Undocumented Irish in the USA

Ceisteanna (103)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

103. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Taoiseach if he discussed the undocumented Irish at his meetings in the United States of America; and if so, the response he received. [39952/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

During my recent visit to Los Angeles, I met with representatives of groups that support Irish immigrants on the West Coast of the US. The Government’s Emigrant Support Programme provides very significant levels of funding to support the work of such groups in the USA, including almost €4 million in 2017. While I did not meet on this occasion with representatives of the US administration or Congress, the Government continues to highlight the situation facing undocumented Irish citizens in the US at every available opportunity.

Cabinet Committee Meetings

Ceisteanna (104)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

104. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach when the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure last met; and when it is scheduled to meet again. [38870/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure works to ensure a coordinated approach on issues relating to infrastructure, Project Ireland 2040 and Rebuilding Ireland. The Cabinet Committee last met on 10 September 2019 and its next meeting is scheduled for 10 October 2019.

There is significant work underway across each of the areas covered by the Committee through Government Departments, agencies and a range of interdepartmental groups such as the Project Ireland 2040 Delivery Board. These matters are also regularly considered at meetings of Government and in bilateral meetings with the relevant Ministers.

Seanad Reform

Ceisteanna (105)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

105. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the work of the Seanad reform implementation group. [38871/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

The all-party Seanad Reform Implementation Group [SRIG] published a Report and draft Bill in December 2018. The Report was noted by Government at its meeting on 30th April 2019. Government also noted that the Report includes four statements from various groups outlining where their position was not in line with recommendations of the Report.

The Government will reflect on the views of the Houses of the Oireachtas in considering the next steps to be taken, following statements in both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Statements were held in the Seanad on 24th September 2019.

Regeneration Projects

Ceisteanna (106)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

106. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the role of his Department in the North East inner city initiative. [38872/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

The Mulvey Report - Dublin North East Inner City - Creating a Brighter Future - which was commissioned by Government was published in February 2017 and contained recommendations for the social and economic regeneration of Dublin's North East Inner City (NEIC).

In June 2017, Michael Stone was appointed by Government as independent Chair of the NEIC Programme Implementation Board. Members of the Board include representatives from relevant Government Departments and Agencies, business and the local community.

The Board is assisted in its work by five Sub Groups:

- Tackling Crime and Drugs;

- Education, Training & Employment;

- Creating an Integrated System of Social Services;

- Improving the Physical Landscape; and

- Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation Services.

The Board (and its subgroups) continues to meet on a monthly basis to oversee and progress the implementation of the Mulvey Report. Officials from my Department work closely with the Board, the Sub Groups and the dedicated Programme Office based in Sean McDermott Street. The Chair of the Board reports to an Oversight Group of senior officials chaired by the Secretary General of my Department. This Group meets regularly and the structure ensures strong and active participation by all relevant Government Departments and Agencies and deals with any barriers or issues highlighted by the Board.

The Government is committed to supporting and investing in the North East Inner City community, and ensuring that Michael Stone and the Board have the necessary resources to achieve their targets and fulfil their ambition. To this end, the Government has made available €6.5 million in funding for the Initiative in 2019.

Some highlights of what the Board has delivered to date in 2019 are as follows:

- Increased Garda presence in the area with the Garda Community Support van supporting a focus on community policing;

- Project focused on Drug-related Intimidation commenced in the area;

- Establishment in the NEIC of Ireland’s first Social Inclusion Hub supported;

- Homeless Case Management Team funded;

- Residential Stabilisation Programme funded;

- Funding provided to local Career LEAP supporting young job seekers into work placements and employment;

- Equipment provided to the three local Secondary schools participating in the innovative P-TECH initiative;

- Research project undertaken to identify how social enterprise can be supported and encouraged in the NEIC;

- Funding provided to the local Early Learning Initiative;

- Programme to secure quality work experience placements for students from the six Secondary schools in the NEIC launched;

- Fast Track Counselling for young people funded;

- Men’s Health and Wellbeing Programme supported;

- Green Ribbon project rolling out environmental clean-up and litter prevention in partnership with local residents;

- A comprehensive programme of NEIC local community events and arts projects;

- A comprehensive programme of sport and wellbeing activities;

- Progress continued on the two main public capital projects in the area - Fitzgibbon Street Garda Station and Rutland Street Community Hub.

In 2019, €1 million of the €6.5 million NEIC budget was allocated to the Social Employment Fund through which 55 posts have been filled in community projects providing childcare, youth services, elder care and environmental services. This responsive and innovative initiative has been widely welcomed within the community.

