Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

Ceisteanna (109)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

109. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has recently met the leader of the DUP, Mrs. Arlene Foster, and the vice president of Sinn Féin, Ms Michelle O'Neill. [29524/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

The Tánaiste and I met with Ms Mary Lou McDonald T.D. and Ms Michelle O'Neill MLA on 18 June in Leinster House when we discussed the current political situation in Northern Ireland and Brexit. We discussed what could be done to get the institutions in Northern Ireland up and running again. Once again, I emphasised the Government’s full commitment to all aspects of the Good Friday Agreement, and our continuing determination to secure the effective operation of all of its institutions.

The Government wants to see an agreement in place to secure the operation of the devolved institutions and we will continue to engage with the British Government and the political parties in Northern Ireland to seek to progress that in the period immediately ahead.

Ultimately the challenge is for the parties to find an 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 NSMC functioning again.

I last met with DUP Leader Arlene Foster while in the United States for St. Patrick’s Day. We discussed the situation regarding Brexit, as it stood at the time, including prospects for ratification by the UK of the Withdrawal Agreement. We also discussed political developments in Northern Ireland, including the importance of the restoration of the institutions under the Good Friday Agreement. I also spoke with Ms Foster at events we were both attending.

The Tánaiste has engaged extensively with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and with the leaders of the political parties there in every week of the talks so far, to encourage the parties to reach an accommodation, and I receive regular updates from the Tánaiste and from my officials who are involved in the talks process.

Departmental Offices

Ceisteanna (110)

John Lahart

Ceist:

110. Deputy John Lahart asked the Taoiseach the availability of bike parking spaces and lockers in all buildings used by his Department. [29120/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

Bicycle racks are provided within Government Buildings for use by staff of and visitors to my Department.

Departmental Advertising Expenditure

Ceisteanna (111)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

111. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Taoiseach the amount spent on digital marketing in each of the past eight years; the items on which funds were spent; the criteria by which target audiences were selected; the amount of the digital spend targeted here; the amount targeted abroad; the amount that related to private companies; the amount that related to policy initiatives; and the purpose of the digital advertisements. [29203/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

Expenditure on digital and online space over the past eight years was as follows:

2011 – Nil

2012 – €639.90

2013 – Nil

2014 – Nil

2015 – €861.00

2016 – Nil

2017 – Nil

2018 - €451,351.03

2019 - €1,355.46

Total Expenditure: €454,171.09

A decision was taken in 2017 to fund and run cross-Government public information programmes centrally. As a result of this, in the period between Quarter 4 of 2017 and July 2018, a number of public information campaigns aimed at improving citizens' lives, such as the Healthy Ireland campaign, the Project Ireland 2040 campaign and the Self-Employed Benefits campaign, were run and funded from my Department. This was a departure in approach from previous years, when such campaigns would have been led and funded by the relevant line Department. Since July 2018, the Department has reverted to the previous model.

These public information programmes were aimed at the Irish general public, with the exception of the promotion of Global Ireland, which was targeted at international audiences in the UK and the US. The total amount spent was €184,869; the remainder of expenditure outlined above was targeted at a general audience here in Ireland.

The purchase of digital and online space is managed through a media-buying company contracted to the Department, PHD Media.

As stated above, all expenditure related to cross-Government public information programmes. These consisted of:

- The National Digital Strategy

- Budget 2019

- End of Dáil Term Legislation

- Global Ireland

- Back to School 2017

- Rugby World Cup 2023

- Bliain Na Gaeilge

- Project Ireland 2040

- Self-Employed Benefits

- Healthy Ireland

- 25th Anniversary of Decriminalisation of Homosexuality

- Government Health Measures

- Irish Aid Campaign

- The Action Plan for Education

- The UN Disability Campaign

It is important that Government communicates across a variety of platforms, including online and in social media, to ensure transparency and clarity for all citizens. Engaging with search engine promotion helps ensure the public is directed to the sites that deliver the services/information they are looking for. Using sponsored posts on Social Media ensures a strong dissemination of Government Information.

Unemployment Levels

Ceisteanna (112)

John Brady

Ceist:

112. Deputy John Brady asked the Taoiseach the criteria that determine an area as an unemployment blackspot; the areas listed as youth unemployment blackspots; and the rate of youth unemployment in each of these areas. [28644/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

In its Census 2016 Summary Results - Part 2, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) published an analysis of Electoral Divisions (EDs) where the unemployment rate in April 2016 was highest relative to the State overall. For this analysis, unemployment blackspots were defined as EDs which contained at least 200 persons in the labour force and which had an unemployment rate of at least 27 per cent, as defined on the basis of the Principal Economic Status question asked in the Census.

The Principal Economic Status question in the Census asked persons how they would describe their present principal status; the response options included the categories “at work” and “unemployed”. This is different from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) classification of unemployment used in the quarterly Labour Force Survey, in which unemployment is measured as persons who, in the week before the survey, were without work and available for work within the next two weeks, and had taken specific steps in the preceding four weeks to find work.

This analysis of unemployment blackspots is only available from the Census of Population; the CSO has no corresponding small-area statistics for more recent periods.

