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Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021

Written Answers Nos. 331-349

Approved Housing Bodies

Questions (331)

Niall Collins

Question:

331. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the details of all approved housing bodies in the State; the number of social, affordable and other type of housing units analysed by local authority area under their ownership and or management; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61914/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

There are currently 450 organisations listed on my Department's Register of Housing Bodies with Approved Status. Further information is available at the following link: www.gov.ie/en/publication/1172c-register-of-housing-bodies-with-approved-status-under-section-6-of-the-housing-miscellaneous-provisions-act-1992/

The table below provides information on of the number of Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) signed up to the Voluntary Regulatory Code, which are active in each local authority, along with the number of units either owned, managed or leased. This information is sourced from the most recent Sectoral Analysis Report produced by the Housing Agency's Regulation Office www.housingagency.ie/sites/default/files/2021-07/Regulation%20Annual%20Report%202020%20FINAL.pdf which provides a comprehensive overview of the AHB sector.

Local Authority

No. of AHBs operating in Local Authority*

No. of Units**

Dublin City

48

8756

Limerick City & County

46

1787

Cork County

40

2414

Dun Laoghaire – Rathdown

32

1767

Kilkenny

31

1044

Cork City

30

1874

Kildare

30

2021

Fingal

30

2372

Tipperary

29

1227

Meath

27

1177

South Dublin

26

2834

Mayo

24

792

Wicklow

24

746

Clare

22

655

Donegal

19

1084

Waterford City & County

19

1301

Wexford

19

954

Kerry

18

921

Galway City

17

865

Galway County

17

675

Offaly

17

557

Louth

17

1680

Laois

17

890

Westmeath

16

261

Sligo

14

474

Monaghan

12

366

Carlow

12

822

Cavan

11

264

Longford

10

370

Roscommon

8

207

Leitrim

7

72

Total

41229

* Based on AHBs signed up to the Voluntary Code

** Based on December 2019 data

My Department also publishes comprehensive programme level statistics on social housing delivery for each local authority on a quarterly basis. These statistics, which include programmes supported by AHB delivery, are available to the end of Quarter 3 and are published on the statistics page of my Department’s website, at the following link: www.gov.ie/en/collection/6060e-overall-social-housing-provision/

In addition to the statistical overview of activity in each local authority, a detailed Social Housing Construction Status Report is published each quarter which provides scheme level detail on new build activity, including those delivered by AHBs. The most recent publication covers the period up to the end of Quarter 3 2021 and is available at the following link: www.gov.ie/en/publication/feea9-social-housing-construction-projects-status-report-q3-2021/.

Following on from the introduction of the Housing (Regulation of Approved Housing Bodies) Act 2019, the Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority (AHBRA) was formally established on 1 February 2021. The Regulator will have responsibility for, inter alia, establishing and maintaining a register of AHBs; preparing standards by which AHBs will be monitored and assessed; encouraging and facilitating the better governance, administration and management, including corporate governance and financial management, of AHBs. The Regulator will have powers to carry out investigations and cancel the registration of AHBs.

The functions of the Regulator will also include collecting such information concerning AHBs as the Regulator considers necessary and appropriate for the purposes of the performance of the Regulator’s functions, and publishing such information (including statistical information) concerning AHBs as the Regulator considers appropriate.

Planning Issues

Questions (332)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

332. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of persons working on the review by his Department of the planning system; the number of these who are external to his Department; and the cost to his Department of the work of these persons on the planning system review. [61921/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Housing for All sets out a number of objectives with the aim of improving the functioning of the planning system including the comprehensive review and consolidation of planning legislation. The review forms one of the actions in Housing for All and is set in the context of the broad policy outlined therein.

The review is being overseen by the Attorney General and he has appointed a working group of professionals with planning law expertise to assist him in this work, funded by his Office. My Department has established a dedicated unit headed at Principal Officer level to liaise with the Attorney General on the review.

Planning Issues

Questions (333)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

333. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his views on the growing number of judicial reviews of residential developments being lost by An Board Pleanála and the rising cost to the State of these court decisions finding against the Board; if concerns have been raised in this regard; and the action he plans to take to ensure an improvement in the legal basis of the decisions by the Board and improved cost controls to reduce the growing cost of lost judicial reviews by the Board. [61922/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department has noted the increasing number of judicial review cases being taken against decisions of An Bord Pleanála (the Board) over the last couple of years, as well as the number of cases that have been lost arising from such legal challenges, many of which relate to Strategic Housing Development (SHD) cases but also cases involving environmental related issues. This upward trend in the number of judicial review challenges has led to significantly increased legal costs having to be met by the Board in defending these actions. My Department is engaging with the Board on the steps that might be taken to improve the situation.