The Programme Implementation Board intends to continue implementing the remaining actions set out in the Mulvey Report, as well as to adopt a greater focus on long-term sustainable outcomes, which operate in an integrated framework and add value to the existing service infrastructure.

The Government remains committed to supporting and investing in the North East Inner City community, and ensuring that Michael Stone and the Board have the necessary resources to help make the area a better place to work and live.

Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

Ceisteanna (107)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

107. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his UN speech on climate change. [39634/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

I attended the UN Climate Action Summit in New York last Monday, 23 September. I was accompanied by Minister Bruton and Ireland’s Youth Delegate, Alicia O’Sullivan.

The Summit was organised by UN Secretary-General Guterres to encourage Member States to rapidly boost ambition in order to meet the targets set under the Paris Agreement.

In my statement to the Summit I outlined Ireland’s actions to date including banning fracking, establishing a climate action fund and divesting the Strategic Investment Fund from fossil fuels. I set out our ambitions under our new Climate Action Plan, highlighting in particular the cross-party agreement to increase carbon tax to €80 per tonne by 2030. I announced that from next year we will ring-fence this revenue to fund new climate action and just transition. I also set out Ireland’s intention to bring exploration for oil to an end on foot of advice from the Climate Change Advisory Council.

Cabinet Committee Meetings

Ceisteanna (108, 114)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

108. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the Cabinet committee meetings he held in September 2019. [39635/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

114. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the number of Cabinet committee meetings he has held since the 2019 summer recess. [38508/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 108 and 114 together.

In July I chaired a meeting of Cabinet Committee B, dealing with Social Policy and Public Services.

On 25 July, the Government decided to reorganise the Cabinet Committee structures and established the following Committees:

- Economy

- Social Policy and Public Services

- Infrastructure

- Brexit, Foreign and European Affairs

- Environment

- Security.

In September, I chaired meetings of the Committees on Economy; Social Policy and Public Services; Infrastructure; Brexit, Foreign and European Affairs; and Environment.

Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

Ceisteanna (109)

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

109. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his recent visit to New York for the UN Climate Action Summit 2019. [38849/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

I attended the UN Climate Action Summit in New York last Monday, 23 September. I was accompanied by Minister Bruton and Ireland’s Youth Delegate, Alicia O’Sullivan.

The Summit was organised by UN Secretary-General Guterres to encourage Member States to rapidly boost ambition in order to meet the targets set under the Paris Agreement.

In my statement to the Summit I outlined Ireland’s actions to date including banning fracking, establishing a climate action fund and divesting the Strategic Investment Fund from fossil fuels. I set out our ambitions under our new Climate Action Plan, highlighting in particular the cross-party agreement to increase carbon tax to €80 per tonne by 2030. I announced that from next year we will ring-fence this revenue to fund new climate action and just transition. I also set out Ireland’s intention to bring exploration for oil to an end on foot of advice from the Climate Change Advisory Council.

Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

Ceisteanna (110)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

110. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his visit to Hollywood; and the meetings he held. [39951/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

I visited Los Angeles from 25-27 September to formally open the new Consulate General of Ireland and to attend a number of engagements focussed on developing economic ties with the West Coast of the US, especially in the tourism, creative and tech sectors.

I attended a Tourism Ireland roundtable discussion focused on attracting US tourists to the Irish market and also a dinner event hosted by Screen Ireland and Enterprise Ireland to promote Ireland as a location for the creative screen industries.

I formally opened the new Consulate of Ireland in Los Angeles, in the presence of Mayor Garcetti. I also had a meeting with California’s Lieutenant Governor, Eleni Kounalakis. My programme finished with a community reception at the Loyola Marymount University, celebrating the Irish community on the West Coast of the United States where I met representatives from the diverse community of Irish and Irish-Americans in California.

I met with senior executives from leading US companies in the creative and tech industries, including Disney, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Hulu Netflix, Skydance Media, SpaceX and Warner Bros. I also met representatives of a number of Irish-based companies who travelled to the US for the trade mission, including Ardmore Studios, Element Pictures, Troy Studios and Wild Atlantic Pictures.

Citizens Assembly

Ceisteanna (111)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

111. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach when he plans to convene the Citizens' Assembly on gender equality. [39346/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

At its meeting of 11th June 2019, the Government agreed to the establishment of a Citizens’ Assembly to advance gender equality. The establishment of the Citizens’ Assembly on gender equality was approved by Dáil Éireann on 9 July and Seanad Éireann on 11 July.

The Citizens’ Assemblies Act 2019 providing for the use of the register of electors to select members for both citizens’ assemblies was subsequently enacted and signed into law by the President on 25 July.

