Thursday, 6 December 2018

Ceisteanna (73)

Róisín Shortall


73. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the grant and funding schemes operated by his Department; the value of each scheme; and the basis or criteria used for the allocation of funding in respect of each scheme. [51406/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Department is responsible for two votes - Vote 28 (Foreign Affairs and Trade) and Vote 27 (International Cooperation).

The Irish Abroad Unit in my Department manages and coordinates the Emigrant Support Programme (ESP) in partnership with Ireland’s Embassies and Consulates abroad. This programme is a tangible expression of the Government’s support of, commitment to, and interest in the global Irish community. It aims to strengthen the international Irish community and its bond with Ireland. Through this programme the Government aims to fund projects that will have a clear and identifiable impact on supporting and building global Irish communities. Since its inception in 2004, the Emigrant Support Programme has assisted over 530 organisations in 36 countries with grants totaling over €170 million. In 2018, the total budget for the ESP was €11.595 million. Applications, which must be submitted via an online portal during a one month window from mid-January to mid-February are evaluated on a range of criteria, including the need for the project; beneficiaries in the Irish community; the impact of the project, partnerships with other statutory, voluntary and ESP-funded organisations; the total project cost and value for money offered; in addition to monitoring and evaluation systems in place and commitment to good governance. Applicant organisations should be established as registered charities, charitable bodies or voluntary/not for profit organisations. More detailed information is available here on my Department’s website.

Of the Department’s Diaspora Affairs budget, €600,000 was available in 2018 for strategic projects that engage the diaspora in support of existing Government Strategies, in particular those strategies which are most relevant to the wider work of this Department and which would support the work of the Inter-departmental Committee on the Irish Abroad. These projects could be led by the Irish Abroad Unit, or other units in the Department or in conjunction with other Departments/State Agencies, and decisions were based on detailed, costed proposals submitted by third parties which had a clear and measurable impacts linked to a wider and identified Government strategy.

The Reconciliation Fund, also administered by my Department, was established in 1982 to support civil society organisations in creating better understanding between the people and traditions of the island of Ireland, and also between Ireland and Britain. Over €50 million has been allocated to over 2,000 projects during this time. As part of the 2014 Stormont House Agreement, the Government committed to the continued allocation of €2.7 million annually to the Reconciliation Fund. An additional €1 million will be made available in 2019. Further information, including the criteria for allocation of funding and details of grants awarded previously, can be found here on the Department’s website.

Department’s Policy Planning Unit provides research grants to academic institutions and organisations to undertake specific pieces of foreign policy research. In 2018, Policy Planning Unit awarded a grant of €15,950 to the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) to prepare a paper on the environmental consequences of the use of nuclear weapons and testing, in support of Ireland’s nuclear non-proliferation policy. Grants are awarded to institutions or organisations which possess the requisite research expertise on the given topic.

Department also funds projects and proposals which further Ireland’s priorities under the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), including: maximising the EU’s voice and influence on human rights issues; preserving international peace and security; supporting the UN and other multilateral organisations; and promoting disarmament and non-proliferation. Expenditure is divided into two categories. The first is mandatory payments under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) to the EU Institute for Security Studies and the EU Satellite Centre. There is also funding available for voluntary contributions in support of projects in the CFSP area. In 2018, a total of €513,000 was allocated under this heading; €173,000 for mandatory payments and €340,000 in respect of voluntary contributions.

For 2018, the Government has provided a gross allocation to Official Development Assistance (ODA) of in excess of €707 million. €500.126 million will be administered by the Development Cooperation Division (DCD) of my Department under Vote 27 – International Cooperation. A further estimated €207 million will be allocated through other Government Departments and Ireland’s share allocation of the EU Development Cooperation Budget.

Official Development Assistance (ODA) comprises Bilateral Assistance which is aid provided directly by Ireland to developing countries and Multilateral Assistance, which comprises un-earmarked funding channelled through multilateral and international organisations engaged in development cooperation.

In addition to the multilateral ODA managed through Vote 27, a significant proportion of Ireland’s multilateral ODA relates to assessed and voluntary contributions to international organisations managed through other Government Departments (mainly the Departments of Finance and Agriculture, Food and the Marine) and Ireland’s contribution to the EU Development Cooperation budget.

The funding administered by my Department under Vote 27 is delivered through a wide range of partners including non-governmental organisations, missionaries, UN agencies, international organisations and humanitarian agencies. Funding is also delivered via local, regional and national government systems aimed at, inter alia, building health, education and local government systems.

The Stability Fund was established by my Department in 2005 to provide support to a range of activities relating to peacebuilding and conflict prevention, civilian crisis management, post-conflict stabilisation and activities contributing to the implementation of Ireland’s commitments under UNSCR 1325. The budget allocation in 2018 is €6 million.

A small portion of the Vote 27 budget is administered by my Department’s Communications Unit. Africa Day is celebrated annually on 25 May and the public outreach team in Irish Aid oversee a national flagship event in Dublin to highlight the scope and benefits of Ireland’s engagement with Africa and increase public awareness of Irish Aid’s development programme throughout Africa. Local authorities around the country are encouraged to host their own regional Africa Day events, to engage citizens nationwide in celebrating Ireland’s historic links with Africa, and increase awareness of the work carried out by Irish Aid. To this end, the Africa Day regional fund, valued at €48,000, is open to applications from local authorities that wish to organise events linked to the Africa Day celebrations. Applications for funding from the scheme are judged based on a number of criteria including description and timing of the proposed event; how the event /activity will be managed; adequate governance including public indemnity insurance; proposed for Irish Aid and/or Ministerial participation; promotion and overall cost.

The Communications Unit also administers the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to assist and promote more and better quality media coverage of development issues in the Irish media. Two rounds of funding are allocated every year; one in summer, and one in winter. Applications focus on international development themes, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Applicants must demonstrate the relevance of their project to one or more of the seven Irish Aid Priority Areas for Action. These priority areas include hunger, climate change, trade and economic growth and human rights. The value of the scheme is €135,000 and applications are judged based on a number of criteria including quality of the proposal, including treatment (e.g. is the story engaging/well-developed/well-researched); value for money; audience reach; media reach in Ireland (including range of media platforms); focus on development/SDG issues/Irish Aid priority countries/focus on themes (climate change/sustainability/positive image of Africa/tackling stereotypes); and originality of project.

An annual report is produced each year and the 2017 report is now available on the Irish Aid website. This is a flagship of our accountability, transparency and engagement. It demonstrates the scope of our programme, how we are reaching the poorest and adapting to the challenges and opportunities of a rapidly changing world.