Human Rights

Ceisteanna (45)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

45. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade further to Parliamentary Question No. 132 of 21 May 2019, if officials have visited La Guajira, Colombia to date; if so, if they raised the issue of continued death threats; and if the ambassador was present. [25171/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Ireland is a committed supporter of human rights defenders, open civil society space and the protection and promotion of fundamental rights and freedoms. I am aware of the difficult situation that exists for human rights defenders in Colombia, and I entirely reject the use of threats, intimidation and violence against those exercising and protecting their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

As our new Embassy in Bogotá becomes fully operational, it is following the situation in La Guajira and continues to engage with human rights organisations and other relevant stakeholders in the region. As I mentioned in my response to Deputy O'Sullivan's previous question on this matter, Embassy officials intend to visit La Guajira in the near future and meet with human rights defenders and civil society groups. Planning for the visit is advancing and the Embassy has engaged with relevant stakeholders to assess the most suitable and constructive time and to ensure the necessary conditions for the visit to take place. We remain in close contact with the EU Delegation in Bogotá on this matter, which also continues to monitor developments in this region closely.

While officials have not yet visited La Guajira, they have been following the situation in the region closely. Officials have met with representatives of the Cerrejón mine and have discussed the human rights issues that have been raised by civil society groups in the area. Officials have also discussed the situation with partner organisations in Colombia that are involved in monitoring human rights in the area.

The situation of human rights in the country is closely tied to the implementation of the peace agreement. Ireland supports the Colombian Government’s full implementation of these accords. We also aim to continue our financial support to the peace process and to deepen our lesson-sharing programmes, based on our experiences of peacebuilding and reconciliation on the island of Ireland.

I can assure the Deputy that officials in my Department in Dublin and at our Embassy in Bogotá will continue to monitor the human rights situation in La Guajira and across Colombia. Ireland is committed to supporting Colombia in its transition to a stable, peaceful, post-conflict society.

Dublin-Monaghan Bombings

Question No. 47 answered with Question No. 44.

Ceisteanna (46)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

46. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of his input into the ongoing outstanding requests with the British Government regarding inquiries into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20935/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

17 May last marked the 45th anniversary of the appalling attacks of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in which 33 people were murdered. The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charles Flanagan TD, represented the Government at the remembrance ceremony in Dublin.

The Government stands in solidarity with all those who lost loved ones or were injured on that day, and who continue to suffer as a result of these bombings.

The implementation of the All-Party Dáil motions relating to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings is a priority for the Government, as highlighted in the Programme for a Partnership Government. The All-Party motion on the 1974 Dublin Monaghan bombings adopted by the Dáil on 25 May 2016 has, like those adopted in 2008 and 2011, been conveyed to the British Government.

These motions call on the British Government to allow access by an independent, international judicial figure to all original documents relating to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, as well as the Dublin bombings of 1972 and 1973, the bombing of Kay’s Tavern in Dundalk and the murder of Seamus Ludlow.

The Government is committed to actively pursuing the implementation of these all-Party Dáil motions, and has consistently raised the issue with the British Government, including at the British-Irish Inter-Governmental Conference, most recently on 8 May last. I and Minister Flanagan made clear to our counterparts that the absence of a response from the British Government is of deep concern to the Government, and that there remains an urgent need for a response.

The Government will continue to engage with the British Government on this request, and pursue all possible avenues to achieve progress on this issue, consistent with the request made by this House and until a resolution is found.

The Government will maintain a close and cooperative relationship with Justice for the Forgotten, as we continue work to seek the full facts of the appalling events of 25 May 1974 and of other attacks in this jurisdiction during the Troubles.

Question No. 47 answered with Question No. 44.

Middle East Peace Process

Ceisteanna (48, 52)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

48. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on the latest efforts to achieve a full two-state resolution and permanent peace for Palestine and Israel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24942/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niall Collins

Ceist:

52. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if progress has been made since he held a meeting in Dublin in January 2019 to discuss the Israel-Palestine conflict; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25177/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 48 and 52 together.