The Citizens’ Assembly secretariat is now up and running. A Secretary has been appointed and staff assigned. Ms. Catherine Day, former Secretary General of the European Commission, will serve as Chair of the Assembly.

Administrative preparations are underway with a view to convening a first meeting as soon as possible.

Departmental Correspondence

Ceisteanna (112)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

112. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Taoiseach the correspondence from him or his Department or his advisers with a person (details supplied) or their offices and-or their employees in each of the years 2017 to 22 September 2019. [39543/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

Correspondence with the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development during the period in question is primarily a matter for my colleague the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

For the information of the Deputy I wrote to Commissioner Hogan in June 2017 thanking him for his good wishes on my election as Taoiseach, and in October 2017 concerning the Irish and EU bio-economy strategies. My predecessor as Taoiseach Enda Kenny wrote to the Commissioner in March 2017 concerning Brexit.

Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

Question No. 114 answered with Question No. 108.

Ceisteanna (113)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

113. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his meeting with Mrs. Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP and the issues that were discussed. [38507/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

I met Mrs. Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP in Government Buildings on the evening of 18 September.

We discussed Brexit developments at that time and also discussed the political situation in Northern Ireland and ongoing efforts to restore the power-sharing institutions. 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.

We agreed to stay in touch.

Question No. 114 answered with Question No. 108.

Cabinet Committee Meetings

Ceisteanna (115)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

115. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on Cabinet Committee B, Social Policy and Public Services. [38509/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

Following a Government decision in July, the Cabinet Committee structures were reorganised.

The Cabinet Committee on Social Policy and Public Services covers issues relating to Social Policy and Public Services including health and Sláintecare. The Committee last met on 10 September, 2019 and will meet again before the year end.

The Committee ensures a co-ordinated approach to the delivery of commitments in the Programme for Partnership Government, and provides the opportunity to shape proposals on issues such as health and Sláintecare; education; children; equality; social inclusion; Irish language, arts and culture; and continued improvements and reform of public services.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (116)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

116. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Taoiseach the final agreed tender price, the date of the tender for the contract and the final overall amount paid and the date of the final payment in respect of each capital expenditure project completed since 1 January 2014 by his Department or an agency under the remit of his Department and which ended up costing €10 million or more, in tabular form; the reason the final amount paid exceeded the final tender price; and the details available in respect of projects in which construction is not complete to date or in which the final settlement account has not been agreed to date. [39931/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

There has been no capital expenditure by my Department or any agency under the remit of my Department since 1 January 2014.

Defence Forces Reserve

Ceisteanna (117)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

117. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence further to Parliamentary Question No. 20 of 6 September 2019, the status of information being compiled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39296/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

With regard to Parliamentary Question No. 20 of 6 September 2019, I undertook to reply with the information requested relating to plans to amend Defence Forces regulation R5, particularly regarding terms applying to the promotion of Reserve Defence Forces (RDF) officers commissioned after 2005.

My Department has been actively involved with the Military Authorities in the process of reviewing DFR R5. I am advised that paragraph 31 (2) (3) and (4) of DFR R5, relates to eligibility for promotion from Lieutenant (Army Reserve) or Naval Service Reserve equivalent based on length of service and having been commissioned prior to 1st October 2005.

Officers commissioned after that date are not prohibited from promotion. The terms of Paragraph 31 (1) of DFR R5, subject to a vacancy existing in Establishments, allows for the Minister to

(a)    promote any officer to a higher substantive rank, or

(b)    promote any officer holding a substantive rank or an acting rank to a higher acting rank.

There are no major changes planned for Paragraph 31 in the revision of DFR R5, other than to include criteria for the promotion of any officer in the RDF.

Completion of amendments to DFR R5 (Structure of RDF) and DFR S7 (Establishment of RDFRA) are interlinked. These Regulations encompass a broad range of matters from Finance, Human Resources, promotions and training to effectiveness criteria. Amendments are complex and time consuming and have required extensive consultation. Many issues have been addressed and a number require finalisation. Work is on going in this regard.

Defence Forces Recruitment

Ceisteanna (118)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

118. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence further to Parliamentary Question No. 125 of 26 March 2019, the remit of the working group; the membership of the group; the number of times the working group has met in each quarter since its establishment; when the group will report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39335/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Working Group on Direct Entry was established to consider issues and make recommendations relating to Direct Entry as a method of recruitment for specialist posts at enlisted and officer ranks. The membership is composed of a mix of military and civil personnel drawn from appropriate branches overseeing recruitment and workforce planning policy. 

