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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 159-77
 Header Item Trade Missions Issues
 Header Item UN Security Council Membership
 Header Item Topical Issue Debate
 Header Item Ministerial Responsibilities
 Header Item North-South Ministerial Council
 Header Item Northern Ireland Issues
 Header Item Northern Ireland Marching Season
 Header Item North-South Ministerial Council
 Header Item Ministerial Transport
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Africa Ireland Economic Forum
 Header Item Armenian Genocide
 Header Item Northern Ireland Issues
 Header Item Northern Ireland Issues
 Header Item UN Protocol Ratification

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 808 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 101 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 159-77

Trade Missions Issues

 159. Deputy Seán Kenny Information on Seán Kenny Zoom on Seán Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore when he expects the next trade mission to the US to occur; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30252/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore My Department and its Embassy network support a range of trade missions in close co-operation with the relevant State Agencies. Minister of State White has just returned from leading an Enterprise Ireland trade mission to the US from 19 to 21 June, organised with the support our Consulate General in New York, which targeted the life science industry in Pennsylvania. Minister Bruton is scheduled to lead an IDA Investment Mission to the US East Coast from 14 to 19 October. The Mission will be organised by the IDA in cooperation with the Consulate General in New York and will focus on attracting FDI to Ireland. Trade promotion and economic messaging are, of course, key elements in the majority of Ministerial visits abroad and this was particularly so during the recent St. Patrick’s Day period when I travelled to Atlanta, New Orleans and Washington DC to promote Ireland’s economic and political interests in the US. The centrepiece of my programme in Atlanta was an ‘Invest in Ireland’ Business Leaders Forum organised by the IDA in conjunction with our Consulate General, while the programme for New Orleans included business networking, political and cultural events. My programme for Washington DC included participation in meetings with President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, and a number of high level political meetings during which the proposed Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership and Ireland’s economic recovery were among the items discussed. I will be visiting Washington DC again next month, primarily on immigration matters, but I will again take the opportunity to reinforce the message of Ireland being open for business and on a clear path to renewed economic growth in my contacts on Capitol Hill.

UN Security Council Membership

 160. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the steps taken by the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations by both the outgoing and incoming Ambassadors on Ireland's approach on seeking election to the UN Security Council as a rotating non-permanent member for the 2021-2022 elected term; the steps he believes that will make Ireland a successful candidate for the position from the Western European and Others Group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30308/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore In 2005, Ireland announced its candidature for election to the United Nations Security Council in 2020 for the 2021-2022 term. In seeking election to the United Nations Security Council, Ireland will present its candidature on the basis of its firm commitment to the principles and values enshrined in the United Nations Charter. We will draw on our record of dedicated service to the maintenance of international peace and security, our successful experience of conflict resolution on the island of Ireland and elsewhere, our active promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and our strong commitment to global economic and social development. Ireland has served twice so far on the United Nations Security Council: during the periods 1981-1982 and 2001-2002. Each of these terms was judged a success in terms of what we brought to the Council and the contribution we made to its deliberations and decisions.

  Ireland is widely perceived to have made an extremely positive contribution to the United Nations since we joined the Organization in 1955. We have earned a strong international reputation as a UN member, in particular because of our contribution to UN peacekeeping and because of an acclaimed development cooperation programme which includes steadfast support for United Nations funds and programmes.

  In our campaign for membership of the Security Council for the 2021-22 term, we will build on these strengths, on the profile we have developed across many areas of UN activity and on leadership roles we have played recently, notably in the EU and OSCE contexts. While the elections in question are seven years away, this campaign will be one of my Department’s key priorities over the coming years. We will work assiduously towards securing election in 2020 and the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations in New York will play a key role in this effort.