The CSO did not define or publish statistics on youth unemployment blackspots from the 2016 Census.

Therefore, the unemployment rates for the Electoral Divisions listed as unemployment blackspots in the Census 2016 results which are set out in the following table include all those aged 15 years and above.

Electoral Division

Unemployment rate 2016 (based on Principal Economic Status)

John's A, Limerick City

58.3%

Galvone B, Limerick City

45.0%

Ballynanty, Limerick City

43.6%

Abbey C, Limerick City

41.9%

Prospect B, Limerick City

40.7%

Glentworth C, Limerick City

40.2%

Longford No. 1 Urban, County Longford

39.7%

St. Laurence, Limerick City

39.2%

Killeely A, Limerick City

38.8%

Larchville, Waterford City

37.6%

Priorswood B, Dublin City

36.2%

Cavan Urban, County Cavan

35.8%

Mín an Chladaigh, County Donegal

35.3%

Athy West Urban, County Kildare

35.0%

Scainimh, County Galway

34.3%

Tipperary East Urban, County Tipperary

34.0%

Rathbane, Limerick City

33.8%

Glentworth A, Limerick City

33.7%

Singland A, Limerick City

33.6%

Knocknaheeny, Cork City

33.5%

Belturbet Urban, County Cavan

33.5%

Mullingar North Urban, County Westmeath

33.4%

Mayfield, Cork City

33.2%

Prospect A, Limerick City

33.1%

The Glen A, Cork City

33.1%

Tallaght-Killinardan, South Dublin

32.9%

Morrisson's Road, Waterford City

32.6%

Newport's Square, Waterford City

32.3%

Clondalkin-Cappaghmore, South Dublin

32.2%

Enniscorthy Urban, County Wexford

32.1%

Ballymun D, Dublin City

32.1%

Garmna, County Galway

31.8%

Ballymun B, Dublin City

31.8%

Lisduggan, Waterford City

31.5%

John's B, Limerick City

31.4%

Ardnaree South Urban, County Mayo

31.4%

Killeely B, Limerick City

31.1%

Rathkeale Urban, County Limerick

31.1%

Ballybeg North, Waterford City

30.9%

Clonleigh South, County Donegal

30.9%

The Glen, Waterford City

30.9%

Rosbercon Urban, County Wexford

30.8%

Roanmore, Waterford City

30.8%

Dock A, Limerick City

30.7%

Gort an Choirce, County Donegal

30.4%

Mount Sion, Waterford City

30.0%

An Geata Mór Theas, County Mayo

29.9%

Kilmore C, Dublin City

29.9%

Fair Hill B, Cork City

29.7%

Ceannanas Mór (Kells) Urban, County Meath

29.7%

Kilrush Urban, County Clare

29.7%

Cnoc na Lobhar, County Mayo

29.6%

Kingsmeadow, Waterford City

29.3%

Raphoe, County Donegal

29.2%

Carrick-on-Suir Urban, County Tipperary

29.2%

Ennis No. 2 Urban, County Clare

29.1%

Finglas North A, Dublin City

28.9%

Finglas South C, Dublin City

28.7%

Farranferris B, Cork City

28.6%

Blanchardstown-Tyrrelstown, Fingal

28.1%

Kilkee, County Clare

28.1%

Tallaght-Fettercairn, South Dublin

28.0%

Dundalk Urban No. 2, County Louth

28.0%

Ballymun C, Dublin City

28.0%

Meathas Troim, County Longford

27.7%

Ballina Urban, County Mayo

27.7%

Castleblayney Urban, County Monaghan

27.7%

Shannon B, Limerick City

27.5%

Urlingford, County Kilkenny

27.5%

Longford Rural, County Longford

27.4%

Letterkenny Urban, County Donegal

27.4%

Custom House, Limerick City

27.3%

Tralee Urban, County Kerry

27.2%

Clondalkin-Rowlagh, South Dublin

27.2%

Rathmichael (Bray), County Wicklow

27.2%

Killincooly, County Wexford

27.2%

Leitir Mhic an Bhaird, County Donegal

27.1%

Boyle Urban, County Roscommon

27.1%

Cnoc na Ráithe, County Mayo

27.0%

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (113)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

113. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach the costs paid to companies (details supplied) for projects each was engaged by his Department in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and the reason each was engaged. [29450/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

My Department has not paid any costs to the companies in question for projects, in the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (114)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

114. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach the costs paid to a company (details supplied) for projects each was engaged by his Department in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and the reason each was engaged. [29559/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

My Department has not engaged the company in question for any projects in the years concerned. However, in 2018 my Department paid €14,205 to the company in question for expenses incurred by a witness following receipt of a direction under section 24 of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004 by Judge Brian Cregan, Sole Member of the Commission of Investigation established concerning the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation. This payment was in respect of a service provided by the company to a witness in connection with the Commission’s investigation.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (115)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

115. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Taoiseach the amount spent on tribunals, commissions of investigation and statutory inquiries in each of the years 2009 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by inquiry, tribunal or commission. [29840/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

Details of expenditure on tribunals and commissions of investigation funded through my Department's Vote, in each of the years 2009 to date in 2019, is set out in the following table.

