1. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the meetings proposed to be held in the immediate future with the British Government and the Northern Ireland Executive parties on the implementation of some provisions of the Stormont House Agreement not included in the agreement, A Fresh Start, such as those dealing with the legacy of the past and the putting in place of appropriate supports for survivors and victims’ families; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 45606/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Northern Ireland Issues)

Deputy Brendan Smith: For Northern Ireland truly to progress and move forward mechanisms need to be put in place to deal with the legacy of the past. Victims and survivors, be they of atrocities committed in the North or the South, have a basic entitlement to the truth. Anger, frustration and disappointment are the responses of survivors and victims’ families to the agreement, A Fresh Start. I would appreciate it if the Minister outlined the proposals he has to try to advance and make progres...

2. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has raised concerns with his European counterparts over the European Union’s new political and financial deal with Turkey to curb the number of refugees entering the Union; if he has human rights concerns over the deal; if he is aware that a very prominent Kurdish human rights lawyer, Mr. Tahir Elçi, was assassinated in Turkey on 28 November 2015; and if he will raise this case with the Turkish authorities. (Question 45624/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Human Rights Issues)

Deputy Seán Crowe: Before I begin, I wish the Ceann Comhairle and his family, the staff, the Minister and the Minister of State a merry Christmas. I will probably not get another opportunity.
I am concerned that in an attempt to use Turkey as Europe’s gatekeeper, the EU is apparently ignoring and, by extension, encouraging serious human rights violations in Turkey. I am also tabling this question in the wake of the assassination in broad daylight of the prominent Kurdish human rights lawyer, M...

3. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has had discussions with the Northern Ireland Justice Minister, Mr David Ford, MLA, or the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Ms Theresa Villiers, MP, in respect of the International Red Cross process in Maghaberry and the public announcement of a new regime for political prisoners, and the implications of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 45530/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Northern Ireland Issues)

Deputy Clare Daly: This question, which is tabled on behalf of the group of cross-party Deputies who regularly visit Maghaberry Prison, comes on the back of the damning inspection of that prison. The Minister is aware that there have been various initiatives to try to get the 2010 agreement implemented, including a stock-take report, but we have come to the conclusion that there must be another agenda at play because there does not appear to be any desire on the part of the prison authorities f...

4. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of the proposed immigration reform legislation in the United States of America; if any further discussions are planned with the authorities there, given the ongoing concern of many Irish emigrant representative organisations, the difficulties facing the undocumented Irish and the concerns of their families at home; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 45607/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Undocumented Irish in the USA)

Deputy Brendan Smith: In November 2014, we welcomed the administrative measures announced by President Obama, which could have benefited thousands of undocumented Irish emigrants based in the United States. Unfortunately those measures now face a legal challenge in the US federal court. Can the Minister inform the House, from his contacts in the United States, if there is any prospect of progress in the area of immigration reform, be it through executive action by President Obama or through le...

5. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he is aware that a person’s (details supplied) trial took place on 15 December 2015; the specific assistance the Irish Embassy in Cairo in Egypt gave to this person and the person’s legal team in advance of and at this trial; his future plans to ensure that the person is released and allowed to return to Ireland. (Question 45623/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Human Rights Issues)

Deputy Seán Crowe: On Tuesday, the trial of Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa in Egypt was postponed yet again. His trial has been postponed ten times and is now due to take place on Saturday, 19 December. If convicted he faces the death penalty. Last Sunday, he marked his 20th birthday in prison, his third birthday in jail, and I attended a sad, though good-natured, vigil at the embassy at the weekend. I put forward this question to discuss the case and to ask what assistance the embassy has bee...

6. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he is aware that a Palestinian Member of Parliament (details supplied) who is a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council was sentenced to 15 months in jail by an Israeli military court; that the charges are viewed as political in nature; that the individual was placed under administrative detention for six months without trial or charges; and if he will raise concerns regarding her incarceration with the Israeli Government. (Question 45390/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Middle East Issues)

Deputy Seán Crowe: This question is about Ms Khalida Jarrar, a Palestinian Member of Parliament and a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestinian Legislative Council. She was sentenced to jail for 15 months by an Israeli court on 6 December. She was seized in April during a late-night raid on her home in al-Bireh, a town near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. She was held without charge or trial under a six-month administrative detention order...

7. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the proposals he put forward at recent meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council in relation to the very urgent need to address the ongoing conflict in Syria and the horrendous loss of life and displacement of persons; the decisions reached at those meetings on additional measures to be taken by the European Union and the international community to progress a political solution; if additional humanitarian aid was pledged for Syria and that region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 45310/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Foreign Conflicts)

Deputy Brendan Smith: The loss of life and the displacement of people as a result of the ongoing conflict in Syria are horrendous. More than 250,000 Syrians have lost their lives in the four and a half year conflict, 6.6 million people are displaced within Syria and more than 4 million people have fled the country. Nearly 14 million people in Syria, half the country’s population, are in dire need of humanitarian assistance with the utmost urgency. Will the Minister outline any new initiative ...

8. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he is aware that the El Niño weather pattern is expected to wreak havoc this year; that the United Nations has warned that 11 million children are at risk from hunger, disease and lack of water in eastern and southern Africa alone; that in west Africa conditions are aligning in a similar way to the massive 1972 drought that devastated the Sahel with famine; what his Department is doing to prepare for these events and to mitigate the effects of the humanitarian crisis before it hits. (Question 45393/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Humanitarian Aid)

Deputy Seán Crowe: El Niño is a periodic, worldwide weather phenomenon caused by the Pacific Ocean warming. This year’s pattern is more extreme than it has been for decades and expected to wreak havoc. The European Union has warned that 11 million people are at risk from hunger, disease and lack of water in eastern and southern Africa alone. In west Africa conditions are emerging similar to the severe 1972 drought which devastated the Sahel with famine. During the event drying winds from El ...

9. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to report on the actions taken by him to secure the release of an Irish citizen (details supplied) who is detained in Egypt and facing serious charges that could result in the death penalty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 45311/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Human Rights Issues)

Deputy Paul Murphy: A tenth trial date, a third birthday and Ibrahim Halawa, an Irish citizen, is still languishing in jail in a dictatorship, potentially facing a death sentence, after his 20th birthday. I listened to the Minister’s response to Deputy Seán Crowe and accept that he wants to see Ibrahim Halawa released and that embassy staff are working hard in that respect. However, is it not time to acknowledge that the current strategy has not worked, as evidenced by the fact that he is stil...

10. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the discussions, he has had with his European counterparts in relation to Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 45308/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - EU Issues)

Deputy Brendan Smith: Fianna Fáil values the key role that Britain plays as an ally and friend of Ireland in the European Union. We will be vocal in supporting the UK remaining as a full member state of the EU. We believe it would be a political and economic disaster, both for Ireland and Britain, if Britain exited the EU. It would also have a serious impact on British-Irish trade. We must also factor in the Northern Ireland dimension to this debate.
While we do not agree that the four freed...

11. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his assessment of the impact on Ireland if Britain leaves the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 45037/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - EU Issues)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I have partially addressed this subject in my reply given today Question No. 10.
As independent studies have shown, a UK withdrawal from the EU would have negative implications for Ireland. There is, at this stage, little doubt about that. Determining the full impact of such a complex scenario is, however, extremely difficult, especially given that much would depend on the exact terms of a future UK relationship with the EU.
Neve...

12. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to report on the European Union-Turkey migration agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 45306/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - European Migration Crisis)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): On 29 November, the Taoiseach attended an EU heads of state or government meeting with Turkey, at which it was agreed to activate the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan aimed at managing the current refugee and migrant crisis, as well as several further shared commitments and actions.
The Joint Action Plan contains short- and medium-term measures to be undertaken by the European Union and Turkey. These measures will assist Turkey in pro...

13. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he is aware of the violence in Burundi which erupted in April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to seek a third term; if he is aware that the United Nations states that at least 240 persons have been killed since then and there have been widespread reports of serious human rights violations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 45391/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Human Rights Issues)

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Sean Sherlock): I am deeply concerned about the ongoing violence and human rights violations in Burundi.
The decision of the President to seek a third term in office prompted widespread public protest and an attempted coup in May 2015. The Burundian Government responded with extremely repressive measures, including extra-judicial killings, arbitrary detentions, and restrictions on freedom of expression. Among those killed...

14. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide an update regarding changes made to the J1 visa programme. (Question 45036/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Student Visa Waiver Programme)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The US J1 Summer Work and Travel programme has been a tremendously successful part of the Irish-US bilateral relationship for almost 50 years, with 150,000 Irish third level students having experienced the US through the programme over that time.
The independent US sponsoring bodies managing the great majority of Irish J1 participants have introduced a requirement for citizens of Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) countries, such as Irel...

15. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the war in Syria; and the discussions he or his departmental officials have had with other Governments on the war and the military intervention by the various international powers and whether the Irish Government is supporting these military interventions. (Question 45312/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Syrian Conflict)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Ending the conflict in Syria, which has imposed enormous burdens on neighbouring States, is critical to the stability of the Middle East region, the security and safety of the Syrian people and their neighbours.
The conflict has, effectively, been the key global foreign policy issue for Ireland, the EU and the UN for the past four years. As such, I have discussed the Syrian crisis at almost every meeting with Ireland’s internatio...

16. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide an update on the situation regarding a person (details supplied) held in an Egyptian prison; if he has made representations to officials in Egypt in view of this person’s hunger strike; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 45386/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Egyptian Conflict)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As has been previously stated to this House, my Department has two clear objectives in this case: first, to see this citizen released by the Egyptian authorities so that he can return to his family and his studies in Ireland and, second, to provide consular support for his welfare while he remains in detention. In furtherance of those clear objectives, our Embassy in Cairo has paid numerous consular visits to the citizen in deten...

17. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in view of the escalation of conflict and military action in Syria, if he will now reconsider allowing the use of Shannon Airport by the United States military; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 41200/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Military Aircraft Landings)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Permission may be granted to foreign military aircraft, including US military aircraft, to land at Irish airports on the strict condition that they must be unarmed, carry no arms, ammunition or explosives and must not engage in intelligence gathering, and that the flights in question must not form part of military exercises or operations. Successive Governments have made landing facilities available at Shannon Airport to the Unit...

18. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in view of the fact that it has been over a year since both Dáil and Seanad Éireann adopted motions calling on the Government to recognise the state of Palestine, when formal recognition of the State of Palestine by Ireland will take place; his views on the delay to date of such formal recognition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 45467/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Middle East Issues)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Government works consistently to achieve a sovereign Palestinian state not just in theory but in fact, and all of our actions on the Israeli/Palestinian issue are directed to that end. It is central to our objective of a two state solution that will ensure the security and prosperity of both peoples.
I continue to consider carefully whether the recognition by Ireland now of a state of Palestine, prior to its real achievement ...

19. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has had a meeting with the independent chair of the prison forum in Maghaberry Prison; if not, when he plans meeting with the chair; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 45033/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Northern Ireland Issues)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I met last Friday with the Northern Ireland Minister of Justice, David Ford MLA. Among the issues we discussed was the situation in Maghaberry prison, including the regime for separated prisoners.
My last meeting with Secretary of State Theresa Villiers was on 17 November, as we concluded the negotiation of the ‘Fresh Start’ Agreement. We will meet again before the end of the month, when I will again raise the situation in Magha...

20. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has made representations to the Embassy of the United States of America with regard to the connection between that nation’s military use of Shannon Airport and Ireland being described as part of a coalition of evil in a purported ISIS video; if he has expressed concerns to the ambassador regarding the implications of continued United States military use of Shannon Airport for Ireland’s security; and if he will reconsider such military use of Shannon Airport in view of its deleterious effect on both Irish neutrality and the security of Irish citizens. (Question 45469/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Military Aircraft Landings)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I have not made representations to the US Embassy on this subject.
Permission must be sought in advance for landings by all foreign military aircraft, including US aircraft, at Irish airports and if granted, is subject to strict conditions which I have outlined many times in this House. Successive Governments have made landing facilities at Shannon available to the US for well over 50 years. These arrangements do not amount to a...

21. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide an update on the recent discussion of the case of Mr. Pat Finucane at the Council of Europe; the basis of Ireland’s statement on the issue; and if he will provide an update on his work to ensure there is a full public inquiry into the killing of Mr. Finucane. (Question 45392/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Northern Ireland Issues)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Government’s commitment to seeking a fair and just outcome to the case of the late Pat Finucane case through our efforts in the Council of Europe is complemented by our commitment to continue to raise this case bilaterally with the British Government.
I have on many occasions raised the Pat Finucane case with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and will continue to do so. I have advised her that the Irish Government c...

22. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has had any consultations with his European Union colleagues with regard to Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, including, in particular, recent reports of multiple beheadings, and the advisability of maintaining close diplomatic and economic relations with that state in view of its human rights record; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 45471/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Human Rights Issues)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Human rights issues form a continuous part of EU discussions on third party countries, be it at EU Ministerial level or among EU representatives in the countries concerned. Ireland has the greatest impact on matters of foreign policy, including human rights, when we speak with one voice with all of our EU partners. As such, we regularly raise human rights matters in conjunction with our EU partners through the EU Representation ...

23. Deputy Helen McEntee asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade further to his Dáil statement on 30 April 2015 regarding his efforts as Minister to promote Ireland’s trade and export markets through his work with embassies, agencies and businesses, if he will update Dáil Éireann on his Department’s efforts to promote a particular initiative (details supplied). (Question 45027/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Tourism Promotion)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am pleased to have this opportunity to update the Deputy further on my Department’s promotion of ‘Ireland’s Ancient East’ since her question of 3 November 2015 on the same initiative.
While tourism falls under the portfolio of my Ministerial colleague, Paschal Donohoe, T.D., Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Deputy is no doubt aware of my own personal interest in promoting the high-quality tourism offerings availabl...

24. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he is aware of the case of a person (details supplied) who has been sentenced to death by Kenyan authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 45415/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Death Penalty)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Ireland has a longstanding policy of strong opposition to the death penalty and we are actively engaged in international efforts, including through the EU, to secure its universal abolition.
Along with our EU partners, Ireland actively supports UN resolutions on the death penalty at the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly. We have also used our current term of membership of the UN Human Rights Council to raise our co...

25. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade further to Parliamentary Question No. 116 of 3 November 2015, if he is satisfied that our stated foreign policy of neutrality is not compromised by the use of Shannon Airport by the United States military, which has landed over 343 military aircraft there since March 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 45413/15 asked on 17 Dec 2015 - Military Aircraft Landings)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Ireland’s traditional policy of military neutrality is characterised by non-participation in military alliances. The Government’s continued commitment to this policy was re-confirmed in its Foreign Policy Review “The Global Island,” and in its White Paper on Defence, published earlier this year.
Successive Governments have made landing facilities at Shannon Airport available to the United States for well over 50 years. Permissio...