18,000

35

Glebeside Community Association Ltd

8,000

36

Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation

327,186

37

Glengormley Amateur Boxing Club

4,000

38

Greenisland Football Club

3,980

39

Healing Through Remembering

37,000

40

Imagine Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics

35,000

41

Intercomm Ireland Ltd

22,200

42

Intercomm Ireland Ltd

101,848

43

Irish Gallery of Photography DAC

15,000

44

Irish Gallery of Photography DAC

23,250

45

Irish Studies University of Liverpool

41,700

46

Kabosh

14,447

47

Lincoln Courts Youth and Community Association

9,950

48

Longford Women's Link

42,639

49

Naíscoil na Seolta

15,000

50

National Women`s Council of Ireland

36,205

51

New Belfast Community Arts Initiative (T/A Community Arts Partnership)

30,546

52

Newhill Football Club

1,660

53

Newtownbutler First Fermanagh's GFC

6,000

54

Newtowncunningham Orange Hall

9,990

55

NI Youth forum

100,163

56

North-West Cultural Partnership

47,368

57

Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education

27,730

58

Northern Ireland Mixed Marriage Association

3,000

59

Passionist Peace and Reconciliation Office (Holy Cross, Ardoyne)

50,000

60

Pat Finucane Centre Limited (Justice for the Forgotten)

34,888

61

PeacePlayers International - Northern Ireland (PPI-NI)

39,080

62

Places of Sanctuary Ireland

20,412

63

Presbyterian Church in Ireland

17,250

64

R City Youth CIC

9,315

65

Rasharkin & District Rural Cultural & Educational Society

6,000

66

Royal Ulster Constabulary Athletic Association

23,010

67

Saint Patrick Centre

14,000

68

Schomberg Society Kilkeel Limited

40,000

69

Shared History Interpretive project (SHIP)

5,000

70

Smashing Times Theatre Company

32,128

71

St Eugene's Cathedral

20,000

72

St Louis House Youth Group

7,000

73

St Matthews F.C.

5,450

74

St. Mary’s, Rasharkin GAC

6,000

75

St. Pauls ABC

8,000

76

Strabane Athletic Football Club

4,000

77

The Bloody Sunday Trust

60,000

78

The Churches Trust Ltd

28,000

79

The Corrymeela Community

100,000

80

The Goliath Trust

5,000

81

The Junction Community Relations & Peace Building Initiative

29,060

82

The Wheel

70,000

83

Troubles Tragedy And Trauma

14,505

84

Truth and Reconciliation Platform

20,000

85

Ullans Speakers Association

6,700

86

Ulster Badminton

5,600

87

University of Huddersfield

60,000

88

WAVE Trauma Centre

30,000

89

Wordwell Ltd

3,770

90

Wordwell Ltd

8,553

91

Youth Link: NI

71,741

92

YouthAction Northern Ireland

63,950

Total of grants awarded

€2,777,474

PLUS: Funding allocation to Embassy of Ireland London (for centenaries programme - Lavery exhibition)

€35,000

Foreign Birth Registration

Questions (283)

Mairéad Farrell

Question:

283. Deputy Mairéad Farrell asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the date that the foreign birth registration service is due to resume; the barrier to resuming this service if there is no date available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53942/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

My Department is responsible for citizenship by descent through the Foreign Births Register under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended.

People may apply for Irish citizenship through Foreign Birth Registration if one of their grandparents was born in Ireland or if one of their parents was an Irish citizen at the time of their birth, even if their parent was not born in Ireland. Once a person is entered onto the Foreign Births Register, they are an Irish citizen and are entitled to apply for an Irish passport.

In order to protect the integrity of the citizenship process, Foreign Birth Registration applications require very careful analysis in order to validate both the identity of the applicant and their entitlement to Irish citizenship. Accordingly, all applications undergo rigorous checking by experienced staff at the Passport Service.

Demand for Foreign Birth Registration services reached unprecedented levels following the Brexit referendum in 2016, resulting in a peak of 32,000 online applications received in 2019. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the processing time for Foreign Birth Registration applications stood at 18 months due to the dramatic increase in applications as a result of Brexit and the aforementioned necessary rigorous processing that applies to citizenship applications.

Operations at the Passport Service were severely disrupted by public health restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. During this period, it was necessary to pause Foreign Birth Registration processing in order to focus also on the provision of urgent passport services. When Passport services were scaled up in May 2021 to more normal operational levels in line with the phased easing of restrictions, Foreign Birth Registration staff were redeployed to assist with the delivery of our expanded essential passport services operation, and have continued to do so in light of continuing strong demand for Passport services.

The Foreign Birth Registration Service continues to consider urgent requests to expedite an application on a case by case basis, in cases such as expectant parents, or stateless persons. Over 5,000 emergency Foreign Birth Registration applications have been processed in 2021. Expectant parents and other emergency applicants should make contact with the Passport Service Customer Service Hub to advise of their circumstances, and can do so by telephone or webchat on the Department’s website (www.dfa.ie).

The Passport Service is actively preparing to resume processing Foreign Birth Registration applications as soon as possible and I will arrange to have the Deputy informed once a date for the resumption of processing these applications has been finalised. My Department is fully committed to allocating the necessary resources to assist with the high volume of applications, with a focus on reducing turnaround times.

In the context of the National Development Plan, the Government is making a major investment in the future of the Passport Service. Over the next couple of years, the Department will replace the core technology underpinning the service, which will deliver efficiencies to the Foreign Birth Registration and passport services. Budget 2022 also included an investment of an additional €10m for the Passport Service in response to the increasing demand for passports and Foreign Birth Registration.

Defence Forces

Questions (284)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

284. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Defence the status of the regularisation of the title for Nenagh military barracks; his plans for the site once this is completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53732/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The former barracks in Nenagh is no longer required for military purposes. In accordance with Government policy and Department of Defence's practice to dispose of such surplus properties, matters relating to the disposal of Nenagh Barracks are currently being progressed.

Following application, the Tipperary County Registrar’s Office issued a Deed of Assurance conveying the freehold title of the property to the Minister for Defence. The Department of Defence now intends to lodge an application for First Registration with the Land Registry.

Upon completion of this application, the property will then be a Registered Title held under a folio and the Department of Defence will proceed with its disposal. In that regard, the Department would be willing to consider the possibility of transferring the property to Tipperary County Council.

Cross-Border Co-operation

Questions (285)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

285. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Defence the details of the cross-Border Project Ireland 2040 infrastructure projects and the funding allocated for 2021, 2022 and 2023, in tabular form. [53840/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

As part of Project Ireland 2040, the National Development Plan (NDP) sets out the Government’s overarching investment strategy and capital budget for the period 2021-2030. The multi annual capital allocations provided for Defence under the Plan will allow the Defence Organisation to continue a programme of capital investment, as identified and prioritised in the Defence White Paper. All suitable Defence infrastructure projects are considered as part of an internal Civil Military planning process. There are no cross-Border infrastructure projects provided for.

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