Topical Issue Debate

 161. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the number of Dáil topical issue debates submitted to his Department following selection by the Ceann Comhairle since March 2011; the number of topical issues taken directly by him; the number of topical issues taken by a junior Minister in his Department; the number of issues taken by a Minister not from his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30342/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The information sought by the Deputy is available through the website of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Oireachtas.ie). The Deputy will know that, as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I have extensive travel commitments, particularly during our Presidency of the EU and our Chairmanship-in-Office of the OSCE in 2012. Since March 2011, 27 topical issue debates have been submitted to my Department and taken in the Dáil. Of these, I was available to take five; eleven were taken on my behalf by Ministers of State Joe Costello and Lucinda Creighton; eleven were taken on my behalf by Ministers or Ministers of State of other Departments.

Ministerial Responsibilities

 162. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if, when responding to parliamentary questions, he will confirm that he has full official responsibility for matters concerning the bilateral relations between this State and other countries aside from EU member states, irrespective of the policy matter to which the question relates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30363/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Ireland’s bilateral relations with other States encompass a wide range of political, cultural, economic and social issues. These are progressed by my Department and also by other Departments and State Agencies, depending on the nature of the issue. Parliamentary Questions (PQ) are assigned by the Dáil Questions Office to Ministers on a case-by-case basis. Where the matter raised in a PQ touches on international relations but the policy issue is the responsibility of another Minister, my Department will alert the Questions office and seek to have the question assigned to the appropriate Minister.

I am not in a position to answer PQs on policy matters for which my Department is not responsible. However, information in my Department’s possession relevant to the questions posed is provided when requested by responding Departments to assist them in preparing comprehensive answers.

North-South Ministerial Council

 163. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore his views on whether the North South Ministerial Council are making enough progress on the the areas of cooperation and if their areas will be extended in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23704/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) was established as part of the Good Friday Agreement to foster mutually beneficial cooperation in agreed areas on an all-Island basis. My colleagues in Government and I meet regularly with our counterparts in the Northern Ireland Executive in the various NSMC formats to review progress in all areas of North South co-operation. While there has been valuable progress in cooperation through the NSMC, I believe there is scope for broadening the existing work programmes and for additional areas of co-operation. The St Andrews Agreement provided for a review of the existing North South Implementation Bodies and to examine the case for additional bodies and areas of co-operation. Term of Reference One of the Review which was to examine the bodies in terms of efficiency and value for money has essentially been completed.

  The Second and Third Terms of Reference of the Review look to the future of North South co-operation, including the case for additional bodies and areas of co-operation within the North South Ministerial Council. Work on those Terms of Reference, while ongoing, has not progressed as rapidly as I would have wished. I discussed the matter with the First and Deputy First Minister 29 April and we agreed that work would be pursued with a view to progress on these Terms of the Review at the forthcoming NSMC plenary meeting in July.

  The Government is firmly committed to developing cross border cooperation in every possible respect. In addition to being a vehicle for reconciliation and better understanding on the island, it is also a mechanism for ensuring a more efficient delivery of services and a more coordinated approach to job creation and recovery, North and South.

Northern Ireland Issues

 164. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore his views on whether there has been enough progress in relation to the implementation of shared education in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23705/13]

 179. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore his views on whether enough progress has been made on the shared education policy in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30374/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I propose to take Questions Nos. 164 and 179 together.

  The Good Friday Agreement recognises that an essential aspect of the reconciliation process is the promotion of a culture of tolerance at every level of society, including initiatives to facilitate and encourage integrated education. As co-guarantor of the Agreement, the Government supports those who want their children to benefit from integrated education and supports growth in that sector, from the less than 10% of schools in Northern Ireland which are currently within that scheme. The NI Executive’s recently published Together: Building a United Community’ strategy sets a target of creating ten Shared Educational Campuses, along the model of the Lisanelly shared campus project in Omagh, and to make sharing in education a central part of every child’s educational experience in Northern Ireland. I welcome this and all initiatives which promote sustained and ongoing sharing of classes, subject, sports and extra-curricular activities. I recognise also that it is important to have diversity in any education system and that the first priority must always be to have an educational system that is child-centred and focussed on the child’s development.