Since I was appointed as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Israel-Palestine conflict, and the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory has been a very high priority for me personally. I have visited Israel and Palestine three times over the last eighteen months, holding meetings with the key interlocutors in both places, including both President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu. These visits and meetings have allowed me to raise Ireland's priorities with pivotal decision makers.

At present, prospects for the resumption of negotiations centre on the peace plan being developed by the United States. I have engaged with the US Middle East team to encourage this initiative, and to highlight some of the key issues which it will have to address if it is to be successful in meeting the needs of both parties, and laying the foundations for a durable and sustainable peace. I have encouraged my EU colleagues to take a similar approach. The US administration has taken a series of unilateral actions over the past year that have made bringing all interlocutors together for negotiations more difficult. Efforts towards peace are more likely to succeed when attention is paid to creating the right political context for fruitful cooperation. I have conveyed this view to both US and Israeli interlocutors.

Ireland has consistently taken action at both EU and UN levels to ensure that the international community retains a focus on the Israel-Palestine issue. Our attention is focused both on specific issues and events in Gaza and the West Bank, and the broader objective of a resolution of the conflict and an end to the Israeli occupation, something which is essential for the long term future of the Palestinian territory, and indeed also for Israel.

At EU level, issues relating to the Israel-Palestine conflict are regularly discussed at both Ministerial and official level, [most recently in a discussion with the Jordanian Foreign Minister at yesterday’s Foreign Affairs Council.]

The same issues are also discussed regularly at UN level, at the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council. In December 2018, Ireland proposed a Resolution at the UN General Assembly on a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. This resolution, which reaffirmed the long-standing and broadly agreed parameters for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was adopted by an overwhelming majority of 156 UN states, including common EU support. At the most recent session of the UN Human Rights Council in March 2019, Ireland co-sponsored four draft resolutions pertaining to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which were adopted by vote.

I held a meeting in Dublin in February to discuss the Middle East Peace Process with a small group of EU and Arab Foreign Ministers, and the Secretary General of the Arab League. At this meeting we considered how the EU, together with the international community, can productively engage and better use all the levers at our disposal, to influence the parties to the conflict, including private messaging on events as they develop.

I firmly believe that the best way forward would be the resumption of negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian parties, to allow both sides to meet their aspirations and resolve their differences, moving on from grievances to a just outcome which meets the needs of both peoples. However, the international community shares a responsibility to help to create a context for such negotiations.

The situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory will remain high on my agenda and I am committed to do everything I can to make a positive contribution to support credible efforts to resume negotiations and to advance the Middle East Peace Process.

I will continue to press for strong EU engagement notwithstanding other problems in the region; to encourage and seek to influence the US initiative; and to explore practical ideas to improve conditions on the ground.

EU Migration Crisis

Ceisteanna (49, 66)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

49. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the discussions he has had or plans to have with his European counterparts with regard to the increased criminalisation of sea rescues of migrants in the Mediterranean; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25228/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Crowe

Ceist:

66. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the UN Refugee Agency has indicated that the Mediterranean Sea will soon be a sea of blood due to a lack of NGO rescue ships and the conflict in Libya hastening departures at an alarming rate (details supplied); and if he will urgently speak to his European counterparts to review and reverse the policies of the EU before thousands more drown in the Mediterranean. [25102/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 49 and 66 together.

I am very concerned about the situation in the Mediterranean. Tackling the scourge of people trafficking and saving lives at sea is a priority for Ireland and we have been active in operations to tackle people-trafficking in the Mediterranean since 2015, first through Operation Pontus, a bilateral agreement between Ireland and Italy. Since 2017 Ireland has been a full member of Operation Sophia. Since 2015, Irish naval vessels have rescued thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean.

At the March 2019 Foreign Affairs Council meeting called for a continuation of the full mandate of Operation Sophia to allow time for the outstanding issues around disembarkation to be addressed without disrupting the critical work of the Mission and its humanitarian aspects. Unfortunately, to my disappointment, it was not possible to get full agreement for this, but we did ensure that the Operation will continue and that its mandate will remain under review so as to be able to respond to any changing circumstances.

The Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) meeting this month addressed the challenges the EU is facing on migration and asylum and reiterated the importance of making greater progress on European-wide solutions. The Minister of State for Justice at the Department of Justice and Equality, Mr. David Stanton T.D., attended the meeting and welcomed the increased focus on the need to create more legal pathways into Europe and on working with countries of origin and transit to assist them in ways specific to their individual needs.

Ireland also supports measures to address the root causes of irregular migration, through humanitarian and developmental programmes in developing countries. Indeed, Ireland’s pledge of €15 million for the EU’s Trust Fund for Africa is the third highest per capita contribution by an EU Member State.

In addition, Ireland has provided humanitarian assistance in solidarity with other Member States on separate occasions by making pledges to take migrants who were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea and to process their applications for international protection. Earlier this month, we indicated that we will accept five people, from the group of one hundred migrants in imminent danger rescued by the Italian Navy Ship, the ‘Cigali Fulgosi' 90 km off the coast of Lampedusa. This decision was taken as a gesture of solidarity and humanitarian assistance. France, Germany, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia also all agreed to take a number of these rescued migrants.

Addressing the migration crisis will ultimately require deeper political, economic and development relationships between the EU and neighbouring countries, including many in Africa, that will form a basis for dealing with a variety of challenges on the basis of shared responsibility.

Foreign Conflicts

Ceisteanna (50)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

50. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the continued violence and humanitarian crisis in Yemen; the steps Ireland is taking at EU level to address the unethical sales of EU arms which has furthered the conflict; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25170/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Four years of conflict in Yemen has caused the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with almost 80% of the population in need of humanitarian assistance.

Ireland and the EU fully support the efforts of UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to bring about a negotiated solution. The Stockholm Agreement of December 2018 remains our best hope for a political settlement. There was some positive progress last month with the unilateral withdrawal of Houthis forces from the port of Hodeidah, but overall implementation of the Agreement has been slow.

UNSE Griffiths has thanked the EU for its support on getting the parties to the table and sustaining the political pressure, saying it would not have been possible to reach agreement in Stockholm without the EU.

Despite these few positive steps, recent months have seen continued violence. I take this opportunity to condemn the reckless Coalition air attacks which have claimed the lives of civilians, including children, in recent months. I also condemn Houthi missile attack on Abha airport in south-west Saudi Arabia on 12 June, which injured scores of people. I call on all parties to comply fully with their obligations under international humanitarian law, including in relation to the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Since 2012, Ireland has provided over €22 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen, including a contribution of €5 million this year.

Some, though not all, of the EU Member States which have arms industries have decided to halt arms exports to countries involved in the Yemen conflict. A full EU arms embargo would require an EU consensus, which does not currently exist. However, all EU Member States have signed and ratified the 2014 Arms Trade Treaty. The Treaty exists to ensure that arms sales do not fuel conflicts, lead to serious violations of international human rights law, or allow arms to fall into the hands of non-state actors or terrorists. Ireland’s efforts are concentrated on ensuring the effective implementation of the Treaty.

Ireland will continue to do what we can to assist the humanitarian effort in Yemen, while supporting the efforts of the UN in working towards a political solution, as well as advocating for this in our bilateral contacts.

Middle East Peace Process

Question No. 52 answered with Question No. 48.

Ceisteanna (51, 74)

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

51. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps he will take to halt Israeli policies aimed at the de facto annexation of East Jerusalem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25215/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

74. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to a report (details supplied); his views on whether the unilateral policies of Israel would exacerbate the conflict in and over Jerusalem and harm hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in East Jerusalem; the steps he will take to object to the precedent for Israeli annexationist ambitions in the West Bank; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25214/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 51 and 74 together.

Annexation of territory by force is illegal under international law, including the UN Charter, and the position of Ireland and the EU is clear. This is a fundamental principle of the relation of States and the rule of law in the modern world. Annexation by Israel of occupied territory, including in East Jerusalem, has no legitimacy, and would not be recognised or accepted by Ireland or the international community more generally.