The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 introduced new arrangements to enable planning applications for SHDs of 100 housing units or more, or student accommodation or shared accommodation developments of 200 bed spaces or more, to be made directly to the Board for determination. The sole mechanism for appealing against SHD decisions made by the Board has been by the way of judicial review challenge to the High Court, which has been a factor in the recent increased number of judicial review challenges taken against the Board.

The SHD arrangements were a temporary measure and had a legislative expiry date of 31 December 2021. This end date was subsequently extended to 25 February 2022 arising from the Covid-related extension of statutory deadlines within the planning system by 8 weeks in respect of the period March to May 2020.

However, new planning arrangements in respect of large-scale residential developments (LRDs) - as proposed in the Planning and Development (Amendment) (Large-scale Residential Developments) Bill 2021 which has recently completed all stages in the Oireachtas legislative process and is expected to come into effect in the coming days - will restore primary decision-making in respect of such developments to the local planning authorities with the possibility of subsequent appeal to the Board. It is anticipated that these new arrangements in respect of LRDs and allowing appeal to the Board will lead to a reduction in the number of judicial review challenges in this area in the future.

Furthermore, proposals to reform the judicial review provisions in sections 50 to 50B of the Planning and Development Act 2001, as amended, were published in the General Scheme of the Housing and Planning and Development Bill 2019 which were subsequently the subject of public consultation. The General Scheme is now expected to undergo pre-legislative scrutiny in the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage in Q1 2022 to be followed by legislative drafting and the publication of a Bill with a view to the subsequent coming into effect of the new judicial review reforms on the establishment of the proposed dedicated Environmental and Planning Court, as committed to in the Programme for Government - Our Shared Future. Similar to the introduction of the new LRD planning arrangements, it is anticipated that these reforms - combined with the reform of the case management procedures in the High Court arising from the Report of the Review Group on the Administration of Civil Justice chaired by the former President of the High Court, Justice Peter Kelly and wider reforms to improve the effectiveness of the planning system, including through increased digitalisation - will lead to both a reduction in the number of judicial review challenges against planning decisions, as well as the more timely determination of such challenges, in the future.

Local Authorities

Question No. 335 answered with Question No. 334.

Questions (334, 335)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

334. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage the local authorities that do not have a permanent CEO at present; the length of time this vacancy is open in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61926/21]

View answer

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

335. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage when all present vacancies for the position of CEO with local authorities will be filled; the details of the local authority involved in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61927/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 334 and 335 together.

The local authorities where an interim Chief Executive is currently in situ and the date of appointment in each case are listed in the table below.

Local Authority

Date of appointment of temporary Chief Executive

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council

12/05/2021

Galway County Council

24/05/2021

Kildare County Council

01/09/2021

Limerick City and County Council

15/08/2019

Where a Chief Executive vacancy arises, section 145(6) of the Local Government Act 2001 provides for the appointment of a temporary Chief Executive. Such an appointment is made pending a permanent appointment to the position following the completion of an open advertised competition and process conducted through the Public Appointments Service.

Question No. 335 answered with Question No. 334.

Water Services

Questions (336)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

336. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the progress that has been made on the Oireachtas Report into Future Funding of Domestic Water Services and the recommendations specifically in relation to private well owners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61981/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The provisions of the Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services have now been largely legislated for, as required, in the Water Services Act 2017. The Water Services Policy Statement 2018-2025 sets out the range of policy objectives across the key thematic areas of quality, conservation and future proofing which are aligned with Project Ireland 2040 (the National Planning Framework and the National Development Plans).

The National Development Plan 2021-2030 provides for almost €6bn investment by Irish Water, in the period 2021-2025, with over €4.5 billion of that total being Voted Exchequer funded. This investment includes the projects and programmes committed to in Irish Water’s Capital Investment Plan 2020-2024, which projects spend of circa €6bn for capital expenditure and circa €5bn for operational expenditure.

