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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 108-126
 Header Item Overseas Missions
 Header Item Capital Expenditure Programme
 Header Item Passport Applications Administration
 Header Item Climate Change Policy
 Header Item Northern Ireland
 Header Item Northern Ireland
 Header Item Passport Applications
 Header Item Election Monitoring Missions
 Header Item Passport Applications
 Header Item Ministerial Meetings
 Header Item Human Rights
 Header Item Foreign Conflicts
 Header Item Overseas Development Aid Expenditure
 Header Item Humanitarian Aid Provision
 Header Item Election Monitoring Missions
 Header Item International Relations

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 91 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 108-126

Overseas Missions

 108. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if the soldiers deployed to Mali have been there for a period exceeding six consecutive months; the anti-malarial drug that has been typically prescribed to the contingent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10753/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Military Authorities have advised that all Defence Force personnel currently serving in the EU Training Mission (EUTM) Mali deployed on 15th September 2018 and will all return to Ireland on 23rd March 2019. The tour of duty consists of six months and one week to accommodate a hand over and take over period. The Military Authorities further advise that the anti-malarial drug that has been typically prescribed to the contingent is Mefloquine.

EUTM Mali is part of a wider EU effort in support of international peace and security in the wider Sahel region. The mission is being undertaken at the request of the Malian Government and has the support of a UN Security Council Resolution.

Capital Expenditure Programme

 109. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the capital allocation for defence in 2019; the expenditure allocations for defensive equipment, major capital infrastructural projects, the Naval Service, Air Corps, Army vehicles, equipment and protective suits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10806/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe A total of €106 million has been allocated for 2019 for capital expenditure in Vote 36 Defence. This is in accordance with the National Development Plan, which provides for an overall capital allocation of €541m for Defence for the period 2018 to 2022. This capital funding will allow the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructure development as identified in the White Paper.

  The main categories of expenditure in the 2019 capital allocation across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service are as follows:

  - Capability Development = €70m;

  - Built Infrastructure = €19m;

  - Military Transport = €6m;

  - Defence Forces Communication and Information Technology Equipment = €5m;

  - Other Equipment = €6m.

  The capital allocation for Defence for 2019 and for the period to 2022 demonstrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring that the Defence Forces have the capabilities necessary to deliver on all their assigned roles, both at home and overseas.

Passport Applications Administration

 110. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the reason it states under an item (details supplied) that a citizen who wishes to have a new passport following a name change must have two documents dating back two years from the point of application proving that name; the reason a public services card that was issued less than two years prior to date of application may be accepted as one of the documents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10552/19]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The issuance of passports is subject to the terms of the Passports Act, 2008 (“the Act”). In cases where a name change arises other than by marriage, civil partnership or adoption, section 10 of the Act specifically requires evidence of the use of this new name over a two year period to be submitted before a passport can issue in a new name.

In order for passport to issue in a new name, two documents that show the applicant is using their new name, such as a driver's licence, college identification card, school report, social welfare receipts, pay slip, utility bills, bank statements or official correspondence from a public or private sector organisation must be supplied with the new passport application. These supporting documents must date back at least two years from the date that the application is made.

A copy of valid Public Services Card issued in the applicant’s new name can be considered as one document showing proof of usage, even if the card was issued less than 2 years ago. The PSC and the relevant issuing process, which is managed by the Department of Social Protection, is secure and robust and gives a high degree of assurance regarding the identity of the holder.

The Passport Service may request additional documentary evidence and information as may be needed to establish and verify an applicant’s identity.

These rules seek to protect the integrity and security of the Irish passports against passport and identity fraud while allowing for genuine cases where name changes have occurred. The Irish passport has a strong international reputation due to the strength of security features within the book and the robust processes involved in its issuance.

Climate Change Policy

 111. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the financial instruments used in regard to €58 million of the international development programme on climate interventions in 2017; the breakdown of the climate finance from Ireland over the past three years; and the type of financial instruments in this regard, in tabular form. [10698/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon Over the three years 2015-2017 inclusive, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade expended approximately €100 million on climate related interventions at a global and country level. These funds were channelled through multilateral organisations including International Financial Institutions, country partners primarily in sub-Saharan Africa, international and national civil society organizations, and UN agencies. A list of organisations and levels of funding provided to them for the three years 2015-2017 is itemised in the following table.

