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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 192-211
 Header Item Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board
 Header Item Residential Institutions Statutory Fund
 Header Item Education and Training Boards Administration
 Header Item Schools Facilities
 Header Item Site Acquisitions
 Header Item Schools Building Projects
 Header Item Schools Property
 Header Item Direct Provision System
 Header Item Teacher Recruitment
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Departmental Bodies Data
 Header Item Northern Ireland
 Header Item Revenue Commissioners Reports
 Header Item Repatriation Costs
 Header Item Diplomatic Representation Expenditure
 Header Item Overseas Development Aid Expenditure
 Header Item Undocumented Irish in the USA

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 960 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 192-211

Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board

 192. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the name, position and grade of all Caranua staff; the vacancies at the organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43867/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Section 17 of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act 2012 provides that Caranua shall appoint, with the consent of the Minister of Education and Skills and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, the number of staff as it may from time to time determine.  The approved staffing complement is currently 24.6 full time equivalent posts. Staff are appointed to equivalent civil service grades and are placed on the appropriate authorised salary scale. Relevant details are set out in the following table. I understand that there are currently three vacancies in Caranua’s authorised staffing complement and I am advised that a recruitment process is currently underway to fill two of these posts and that the recruitment process to fill the third post will commence shortly.

No Position Grade
1 Chief Executive Officer Principal Officer
1 Director of Services Assistant Principal Officer
12 Application Advisor Executive Officer
0.6 WTE Finance Assistant Executive Officer
1 Director of Finance & Administration Assistant Principal Officer
1 Head of Administration Higher Executive Officer
5 Administrative Assistant Clerical Officer
2 Quality, Compliance and Information Officer Executive Officer
1 Head of Communications & Engagement Higher Executive Officer
   

Residential Institutions Statutory Fund

 193. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on the refusal by Caranua to provide funeral expenses for a person (details supplied) who survived a residential institution and, following five days' testimony at the commission, received a payment from the redress board, in view of the fact that Caranua has amended its criteria to include funeral expenses; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [43868/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Caranua, the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board, is an independent statutory body established pursuant to the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act 2012 to oversee the use of the cash contributions of up to €110 million, pledged by the religious congregations, to support the needs of survivors of institutional child abuse. The determination of the criteria by reference to which Caranua may make decisions in respect of applications to it is a statutory function of the organisation itself and I have no role in that process. Furthermore, I have no role in Caranua’s day to day operations including in relation to the processing of individual applications. I should point out also that decisions of Caranua may be appealed to an independent Appeals Officer appointed under section 21 of the 2012 Act and that a person who is affected by a decision of an Appeals Officer may appeal to the High Court on a point of law.

As no details were supplied with the Deputy’s question I suggest that, if she wishes to raise a particular case, she makes direct contact with Caranua using the dedicated email address for members of the Houses of the Oireachtas (oireachtas@caranua.ie). 

Education and Training Boards Administration

 194. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on payments for members of education and training boards (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43882/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Travel & Subsistence arrangements for ETB Board and Committee members have been aligned with public sector norms in accordance with revised Department of Public Expenditure and Reform arrangements.  This was the main driver of the revisions in the ETB sector.

These revised T&S arrangements took effect from 1 April 2017. The revised arrangements were also put in place across the public sector, including in the local authority sector, to which the ETBs have been traditionally linked.  The T&S arrangements are outlined in Department Circular 0039/2017.

The Deputy will appreciate that it is not desirable to deviate from public sector norms in relation to travel and subsistence arrangements. However, my Department has indicated that it will be happy to receive feedback in due course on any effects arising from the changes after they have had time to bed in.

Schools Facilities

 195. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if his attention has been drawn to the safety concerns regarding traffic outside a school (details supplied) such as no safety railing between the school and the car park during pick up and drop off; the funding available to implement safety mechanisms for this school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43934/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton To date the school to which the Deputy refers has not applied to my Department for funding to address safety concerns regarding traffic outside the school during pick up and drop off times.

  The mechanism for applying for funding for works of this nature is my Department’s Summer Works Scheme and it is open to the school authority to apply for these works under a future Summer Works Scheme.

  In the interim if the school authority identify health and safety works that require immediate attention they should submit an Emergency Works Application form, which is available on my Departments website.

