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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 161-180
 Header Item Semi-State Bodies Remuneration
 Header Item Shannon Airport Facilities
 Header Item Departmental Reports
 Header Item Overseas Development Aid Provision
 Header Item Foreign Policy
 Header Item Freedom of Information Requests
 Header Item Shannon Airport Facilities
 Header Item Departmental Meetings
 Header Item Official Engagements
 Header Item Ministerial Staff
 Header Item Emigrant Support Services
 Header Item Passport Services
 Header Item Programme for Government Implementation
 Header Item EU Meetings
 Header Item Ministerial Dialogue
 Header Item Humanitarian Aid

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 118 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 161-180

Semi-State Bodies Remuneration

 161. Deputy Derek Nolan Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the salaries, including pensions and any other bonus-related additions, including company cars, of chief executive officers of commercial State bodies under the remit of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14484/14]

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny There are no commercial State companies under the remit of my Department.

Shannon Airport Facilities

 162. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if his attention has been drawn to the fact that US soldiers carry their rifles while on board planes using Shannon Airport; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a US Air Force plane which landed at Shannon Airport was equipped with a 30 mm cannon; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13612/14]

 163. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if on the 5 and 6 of September 2013, an AC-130W Hercules turbo-prop aircraft, attached to the United States Air Force 73rd Special Operations Squadron landed at Shannon on the 5 September 2013 and departed the following day; if the aircraft was searched and carrying a 30mm modified MK-44 cannon located low on the front of the fuselage in front of the wings which photographs taken at Shannon Airport seem to indicate (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14126/14]

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. 162 and 163 together. Under the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order 1973, the carriage of weapons through Shannon Airport on commercial aircraft is prohibited unless an exemption has been obtained in advance from my colleague, the Minister for Transport. The carriage of the personal weapons of US military personnel on board chartered aircraft in transit through Shannon Airport is subject to the issuance of such an exemption in respect to each individual flight.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order 1952 gives the Minister for Foreign Affairs primary responsibility for the regulation of activity by foreign military aircraft in Ireland. Permission to land at Irish airports, including Shannon Airport, is granted by my Department subject to the condition that the aircraft are unarmed, carry no arms, ammunition or explosives, do not engage in intelligence gathering, and that the flights in question do not form any part of military exercises or operation.

As I indicated in this House on 15 October 2013, I am aware that one US military aircraft landed in Shannon Airport in September 2013 armed with a fixed weapon. I am not in a position to provide further information on the aircraft in question. The aircraft did not comply with the policy conditions set out above, a matter which the Government views with the utmost concern. The case in question was raised at the highest possible level with the US Embassy. The Embassy official expressed regret at this isolated incident, explained that it was due to an administrative error and provided assurances that steps have been taken by the US authorities to ensure that there is no recurrence.

Departmental Reports

 164. 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 number of external or internal policy reports currently that have been handed to him but not yet published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13032/14]

 165. 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 when he will publish reports currently in his possession that have not been published to date; if he will outline in tabular form the reports involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13049/14]

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 165 together.

  My Department is responsible for two Votes - Vote 28 (Foreign Affairs and Trade) and Vote 27 (International Cooperation). The Department commissions external reports where specialised skills are not available within the Department and particularly where ongoing independent evaluation of programmes and projects is required. During the course of their engagement, these experts may prepare reports and other documentation for the Department. In-depth analysis of issues by external experts has informed - and continues to inform - my Department’s policies, allowing for more targeted use of resources and greater accountability in the allocation of budgets.

   My Department also commissions internal reports, reviews and studies on an ongoing basis covering a wide range of topics and issues as required by the work of the Department. Given the broad scope of this activity, the reply has identified only the most significant internal reports. The following tables set out the details of both external and internal reports, including reports with policy implications, commissioned and funded under Vote 28 and Vote 27 since March 2011, and also indicates whether they are currently published or not published .

  Reports commissioned by the Department in relation to Irish Aid matters are generally for internal management usage and not for publication. However, many are published on the Irishaid.ie website or, in appropriate cases, can be made available on request. Likewise, there are a number of reports commissioned on the Vote 28 side that are for internal management usage and not intended for publication. Requests for release of such reports can also be considered on a case-by-case basis.

