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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 376-392
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing
 Header Item Departmental Contracts
 Header Item Departmental Staff
 Header Item Military Aircraft
 Header Item Brexit Preparations
 Header Item Overseas Development Aid
 Header Item Overseas Development Aid
 Header Item Human Rights
 Header Item Refugee Resettlement Programme
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Passport Data
 Header Item Northern Ireland

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 998 No. 5
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 120 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 376-392

Social and Affordable Housing

 376. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the number of units acquired by local authorities in 2018, 2019, and to date in 2020, in tabular form under the standard and enhanced long-term social leasing schemes by county; and the costs associated with each acquisition. [28885/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien Leasing delivery data for Q1 and Q2 2020 is currently being finalised and will be published shortly. Data in relation to leased dwellings delivered in 2018 and 2019, broken down by local authority, is published on my Department's website at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision  

  My Department does not publish details of individual homes; however, the average annual cost of standard and enhanced leases, delivered by each local authority for 2018 and 2019, are set out in the following table. The average cost is calculated based on claims for operational new units submitted by local authorities and recorded on my Department’s Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme financial management system at end September 2020.

  Average Annual Lease Cost of Leasing Dwellings Delivered 2018 and 2019

Local Authority Average Annual Cost 2018 Average Annual Cost 2019
Carlow €6152 €7455
Cavan €5995 €7030
Clare €7686 €8864
Cork City €12638 €13565
Cork County €12144 €7300
DLR €18870 €26595
Donegal €6459 €5659
Dublin City €14744 €16081
Fingal €15108 €15002
Galway City €13002 €10470
Galway County €9936 €9543
Kerry €8470 €9008
Kildare €10241 €11864
Kilkenny €8603 €9694
Laois €8438 €9264
Leitrim €N/A €7200
Limerick €8636 €9998
Longford €6242 €7346
Louth €12207 €10166
Mayo €7547 €8189
Meath €10643 €12119
Monaghan €6255 €6375
Offaly €7916 €8143
Roscommon €5342 €8190
Sligo €6306 €8480
South Dublin €15340 €16575
Tipperary €7186 €7374
Waterford €6839 €7379
Westmeath €8614 €9486
Wexford €7049 €8299
Wicklow €10539 €13368

Social and Affordable Housing

 377. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien his views on the number of strategic housing development applications granted permission in north County Kildare since 2018; the number of commencements; if an assessment of the potential increase of population is considered and-or if CSO data is utilised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28886/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 (the Act) introduced new streamlined arrangements to enable planning applications for strategic housing developments (SHDs) of 100 housing units or more, or student accommodation or shared accommodation developments of 200 bed spaces or more, to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála for determination.

  In the period from the new arrangements coming into operation in July 2017 up until 31 August 2020, the Board has received 23 SHD applications in respect of developments in Kildare, 11 of which have been granted (in respect of 2193 houses, 1266 apartments and 483 student bed spaces), 7 of which have been refused and 5 of which are yet to be decided. Of the 11 developments granted planning permission, 6 of these have lodged commencement notices to date.

  The 2017 SHD Regulations provide for the publication of a weekly list of applications received and applications determined or otherwise disposed of by the Board in relation to SHD cases. These weekly lists are available to view on the Board's website at http://www.pleanala.ie/.

  Arrangements have been put in place by all bodies under the aegis of my Department to facilitate the provision of information directly to members of the Oireachtas. This provides a speedy, efficient and cost effective system to address queries directly. The contact email address for An Bord Pleanála is oireachtasqueries@pleanala.ie.

  In making a decision on an application, the Board must consider the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, having regard to the provisions of the development plan, any submissions or observations received from the public and the statutory consultees, and any relevant Ministerial or Government policies, including any guidelines issued by the Department. Under section 30 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended), I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any case with which a planning authority or the Board is or may be involved.

  A review of the SHD arrangements was carried out in 2019. This review particularly highlighted that while they had generally been a success in providing a fast-track development consent process for developers of large-scale housing developments, the number of SHD permissions that have commenced development is less than might have been expected.

