386. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of the Fresh Start agreement in relation to Northern Ireland, specifically with regard to the Narrow Water bridge project linking counties Louth and Down; if funding for this project has been agreed; and when it is due to progress. (Question 34984/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - North-South Ministerial Council)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Full and timely implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and successor agreements, including the 2015 Fresh Start Agreement, is a key priority for the Government, as reflected in the Programme for a Partnership Government.
Since the Fresh Start Agreement was signed in November 2015, there has been sustained progress with implementation, with each administration actively pursuing the necessary work to fulfil the respective commitme...

387. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on the request the Taoiseach made to officials in the London embassy to examine the logistics for inviting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to visit the State. (Question 35544/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Diplomatic Representation)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): No arrangements have been put in place regarding an invitation to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to visit the State.
 ...

388. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the decision to reduce electricity supply to the Gaza strip, which OCHA has warned will have disastrous consequences for the welfare of Gaza’s residents; if he has raised this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 34893/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Middle East Issues)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 388 and 405 together.
I deeply regret the decision by the Palestinian Authority and Israel to reduce the supply of electricity to Gaza, as a result of the dispute between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas over payment for the electricity supplied. While no government can be expected to tolerate indefinitely the situation arising as a result of Hamas’ withholding of payment for the power supplied, i...

389. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he can make the facilities of the Irish embassy available to Irish persons living in the Cayman Islands that may find themselves in a vulnerable position as a result of administrative changes taking place in the Cayman Islands and affecting persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35109/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Consular Services Availability)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): At present, Ireland does not have diplomatic relations with the Cayman Islands. Irish citizens living in the Cayman Islands should contact the Irish Embassy in Washington D.C. if they require consular assistance.
My Department can advise and support Irish citizens in the case of a family bereavement, serious illness, detention, or other emergencies, and where required can contact family and friends on their behalf. The Department a...

390. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has satisfied himself that every avenue has been explored on behalf of persons (details supplied) on the tragic death of their child; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35150/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Consular Services Provision)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The deputy will be aware, from the contacts that he has had on this tragic case with my predecessor and with officials in the Consular Assistance Unit of my Department, that the Department of Foreign Affairs, our Consul General in San Francisco and our Honorary Consul in Seattle have provided significant consular assistance to this man’s family, both at the time of his death in 2013 and in subsequent follow-up.
The actions pursued by...

391. Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if all security and contract cleaning companies that have obtained contracts from his Department and agencies under the aegis of his Department under public procurement rules are paying the legal employment regulation order, ERO, hourly rate to their security and contract cleaning employees; the steps he has taken to confirm full compliance with the ERO system; if he has cancelled contracts with companies that have been found to be in breach of the ERO system since 1 October 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35228/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Departmental Contracts Data)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The Office of Government Procurement is responsible for sourcing all goods and services on behalf of the public service. All contract security and cleaning staff are drawn down from a central contract framework procured by the Office of Government Procurement.
The terms and conditions of contracts ensure that agreements between my Department and all contractors adhere to the relevant employment legislation.
My Department has not can...

392. Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the detail of Ireland’s foreign policy position on Palestine (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35392/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Middle East Issues)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney)(Deputy Simon Coveney): Ireland, along with our EU partners, supports the achievement of a two state solution to the Middle East conflict. This support includes political efforts to encourage a resumption of direct negotiations, which are ultimately the only way to achieve peace, but also action on the ground on human rights and justice issues affecting Palestinians under occupation, including settlement activity, which are progressiv...

393. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has satisfied himself that all persons on the election roster are suitable for deployment on election observation missions; the reason one in five of those persons still have not been deployed since the establishment of the current roster in 2013 while other persons have had numerous deployments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35410/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Election Monitoring Missions)

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): I propose to take Questions Nos. 393, 394 and 396 together.
International election monitoring missions play an important role in the promotion of democracy and human rights. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade maintains a roster of election observers for such missions. Irish observers participate primarily in missions organised by the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation...

394. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been brought to concerns that a number of late applicants were admitted to the 2013 intake to the election roster despite the call notice specifying that late applications would not be considered; the reasons for this departure from the published policy; the level at which the departure was sanctioned; the number of late applications that were received; the number subsequently appointed to the roster or the reserve roster; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35411/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Election Monitoring Missions)

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): I propose to take Questions Nos. 393, 394 and 396 together.
International election monitoring missions play an important role in the promotion of democracy and human rights. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade maintains a roster of election observers for such missions. Irish observers participate primarily in missions organised by the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation...

395. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the reason members of the rapid response corps are required to produce tax clearance certificates while members of the election roster are not; if he has been in contact with the Revenue Commissioners to discuss if tax clearance should apply to election roster members; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35412/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Election Monitoring Missions)

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): I propose to take Questions Nos. 395 and 397 together.
International election monitoring missions play an important role in the promotion of democracy and human rights. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade maintains a roster of election observers for such missions. Irish observers participate primarily in missions organised by the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in E...

396. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps that have been taken to prepare for a fresh call for election roster members to replace the 2013 roster; if he has satisfied himself that his department has the resources to undertake this; if he will need to engage expertise from other parts of the civil service such as the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government or the Public Appointments Service; if so, if such expertise has been sought; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35413/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Election Monitoring Missions)

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): I propose to take Questions Nos. 393, 394 and 396 together.
International election monitoring missions play an important role in the promotion of democracy and human rights. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade maintains a roster of election observers for such missions. Irish observers participate primarily in missions organised by the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation...

397. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if only non-remunerated election observers are eligible for the volunteer grant paid to Irish election observers; if there have been cases that subsequent to the payment of the grant the persons declined to go on a mission on a volunteer basis; if refunds were sought of the grants paid in which persons declined to go on a mission or were appointed to a remunerated consultancy post on the mission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35414/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Election Monitoring Missions)

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): I propose to take Questions Nos. 395 and 397 together.
International election monitoring missions play an important role in the promotion of democracy and human rights. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade maintains a roster of election observers for such missions. Irish observers participate primarily in missions organised by the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in E...

398. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of applications for Irish passports by British citizens between 24 June 2015 to 23 June 2016 and 24 June 2016 to 23 June 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35434/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Passport Applications Data)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): In processing a passport application the Passport Service verifies that the applicant is an Irish citizen by examining supporting documentation. The Passport Service does not verify or keep records of any other citizenship an applicant may hold.
Records are maintained of the volumes of passport applications submitted through Embassies and Consulates General abroad, as well as the country of residence of applicants when renewing thei...

399. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on passport application processing times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35446/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Passport Applications Data)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The target turnaround time for the Online Passport Renewal Service is ten working days plus postage, which varies depending on the destination to which the passport is dispatched. Over 90% of online applications are being processed within five working days, well ahead of the target. The online service is fast, secure, convenient and available to adult citizens renewing their passports from anywhere in the world.
Despite increased v...

400. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the Government is providing support to an organisation (details supplied) here; if not, his plans to do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35447/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Emigrant Support Services)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The Government of Ireland Emigrant Support Programme has never received an application for financial support from the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust. Therefore, no financial support is currently being provided to this organization via the Programme.
The Government of Ireland Emigrant Support Programme, administered by Irish Abroad Unit, is usually open for applications for a five week period in January-February each year. All organi...

401. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on his discussions on Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35448/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Brexit Negotiations)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade with special responsibility for Brexit, I lead on coordinating the whole-of-Government approach to the EU-UK negotiations and to our preparations for Brexit, with a view to mitigating the impacts to the maximum extent possible and securing the best possible outcome for Ireland.
In this role, I intend to build further on the excellent work carried out over recent months, which has ensured that...

402. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the amount spent by his Department on taxi and or limousine fares in the past two years to date by year and amount; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35489/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Departmental Expenditure)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney)(Deputy Simon Coveney): My Department comprises two separate votes, Vote 28 Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Vote 27 International Co-operation.
Taxi and car hire costs for 2016 amounted to €507,201 and for the period January 2017 to date amount to €341,709. 
My Department is fully compliant with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform guidelines on official travel and also operates its own detailed internal travel ...

403. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties being faced by migrant workers trapped in both Qatar and Saudi Arabia, in view of the fact the group of countries led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE enforces sanctions against Qatar (details supplied); and if he will request the Governments of both countries to eliminate the requirement for an exit visa. (Question 35595/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Human Rights)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I am very concerned by the difficulties faced by migrant workers in both Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and I strongly deplore any abuses of workers’ rights.
In the context of the Universal Periodic Review of Qatar by the Human Rights Council in 2014, Ireland expressed concerns about widespread reports of violations of the rights of migrant workers, especially in the context of preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Ireland expressed pa...

404. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on his recent trip to Israel and Palestine; the persons he met with; the issues raised; if he discussed the Sinn Féin motion that was passed by Dáil Éireann without opposition on 10 December 2014 calling on the Government to recognise the state of Palestine; and the reason he did not visit Gaza on his three day visit. (Question 35610/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Official Engagements)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I visited Israel and Palestine on 10 - 13 July. This was not my first visit to the area, but it was my first as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and in that capacity my first visit outside Europe, which I scheduled as soon as I took office.
In Israel I met Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Netanyahu, and other Israeli Ministers and leaders, and called on President Rivlin. In Palestine I met Prime Minister Hamdallah, Foreign...

405. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to a recent UN report (details supplied) which shows that living conditions for two million persons in the Palestinian enclave are deteriorating further and faster than the prediction made in 2012 that Gaza would become unliveable by 2020; and the steps he will take to raise this both with the Israeli authorities and at EU level. (Question 35637/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Middle East Issues)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 388 and 405 together.
I deeply regret the decision by the Palestinian Authority and Israel to reduce the supply of electricity to Gaza, as a result of the dispute between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas over payment for the electricity supplied. While no government can be expected to tolerate indefinitely the situation arising as a result of Hamas’ withholding of payment for the power supplied, i...

406. Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of the situation in Venezuela; his views on the elections for a new constituent assembly due to be held on 30 July 2017; the actions taken to date by the European Union on recent developments in Venezuela; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35854/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - International Relations)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I reiterate my deep concern at the deteriorating situation in Venezuela, a country faced with grave political, economic, and humanitarian crises. The past months have seen almost daily mass protests and violence in Venezuela, resulting in dozens of deaths in clashes between security forces and opposition demonstrators. The reported human rights violations, excessive use of force, and mass detentions are unacceptable. I condemn unr...

407. Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on recent developments in Ukraine, the declaration of a new state of Malorossiya and the efforts that are being made by the international community and the European Union to safeguard the Minsk peace deal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35855/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Ukrainian Conflict)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The conflict in eastern Ukraine - now in its fourth year - has resulted in over 10,000 deaths, forced 1.7 million people to flee their homes and left an estimated 3.5 million in need of humanitarian assistance.
Despite numerous commitments to a ceasefire, the security situation in eastern Ukraine remains fragile. While recorded ceasefire violations have decreased in recent weeks, shelling continues with both sides ignoring calls to ...

408. Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the efforts being made by the European Union to restart the Middle East peace talks; his views on the reduced electricity supply to the Gaza strip; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35856/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Middle East Peace Process)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Ireland and other EU partners strongly supported the initiative by France during 2016, which concluded with the second Paris Conference in January this year. However, those efforts were not able to restore momentum to the peace process, which remains stalled.
There is no clear view at present in the European Union on the best way to try and encourage a resumption of talks. I look forward to taking part in those discussions, but Ire...

409. Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on recent developments in Poland; the efforts being made by the EU and the international community to try and protect the rule of law in Poland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35858/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - International Relations)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The European Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Dialogue has been ongoing between the European Commission and Poland regarding the Rule of Law since January 2016. At the General Affairs Council on 16 May last, Ireland along with a number of other Member States, stressed the importance of the Rule of Law and urged renewed dialogue be...

410. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the details of each body or organisation that is scheduled to receive in excess of €1 million from his Department’s Vote of expenditure or the group of Votes of expenditure connected with his Department in 2017 for the provision of services by the body or the organisation concerned; the amount involved in each case; if there is a signed service level agreement in place in respect of the services to be carried out by these bodies or organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36158/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Departmental Funding)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): My Department is responsible for two votes - Vote 28 (Foreign Affairs and Trade) and Vote 27 (International Cooperation). For 2017, the Government has provided a total of €486.4 million under Vote 27 (International. cooperation) managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, for the Irish Aid programme.
A series of indicative grants to partners is identified at the start of each year through the annual budgetary process, an...