  Ireland’s new policy for international development, A Better World, launched by the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development on 28th February maintains a strong focus on addressing climate change. Given the urgency of the issue and in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals the new policy commits us to increase our funding and engagement with those most affected by the impact of climate change.

Channel of Climate Financing 2015 2016 2017
Bi-lateral Cooperation €32,464,110 €35,201,946 €32,996,849
Civil Society Organisations €17,194,070 €19,618,479 €19,839,557
Multilateral financial Institutions & climate funds €1,200,000 €1,500,000 €1,500,000
Multilateral international (UN) agencies - €489,000 €669,000 €1,500,000
Other channels of support (IIED, Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, World Resource Institute €1,850,000 €1,850,000 €1,860,000


Further information on Ireland’s international climate finance can be found at the Climate and Development Learning Platform[1], an open source website that supports Irish Aid and partners to better integrate climate change into development programming.

[1] https://www.climatelearningplatform.org/about-this-site

Northern Ireland

 112. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he has written to his British counterpart about an inquiry into the murder of a person (details supplied) in view of the fact that it was agreed under the Weston agreement in 2001 and the recent UK Supreme Court decision on same. [10908/19]

 127. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he has spoken to his British counterpart about the public inquiry into the murder of a person (details supplied) following the UK Supreme Court ruling on 27 February 2019. [10591/19]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I propose to take Questions Nos. 112 and 127 together.

The Government has noted the important judgment of the UK Supreme Court in the Finucane case on 27 February, including the unanimous decision that an investigation compliant with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights has not been held into the murder of Pat Finucane.

The Finucane family and the British Government will wish to consider this judgment in full. The Government will also be examining the judgment closely.

The Taoiseach confirmed last week that the Government’s position remains that an independent public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane should be established, in line with the political commitments made by the British and Irish Governments at Weston Park in 2001. The Government has made this position consistently clear to the British Government, and will continue to do so.

I met with the UK Minister for the Cabinet Office, David Lidington MP, in Dublin on 28 February and, as part of our discussions, I raised the UK Supreme Court judgment the previous day and the Government's position that an independent public inquiry is required in the Finucane case. I will also be raising the matter in my next meeting with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley MP. The Government's position will also be reaffirmed to the British Government in writing, taking account of the UK Supreme Court judgment and declaration in the Finucane case last week.

The Taoiseach and I were pleased to meet with the Finucane family in recent months to confirm the Government’s ongoing support for their search for truth and justice. My Department remains in ongoing contact with the family at this time.

My thoughts are with Geraldine Finucane and her family who have had to campaign unceasingly over the last 30 years, simply seeking to establish the full facts behind the loss of Pat - a husband, father and brother.

The efforts of the Finucane family, pursued with courage, dignity and resilience, are replicated in different ways by many other families across all sections of the community, North and South, East and West, who continue to seek truth and justice following the loss of their loved ones in the dark years of the Troubles.

The legacy of the past still needs to be fully addressed, and this must be done in a way that meets commitments made to all victims and survivors, including by implementing the Stormont House Agreement and by honouring the commitments made at Weston Park nearly 18 years ago.

The Government will continue to engage with the British Government to seek progress with outstanding commitments and issues, to comprehensively address the legacy of the past and meet the needs and expectations of victims and survivors.

Northern Ireland

 113. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will report on the lack of a Northern Assembly and the possibility of direct rule returning to Northern Ireland. [10910/19]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The continuing absence of vital institutions of the Good Friday Agreement is a source of deep concern for the Government, as it is for the British Government. The Government will continue to do everything in its power, in accordance with its responsibilities as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, to secure the effective operation of all of its institutions.

Secretary of State Bradley and I met with the leaders of the 5 main political parties at Stormont on 15 February, further to our respective consultations with each of the party leaders in January. This meeting sought the parties’ views at this stage on how a new talks’ process could most constructively be commenced in the period immediately ahead.

Each of the party leaders confirmed their wish to participate in the institutions again and provided views on the necessary basis for an effective talks’ process.

