Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Ceisteanna (62)

Maureen O'Sullivan


62. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has had correspondence or talks with companies and enterprises here that are complicit in human rights violations through trade with countries and industries that do not observe human rights and businesses such as an Irish company which coal from the Cerrejon coal mines in Colombia; and his views on whether such instances emphasise the need for mandatory guidelines on business and human rights domestically. [53199/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I am aware that the matter raised by the Deputy is of deep interest to many NGOS both internationally and here at home in Ireland and I have reported to the House on my contacts with the company that sources coal from the Cerrejón mine in replies to previous Parliamentary Questions.

My Department has been monitoring issues surrounding the Cerrejón mine in Colombia, including its impact on the environment and local communities. Our new Embassy in Bogotá has been actively engaging on this issue since opening earlier this year. In September, our Ambassador to Colombia led an Embassy visit to La Guajira, where the mine is located and I have reported previously to the Dáil on this matter.

The National Plan on Business and Human Rights contains a number of relevant key actions, to be taken forward by the Business and Human Rights Implementation Group. However, a number of mechanisms that address responsible business conduct and respect for human rights are already in place. The EU Directive on Disclosure of Non-Financial and Diversity Information (2014/95/EU) requires large companies to publish reports on the policies they implement including with regard to environmental protection, social responsibility and treatment of employees, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery and diversity on company boards. The Directive was transposed into Irish law through the European Union (Disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups) Regulations 2017, which were amended by the European Union (Disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups) (Amendment) Regulations 2018.

Other relevant international mechanisms in this context include the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the ILO Tripartite Declaration on Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy.

Question No. 63 answered with Question No. 59.