Moriarty Tribunal of Inquiry

Year

Admin

Legal Costs

3rd Party Costs

Total

2009

€444,767

€3,350,611

€0

€3,795,378

2010

€516,409

€2,608,484

€0

€3,124,893

2011

€469,609

€1,131,116

€0

€1,600,725

2012

€342,915

€748,772

€501,679

€1,593,366

2013

€210,873

€581,657

€1,720,497

€2,513,027

2014

€171,172

€979,268

€2,546,938

€3,697,378

2015

€197,585

€760,470

€1,897,744

€2,855,799

2016

€201,206

€703,708

€181,057

€1,085,971

2017

€206,895

€674,994

€5,670,156

€6,552,045

2018

€179,783

€643,630

€1,176,313

€1,999,726

end June 2019

€52,790

€201,245

€31,859

€285,894

McCracken Tribunal of Inquiry (Dunnes Payments)**

Year

Admin

Legal Costs

3rd Party Costs

Total

2015

€0

€0

€56,847

€56,847

**One payment made in 2015 in respect of a third party costs claim. Report published in August 1997.

Fennelly Commission of Investigation

Year

Administration

Legal Costs

Total

2014

€386,283

€191,683

€577,966

2015

€546,830

€612,738

€1,159,568

2016

€402,358

€889,791

€1,292,149

2017

€110,345

€388,630

€498,975

The Fennelly Commission completed its work in 2017.

Cregan Commission of Investigation (IBRC)

Year

Administration

Legal Costs

Total

2015

€344,655

€132,289

€476,944

2016

€722,949

€315,959

€1,038,908

2017

€782,059

€772,591

€1,554,650

2018

€924,559

€1,070,763

€1,995,322

end June 2019

€647,552

€650,591

€1,298,143

Cooke Commission of Investigation (NAMA)

Year

Administration

Legal Costs

Total

2017

€198,045

€151,694

€349,739

2018

€397,172

€484,108

€881,280

end June 2019

€303,103

€253,215

€556,318

Climate Change Policy

Ceisteanna (116)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

116. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Taoiseach if his Department has ceased the purchase and use of single-use plastics; the public bodies and agencies under his remit to which he has issued an instruction to cease the purchase and use of single-use plastics; when the instruction issued; the bodies which have confirmed that they no longer purchase and use single-use plastics, respectively; the bodies which have not provided such confirmation to date; when they will confirm. [29992/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

Both my Department and the National Economic & Social Development Office (NESDO) have ceased the purchase of single-use plastics since July 2018. An instruction was issued on the matter at that time to ensure that single-use plastics are no longer purchased or used. A small existing stock has been phased out since then.

Departmental Advertising Expenditure

Ceisteanna (117)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

117. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the amount spent on digital marketing in each of the past eight years; the items on which funds were spent; the criteria by which target audiences were selected; the amount of the digital spend targeted here; the amount targeted abroad; the amount that related to private companies; the amount that related to policy initiatives; and the purpose of the digital advertisements. [29389/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I have set out the details of the digital marketing agency and the costs incurred by my Department in relation to the Be Winter Ready campaign in the table below. There was no expenditure in this regard in 2011, 2012 or 2013, nor was there any expenditure to date in 2019, as the campaign is carried out in the last quarter of the year.

The advertisements were targeted at the general public within Ireland and the purpose of these advertisements was to inform the public of the annual ‘Be Winter Ready’ campaigns on behalf of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning. The costs incurred did not relate to policy initiatives.

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

TOTAL

Be Winter Ready Twitter campaign

€3,690.00

€5,041.78

€5,043.00

€5,535.00

€5,535.00

€24,844.78

Management of Twitter campaign

€2,214.00

€2,214.00

€1,476.00

€2,583.00

€2,583.00

€11,070.00

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (118)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

118. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the costs paid to companies (details supplied) for projects each was engaged by his Department in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the reason each was engaged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29440/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

In 2016, my Department paid an amount of €4,000 to the fourth of the companies referred to in the details supplied by the Deputy. This was in respect of training related to procurement. This payment is the total extent of payments made by my Department in the period 1 January 2015 to 9 July 2019 to the companies listed in the details supplied by the Deputy.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (119)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

119. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the bilateral meetings he has had with his EU counterparts to date in 2019, in tabular form. [29492/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

As part of my St Patrick's Day Programme, I visited Cyprus and met with my Ministerial colleagues and had a wide-ranging discussion on security, defence and EU and UN issues more generally. In the course of my attending the UN Ministerial Peacekeeping Conference in New York in March, 2019, I had bilateral meetings with ministerial colleagues from The Netherlands, Poland and Hungary. A meeting with representatives from all 28 EU member States and the EU External Action Service in support of EU/UN Cooperation in peacekeeping and crisis management was also hosted at senior official level in Ireland's Permanent Representation to the United Nations as part of my visit to the UN.