External   Reports commissioned under Vote 28 (Foreign Affairs and Trade)

Date of Commission
Experts/Consultants Matter Reported On
Date /expected date of publication
06.05.2013
Peter McEvoy Evaluation of a number of Organisations funded by the Emigrant Support Programme(ESP)
July 2013
06.09.2012
Mike WilliamsEvaluation of the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation
July 2013
16.11.2012
PA Consulting GroupEvaluating the value of the economic relationship between the United Kingdom and Ireland.
July 2013
11.07.2013
Wright Consultancy LtdGender Equality Audit
2nd Quarter 2014*


  *Not yet presented to Tánaiste

Main Internal   Reports/Reviews Commissioned under Vote 28 (Foreign Affairs and Trade)
Date of Commission
Lead Division/Unit within DepartmentMatter Reported On/Reviewed
Date/expected date of Publication
8th October 2013
Strategy and Performance Division Review of Foreign Policy and External Relations
2nd Quarter 2014*
November 2012
Consular Division Review of Honorary Consul Network
3rd Quarter 2014*
3rd July 2013 Europe Division EU Presidency 2013: DFAT Lessons Learned Report
2nd Quarter 2014*
July 2013 Corporate Services DivisionInter-Departmental Report and Review of Administrative Planning of Ireland’s 2013 Presidency of the European Union.
2nd Quarter 2014*
01/10/2012
Evaluation and Audit UnitA Value-for-Money and Policy Review of

Ireland’s Bilateral Diplomatic Missions in European Union Member States
15th December 2013
  *Not yet presented to Tánaiste

External   Reports commissioned under Vote 27 (International Cooperation)

Date of Commission
Experts/Consultants Matter Reported On
Date of Publication
28.04.2011
Kevin MooreSupport to the Governments of Zambia and South Africa to develop Special Economic Zones for the promotion of inward investment and employment
Not Applicable – see footnote*
28.04.11
Paul SheaneSupport to the Governments of Zambia and South Africa to develop Special Economic Zones for the promotion of inward investment and employment
*
05.05.2011
Stefanie MeredithReview of Irish Aid Support for Product Development Partnerships in developing countries
*
05.05.2011
Samia SaadReview of Irish Aid Support for Product Development Partnerships in developing countries
*
05.05.2011
Paud MurphyDevelopment Education Reviews - to examine the current funding support and engagement in each of the priority areas identified in the Development Education strategy (primary, post primary, third level, adult, community and youth work)
*
05.05.2011
80:20Development Education Reviews - to examine the current funding support and engagement in each of the priority areas identified in the Development Education strategy (primary, post primary, third level, adult, community and youth work)
*
05.05.2011
Eilis MurrayDevelopment Education Reviews - to examine the current funding support and engagement in each of the priority areas identified in the Development Education strategy (primary, post primary, third level, adult, community & youth work)
*
05.05.2011
ISOSDevelopment Education Reviews - to examine the current funding support and engagement in each of the priority areas identified in the Development Education strategy (primary, post primary, third level, adult, community & youth work)
*
01.06.2011
Bernard McLoughlinReview of the Irish Aid Centre, Dublin
*
01.06.2011
Cathal HigginsPreparation of a report on the programme of education sector budget support towards school infrastructural development in Karamoja region and skills development in the oil sector (Uganda)
*
12.09.2011
Humanitarian Policy LtdReview of Security Policy & Practice among Irish Aid Humanitarian Partners
*
12.08.2011
Mike WilliamsReview of Humanitarian Programme Plan for Irish Aid
*
09.01.2012
Cathy RocheReview of the Our World Awards 2005-2011
*
18.05.2012
Everywhere ConsultingFeasibility Study on the Establishment of a Humanitarian Hub at Shannon Airport
*
01.06.2012
Fintan FarrellyReview of the Irish Aid Strategic Environmental Partnership Programme
*
01.11.2012
John PatonAfrica Strategy Scoping Exercise
*
01.11.2012
Mike WilliamsReview of Misean Cara
*
01.03.2013
Bronagh Hinds & Karen McMinn ConsultantsReport on the implementation of Ireland's National Action Plan on UNSCR (United Nations Security Council Resolution) 1325 on Women, Peace & Security
June 2013
01.02.2013
Mary JenningsReview of HRD (Human Rights and Democratisation) Scheme Irish Aid Palestine
*
01.04.2013
ASTEC Global Consultancy LtdReview of Irish Aid Financial Policies and Procedures
*
05.04.13
Chartered Institute of Internal AuditorsExternal Validation of Risk-Based Audit Planning Exercise
*
01.04.13
Una MurrayExternal support for a Review of Irish Aid support to Mama Cash and Intern-Parliamentary Union
*
07.07.13
Gareth Williams