Site Acquisitions

 196. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the progress made with locating a permanent site for a school (details supplied) recently awarded in the patronage competition for the Pelletstown, Scribblestown and Dublin 7 area; if he has directed Dublin City Council to engage with landowners to secure a site; the measures to accommodate the school in the interim; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [43961/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As the Deputy may be aware the project to which she refers is included on my Department’s capital programme.

  A potential permanent site has been identified and this is being progressed.

  In the interim my Department will continue to liaise with the school patron with regard to existing temporary accommodation arrangements.

Schools Building Projects

 197. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if his attention has been drawn to the case of a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43970/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I can confirm that my Department has received correspondence from the school in question relating to a proposed building project at the school. The correspondence is being considered and my Department will be in further contact with the school authority when this process has been completed.

Schools Property

 198. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if financial assistance will be provided for a school (details supplied) to carry out essential maintenance works. [43971/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I understand that the school contacted my Department today, Tuesday 17th October, relating to damage caused to its accommodation during the recent Storm Ophelia. The school was advised to contact its insurance company.

  I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has published information for schools that have experienced or encountered difficulties or damage, following Storm Ophelia on my Department’s website www.education.i.e

Direct Provision System

 199. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to Parliamentary Question No. 95 of 11 October 2017, if there are education, training or other classes available to adults living in direct provision other than English language classes as many residents may already be proficient in English; if consideration has been given to such provision; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [43990/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Adult participants in the protection process may avail of free access to adult literacy and English language supports.  They may also access programmes under the Post Leaving Certificate Programme on payment of the fees applicable to non-EU/EEA nationals.  In certain circumstances financial supports for access to such courses are available to students who meet the criteria of my Department's Pilot Support Scheme for access for further and higher education by persons in the protection process.   Details of this scheme are available on my Department's website at the following link:

 https://www.education.ie/en/Learners/Services/Pilot-Support-Scheme/Pilot-Support-Scheme.html  

Teacher Recruitment

 200. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the position regarding the lack of modern language teachers available for employment, especially in the case of a school (details supplied) in County Wexford; if his Department has examined the reasons for a shortage of modern language teachers available for employment at second level schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44010/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department has been made aware that there may be difficulties for schools in recruiting teachers of certain subjects, including teachers of modern languages. My Department is not aware of the specific case of the school to which the Deputy refers.

I might draw the Deputy’s attention to the final report of the Technical Working Group on teacher supply, ‘Striking the Balance’, which was published on 9 June 2017.  The report focusses on the development of a model of primary teacher supply, while outlining the work which will be required to establish a sustainable long term model of post primary teacher supply. The report sets out an approach to planning the work necessary to develop a model for achieving a better balance between teacher supply and demand in the medium to long term. 

Officials of my Department are now considering how the development of a model can be progressed, from within available resources. The necessary actions will include engagement with the HEA in order to ensure that the supply of teachers meets demand and there is the correct balance of teachers in each of the various subject areas at post primary level, including for modern languages, as well as measures to address data requirements, particularly at post primary level.

The Deputy may wish to note that a key commitment in my Department's Action Plan for Education is the publication of a Foreign Languages in Education Strategy. This is a priority issue for me in the context of my goal of making Ireland’s education system the best in Europe.  The Strategy recognises that to ensure a supply of graduates with foreign language competences for the education sector, there will need to be a greater uptake of foreign languages in higher education. My Department is currently finalising the strategy, which, it is intended, will be published shortly.

Schools Building Projects Status

 201. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the progress being made towards the delivery of a building programme for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44016/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton A building project for the school to which the Deputy refers is included in my Department's Six Year Capital Plan and my Department is currently liaising with the local authority with a view to finalising the acquisition of the site.

  Once the acquisition is finalised, the architectural planning process for the provision of a new school building for the school can be initiated.

Schools Building Projects Status

 202. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the progress of works on a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44027/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton A major school building project to provide new accommodation for the school referred to by the Deputy has recently been authorised by my Department to proceed to tender for the appointment of a Building Contractor.  Assuming no significant issues arise during the tender process, my Department expects that the project will progress to site early in 2018

Departmental Bodies Data

 203. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the State bodies or boards that fall under the remit of his Department; and the number of members of each State body or board who are not qualified within the field in which the board or body has oversight. [43416/17]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney There are no State bodies or boards that fall under the aegis of my Department.