It was agreed that the two Governments would engage further with the parties to seek an urgent way forward with a new political process that can secure an agreement for a functioning Executive and Assembly.

Following these further consultations, the Government does not underestimate the way to go in achieving a resolution, but continues to believe that this can be achieved and that there is an increasingly urgent need for talks to commence.

The two-year absence of the devolved institutions cannot be allowed to continue. There are pressing decisions and issues across a range of areas, which require a functioning Executive and Assembly. The devolved institutions of the Agreement are also urgently needed so that the Assembly and power-sharing Executive can represent the interests of all of the people of Northern Ireland and address issues of concern, including the challenges for Northern Ireland resulting from the UK decision to exit the European Union. The North South Ministerial Council is also essential to oversee and develop North South cooperation on matters of mutual interest, as provided for under the Good Friday Agreement.

The legislation that was brought forward by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, which temporarily suspends the requirement to call an Assembly election, underlines the urgent requirement for all with responsibilities to do everything in their power to get them operating again.

I am continuing to work with the Secretary of State and remain in regular contact with the leaders of each of the political parties to get the necessary political process underway to secure an agreement for a functioning Executive and Assembly and North South Ministerial Council.

Passport Applications

 114. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if persons (details supplied) qualify for Irish passports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10243/19]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney All passport applications are subject to the provisions of the Passports Act 2008. The Act provides, among other things, that a person must be an Irish citizen before a passport can be issued to him/her. In order to meet this, each person must demonstrate an entitlement to Irish citizenship by providing acceptable documentary evidence of this entitlement.

Entitlement to Irish citizenship is in turn determined by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, under which and in general, Irish citizenship may be obtained by birth, by descent, or by naturalisation.

An individual born on the island of Ireland before 1 January 2005 is automatically an Irish citizen. For individuals born outside of Ireland, they may claim citizenship if they had at least one parent who was born in the island of Ireland.

Individuals born outside of Ireland can also claim citizenship through a parent who was not born in Ireland but was an Irish citizen at the time of the individual's birth or through a grandparent born in Ireland. Individuals who wish to claim citizenship through these means must have his/her birth entered on the Foreign Births Register (FBR). Citizenship commences after inclusion on the FBR. Further details regarding the process can be consulted at the Passport Service's website:

www.dfa.ie/passports-citizenship/citizenship/born-abroad/

There are no provisions for the spouse of an Irish citizen to acquire Irish citizenship solely by virtue of marriage. Post nuptial citizenship was repealed with effect from 30 November 2005. The Passport Service will accept a valid post-nuptial certificate as evidence of citizenship if this post nuptial certificate was awarded prior to November 30 2005. There is no provision to apply for post nuptial citizenship retrospectively.

In cases where no Irish lineage exists, an individual may apply for Irish citizenship through naturalisation. Minimum residency terms must be satisfied before an individual is eligible for citizenship through naturalisation. The Department of Justice and Equality is responsible for citizenship matters, including applications for naturalisation.

Election Monitoring Missions

 115. 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 Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the names of election observers registered with his Department through Irish Aid who observed elections in each of the past ten years. [10305/19]

 117. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if an appropriate accommodation will be allowed for a registered disabled appellant (details supplied) whose disability impeded the person sending the application in the format required by Irish Aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10347/19]

 119. 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 Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the materials that will be considered by the election observer appeals panel which decides upon the final mark for appellants; if the panels will consider disability and other relevant appeal statements made by appellants; if these considerations will be documented in a way that is open to further review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10422/19]

 126. Deputy Brendan Howlin Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if the new election observer roster is in operation; the observer missions selected from the roster to date; the missions planned for 2019; if he is satisfied that the recruitment process for the roster meets best practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10707/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon I propose to take Questions Nos. 115, 117, 119 and 126 together.

  The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade maintains and administers a roster of suitably skilled individuals who are available to participate in election observation missions overseas, organised in the main by the EU and the OSCE. A new roster was put in place in January 2019 following a Call for Volunteers which issued in July 2018. I am fully satisfied that the process of selection for the new roster was fair and that it was in accordance with best practice in selecting volunteer observers. Feedback from new and experienced roster members in the four training sessions held so far has been extremely positive, noting the continuing upskilling and improvement of the roster.