  In this regard, with a view to influencing the earlier activation of housing related planning permissions, the new Programme for Government – Our Shared Future commits to introducing a "use it or lose it" condition for all planning permissions of ten housing units or more. I intend that the necessary legislation providing for the introduction of the proposed new "use it or lose it" housing-related planning arrangements will be progressed over the coming months.

  National Policy Objective 37 of the National Planning Framework requires that each local authority should undertake a "Housing Need and Demand Assessment" (HNDA), in a co-ordinated fashion, to support the preparation of their statutory housing strategy and development plan.

  Work to support the development of the HNDA process is ongoing in my Department. Research undertaken by the ESRI on population projections at county level is nearing completion while the development of a HNDA digital tool is shortly to be piloted with a number of local authorities. This new evidence-based approach will form the basis of a more accurate and consistent projection of demand for different tenures of housing within the administrative area of each local authority. As this work evovles, it will be integrated into the review processes for statutory development plans that are underway or scheduled to be commenced over the coming years.

  Question No. 378 answered with Question No. 77.

Departmental Contracts

 379. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien if he has engaged a third-party company in each of the years 2017 to 2019 and to date in 2020 to conduct online and-or social media monitoring and-or to provide reports on social media coverage of his Department; if so, the cost of same; and if the name of the social media platforms being monitored will be provided. [28920/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien My Department has not engaged a third-party company to conduct online and/or social media monitoring or to provide reports on social media coverage.

Departmental Staff

 380. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the number of staff in his Department on sick leave between March and September by month in 2019 and to date 2020; the pay arrangements that exist for staff on sick leave for an extended period of time; the number of sick days accounted for by his Department over the period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28938/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The Public Service Management (Sick Leave) Regulations 2014 (as amended by the Public Service Management (Sick Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2015) set out the terms of the Public Service Sick Leave Scheme.

  The scheme provides for the payment of the following to staff during periods of absence from work due to illness or injury:

 - A maximum of 92 days on full pay in a rolling one year period

 - Followed by a maximum of 91 days on half pay in a rolling one year period

 - Subject to a maximum of 183 days paid sick leave in a rolling four year period.

  Staff who exceed these limits may be entitled to Temporary Rehabilitation Remuneration (TRR), which is a calculated pension rate of pay, up to a maximum of 547 days under ordinary sick leave arrangements.

  In recognition of the fact that, sometimes, a longer period of sick leave can be required to address a critical illness or serious physical injury, there is provision for the following Critical Illness Provisions (CIP) to apply in exceptional circumstances:

 - A maximum of 183 days on full pay in a rolling one year period

 - Followed by a maximum of 182 days on half pay in a rolling one year period

 - Subject to a maximum of 365 days paid sick leave in a rolling four year period

  There is access to TRR under the CIP as follows: 365 days on TRR and/or a further period not exceeding 730 days may be granted in cases where the Chief Medical Officer has confirmed that there is a reasonable prospect of return to work.

  Details by month, of the number of staff in this Department on sick leave between March and September in 2019 and to date in 2020, and the number of sick days accounted for by this Department in the same period are set out as follows. Numbers given relate to full time equivalent staff (FTE).

2019 No. of staff on sick leave (FTE) No. of days accounted for
March 107 853.41
April 80 844.27
May 85 903.75
June 69 799.62
July 75 922.53
August 85 1021.95
September 88 929.92
Total 589 6275.45
2020 No. of staff on sick leave (FTE No. of days accounted for
January 124 884.79
February 97 575.58
March 65 494.07
April 13 313.00
May 23 336.5
June 31 292.00
July 36 352.5
August 35 347.00
September 31 319.83
Total 455 3,888.27

Military Aircraft

 381. Deputy Ged Nash Information on Ged Nash Zoom on Ged Nash asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on diplomatic clearances sought from Ireland by embassies in advance for overflight of Irish sovereign airspace by foreign states and military aircraft; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28644/20]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I am satisfied that robust procedures are in place in my Department to administer the agreed procedures for Embassies to apply for clearance for military flights to enter Irish sovereign airspace.