Backstop Consulting
Governance, Financial & Programme Review of Camara Education
*
05.07.13
John Geraghty

Geraghty Consulting
Review of University College Cork's Programme of Technical Support Internships for Food Security
*
01.07.13
Natural Research InstituteReview of Irish Aid Support to Fair and Ethical Trade Initiatives
*


* Reports commissioned by the Department in relation to Irish Aid matters are generally for internal management usage and not for publication. However, many are published on the Irishaid.ie website or, in appropriate cases, can be made available on request.   

Internal   Reports/Reviews Commissioned under Vote 27 (International Cooperation)
Date of Commission
Lead Division/Unit within DepartmentMatter Reported On/Reviewed
Date of publication
19/10/2012Evaluation and Audit UnitInterim Report on Misappropriation of Funds in the Office of the Prime Minister, Uganda.15th November 2012
19/10/2012Evaluation and Audit UnitFinal report by Evaluation and audit unit to the Secretary General on Misappropriation of Funds in the Office of the Prime Minister, Uganda4th March 2014
10/01/2013Evaluation and AuditAssessment of Internal Control and Risk Management Systems in Key Partner Countries

Synthesis Report
4th March 2014
25/07/2013Irish AidIrish Aid Annual Monitoring Report on Gender Equality 201212th November 2013
 Irish AidReducing Hunger, Strengthening Resilience: Irish Aid Annual Report 201212th September 2013
 Irish AidHunger Nutrition and Climate Justice Conference Report 2013 (Published 7/6/13) 7th June 2013
 Irish AidOne World One Future: Ireland's Policy for International Development (Published 2/5/13) 2nd May 2013
09/02/2012Irish AidEvaluation of the Irish Aid Ethiopia Country Strategy Programme (2008-2012) 13th May 2013
 Irish AidSummary Report of the Public Sector Governance Reform Evaluation 24th May 2013
1/5/2012Irish AidEvaluation of the Irish Aid Lesotho CSP (2008-2012) Executive Summary) 13th February 2013
30/01/2012Irish AidIrish Aid South Africa Country Strategy Programme (2008-2012) Evaluation Executive Summary 29th January 2013
 Irish AidIrish Aid Vietnam Country Strategy Paper 2011-201530th November 2012
 Irish AidIrish Aid Mozambique Country Strategy Paper 2012-2016 23rd November 2012
 Irish AidIrish Aid Multi-Annual Programme Scheme (MAPS) II Evaluation Synthesis Report 30th April 2012
 Irish AidGender Equality: One Decade into the 21st Century. Ireland’s support to Women’s Empowerment in the Developing World. 21st November 2011
 Irish AidAfrica Strategy Ireland and Africa: Our Partnership with a Changing Continent 13th September 2011
 Irish AidIrish Aid Annual Report 2010 6th September 2011
 Irish AidIrish Aid Timor Leste Programme Overview 2010-2013 18th July 2011

Overseas Development Aid Provision

 166. Deputy Billy Timmins Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the impact of the changes to Ireland's overseas development aid target (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13069/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Joe Costello): Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello The Government is very strongly committed to Ireland’s overseas aid programme and to its place at the heart of Irish foreign policy. The aid programme is regarded internationally as one of the most effective in delivering results in the fight against poverty and hunger. Our commitment to development cooperation is clear in the Programme for Government and has been strongly reiterated in our new policy for international development - One World One Future. The policy sets out our vision for a sustainable and just world in which people are empowered to overcome poverty and hunger and to fully realise their rights and potential. Despite the very severe economic and budgetary situation we have faced, the Government has clearly demonstrated its determination since coming into office to maintain and stabilise the budget for Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the maximum possible extent. In the three years 2011 through 2013, a total of over €1.9 billion has been provided for ODA. This is an enormous achievement in the circumstances. For 2014, the Government has again managed to allocate almost €600 million to ODA, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to helping the poor of the world.