  The intense competition for roster places allows Ireland to contribute high quality election observers, while the rotation of the roster ensures the sustainability of Ireland's international election observation.

  In the interest of fairness, an appeals process was made available to unsuccessful applicants. The need for thorough consideration of one request made at a very late stage, and to procure the necessary legal advices, delayed finalisation of the appeals panel's deliberations. The appeals process has now concluded and the outcomes will be released to individual appellants imminently. The terms of reference which were established for the appeals process were attached to the response to Parliamentary Question No. 108 of 26 February 2019. The decision of the appeals panel is final.

  The new election observation roster has been in operation since January. So far in 2019 members of that roster have participated in election observation missions in El Salvador, Moldova, Nigeria and Senegal. Roster members are also being nominated to participate in the forthcoming OSCE Election Observation Mission in Ukraine.

  With regard to previous roster members selected by the EU or the OSCE for election monitoring missions, and further to the responses to Parliamentary Question No. 109 of 24 July 2018 and of 8 May 2013, the composite list of observers who have been nominated, selected and served on election missions in the last ten years is in the documents attached to the answer to this Parliamentary Question.

  Regarding the individual case, I refer the Deputies to the responses to Parliamentary Questions No. 80 of 30 January 2019, No. 61 of 6 February 2019 and No. 84 of 20 February 2019 and No. 87 of 26 February 2019. No request for a reasonable accommodation was received before the deadline for applications. If such a request had been received, it would have received full and thorough consideration.

  I also refer the Deputies to the responses to a series of Parliamentary Questions tabled during the months of January and February which provide further information on the election observation roster, the recent roster selection process and related matters.

Mission deployed 09-Apr 13

Mission Deployed May 13 to Dec. 2018

 

Passport Applications

 116. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the reason a passport for a person (details supplied) has not been issued; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10312/19]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney All passport applications are subject to the provisions of the Passports Act 2008. The Act provides, among other things, that a person must be an Irish citizen before a passport can be issued to him/her. In order to meet this, each person must demonstrate an entitlement to Irish citizenship by providing acceptable documentary evidence of this entitlement.

Entitlement to Irish citizenship is in turn determined by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, under which and in general, Irish citizenship may be obtained by birth, by descent, or by naturalisation.

An individual born on the island of Ireland before 1 January 2005 is automatically an Irish citizen. For individuals born outside of Ireland, they may claim citizenship if they had at least one parent who was born in the island of Ireland.

In addition, individuals born outside of Ireland can claim citizenship through a parent who was not born in Ireland but was an Irish citizen at the time of the individual's birth, or through a grandparent born in Ireland. Individuals who wish to claim citizenship through these means must have his/her birth entered on the Foreign Births Register. Citizenship commences after inclusion on the Foreign Birth Register.

I understand that an application for inclusion on the Foreign Births Register has been submitted on behalf of the person in question. This application is currently being processed by the Passport Service. Once the Foreign Births Registration process has been completed, an application can be made for a passport.

Question No. 117 answered with Question No. 115.

Ministerial Meetings

 118. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans to have a bilateral meeting with his Spanish counterpart; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10366/19]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney While I have not had a formal meeting with the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Josep Borrell since his appointment in June 2018, I have met with him a number of times at meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council.

With my current schedule of meetings focused on Brexit, Northern Ireland and St Patrick's Day engagements, I do not have a bilateral meeting planned with Minister Borrell at the moment.

Question No. 119 answered with Question No. 115.

Human Rights

 120. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the status of recent events in Sudan; the steps being taken at national and EU level to address the turmoil there; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10665/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon I am deeply concerned about the violence which has accompanied recent protests in Sudan, including credible reports of the use of live fire by the Government of Sudan and of multiple deaths.

Demonstrations, triggered by spiralling costs of living, began in the city of Atbara in the north east of the country on 19 December last year, spreading to over twenty towns and cities. While initially the protests were against the worsening economic situation, they quickly developed into calls for President Omar al-Bashir’s resignation.

In reaction to the protests, schools have been closed and a state of emergency declared in some regions. Sudanese police have used tear gas and live ammunition in an attempt to disperse crowds. It is reported that over 1,000 people have been arrested across the country since protests began and that more than 50 have been killed. The use of live fire and arbitrary detention cannot be justified.

