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Flanagan, Charles

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.


Brexit Issues

Was asked: if the rights of 1.8 million persons in Northern Ireland to EU citizenship under the Good Friday Agreement will be protected in full after Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

As a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, the Government is determined that all aspects of the Agreement will be fully respected through the process of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from th...More Button

Under Irish citizenship law, the vast majority of people born on the island of Ireland, including those born in Northern Ireland, are entitled to Irish citizenship. The Good Friday Agreement fur...More Button

In the forthcoming EU-UK negotiations, the Government will work to ensure that the continuing EU citizenship of Irish citizens in Northern Ireland can be sustained in a way that is consistent wit...More Button

As part of my engagement with the Secretary of State and with each of the parties in the discussions in recent weeks, I have strongly emphasised the critical importance of forming a new Executive...More Button

I want to make it quite clear that all those persons who are citizens of Ireland are EU citizens and that, after Brexit, assuming that the United Kingdom leaves the European Union in two years or w...More Button

It is too early to discuss in detail, or in terms of small print, the potential impact of the withdrawal process but I assure the House and the Deputy once again that, since the outcome of the refe...More Button

Was asked: if consideration has been given to the need for new formal structures for dialogue to be established between the Irish and British Governments in view of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on ...More Button

Ireland has a strong and constructive relationship with the United Kingdom and with our EU partners and we are fully committed to maintaining both in the new set of circumstances which will emerge ...More Button

Was asked: if during his discussions with his European counterparts he has requested that Ireland receive a veto on the EU-Britain deal on Brexit similar to that received by Spain; if so, and if he did not re...More Button

A central pillar of the Government’s response to last year’s UK referendum on EU membership has been strategic outreach to EU partners and Institutions to ensure that the unique Irish perspective o...More Button

It is clear that this extensive political, diplomatic and official campaign has been effective in ensuring understanding and recognition of our unique circumstances and specific issues. This is ...More Button

As regards to Gibraltar, it should be recalled that it is part neither of the UK nor of the EU, but is a UK overseas territory. Moreover, its constitutional status is disputed. The situation is...More Button

The text in the draft Guidelines is consistent with Irish Government policy that the status of Gibraltar is a bilateral issue between Spain and the UK.More Button

Moreover the draft Guidelines make reference to Gibraltar within the context of the framework for future EU-UK relationship, which itself will be the subject of a separate negotiation and agreeme...More Button

This is entirely distinct and separate from the Irish Government’s priority of ensuring that the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland, including the Good Friday Agreement, are recognised...More Button

Was asked: if he has identified Ireland's red line issues in the EU-UK Article 50 negotiations.More Button

The triggering of Article 50 on 29 March represented the formal commencement of a process for which Ireland has been preparing intensively and extensively over the last nine months. Indeed, our ana...More Button

Arising from this extensive work, which continues, four headline challenges have been identified and prioritised by the Government as major political issues that will need to be addressed in the ...More Button

I do not think it is helpful in a negotiation such as this to talk of red lines. That said, it is vital that all efforts are made to avoid anything which might undermine stability in Northern Ir...More Button

The Common Travel Area is also an important feature of the close relationship between Ireland and the UK with long-established benefits for our people and well-being of our two countries. It is a...More Button

Throughout the Article 50 negotiations and the subsequent negotiations on the future relationship between the EU and the UK, we will be working hard to ensure that key sectors of the economy, as ...More Button

Before discussions on the future relationship begin, following the achievement of sufficient progress in the Article 50 negotiations proper, the European Council will adopt additional guidelines ...More Button

The strong acknowledgement of Ireland’s unique circumstances in the draft EU negotiating guidelines, the UK Government’s letter of notification and the resolution on the Brexit negotiations that ...More Button

The Government will produce a position paper on the Article 50 negotiations in advance of the meeting of the European Council on 29 April. This will provide more detail on the Government’s appro...More Button

Foreign Conflicts

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the fact that ETA has announced that, on 8 April 2017, it will decommission its weapons; his views on whether the Spanish Government should seize this historic mo...More Button

I assure the Deputy the Government has supported and encouraged efforts aimed at securing peace and stability in the Basque country. The Government welcomed the declaration by ETA of October 2011 ...More Button

Was asked: the steps other than statements of condemnation which have been taken or will be taken at EU and international level against the preparators of the chemical attack in Idlib, Syria, which is a viola...More Button

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the deaths of at least 52 adults and 20 children due to sarin and chlorine gas exposure in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria (details supplied); and if his Department will pl...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 and 60 together.

