Questions Nos. 1 to 17, inclusive answered orally.

Cabinet Committee Meetings

Questions Nos. 20 and 21 resubmitted.

Questions Nos. 22 and 23 answered with Question No. 18.

Question No. 24 resubmitted.

Ceisteanna (18, 19, 22, 23)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

18. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the number of times Cabinet committee A (Economy) met to date in 2019. [26562/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

19. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach the number of times Cabinet committee A (Economy) met in 2019. [27846/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

22. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Taoiseach the number of times Cabinet committee A (Economy) has met since January 2019. [29530/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

23. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach the number of times Cabinet committee A (Economy) has met to date in 2019. [29687/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 18, 19, 22 and 23 together.

Cabinet Committee A was scheduled to have its first meeting of 2019 on Monday 1 July, which was unfortunately postponed due to the extended European Council meetings.

Cabinet Committee A covers issues relating to the Economy such as Jobs, the Labour Market, Competitiveness, Productivity, the Digital Economy and Pensions, and rural issues under the Action Plan on Rural Development, all of which are regularly discussed at full Government meetings where all formal decisions are made.

Questions Nos. 20 and 21 resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 22 and 23 answered with Question No. 18.
Question No. 24 resubmitted.

Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

Ceisteanna (25, 26, 27)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

25. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken to Prime Minister May regarding the progress in the Northern Ireland talks recently. [26857/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

26. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken in June 2019 to Prime Minister May regarding progress in the Northern Ireland talks. [27637/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

27. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken to the British Prime Minister, Mrs. Theresa May recently. [28084/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 25 to 27, inclusive, together.

I saw Prime Minister May most recently at the Special meeting of the European Council on 30 of June, 1 July and 2 July. I also saw her at the European Council meeting in Brussels on 20 and 21 June. I did not have any formal bilateral meetings with the Prime Minister during these meetings.

However, I spoke by phone with the Prime Minister on 19 June when we discussed the ongoing political talks in Northern Ireland and Brexit. We agreed that talks were at a pivotal stage and we agreed to push for a resolution before the summer break. The Tánaiste is heavily engaged in the Northern Ireland talks and keeps me fully informed of developments.

The Prime Minister also updated me on the current situation in Westminster regarding Brexit and noted that significant numbers in Parliament still want to avoid a "no deal" outcome.

Cyber Security Policy

Questions Nos. 29 and 30 resubmitted.

Ceisteanna (28)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

28. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Taoiseach if he will report on cybersecurity policy in his Department. [28212/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

My Department has put in place safeguards to mitigate the threats and risks to its information and communications technology systems in so far as is possible. My Department uses industry leading security products to filter email and web traffic to automatically stop spam, viruses, and other malicious agents from infecting the network.

My Department maintains ongoing contact with the Computer Security Incident Response Team in the National Cyber Security Centre who provide regular guidance and advice relating to current internet security alerts and threats.

The response to cyber threats continues to be a whole-of-Government challenge with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment leading on the development of a new National Cyber Security Strategy.

Questions Nos. 29 and 30 resubmitted.

Departmental Communications

Question No. 32 resubmitted.

Ceisteanna (31)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

31. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the social media policy of his Department. [29116/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

It is important to communicate across a variety of platforms, including social media, to ensure transparency and clarity for all citizens. The Government Information Service is now required to provide a 24/7 service to media organizations, on all topics of public interest, and with short response times. The social media channels for my Department are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.

The central objective for these channels is to report objectively the work of Government and, over time, to provide a valuable archive of information. The social media activity in the Department is governed by strict operating principles.

The following are the main operating principles governing the use of these social media channels:

that the content consists of

· News stories and press releases

· Speeches and statements from the Taoiseach and Government Ministers

· Photos and videos from Government events and the Taoiseach's engagements

· Live tweeting of Government events, and

· Other content as deemed appropriate

The use of social media platforms is not intended as a means of contacting the Taoiseach directly or of submitting press queries. These activities are handled by other means. Following or retweeting another account does not imply an endorsement of any kind.

All staff in my Department who update social media channels are bound by the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour.

Question No. 32 resubmitted.

European Council Meetings

Question No. 34 resubmitted.

Questions Nos. 35 to 39, inclusive, answered with Question No. 33.

Question No. 40 resubmitted.

Ceisteanna (33, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

33. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his attendance at the special meeting of the European Council from 30 June to 2 July 2019. [29115/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

35. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the EU Council meeting held from 30 June to 2 July 2019; and the issues that were discussed. [29522/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

36. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the agreed candidates to hold the key EU posts following the EU Council meeting held on 2 July 2019 and if he has met or spoken to them since then. [29523/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

37. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his meeting with Chancellor Merkel at the special EU Council meeting from 30 June to 2 July 2019 and the issues discussed. [29527/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

38. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Taoiseach if he met with the Prime Minister of Czechia, Mr. Andrej Babiš when he attended the special EU Council meeting from 30 June to 2 July 2019; and if so, the issues that were discussed. [29529/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

39. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the recent meeting of the European Council held from 30 June to 2 July 2019. [29688/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 33 and 35 to 39, inclusive, together.