Ireland fully supports the 28 February 2019 statement by the EU High Representative expressing concern at the situation in Sudan. This underlined the importance of an environment for political dialogue in which the Sudanese people can exercise their legitimate right to express their views. This will be essential to create the national consensus needed to find sustainable responses to Sudan's deep political and economic crisis. In addition, Ireland also fully supports the EU statement of 11 January 2019 which calls on the Government of Sudan to release all journalists, members of the opposition, human rights defenders and other protesters arbitrarily detained, and to guarantee the independence of the Investigation Committee, under the Chairmanship of the Sudanese Director of Public Prosecutions, tasked with the investigation of abuses.

The Embassy of Ireland in Nairobi, which is accredited to Sudan, continues to monitor the situation closely in cooperation with the Delegation of the European Union in Khartoum.

In addition to the current unrest, Sudan continues to suffer from a range of humanitarian crises, driven by protracted conflicts, inequality and climate change. These feed into the popular disaffection leading to protests. This humanitarian situation has been further exacerbated by the economic crisis in 2018, leading to severe levels of food insecurity and malnutrition across the country. More than 1.8 million people are internally displaced and Sudan hosts a further 1.2 million refugees that have fled conflict in neighbouring countries, the majority of whom rely on humanitarian aid for their survival. As a result, an estimated 5.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Sudan this year, including 2.6 million children. Ireland is responding to these crises, with almost €26 million in direct humanitarian assistance to Sudan through our UN, NGO and Red Cross partners since 2012.

Foreign Conflicts

 121. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the status of the ongoing hostilities between Pakistan and India; the response and position of the EU to recent events; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10666/19]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I am deeply concerned about the very strained relations between Pakistan and India at present. The increase in military activity between them since the suicide bombing in the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir on 14 February has been alarming. The dangers posed to the people in the region by the ongoing hostilities between the two countries are very grave. Officials in my Department, including in the Embassy of Ireland in India and the Embassy of Ireland in Turkey (which is also accredited to Pakistan) will continue to monitor the situation.

I hope that the difficulties between Pakistan and India will be resolved peacefully and as soon as possible. Other EU Member States have called for the prompt de-escalation of the crisis, and on behalf of the EU, HR/VP Mogherini has called for restraint by both parties.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Indian security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir, I condemned its occurrence and stressed that Ireland will always work to promote peace and reconciliation. We are deeply aware that the impact of violence and conflict on people and communities can be devastating.

I hope that Pakistan and India will work together to prevent further acts of terrorism in the region and pursue diplomatic solutions to the issues they face.

Overseas Development Aid Expenditure

 122. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the status of Ireland’s plans to reach the target of 0.7% of GNI for overseas development aid; the date by which it is expected to reach the targets; the level of funding as it relates to the target; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10668/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon In its Global Ireland strategy, published in June 2018, the Government stated it would commit to delivering the United Nations target of allocating 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI), to Official Development Assistance by 2030. At the launch of Ireland’s new policy for international development, A Better World, on the 28th February, the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and I reiterated this commitment. A Better World provides the framework for this expansion.

Sustained, managed increments in ODA will be required to attain this commitment. Careful planning and consultation with other Government Departments and stakeholders will also be needed to ensure it is done effectively. Recognising that the point of departure is an ODA expenditure of 0.3% of GNI, it is proposed to adopt a steady and phased approach, taking into consideration the range of demands across Government and the capacity of the public finances to meet them. In order to achieve this ambition difficult choices will be required between competing priorities, especially if economic circumstances change.

The Government is already making progress, having increased allocations to ODA by 32% since 2014. Budget 2019 saw the highest increase in funding available in over a decade. Overall Irish ODA in 2019 is forecast to reach almost €817 million, an increase of approximately €110 million, or a 16% increase on the allocation announced in budget 2018.

It will also be critical to ensure that as the ODA budget grows, Ireland works to maintain its reputation, built up over many years, for delivering high quality, untied, focused and coherent development cooperation. A Better World provides the framework for continued quality Irish Overseas Development Cooperation. Regular peer reviews by the OECD DAC provide solid evidence of this reputation and in 2018 Ireland was judged by the Overseas Development Institute to be the most efficient donor in targeting extreme poverty.