Jerusalem is one of the permanent status issues which is to be settled in a final peace agreement in the Middle East. Ireland and the EU stand by the internationally agreed parameters for a negotiated peace agreement and continue to urge the Israeli Government to uphold its international legal obligations, including under the Fourth Geneva Convention, on the treatment of a civilian population. Annexation of that part of Jerusalem, which Palestinians rightly hope will eventually serve as the capital, would inevitably have a negative impact on the viability of the two-state solution and on the prospect of a just and lasting solution to the conflict.

Ireland has consistently taken action at both EU and UN levels to ensure that the international community retains a focus on the Israel-Palestine issue. The situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory remains high on my agenda and I am committed to do everything I can to make a positive contribution to support credible efforts to resume negotiations and to advance the Middle East Peace Process.

I am aware of the recent report to which the Deputy refers and am concerned by the issues raised in the findings. My Department, including our Missions in Ramallah and in Tel Aviv, follow this matter carefully and report regularly on developments.

Ireland continues to provide humanitarian assistance and to support specific development projects to improve the situation of Palestinians, including in East Jerusalem. For example, Ireland recently supported the preparation of a report on the status of Palestinian education in East Jerusalem, where the imposition of the Israeli curriculum on Palestinian communities is a deeply worrying development. Ireland also funds a number of NGOs that are active on human rights issues which arise in East Jerusalem.

Ireland will continue to closely monitor the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and to convey our concerns in all relevant international fora and directly with the Israeli authorities.

Question No. 52 answered with Question No. 48.

Foreign Policy

Ceisteanna (53, 63)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

53. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the contact he has had with the Chinese Government on the proposed extradition law being introduced in Hong Kong; his views on the way in which this may damage democratic rule in the city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25220/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

63. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the discussions he has had with the Chinese ambassador to Ireland and/or his counterparts across the EU in response to the recent anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25226/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 53 and 63 together.

I have addressed these concerns in the question put to me by my colleague Deputy Boyd Barrett earlier in this session.

As I stated previously, Ireland fully supports the right to assembly and freedom of expression. We encourage demonstrators to exercise their rights peacefully, as they did on Sunday 16 June, and call for security forces to respond with restraint and respect for citizen's rights. These sentiments were echoed in the statement made by High Representative Mogherini on the evening of 12 June, which Ireland fully supports.

While I have not had any direct contact with the Chinese government on this matter, the Consul General of Ireland in Hong Kong, along with the EU Office and other EU Member States has engaged directly with Hong Kong authorities on this matter. Our Embassy in Beijing, along with the Consulate General and officials in my Department, will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Brexit Data

Ceisteanna (54)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

54. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the volume of imports and exports likely to be disrupted by a disorderly Brexit on 31 October 2019; and the projection of the likely effect of same on economic output and employment. [25218/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

In March 2019, the Department of Finance and the ESRI published a comprehensive assessment of the potential macroeconomic impact of Brexit on the Irish economy.

This report shows that compared to a baseline in which there is no Brexit, the level of GDP in Ireland ten years after Brexit would be around 2.6 per cent lower in a 'Deal' scenario and 5.0 per cent lower in a 'Disorderly No-Deal' scenario. This assessment shows that all Brexit scenarios will imply a slower pace of growth with negative consequences throughout the economy.

The lower growth outlook would have implications for the labour market and Government finances. The negative impacts will be most keenly felt in those sectors with strong export ties to the UK market along with their suppliers. The impact will be particularly noticeable in the regions.

The March 2019 Department of Finance and ESRI assessment referred to estimates of the impact of a no deal Brexit on import and export levels based on a range of other factors including tariffs and non-tariff measures. Those estimates suggested that Irish exports would be reduced by 4.6% in a deal scenario and 8.3% in a disorderly no deal scenario after ten years. Imports would be reduced by 4.5% in a deal scenario and 8.2% in a disorderly no deal scenario after ten years. These estimates do not take account of mitigation measures taken by the Government and the relevant business sectors.

However, the Government has already taken significant action to get Ireland Brexit ready. Since the UK referendum, all of our national Budgets have been framed to prepare for the challenge of Brexit with dedicated measures announced in Budgets 2017, 2018 and 2019.

