Written Answers. - EU Presidency.
Minister for Social Welfare
if he will give details of the programme of meetings and dinner functions he intends to host in Ireland for the EU Council of Ministers in the context of Ireland's Presidency of the EU; the venues for such functions; the numbers attending; the basis on which the venue was chosen; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
On 10-11 July last, I hosted an informal Council meeting of EU Ministers for social protection in Dublin Castle. This was attended by 92 delegates, including my ministerial colleague, Deputy Durkan, Minister of State at the Department of Social Welfare, who led the Irish delegation, other EU ministerial colleagues, Commissioner Flynn and representatives from the social partners at EU level. A dinner that evening was held in St. Patrick's Hall, State Apartments, Dublin Castle.
This meeting was held back-to-back with that of the informal meeting of EU Ministers for Labour and Social Affairs, hosted by my colleague, Deputy Eithne Fitzgerald, Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise and Employment. The main theme of both meetings was "Long-Term Unemployment", which was examined from the perspective of social protection policy on 10-11 July and labour market policy on 11-12 July. A joint discussion document, produced by both Departments, served as the basis for the deliberations of the delegates, some of whom were common to both meetings.
In view of the communal arrangements applicable to both meetings, Dublin Castle was chosen as the most suitable venue, with regard to cost, its facilities and accessibility.
I am also holding, as part of my programme of work in the context of the EU Presidency, two major conferences in conjunction with the institutions of the European Union. The first "Beyond Equal Treatment: Social Security in a Changing Europe" takes place from 10-12 October 1996. Approximately 200 participants are expected to attend and the conference will be located in Dublin Castle. A conference dinner will take place in St. Patrick's Hall, State Apartments, Dublin Castle, on 11 October 1996.
The second conference, "New Directions in Social Welfare", will be held on 14-16 November 1996 and is being co-hosted with and co-funded by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. Attended by some 120 delegates, it, too, will be based in Dublin Castle, with a conference dinner in St. Patrick's Hall, State Apartments, Dublin Castle on 15 November 1996.
I have also arranged for a meeting of officials to take place in Blarney, Cork, from 17-20 October next. I will be hosting a dinner for approximately 50 delegates in the Jameson Heritage Centre, Midleton. I was eager to ensure from the outset that this event would be held outside Dublin. Blarney was chosen as a venue on the basis of suitability, cost and access to Cork International Airport. MISSOC, the Mutual Information System on Social Protection, is a network set up by the European Commission in 1990 and consists of officials from each member state. The main function of the network is to publish, annually, comparative tables setting out each member state's social protection system.