Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Ceisteanna (146, 147)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

146. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the dissatisfaction with the recent election observation competition; the reason the qualifications and experience of candidates were not awarded points in the competition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5135/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niall Collins

Ceist:

147. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he is satisfied that the arrangements in place ensure that the election observation competition is independent and robust; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5136/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 146 and 147 together.

I refer the Deputy to the responses to previous Parliamentary Questions on this matter, Question 109 of 19 December 2018 and Questions 59 and 61 of 23 January 2019.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade administers and maintains a roster of suitably skilled volunteers, who are available to participate in international election observation missions organised, in the main, by the European Union (EU) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

A new volunteer roster was put in place in January 2019. I refer the Deputy to the response to Parliamentary Question 109 of 19 December 2018, which provided detailed information on the selection process, including on the assessment of applications. That assessment process was calibrated by an independent external quality assurance service.

The Department received 395 applications, allowing a roster of 201 members to be mustered, similar to the number of volunteers mustered under the previous roster. The level of interest meant that there was intense competition for the available places. I am confident that the volunteers nominated to the roster will make a quality contribution to international election observation, and that this will reflect well on Ireland. While the intense competition helps to ensure that the quality of Irish election observers remains high, with nearly twice as many applicants as available places, not all of those willing to volunteer could be selected. While I appreciate that those who were not successful may be disappointed, I am fully satisfied that the process was robust and fair.