At the same time, we have prioritised mitigation measures by building up the resilience of the economy and the public finances, so that we have the capacity to deal with an adverse economic shock. We have set aside €1.5 billion in a Rainy Day Fund. We are supporting our companies to prepare for Brexit, to diversify their markets and supply chains, to develop new skills and to explore new opportunities.

The Government will continue to work to strengthen the resilience of the economy, to maximise opportunities and to prepare our economy for the challenges of Brexit, including through the Ireland Connected Trade and Investment Strategy, the 10-year National Development Plan and Future Jobs Ireland 2019.

In that context, it is important to recall that work underway across Government and sectors is focused on mitigating the worst impacts of Brexit, but that there will be serious impacts across a range of sectors in Ireland in a no deal Brexit scenario.

UN Security Council

Ceisteanna (55)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

55. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of Ireland’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council; the amount spent on the bid to date; the estimated total spend; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24941/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The campaign to secure an elected seat for Ireland on the UN Security Council is a priority across the whole of Government. With less than twelve months remaining until the expected date of the election, all appropriate multilateral and bilateral engagements are being utilised by An Taoiseach; I, as Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade; Ministers across Government and by Ministers of State, to promote and discuss Ireland’s candidature.

Additionally, officials at my Department in Ireland, at the Permanent Representations of Ireland in New York and Geneva, and our Ambassadors and Envoys across our entire diplomatic network, have been actively promoting our candidature and seeking support.

In making our case to the 192 other Members States of the UN, we are highlighting our consistent record at the United Nations throughout more than six decades of active membership. We have a strong record at the UN in the areas of peacekeeping, sustainable development, humanitarian action, disarmament and human rights. Our spirt of Empathy, Partnership and Independence, which are keynotes of our Security Council campaign, speak to our policy interests, our values and our history of positive engagement at the global level.

UN Member states have been made aware of our candidature, our commitment to multilateralism and to the UN, and of the values we seek to bring to the work of the Council, if elected next year.

Campaign costs to date have been approximately €650,000 including the launch event at UNHQ in New York, promotional materials and campaign related travel and subsistence. Total spending by the end of the campaign will be dependent on a range of factors, particularly the number of lobbying visits and attendance at key international events undertaken over the next 12 months.

Foreign Conflicts

Ceisteanna (56, 61)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

56. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding the situation in Venezuela; the efforts being made by the EU and the international community to bring stability to the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25179/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Clare Daly

Ceist:

61. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to a recent report which estimated that US sanctions imposed on Venezuela in August 2017 caused around 40,000 deaths in 2017 and 2018 (details supplied); his views on whether additional US sanctions in January 2019 will have exacerbated the effects of the sanctions; and the representations he has made or will make to the authorities in the United States of America with a view to bringing an end to punitive sanctions on the people of Venezuela. [24935/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 56 and 61 together.

The ongoing political, social, economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela continues to have a devastating effect on the Venezuelan population, and an ever-growing impact on the wider region. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation of Migration announced earlier this month that the number of Venezuelans who have left the country since 2015 has now reached over 4 million.

The needs of the Venezuelan people are acute. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that 25% of the population, approximately 7 million people, are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Ireland is fully supportive of the UN-coordinated response mechanism for humanitarian aid in the country, and of the €117 million in EU funding since 2018 for humanitarian assistance. The recent partial reopening of the border between Colombia and Venezuela has facilitated increased humanitarian activity, and it is critical that humanitarian organisations have unimpeded access to effectively deliver and significantly scale up assistance.

Ireland welcomes the talks process between the Maduro administration and the opposition, facilitated by Norway, that is currently ongoing in Oslo. Ireland, along with the EU, stands ready to support this process.

It is important that all interlocutors are engaged in the search for a solution to this complex crisis. I am aware of US restrictive measures on a number of actors in Venezuela, and my Department monitors developments in this area closely.

I continue to believe that this crisis can only have a political, peaceful, democratic solution, excluding the use of force, through the holding of free, transparent and credible Presidential elections as soon as possible.