In addition, the National Development Plan 2021-2030 includes an allocation of over €243 million in funding for the period 2021 to 2025 for non-Irish Water investment in water services infrastructure. This includes €175 million funding for the Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme, and €68.5 million funding for legacy issues in relation to Developer Provided Water Services Infrastructure, and lead pipe remediation which is a feature of public water supplies.

Following on from the recommendations contained in the 2017 Report, the Rural Water Working Group was established in 2018 to conduct a review of the wider resources and investment needs relating to the rural water sector.

In February 2019, my Department announced the Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021, the composition of this programme was based on recommendations from the Working Group. As part of these recommendations, the grant scheme to support improvement works for a private water supply was revised. The revised scheme, which opened for applications on 04 June 2020, brought into effect the following changes:

- A maximum grant for rehabilitation works of €3,000, an increase of 47% on the previous maximum grant level of €2,031;

- A maximum grant of €5,000 in cases where the local authority agrees that the most appropriate solution is to provide a new well.

The maximum percentage of approved costs was increased from 75% to 85%, subject to the total maximum costs of either €3,000 for well rehabilitation or €5,000 for a new well.

Recognising the role of the grant in improving quality, the water quality treatment element (typically filtration and UV treatment) qualifies for 100% funding up to a maximum of €1,000.

In implementing the revised arrangements, my Department has undertaken to conduct a review of the grant schemes, to ensure their continued alignment with policy objectives. The specifics of this review are currently being formalised. In finalising the structure and timeline for the review, consideration will be given to the most appropriate timing in order to ensure best engagement from relevant stakeholders. This review is expected to be completed next year.

The schemes are administered by the local authorities on behalf of my Department. Further details can be found on my Department’s website or from each local authority.

Housing Schemes

Questions (337)

Chris Andrews

Question:

337. Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the status of plans for the regeneration of Pearse House and Pearse Grove in Dublin 2; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61994/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Following on from reviews of the conditions of its older flat complexes and based on the need to modernise and bring the living conditions up to acceptable levels and as part of its climate action plans, Dublin City Council (DCC) has advised my Department that they are developing a long term strategy for the redevelopment and/or refurbishment of many of these complexes. This is a matter for DCC in the first instance.

With regards to Pearse House, due to the large size and scope of the complex, the regeneration of the complex will be carried out on a phased basis over a number of years.

In April 2021, my Department issued Stage 1 Approval for the first phase of the regeneration of Pearse House, Dublin 2. The approved regeneration proposal involves the full deep retrofit and amalgamation of existing flats in Blocks L, M, N and P also known as the “small flats”.

DCC has advised that its architects have prepared a design brief to commence the procurement of a design team who will develop and finalise a plan for the new housing scheme. DCC expect to have the external design team appointed and working on progressing development design by Q2 2022.

They have also advised that consultation with Pearse House residents, and elected members, will commence in the coming months.

My Department has not received any proposals for the regeneration of Pearse Grove.

Waterways Issues

Questions (338)

Brendan Smith

Question:

338. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the measures that will be implemented at an early date to progress the proposal to extend the Shannon navigation from Lough Allen, County Leitrim to Dowra, County Cavan in view of the substantial preparatory work carried out on the project some years ago; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62010/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The navigation to Lough Allen through the Lough Allen Canal was restored and re-opened in 1994. Since then, Waterways Ireland has developed and maintained facilities for boats at a number of key locations including a significant marina development at Cleighran More and harbour facilities at Spenser Harbour.

Waterways Ireland has recently received planning approval for the development of a boat slipway at Spenser Harbour, which will complement and augment the harbour as a boating amenity and will provide much needed access to that area of Lough Allen. At the same time, Waterways Ireland in association with Leitrim County Council has developed the Shannon Blueway utilising the Lough Allen Canal and the wider north Shannon area which is bringing increasing numbers of visitors to the canal and to the wider area in general.

With regard to the extension of navigation to Dowra, Waterways Ireland does not have immediate plans to progress this proposal. Waterways Ireland, together with Fáilte Ireland and the 10 Local Authorities, including Cavan and Leitrim, has formulated and is currently implementing the Shannon Tourism Masterplan.

The Masterplan is the first time a single, holistic and dedicated plan of any type has been undertaken on the Shannon Region. Based on three core themes, seven strategic signature initiatives are proposed that will when delivered, position the Shannon Region as a distinctive and sustainable tourist destination.

