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Diplomatic Representation Expenditure (Continued)

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin] This occurred during the previous presidential election when the Government of the time put key IDA personnel in our embassy in Washington to lobby effectively on Capitol Hill and among political contacts in the United States on the issue of corporation tax, which is extremely important to our capacity to attract inward investment.

On immigration, the Taoiseach met representatives of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. When I was Minister for Foreign Affairs my Department launched the E3 visa initiative which, owing to political difficulties on Capitol Hill, moved away from a blanket demand for the immigration issue to be resolved. An E3 visa programme would enable us to create a legal framework to prevent illegal inward migration into the United States. From the contacts he made during his visit to the United States, will the Taoiseach indicate the position in respect of advancing the E3 visa and assisting those who are illegal in the United States?

I am pleased the Taoiseach met representatives of Zenith Technologies. Having met representatives of the company many years ago, I am pleased to note it continues to make good progress in the United States. Zenith Technologies illustrates the importance of small and medium sized Irish enterprises which can develop products and services that are needed worldwide and provide solutions to worldwide challenges.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I know Deputy Martin is familiar with Zenith Technologies. It is doing a wonderful job and is an example of a company that is growing in importance. As a consequence, it is able to expand its business and employ more staff.

Prime Minister Cameron indicated to me a number of months ago that it was his intention to hold the G8 summit in Northern Ireland. He also stated he would extend to me an invitation to me, as Taoiseach, to attend. If and when his invitation arrives, I will be very happy to accept it.

I raised the issue of corporate tax with the American companies I met, pointing out that the issue is our business and that a number of other countries in Europe now have corporate tax rates below 20%. While some corporate tax regimes are more complex than others, Ireland's rate has been very straightforward, simple and transparent for many years. It is 12.5% and the effective rate is 11.9%. I raised this matter with all American businesses with which I had contact in terms of their requirement for clarity and a horizon against which they can plan. As we have pointed out at European level, there will not be any change in Ireland's corporate tax rate and we do not have any intention of moving away from it.

I noted the comments made by President Obama following the first meeting of the new US Cabinet. The Administration's focus is clearly on the so-called fiscal cliff, on which the Republican Party, or GOP, presented its options yesterday. I mentioned the difficulties and challenges President Obama faces when I called him on the telephone. The US Government is clearly anxious to have this matter resolved before the end of the year. I hope it achieves this objective which is in everybody's interest.

I did not have an opportunity to discuss immigration policy with the President, although I discussed it with the Irish ambassador who accompanied me in Philadelphia and Cleveland. It is important to allow the new Administration to settle in, as it were. Various members of the Senate and Congress have commented on this issue and the President also spoke about wishing to have a resolution to the immigration problem. I am aware that Deputy Martin and other Members have been involved in this issue and would like a resolution to be found. Once the President has been inaugurated again and his Administration established, this issue will be followed through as a priority. I hope in the case of undocumented Irish emigrants residing in the United States and Irish people who wish to emigrate to the United States that we will be able to follow through on a path that will bring about clarity and provide an opportunity to have their status legalised and be documented. This will be a major issue for the Government. It is clear from comments made by the United States Administration that it will focus on this matter. However, its priority at present is to deal with the so-called fiscal cliff. The Government will take up this issue in the new year, including in its capacity as the chair of meetings during the Presidency of the European Union.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams I very much welcome the interest the Taoiseach has taken in Irish-America and note the good work done during his recent visit to the United States. I visited the east coast of the United States and Canada last month on the back of super-storm Sandy. The Taoiseach will be aware of the devastation the storm wreaked, including in traditional Irish communities. Hundreds of homes were destroyed on Breezy Point and Staten Island. The House should extend condolences to Damien Moore from Portnoo in County Donegal and his wife, Glenda, whose two sons, Connor and Brendan, were swept from their mother's arms and drowned. Have our consular services been engaged in providing assistance to any Irish passport holders caught up in the storm?

The Taoiseach's visit to the United States is proof that Irish-America has a major contribution to make to recovery here, although this should not be reduced to a financial role alone. Successive Governments have ignored the plight of the undocumented Irish in the United States and Australia. It is disappointing, therefore, that the Taoiseach did not discuss the issue with the Administration. While it may not have been opportune to do so in the thrust of an election, the Government should raise the issue on a consistent basis.

With The Gathering imminent, when will the Government fulfil its promise in the programme for Government to enact legislation to allow for the publication of the 1926 census? This information would be a valuable resource for those who seek to explore their Irish heritage.

I read Prime Minister Cameron's remarks on the forthcoming G8 summit in which he outlined three main themes for the meeting, namely, the fight against protectionism in global trade, action against tax avoidance and promoting greater transparency and openness. While these are commendable objectives, the Prime Minister misses the point. The G8 must address the economic crisis facing the world, in particular the poor of the developing world. I ask the Taoiseach to raise the grave situation in the Middle East and the failure thus far of the international community to intervene in the conflict there. In this regard, I commend the Government's decision to vote in support of the Palestinians at the United Nations General Assembly last week. Surely it would be opportune to raise this matter when world leaders come to Ireland where we have a successful peace process.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I thank Deputy Adams for his comments. The US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, is due to attend an OSCE conference in Dublin this week, which will bring to Ireland the largest number of foreign ministers ever to visit the country. High Representative, Baroness Catherine Ashton, will attend on behalf of the European Union. The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, will also attend, as will the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague. I expect to have a short meeting with Secretary of State Clinton at which I will raise the immigration issue, as I have already indicated.

Publication of the 1926 census is a matter of cost and the 100 year rule. I would like it to be published as it is of great interest to millions of people the world over. However, there is a hefty cost attached to doing so and consideration must be given to the rule precluding publication for 100 years. The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Jimmy Deenihan, is dealing with the issue.

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