  As with all major exchequer spending programmes, the annual budget for ODA is ultimately a matter for the Government and is announced by the Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform on budget day. Our new policy clearly states that the Government remains committed to the UN target of providing 0.7% of GNP in ODA, and to making further progress towards achieving it as soon as economic circumstances permit.

Foreign Policy

 167. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if the Government supports a government in Ukraine that has five ministerial posts from the far-right Svoboda Party and that works hard to de-escalate the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13094/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Ireland strongly supports the new interim government in Kiev which took up office on 27 February following the dramatic events of the preceding weeks, culminating in the departure of Viktor Yanukovych. The government’s Minsters are drawn from a number of different political groupings including the Svoboda party. The Taoiseach has written to Prime Minister Yatseniuk, offering his congratulations and I, for my part, have written in similar terms to interim Foreign Minister Deshchytsia. The Foreign Minister attended a meeting with EU Ministers immediately before the Foreign Affairs Council on 17 March at which Ireland was represented by the Minster of State for European Affairs, Paschal Donohoe T.D.

The new government is confronted with the most extraordinary challenges as a consequence of the Russian Federation’s flagrant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity leading to the illegal referendum on 16 March and the effective annexation of Crimea two days later. Prime Minister Yatseniuk attended the meeting of EU Heads of State and Government in Brussels on 6 March and provided a comprehensive briefing to the Taoiseach and other leaders on the situation in his country. He subsequently attended last week’s European Council where he and EU leaders including the Taoiseach signed the political chapters of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. The signature is a demonstration of the EU’s strong political support for, and solidarity with, the government and people of Ukraine. At the economic level, a major package of financial assistance to Kiev worth up to €11 billion has been endorsed by the Heads of State and Government.

At his meetings with the EU Heads of State and Government in Brussels, as well as at his appearance before the UN Security Council on 13 March, the Prime Minister has been quite clear that he and his government wish to work towards an immediate de-escalation of tensions and to initiate contacts with the Russian Federation with a view to peacefully resolving the crisis through dialogue. Following its meeting on 20 March, the European Council adopted Conclusions underlining the Union’s supports for the Ukrainian people and their right to choose their own future. The European Union encourages the government to ensure that the Presidential election on 25 May will be free and fair. The Union stands by the Ukrainian government in its efforts to stabilise the economy and undertake reforms. The Conclusions also commend the measured response shown so far by Ukraine.

The EU has welcomed the Ukrainian government’s commitment to ensuring the representative nature and inclusiveness of governmental structures, reflecting regional diversity. We also welcome the government’s commitment to ensure the full protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, to undertake constitutional reform, to investigate all human rights violations and acts of violence and to fight extremism. I look forward, in this connection, to the early establishment of the Council of Europe International Advisory Board and therefore welcome the visit of the Council of Europe’s Secretary General, Thorbjørn Jagland to Kiev on 10 March where he had constructive talks with the interim government and civil society.

Freedom of Information Requests

 168. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the reason no FOI requests received by his Department since 2013 have been published on the request database on his Department’s website; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13259/14]

 169. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the reason there are no FOI section 15 and section 16 manuals published on his Department’s website; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13260/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I propose to take Question Nos. 168 and 169 together.

My Department has been at the forefront of publishing FOI requests and decisions, having provided this information on its website since 2004. This initiative was temporarily suspended in 2013 while work progressed on a new departmental website. Following the recent launch of the website, non-personal FOI requests and decisions are once again displayed there. The new website will also host updated Section 15 and 16 manuals, or a publication scheme as anticipated in the Freedom of Information Bill, as soon as possible.