I continue to engage with my EU counterparts in relation to European Defence and Security matters and use the opportunity at EU Ministerial meetings to have discussions with my EU colleagues. My engagement with EU Colleagues on a wide range of areas of mutual interest is also reinforced by engagement at official level and, in this regard, high-level strategic dialogue meetings have taken place this year with France in February and with the UK in April.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (120)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

120. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the costs paid to a company (details supplied) for projects each was engaged by his Department in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the reason it was engaged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29549/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

In the period from 1 January 2015 to 9 July 2019, my Department did not make any payments to the company referred to by the Deputy.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (121)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

121. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the amount spent on tribunals, commissions of investigation and statutory inquiries in each of the years 2009 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by inquiry, tribunal or commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29831/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

No monies were expended by my Department on tribunals, commissions of investigation or statutory inquires in the period since 2009.

Army Equitation School

Ceisteanna (122)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

122. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the estimated cost of purchasing six extra horses for the Defence Forces equitation school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29895/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Army Equitation School was founded in 1926 to promote Ireland and the Irish horse.

I can assure the Deputy that the Army Equitation School continues to source suitable Irish-bred horses, acquired through either purchase or lease agreement, that meet the required standard as judged by the School’s Horse Purchase Board.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the purchase price of any horse varies depending on a number of factors including age, ability, temperament etc. The School’s budget allocation in 2019 for horse acquisitions is €350,000. While it is difficult to predict the number of acquisitions this year, the Deputy might note that in 2018 four new horses were acquired by the School.

I am satisfied that the current arrangements allow the School to maintain its competitiveness at national and international events.

Climate Change Policy

Ceisteanna (123)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

123. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if his Department has ceased the purchase and use of single-use plastics; the public bodies and agencies under his remit to which he has issued an instruction to cease the purchase and use of single-use plastics; when the instruction issued; the bodies which have confirmed that they no longer purchase and use single-use plastics, respectively; the bodies which have not provided such confirmation to date; when they will confirm; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29982/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Following receipt of the letter of 22nd January 2019 from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment advising the Department of the Government Decision of the 3rd January 2019, instructing Departments and Agencies on Single Use Plastics (SUPs) procurement, the Department of Defence immediately ceased purchasing and using plastic beverage cups, cutlery and drinking straws.

The Department requested the Defence Forces, on 29th January 2019, to comply with the requirements of the Government Decision. The Defence Forces have instructed all Procurement Officers to comply with the Government Decision and cease the purchasing of all single use plastic cups, cutlery and straws.

The use of the specified plastic items which have been purchased prior to the instruction continues in a small number of locations, but this will cease once current stocks are depleted.

Defence Forces Reports

Ceisteanna (124)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

124. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he met the Minister of State with responsibility for defence to discuss the Public Serice Pay Commission's report on the Defence Forces, published on 4 July 2019. [29525/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

There are regular meetings between the Taoiseach and Government Ministers. The Public Sector Pay Commission Report on recruitment and retention in the Permanent Defence Force was accepted by Government on 4 July 2019. A High-Level Implementation Plan was also approved.

Foreign Conflicts

Ceisteanna (125, 126, 127, 138)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

125. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to discuss with EU colleagues the opening of an independent and transparent international investigation into the events of 3 June 2019 in Sudan, in which live ammunition was used against civilians, who were also subjected to torture and gender-based sexual violence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29103/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joan Burton

Ceist:

126. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to reconsider the role of the State in contributing to the financial support provided by the EU to the rapid support forces in Sudan, which is being used to empower militias and enable the violent violation of the rights of refugees and asylum seekers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29104/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joan Burton

Ceist:

127. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans for the State as a signatory to the convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence to provide practical and psychosocial support for victims of sexual and gender-based violence in Sudan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29105/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

138. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on Sudanese diplomatic representation here in view of the political changes that have taken place in Sudan. [29534/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 125 to 127, inclusive, and 138 together.

I refer the Deputies to the response to Questions Nos. 67, 68, 78 and 81 of 18 June.

Political developments in Sudan last week give cause for some cautious optimism, although the situation there remains fluid.  I welcome the work by those engaged in regional processes, led by the African Union, which resulted in last week's agreement to establish a Sovereign Council with both civilian and military participation.  Ireland, together with the EU and other Member States, will actively support a civilian-led political transition, including necessary economic reform and humanitarian assistance. The inclusion of a commitment within that agreement to establish an independent and transparent investigation into violent crackdown against protestors on 3 June is also welcome.

I am aware of the recent allegations that the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces, which emerged from remnants of the Janjaweed militia in Darfur, receive financial support from the EU Trust Fund for Africa, which was established to fight human trafficking and to provide protection and support for refugees. The EU has strongly refuted this claim and confirmed that it does not provide any financial support to the Government of Sudan, to the Transitional Military Council or to the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces. All EU support to Sudan is delivered by EU Member States, the UN, international organisations and non-governmental organisations and is underpinned by respect for human rights.  My officials will continue to scrutinise all new proposals, to ensure adequate safeguards are in place, for funding to Sudan under the EU Trust Fund.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade has condemned the use of sexual and gender-based violence against protestors in Sudan.  Ireland’s third National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, launched on 21 June, strongly reaffirms Ireland’s commitment to preventing sexual and gender-based violence in conflict settings and to ensuring support for recovery and relief in post-conflict settings. Today, 9 June, Ireland delivered a national statement on Sudan at the Human Rights Council in Geneva calling for all human rights violations and abuses, including sexual and gender-based violence, to be thoroughly investigated in an independent and transparent manner with those responsible held to account.