  I was horrified to learn of the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun last week which killed scores of civilians and seriously ...More Button

Foreign Conflicts (Continued)

I stated this was a significant and welcome step towards the disbandment of a terrorist organisation that has inflicted great suffering on the people in two fellow EU member states, France and Spain.More Button

I repeat here that democracy and dialogue are the only legitimate means of resolving conflict. We must also never forget the victims of terrorism; those who have died and those for whom pain and...More Button

We will, of course, continue to support peace and stability but further steps which might be taken are not primarily matters for the Irish Government. I assure the House that we will keep a clos...More Button

I have already stated the Irish Government supports any development towards peace and stability. While I agree with the Deputy that there are circumstances in which the experience of our own peace...More Button

I wish to assure the Deputy. Indeed, I note the statements over the weekend of my counterpart, the French Foreign Minister, as well as statements of the Spanish Government. We will, of course, ...More Button

We will continue to offer any assistance that might in the circumstances be required. If the Deputy is urging the Irish Government to take an interventionist role in this, that certainly would not...More Button

Brexit Issues (Continued)

I am not quite sure what new formal institutions the Deputy wishes to see. I again make it quite clear that the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union and the negotiations that are about to ...More Button

-----regardless of the status of the UK within the European Union.More Button

There are a number of parliamentary structures in which the Deputy himself is involved, for example, the North-South interparliamentary tier and the British-Irish interparliamentary group, which I ...More Button

The Taoiseach is in attendance at all times. I believe the use of these bodies will now intensify as the negotiations between the UK and the European Union commence. I acknowledge the importance ...More Button

-----at present because of the absence of an Executive in Northern Ireland.More Button

Irish Prisoners Abroad

Was asked: if he will report on contacts he and his officials have had with the Egyptian authorities regarding the case of a person (details supplied); if he has raised the person's medical condition with the...More Button

I take this opportunity to express my horror at the two attacks on Coptic churches in northern Egypt on Sunday. I have spoken with the Egyptian ambassador and have conveyed through her my deepest ...More Button

The consular case referred to by the Deputy continues to be an absolute priority for the Government, and very substantial resources and time are being devoted to it. The case has seen more high ...More Button

The Government has repeatedly and consistently called on the Egyptian authorities to allow this citizen to return to his family and his home in Ireland. We have supported legal petitions for thi...More Button

I repeated this position when I met my Egyptian counterpart, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Shoukry, again last month. In recent days, I have also spoken at length with the EU High Represe...More Button

The court case in which this person is accused is now moving forward, and recent hearings have been more substantive with shorter periods between court sittings. At the most recent hearing, on 5...More Button

It is also noteworthy that at that most recent hearing the lawyers representing our Irish citizen made a request for his release on health grounds and the presiding judge undertook to examine the...More Button

For my part, I will continue to work urgently at political level to maintain pressure on the Egyptian Government to release our citizen and allow him to return to his home and his family at the e...More Button

Was asked: the measures he has taken to ensure the release of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I assure Deputy Connolly that this consular case continues to be a top priority for the Government and that very substantial resources and time are being devoted to it. This case has seen more hig...More Button

The Government has repeatedly and consistently called on the Egyptian authorities to release our citizen and return him to his home and his family in Dublin. We have supported petitions for this...More Button

The court hearings have been closely monitored. On all occasions that the case has been called in court, there has been a representative of the Government present. On the most recent occasion, ...More Button

I am sure all Deputies will join me in saying that a hunger strike will serve no purpose. It will not assist in any way. The Irish citizen's health, as indicated in reports, is a matter of utmost...More Button

The Government and the Department of Foreign Affairs have consistently underlined our concerns in this regard in all of our contacts with the Egyptian authorities. We have made it clear that we ...More Button

The medical visit took place the week before last. The report was immediately furnished and is being acted upon. I assure Deputy Connolly and the entire House that I will continue to urgently wor...More Button

Irish Prisoners Abroad (Continued)

I assure the Deputy that the Government continues to pursue every constructive avenue to achieve the citizen's return to Ireland and we will continue to bring our influence to bear on his behalf th...More Button

This case continues to receive the attention of the Government at the highest level, having regard to the fact that the Taoiseach has again been in direct contact with President el-Sisi of Egypt ...More Button

There are a number of direct channels between my Department and the Halawa family and also the lawyers and other interested parties that will be pursued. I am, however, very concerned at persisten...More Button

Dublin-Monaghan Bombings

Was asked: the status of efforts being made in persuading the British Government to comply with the three all-party motions passed by Dáil Éireann regarding the Dublin and Monaghan bombings; his views on whet...More Button

Dealing with long-outstanding issues relating to the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland is of primary importance to me, as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, as it is to the Government...More Button

The Government is committed to actively pursuing the implementation of the all-party Dáil motions, and has consistently raised the issue with the British Government. The Taoiseach has raised the...More Button

I share the Deputy's concerns. It is a matter of regret to me that we have not made greater progress on this long-outstanding issue. I assure the Deputy that officials of the respective Governmen...More Button

There have been a number of appalling cases from the Troubles in respect of which truth and justice have been secured only after decade-long campaigns by victims, families, survivors, civil socie...More Button

Dublin-Monaghan Bombings (Continued)

I acknowledge what the Deputy has said and share her view regarding the victims' groups and in particular Justice for the Forgotten. I have had an opportunity to meet with representatives of that ...More Button

I will continue to engage in discussions in Belfast with the Secretary of State and the political parties to ensure we can achieve progress, not only on this case but also in regard to a number o...More Button

The Deputy mentioned the anniversary on 17 May and I assure her I will raise the issue once again with the Secretary of State in advance of the forthcoming anniversary. I will have an opportunit...More Button