The Working Group has met twice since its inception and is in the process of establishing and examining the current entry requirements, aptitudes and training overheads in a number of specialist posts to facilitate the identification of appropriate comparators in the commercial sector. Reports will be made once consideration of individual specialties is complete.

More recently I have established a Review Group to review recruitment methods in the Defence Forces which will now also incorporate the relevant recommendations of the Public Service Pay Commission report. One of the terms of reference of this Group is to specifically look at the wider use of open recruitment for the majority of specialised roles in the Defence Forces. The work of this Review Group will inform and complement the work of the Working Group on Direct Entry.

Defence Forces Operations

Ceisteanna (119)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

119. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the progress made on the gap analysis of skills sets in the Permanent Defence Forceto identify potential roles for members of the Defence Forces Reserve with specialist skills; the efforts he has made to date in 2019 to progress the initiative; when the gap analysis will report its findings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39338/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Preliminary work has been undertaken on a Gap Analysis of skill sets within the PDF, to identify the frequency of gaps and appropriate measures to address them. The scope of the project is under consideration.

A project to identify individuals in the First Line Reserve, Army Reserve and Naval Service Reserve with relevant professional qualifications and their potential availability, was paused pending progress on the wider Gap Analysis project referred to above.

The work undertaken on these projects will also now inform and complement relevant projects of Phase One of the High Level Implementation Plan for the recommendations of the Public Service Pay Commission's report on recruitment and retention issues in the Permanent Defence Force.

Military Aircraft

Ceisteanna (120)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

120. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the position regarding the replacement of aircraft (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39570/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

My priority as Minister with Responsibility for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Defence Forces is maintained to the greatest extent possible so as to enable the Defence Forces to carry out their roles as assigned by Government.

The White Paper on Defence provides for the replacement of the two CASA 235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft with consideration of their replacement with larger more capable aircraft, which would enhance maritime surveillance and provide a greater degree of utility for transport and cargo carrying tasks.

A public tender competition for the replacement of the CASA Maritime Patrol Aircraft has recently been completed, and a preferred bidder has been identified.  The tender competition has been carried out as a two stage restricted procedure  in accordance with EU Directive 2009/81/EC, which is a specific Directive relating to the award of contracts in the field of defence and security. A Request for Proposals (Stage 1) was published on the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) in May 2018, and a Request for Tenders (Stage 2) issued in November 2018, followed by a detailed and comprehensive evaluation of tenders.

It would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this stage as the procurement process has not yet been completed and the terms of the contract are being negotiated. 

In accordance with the National Development Plan, the capital allocation for Defence has been increased to €106 million for 2019, an increase of €29 million. The NDP provides for a total of €541 million over the period 2018 to 2022. This level of capital funding will allow the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructural development across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service as identified and prioritised in the Defence White Paper and builds on the significant investment programme over recent years. The replacement of the Air Corps  CASA 235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft is among the projects included for funding.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (121)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

121. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the final agreed tender price, the date of the tender for the contract and the final overall amount paid and the date of the final payment in respect of each capital expenditure project completed since 1 January 2014 by his Department or an agency under the remit of his Department and which ended up costing €10 million or more in tabular form; the reason the final amount paid exceeded the final tender price; the details available in respect of projects in which construction is not complete to date or in which the final settlement account has not been agreed to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39921/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The level of capital funding allocated to my Department allows the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructure development across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service. It also demonstrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring that the Defence Forces have the capabilities necessary to deliver on all their assigned roles, both at home and overseas.

Table 1 outlines capital projects in excess of €10 million that have been completed by my Department since 1 January 2014.

Table 1: Capital Projects in excess of €10 million completed since 1 January 2014

Capital Project Description

Final agreed Tender price (VAT   incl.) & date of Tender

Final overall amount paid (VAT   incl.) & date of final payment

Comment

Naval Service Vessel Replacement Project

€266.1m

(7 October 2010)

€270.1m

(19 December 2018)

Agreed revision to Project to include provision   of spares, training, manuals, publications and additional agreed works, including works to bring all vessels in line with revised Ship Classification requirements. It also includes the cost of fuels and lubricants on board the vessels at handover

Naval Service New Vessel Armament Project

€16.5m

(30 September 2011)

€17.5m

(24 June 2019)

Agreed revision to Project to include training costs, manuals and spare parts.

Table 2 outlines capital projects in excess of €10 million currently being undertaken by my Department that have not yet completed or finalised.

Capital Project Description

Final agreed Tender price (VAT   incl.) 