Senior officials from my Department met the Sudanese Ambassador to Ireland earlier this year to express concerns at the political situation.  My Department's ongoing communication with the Embassy on the evolving situation in Sudan allows our concerns to be formally transmitted to the Sudanese authorities.  Officials also recently met with representatives of the Sudanese community in Ireland to listen to their concerns and views regarding how the current impasse may be resolved.

Since 2012, Ireland has provided over €29 million in direct humanitarian assistance to Sudan. As well as this direct bilateral aid, Ireland has also contributed to humanitarian support in Sudan through the multilateral system. Ireland is a significant contributor to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) Sudan Humanitarian Fund, and provided financing of €3 million in 2019. In 2018, the fund provided assistance to just under 2 million beneficiaries, including 489,556 girls and 609,162 women. Programmes funded by the Sudan Humanitarian Fund include Gender-Based Violence programming and supports.

Human Rights

Ceisteanna (128)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

128. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if Ireland and-or the European Union has expressed concern over the treatment of the LGBTQI community in Turkey; his views on the banning of pride parades nationally and the use of tear gas by police on participants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29155/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The Commission’s 2019 Enlargement Package report on Turkey noted that there are serious concerns regarding the protection of the fundamental rights of LGBTI persons. It found that, over the past year, LGBTI activities and Pride parades have been banned or stopped by police in several provinces; that hate speech against the LGBTI community is a common occurrence; and discrimination against the LGBTI community remains widespread throughout Turkey.

Around the world, Irish Embassies and Consulates cooperate closely with EU delegations and Embassies of the other EU Member States to advocate for the rights of LGBTI persons. For example, our Embassy in Ankara provides funding to a local LGBTI advocacy group, most recently for a project that focuses on the reporting of human rights violations against trans people, and in 2017 the Embassy sponsored the screening of ‘Queen of Ireland’, during the EU Human Rights Day Film Festival.

The banning of the Istanbul Pride Parade for the fifth year in a row is regrettable, particularly as the parade was allowed for many years before. The use of tear gas to disperse those who nevertheless gathered to mark the occasion is even more regrettable, as all Turkish citizens should be allowed to exercise their right to peaceful assembly.

Together with our European partners, we are deeply concerned by Turkey’s backsliding on fundamental rights, which has negative effects not only on the LGBTI community, but also on wider society. Turkey is party to the European Convention on Human Rights, a member of the Council of Europe, and a candidate for membership of the European Union, and as such has committed to respect the fundamental rights of citizens.

Passport Applications Data

Ceisteanna (129)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

129. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of online, over-the-counter and postal passport applications, respectively, issued from the date on which the online option went live; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29217/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The Online Passport Renewal Service was launched on March 30 2017. Since its launch, 545,542 passports have been issued on foot of online applications.

During the same time period, a total of 92,934 passports were issued on foot of applications submitted through the public counter at the Passport Offices in Dublin and Cork and 1,155,458 passports were issued on foot of applications submitted through postal application channels, including applications via Ireland’s network of missions overseas.

The Online Passport Renewal Service brings significant benefits to citizens, including faster turnaround times, a user-friendly application process, and a reduced application fee.

The Online Passport Renewal Service is part of the ongoing passport reform process. This programme is delivering major upgrades to passport service technology platforms and business processes as well as making significant customer service improvements to the Passport Service. It is envisaged that as part of this reform the online application process will be rolled out to first-time applicants by 2021.

From January to June this year, the Passport Service has seen a 10.1% increase in passport applications compared to the same six-month period in 2018. 45% of all applications received in the first six months of this year have been online applications. In this period, 62% of all those eligible to use the online renewal service have chosen this option. This compares to 31% for the same time period in 2018.

A strong take-up of online services will greatly improve the capacity of the Passport Service to manage increasing application volumes. Efficiencies gained mean that staff resources can be redeployed towards the processing of more complex applications, protecting the integrity of the Irish passport and enhancing the customer service we offer to citizens.

Passport Applications Data

Ceisteanna (130)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

130. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of passports issued by office location outside Ireland in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29218/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Irish citizens living overseas can submit their passport application via Ireland's network of Embassies and Consulates overseas. The following table outlines the number of passport applications made via each Embassy or Consulate for the years requested. Many Irish Embassies have accreditation for other countries and provide passport services for Irish citizens for more than one country.

The figures cited do not include passports issued to Irish citizens residing overseas who applied for their passports through the Online Passport Renewal Service. The Online Passport Renewal Service was launched in March 2017 and allows citizens residing anywhere in the world to submit their passport renewal application online.

