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Coveney, Simon

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.

Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions (Continued)

I thank the Deputy. As the House knows, Prime Minister May met with President Juncker in Strasbourg last night. They announced at a joint press conference that they had agreed on a number of thin...More Button

The UK asked for further legal clarity on how the backstop would effectively not be indefinite. We were very glad to support providing that clarity yesterday evening. The further texts that wer...More Button

What is being presented to Westminster this evening is different from the last meaningful vote. That being said, from an Irish perspective the text and content of the withdrawal agreement has no...More Button

I agree with the Deputy that in a no-deal scenario, everybody loses. It would be hugely damaging to the United Kingdom on many levels but also it would be hugely challenging for us. We have spent...More Button

I do not want to speculate on what will happen beyond that because I do not believe that is helpful. However, Ireland has always stated that if the UK looks for more time and if there is a plan ...More Button

I am grateful to the Deputy for the support of his party and, indeed, the support of other parties for the decisions the Government has had to make, working with the European Union to try to protec...More Button

It is clear from the text agreed last night that the withdrawal agreement itself is not being changed. That is understood. What we have is a new legal instrument which requires of the UK and th...More Button

There are, effectively, four ways of preventing the backstop being used. If the future relationship is comprehensive enough to mean we do not need border infrastructure between the EU and the UK...More Button

There are, therefore, clear ways in which the backstop can be avoided or replaced by both sides working together or, if both sides are not working in good faith, one can challenge the other throu...More Button

It is important to make a distinction between the legal changes made last night to the Brexit process by adding an extra layer in the legal instrument that was agreed and legal changes to the backs...More Button

There are a lot of questions there and I will try to address them. First, however, I wish to address the Taoiseach's comments this morning. He stated that for the remainder of the day the Houses ...More Button

On whether the EU would give full consideration to alternative arrangements, we have always said we would. That the EU does not accept alternative arrangements does not mean that it is not actin...More Button

On the Good Friday Agreement, the text and the backstop, Deputy Micheál Martin earlier referred to the Prime Minister's good faith towards the Good Friday Agreement. It is important to state tha...More Button

On whether it is possible under the existing arrangements and the declarations made last night to replace parts or elements of the backstop, yes, it is. That is already catered for clearly in th...More Button

I did not use the word "curtailed".More Button

To be clear, I would never suggest we should be curtailing debate in this House on something of this import. We have statements tomorrow on this and we are happy-----More Button

Yes, tomorrow. There is a reason we wanted statements tomorrow and not tonight. We will know a lot more tomorrow.More Button

To be clear, this was decided by the Business Committee, not the Government.More Button

Let us be clear on that. We were open to suggestions from all sides.More Button

On preparations for a no-deal Brexit, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, outlined in some detail yesterday after the Cabinet meeting the financial challenges Ireland will face in the conte...More Button

I thank the Deputy for her comments on the management of the Brexit process by the Government. I agree with what she said about climate change. Many people are ahead of the Government and this Ho...More Button

As the Deputy is aware, €116 billion of expenditure has been committed over the next ten years. Of the money we have committed to spend on capital infrastructure, one in every five euro relates ...More Button

I know Galway well, having been Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, and traffic is a significant issue for the city. We are planning to grow the population of the cit...More Button

We can show those students who will be on the streets in a few days' time that we are serious. For the remainder of this Dáil's lifetime, one area in which the Government certainly wants to see si...More Button

Galway can become an exemplar. Many of the towns and cities throughout Ireland are thinking ahead in terms of how they plan for sustainability. A transport strategy for Galway city was prepared...More Button

Tributes on Retirement of Member of Staff

I also take the opportunity to thank Patricia. I have been here for over 20 years and Patricia has been a permanent fixture in different parts of this system for nearly a decade longer. I am sure...More Button

Tributes on Retirement of Member of Staff (Continued)

She has been involved in House services and more recently, has assisted the Ceann Comhairle in his office, in more ways than one. At the end of a very significant and successful career here, on be...More Button

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business (Continued)

As the Deputy knows, we have asked the Public Service Pay Commission to have a look at the Defence Forces specifically and to return with recommendations to the Government on areas where we may be ...More Button

I think the industrial relations infrastructure of the State will be called upon again here. There is likely to be a Labour Court hearing on this matter next week. From the perspective of managem...More Button

I will have to ask the line Minister to come back to me with that detail because I do not have it here.More Button