Good Friday Agreement

Was asked: the outcome of discussions to date with the British Foreign Secretary and with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in respect of the need for a post-Article 50 agreement between Britain and...More Button

Was asked: the outcome of discussions with the British Foreign Secretary and with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in respect of access to the Court of Justice of the European Union and other guara...More Button

Was asked: the actions he has taken and is taking to ensure citizens in Northern Ireland will maintain their rights under the European Court of Human Rights and Good Friday Agreement.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 30, 53 and 64 together.More Button

As a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, the Government is determined that all aspects of the agreement are fully respected through the process of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Uni...More Button

The protection of human rights in Northern Ireland law, including through the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights, is one of the key principles underpinning the Good Friday A...More Button

In the context of British Government proposals, not connected with Brexit, to repeal the UK Human Rights Act and to introduce a domestic bill of rights, the Government has consistently emphasised...More Button

On 13 February, I convened a sectoral dialogue on human rights under the Good Friday Agreement to hear the views of civil society, North and South, on the possible implications of Brexit for this...More Button

On 14 February, I held a bilateral meeting in Dublin with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire. I reminded him of the unique circumstances that pertain to Northern Irel...More Button

Human rights are central to the peace process and must be fully protected and sustained, regardless of the UK’s status in the EU. The Government will continue to work closely with the British Go...More Button

I assure the House and the Deputy that the Government is a firm supporter of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, but the Good Friday Agreement predates that charter and does not expressly provide fo...More Button

I wish to refer again to the White Paper on legislating for the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. The British Government expressly indicated that the provisions of the EU Charter of Fundamental ...More Button

My priority at all times is to ensure that all aspects of the Good Friday Agreement are respected, not only here but also in the context of the UK-EU negotiations. It is an issue that forms part...More Button

Was asked: if he will provide an update on the efforts his Department is making to maintain and strengthen the Good Friday Agreement.More Button

The Government’s firm position is that the Good Friday Agreement and the successor Agreements must be implemented in full, and this is reflected in the Programme for Partnership Government. The Ag...More Button

While this commitment is something which is very much part of the daily work of my own – and indeed many other Departments, there are two significant challenges which are specific priorities at t...More Button

I have already reported to the House on the talks process in Belfast, in which I am representing the Government, aimed at implementing outstanding commitments from previous Agreements and support...More Button

I have spoken before about the interlocking institutions being at the heart of the Good Friday Agreement. The devolved institutions are the lifeblood within the Agreement and the Government will...More Button

In the context of the two year Brexit process having been triggered, an effective Northern Ireland Executive is vital so that Northern Ireland can directly engage with the challenges arising from...More Button

Cooperation on our island has always been important but it is crucial in the context of Brexit. The role of the North South Ministerial Council will be central in the months and years ahead and ...More Button

I very much hope that the necessary agreement between the parties will be reached on formation of the Executive as soon as possible, so that it can directly represent the interests of the people ...More Button

On the basis of our continuing intensive political and diplomatic engagement with every EU Member State and the EU Institutions, I am greatly heartened by the solidarity and support that our EU p...More Button

Good Friday Agreement (Continued)

The Deputy makes a very important point. I assure him, and the House, that human rights provisions comprise a very important pillar of the Good Friday Agreement. It is essential, therefore, that ...More Button

I assure the Deputy that we will continue to raise this issue. I have raised it across a number of ministerial meetings that I had with both the current Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, an...More Button

Passport Applications

Was asked: the supports he is providing to the Passport Office to assist in the speedy processing of the increasing numbers of passport applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

There have been very significant increases in passport applications in recent years. A total of almost 750,000 applications was received in 2016. This was an increase of more than 9% over 2015. ...More Button

The introduction of the new online service is part of the ongoing programme of reform in the Passport Office. I acknowledge what the Deputy has said in respect of those working there. I too wish ...More Button

I appeal to Deputies to continue to help promote good practice in their communications with constituents in order to avoid unnecessary stress. My advice continues to be that applicants should al...More Button

Was asked: if he will review a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The target turnaround time is fifteen working days for renewal applications submitted via Passport Express as operated in partnership with An Post. This is advised on my Department’s website and v...More Button

As a matter of best practice and to avoid delays in the event of incomplete applications or insufficient supporting documentation, the Passport Service advises that applicants allow at least six ...More Button

These notes also advise that current turnaround times can be consulted at www.dfa.ie/passport and that those with insufficient time to apply through Passport Express should avail of the online pa...More Button

It is very important that the applicant decide at the outset on the most appropriate channel through which to submit an application. More Button

I am informed that the fifteenth working day after receipt of the application referred to by the Deputy was 10 April and that the passport was dispatched on that date.More Button

Was asked: the impact the introduction of a new online passport processing facility will have on processing times for all passport applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I launched the Online Passport Application Service on 30 March. The service is safe, fast and convenient and it allows adult Irish citizens to renew their passports from anywhere in the world on t...More Button

Passport Applications (Continued)

There are millions of Irish passport holders worldwide. I again acknowledge the challenges for the Passport Office in dealing with unprecedented numbers of applications. Over 733,000 passports we...More Button

