Questions Nos. 22 to 28, inclusive, resubmitted.

Departmental Priorities

Question No. 30 resubmitted.

Ceisteanna (29)

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

29. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Taoiseach his Department’s priorities for 2018. [3448/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

My Department has just published its revised Statement of Strategy reflecting the priorities for the period ahead as well as the changes that have taken place following my appointment as Taoiseach. This includes the establishment of a new configuration of Cabinet Committees which encompasses the Government’s national priorities for the coming years.

The Strategy Statement is aligned to the Government's key priorities and policies, and sets out the following six strategic priorities:

1. Providing excellent support services for the Taoiseach and Government;

2. Ensuring Ireland has sustainable economy;

3. Helping to ensure that Government policies and services support a socially inclusive and fair society;

4. Ensuring that Ireland maintains strong relationships in Europe and the World;

5. Ensuring the best possible outcomes for Ireland in relation to Brexit across all four priorities identified by the Government; and

6. Planning for the future in the context of all of the many uncertainties arising in the international environment.

It also incorporates the work of the department linked to specific initiatives including work relating to the Citizens’ Assembly, Data Protection, Strategic Communications and a number of statutory inquiries. Arising from the work to date of the Citizens’ Assembly and the work of the previous Constitutional Convention, the Government has published an indicative timetable for a number of referendums during 2018 and 2019.

We will also continue to provide leadership on signature national projects such as Creative Ireland, Global Ireland 2025, Project Ireland 2040, the ten year Capital Investment Plan and the Climate Change Mitigation Plan.

Protecting Ireland's growing economy is critical to ensuring Ireland is an equal society creating equal opportunities for all its people to participate and share in our prosperity and the new revised Statement of Strategy will guide the work of my Department in achieving these goals in the years ahead.

Question No. 30 resubmitted.

Taoiseach's Communications

Question No. 32 resubmitted.

Question No. 33 answered with Question No. 31.

Questions Nos. 34 to 38, inclusive, resubmitted.

Questions Nos. 39 and 40 answered with Question No. 31.

Question No. 41 resubmitted.

Ceisteanna (31, 33, 39, 40)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

31. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his address to the European Parliament on 17 January 2018; the meetings he attended; and the issues that were discussed. [3054/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

33. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his address and discussions at the Future of Europe meeting at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. [3092/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

39. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Taoiseach if he discussed the need for continued EU financial support for cross-border programmes at his recent meeting with the President of the European Commission. [3359/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

40. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Taoiseach if he discussed the need for continued EU financial support for cross-Border programmes at his recent meeting with the President of the European Commission in view of the benefits that accrued to communities in Northern Ireland and the border region from such investment since the mid 1990s. [3360/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 31, 33, 39 and 40 together.

I was honoured to be the first EU leader to be invited to take part in the European Parliament debate series on the Future of Europe. My speech to the European Parliament took place in Strasbourg on 17 January.

In my intervention, I spoke about the achievements of the European Union, the benefits for Ireland of EU membership, and my thoughts about how best the Union should evolve for the future. I also spoke in some detail about the Brexit negotiations.

I stressed the importance of our values and how we need to keep these to the fore as we respond to the challenges and the opportunities of the 21st century.

I said that Europe needs a forward-looking agenda with ambition and direction. Rather than looking for great institutional changes, we should focus on implementing what we have already agreed. This should include completing the Single Market, the Digital Single Market, the Capital Markets Union and Banking Union, with a view to delivering concrete benefits for our citizens in areas that directly affect their lives.I outlined Ireland's 'Citizens’ Dialogue on the Future of Europe' which I launched last November and which will run until 9 May, Europe Day. Our aim with this is to facilitate an open and wide-ranging debate with our citizens.

On Brexit, I highlighted the unique challenges this poses for Ireland. I thanked the European Parliament for its strong support and solidarity in the negotiations to date, and stressed the need to ensure that the commitments and principles agreed in December are translated into the Withdrawal Agreement. I also noted our ambition for a close and comprehensive future relationship between the EU and the UK.

In their interventions, MEPs reiterated their support for Ireland in relation to Brexit. I welcome President Juncker's statement that "we are all Irish" as well as the Commission’s commitment to propose continued PEACE funding beyond 2020.

In addition to the debate itself, I had a bilateral meeting with President Tajani. I thanked him for his support for Ireland in relation to Brexit. We exchanged views about the future of Europe, and I expressed appreciation for his initiative in bringing forward the series of debates in the European Parliament.

I also had a bilateral meeting with the European Parliament’s Chief Brexit Coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt. We discussed developments since our last meeting in September and I expressed my sincere appreciation to Mr. Verhofstadt for his understanding and commitment to ensuring that Ireland's unique concerns are addressed.I also attended a lunch hosted by the First Vice President of the Parliament, which was attended by party group leaders and other MEPs.

I met briefly and exchanged a few words with Commission President Juncker and the Head of the Brexit Task Force, Michel Barnier, although I did not have a formal bilateral meeting with either.

I had a short bilateral meeting with Commission Vice President Katainen in relation to Mercosur. I emphasised our commitment to free trade generally but highlighted our strong concerns around the beef sector, and our views on what should and should not be potentially included in any agreement.

Question No. 32 resubmitted.
Question No. 33 answered with Question No. 31.
Questions Nos. 34 to 38, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 39 and 40 answered with Question No. 31.
Question No. 41 resubmitted.

Urban Renewal Schemes

Questions Nos. 43 to 55, inclusive, resubmitted.

Ceisteanna (42)

John Lahart

Ceist:

42. Deputy John Lahart asked the Taoiseach the planned spending on north inner Dublin city projects conceived and initiated by his predecessor; the amount spent; and the projects this money has been spent on. [3053/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

The Programme Implementation Board chaired by Michael Stone is overseeing implementation of actions recommended in the Mulvey Report.

The short terms measures announced in 2016 have been delivered which amounted to almost €5 million invested in real facilities and services in the area. This included €1 million investment in sports facilities and projects; €700,000 spent on local community projects targeting children and youths; €100,000 for drugs related projects; and over €3 million on physical improvement works including, roads, housing areas, parks, lighting, and refurbishment of Sean McDermott Swimming Pool.

The €2.5m provided in 2017 was allocated for a range of projects across the four key priority areas of crime and drugs; education, training and employment opportunities; services for families and young people; and physical improvements. Most of these projects are well underway including, an outreach project targeting street dealing; a focused programme of street clean-up and litter prevention; a construction skills course and dedicated employment and career guidance service; enhanced counselling and related services for young people; further physical improvements including installing of CCTV at key locations and delivery of cross-community events and small grants to local projects.

Government has also provided funding under the Department of Rural and Community Development's RAPID subhead for 2018 on the same basis as 2017. This will provide another €2.5 million mixture of capital and current funding to be allocated by the NEIC Board. In addition, funding has also been provided in 2018 to support the development of a pilot social employment scheme, details of which is currently being developed under the direction of the NEIC Board.

The Board will shortly publish its 2017 Report, including comprehensive details of spending to date.

Questions Nos. 43 to 55, inclusive, resubmitted.