Shannon Airport Facilities

 170. 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 the number of persons he is aware of who have been transited through Shannon Airport in the custody of agents of other governments, and who are being detained in an extrajudicial manner in violation of international law; if he has requested and exercised the right to inspect any aircraft which transit through Shannon Airport; and if so if he will list details of all such inspections; if he has expressed his concerns to any governments suspected, accused or who have admitted engaging in this practice; the response he received; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13365/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I am not aware of any cases in which a person has been transited through Shannon Airport in the custody of agents of other nations' Governments and who are being detained in an extrajudicial manner in violation of international law. I have reiterated in this House on a regular basis that this Government is completely opposed to such practices, and that the use of our airspace or airports has not been permitted, and will not be permitted, for any illegal purpose, including rendition or the extrajudicial detention of any person. This is reflected in the current Programme for Government which states that this Government “will enforce the prohibition of the use of Irish airports and related facilities for purposes not in line with the dictates of international law”.

If evidence exists that Irish airports are being used for any alleged unlawful purpose it should be reported to An Garda Síochána, which would have responsibility for investigating such matters. An Garda Síochána has statutory powers of search and entry available to it under various legislative provisions which may be exercised in circumstances where a member reasonably suspects that an offence has been or is being committed. Immediately following the first reports suggesting that the US was practising extraordinary rendition to transit prisoners, the then Government demanded and received specific assurances from the US authorities that such prisoners had not been transferred through Irish territory, nor would they be, without our permission. These assurances were confirmed at the highest political level. They are of a clear and categoric nature, relating to facts and circumstances within the full control of the US Government. I am satisfied, as previous Ministers have been, that it is appropriate for the Government to rely fully on these assurances.

Departmental Meetings

 171. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the number of times his Department received requests by Philanthropy Ireland to meet in 2011, 2012 and 2013; the number of times his Department met with Philanthropy Ireland in those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13389/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore My Department has had no requests from Philanthropy Ireland to meet in 2011, 2012, 2013. Since 2011, along with a number of other Government Departments, my Department has been represented on the Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising. Philanthropy Ireland is also a member of the Forum. There have been no meetings between my Department and Philanthropy Ireland apart from attendance at Forum meetings.

Official Engagements

 172. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore in the context of the ongoing crisis if a representative was sent to Moscow for St. Patrick's Day. [13503/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Minister of State at the Department of Health, Alex White T.D., represented the Government at the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Moscow from 14-18 March. Minister White participated in the very successful St Patrick’s Day Parade held at Sokolniki Park in central Moscow on 15 March. It is estimated that the parade was attended by 15,000 people. Later that evening, he was a guest at the Irish Business Club’s charity Emerald Ball which was very well attended by business figures, community representatives, cultural, media and other important contacts. As well as providing an opportunity to reach out to the Irish diaspora based in Moscow and further afield in Russia, the Minister’s visit also had a strong business focus, involving attendance at the St Patrick’s Day Embassy reception on 17 March, meetings with Irish business community representatives, two food promotion events, and a meeting with the Local Market Team comprised of the Embassy and the State agencies present in the market. He also visited a Tourism Ireland outdoor photographic exhibition in central Moscow. Approximately 20,000 Russians visited Ireland last year and it is encouraging to know that this figure is set to grow even further.

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine was discussed with the Minister in his meetings with Irish community and business representatives who expressed their concern about the deteriorating situation and the very serious implications for the EU-Russian relationship, politically and economically. In his discussions, Minister White articulated Ireland’s strong views on the crisis and our call for inclusive dialogue to begin as a matter of urgency to find a peaceful settlement.

During the visit, Minister White met the Deputy Minister responsible for Primary Healthcare and also with the Deputy Director of for the Russian Drugs Control Agency to discuss matters directly related to their respective portfolios.

The Minister had a very useful and extensive meeting on 17 March with representatives of Amnesty International, the International Crisis Group and the Russian LGBT Sport Federation on issues of most concern to them. As is widely recognised, civil society organisations are under intense pressure within the Russian Federation owing to increasingly restrictive legislation including the so-called NGO Foreign Agents Law about which the EU has expressed its grave concern on many occasions.

For my part, I have spoken out about this issue and have also raised my serious concerns over Russia’s LGBTI-related legislation directly with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Minister White conveyed Ireland’s strong support for the work of these organisations and underlined our interest in staying in close contact with them. I understand from talking with Minister White since he returned that the civil society representatives were highly appreciative of the support and solidarity which Ireland continues to show for them and their vitally important work within Russia.