I thank the Deputy for asking that question because it allows me to put on the record that the Government approved yesterday the terms of the CervicalCheck non-disclosure ex gratia sche...More Button

I am slow to give the Deputy a detailed response on the hoof. If he could send me the details of the matter, I will ensure that the Department is made aware of the concern he outlines.More Button

It has been approved by the Government and is shortly expected before the House.More Button

Yes, is the direct answer to that question. The Government has committed to a 25% increase in funding. We are also examining the possibility of making some of those units mobile so they can be ta...More Button

All I can say is that a review process was being finalised the last time I checked. I will ask the Minister to respond directly to Deputy O'Dea. I presume he has tabled parliamentary questions on...More Button

Whatever about the needs of the people of Kilcummin in respect of a new sewerage scheme, it is a bit of a stretch to try to connect that with the building of the national children's hospital.More Button

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has outlined on many occasions how the increased spending planned for next year will be accommodated. I do not think it has anything to do with a sew...More Button

I will happily do that.More Button

I have a long note on this matter that I will not have time to read into the record. I will ask the Minister to respond directly to Deputy Ó Broin. There are many technical issues linked to this ...More Button

I will happily pass that on. We have made huge progress in bringing voids back into use, including in Limerick. However, this is clearly an issue if the Deputy is rasing it so I will pass it on a...More Button

Brexit Expenditure

Was asked: the funding expended by his Department in promoting and hosting all Getting Ireland Brexit Ready events to date; the costs associated with advertising, design work, photography, event staging and v...More Button

Since my appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in June 2017, I have overseen and co-ordinated a sustained intensification of Brexit preparedness. As part of these efforts, the Gover...More Button

Northern Ireland

Was asked: if he has spoken to a family (details supplied) since a British Supreme Court ruling.More Button

The Government has noted the important judgment of the UK Supreme Court in the Finucane case on 27 February last, including the declaration that an investigation compliant with Article 2 of the Eur...More Button

Was asked: if the issue of a referendum on a united Ireland or a Border poll is included on the risk register of his Department; if the risk committee of his Department examined this issue; if so, the assessm...More Button

The risk management process within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade involves as a matter of course consideration of risks in relation to the political situation in Northern Ireland and t...More Button

The Department's risk management process is outlined in its Risk Management Policy, which is guided by the Risk Management Guidance provided by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.More Button

Risks facing the Department are identified both at Management Board level and by each business unit and these risks are subsequently interrogated by a Risk Management Committee, the Chief Risk Of...More Button

The risk management process within the Department is an important management tool which is part of the deliberative process of the organisation and informs, on an ongoing basis, senior management...More Button

In relation to the possibility of a referendum on a united Ireland or a border poll, the principle of consent and the possibility of change in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland are fu...More Button

The Department would note that the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements is a priority for it, and for the Government as a whole. The approach of the Governme...More Button

The holding of a referendum in this jurisdiction is connected with the calling of a border poll, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, in Northern Ireland. While the decision to hold suc...More Button

In the event of a future referendum within the consent provisions of the Good Friday Agreement, the Government would make all necessary preparations in accordance with the terms of the Constituti...More Button

Was asked: if he will report on his meeting in the Irish Embassy in London with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Ms Karen Bradley; the issues that were discussed; and if he will make a statement o...More Button

Was asked: if he discussed the comments made by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Ms Karen Bradley, in the House of Commons on 6 March 2019 regarding those who were killed by members of the British...More Button

Was asked: if he spoke with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Ms Karen Bradley, on 6 March 2019 regarding the outstanding commitments between the Irish and British Governments relating to outstandi...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 74, 76 and 77 together.More Button

I met with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, at the Embassy of Ireland in London, on 6 March. Our meeting focussed on Troubles legacy issues. More Button

I made clear to the Secretary of State the Government's deep concern at the statement she had made earlier that day, regarding deaths caused by British soldiers and police during the Troubles, wh...More Button

I underlined the need to investigate fully all Troubles related deaths, implement the Stormont House Agreement legacy framework, and honour the commitment under the 2001 Weston Park Agreement for...More Button

I reiterated to the Secretary of State the Government's position that there must be effective investigations into all deaths during the Troubles, regardless of the perpetrator. I underlined that...More Button

I also emphasised the imperative of moving ahead with legislation to establish the Stormont House Agreement legacy bodies, including to provide an effective system for investigation of outstandin...More Button