The EU continues to work towards this goal, and Ireland fully supports the EU’s International Contact Group’s dual aims of finding a negotiated electoral path and of enabling the urgent delivery of humanitarian assistance. The ICG continues to engage with relevant international and regional actors, including the Lima Group, the US, CARICOM, Russia, China, Cuba, the Holy See and several multilateral organisations. A senior ICG meeting will take place in the coming weeks.

I further welcome the recent appointment by EU High Representative Mogherini of an EU Special Advisor for Venezuela, Mr Enrique Iglesias. Special Advisor Iglesias will be well placed to engage with relevant stakeholders in Venezuela, and with international and regional actors, in the search for a peaceful solution to the crisis.

International Agreements

Ceisteanna (57)

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

57. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the consequences arising for the State and companies here as a result of the withdrawal of the United States from the Iranian nuclear agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25223/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The decision of the United States to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement (JCPOA) is a matter of great regret. I have stated clearly on a number of occasions that the Iran nuclear agreement was a significant diplomatic achievement, that it was delivering as intended, and that, as verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran had implemented its commitments under the agreement. Ireland's views on this have been clearly conveyed to the US Government on a number of occasions. We do share the US's concerns about Iran's activities in the region, including its ballistic missile programme, and poor human rights record, but believe that none of these issues can be better addressed without the JCPOA in place.

While EU and UN sanctions were not reimposed following the US decision last year, US sanctions have deterred some EU trade with Iran. However, other EU partners have been more exposed than Ireland in this regard, as two of the most important sectors for Ireland, foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals/medical equipment, were never subject to sanctions. The fact that US financial sanctions had remained in place, even after the signing of the nuclear agreement, has meant that Irish banks have continued to be very cautious in handling payments originating in Iran. This had already been a significant factor inhibiting significant growth in trade with Iran. However, bilateral trade has increased since the implementation of the nuclear deal.

The E-3 group (France, Germany and the UK) have established INSTEX, a special purpose vehicle designed to insulate financial transactions with Iran from the US financial system and US sanctions. Ireland fully supports the establishment of INSTEX, and while it is not yet in operation, I am hopeful that it will be able to deliver as intended.

Ireland and the EU will continue to endeavour to ensure the effective implementation of the JCPOA and adherence to its commitments by all remaining parties. Ireland believes that there is no credible peaceful alternative to the JCPOA.

While Iran's frustration with the impact on their economy of the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement is understandable, I nevertheless deeply regret comments made by Iran last month indicating that it may not continue to adhere to the JCPOA. Ireland's and the EU's view is that all parties to the agreement should continue to implement their commitments. The Middle East is a safer region with the JCPOA in operation, and would be less safe without it.

International Agreements

Ceisteanna (58)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

58. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the response of Ireland to the enactment of Title III and IV of the US Helms-Burton Act by the US President, Donald Trump, in May 2019 which aims to internationally strengthen the application of the blockade and economic sanctions against Cuba; his views on whether the enactment of Title III and IV will affect the progression of the EU-Cuba Agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24943/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Ireland and our EU partners have been following developments on the Helms-Burton Act over the last number of months and the issue has been discussed on several occasions at the EU Council Working Party on Transatlantic Relations (COTRA), at which Ireland has been represented at official level. It was also discussed at yesterday's FAC.

Ireland’s reaction to the suspension of waivers remains in lockstep with that of our EU partners and we also echo the statement made by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on 2 May, which stated that "The EU considers the extra-territorial application of unilateral restrictive measures to be contrary to international law and will draw on all appropriate measures to address the effects of the Helms-Burton Act, including in relation to its WTO rights and through the use of the EU Blocking Statute."

Fundamentally, Ireland believes that the US embargo on Cuba serves no constructive purpose and that its lifting would facilitate an opening of Cuba’s economy to the benefit of its people. In addition, we are not persuaded that the continued embargo is contributing in a positive way to the democratic transition in Cuba.

Together with our EU partners, Ireland has also firmly and continuously opposed extraterritorial measures that seek to extend the US embargo against Cuba to third countries, as contrary to commonly accepted rules of international trade.