Ministerial Staff

 173. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the number of civil servants engaged in constituency work on his behalf; and the salaries, accommodation costs and expenses involved or associated with these duties. [13685/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The staffing and salaries information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

 

NoGradeAnnual salary

Travel Expenses

1Personal Assistant56,06083.50
1Personal Secretary45,940Nil
2Clerical Officer33,840

37,341
Nil

Nil


  The accommodation occupied by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is provided by the Office of Public Works. All accommodation-related costs for the Department are covered by the budget allocated for such expenses and it is not possible to isolate the proportion of these costs that apply to the Tánaiste’s constituency office.

Emigrant Support Services

 174. 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 the initiatives his Department is taking to try and better inform Irish citizens who emigrate to popular destinations about the realities of the employment market, cost of living, accommodation and social welfare arrangements in those countries; if his attention has been drawn to a problem of homelessness amongst Irish citizens living in London; his views on this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13711/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Whilst this Government is committed to implementing policies that will in the future ensure that no Irish citizen has to emigrate because of economic necessity, we continue to support organisations both at home and abroad that are assisting those who are emigrating today. This support is administered through the Emigrant Support Programme (ESP) which provides direct assistance to Irish emigrants, both longstanding and new. Since 2004, Irish groups ranging from those providing front line services to those most in need including the elderly, isolated, vulnerable and new arrivals, have received grants in the region of €100 million, under the Programme. The ESP provided support to over 190 Irish community and business organisations in 17 countries in 2013 and despite the economic situation I ensured that the ESP budget for 2014 - €11.595 million - remained at the same level as in 2012 and 2013.

The programme provides extensive funding to organisations acting as first port of call for new emigrants in traditional emigration centres such as Britain and the U.S.A. In addition to these traditional channels of support, funds are also provided to organisations supporting a wide range of business and graduate networks around the world.

Irish based organisations that offer pre-departure services to Irish citizens considering emigration, such as the Crosscare Migrant Project, also receive ESP funding. Crosscare provides training to mainstream service providers on emigration and returners’ issues whilst working in conjunction with Irish welfare organisations abroad (many of which are also funded by ESP) as well as both statutory and voluntary service providers in Ireland, including the probation service, Salvation Army and Safehome Limited.

A substantial portion of ESP funding is provided to a number of organisations primarily focussed on tackling the problem of homelessness. These include, in the London area, the Cricklewood Homeless Concern, the Safe Start Foundation in Middlesex, the London Irish Centre, the Luton Irish Forum and the NOAH Enterprise (Luton), amongst others.

Passport Services

 175. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he will consider the possible ways of putting in place a reminder system for persons whose passports are about to expire; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13917/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore A passport reminder service is available on the Passport Service website. This reminder service sends an e-mail, to those who have registered, three months before a passport is due to expire. Registration is simple and merely requires those interested to record their name, e-mail address and the expiry date of the passport. It is possible to register a number of different passports (e.g. all members of a family) using the one e-mail address with the reminder e-mail detailing which passport registered is about to expire. The reminder e-mail also provides details of how to renew the passport, where to obtain passport application forms, etc.

Programme for Government Implementation

 176. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he will provide an update in tabular form of the commitments in the programme for Government that relate to his Department; and the progress that has been made in the implementation of each commitment.  [14115/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I refer the Deputy to the recently published Annual Report on the Programme for Government which sets out the progress over the last 12 months of an extensive number of the Department’s commitments including increasing exports, promoting Ireland abroad, overseas development aid, humanitarian crises response, civilian corps, implementing the Good Friday Agreement and St. Andrew’s Agreement, economic co-operation to support jobs, review of the North- South bodies and Ireland’s Presidency of the EU. I would also draw the Deputy’s attention to the recent statements in the Dáil on this topic, in particular my own statement and that of my colleague Minister of State Costello, where we set out the Department’s substantial progress to date under the Programme for Government commitments.

