Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Ceisteanna (62)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

62. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of regular grade civil servants his Department has hired in advance of a no-deal Brexit; the number of specialist grade civil servants hired in advance of same; the budget made available in advance of Brexit for hiring of staff in advance of the UK withdrawal from the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3322/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Managing the response to Brexit has impacted on the work of many units in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and its missions overseas and staffing levels have been augmented in response.

Global Ireland 2025 will support efforts to grow and diversify export markets, inward investment and tourism, as Brexit becomes a reality. It will ensure that Ireland is better positioned to build the alliances necessary to advance its interests and defend its positions in a post-Brexit EU, while also helping to secure our deep and positive relationship with the UK and its constituent parts into the future.

In response my Department is in the process of significant expansion.

An additional €18 million has been allocated for Brexit-related expenditure in DFAT in 2019 which will include significant investment in the Global Ireland initiative. The allocation will allow further expansion and deepening of our whole of Government Brexit preparedness planning. We will continue to strengthen our teams in EU member states, assigning additional personnel in key posts abroad. Funding has been earmarked for the Passport Service, and to support essential reconciliation work being carried out by civil society in Northern Ireland and across the island of Ireland, and North-South cooperation.

One area of my Department that has been particularly impacted by the prospect of Brexit is the Passport Service, which closely monitors the volume of applications on an ongoing basis to ensure that resources are available to meet the demand.

My Department has strengthened the capacity of the Passport Service by recruiting additional permanent staff over the past twelve months to respond to the general increase in passport applications.

The normal seasonal intake of Temporary Clerical Officers has already commenced, and in the coming months, it is hoped that over 150 Temporary Clerical Officers will be assigned to the processing of applications. A further key response by the Passport Service to the growth of applications is the establishment of a communications hub where fifty staff have already been allocated to ensure an effective service is delivered in response to increasing volumes of customer queries.

The Department will allocate additional staff resources as deemed necessary to further augment our Brexit-related capacity in Ireland and across the diplomatic mission network.