Military Aircraft

Was asked: the role of his Department in regulating the activity of Royal Air Force, RAF, fighter jets empowered to carry out military operations in Irish sovereign airspace (details supplied); and if he will...More Button

The Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order 1952, made under the Air Navigation and Transport Act 1946, gives the Minister for Foreign Affairs primary responsibility for the regulation of ...More Button

Military Aircraft (Continued)

Comprehensive records on requests received and decisions made are retained for the purposes of monitoring and oversight and are drawn on as needed including to provide information to this House, as...More Button

I cannot comment on any reports concerning national security matters or responses that might be taken in the event of an attack on Ireland or a serious and immediate security threat to Ireland or...More Button

The Deputy alleges the existence of an agreement allowing the RAF to shoot down suspect aircraft in Irish sovereign airspace. I can confirm for the benefit of the House that no agreement has been ...More Button

My Department ensures that detailed and robust procedures are in place to ensure that all relevant parties are fully aware of the requirements relating to applications for permission for foreign mi...More Button

There are no circumstances under which the RAF or any other air force takes over responsibility of the Irish Air Corps. The Government's engagement in international security co-operation is conduc...More Button

Northern Ireland

Was asked: the discussions he had with Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Mr. James Brokenshire, about the possibility of the reintroduction of direct rule in Northern Ireland. More Button

Was asked: if he has spoken to Secretary of State Brokenshire since Mr. Brokenshire’s announcement that he would consider a return to direct rule if talks to restore power sharing in Northern Ireland fail. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 35 and 47 together.

  I am in regular and direct contact with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland as part of the ongoing discussions to s...More Button

I share Deputy Burton's concern. I agree with much of what she said and I wish to assure her and other Deputies that, as part of my engagement with the Secretary of State and with each of the part...More Button

Was asked: if he will report on the breakdown in talks in Northern Ireland, particularly in respect of legacy issues.More Button

Following the Assembly election, I spoke on 5 March with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and the Taoiseach spoke with Prime Minister May. Both Governments agreed on the need for inten...More Button

In this context I am representing the Government in the intensive talks in Belfast. These talks have two objectives. Firstly, to allow the political parties to reach an agreement on the formati...More Button

Overall there is encouraging progress being made in this renewed phase but I am under no illusions about the challenge of resolving the core issues that remain outstanding. Serious issues remain...More Button

In regard to legacy issues, I have been closely involved in the ongoing discussions in Belfast with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the political parties to seek a way forward for...More Button

Also, as part of my engagement with the Secretary of State and with each of the parties in the discussions in recent weeks, I have strongly emphasised the critical importance of forming a new Exe...More Button

As the formal talks pause briefly for Easter, I encourage everyone to maintain informal contacts and to reflect on what can be achieved if, in the weeks ahead, an Executive is established that op...More Button

The Irish Government as a co-guarantor of that Agreement and the peace process will continue to play its part in facilitating these ongoing talks, working with the British Government and encourag...More Button

  Questions Nos. 32 to 36, inclusive, answered orally.More Button

Was asked: his views on whether there has been little progress in the current negotiations in Belfast due to the fact the British Government and the Democratic Unionist Party have not focused on the key issue...More Button

Following the Assembly election, I spoke on 5 March with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and the Taoiseach spoke with Prime Minister May. Both Governments agreed on the need for intens...More Button

In this context I am representing the Government in the intensive talks in Belfast. These talks have two objectives. Firstly, to allow the political parties to reach an agreement on the formation...More Button

Overall there is encouraging progress being made in this renewed phase but I am under no illusions about the challenge of resolving the core issues that remain outstanding. Serious issues remain ...More Button

As part of my engagement with the Secretary of State and with each of the parties in the discussions in recent weeks, I have strongly emphasised the critical importance of forming a new Executive...More Button

As the formal talks pause briefly for Easter, I encourage everyone to maintain informal contacts and to reflect on what can be achieved if, in the weeks ahead, an Executive is established that op...More Button

The Irish Government as a co-guarantor of that Agreement and the peace process will continue to play its part in facilitating these ongoing talks, working with the British Government and encourag...More Button

Northern Ireland (Continued)

There is an added urgency and a greater level of importance on this occasion having regard to the commencement of the negotiations on the proposed withdrawal of the UK from the EU. I very much hop...More Button

Only yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet a cross-section of civil society leaders in Belfast. Last week, I met in excess of 15 heads of business corporations in Northern Ireland. I share the...More Button

Military Aircraft Landings

Was asked: his plans to review the use of Shannon Airport by the US military in view of the destabilising role played in the Middle East and elsewhere by the US, and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Successive Governments have made landing facilities available at Shannon Airport to the US for well over 50 years. These arrangements are governed by strict conditions, including that the aircraft...More Button

These conditions apply equally to military aircraft from all countries seeking to land in Shannon. The US, as with all other states, is required to provide my Department with confirmation in wri...More Button

The Deputy will be aware that prior permission is required for all foreign military aircraft to land at Irish airports and that, if granted, permission is subject to strict conditions, which I have...More Button