In terms of the crucial priority of economic recovery, we have achieved very significant progress in restoring Ireland’s international reputation through a renewed emphasis on economic diplomacy. My Department and our Embassy network use every opportunity to highlight Ireland’s economic strengths and potential to international audiences. The impact of this work is clear. We have regained access to international bond markets and the confidence of international investors. Export levels are now higher than they were before the economic crisis. Net job creation from inward investment and by our small and medium sized exporting companies was higher in 2013 than it has been for ten years. Ireland is now ranked by Forbes magazine as the best country in the world for business.

We also committed to implement the recommendations in the Government Trade, Tourism and Investment Strategy and to actively develop cultural and diplomatic links with emerging markets. My Department has recently completed a short, focused review of the Strategy, adding an additional seven ‘Exploratory and High Potential Markets’ and we recently announced that five new Embassies and three new Consulates General will be opened in key locations across South East Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas. These Embassies and Consulates will provide a platform for further promotion of Irish exports, investment, tourism and education.

In relation to Northern Ireland, we continue to work intensively with the parties in the Executive and with the British Government in support of an early agreement in the context of the ongoing political talks on parades, flags and contending with the past. British-Irish and North-South relations are strong and strengthening, offering a new and unprecedented opportunity currently to accelerate North/South and East/West cooperation in a practical direction in support of job creation and economic growth on the island.

Ministers North and South agreed, at the North South Ministerial Council’s Plenary meeting in November 2013 in the context of the St Andrews Agreement Review, to focus on new priorities for practical economic cooperation that can help economic recovery, job creation, the optimal use of public money and the most effective delivery of public services. Both the Government and the Northern Ireland Executive are keen to ensure that a preliminary package of new priorities will be ready for consideration at the next NSMC Plenary meeting in summer 2014.

Despite the very severe economic and budgetary situation we have faced, the Government has clearly demonstrated its determination since coming into office to maintain and stabilise the budget for Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the maximum possible extent. In the three years 2011 through 2013, a total of over €1.9 billion has been provided for ODA. This is an enormous achievement in the circumstances. For 2014, the Government has again managed to allocate almost €600 million to ODA, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to helping the poor of the world. Our new policy clearly states that the Government remains committed to the UN target of providing 0.7% of GNP in ODA, and to making further progress towards achieving it as soon as economic circumstances permit.

EU Meetings

 177. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he will provide an update on the recent meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council; the issues discussed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14208/14]

 178. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the proposals he put forward at the recent EU Foreign Affairs Council in relation to the serious difficulties in Ukraine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14209/14]

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. 177 and 178 together.

  My colleague the Minister of State for European Affairs, Mr Paschal Donohue T.D., attended the most recent Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on 17 March. While Council discussions were, understandably, dominated by the situation in Ukraine which I address below, other important issues were also discussed, and Conclusions were agreed across a number of key policy areas; the full text of these Conclusions may be accessed on the official EU website http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/EN/foraff/141614.pdf .

  In opening remarks, High Representative (HR) Ashton briefed Ministers on her recent visits to both Bosnia and Iran. HR Ashton also presented a short overview of the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) and then moved on to update the Council on the latest developments in the Syrian   crisis. It is anticipated that more in-depth discussions will take place on the Southern and Eastern Neighbourhood regions at the April Council meeting. A short discussion on the situation in the Central African Republic took place, where the emphasis was on the need to speed up work on the preparations for the CSDP EUFOR CAR operation, as laid down in UN Security Council Resolution 2134. The FAC was also briefed on the preparations currently advancing for the EU-Africa Summit in Brussels at the beginning of next month (2-3 April). The final agenda item, energy, was addressed over lunch and Ministers were joined by Commissioner Oettinger for an exchange of views on EU energy policy and, more specifically, the foreign policy dimension to this critical dossier.

  Turning to the crisis in Ukraine, the FAC had a comprehensive and wide-ranging discussion, agreeing on Council Conclusions which strongly condemn the holding of the illegal referendum in Crimea, stating that this is in clear breach of the Ukrainian Constitution. The FAC confirmed that the EU will not recognise the illegal referendum and its outcome, noting that it was held in the visible presence of armed soldiers under conditions of intimidation of civic activists and journalists. The Council Conclusions commend the measured response shown so far by Ukraine.