  Through the Reconciliation Fund, since 2001 the Government has supported the Integrated Education Fund (IEF), an independent charitable body in Northern Ireland which supports the development and growth of integrated education in Northern Ireland. It assists in the expansion of existing schools, the transformation of non-integrated schools to integrated status, and the building of new schools. It seeks to support all schools, integrated or not, that want to offer pupils opportunities to address cultural and religious diversity. The programme also awards grants to schools to promote the development of skills, structures and relationships that enable pupils, staff, governors and parents to respond with understanding and respect to political, cultural and religious differences.

Northern Ireland Marching Season

 165. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if it is planned to discuss the Parades Commission at the next North/South Ministerial Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [23706/13]

 180. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore his views on whether the Parades Commission will ensure that the forthcoming marching season will be as peaceful as possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28699/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I propose to take Questions Nos. 165 and 180 together.

The issue of Parades features in almost all of my regular discussions with the British government, the First Minister and Deputy First Minister and with political and community leaders in Northern Ireland. I have spoken in the past two weeks with both the Secretary State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers MP and NI Justice Minister David Ford. We have a shared concern about the potential for sectarian violence during the summer marching season. I re-iterated our view that it is essential that the determinations of the Parades Commission are fully respected and that the Commission itself and the Police Service of Northern Ireland receive full support from everyone. Apart from the risk to life and the potential for parades linked violence to damage community relations, it would be a real pity also if the positive images about the North coming out from the success of the G8 conference were replaced with the familiar scenes of riot and attacks on police.

The primary onus for ensuring that the parading season remains peaceful rests with the two communities. What is certain is that for so long as both communities are unable to agree then an outside arbiter or determination mechanism is necessary. The Parades Commission fulfils that essential function at present and the difficult and sometimes unpalatable decisions it is required to make cannot be used as an excuse for violence by anyone.

North-South Ministerial Council

 166. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore his views on whether there should be a Language Act introduced in Northern Ireland; if it has recently been discussed at a North-South Ministerial Council meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [23843/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I am firmly of the view that an Irish Language Act should be introduced in Northern Ireland. All parties to the Good Friday Agreement recognised the importance of respect, understanding and tolerance in relation to linguistic diversity in Northern Ireland. In the St Andrews Agreement, the British government committed to introducing an Irish Language Act and to working with the Northern Ireland Executive to enhance and protect the development of the Irish Language.

  Since the restoration of the devolved Institutions on 8 May 2007, the question of an Irish Language Act for Northern Ireland is a devolved matter and is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Executive. Last year the Northern Ireland Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure Ms. Caral Ní Chuilín MLA launched a consultation process on strategies for the Irish language and Ulster Scots. Inputs from the consultation process are being considered.

  The matter of an Irish Language Act is not discussed at the North South Ministerial Council as it is outside the agreed agenda for the Council. My colleagues the Minister for Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht, Mr Jimmy Deenihan T.D. and Minister of State Dinny McGinley T.D. have ongoing discussions at meetings of the North-South Ministerial Council on the work of the all-island Language Body (comprising Foras na Gaeilge and the Ulster-Scots Agency) with Ministers Carál Ní Chuilín MLA and Jonathan Bell MLA.

  In November 2012 I visited An Chultúrlann in Belfast which is a very impressive Irish language and cultural centre. I had the opportunity to meet with some of the city’s leading Irish language activists and to hear their concerns regarding the promotion of the Irish language including their critical views on the delay in legislating for an Irish language act for Northern Ireland. Officials in my Department maintain regular and ongoing contact with the Irish language community in Northern Ireland including those involved in cross community Irish language activity.

  I will continue to press in my discussions with the Northern Ireland Executive the urgent need to address this issue and to legislate for an Irish Language Act. Officials in my Department will continue to monitor this matter in their ongoing contacts with the Northern Ireland Office.