Northern Ireland

 204. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding the negotiations being held in Northern Ireland; and his views on whether the Executive will be reinstated. [43447/17]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Government is determined, as co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, to do everything in our power to ensure that all of its institutions are operating effectively, including the devolved Assembly and power-sharing Executive in Northern Ireland and the North-South Ministerial Council.

I remain in regular contact with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, and the political parties, as both Governments continue work to support and encourage the parties in achieving the urgent and essential objective of forming a new Executive within the mandate of the current Assembly.

I have welcomed the intensified and sustained engagement between the DUP and Sinn Féin over the last number of weeks in order to resolve key differences which have proved an obstacle to them forming a new Executive. As the two parties mandated to lead the next Executive, it is for them in the first instance to establish a basis on which a new administration can work. I have continued to encourage the parties to stretch themselves to reach an agreement which is consistent with their electoral mandates and which reflects the principles of mutual respect, parity of esteem and partnership.

I do not underestimate the differences that remain to be resolved in order for such an agreement to be reached. However, I believe that these can and must be resolved in the period immediately ahead. Time is now a very real factor, with budgetary and other necessary decisions looming in relation to the provision of public services in Northern Ireland. These need to be addressed by effective and sustainable devolved government in Northern Ireland, as provided for under the Good Friday Agreement. The essential work of the North South Ministerial Council also needs to urgently recommence, not least in the context of Brexit.

I am hopeful that the political parties will urgently and successfully conclude their discussions which will allow the Executive and Assembly, and indeed all of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement, to function effectively.

On behalf of the Government, I will continue to make all possible efforts, working with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the political parties, to support an agreement on the formation of a new power-sharing Executive in the period immediately ahead.

Revenue Commissioners Reports

 205. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he has received the report of the Revenue Commissioners on Brexit that was leaked on 8 October 2017; if so, if he has discussed same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43448/17]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I am aware of the report to which the Deputy refers. I understand that this was a draft internal working paper and preliminary analysis carried out by the Revenue Commissioners, which dates from September 2016. Therefore, as it was an internal report, I would not have expected to receive it. I understand that a redacted version of this document has since been published on the website of the Revenue Commissioners.

As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade with special responsibility for Brexit I am working intensively with colleagues from across all Departments to ensure a coordinated Government response to Brexit.

With the agreement of the Taoiseach I have mandated the establishment of new cross-Departmental coordination structures, chaired at very senior level by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. These are now fully operational and represent a frequent and active channel through which all relevant Departments, including the Revenue Commissioners, are providing their input to the Government’s wider response to Brexit, including its priorities for the ongoing Article 50 negotiations between the EU and the UK.

Repatriation Costs

 206. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans to introduce a scheme to cover the repatriation costs encountered by the families of Irish citizens who have died abroad.  [43459/17]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Department of Foreign Affairs responds to around 3,000 consular emergency cases each year, and the highest priority is always given to those involving the deaths of Irish citizens overseas. In 2016 my Department assisted in 250 such cases. Sadly, this number looks likely to increase in 2017 and could be around 300.

My Department and its staff are well trained and experienced in the provision of such consular assistance, and the quality of the work carried out by officials in this area is highly regarded. I am very proud of the achievement of my Department’s Consular Directorate in being awarded the 2016 Public Service Excellence and Innovation Award in the Customer Service Excellence category.

In cases involving the death of an Irish citizen abroad, my Department, and our Embassies and Consulates, provide assistance to families in a range of areas which can include liaising with local authorities on issues such as formal identification of the deceased and post-mortem examinations; assisting families to obtain death certificates and navigating local systems and processes; liaising with local police where the death is sudden or suspicious and an investigation is required; providing lists of reputable local English-speaking undertakers; assisting with the completion and filing of documentation required for the repatriation of remains; assisting families in contacts with insurance agents; and arranging for the storage and repatriation of personal effects of deceased persons.

My Department does not provide financial assistance in such cases and has no budget provision for such assistance. I am not aware of any country where the Government operates a scheme providing direct financial assistance to families who suffer a bereavement overseas, and there are no plans for the introduction of any such scheme here.

In many cases where a death occur abroad and the family wish to bring the remains home to Ireland, costs associated with repatriation of remains are covered by insurance policies.

The importance of taking out comprehensive travel insurance is a message which my Department seeks to convey to Irish citizens at every opportunity, and we also ask all public representatives to share that message with their constituents where possible.

In exceptional circumstances, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection can make an exceptional needs payment to a family to assist with funeral costs in Ireland, but this does not cover repatriation of remains from overseas.

