1. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach further to the reply from the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to Parliamentary Question No. 21 of 25 January 2018, the status of the proposal to double Ireland’s global footprint by 2025. (Question 19091/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Departmental Strategies)

The Taoiseach: Plans to double Ireland’s global footprint by 2025 are advancing. As I have previously stated, that does not necessarily mean a doubling of agencies, embassies, staff or budget – though we are and will be expanding these where appropriate. It means taking the steps necessary to double our impact around the world. The exercise will enhance Ireland’s visibility globally, extending our international influence. It will position us for trade and investment growth in new and existin...

10. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he met the DUP and Sinn Féin leaders when he visited Northern Ireland on 30 April 2018; and the issues they discussed. (Question 19987/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 5 to 11, inclusive, together.
On the afternoon of 30 April, I travelled to Northern Ireland following my attendance at the fourth plenary meeting of the all-island civic dialogue in Dundalk.
I had a number of different engagements during my visit, which was part of my efforts and those of the Government to stay engaged with all parts of society in Northern Ireland.
My first engagement was a visit to New-Bridge integrated college in Loughbrickland. ...

8. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if Prime Minister May outlined her views on a workable backstop when he last spoke with her. (Question 19989/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 7 to 10, inclusive, together.
I had a short meeting with Prime Minister May in the margins of the European Council on 23 March during which we discussed the latest developments in relation to Brexit, Northern Ireland and Russia.
On Brexit, I welcomed her Government’s commitment to ensuring the backstop forms part of the withdrawal agreement, and looked forward to progress on this and on the other options before the European Council in June. I expe...

1. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the Cabinet committee at which communications and media mergers are discussed; and when it last met. (Question 17973/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Media Mergers)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, together.
The object of Cabinet Committee D, infrastructure, is to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the development and implementation of policy on housing infrastructure investment and delivery, climate action and the delivery of Project Ireland 2040.
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5. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken to the President of the European Council, Mr. Donald Tusk, since his speech on 18 April 2018 to the European Parliament on Brexit regarding the forthcoming assessment on the talks on transition in June 2018. (Question 17972/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Brexit Negotiations)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 5 to 7, inclusive, together.
I have not spoken to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, since his statement to the European Parliament on 18 April. As Deputies are aware, I last met formally with President Tusk in Dublin on 8 March, when we discussed a range of issues across the EU agenda, including Brexit. I thanked President Tusk for his ongoing strong support in relation to the Irish-specific issues arising from the UK’s decision...

8. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the referendum campaign on the eighth amendment of the Constitution. (Question 17977/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Referendum Campaigns)

The Taoiseach: The reply may make the issue somewhat moot.
The question relates to my role as Taoiseach in the referendum campaign on the eight amendment of the Constitution. I have no function in the matter. My Department has no role in any campaign related to the referendum and no involvement beyond its normal role of supporting and providing a secretariat for the Government.
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9. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if his attention has been drawn to the number of officials in his Department who are working on the national planning framework and on the roll-out of the national development plan; and if they are predominately in the communications area. (Question 18812/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - Project Ireland 2040 Administration)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 7 to 10, inclusive, together.
Cabinet Committee D last met on 1 February 2018. The next meeting of the committee has been scheduled for 8 May next. The overall objective of Cabinet Committee D on infrastructure is to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the development and implementation of policy regarding housing, infrastructure investment and delivery, climate action and the delivery of Project Ireland 2040. Project Ireland 2040 is the overarchi...

10. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach when Cabinet Committee D (Infrastructure) last met. (Question 19088/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - Project Ireland 2040 Administration)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 7 to 10, inclusive, together.
Cabinet Committee D last met on 1 February 2018. The next meeting of the committee has been scheduled for 8 May next. The overall objective of Cabinet Committee D on infrastructure is to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the development and implementation of policy regarding housing, infrastructure investment and delivery, climate action and the delivery of Project Ireland 2040. Project Ireland 2040 is the overarchi...

3. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach when Cabinet committee C, European Union, including Brexit, last met. (Question 17679/18 asked on 25 Apr 2018 - Cabinet Committee Meetings)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, together.
Cabinet committee C supports the Government in its consideration of European Union matters, including the ongoing Brexit negotiations and their implications for Ireland. Given their significance, these matters are also regularly discussed at full meetings of the Cabinet. In addition, I regularly meet Ministers, on an individual basis or in groups, in order to focus on particular issues, including those relating to the...

7. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the status of the improvements being made on the Dublin inner city forum. (Question 16808/18 asked on 25 Apr 2018 - Departmental Projects)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 7 to 10, inclusive, together.
The actions contained in the Mulvey report for the social and economic regeneration of the north east inner city are being overseen and implemented by the programme implementation board, which meets on a monthly basis. It is chaired by Michael Stone and comprises representatives from the community and business sectors and the key Departments and agencies. My Department remains actively involved with the work of the b...

3. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the report on matters relating to the strategic communications unit that was published in late March 2018. (Question 16497/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, together.
On 1 March, I requested that the Secretary General of my Department conduct a review into the operations of the strategic communications unit, SCU. The report from this review was accepted by the Government on 27 March and published on the same date. 
The report finds that there is significant benefit to be realised by implementing the communications reform programme which had been led by the SCU. Furthermore, rapid p...

5. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if Cabinet committee E (health) met in April 2018. (Question 16806/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Cabinet Committee Meetings)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, together.
Cabinet committee E covers issues relating to the health service, including health system reforms. Cabinet committee E last met on 11 April. The next meeting has yet to be scheduled.
In addition to meetings of the full Cabinet and of the Cabinet committees I meet with Ministers on a bilateral basis as required to focus on particular issues. In this regard I meet regularly, most recently last Monday, with the Minister...

8. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach when Cabinet committee F, national security, last met. (Question 16495/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Cabinet Committee Meetings)

Deputy Brendan Howlin: I would prefer to hear the answer first.
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11. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his meeting with Chancellor Merkel; and the issues that were discussed. (Question 13927/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 10 to 17, inclusive, together.
I travelled to Berlin on 20 March for a bilateral meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel as part of my strategic engagement with our European partners. We discussed preparations for the March European Council, including Brexit, trade, Economic and Monetary Union, EMU, and the tax challenges of digitalisation. I also took the opportunity to congratulate the Chancellor on her recent re-election for the fourth time. 
O...

8. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his meeting with President Trump and the issues that were discussed. (Question 12802/18 asked on 28 Mar 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 16, inclusive, together. The questions take up three pages.
 My St. Patrick’s Day programme ran from 11 to 17 March, during which time I visited Texas, Oklahoma, Washington DC and New York. I had courtesy calls with Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, and Oklahoma Governor, Mary Fallin, in both cases discussing the deepening of links between the US and their respective states and Ireland. I visited the Choctaw Nation in Durant, Oklahoma, to thank ...

12. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the responses he received when he discussed the undocumented Irish with President Trump and other politicians when he was in the USA for the St. Patrick’s week celebrations. (Question 13928/18 asked on 28 Mar 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 16, inclusive, together. The questions take up three pages.
 My St. Patrick’s Day programme ran from 11 to 17 March, during which time I visited Texas, Oklahoma, Washington DC and New York. I had courtesy calls with Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, and Oklahoma Governor, Mary Fallin, in both cases discussing the deepening of links between the US and their respective states and Ireland. I visited the Choctaw Nation in Durant, Oklahoma, to thank ...

13. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he had discussions with President Trump on Brexit. (Question 13929/18 asked on 28 Mar 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 16, inclusive, together. The questions take up three pages.
 My St. Patrick’s Day programme ran from 11 to 17 March, during which time I visited Texas, Oklahoma, Washington DC and New York. I had courtesy calls with Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, and Oklahoma Governor, Mary Fallin, in both cases discussing the deepening of links between the US and their respective states and Ireland. I visited the Choctaw Nation in Durant, Oklahoma, to thank ...

23. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the discussions and the contributions on digital tax made by him and other EU leaders at the March 2018 EU Council meeting. (Question 14155/18 asked on 28 Mar 2018 - European Council Meetings)

An Ceann Comhairle: We now move to questions Nos. 17 to 26.
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24. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he had bilateral meetings at the March 2018 EU Council meeting. (Question 14159/18 asked on 28 Mar 2018 - European Council Meetings)

An Ceann Comhairle: We now move to questions Nos. 17 to 26.
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10. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his meeting with Mr. Tusk on 8 March 2018 and the issues that were discussed. (Question 12801/18 asked on 27 Mar 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 8 to 13, inclusive, together.
I was very pleased to welcome the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, to Dublin on 8 March. Our discussions, which took place ahead of the March European Council, covered the Brexit negotiations, EU trade policy, economic and monetary union, taxation challenges posed in the digital era and a number of foreign policy matters.
On Brexit, we discussed progress in relation to the draft withdrawal agreement, in...

15. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his meeting with the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Mr. Xavier Bettel and the issues that were discussed. (Question 12787/18 asked on 27 Mar 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 14 to 17, inclusive, together.
I welcomed the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, to Dublin on Monday 5 March. Our meeting was part of my programme of strategic engagement with other EU leaders, which is strengthening our relationships with key partners across the full range of issues on the EU’s agenda.
Xavier Bettel knows Dublin very well from his time as a teenager studying English in Malahide and he was very pleased to be back here, t...

7. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken to Prime Minister May since the publication by the European Commission of the draft text of the withdrawal deal on 28 February 2018. (Question 11263/18 asked on 21 Mar 2018 - Brexit Negotiations)

The Taoiseach: I last spoke to Prime Minister May on Monday, 26 February, as I reported to the House on 28 February. We discussed Brexit and I restated our preference that a solution on the Border be found within the overall future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom. I pointed to the necessity on the EU side to have the detail of the backstop option spelled out in the draft legal text of the withdrawal agreement.
I listened with interest to the Prime Minister’s spee...

1. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the February 2018 informal EU leaders’ meeting; the issues that were discussed; the contributions that he made on the multi-annual budget for the post-2020 period; his contributions on the EU Parliament; and if he held bilateral meetings at same. (Question 9654/18 asked on 06 Mar 2018 - EU Meetings)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 6, inclusive, together.
I attended an informal meeting of the 27 EU Heads of State and Government in Brussels on 23 February. This was the third such meeting convened by President Tusk under his “Leaders’ Agenda” format, with the focus this time on institutional issues and the post-2020 multi-annual financial framework.
On institutional issues, there was general support for the proposal to redistribute 27 of the 73 European Parliament seats l...

2. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the discussions at the EU leaders’ informal meeting regarding the budget after 2020; the contributions he made; and the consensus. (Question 10147/18 asked on 06 Mar 2018 - EU Meetings)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 6, inclusive, together.
I attended an informal meeting of the 27 EU Heads of State and Government in Brussels on 23 February. This was the third such meeting convened by President Tusk under his “Leaders’ Agenda” format, with the focus this time on institutional issues and the post-2020 multi-annual financial framework.
On institutional issues, there was general support for the proposal to redistribute 27 of the 73 European Parliament seats l...

2. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his meeting with the President of Italy, Mr. Sergio Mattarella. (Question 8470/18 asked on 28 Feb 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, together.
I met the Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, during his State visit on Wednesday, 14 February. The President was accompanied by a delegation that included the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Angelino Alfano. We had a very friendly and constructive exchange which covered bilateral relations, Brexit, migration and, more broadly, the debate on the future of Europe.
Ireland and Italy have strong bilateral relatio...