Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Ceisteanna (259)

Paul Connaughton

Ceist:

306 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position regarding an application for the United Nations volunteer internship programme 2011 in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 16; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Irish Aid has set no upper age limit for the programme; if his further attention has been drawn to the fact that the applicant went through a rigorous selection and interview process and was subsequently nominated by Irish Aid for the position of research assistant to the UNDP in Maseru, Lesotho, only to be told by the UNV in Bonn that they were not being selected due to an age limit on its part; if he is aware that the applicant, as a highly educated graduate, is now faced with unemployment as a direct result of this bureaucratic mess; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2061/11]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Foreign)

The Government attaches great importance to the role of volunteers in development. We recognise the need to give people interested in a career in development the opportunity to gain experience of working in the developing world and with the multilateral system. Since 2006, the Government has provided funding through Irish Aid to the United Nations Volunteer (UNV) internship and volunteer programmes, in order to give suitably qualified candidates the opportunity to work with UN programmes in developing countries.

Irish Aid facilitates the initial screening of candidates for these positions, and UNV is responsible for recruitment and placement. The initial screening process for Irish candidates for the 2011 internship programme was carried out by a team of highly qualified external consultants. While UNV provides guidelines which include an indicative age range for candidates, it has until now always accepted Irish nominees on the basis that they were the most suitably qualified, including candidates outside this age range

This year, for the first time, the United Nations Volunteer programme decided not to accept nominees outside the indicated age range. Irish Aid raised the change in practice with UNV, and it was agreed that the candidates affected by the decision would be considered for more senior volunteer positions with UNV. I understand that arrangements are currently being made to interview the candidates affected for volunteer placements. The United Nations Volunteer programme makes all final decisions with regard to recruitment and placements.