Mission

2016

2017

2018

2019*

ABU DHABI

1,667

1,449

1,101

329

ABUJA

268

265

264

45

ADDIS ABABA

18

20

17

4

ANKARA

112

96

82

23

ATHENS

169

118

107

52

AUCKLAND

2,254

1,814

1,258

570

BANGKOK

411

294

277

124

BEIJING

193

169

139

34

BERLIN

1,959

1,548

1,039

522

BERNE

941

762

525

197

BOSTON

2,027

1,597

1,404

509

BRASILIA

131

128

86

30

BRATISLAVA

25

26

23

22

BRUSSELS

813

596

417

172

BUCHAREST

95

54

53

17

BUDAPEST

72

60

38

15

BUENOS AIRES

168

188

99

45

CAIRO

140

158

121

34

CANBERRA

6,828

5,002

3,653

1,269

CHICAGO

1,126

2,046

1,597

679

COPENHAGEN

232

232

123

80

DAR ES SALAAM

42

35

14

8

HANOI

131

115

68

32

HELSINKI

102

70

56

28

HONG KONG

548

574

450

171

JAKARTA

68

70

56

13

KAMPALA

43

31

19

7

KUALA LUMPUR

174

147

110

39

LILONGWE

14

30

17

LISBON

155

153

158

69

LONDON

63,452

65,678

14,254

6,441

LJUBLJANA

55

35

20

5

LUSAKA

97

89

66

18

LUXEMBOURG

325

246

196

82

MADRID

1,662

1,480

1,086

612

MAPUTO

39

35

13

3

MEXICO

180

158

78

26

MOSCOW

94

92

74

25

NAIROBI

0

0

151

44

NEW DELHI

153

124

140

43

NEW YORK

7,032

6,297

4,182

1,861

NICOSIA

137

134

88

35

OSLO

182

125

75

50

OTTAWA

3,346

2,754

2,114

692

PARIS

2,205

1,985

1,170

773

PRAGUE

121

110

99

49

PRETORIA

3,207

2,969

1,792

609

RIGA

17

14

7

10

RIYADH

451

424

306

118

ROME

524

403

272

113

SAN FRANCISCO

4,331

4,220

2,744

1,057

SEOUL

97

65

52

14

SHANGHAI

114

113

91

19

SINGAPORE

539

496

413

123

SOFIA

31

43

30

17

STOCKHOLM

324

227

157

92

SYDNEY

3,850

2,982

1,857

676

TALLIN

11

9

8

5

TEL AVIV

229

152

162

56

THE HAGUE

928

663

496

290

TOKYO

185

137

71

39

VALETTA

127

100

69

37

VIENNA

294

220

169

56

VILNIUS

32

31

34

6

WARSAW

119

156

123

86

WASHINGTON

1,117

1,013

627

264

* to June 30 2019.

Passport Applications Data

Ceisteanna (131)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

131. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of passports issued since the Brexit referendum in the UK under criteria (details supplied) in respect of persons resident in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29219/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

All passport applications are subject to the provisions of the Passports Act, 2008. The Passports Act provides, among other things, that a person must be an Irish citizen before a passport can be issued to him or her. Entitlement to Irish citizenship is governed by Irish law and in particular the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, under which and in general, Irish citizenship may be obtained, inter alia, by birth on the island of Ireland to parents meeting specified requirements.

Since 23 June 2016, the number of passports issued to Irish citizens resident in Northern Ireland is 290,346.

Diplomatic Representation Expenditure

Ceisteanna (132)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

132. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans and projected costings and-or budgets for the purchase of lands and-or buildings for projects similar to Ireland House in Tokyo for the next two, five and ten years, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29272/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The development of a site in central Tokyo, Japan, to establish a new Ireland House is advancing. This is the first time that the State has invested in a brownfield urban site overseas to facilitate the design and build-out of an Ireland House. This multi-year project includes the construction of a bespoke, modern building comprising an official residence and office accommodation for the Embassy of Ireland and state agencies, including Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Bord Bia and Tourism Ireland in Tokyo. It will house a large promotion space where the Embassy and the agencies and their client companies will showcase products and services, host business and community events and promote the vibrancy of our arts and culture.  Japan is a key bilateral political and economic partner for Ireland with exports of Irish goods in 2018 alone valued at over €4 billion.  These links are expected to deepen further in the years ahead. The vision for a new Ireland House Tokyo was secured following the purchase of the urban site from the Government of Japan at a significant discount.

My Department currently does not have active plans, projected costings and/or budgets for the purchase of lands or buildings for projects similar in scale or ambition to Ireland House in Tokyo over the timeframe outlined.  Where the establishment of a number of Ireland Houses are under consideration as part of 'Global Ireland – Ireland’s Global Footprint to 2025’ as new Embassies and Consulates open in the coming years, there are no plans currently to purchase additional land or buildings.

All options in managing the state property portfolio in countries where Ireland has diplomatic representation are continually reviewed to ensure value for money. Where possible and appropriate, the Department examines the scope for purchase with a view to converting rental payments into long-term assets for the state.  My Department follows guidance and seeks approval from Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on the acquisition and disposal of assets in such cases.

Human Rights Cases

Ceisteanna (133)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

133. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to reports of the beheading of minors in Saudi Arabia for minor transgressions; if he has raised this issue with the relevant authorities or at the EU Foreign Affairs Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29366/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I am deeply troubled by reports of adults being executed by Saudi Arabia for alleged crimes committed when they were children. These death sentences directly contravene Saudi Arabia's obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states, “Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age."