Deputy Daly will be aware from previous encounters inside and outside this House that arrangements for the regulation of activity by foreign military aircraft are kept under ongoing review. In l...More Button

Military Aircraft Landings (Continued)

I do not accept what the Deputy has said. Lest there be any doubt, let me say that I was horrified at the apparent chemical attack in Syria last week. The attack was barbaric and my thoughts cont...More Button

Prison Facilities

Was asked: if he has had discussions recently with the British and Northern Ireland authorities regarding unresolved issues for prisoners in a prison (details supplied); and the ways he could progress these i...More Button

I wish to reiterate my ongoing concerns about conditions in Maghaberry Prison, Northern Ireland.More Button

Maghaberry Prison was identified by the Criminal Justice Inspector, Brendan McGuigan, in a 2015 report as needing work to make the prison safer and to improve conditions for staff. Since publica...More Button

The Northern Ireland Executive last summer agreed to implement the recommendation of the Fresh Start Paramilitary Panel that a review of the separated regime in Maghaberry be established. I look...More Button

Complicating matters has been the sense of threat which prison officers and their families perceive. The murders of two prison officers, Adrian Ismay last March and David Black in 2012, have set...More Button

Conditions in the prison form part of my regular discussions with political interlocutors in the North. I look forward to continuing that active engagement as and when a new Minister for Justice...More Button

Diplomatic Representation

Was asked: his views on whether an Irish representative from his Department should be present at all meetings and stages of the UK-EU Brexit negotiations; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The procedural arrangements that will apply on the EU side in the negotiation process were agreed at the meeting of 27 Heads of State or Government including the Taoiseach on 15 December 2016. The...More Button

The European Commission will be the Union negotiator. Its team will be led by Michel Barnier and will include a representative of the rotating Presidency of the Council. A representative of the...More Button

The EU27 Member States will monitor progress and give guidance to the Commission through a dedicated Working Party, which in turn will report to Coreper, on which Ireland’s Permanent Representati...More Button

This will ensure that the negotiations are carried out under the overall strategic and political guidance of the EU27 Member States through the European Council and the General Affairs Council, s...More Button

In line with the arrangements agreed by the 27 Heads of State and Government in December 2016 and following the notification by the UK Government on 29 March of its intention to withdraw from the...More Button

These draft guidelines will be discussed among the EU27 throughout the month of April, with a view to their adoption by the European Council on 29 April following a preparatory meeting of the Gen...More Button

We welcome this balanced approach to the negotiations and will engage fully and intensively with a view to pursuing our national interests and priorities within this framework. We are ready and ...More Button

Foreign Policy

Was asked: his views on recent events in Venezuela; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I am deeply concerned by the situation in Venezuela following rulings on 28 and 29 March by the country’s Supreme Court which rescinded the constitutional powers of the democratically elected Natio...More Button

While domestic and international pressure led to the rescinding last week of most of the rulings of the Supreme Court, it remains the case that the Court has declared the National Assembly as bei...More Button

I reiterate the European Union’s call for all parties in Venezuela to respect the country’s constitution and the role of the National Assembly, as well as democratic principles and the rule of l...More Button

I am alarmed by the shortages of food and medicines being faced by the people of Venezuela, and the unacceptable level of violence used by Government authorities in recent days against protesters...More Button

The Government of Venezuela must restore the country’s democratic institutions and work together with the National Assembly and other national actors to address the many serious challenges facing...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which issues likely to require attention within the European Union, such as emerging nationalism, are a focus for member states with particular reference to the need to rediscover the...More Button

One factor behind the rise of extreme right wing movements in Europe in recent times is disillusionment among Europe’s citizens that their everyday concerns are not being addressed by their politic...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which the western Balkans receives constructive support and attention from the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Western Balkans continues to be a priority for the European Union. At the most recent European Council on 9 March, the Heads of State and Government, including the Taoiseach, reaffirmed their u...More Button

These high-level discussions both reflect the commitment of the EU to the Western Balkans, particularly in a context where internal political difficulties are compounded by the impact of external...More Button

Ireland is a strong supporter of the enlargement process, regarding it as a transformative driver for stability and progress, and we work actively with our European partners to assist candidates ...More Button

European Council Meetings

Was asked: if he will report on the European Union Foreign Affairs Council on 3 April 2016; the steps he intends to take to support Iraqi and Syrian nationals impacted by the conflict to come here; and if he ...More Button

I attended the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting on 3 April. My EU counterparts and I also met with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.More Button

The conflict in Syria is causing untold suffering and displacement of civilians on the ground. I and my EU counterparts made clear that the Syrian regime has the primary responsibility for the pr...More Button

The severe humanitarian situation in Yemen is also of grave concern. My EU colleagues and I reiterated our strong support for the efforts of the UN Secretary General and the UN Special Envoy for...More Button

The Council also agreed on the urgent need for a political solution that would unite Libya under the Libyan Peace Agreement.More Button

I continued my extensive engagement with EU counterparts by having bilateral meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Sweden and Austria respectively to discuss ongoing preparations for the upcomin...More Button