The Secretary of State acknowledged the deeply-felt concern her comments caused, and stated that this was not intended. Secretary of State Bradley also confirmed the British Government's continui...More Button

The Secretary of State's subsequent statement on 7 March which apologised for the offence and hurt caused by her statement to families who lost loved ones is important. It is also important that ...More Button

The Government will continue to engage with the British Government to seek the establishment of the Stormont House Agreement legacy institutions, in order to meet the legitimate needs and expecta...More Button

Was asked: if he has discussed with the British Foreign Minister and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland the way in which the victims of terrorism in Northern Ireland who still live there or here and ...More Button

Was asked: if he or his officials have met with the Minister for Health and his officials to discuss the way in which victims of terrorism who live here could receive specific supports, in particular counsell...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 79 and 82 together.More Button

I understand that these Questions refer to victims of violence during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.More Button

The Government's position is that there is no hierarchy of victims, whether killed or injured during the conflict in Northern Ireland by the actions of paramilitaries or by state forces. This is...More Button

The Programme for a Partnership Government commits to building on the progress made to establish the comprehensive institutional framework for dealing with the past that is provided for under the...More Button

I have engaged extensively with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and with the leaders of the political parties in Northern Ireland to seek the full implementation of the comprehensive ...More Button

The Stormont House Agreement also includes provisions in respect of services for victims in Northern Ireland which are for implementation by the Executive. The Agreement in addition expressly aff...More Button

Consistent with this, the Programme for Government commits to continuing support for victims’ groups and to promote reconciliation among communities on both sides of the border, which were partic...More Button

The Reconciliation Fund is open to applications from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community groups, and voluntary organisations, to support reconciliation and to create better understan...More Button

The Government also contributes significantly to the EU PEACE IV programme (2014 - 2020), and which includes a specific action on Victims and Survivors. This action is delivered by the Victims an...More Button

A Remembrance Commission was established in 2003 and operated a Scheme of Acknowledgement, Remembrance and Assistance for Victims of the Troubles in this jurisdiction. The Commission's term of ap...More Button

Access to medical services in this jurisdiction, including access to counselling, is a matter for the HSE and my colleague, the Minister for Health. I have not had specific discussions with the M...More Button

As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I have valued the opportunity to meet with victims’ families and with survivors of Troubles-related attacks, North and South on the island of Ireland an...More Button

Was asked: if he or his Department officials have met with a group (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the way in which his Department can facilitate requests from various groups such as a group (details supplied) to assist them with reaching out to victims and all their families; and if he will mak...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 80 and 81 together.More Button

I have not personally met with the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF). My Department regularly engages on my behalf with SEFF, which provides access to well-being and advocacy services for a ...More Button

In recent years, my Department's engagement with SEFF has included attendance at SEFF's annual conference and visits to the group's centre in Fermanagh. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trad...More Button

The Government also contributes significantly to the EU PEACE IV programme (2014-2020), and which includes a specific action on Victims and Survivors. This action is delivered by the Victims and ...More Button

This engagement and funding support from the Government is part of our commitment, set out in the Programme for Partnership Government, to continue support for victims’ groups and to promote reco...More Button

As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I have valued the opportunity to meet with victims’ families and with survivors of Troubles-related attacks, North and South on the island of Ireland an...More Button

Consistent with our commitments in the Programme for Partnership Government, as the Government continues work to implement the legacy framework of the Stormont House Agreement to address the lega...More Button

Question No. 82 answered with Question No. 79.More Button

Election Monitoring Missions

Was asked: if information on a series of matters (details supplied) regarding the types of person on the 2019 election observation roster will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if he will address a matter regarding the election observation roster (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if the recently issued appeals terms of reference would apply to a person (details supplied); if the independent appeals panel will review non-redacted versions of all appeals materials, including ...More Button

Was asked: further to Parliamentary Question No. 81 of 6 March 2019, if additional concerns (details supplied) will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Middle East Issues

Was asked: his views on the recently published UN report that indicated the actions by Israeli authorities in respect of protests in Gaza may amount to war crimes; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

In response to the violent incidents in Gaza last summer, I called for an independent investigation of these tragic events. Ireland subsequently supported moves at the United Nations Human Rights C...More Button

The Commission has clearly carried out its task in a careful and professional manner, and I commend them for their work. It is regrettable that the Israeli authorities decided not to cooperate wi...More Button