  All Member States expressed strong views and deep concern about the unfolding crisis. In light of the deterioration in the situation, it was decided to implement measures envisaged by the Heads of State and Government at their informal meeting on 6 March, namely the imposition of travel restrictions and an asset freeze against 21 individuals, 8 from the pro-Russian Crimean authorities, 10 Russian Parliamentarians, and 3 Russian military figures. As the Deputy is aware, the European Council at its meeting of 20-21 March added a further 12 names to the list.

  In relation to assistance - political and economic - for the government in Kiev, the FAC supported the signing of the political chapters of the Ukraine Association Agreement (which took place at the European Council last Friday). The European Union is also committed to providing strong financial support to Ukraine’s economic and financial stabilisation, as presented by the European Commission in its assistance package.

  The Foreign Affairs Council encouraged the Ukrainian authorities to implement an inclusive process, to pursue their efforts to ensure free and fair elections and to advance constitutional reform. It stressed that all human rights violations and acts of violence need to be properly investigated and that measures need to be stepped up to combat impunity. In this context, Ireland and its EU partners look forward to the early establishment of the Council of Europe International Advisory Panel.

  The FAC confirmed that the EU remains ready to support the facilitating of dialogue between Ukraine and Russia and urged Moscow to take steps to de-escalate the crisis, immediately withdraw its forces back to their pre-crisis numbers and garrisons in line with its international commitments. Importantly, the Conclusions noted that there was still time to reverse current developments and that the Union is ready for a constructive dialogue with all sides.

The Foreign Affairs Council was preceded by a meeting of the Friends of Ukraine which was attended by Minister Donohoe. EU Ministers were able to discuss latest developments with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Andrii Deshchytsia, who was also in attendance.   

Ministerial Dialogue

 179. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he has discussed with the United States authorities the appointment of an ambassador; the likely timescale for such an appointment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14211/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Ambassador Daniel M. Rooney completed his Mission as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Ireland on 14 December 2012. Pending the nomination of his successor, the Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of the United States of America is acting in the capacity of Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim. While the appointment of a new Ambassador is a matter for the sending state to initiate, we are keen to see that process concluded as soon as possible and to welcoming a new Ambassador to Ireland at the earliest opportunity. These points were reflected in the Taoiseach’s discussion on the matter with President Obama at the White House on 14 March.

Humanitarian Aid

 180. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the total humanitarian aid provided to date for Syria and that region; the level of financial assistance being provided for 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14212/14]

 182. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if the failure of the international community to provide adequate humanitarian aid to Syria and that region was discussed at the recent EU Foreign Affairs Council; the commitments made by the international community following Humanitarian Aid Pledging Conference; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14214/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Joe Costello): Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello I propose to take Questions Nos. 180 and 182 together.

The protracted and tragic crisis in Syria has resulted in unprecedented levels of humanitarian need, requiring a sustained response from the international community. As the number of fatalities reaches an estimated 140,000 people, there are now over 9 million people within Syria who are in need of immediate life-saving support, with a further 2.5 million Syrian refugees requiring assistance in neighbouring countries.

Ireland has been to the fore in the international efforts to help alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people and is one of the most generous contributors to the humanitarian response on a per capita basis. In view of the immense needs in Syria and neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees, I announced a pledge of a further €12 million in humanitarian assistance in 2014 at the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria and the region in Kuwait on January 15th 2014. This additional pledge brings Ireland’s overall funding commitment over the period 2011 to 2014 to €26.011 million, of which €19 million has been disbursed to date. Funds have been provided to a range of established UN partners as well as to Irish NGOs.

Ireland has been consistent in its efforts to ensure that the necessary attention is given by the international community to this crisis, including at the at the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels last week where discussions were focussed, in particular, on the humanitarian consequences of the conflict, both within Syria and in its neighbouring countries. Ireland has consistently matched our material humanitarian contribution with concrete support to international efforts to find a sustainable political solution to the crisis, and to advocate for safe and unimpeded humanitarian access. We have called for all parties to the conflict to fully respect international humanitarian law and to refrain from the targeting of civilians. Ireland will continue to advocate at all relevant international fora for increased support to the humanitarian relief effort, as well as for the full and immediate implementation by all parties to the conflict of UN Security Council Resolution 2139 on humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people.


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