The question of support for Iraqi and Syrian nationals impacted by the conflict to come to Ireland is a matter for the Department of Justice and Equality.More Button

Official Engagements

Was asked: if he will report on his visit to Rome and the opening of the embassy to the Holy See; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I made an official visit to Italy over the St Patrick’s Day weekend, 15-19 March. The visit began in Milan on 15 March where I had a series of engagements to promote Irish business involving clien...More Button

Israeli Settlements

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the Israeli Government’s decision to build a new illegal colonial settlement in the occupied West Bank (details supplied); if he will raise his objections to this...More Button

There have been a number of deeply disappointing and damaging announcements by the Israeli Government in relation to settlements in recent months, both large scale construction approvals and now th...More Button

I have consistently made clear Ireland’s views on the settlement enterprise. Settlements are illegal, they actively undermine the prospects for a sustainable negotiated two-state solution, and t...More Button

It is particularly troubling when, as in the case of this new settlement announcement, seizures of Palestinian land and breaches of international law are undertaken in what might be seen as a man...More Button

The international community has very clearly expressed its similar views on settlements, most recently in Security Council Resolution 2334 adopted in December, and the Declaration of the Paris Co...More Button

Ireland’s concerns about settlements are raised with the Israeli authorities on every appropriate occasion, and are also clearly expressed at EU level and in other international fora. They are v...More Button

The suggestion of sanctions is made regularly by the Deputy and others. Sanctions are not a standard response to breaches of human rights: there are very many states around the world about whom ...More Button

Overseas Development Aid Expenditure

Was asked: his plans to reverse the decline in the percentage of GDP allocated to overseas development aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Shannon Airport Facilities

Was asked: if he discussed the ongoing use of Shannon Airport by the US military with his counterpart on his most recent official visit to the US; his plans to change the current arrangement; and if he will m...More Button

I have not yet had the opportunity to meet with the new US Secretary of State Mr. Rex Tillerson since he was sworn into office on 1 February. I look forward to meeting him and to discussing all as...More Button

The Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order 1952, made under the Air Navigation and Transport Act 1946, gives the Minister for Foreign Affairs primary responsibility for the regulation o...More Button

Successive Governments have made landing facilities available at Shannon Airport to the United States for well over 50 years. These arrangements are governed by strict conditions, including that...More Button

Arrangements for the regulation of activity by foreign military aircraft are kept under ongoing review. In line with this, my Department ensures that detailed and robust procedures are in place ...More Button

Foreign Naval Vessels

Was asked: if officials in his Department had communication with the US authorities or other Departments regarding the presence of a ship (details supplied) in Cobh harbour on 21 March 2017; if so, the detail...More Button

In response to a request from the US Embassy, my Department granted permission for a visit by the US naval vessel, USS Donald Cook, to visit the port of Cobh from 21-25 March 2017. The purpose of ...More Button

Routine courtesy visits by naval vessels to foreign ports are a regular feature of international relations and help to further bilateral ties between friendly nations. Ships from our own Naval S...More Button

As is the case, for all requests for ships to pay routine calls to Irish ports, my Department seeks the views of other Departments and agencies including An Garda Síochána, the Naval Service and ...More Button

In seeking permission for this visit, clear assurances were received from the US Embassy that the vessel in question would not be carrying any nuclear weapons and would not engage in any military...More Button

  Question No. 47 answered with Question No. 35.More Button

Religious Persecution

Was asked: if he will provide an update on discussions he has had at European Council level relating to the persecution of the Christian population in the Middle East.More Button

At the outset I would like to express my horror at the two attacks on Coptic Churches in northern Egypt on Sunday, and to extend my deepest condolences to the victims and their families.More Button

The political turmoil which has overwhelmed many countries in the Middle East in recent years has led to increased concerns about the safety of several religious minorities and other minority gro...More Button

More generally, Ireland is deeply concerned by the persecution of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East. Ireland strongly condemns all forms of persecution on the basis of religion ...More Button

Ireland consistently raises the issues of racism and intolerance and advocates for inclusive societies at the UN Human Rights Council, during the Council’s Universal Periodic Review of the human ...More Button

During our Presidency of the Council of Ministers in 2013, Ireland played a key role in the development and adoption of the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Religion or Belief. These Guidelines provi...More Button

Ireland has made freedom of religion and belief a priority of our engagement at the UN General Assembly. As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I have condemned all forms of persecution, int...More Button

In addition, Ireland frequently raises and will continue to raise the issue of the persecution of Christians through its official bilateral contacts, stressing the responsibility of governments t...More Button

I can assure the Deputy that Ireland will continue to actively support freedom of religion or belief across our foreign policy.More Button

Humanitarian Aid Provision

Was asked: the extent to which unilaterally or together with his EU and UN colleagues, the international community can become effectively and positively involved in the ongoing refugee crisis in Syria and Ira...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which the international community can be mobilised to address the humanitarian crisis arising from war, oppression and starvation in the Horn of Africa, with particular reference to Y...More Button

Was asked: the efforts being made to address the refugee crisis in Syria and Iraq; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: his views on whether the international community has focused and is successful in achieving targets in respect of the provision of safe drinking water to areas suffering from war, starvation and fa...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which humanitarian aid reaches those for whom it was intended throughout the globe; the number of areas currently of concern in this regard; the actions taken to address the situation...More Button