Ministerial Transport

 167. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the total cost of ministerial transport in his Department in 2010, 2011, 2012 and to date 2013; the number of drivers employed in each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30554/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The following table shows details of the cost of Ministerial transport in my Department in the years 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Official cars are not provided to Ministers of State. The figures reflect the motor travel allowances claimed for official travel undertaken in accordance with guidelines set out by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Salaries paid to the official drivers and subsistence amounts paid to the drivers are also included in the tables. Minister of State Dick Roche T.D.

Year Number of Drivers Cost
2010 2 €121,213
2011 2 €29,580


  Minister of State Lucinda Creighton T.D.
Year Number of Drivers Cost
2011 2 €53,832
2012 2 €83,594
2013 2 €28,968


  Minister of State Peter Power T.D.
Year Number of Drivers Cost
2010 2 €101,754
2011 2 €19,253


  Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan T.D.
Year Number of Drivers Cost
2011 2 €60,208
2012 2 €2,072 claims relating to 2011


  Minister of State Joe Costello T.D.
Year Number of Drivers Cost
2012 NIL €13*
2013 NIL €184*


  *vouched costs of taxi fares incurred on foreign travel.

Departmental Expenditure

 168. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the total costs of photography incurred by his Department in 2011, 2012 and to date 2013 in tabular form per event. [30570/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore In September 2011, my Department led a collaborative advertised tender process for the procurement of a multi-supplier competitive framework of photographic service providers. This is now available for use by all Government Departments. The purpose of this framework is to ensure Departments’ compliance with EU procurement rules and to ensure value for money by having a competitive process for photographic assignments. A review of the framework and a new tender issued earlier this year. In addition, my Department is looking at the increased use of in-house photography where appropriate. Details of the new framework arrangements are posted on the National Procurement Service website: www.procurement.ie/suppliers/contracts/1298. The table below indicates the cost associated with particular events, as requested by the Deputy. It should be noted that in many cases the figures include distribution as well as photography costs. This ensures that the media can easily and freely avail of photography for important events where their own staff photographers cannot be fully accommodated. There were a number of such events in the period in question, including the State visit of Queen Elizabeth, the visit by President Obama and the Irish Chairmanship of the OSCE. In the case of Ireland’s Presidency of the EU, there was demand for photography for a number of events which would not apply in ordinary circumstances.

Photography Events Cost
State Visit of Queen Elizabeth II €22,662.70
Expenditure of missions abroad* €18,887.38
Diplomatic Credentials Ceremonies €12,952.30
Official Visit by Chinese Vice President €7,321.58
State Visit of Prince Albert of Monaco €6,213.35
OSCE Ministerial Council €4,786.55
Official Visit by the King & Queen of Lesotho €2,473.14
Official Visit to Mozambique, Malawi & Tanzania €2,388.30
Diplomatic Corps New Years Greetings €2,015.97
Global Irish Economic Forum €1,923.90
Inauguration of President Higgins €1,817.30
OSCE Event: Lessons learned from NI Peace Process €1,479.35
Launch of Our World Awards €1,268.05
Africa Ireland Economic Forum 2011 €1,220.59
Haiti Photographic exhibition €919.90
Science for Development Award at BT Young Scientist €711.71
Launch of Commemoration Lecture Series €658.82
Official visit to Kenya €606.40
Official Visit by Indian Minister €599.75
Launch of the 2010 Irish Aid annual report €569.00
Launch of EU Presidency Logo €560.84
Launch of Africa Day 2011 - Dublin €526.35
Official Farewell for the British Ambassador €241.09
Meeting of EU Development Ministers €521.19
Western Balkans Conference €482.16
Visit of Elders €430.50
OSCE 5+2 Conference €417.76
Visit of Congressman Morrison €412.05
Visit of Aung Sang Suu Kyi €393.92
Official Visit by US Congressional Delegation €388.62
Launch of Hunger Envoy’s Report €379.33
Visit of Governor of Massachusetts €361.62
Simon Cumbers Fund Exhibition €350.86
Africa Ireland Economic Forum - 2012 €319.80
Meeting with Japanese Ambassador €318.84
Launch of Certificate of Irish Heritage €296.23
HNCJ Conference €284.63
Irish Aid Trade and Development Conf. €282.41
UNRWA Commissioner General €246.00
Meeting with British delegation €209.10
100 Objects launch €206.64
Visit of Bill Gates €195.20
Visit of German Opposition Leader €194.88
Visit of Norwegian Foreign Minister €189.19
Irish Aid Our World Awards - 2013 €171.23
EU Affairs Ministers Meeting €166.05
Visit of French Minister for European Affairs €166.05
Irish Aid Int'l Conf. on Agriculture €164.60
EU Working Group on Humanitarian Aid €154.98
OSCE 5+2 Conference (2) €153.75
Visit of Romanian Foreign Minister €137.76
Visit of Head of International Rescue Committee €137.76
Forum on female entrepreneurship €134.33
Visit of Swiss Foreign Minister €120.54
Irish Aid Fellowship Annual Meeting €119.55
Volunteering Fair, Limerick - 2011 €119.55
Forum with Arab Ambassadors €116.85
Africa Day Launch, Limerick - 2011 €115.85
BT Young Scientist - 2013 €109.25
Meeting with UN Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region €103.32
Visit of Secretary General, Council of Europe €103.32
Global Irish Network Advisory Group €102.15
Official Visit to Korea/ Japan €95.00
Total €102,176.25
* It was not possible in the time available to provide a detailed breakdown