Ireland is unequivocal in its stance against the death penalty, and the abolition of capital punishment is one of Ireland’s international priorities. My Department regularly conveys our stance on this matter to all countries where the death penalty is still in use. We have consistently raised this matter at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Last week we reiterated our opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances in our national Item 4 statement at the Council. Ireland has also consistently raised concerns about the use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia in our Item 4 statements. In our intervention at the last Universal Periodic Review of Saudi Arabia's human rights record in November 2018 Ireland called on Saudi Arabia to abolish the death penalty.

Senior officials from my Department met with the Saudi Ambassador in June and raised our concerns on this issue directly. I myself met with the Saudi Ambassador in October 2018 and February 2019 and highlighted human rights concerns. Our Embassy in Riyadh consistently avails of appropriate opportunities to raise human rights issues with the Saudi authorities.

I remain deeply concerned by the inhumane use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia. My officials and I will continue to raise our concerns about human rights issues, including the execution of adults for alleged crimes committed when they were minors and the issuance of death sentences to minors, directly with the Saudi authorities, and at EU and international levels, whenever opportunities arise.

Departmental Advertising Expenditure

Ceisteanna (134)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

134. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the amount spent on digital marketing in each of the past eight years; the items on which funds were spent; the criteria by which target audiences were selected; the amount of the digital spend targeted here; the amount targeted abroad; the amount that related to private companies; the amount that related to policy initiatives; and the purpose of the digital advertisements. [29393/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

My Department engages in public information advertising and awareness campaigns where there is important information that needs to be brought to the attention of citizens.  Social media and online promoted content play a significant role in this connection.  Examples of where my Department has advertised using social media have included public information campaigns in relation to the Online Passport Renewals Service and on the theme of ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’.

In the time available, it has only proved possible to retrieve data as sought by the Deputy for the period 2016 to date. Details of relevant social media and online public information advertising campaigns as carried out within this timeframe are set out below. Unless otherwise indicated, and on the basis of the criteria outlined above, the target audiences in each case were Irish citizens located in Ireland.

- Online Passport Renewals Service

In 2017 and 2018, my Department concentrated on promoting the Online Passport Renewal Service as a fast and secure way for adults to renew their passports. Specific activities included advertisements on social media platforms, print ads, press releases and attendance at relevant promotional events, as well as participation by the Director of the Passport Service in over 25 interviews on regional radio stations.

In Q4 2018 the service was expanded to include online renewal of children’s passports, a passport card for children and a wider cohort of adults eligible to renew online. This expanded service means that all Irish citizens can now renew their passports online 24/7 from anywhere in the world. My Department ran a three-week public information campaign including advertisements on social media platforms, print ads and radio ads. The success of this campaign has led to a significant increase in online renewal applications in Q1 2019.

The direct costs of online and social media advertising to raise public awareness amongst Irish citizens in this regard are set out in Table 1 below.

- Ireland’s Campaign for Election to the UN Security Council

On July 2nd 2018, the Taoiseach and I publicly launched Ireland’s campaign to secure a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in June 2020 for the 2021-2022 term. Ireland’s campaign is premised on three themes: Empathy, Partnership and Independence. To coincide with this launch, my Department used social media platforms to promote public awareness of Ireland’s campaign online, and the direct costs incurred in this regard are set out in Table 1 below.

- Government Brexit Update and ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’

The Government Brexit Update email service and the Getting Ireland Brexit Ready public information campaign have formed part of the Government’s overall strategy to keep citizens fully informed and up-to date on the implications and challenges of Brexit.

The Update is issuing on a regular basis via a commercial provider (MailChimp) and provides information on latest developments in the ongoing Brexit negotiations, on the latest available research publications and on engagement at Government level. It also highlights the range of business supports that are available through the various Government Departments and State agencies. This service has a global reach with 37.7% of the subscribers of the service coming from outside of Ireland.

My Department also coordinated a Government-wide ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready Campaign’ which I and Ministers Humphreys and Creed launched together on 20 September.  This campaign updated citizens, communities and businesses about Brexit preparedness and support measures that are available as well as on public workshop events that were held over successive weeks throughout October and the last two weeks in November. A programme of awareness raising via online and social media platforms also took place.  Costs incurred in this regard are set out in Table 1 below.

- St Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is a unique opportunity to engage with the global Irish community and to promote Ireland’s economic and political interests overseas, with levels of publicity and media attention unmatched by the National Day of any other country.

This year’s programme had the largest number of countries ever visited for St. Patrick’s Day. The Taoiseach and I, along with 13 Ministers, 19 Ministers of State, the Attorney General, Ceann Comhairle and Cathaoirleach visited 56 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, and the Asia-Pacific region.  These programmes allowed us to promote trade, investment and tourism with Ireland, to increase visibility in new markets, and to promote our values and our influence in global institutions, notably in support of our campaign to become a member of the United Nations Security Council.  It also allowed us to deepen our connections with Irish people and friends of Ireland all over the world.