The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust Fund (KBRTF), a private organisation which raises funds from the public, provides assistance with repatriation of remains, and my Department and the Trust often work together on specific cases as appropriate.

Diplomatic Representation Expenditure

 207. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on the announcement that Ireland will open five new diplomatic missions between 2018 and 2019; the timeframe for opening these new embassies and consulates; the estimated cost of each mission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43737/17]

 208. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the way in which the €2 million allocated in budget 2018 to expanding Ireland's global footprint will be utilised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43738/17]

 209. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the way in which the €3.5 million allocated in budget 2018 to the Article 50 negotiations will be utilised; if it will result in additional staff in his Department; the details of the way in which the money will be spent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43739/17]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I propose to take Questions Nos. 207 to 209, inclusive, together.

The opening of three new embassies in Santiago, Chile, Bogotá, Colombia and Amman, Jordan and two new consulates general in Vancouver, Canada and Mumbai, India between 2018 and 2019 is an important first step in doubling Ireland’s global footprint by 2025 and building our capacity to respond to the complexity of the challenges we face in the years ahead.

This phase of the expansion will further support Ireland’s foreign trade and inward investment drive and help position Ireland for growth in new markets as well as enhance the promotion of our values and the protection of our citizens around the world. Decisions on the locations of the new missions were informed by the trade and investment strategy, “Ireland Connected” and consistent with forthcoming Asia-Pacific and Americas Strategies across government. The locations for the new missions were identified on the basis of likely impact.

Given the wide variety of local circumstances involved in establishing each new Mission and the need to consult with the host country Governments, it is not possible to provide further detail on the timetable for openings at this stage.

The estimated cost of each mission will depend on a range of factors including staffing and accommodation. The new missions will likely have from one to three staff from HQ with local support staff. The €2 million allocated in Budget 2018 will cover initial outlays incurred next year. My Department will also need to ensure that the vital services infrastructure and policy support capacity at headquarters is adequate. However, I anticipate that all necessary arrangements will be completed in a timely way.

Ireland will need to grow its presence in fast-growing emerging countries as well as deepen our market penetration in more developed markets and our diplomatic missions overseas will continue to be crucial in this. The priority of my Department, as across government and state agencies, will be to support the growth of Ireland’s share of international trade, employment and investment and the diversification of our markets where needed.

Brexit is undoubtedly one of the most significant challenges the country will face in the coming years. The Government has been clear that our priorities are to minimise the impact on our trade and economy; to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the gains of the peace process; to maintain the Common Travel Area and to help shape the future direction of Europe. The resources allocated to the expansion of our mission network internationally are an important strand in helping to mitigate the risks posed by Brexit to our economy including through diversification of trade with emerging markets and foreign direct investment flows. At the same time, protecting our economic interests in terms of trade and investment with the UK will be a key priority.

Our objectives also need to be pursued through seeking the best possible outcome for Ireland from the ongoing EU-UK negotiations on the UK's withdrawal from the EU. To this end, the additional funding allocated in budget 2018 allocated to my Department for the Article 50 negotiations will support ongoing work by Ireland’s Brexit teams in Dublin, Brussels, Berlin, Paris and London and at Ireland’s missions across the EU, including through additional staff resources in due course. These increased resources will also help to ensure our strong influence on the debate underway on the future of Europe where we will be seeking to ensure that the EU continues to deliver for our citizens as we address the many challenges of growing threats to the rules-based trading order in a globalised world.

Overseas Development Aid Expenditure

 210. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the way a €13 million allocation for official development assistance, ODA, in budget 2018 will affect our ODA to GNP target; the resulting estimated ODA, as a percentage of GNP, due to the increase; the percentage of ODA to GNP in each of the years 2007 to 2016 and to date in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [43740/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon Last week for budget 2018, the Government announced a total allocation of €707 million to Official Development Assistance (ODA). This represents an increase of some €26 million on the current year, and is the third consecutive year the Government has increased budget allocations to Ireland’s Aid programme.

  Just over €500 million of the total ODA allocation for 2018 will be managed by my Department through Vote 27 International Cooperation, publically known as Irish Aid. This represents a welcome increase of over €13 million on the 2017 allocation to Irish Aid. The further €207 million is comprised of funding made by other Government Departments to multilateral organisations, such as that provided by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to the World Food Programme, as well as Ireland’s share of the EU Development Cooperation budget.