Departmental Expenditure

 169. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the details and costs of any newspaper supplements his Department has been involved with in 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013. [30586/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore My Department has been involved with one such supplement during the period in question. That was a ‘Business in Japan’ report which appeared in the Irish Times to coincide with the visit of the Japanese Prime Minister on 19th June. The supplement was prepared in cooperation with Enterprise Ireland, the IDA, Bord Bia and Tourism Ireland and promoted the economic and trade links between Ireland and Japan. The share of the cost met by my Department net of VAT was €5,250.

Africa Ireland Economic Forum

 170. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the preparations that are under way for the upcoming Ireland Africa Economic Forum taking place on 3 October 2013; his views on whether this will strengthen Irish interests on the continent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30610/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Joe Costello): Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello The Third Africa Ireland Economic Forum will take place on the 3rd of October 2013. This date will coincide with the next meeting of the Global Irish Network. Both events involve the building and strengthening of networks and connections between Ireland and important trading partners, including Africa. The event is organised by my Department in close consultation with the African Embassies and the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School and we are working closely together to finalise the agenda for the October meeting. The overall objective of the Africa Ireland Economic Forum is to facilitate the forging of opportunities for Irish businesses to network with potential African partners. In 2012, over 230 participants attended the Forum including representatives from 23 African countries and over 160 Irish business interests. At the first Forum, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade launched the Africa Strategy - Ireland and Africa: Our Partnership with a Changing Continent. The Strategy recognises the imperative to move beyond aid and to develop deeper political, economic and trade relations. Today, over 170 Irish companies are currently doing business in South Africa and employing over 13,000 people locally. In West Africa, Irish companies now employ more than 15,000 people directly. This is a sign of real and positive change in the extent and nature of our relationship with Africa. The Third Africa Ireland Economic Forum has already created great interest, building on the positive energy unleashed by the two earlier Fora. I am looking forward, with the Tánaiste, to hosting the Forum and to the presentations, debate and dialogue which will take place on the occasion.

Armenian Genocide

 171. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he intends to formally recognise the Armenian genocide of 24 April 1915 in which more than one million Armenian citizens were tortured and killed as has been recognised by the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and a number of member states in the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30691/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Relations between Armenia and Turkey have long been overshadowed by the events which resulted in the tragic deaths of very large numbers of the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire nearly one hundred years ago. Both sides hold sharply different historical interpretations of these events. In 2009 there were signs of possible improvement in the difficult relationship with the signature of protocols in which Armenia and Turkey agreed to establish diplomatic relations and open their common border. It was envisaged as part of the process of reconciliation to refer the question of the 1915 events to a Joint Commission on historical issues. However, the protocols were not ratified by either party. The non-ratification of the 2009 protocols was a lost opportunity not only for Armenia and Turkey but for the entire region. As we know in Ireland the process of reconciliation and coming to terms with the past is never easy. As Turkey is a candidate country for EU membership and Armenia is an Eastern Partner, soon to sign an historic Association Agreement with the EU, the opportunity to move forward on this may present itself again and I would urge both sides to take advantage of any opportunity for progress for the good of their people, the region, and their shared future.