Was asked: his views on steps the EU or UN can take to protect persons who are refugees from war zones; if safe areas can be established for international aid under the protection of the military; and if he w...More Button

Middle East Issues

Was asked: his plans to formally recognise the state of Palestine; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

As I have reported to the House, I am keeping under continuous review whether the immediate recognition by Ireland of a state of Palestine, prior to its real achievement on the ground, could be a h...More Button

Undocumented Irish in the USA

Was asked: if he will report on his discussions with US officials regarding immigration reform, in particular the plight of undocumented Irish citizens in the US; his plans to meet US officials in the near fu...More Button

The Government and Ireland’s diplomatic representatives in the United States of America systematically avail of opportunities to raise the situation of the undocumented Irish with the US Government...More Button

I raised these issues during my meetings with senior members of Congress from both sides of the aisle and representatives of the new Administration when I visited Washington DC in January and ear...More Button

An Taoiseach subsequently used the opportunity of his meetings with President Trump, Vice-President Pence, Speaker Ryan, and other senior US leaders during the St. Patrick’s Day events in Washing...More Button

Minister of State Joe McHugh was also very active on these issues during his recent visit to New York where he met a number of emigrant support groups who are directly involved in supporting the ...More Button

In addition to these contacts at political level, the Embassy in Washington and our Consulates across the United States continue to work with Irish immigration centres on a daily basis in providi...More Button

Our Embassy in Washington DC remains in ongoing contact with key immigration stake-holders within the Irish community across the US. The Government and my Department are committed to providing p...More Button

The Government will continue to avail of opportunities to raise these important issues in our contacts with the US and to seek relief for undocumented Irish citizens.More Button

  Question No. 53 answered with Question No. 30.More Button

Human Rights

Was asked: his views on recent events in Hungary including the silencing of critical media outlets; the steps that have been taken at EU level in view of such events; and if he will make a statement on the ma...More Button

Respect for the fundamental values on which the European Union is founded and which are set out in the Treaty, including respect for the rule of law and freedom of expression, must continue to be a...More Button

The Government has been following closely recent developments in Hungary. In the EU context these are of course matters in the first instance for the European Commission, which is charged with e...More Button

The question of the legislation adopted this week by the Hungarian government has been raised within the European Commission. I also understand that the European Parliament will hold a debate on...More Button

The issues which have been raised also fall very much within the human rights remit of the Council of Europe.More Button

Was asked: if he has read the recently published report by a charity (details supplied) regarding European Union police brutality against migrants; the actions he will take regarding same; and if he will make...More Button

I am aware of the report referred to by the Deputy. Human rights and humanitarian values are at the core of the approach of the EU and Member States to addressing the migration crisis and the EU i...More Button

Some of our EU partners have had to face disproportionate pressures during the course of the migration crisis but it is nonetheless of the utmost importance that all actions by authorities in any...More Button

Human Rights Cases

Was asked: if the Irish ambassador to Egypt attended the latest mass trial in Cairo involving a person (details supplied); if he has considered the calls on his Department to begin an international legal chal...More Button

This consular case continues to be a top priority for the Government and substantial resources and time are being devoted to it, by the Taoiseach and the Government and by my Department.More Button

The Taoiseach has in recent days renewed the Government’s appeal to the Egyptian President to release this Irish citizen and return him to Ireland without delay. This is the Government’s objecti...More Button

The trial in which this person is accused was back in court on 5 April and officials from the Irish Embassy were present in court to observe proceedings. Our Ambassador was not there because he ...More Button

I am aware of calls for the Government to pursue other avenues in order to seek to secure this citizen’s return to Ireland, including international legal action. Our approach throughout this cas...More Button

Election Monitoring Missions

Was asked: if he has satisfied himself with the workings of the election observation roster operated by his Department in view of questions surrounding selections of rosters without interviews including updat...More Button

UN Resolutions

Was asked: if Ireland supports the UN resolution calling for a referendum to decide the fate of the western Sahara area; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Ireland supports the United Nations Security Council Resolution 690 (1991) which established a United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).More Button

Ireland, and our EU partners, categorise Western Sahara as a non-self-governing Territory. Ireland has consistently supported the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara but ...More Button

Ireland strongly supports the continuing engagement of the United Nations (the MINURSO mission) in the search for a political solution, and looks forward to the appointment of a new UNSG Personal...More Button

Overseas Development Aid

Was asked: his views on the Dóchas report highlighting concerns that Brexit could affect development aid with the departure of UK contributions and especially the need for tax transparency and financial regul...More Button

EU Agreements

Was asked: his views on current and potential EU agreements on migration and refugees with countries that have questionable human rights records; and his views on the securing of European borders taking prece...More Button

The EU has responded to the migration crisis by adopting a range of measures. These have included engaging with countries of origin and transit to address the root causes of migration including thr...More Button

EU Heads of State and Government also concluded a landmark migration deal with Turkey in March 2016, which has resulted in a very substantial reduction in the number of migrants risking their liv...More Button