The initiatives are as follows:

1. Communicating a clear and consistent message;

2. Enhancing the on-water experience;

3. Enhancing the waterside experience;

4. Animating and enhancing the Shannon towns and villages;

5. Protecting and enhancing the Shannon Environment;

6. Improving connectivity; and

7. Building networks.

The potential restoration of disused navigations for recreational purposes including their expanded and wider use forms part of Strategic Signature Initiative 3 (Enhancing the on-water experience). However no firm proposals in relation to this have yet been progressed.

Passport Services

Question No. 340 answered with Question No. 339.

Questions (339, 340, 360)

Michael Ring

Question:

339. Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if a passport application by a person (details supplied) will be processed on time to travel home to see family members. [61137/21]

View answer

Michael Ring

Question:

340. Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if a passport application by a person (details supplied) will be processed on time for an applicant in order that they can travel with their family. [61138/21]

View answer

James Lawless

Question:

360. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the passport application of a person (details supplied) will be examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61757/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 339, 340 and 360 together.

With regard to the specific applications about which the Deputies have enquired, the Passport Service has provided an update on the status of the passport application to the applicant.

Question No. 340 answered with Question No. 339.

EU Bodies

Questions (341)

Neale Richmond

Question:

341. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the status of his Department’s strategy to increase the number of persons working in European Union institutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61179/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Government’s strategy to increase Irish representation in European Union Institutions and Agencies, A Career for EU, was launched in May of this year. This strategy contains a number of measures to ensure that more Irish people secure roles in the EU’s Institutions over the coming years. Many Irish officials have shaped policies and decisions that have had a positive impact on our lives in Ireland and on the lives of all EU citizens. With a number of Irish officials set to retire over the coming years, this new strategy seeks to safeguard the presence of Irish voices in the Union for years to come.

The strategy contains a number of commitments that will promote career opportunities in the EU and equip Irish people with the skills they need to succeed in obtaining positions in the EU institutions. In particular, the Government commits to expand the existing EU Jobs campaign, provide tailored support and training to Irish candidates, provide additional resources dedicated to supporting the use of Irish as an EU language, increase the funding of the Centrally Funded Scheme for Seconded National Experts, expand the current scholarship programme in the College of Europe and create a stream within the Irish civil service for EU specialists.

Implementation of this new strategy began over the summer with a number of meetings with other Government Departments and stakeholders. Following discussions with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, it was agreed that the number of annual scholarships for Irish students to the College of Europe would be increased from three to six for the academic year 2022-23. I would hope that this will increase to 10 scholarships thereafter.

Actions linked to the strategy have been expanded, including outreach to third level institutions and regular webinars on forthcoming job opportunities in EU Institutions which have been hosted by Ireland’s Permanent Representation to the EU. Training and supports for Irish candidates applying for permanent positions in the EU are also available from the Department’s EU Jobs website. These supports are now available in Irish and further resources are currently being translated into Irish. Funding for the Centrally Funded Scheme for Seconded National Experts, which provides for the secondment of Irish civil servants to the EU Institutions, has been increased from €2 million to €3 million. From 24 Seconded National Experts under the scheme last May, the CFS now supports 35 and is building towards 50. This scheme is vitally important for building and expanding our EU expertise across the civil service and in areas of strategic priority for Ireland in the EU.

Preliminary work on the establishment of an EU specialist stream within the Irish civil service is also underway. Such a stream will develop expertise of European policy within the civil service, as well as providing a supply of Irish candidates qualified to sit the EU graduate level concours competitions. The Department, through the Permanent Representation in Brussels, is also campaigning for reform of the EU recruitment process in order to address geographical imbalances across Member States. We are following closely developments on the European Commission’s new HR Strategy and are working alongside like-minded Member States to make the case for reforms, including nationality-based competitions.

Citizenship Applications

Questions (342)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

342. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the progress to date in the determination of an application for dual citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied); when the application will be finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61192/21]

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.

The processing of Foreign Birth Registration has resumed and will be gradually scaling up in line with the recruitment of additional resources. Due to the complex nature of the Foreign Birth Registration process and the pause in the Service due to necessary Covid-19 restrictions, applicants are being advised that they should allow approximately 2 years from the receipt of supporting documentation for processing of Foreign Birth Registration applications at this time.