Brexit Preparations

 382. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú Information on Ruairí Ó Murchú Zoom on Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the plans which have been considered to ensure no infrastructure or checks are placed along the Border.  [28473/20]

 391. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú Information on Ruairí Ó Murchú Zoom on Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his engagements to date with the European Commission following the statements and actions by the UK Prime Minster regarding the Brexit withdrawal agreement.  [25169/20]

 392. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú Information on Ruairí Ó Murchú Zoom on Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the plans being put in place in order to deal with the attempt by the UK Government to circumvent the Irish Protocol through the United Kingdom International Market Bill.  [26517/20]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I propose to take Questions Nos. 382, 391 and 392 together.

It is vital that the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland be implemented in full and in good faith.

The publication and passage through the House of Commons of the UK Internal Market Bill in September caused grave concern. The Bill, in its current form, undermines the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol. Any unilateral departure from the terms of the Agreement is not acceptable and seriously damages trust in Northern Ireland, and between the EU and the UK. The suggestions that the UK’s unilateral approach is designed to protect the Good Friday Agreement were of particular concern. The Protocol itself is specifically designed to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the gains of the peace process, including avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The Taoiseach raised our concerns directly with the British Prime Minister on the day the Bill was published and has subsequently met Commission President von der Leyen. I met in Brussels with Vice President Šefcovic on 21 September and with Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier on 22 September and continue to remain in contact with them by phone. While in Brussels, I attended, together with Minister of State Byrne, the General Affairs Council, where Brexit was one of the items on our agenda. I also availed of the opportunity to have a range of Brexit related discussions with a number of EU Foreign Ministers and European Affairs Ministers. The Government remains in close contact with our EU partners on this issue.

The Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement met on Thursday 10 September and Monday 28 September. The Joint Committee, and Specialised Committee, are the appropriate channels for considering issues around the implementation of the Protocol. However, they cannot be used to renegotiate the Protocol.

At these meetings, Ireland set out clearly our concerns. Commission Vice President Šefcovic urged the British Government to remove the problematic measures from the Bill by the end of September. Ireland, together with the EU, also sent a clear message, on the need for the UK to restore trust and to accelerate its work to implement the Protocol in all its aspects.

On 1 October the Commission sent the UK a letter of notice for breaching obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement. This marks the beginning of a formal infringement process against the United Kingdom. We continue to urge the British Government to work to repair the severely damaged trust between the EU and UK.

I have also discussed this issue with Special Envoy Mick Mulvaney during his visit to Dublin. I visited Washington DC last week, and discussed the issues with Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E. Biegun, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Richard Neal. Each reaffirmed their unwavering support for the Good Friday Agreement.

Throughout the Brexit process, I have maintained close contacts with leaders in Northern Ireland. I welcome that the EU and UK are engaging closely on relevant implementation issues to find appropriate and agreed solutions, which should fall within the framework of the agreed Protocol.

Despite noise and setbacks, this Government’s focus remains on implementation - in full and in good faith - of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol, and on achieving a successful conclusion to the future relationship negotiations.

Overseas Development Aid

 383. Deputy Chris Andrews Information on Chris Andrews Zoom on Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the way in which Ireland contributes to reducing global poverty (details supplied); the strategies being taken to reduce humanitarian need in these countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28103/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Colm Brophy): Information on Colm Brophy Zoom on Colm Brophy A Better World, Ireland's international development policy, sets out the Government's commitment to alleviating poverty and reaching the furthest behind first.

Ireland works with a variety of partners in order to reach those in greatest need. Ireland, as an EU Member State and, also, working through the United Nations and other multilateral agencies is able to match financial investment in development and humanitarian response with effective advocacy. The Government, through Irish Aid - Ireland's official development assistance programme, managed in my Department - also support the work of Irish NGOs and missionaries in their development work around the world. Through programmes managed by Irish Embassies in Africa, in Vietnam and elsewhere, Ireland is investing in the development of some of the world's poorest countries, complemented in recent years by a new focus on Small Island Developing States with an emphasis on climate resilience. Through these mechanisms and relationships, Ireland provides quality, vital assistance to people living in challenging and insecure environments, helping to improve their lives These engagements give Ireland a significant global presence and footprint, including in fragile states and conflict-affected contexts.