Human rights and humanitarian values are at the core of the EU and Member States’ approach under the Partnership Framework. We are committed to enhancing human rights safeguards in all negotiati...More Button

Passport Services

Was asked: if he will consider Roscommon town as a potential location for a new passport office to serve the west and midlands; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The large majority of passport applications are currently submitted through the Post Office networks on this island. This includes more than seventy Post Offices in Northern Ireland and more than ...More Button

The introduction of the online passport application service which I launched on 30 March will greatly assist in managing current and future passport demand. The service is for adults who are ren...More Button

The introduction of the service will result in reduced turnaround times and fewer demands over time on the Passport Offices in Dublin and Cork. The service will be extended to all applicants, in...More Button

The rationale for the opening of additional Passport Offices, particularly given the range of service options available to applicants, is not clear. Any office would in any case need to have the...More Button

I am satisfied overall that the range of service options meets the current needs of passport applicants and that the service improvements, both those recently introduced as well as those planned,...More Button

Diaspora Policy

Was asked: the reason his Department cancelled the USA birthright programme; the amount the programme was expected to cost annually; the number of persons that were expected to be part of the programme; and i...More Button

The ‘Global Irish Summer Camp’  Progamme was trialled in 2016 and allowed for 20 Irish-American students, who would ordinarily have never got the chance to visit Ireland, to travel here...More Button

Trade Strategy

Was asked: the way he and his Department through the various embassies abroad continue to establish trade links and trading partners in anticipation of the effects of Brexit; and if he will make a statement o...More Button

My Department, working with state agencies, is working to support Irish businesses diversify into new markets, products and services, as well as intensifying our efforts in existing markets. The G...More Button

United Nations

Was asked: his views on whether it is time for the UN to regroup, reorganise and focus on the major trouble spots globally with a view to meeting the challenges of war, famine, ethnic cleansing, genocide and ...More Button

The number and scale of current humanitarian crises is shocking and presents an enormous challenge for the international community. In this respect the United Nations has recently been loudly soun...More Button

The UN has a vital role in promoting the resolution of armed conflicts which cause so much of the misery faced by civilian populations. It does this primarily through the UN Security Council whi...More Button

In 2015, the former UN Secretary General initiated three major review exercises which were aimed at improving the overall effectiveness of the UN’s response to conflict. The findings from the hi...More Button

Other efforts to increase the UN’s effectiveness in meeting its current challenges are ongoing. These include the development of a Global Compact on Refugees, arising from the High-Level Summit ...More Button

Discussions on improvements to the effectiveness and accountability of UN peacekeeping missions are also taking place at the UN, most recently in a UN Security Council thematic debate on 6 April ...More Button

Ireland is a consistent and strong contributor to the UN’s peacekeeping operations. It is in our interest for peacekeeping operations to receive clear, realistic and up-to-date mandates from the...More Button

In addition to participating in the ongoing discussions and reviews, Ireland will continue to advocate for reform of the UN’s structures and systems to ensure that it is equipped to respond to th...More Button

International Terrorism

Was asked: his views on whether the international community is meeting the challenges of Boko Haram and Al Shabab; the degree to which international aid is being interfered with by such organisations; and if ...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which women and girls held hostage by Boko Haram or other similar organisations remain the focus of the international community with a view to ensuring their release; and if he will m...More Button

Was asked: his views on the extent to which he along with the EU and UN are addressing the threat of international terrorism; if particular initiatives are likely to protect peaceful citizens; and if he will ...More Button

The issue of how best to respond to the threat posed by terrorism, evident once again in the recent attacks in London, Stockholm and Egypt has been and remains high on the EU agenda.More Button

Foreign Ministers remain focused on implementation of the Council Conclusions on Counter-terrorism agreed in February 2015 and on the contribution that the EU can make through external action to ...More Button

The EU has placed considerable emphasis on its immediate neighbourhood: Western Balkans, Turkey, and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries. Actions include finalising Counter-Terrorism a...More Button

The EU’s approach is guided by, and is consistent with, the approach taken by the UN to countering terrorism and by the principles and measures set out in relevant UN Security Council Resolutions...More Button

The former UN Secretary General’s comprehensive Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, presented in January last year, and his related reports are an important and welcome contribution to a...More Button

Ireland supports the comprehensive approach being taken at EU and UN levels level to preventing and countering terrorism. At meetings of the Council, I have stressed the need to tackle underlyin...More Button

Middle East Peace Process

Was asked: the efforts being made to encourage re-engagement in the peace process in the Middle East; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Notwithstanding other concurrent crises in the Middle East region, the resolution of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict remains a priority for the Government and for the European Union, and one t...More Button

The background is a very troubling one of stagnation in the political process and worsening developments on the ground. The significant effort led by France last year, including the holding of t...More Button

The stance of the new United States Administration is, as ever, likely to be a major factor in prospects for reviving the peace process. The Administration is currently engaged in a policy revie...More Button

For our part, Ireland and our EU colleagues remain fully committed to a two state solution to the conflict, as the only option which can meet the needs of both sides, however difficult it may be ...More Button