Their Report makes for sombre and deeply disturbing reading. While there is clearly a dispute over the events in Gaza last summer, leading to some element of genuine uncertainty about some specif...More Button

The Report suggests that Israeli authorities had reason to be concerned at a possible mass incursion into Israel, and to prepare for it, but also that this did not occur. Only a small fraction of...More Button

The Report instances some cases of violence on the part of some demonstrators, mostly stone throwing and the floating of incendiary devices into Israel, where they started fires in crops and prop...More Button

The Report concludes that, in relation to the use of force by Israeli forces under various headings, in at least some cases there are grounds to consider that war crimes may have been committed, ...More Button

The Commission Report therefore confirms the view I expressed in the Dáil on behalf of the Government last summer. I noted that international law allows the use of potentially lethal force by sec...More Button

The Report will now be considered by the UN Human Rights Council. More Button

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to reports of Israeli authorities withholding Palestinian tax revenue, which would be considered a violation of the Oslo Accords; his views on such matters; if this ...More Button

On 17 February 2019, the Government of Israel decided unilaterally to withhold the equivalent of 123 million euro in Palestinian tax revenue transfers. This decision is a result of legislation adop...More Button

I also understand that the Palestinian leadership has in response decided to reject all clearance revenue in protest at the funding cut, which no doubt will have repercussions for the Palestinian...More Button

I am acutely concerned about the worsening financial situation of the PA. Thankfully the impact of its budget shortfall last year was somewhat mitigated by donor aid. This economic insecurity is ...More Button

These are very serious developments that put at risk the financial stability of the Palestinian Authority and ultimately the security of both Israelis and Palestinians alike. EU Heads of Mission ...More Button

I reiterate the EU’s call for Israel to honour its obligations under the Oslo Accords, with due regard to the Paris Economic Protocol, which administers the economic and financial relations betwe...More Button

I can assure the Deputy that these concerns about the repercussions of this move on the peace process will be raised with Israeli interlocutors.More Button

Passport Applications Data

Was asked: the number of persons from Great Britain and Northern Ireland who have applied for an Irish passport in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the ma...More Button

The Passport Service receives applications through a range of channels, including the online passport application service. The following figures reflect the numbers received through all channels i...More Button

Was asked: the target and actual turnaround time, respectively, for receipt of a passport across all the passport services; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The following table summarises the turnaround times for the Passport Service’s main application channels. Turnaround times for individual missions outside Ireland and the UK are omitted as these wi...More Button

Question No. 64 answered with Question No. 59.More Button

Legislative Measures

Was asked: his plans to update the Passports Act 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

There are no immediate plans to make further amendments the Passports Act, 2008 as amended ("the Act”).

  The Act is up to-date and reflects any recent legislative changes t...More Button

Human Rights

Was asked: the degree to which he advocated for the strengthening of corporate accountability and increased regulation of the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises to ensure ...More Button

Was asked: the position regarding the UN guiding principles on human rights impact assessments for economic reform policies, which are being debated at the UN Human Rights Council; and his plans for rolling o...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 67 and 69 together.More Button

In November 2017, my Department launched the National Plan on Business and Human Rights 2017 -2020 to give effect to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The Plan is a whole of...More Button

My Department has established the Business and Human Rights Implementation Group to oversee implementation of the National Plan over the next three years. Its membership consists of representativ...More Button

To aid the work of the Implementation Group, my Department commissioned a baseline assessment of the current legislative and regulatory framework for business and human rights in Ireland from an ...More Button

Ireland consistently advocates for the right of civil society actors and human rights defenders to operate in a free and safe environment without fear of reprisal. Ireland played a key role in th...More Button

Ireland is open to looking at options for progress on a legally binding Treaty, which we believe should treat all economic operators in a non-discriminatory manner and should therefore cover comp...More Button

We would wish to see essential human rights principles reflected in any possible instrument, which should reaffirm the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights and stress ...More Button

Ultimately, if it is to achieve its objectives, any legally binding instrument should enjoy broad support among UN Member States to ensure its effectiveness as well as international coherence in ...More Button

Diplomatic Representation

Was asked: if he will be prioritising visits to affected communities in Colombia in view of the new embassy in place in Bogota and his commitment to human rights defenders and the peace process; and if he wil...More Button

As the Deputy mentioned, Ireland has long been a committed supporter of the peace process in Colombia, with a particular focus on the protection of human rights and human rights defenders. Ireland ...More Button