I do not believe that developments on the Helms-Burton act will adversely affect the EU-Cuba Agreement. Last week, Minister of State McEntee was before the Oireachtas on this very issue to support the internal Irish legislative process which is required to enact the Agreement within the EU. It is my hope that this process in Ireland and the EU will be completed swiftly to allow for the important and timely Agreement to come into full effect, for the mutual benefit of EU and Cuban citizens.

Foreign Policy

Ceisteanna (59)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

59. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which he, along with EU and his UN colleagues, continues to press for humanitarian assistance in the various conflict zones globally; if consideration continues to be given to the provision of safe or protective havens for civilian communities fleeing from war, genocide and terrorism; the extent to which peacekeeping interventions are being considered in the most sensitive war zones; if it possible through the aegis of EU or the UN to motivate the global community into treating refugees, whether political or economic, in a manner which is respectful of their status and dignity and in keeping with international human rights; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25175/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The number and complexity of humanitarian crises globally has increased in recent years, with the UN estimating that over 140 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance and protection. Conflict is the most significant driver of this increased need.

Ireland prioritises the provision of needs based, principled humanitarian aid to major humanitarian crises such as Syria but also to ‘forgotten crises’ which receive less attention such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Sudan. Over 90% of Ireland’s humanitarian funding in 2018 was directed in support of those affected by conflict.

Critical to maximising Ireland’s response is our strong and enduring commitment to effective multilateralism, particularly through our membership of the European Union and the United Nations. Ireland is a strong contributor not just to decisions regarding the international humanitarian response to crises but also to efforts to prevent conflict and to resolve conflict.

Ireland has a deep partnership with the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA. OCHA coordinates and leads coherent and effective international responses to humanitarian crises. Ireland is the current chair of the OCHA donor support group, which works with the Office the UN Humanitarian Coordinator to discuss OCHA's strategy and priorities.

Ireland is firmly committed to the protection of civilians and the need to uphold international humanitarian law. In international forums, Ireland consistently advocates for adherence to the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, and calls on all parties – for example, those engaged in the Syria conflict – to fulfil their responsibility to protect civilians and to allow the safe passage of humanitarian assistance.

Promoting international peace and security in regions of conflict is a core mission of the United Nations. By necessity, United Nations authorised interventions are required in the most sensitive war zones.

Ireland has a long tradition of contributing to UN and EU peace-support missions, including in some of the world’s most complex and intractable conflicts. Ireland has maintained a continuous presence in UN peace support operations since 1958, and has more than 570 personnel in United Nations mandated missions overseas. The Government is committed to participation in peace-keeping operations as a tangible contribution to the development of global peace and security. This commitment informs Ireland’s decision to seek election to a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the period 2021-22. If elected, membership of the Security Council would allow Ireland to play an important influencing role in the international response to the needs of the most vulnerable.

Ireland is a strong advocate for the needs of refugees. Ireland played a lead role in co-facilitating, with Jordan, the 2016 United Nations Summit to address large movements of refugees and migrants. The Declaration from this Summit paved the way for the development of a Global Compact for Refugees, and a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration adopted by the United Nations in December 2018.

Ireland also provides financial assistance to the UN's Refugee Agency, UNHCR. In 2018, Ireland provided €13.2 Million to UNHCR’s global operations, which covered both core funding to the organisation, as well as specific crisis responses in Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Jordan.

Northern Ireland

Question No. 61 answered with Question No. 56.

Ceisteanna (60)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

60. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the progress he has made in discussions with the British and Northern Ireland authorities in persuading them to implement the 2010 agreement and subsequent Stocktake report on segregated prisoners in a prison (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24923/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I am aware of the Deputy’s concerns about the accommodation situation for prisoners in Maghaberry Prison.

Responsibility for Maghaberry rests with the Northern Ireland Prison Service, which is overseen by the Northern Ireland Department of Justice.

The Stocktake of the 2010 agreement between the NI Prison Service and the prisoners in the separated regime at Maghaberry was published in November 2014. A number of recommendations were made then, to be implemented within a period of six months. At the time, the Government’s view was that the full implementation of the Stocktake report offered an opportunity to create a conflict-free environment in the prison. This view was conveyed to the relevant Northern Ireland Executive Ministers and their officials at the time and we continue to present this view in our ongoing contacts.

