Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Ceisteanna (549)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

549. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of staff in her Department assigned solely or primarily to work on North-South issues; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21263/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department in conjunction with our counterparts in Northern Ireland liaise on North- South issues through a number of initiatives.

The Department is a partner in the EURES Ireland/ Northern Ireland Cross Border Partnership which addresses the obstacles that cross border workers, employers and jobseekers face, for example, jobseekers that need information on employment and training opportunities on both sides of the border, providing information on cross border taxation issues, social security benefits and medical services, and by opening up recruitment opportunities in the cross border region. The Partnership aims to assist employers by providing them with access to a larger pool of labour i.e. jobseekers living on both sides of the border. Advice is available to employers on a range of cross-border recruitment issues. The Partnership covers all of Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland (Louth, Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim).

An annual Summer School is run jointly by my Department and the Department for Communities, (DfC), Northern Ireland. It provides an opportunity for staff to analyse and debate topical social policy issues facing both jurisdictions. It also facilitates an exchange of views and insights between staff from both departments.

Staff are also encouraged to participate in bodies such as the North- South Ministerial Council when posts become available. There are currently two staff members from my Department on secondment to this body.

Given the nature of the work carried out by my Department, staff across all scheme areas are in regular contact with their counterparts in the respective Departments/Agencies in Northern Ireland. With this regular contact and in conjunction with the above mentioned initiatives, my Department is continually engaging with North-South issues.