Team Ireland overseas delivered a total of 1,796 events in support of Ireland’s interest over the 2019 St. Patrick’s Day period in this context. To coincide with and complement these activities, a small amount of expenditure was incurred by my Department in relation to online promotion of an accompanying St. Patrick’s Day video as outlined in Table 1 below. In addition to Ireland, the video in question was also promoted in certain areas of the USA and continental Europe (France, Germany, Italy and Spain) to audiences with strong Irish diaspora connections and/or related potential disposition to Ireland as a tourism destination.

- Global Ireland: Ireland’s Strategy for the US and Canada 2019-2025

‘Global Ireland’ is an all-of-Government programme which aims to double Ireland’s impact in the world by 2025. The programme was launched by the Taoiseach and myself and Ministers Humphreys, Madigan and McEntee in June 2018 and sets out Ireland’s ambitions in relation to how we trade, the bilateral and multilateral partnerships that we seek to build and our wider contribution to the world.

Global Ireland: Ireland's Strategy for the US and Canada 2019–2025 is Ireland's first whole-of-Government strategy for the US and Canada. Its aim is for Ireland to build strong, strategic political partnerships with the US and Canada and assume a lead role in building stronger transatlantic relations.

To coincide with the programme of St. Patrick’s Day-related activities held there earlier this year, a small amount of expenditure was incurred by my Department in relation to the online promotion of a video that outlined the Strategy’s key objectives insofar as the US is concerned.  In addition to Ireland, the video in question was also promoted in the various areas of the US where Irish diplomatic missions are located – viz., Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. – so as to support and facilitate Ireland’s ongoing engagement with key audiences in each case.

- Travelwise

TravelWise is an award-winning smartphone app designed to help Irish citizens to stay safe and informed while travelling, living or working overseas.

A core part of our mission is to help ensure the safety and welfare of Irish people travelling abroad by providing accessible and relevant information. There are increasing numbers of Irish residents travelling abroad – more than 7 million trips abroad – and increasing numbers travelling to higher-risk locations.

TravelWise has been developed by the Department to provide travel advice and consular information to these citizens to keep them informed and aware. To coincide with its launch in 2016 my Department spent a small amount to promote its uptake.

- Other Projects

My Department has also engaged in social media promotion of certain other initiatives and projects that relate to Ireland’s foreign policy activities.

- Commissioning, in conjunction with the Royal Irish Academy, the first public performance at the UN General Assembly of a new work of poetry by Eavan Boland (“Our Future Will Become The Past of Other Women”) to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage in December 2018;

- Ireland’s participation (by video) in the 2 December 2018 'Global Citizen Mandela 100' concert; and

- A public consultation to help shape Ireland’s new diaspora policy is currently taking place around the country, and to encourage public awareness of these events taking place my department has promoted these events on Facebook.

- The launch of Ireland’s new policy for international development, ‘A Better World’, on 28 February.

2019

Campaign Details and dates

Company

Cost

Online Passport Renewals 

PHD (Social media and online) 

 €7,127.78

Getty Ireland Brexit Ready 

PHD (Twitter, internet and search optimisation) 

 €108,787.64

St Patrick's Day 

PHD (Social media) 

 €9,181.60

Simon Cumbers Media Fund & ‘A Better World’

Facebook & Twitter

€663.25

A New Diapora Policy for Ireland 

Facebook  

€400.02

 

 

 €126,160.29

 

 

 

2018

 

 

Online Passport Renewals

Twitter & Facebook 

 €1,392.00

Getting Ireland Brexit Ready  

PHD (Social media, internet and search optimisation) 

 €52,760.41

UN Security Council Campaign 

PHD (Social media)

 €9,641.17

Global Ireland

PHD (social media) 

 €5,837.80

D/FAT Missions

 

 €93.09

 

 

 €69,724.47

2017

 

 

D/FAT Missions

 

 €113.60

Online Passport Renewals

Facebook & Twitter

 €5,821.54

 

 

 €5,935.14

2016

 

 

Consular Division - Travelwise 

Facebook

 €4,000.00

DFAT Missions 

 

 €3,578.28

 

 

 €7,578.28

Foreign Policy

Ceisteanna (135)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

135. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on reports that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is suppressing academic freedom and independent institutions in Hungary; the steps he believes should be taken to address the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29408/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The European Commission is taking a number of values-related infringements proceedings against Hungary regarding the NGO law and the Higher Education Law and its impact on the operation of the Central European University as well as in relation to asylum procedures.

Rule of law issues in Hungary have been discussed at the General Affairs Councils on a number of occasions since Autumn 2018. Ireland has actively participated in these discussions, involving the European Commission, Hungary and other Member States, to highlight the importance of respect for the rule of law.

These issues have also been discussed on a bilateral basis, most recently between the Minister of State for European Affairs, Helen McEntee T.D, and the Hungarian Minister of State for EU Policies and Coordination, Szabolcs Takács, in Dublin on 4 April last.

At the General Affairs Council meeting on 21 May, the Commission presented a Communication on further strengthening of the rule of law within the Union. I look forward to the Commission's follow-up proposals which are due to be published later this month.