My officials at the Belfast Secretariat continue to engage with a range of parties to discuss, explore and encourage progress. Officials from the Belfast Secretariat have met with members of the panel reviewing education and training provision for separated prisoners in Maghaberry, and have also met the Governor of Maghaberry to discuss a range of issues.

My officials also remain in contact with the Criminal Justice Inspectorate for Northern Ireland. Their November 2018 report on conditions in Maghaberry noted that health and educational provision is improving and that levels of disorder and violence have fallen considerably, and that efforts are being made to establish why outcomes for Catholic prisoners are poorer than for the general prison population.

The cooperation of the Northern Ireland Prison Service and the prisoners themselves is essential to ensuring satisfactory outcomes in Maghaberry. I would encourage all with influence in this area to move forward in a constructive manner. The restoration of the Executive and the appointment of a Minister for Justice would also be of great assistance in addressing the issues facing Northern Irish prisons.

Question No. 61 answered with Question No. 56.

Overseas Development Aid

Question No. 63 answered with Question No. 53.

Ceisteanna (62)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

62. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to develop a roadmap to achieve the 0.7% ODA/GNI target; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25178/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I refer to my response to Parliamentary Question 12 of 2 April 2019 which set out a possible path to reaching the 0.7% target by 2030.

Allocations to ODA will be made annually as part of the normal budgetary process.

The Government is already making progress, having increased allocations to official development assistance by 32% since 2014. Budget 2019 saw the highest increase in funding available in over a decade, with Irish ODA in 2019 forecast to reach almost €817 million, an increase of approximately €110 million and a 16% increase on the allocation announced in budget 2018. Further sustained, managed increments in ODA will be required to deliver the 0.7 commitment, taking into consideration the range of demands across Government and the capacity of the public finances to meet them.

The table sets out indicative allocations to ODA, based on current economic growth forecasts, which show a possible phased path to reaching the 0.7% target by 2030. Allocations will of course be made annually as part of the normal budgetary process.

Year

ODA level € Million

Expected ODA / GNI % Target

2019

817

0.30%

2023

1400

0.50%

2025

1800

0.57%

2027

2100

0.62%

2030

2500

0.70%

Question No. 63 answered with Question No. 53.

Northern Ireland

Ceisteanna (64)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

64. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the progress made to date in the recent talks taking place in Northern Ireland to establish the executive there and enable the assembly to function; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24922/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The absence of vital institutions of the Good Friday Agreement is of grave concern for the Government, as it is for the British Government.

On 26 April, the Taoiseach and the UK Prime Minister announced a new phase of political talks in Northern Ireland, involving the five main parties, together with the British and Irish Governments. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and I convened these talks in Belfast on 7 May.

There has been constructive engagement in the process and it is clear that the parties want to see the institutions of the Agreement operating again on a sustainable basis. There has been broad consensus on some issues, but also key issues are still to be resolved.

I, and the Secretary of State, believe that there is a genuine but narrow window of opportunity to reach agreement in the period immediately ahead and that it is essential to continue and intensify talks to this end.

The Taoiseach and the Prime Minister, in their joint statement on 2 June, welcomed the constructive engagement in the process so far and underlined that it is imperative that the parties now move without delay to engaging substantively on the shape of a final agreement.

Accordingly, the two Governments supported an intensification of the talks over the last two weeks and there has been direct engagement on outstanding issues by the leaders of the five political parties.

Secretary of State Bradley and I are continuing to engage intensively this week on behalf the two Governments in the talks, encouraging the party leaders to move towards a final agreement.

Ultimately, it will be for the parties to rise to the challenge of reaching this agreement.

This will be difficult, but the two Governments believe that this can, and must, be achieved to get the devolved, power-sharing Assembly and Executive and the North South Ministerial Council functioning again.

The Government will continue to do everything in its power, in accordance with its responsibilities as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, to secure the effective operation of all of its institutions.