  This significant investment in Ireland’s development aid programme is a clear demonstration of the Government’s commitment to making sustainable and manageable increases to the aid budget as resources allow.

  On current projections for Gross Domestic Product (GNP), the 2017 ODA/GNP percentage will be approximately 0.3%. Using the GNP forecast for next year, it is expected that the 2018 ODA/GNP percentage should again be 0.3% - in effect maintaining the target at the expected 2017 outturn level.

  I am committed to a clear roadmap towards the achievement of the UN target of an ODA contribution of 0.7% of GNP. Working with Minister Coveney and colleagues across Government, I would anticipate proposals in this regard in the first half of next year.

  Our priority is to now use those additional resources to meet our commitment in the fight against poverty and hunger, continue to bring real and sustainable improvements some of the world’s poorest communities and increase our response to the unprecedented level of humanitarian needs worldwide.

  A summary of the percentage of GNP spent on ODA for the years 2007 through to 2017 are set out as follows:

ODA as a Percentage of GNP 2007 - 2017 (Figures in € Millions)
  Year ODA as a % of Revised GNP
Estimate 2017 0.30%
Outturn 2016 0.33%
  2015 0.32%
  2014 0.38%
  2013 0.43%
  2012 0.47%
  2011 0.50%
  2010 0.51%
  2009 0.54%
  2008 0.59%
  2007 0.53%
 

Undocumented Irish in the USA

 211. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the progress to date in addressing the undocumented Irish in the United States of America; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43964/17]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I am acutely aware of the very understandable concerns which exist among members of the Irish community in the U.S. in light of recent developments in the area of immigration under the new U.S. Administration.

The changed political landscape in the US has resulted in a renewed focus on the plight of the many millions of undocumented people living in the US, including thousands of Irish citizens.

Ireland’s diplomatic representatives in the U.S continue to take every opportunity to raise the immigration issue with the US authorities and with their contacts on Capitol Hill.

In order to support people who have those concerns, our Embassy in Washington DC, and our six Consulates across the U.S., continue to work with Irish immigration centres to provide support to undocumented Irish citizens.

Legal advice on the implications of policy developments for undocumented Irish citizens in the U.S, funded by my Department, has been disseminated amongst Irish immigration centres in the United States and is available online.

The Irish Government’s objectives regarding undocumented Irish citizens in the United States remain constant, namely, to achieve relief for the undocumented and facilitate greater pathways for legal migration to the United States.

With this in mind, Ireland’s diplomatic representatives in the U.S. are continuing to systematically avail of all opportunities to raise the immigration issue in their contacts with the US authorities, including the prospects for immigration reform and the situation of the undocumented.

We do not, however, underestimate the size of the challenge.

This policy area has been a deeply divisive issue within the US political system for decades, with pronounced disagreement, even within the same political parties, on the best way to deal with a problem which directly affects over 11 million people.

The Government has always tried to work with both parties in a bipartisan way to address our longstanding concerns and this continues to be our approach.

During my visit to New York for the UN General Assembly in September, I met with representatives of the four Irish Immigration Centers in the region and a representative of the US-wide Coalition of Irish Immigration Centres. It gave me the opportunity to hear from those working at the coalface with the undocumented Irish as to the current situation and the problems they are encountering on the ground.

In addition, I met with a senior State Department official and used that opportunity to once again impress on the US administration the importance which the Irish Government attaches to a resolution of the plight of the undocumented Irish.

I was able to further emphasise the Government’s commitment to this issue when I travelled to Washington DC from 3 to 5 October and met with senior members of President Trump’s administration and with members of Congress.

I was pleased that Deputy John Deasy, the Government’s Special Envoy to the US Congress on the Undocumented, who was appointed by the Taoiseach to that position last June, was able to accompany me to those meetings. His appointment was another important statement of our intent and seriousness on this issue.

In addition, the Taoiseach raised the issue when he spoke with President Trump by phone shortly after taking office and I know that the Taoiseach looks forward to having an opportunity to discuss this important issue with President Trump in more detail in due course.

There can be no doubt, then, that the Government remains wholly committed to working with the US authorities to resolve the plight of the undocumented Irish. The Government will continue to articulate to the US authorities our keen interest in this area while respecting the right of the United States to set its own immigration policies.

I can assure the Deputy of the Government’s continued commitment to pursuing these matters on behalf of our affected citizens in the U.S.


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