62. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the ongoing conflict in the Congo has been discussed at recent EU Foreign Affairs Council meetings. (Question 41215/13 asked on 02 Oct 2013)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): The situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Great Lakes region was discussed at a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council on 22 July, which I attended. At that meeting the Council adopted comprehensive Conclusions in support of the ‘Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region’, which had been concluded in Addis Ababa on 24 February in the presence of the UN Secretary General. The Council Conclusions also welcomed the appointment of UN Special Envoy, Mary Robinson, to oversee the implementation of the Framework Agreement. The Council noted that these measures and other regional efforts constitute a window of opportunity that must be seized. The European Union will continue to pursue a strategic and comprehensive approach to the crisis in DRC, working through political and diplomatic engagement, development cooperation programmes, and support for the United Nations peacekeeping operations. The EU is also pursuing security sector reform programmes, through the EU Common Security and Defence Policy missions in the DRC. Ireland will also continue to play a constructive role. So far in 2013, Ireland has provided €3.8 million in response to the humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This assistance is being channelled through the UN, international organisations, and our NGO partners.

We have also funded two recent high level events in support of mediation efforts with the involvement of Special Envoy Mary Robinson. These events focussed on encouraging the participation of women in the implementation of the peace Framework. We will continue to examine ways in which we can support the implementation of the Framework Agreement.