Humanitarian Aid Provision

 123. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the status of the situation in Yemen; the way in which the additional €5 million announced will be spent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10669/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon Yemen is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in terms of numbers of people in need - the UN estimates that 24.1 million people, equivalent to four fifths of its population, are severely affected and require some form of humanitarian assistance. 70 per cent of all districts are estimated to be at heightened risk of famine.

Last week, the United Nations and the Governments of Sweden and Switzerland convened a High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen in Geneva. I attended the event on behalf of Ireland and pledged the provision of €5 million for humanitarian assistance to Yemen. This brings Ireland's support to the Yemeni people to over €22.5 million since 2012.

Ireland's will allocate this €5 million funding to the United Nation's Yemen Humanitarian Fund (YHF). The YHF provides rapid, flexible funding to NGOs and UN agencies which have the best capacity to deliver services on the ground. Services cover a range of different sectors including health, water and sanitation, nutrition and education. By incorporating the contributions of multiple donors into a single pooled fund, the YHF allows for a better coordinated response, with support targeted where there is greatest need.

Ireland also contributes to global funds that allocate funding to the Yemen Crisis, including the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which provides emergency funding for UN agencies, for both rapid onset and underfunded crises; and to the Start Fund, a humanitarian pooled fund for NGOs which is supported by a number of donors. The CERF is the UN's primary mechanism for emergency response, and Yemen was the second largest recipient of CERF funding in 2018, receiving a total of $32 million. Ireland contributed €12 million to the CERF in 2018, and since the establishment of the fund in 2005 has been among the top ten donors.

As I stated at the Yemen Pledging Conference in Geneva, while it is vital that countries provide humanitarian support to Yemen, we must also come together as an international community to address the underlying causes of the conflict. All parties to the conflict must engage fully in the UN-led process, and implement in its entirety the Stockholm agreement.

Election Monitoring Missions

 124. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the status of the recent elections in Nigeria; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10670/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon On 27 February last, the Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission, announced that President Muhammadu Buhari had been re-elected for a second four year term following Presidential elections on 23 February.

  The ballot had originally been scheduled for 16 February and was postponed at short notice for one week. The Independent National Electoral Commission gave a number of reasons for the delay, including sabotage and bad weather.

  The election period saw election-related violence, with an estimated 39 people reported to have lost their lives.

  Officials from the Embassy of Ireland in Abuja participated in the European Union Election Observation Mission headed by Maria Arena, MEP. This Observation Mission issued a preliminary statement on Monday 25 February which acknowledged serious operational shortcomings.

  Ireland has a long and rich relationship with Nigeria. I look forward to deepening our relationship over the coming years and to continued Irish support for Nigeria and its civil society in strengthening its democracy.

International Relations

 125. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on correspondence (details supplied); his views on whether this amounts to an implied threat and interference in the work of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann; if he has plans to respond to the correspondence; if so, if he will provide this Deputy with a copy of same; if not, the reason therefor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10690/19]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I am aware of the correspondence referred to by the Deputy.

Such representations by Ministers or parliamentarians in other countries are a commonplace feature of international relations between states, governments and parliaments. The Deputy himself, and others in this House, regularly call on me, in my capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, to make statements or take actions which other countries might similarly regard as interference in their sovereign affairs. In some instances, it is suggested that the Government use levers available to us to put pressure on other countries. The expression of such views is a normal and legitimate part of the work of the Oireachtas, and other parliaments will of course operate in the same fashion.

The Control of Economic Activities (Occupied Territories) Bill, which is the subject of this letter and which the Deputy has supported in this House, is itself intended to have an impact beyond the jurisdiction of this State. As you are aware, the Government opposes that Bill for a number of legal and political reasons.

The letter to which the Deputy refers draws attention to a possible legal conflict between existing and pending US legislation, and the Occupied Territories Bill, which the letter suggests may create a very difficult position for US firms established in Ireland. This is a very real concern and danger, which I have myself stated clearly in my own speeches in relation to this Bill, and one which should be seriously considered.

The question of how best to respond to this letter will in the first instance be a matter for the Taoiseach, in due course.

Question No. 126 answered with Question No. 115.


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