With regard to the specific application about which the Deputy has enquired, no supporting documentation has been received for this application. Without supporting documentation, this application cannot be progressed. Once submitted, supporting documentation will be stored in a secure environment until the application can be checked for entitlement.

Foreign Birth Registration staff continue to provide an emergency service for Foreign Birth Registration in cases of exceptional urgency, such as expectant parents, or stateless persons. Such applicants may contact the Passport Service directly.

My Department is fully committed to allocating additional resources over the coming period to assist with the processing of the high volume of new applications anticipated, and the Foreign Birth Registration applications currently on hand.

Official Travel

Questions (343)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

343. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he plans to visit Canada early in 2022. [61293/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland has a strong and flourishing bilateral relationship with Canada. Our two nations share deep historic ties and enjoy strong trading relations. Over the centuries, Canada has been an important destination for Irish immigrants. Today, over 4.5 million Canadians - more than 14% of the country's population – claim direct Irish ancestry.

The Government continues to commit additional resources to the Ireland-Canada relationship. In addition to our Embassy in Ottawa, a new Consulate General of Ireland was opened in Vancouver in October 2018, and we will further expand our presence in Canada with the opening of a new Consulate General in Toronto in 2022.

People-to-people connections are the foundation of our excellent relations and provide particularly valuable opportunities to further deepen the important economic and cultural links that exist between Ireland and Canada. This year alone, I have had two very fruitful virtual meetings with my former counterpart, then Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau. I also warmly recall my visit to Canada for St. Patrick’s Day in 2017.

While I have no confirmed plans at the moment, I very much look forward to visiting Canada again at an appropriate opportunity.

Passport Services

Questions (344)

James Lawless

Question:

344. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if a passport application by a person (details supplied) will be examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61321/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

With regard to the specific application about which the Deputy has enquired, the Passport Service has issued a passport to the applicant.

Northern Ireland

Questions (345)

Pauline Tully

Question:

345. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the recommendations presented by a person (details supplied) to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement in June 2019 were implemented. [61196/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Stormont House Agreement was reached in 2014 after a period of intense negotiation by the Irish and British Governments and the political parties in Northern Ireland. It has been the consistent position of the Government that the Stormont House Agreement provides a balanced and comprehensive framework to address the legacy of the Troubles and it should be implemented for the benefit of the families and in support of reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

The approach to be taken in legislation by the two Governments was the subject of extensive further discussion with the political parties in the talks that led to the Fresh Start Agreement in 2015 and in the talks at Stormont Castle in 2017. A detailed draft of UK legislation was developed, and the British Government held a public consultation on this in 2018-9. However, the legislation process stalled at tat point. The now published proposals of the British Government with respect to legacy and a statute of limitations is not something that the Government can support. We have consistently said that we are ready to engage with concerns or issues to do with the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement but any such changes must be discussed and agreed by the parties and both Governments.

It is vital that any approach is collective if it is to work, and crucially, that it meets both the needs of victims and our shared international human rights obligations.

We will continue to work for the implementation of this collectively agreed framework, in order to support wider societal reconciliation, build greater community confidence in policing and meet the legitimate needs of victims and survivors in Northern Ireland and across the island of Ireland. All recommendations, ideas and concerns with regard to the Agreement’s implementation, including those of Dr. Thomas Leahy, are valuable contributions to this debate and have been considered as we have worked for the implementation of the agreement; such contributions will continue to be of importance and value as we seek to make progress on these very sensitive issues.

United Nations

Question No. 347 answered with Question No. 346.

Question No. 348 answered with Question No. 346.

Question No. 349 answered with Question No. 346.

Questions (346, 347, 348, 349, 350, 351, 352, 353, 354)

Carol Nolan

Question:

346. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 71 of 2 December 2021, if his attention has been drawn to a series of matters (details supplied) in relation to the policy of the handing of names of human rights activists to the Chinese government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61324/21]

View answer

Carol Nolan

Question:

347. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 71 of 2 December 2021, if he can provide evidence to support his response that the policy changed in 2015; if he or his Department ever requested evidence from UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in relation to whether there has been a change in policy in view of the contradictory public positions and documented instances of diplomats being told untruths in relation to this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61325/21]

View answer

Carol Nolan

Question:

348. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 71 of 2 December 2021, if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the United Nations found a person guilty of misconduct for unauthorized communications with external parties in relation to issues concerning the official activities of the United Nations which communications consisted entirely of reporting this policy to member states; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61326/21]

View answer

Carol Nolan

Question:

349. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 71 of 2 December 2021, his views on the opinion expressed by the United Nations that a person committed misconduct by reporting this policy and should have remained silent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61327/21]

View answer

Carol Nolan

Question:

350. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 71 of 2 December 2021, if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a person revealed the identity of the whistle-blower directly to the Chief of the Human Rights Council Branch of UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2016; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that the whistle-blower reported a significant increase in the retaliation against them following that event; if it is the policy of the Government to reveal the identity of United Nations whistle-blowers to the very person they accuse of misconduct; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61328/21]

View answer

Carol Nolan

Question:

351. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 71 of 2 December 2021, if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a person requested that the Government send an observer to their court hearings in June 2019, at which the United Nations position is that this policy continues; the basis for refusing that request; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61329/21]

View answer

Carol Nolan

Question:

352. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 71 of 2 December 2021, the actions that were taken by his Department or by the Government after being informed by a person of the intention by management at the United Nations to dismiss them despite being formally recognised as a whistle-blower who was at risk of retaliatory dismissal since July 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61330/21]

View answer

Carol Nolan

Question:

353. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 71 of 2 December 2021, if his attention has been drawn to the fact that in 2021 alone the Government donated almost €3 million to UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in voluntary contributions on top of its assessed contributions; the amount that is not earmarked; the measures his Department takes to ensure none of the funding is used for the purpose of retaliatory investigations against whistle-blowers or for defending this policy before United Nations tribunals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61331/21]

View answer

Carol Nolan

Question:

354. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 71 of 2 December 2021, if he will request an independent, external investigation of this policy and of the retaliation against the whistle-blower who reported same; if will meet with the person as they have requested; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61332/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 346 to 354, inclusive, together.

My Department is aware of the issues raised by the individual concerned. The former Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva met with the individual concerned on 2nd March 2016. The current Ambassador met with the individual concerned on 29 July 2019 and again on 16 September 2021. In the intervening periods the Department has also communicated with the individual concerned by email and telephone.

Ireland has raised the issue of the release of the names of NGO delegates to UN Member States and received assurances directly from the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) that, while there had been a historical practice whereby the names of participants were occasionally confirmed to States in limited circumstances, this practice has since ceased.

Ireland provides un-earmarked funding to the OHCHR for its core development-related work. €1.865 million of un-earmarked funding was provided each year for 2019 and 2020, rising to €1.965 million in 2021. An additional earmarked grant of €300,000 was provided to the OHCHR this year to specifically support work on civil society space and reprisals against human rights defenders.

This support is part of Ireland's strong advocacy and leadership at the UN and globally on the protection of civil society space and the prevention of reprisals against Human Rights Defenders which engage with Human Rights bodies at the UN. In 2013, Ireland led a new resolution at the Human Rights Council entitled “Civil society space: creating and maintaining, in law and in practice a safe and enabling environment”. This resolution addressed the issue of civil society space as a human rights concern for the first time at the Human Rights Council. Ireland continues to lead on the renewal of this resolution, most recently in July 2021. In September 2021, Ireland led a successful resolution at the Human Rights Council condemning acts of intimidation or reprisals against Human Rights Defenders engaging with the United Nations.

In common with other European Union Member States, Ireland has raised our concerns with China regarding the situation in Xinjiang on a number of occasions, both bilaterally and in multilateral fora. Most recently, at the 48th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Ireland joined an EU Group Statement of 26 Member States, which called on China to comply with its obligations under national, and international law to respect and protect human rights, including in Xinjiang. On 21 October, Ireland joined a cross-regional statement on Human Rights in China at the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, which calls on China to allow immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

We have also raised our concerns bilaterally with the Chinese authorities at senior official level and I discussed the issue with Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi during our meeting on 30 May. In that discussion, I outlined Ireland and the EU's position on the treatment of Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. I emphasised the importance of allowing unrestricted access to the region to independent observers in order to make an objective assessment of the situation, particularly through the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Question No. 347 answered with Question No. 346.
Question No. 348 answered with Question No. 346.
Question No. 349 answered with Question No. 346.
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