Successive OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) peer reviews have commended Ireland’s development cooperation for its poverty focus and commitment to Least Developed Countries. The OECD DAC’s most recent review, published in May 2020, notes that Ireland 'walks the talk' in allocating ODA to least developed countries and fragile states, priority partners and sectors. The OECD finds that this clear focus enables Ireland to exercise leadership and make a visible difference. The Overseas Development Institute, a leading development think-tank, has also ranked Ireland as the most effective international donor in directing resources to those in extreme poverty.

In 2019 Ireland contributed over €180 million in humanitarian aid, delivering life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable communities across the globe, in partnership with trusted NGOs, UN agencies and the Red Cross Family. Ireland recognises that reducing humanitarian need requires an approach that anticipates the onset of crises, acts fast, and delivers assistance in a way that lays the groundwork for recovery. To this end Irish Aid funding is predictable and timely and our engagement long term. In fragile and protracted contexts such as Somalia, DRC and Yemen, Ireland supports vulnerable populations to become more resilient to shocks and stresses, including climate change and violent conflict. This reduces the need for repeated humanitarian interventions and protects hard won development gains. As the single greatest driver of humanitarian need is conflict, Ireland is committed to conflict prevention and peacebuilding, through the funding of activities as well as political and diplomatic engagement.

Overseas Development Aid

 384. Deputy Chris Andrews Information on Chris Andrews Zoom on Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if Ireland is close to achieving the target of allocating 0.7% of gross national income to official development assistance by 2030 (details supplied); if not the reason preventing the goal being achieved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28104/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Colm Brophy): Information on Colm Brophy Zoom on Colm Brophy Development cooperation is an essential element of Ireland’s foreign policy and national presence overseas, enabling us to respond to complex human needs and humanitarian crises around the world.

In the Programme for Government, the Government committed to making incremental, sustainable progress towards achieving the UN target of 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) to Official Development Assistance (ODA) by 2030. In making this commitment, the Government recognised that reaching 0.7% will require a significant expansion in ODA volumes over the next decade and that, at times, difficult choices would be required between competing priorities.

Progress is being made toward 0.7%. From 2014 to 2020 Ireland's allocations to ODA grew from €614 million to almost €838 million, an increase of almost €21 million on the 2019 budget allocation and the sixth consecutive year allocations to ODA were increased. On Budget day October 2019, it was predicted that the GNI/ODA percentage would be in the region of 0.31%.

Further sustained, managed increments will be required to deliver on the 0.7% commitment by 2030, taking into consideration the range of demands across Government and the capacity of the public finances to meet them. It is critical that the Government grows our ODA programme in a steady, measured and graduated manner, ensuring that we protect and nurture the good reputation and quality of our work.

Human Rights

 385. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on the widespread detention of prominent human rights activists, journalists and opposition leaders in Bahrain in view of the deteriorating situation in terms of human rights in the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28133/20]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The human rights situation in Bahrain remains a matter of serious concern. Although Bahrain has repeatedly stated its commitment to improving its human rights record and safeguarding human rights as enshrined in the Bahraini Constitution, we are concerned by ongoing instances of violations of fundamental freedoms, including violations of freedom of opinion and expression, as well as the targeting of human rights defenders.

Respect for human rights is an integral part of Ireland’s foreign policy and we consistently seek to raise our concerns on human rights issues through the most appropriate and effective channels. Our active participation at the UN Human Rights Council is particularly important in that regard. Ireland has raised the case of human rights in Bahrain at that forum, in the form of national statements and its support to EU Statements.

Ireland also engages on the issue of human rights in Bahrain through the EU. At the most recent informal EU-Bahrain Human Rights dialogue in November 2019, issues discussed included the right to a fair trial, prison conditions, and the overall human rights situation in the country. The EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore, has also made representations to the Bahraini authorities on human rights issues, including the detention of human rights defenders as well as the conditions of their detention.