Northern Ireland Issues

 172. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he has concerns regarding the accusation of the PSNI favouring one community over another in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28700/13]

 173. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore his views on whether there has been full devolution of policing matters in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28702/13]

 175. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he has concerns that there are leaders in Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland who say they have lost confidence in policing in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28706/13]

 176. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore his views on the fact that there are leaders in the DUP that say they have concerns regarding policing in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28707/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I propose to take Questions Nos. 172, 173, 175 and 176 together.

Under the terms of the Good Friday and Weston Park agreements, policing and criminal justice powers in Northern Ireland were devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly in April 2010. As a result the new Department of Justice in Northern Ireland now has responsibility for policing and justice issues. The completion of the devolution of policing and justice marked an important milestone in fulfilling the full vision of the Good Friday Agreement and closed the circle in the transformation of policing structures in Northern Ireland. All those involved in transforming policing and in changing attitudes around policing can be very proud of the changed service they have built and the new culture of policing.

More than a decade on from the Patten Report, authority and responsibility for policing and justice issues are now where they ought to be – at the local level, accountable to, and operating for the benefit of all in the community. In the spirit of Patten, the PSNI is a police service, not a police force, part of the framework of society in the north. One of the hallmarks of the new service is independent oversight which is exercised by the Policing Board and guarantees public confidence in the new arrangements. Sinn Féin’s decision to join the Policing Board ensures their participation in these new arrangements and their voice, as is the voice of all political parties, is rightly heard.

I have had frequent contact with the party leaders within the Northern Ireland Executive on policing and related issues in the context of the overall situation in Northern Ireland. I have assured them that the Government remains fully engaged in our support of the work of the PSNI. I was particularly impressed by the recent PSNI led cross community conference initiative which was held in Cardiff to promote improved community and policing relations. Initiatives such as this are very welcome as we head into the Summer marching season.

The persistence of sectarianism in Northern Ireland, with the absence of political agreement on how to make progress towards a truly reconciled society, contributes to the likelihood of incidents such as those we have witnessed in recent weeks. While we continue to work in support of efforts to address the root causes of sectarianism, it is vital that the rule of law is respected and that the PSNI is fully supported in implementing the rule of law.

Northern Ireland Issues

 174. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore his views on the new party NI 21 in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28704/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The political party NI21 was launched on 6 June, 2013 at a public event in Belfast. While the policy platform of the party is currently being developed, the party has indicated it will take a unionist stand on the constitutional issue, while making an appeal to all sides of the community. The party describes itself as “a confident, generous, and progressive pro-UK party”. The formation of a political party is a fundamental freedom in any democratic society. I would expect that the new party will put a policy platform before the electorate in due course. Officials from my Department have contact with representatives from NI 21 and I look forward to having an opportunity to meet with the party leadership in due course.

  Questions Nos. 175 and 176 answered with Question No. 172.

UN Protocol Ratification

 177. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he intends to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. [30851/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The UN Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights opened for signature by UN Member States in New York in September 2009. To date, forty-two States have signed; this includes eleven of the twenty-seven European Union member States. Ten UN Member States have ratified the Optional Protocol: Argentina, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mongolia, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Uruguay. The Optional Protocol came into force on 5 May 2013, three months after the deposit with the United Nations Secretary General of the tenth instrument of ratification or accession Ireland’s signature of the Optional Protocol took place on 23 March 2012. Ratification of the Optional Protocol is a separate step and is preceded by a thorough screening of the obligations to be assumed. This will require extensive consultation with all Departments involved and consideration by the Government in due course.


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