Ireland was a founding member of the EU Trust Fund for Colombia, and continues to provide funding to the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund, and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights i...More Button

We have also facilitated lesson sharing programmes between Ireland and Colombia, based on our own experience of peace building. As we know well in Ireland, the signing of a peace agreement only m...More Button

Ireland's new Embassy in Bogotá has just recently opened, with Ambassador Alison Milton presenting her credentials last month. This, combined with the opening last year of the first resident Emba...More Button

One such important area of engagement is with those local communities and groups that have been most impacted by the armed conflict. Officials at our Embassy in Bogotá have already met with a num...More Button

Having a permanent diplomatic presence on the ground will also further enable us to monitor the status of the peace accords closely and to fulfil our commitment to the Government and people of Co...More Button

Ireland remains committed to supporting the full implementation of the peace accords in Colombia to ensure a more peaceful future for all Colombians. We have stressed our continued support for t...More Button

I look forward to continuing to work with the Government of Colombia and with our EU partners to ensure a coordinated and effective approach that best supports the peace process. I can assure the...More Button

Climate Change Policy

Was asked: further to Parliamentary Question No. 111 of 5 March 2019, the number of grants made versus loans, that is, quantity and monetary value regarding loans; the amount of interest applied; and the main...More Button

Foreign Conflicts

Was asked: his views on the suppression of protests in Sudan by the government of President al-Bashir; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Official Engagements

Was asked: if he will report on the dinner he attended in the Irish Embassy in London on 6 March 2019; the guests who attended; the issues that were discussed; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if he discussed the report by the head of the civil service in Northern Ireland regarding the impact of a no-deal Brexit on Northern Ireland at the dinner on 6 March 2019 in the Irish Embassy in Lo...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 75 and 78 together.More Button

On Wednesday 6th December, I welcomed the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall to a special dinner at the Embassy of Ireland in London, hosted by Ambassador Adrian O’Neill. The dinner marked ...More Button

We were joined by approximately 90 guests from across the worlds of politics, culture, business, media and the Irish community in order to mark the vibrant and positive bilateral connections we ...More Button

During his speech at the dinner, Prince Charles reiterated his and the Duchess’ commitment to developing the relationship and the bonds between our two countries, saying More Button

“We are friends, we are partners and we are the closest of near neighbours, bound together by everything that we have in common – and by just how far we have come together.”More Button

In my own remarks, I spoke of "the extraordinarily vibrant and overwhelmingly positive connections that we now enjoy together - of culture and art, of economics and commerce, of friendship and fa...More Button

The dinner was obviously a social event and not a forum for discussion of policy issues. Therefore, I did not specifically discuss or address the recent letter from the Head of the Northern Irela...More Button

The letter from the Head of the NICS follows on the UK Government’s paper of 26 February which notes that the cumulative impact from a ‘no deal’ scenario is expected to be more severe in Northern...More Button

I share the letter’s assessment, including its stark warning about the changes to everyday life, potential border frictions, and the potential for profound and long lasting impact on society. I h...More Button

Questions Nos. 76 and 77 answered with Question No. 74.More Button

Question No. 78 answered with Question No. 75.More Button

Brexit Issues

Was asked: if he has received an update on the meetings that the British Attorney General has been having with EU officials on the withdrawal treaty and the backstop in particular.More Button

I spoke with Michel Barnier over the weekend, during his visit to Dublin. I also remain in contact with my UK counterparts, and spoke with David Lidington during my visit to London late last week.More Button

There have been an intensive series of meeting between the EU and the UK over the past few weeks, including between the British Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, the UK Brexit Secretary, Stephen Ba...More Button

On 11 May Prime Minister May and President Juncker agreed a package of measures comprising of an “Instrument relating to the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and...More Button

These documents are complementary to the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration and aim to provide an additional layer of interpretation, clarification and elaboration to the United Kingd...More Button

The Government welcomes this agreement, and is prepared to back this package of measures in the interests of securing an overall deal. As we have said all along, the backstop is an insurance poli...More Button

The EU is fully committed to exploring alternative arrangements so that the backstop is never used, or would only apply temporarily if it ever needs to be used. The agreed package makes clear tha...More Button

This has not been an easy process and compromise has been shown on both sides. We hope that with these further assurances the House of Commons will approve the Withdrawal Agreement. This is the b...More Button