Our principled stance on human rights also feeds into our bilateral dialogue and we raise our human rights concerns directly with the Bahraini authorities at every suitable opportunity. When I met the Bahraini Foreign Minister at the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2019, I raised the human rights situation in Bahrain with him, expressing the hope that we can have an open and honest discussion on these issues. My officials regularly meet with the Bahraini authorities to discuss the full range of bilateral and multilateral issues, including human rights.

Ireland will continue to monitor developments in Bahrain, and to call on the Bahraini Government to deliver on its stated commitment to make progress in relation to human rights.

Refugee Resettlement Programme

 386. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if his attention has been drawn to the ongoing humanitarian situation in Lesbos, Greece; if he has engaged with his Greek and other European counterparts in this regard; his plans to accommodate persons from Lesbos here; and the assistance he is providing to mitigate the situation. [28203/20]

 387. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan Information on Jim O'Callaghan Zoom on Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the steps Ireland plans to take in respect of the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe in view of the recent fire in the refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28283/20]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I propose to take Questions Nos. 386 and 387 together.

I am deeply saddened by the fire at the Moria camp on Lesbos and the impact this has had on the refugees and migrants based there. The very sudden displacement of thousands of people has caused great suffering to those in the camp, as well as posing a huge logistical challenge for the Greek authorities in the midst of the pandemic.

My colleague, the Minister for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, spoke with his Greek counterpart immediately after the fire to offer Ireland's full solidarity and support. The Greek authorities requested assistance from EU Partners in dealing with the immediate humanitarian needs arising from the fire. My Department, through our Embassy in Athens, is in contact with the Greek Ministry of Migration Policy and has confirmed Ireland’s readiness to provide assistance from emergency stocks which we have in place at the UN Logistics Base in Brindisi, Italy. The Greek authorities have thanked us for this offer of assistance, and we stand ready to work with them regarding the deployment of the emergency supplies.

In terms of the situation within the camp, Greek authorities have started to transfer refugees and migrants to the Greek mainland in order to reduce overcrowding. In addition, the European Commission has now established a dedicated Taskforce to resolve the emergency situation on Lesbos effectively and humanely. The Taskforce will work closely with the Greek authorities to build new reception facilities in the coming months, which will be of a European standard and will provide access to healthcare and adequate sanitation.

As Minister for Foreign Affairs, I have repeatedly urged the need for greater solidarity and burden-sharing among Member States in dealing with the wider issue of migration. The migration crisis continues to be one of the major challenges confronting the European Union and it needs to be urgently addressed. We must find more sustainable solutions involving consensus among Member States based on solidarity and responsibility. I am committed to continuing to work with our EU partners to resolve these issues and to ensure that humanitarian and legal obligations continue to be met.

On 23 September 2020, the Commission published a major new proposal on reforming the EU migration and asylum system - a “New Pact on Migration and Asylum”. I welcome this initiative by the Commission. The publication of the Migration Pact proposals represents an opportunity to renew and intensify efforts to agree a common approach and put in place more effective and humane arrangements to manage the considerable migratory pressures that Europe continues to face.

We in Ireland are endeavouring to do our part, having already received 1022 asylum seekers (including six unaccompanied minors) from Greece under the first phase of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme.

In the context of the very difficult situation now arising from the destruction of the Moria refugee camp, the Government has decided that Ireland will welcome refugee families from Greece under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP). Up to 50 people in family groups will be resettled following displacement due to the fire. This is in addition to the four unaccompanied minors, to be taken as part of our pre-existing commitment to take 36 unaccompanied minors from Greece.

Officials from the Department of Justice and Equality are liaising with the European Commission on the detail of this commitment, and along with An Garda Síochána will travel to Greece in the coming weeks to make the arrangements.

Brexit Issues

 388. Deputy Neale Richmond Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the engagement held with the European Commission and other EU agencies to prepare for Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26727/20]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Throughout the Brexit process, the Government has worked with our EU partners and the Commission to ensure that EU-level readiness and contingency planning addresses the needs of our businesses and citizens.