I attended a special meeting of the European Council in Brussels from Sunday 30 June to Tuesday 2 July.

The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, convened the meeting with a view to agreeing an approach to the high-level appointments to the EU institutions that will arise in the coming period.

The positions of President of the Commission; President of the Council; President of the European Central Bank; and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, will all fall to be filled in accordance with the Treaties.

Our discussions were based on our shared objective of reflecting the diversity of the EU - including the need to ensure gender, geographical and political balance - and of ensuring suitable and qualified people in these posts.

We agreed that the current Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, should be our next President of the European Council, that Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell be nominated as candidate for the next High Representative for Foreign Policy, and that Christine Lagarde, currently the Managing Director of the IMF, should be our candidate for the next President of the ECB.

We also agreed to propose the current German Defence Minister, Ursula Von der Leyen, as President of the European Commission.

Ms. Von der Leyen is an experienced and eminently suitable candidate, and I hope that the new European Parliament will elect her as Commission President on 15 July.

Since the special meeting of the European Council, the European Parliament elected David-Maria Sassoli as its new President.

I engaged with most of my counterparts, including Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Babiš, over the course of the three days in Brussels. Our discussions focused on the high-level appointments, although we also exchanged views on other EU and international issues. I also had a bilateral meeting with the new Prime Minister of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, and spoke by phone with President Anastasiades of Cyprus, who was unable to attend the meeting.

I spoke with Prime Minister Michel following the meeting, and congratulated him on his election as the next President of the European Council.

The other candidates for the high-level appointments were not present at the meeting. However, I look forward to working very closely with them over the period ahead.

Question No. 34 resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 35 to 39, inclusive, answered with Question No. 33.
Question No. 40 resubmitted.

British-Irish Council

Question No. 42 resubmitted.

Questions Nos. 43 and 44 answered with Question No. 41.

Questions Nos. 45 and 46 resubmitted.

Ceisteanna (41, 43, 44)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

41. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the recent meeting of the British-Irish Council. [29118/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

43. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the British- Irish Council meeting in Manchester; the issues discussed; if decisions were taken; and the bilateral meetings he had. [29521/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

44. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his recent meeting with the First Minister of Scotland, Ms Nicola Sturgeon. [29686/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 41, 43 and 44 together.

I attended the 32nd British Irish Council (BIC) Summit which was hosted in Manchester by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Rt. Hon David Lidington MP on Friday 28 June. I was accompanied by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton TD.

First Ministers from Scotland, Wales along with Heads of Administration from the Crown Dependencies also attended the summit meeting.

The discussion at the summit covered key political developments for Administrations since the last summit in November. The discussion focused largely on the implications of Brexit, particularly for relationships across the islands. The Council also discussed the current political situation in Northern Ireland and I again reiterated my regret that Northern Ireland, until the Executive is restored, continues to be without political representation in this important forum.

Building on the shared goal of decarbonising our economies, Minister Bruton took part in a thematic discussion to explore how best we can facilitate the transition by smartening our energy systems. Ministers explored policy approaches to enabling this transition, the facilitation of key technologies, smart energy at a local scale and funding for innovation.

The Council also received an update on the BIC Marine Litter event held in Glasgow in February.

I took the opportunity to have bilateral discussions with Rt. Hon David Lidington, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and with First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford who was attending his first summit meeting. In all meetings we exchanged views on issues of mutual interest and continued co-operation with discussions focusing mainly on Brexit and its impacts on business and citizens. We also spoke on developments in Westminster and Brussels.

At my meeting with FM Sturgeon we also discussed developments in relation to Rockall and agreed that our shared aim is to resolve differences in a way which benefit both countries, and to develop further an already strong bilateral relationship.

Following the summit I officially opened the new ESB energy offices in Manchester where I attended Enterprise Ireland's first Business CEO Roundtable with Irish companies operating in the UK's “Northern Powerhouse” region. I also met with the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham and visited the Sisk development at Circle Square.

Question No. 42 resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 43 and 44 answered with Question No. 41.
Questions Nos. 45 and 46 resubmitted.

Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

Questions Nos. 48 to 60, inclusive, answered orally.

Ceisteanna (47)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

47. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the meeting he held with church leaders on 4 July 2019; the issues that were discussed; if there was progress on the new covenant between church and State that he announced in 2018; and if religious schools were discussed. [30015/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

A Plenary Meeting with Churches, Faith Communities and Non-Confessional Organisations was held on Thursday 4 July 2019 in Dublin Castle. Discussion at the Meeting focused on three main themes: effective structured dialogue; inclusive and diverse communities; and education.

The Meeting offered a good opportunity to discuss what a new relationship between Church and State might look like.

The Report of the Plenary Meeting will be finalised at a later date.

| Questions Nos. 48 to 60, inclusive, answered orally.