Anticipated Completion Date

Armoured Personnel Carrier Midlife Maintenance & Upgrade Programme

€67.7m

2022

Air Corps Fixed Wing Utility Aircraft Project

€39.6m

2020

Virtual Desktop Architecture IT Project

€12.8m

2021

Under the National Development Plan and in line with the White Paper on Defence, a number of lower value capital projects are also being progressed. In addition, planning continues on further equipment renewal and replacement programmes including force protection, transport, communications and information technology, weapons and ammunition systems as well as on-going investment in modernisation and renewal of barrack infrastructure.

Brexit Negotiations

Ceisteanna (122)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

122. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on media reports (details supplied) regarding informal discussions in relation to replacing the backstop; if he or persons on his behalf held informal discussions with Mr. Juncker or Mr. Barnier; and when he expects a written proposal from the UK Prime Minister, Mr. Boris Johnson regarding his proposals. [38504/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

My officials and I remain in close contact with the European Commission and Taskforce members on Brexit matters.  Last Friday, I met with Michel Barnier to take stock of developments. He reiterated the EUs strong commitment to ensuring a fully operational solution in the Withdrawal Agreement that avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland and protects the all-island economy and the integrity of the Single Market.

Ireland, and our EU partners, stand by the Withdrawal Agreement, which remains the best way to ensure an orderly UK withdrawal. However, we also remain open to examining any workable and legally operative proposals that provide the same operational and legal protections as the backstop.

As part of their ongoing discussions with the Taskforce, the UK has provided four technical non-papers, as concepts for alternative arrangements to the backstop. These cover elements of an all-island SPS zone, as well as customs, and manufactured goods.  These non-papers do not constitute formal proposals from the UK, and do not amount to legally operational solutions. 

As the Taoiseach stated after his recent meeting with Prime Minister Johnson in New York, there remains a significant gap between what the UK is putting forward, and what Ireland and the EU can accept. Neither Ireland nor the EU can move away from an agreed negotiated position to an unknown and untested solution. It is the UK’s responsibility to come forward with legally operational solutions that are compatible with the Withdrawal Agreement.

Brexit Negotiations

Ceisteanna (123)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

123. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has spoken to other EU leaders regarding Northern Ireland being a special economic zone within both the UK and the EU in view of reports (details supplied) in the media which covered the upcoming meeting between the British Prime Minister, Mr. Boris Johnson and Chancellor Angela Merkel. [38506/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Ireland, and our EU partners, stand by the Withdrawal Agreement.  Equally, we are committed to finding a way forward, and, as we have repeatedly said, are open to hearing any credible, fully worked-out proposals from the UK. These should be raised with the European Commission. Negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU are a matter for the European Commission Task Force, led by chief negotiator Michel Barnier, and the UK Government.

 As both Michel Barnier and I have stated on numerous occasions it is up to the UK to provide proposals, which should be credible, concrete and legally operable and capable of achieving the same outcome as the backstop. This means that any solutions must avoid a hard border, fully protect the Good Friday Agreement and North-South cooperation, and preserve the all-island economy, as well the integrity of the EU Single Market and Ireland’s place in it.

 I met with Michel Barnier on 27 September and we had a chance to exchange views on our recent engagements with our British counterparts and to take stock together of where we are.  While contacts between the UK and Commission Taskforce are continuing, the Commission have made clear that the ideas and concepts presented by the UK are technical non-papers rather than detailed, credible proposals and would not be legally operable, nor deliver the same outcomes as the backstop.  The issue of a special economic zone was not discussed during the meeting and has not been raised by the UK during its ongoing discussions with the Task Force.

 It is important to acknowledge that Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland as set out in the Withdrawal Agreement does put in place a specific arrangement for Northern Ireland which responds to the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland. The backstop provides alignment with those rules of the Single Market and Customs Union necessary to avoid a hard border, thus protecting the Good Friday Agreement, and to protect the Single Market. These arrangements enable Northern Ireland businesses to trade freely with both the rest of the UK and with the EU.

 A no deal outcome will never be the choice of Ireland, or the EU, but we cannot move away from an agreed negotiated position to an unknown and untested solution. Responsibility for avoiding a no deal outcome lies with the UK.

UN Conferences

Ceisteanna (124)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

124. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to attend the upcoming conference in Geneva in relation to the UN treaty on business and human rights; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39481/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

My Department is currently consulting with EU partners regarding participation in the upcoming, fifth,  session of the Intergovernmental Working Group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises which will take place in Geneva from 14 to 18 October. At that meeting it is expected that the main focus of attention will be consideration of the text of a draft legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises which has been circulated by Ecuador, the chair of the Working Group . 

Representation at working group meetings of this nature is generally at official level and thus Ministerial level participation is not contemplated.