The European Commission has published seven Communications on Brexit readiness and contingency planning. The most recent such Communication was published on 9 July and complements the Government’s Brexit Readiness Action Plan, published on 9 September. In addition, the Commission has updated more than 80 of the 102 Brexit readiness notices it has issued to stakeholders to assist them in preparing for the end of the transition period.

Government Ministers are in regular contact with our counterparts in the European Commission and the EU agencies. I attended the General Affairs Council in Brussels on 22 September where I also had a range of meetings on Brexit-related issues. I met with Commission Vice President Šefcovic, the co-chair of the EU-UK joint committee, and with the EU Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier.

Officials from my Department and other Departments continue to regularly meet with their counterparts in Brussels and across the EU. On 11 September, senior Irish officials met virtually with their UK Task Force and Commission counterparts to discuss a range of readiness planning. We remain in contact with the Task Force in relation to EU level contingency measures which will reinforce the Government's domestic preparations.

The Government is also working closely with the European Commission in relation to the Brexit Adjustment Reserve agreed by EU leaders in July. Leaders agreed to make a fund of up to €5 billion available to counter the adverse consequences of Brexit in the worst affected Member States and sectors. On 21 September, I met Commissioner Hahn in Brussels on the Reserve. I highlighted to the Commissioner Ireland’s unique vulnerability to Brexit and the exposure of key sectors of Ireland’s economy to trade with the UK. We will continue to engage with the Commission on the Brexit Adjustment Reserve in the weeks ahead.

Passport Data

 389. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of passports reported lost or stolen to the Passport Office in 2019 and to date in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28399/20]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The numbers of passports reported lost or stolen to the Passport Service in 2019 and to date in 2020 are detailed in the following table.

- 2019 2020
Lost 30,415 10,559
Stolen 2,834 855


  The figures for this year are accurate as of 30 September 2020.

  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.

  Where an applicant has reported an passport lost or stolen, the Passport Service may request additional information and documentary evidence to establish and verify an applicant’s identity. Appropriate photographic identification is one of the requirements in cases in which a person seeks to replace a lost or stolen passport. This and other requirements are necessary to protect the integrity of the Irish passport and protect against fraud and identity theft. Where an applicant has lost/stolen two or more passports, the validity of their next passport may be restricted.

Northern Ireland

 390. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the role of his Department in expanding university places in Derry. [26807/20]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney In the Programme for Government, “Our Shared Future”, the Government affirms that it will work with the Northern Ireland Executive and the British Government to commit to investment and development opportunities in the North West and Border communities, including third-level opportunities for young people from across the region at the Ulster University Magee Campus in Derry.

This confirms the commitments made by the Government on 9 January 2020, when the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and I published the New Decade, New Approach (NDNA) agreement, which was the basis for the political parties in Northern Ireland to restore the power-sharing Executive and Assembly, and North-South Ministerial Council, to full operation.

The Irish and British Governments, at the same time, each announced their own separate sets of financial and other commitments in support of the resumption of the power-sharing institutions at Stormont and the work of the North South Ministerial Council. These commitments, which are annexed to the NDNA Agreement but do not form part of it, include a commitment in principle to contribute to capital investment to support expanded provision at the Ulster University Magee Campus in Derry, alongside the commitment made in the context of the agreement by the British Government.

The Government welcomes the development of plans for ambitious new higher education provision at the Magee Campus, including in the context of the British Government’s City Deal and Inclusive Future Fund initiative which is being advanced by Derry City and Strabane District Council. This investment has the potential to increase access to third-level education for young people on a cross-border basis, enable further cooperation between third-level institutions in the North West, and underpin broader economic development and opportunities in the region.

We look forward to continued engagement with the Northern Ireland Executive including in taking forward the NDNA commitments through the regular pattern of Ministerial-level Sectoral meetings across the North South Ministerial Council’s twelve policy sectors over the coming months.

The funding requirement in the years ahead to deliver these projects will depend on the timing and details for projects being agreed on a North/South basis, and will need to take account of necessary discussions with the Executive through the North South Ministerial Council, the progress of implementation of each project, and, where relevant, our engagement with the British Government.

  Questions Nos. 391 and 392 answered with Question No. 382.


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