Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 8 May 2014
Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement
UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security: Discussion
I welcome the delegation to discuss UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. As members will be aware, the national action plan on the Council resolution on women, peace and security was launched in November 2011 by the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and the former President, Mary Robinson. The plan sets out how Ireland will, across Departments and agencies, promote and implement the objectives of the resolution in the prevention of conflict, including gender-based violence, the participation of women in decision making, protections from gender-based violence, the relief, recovery and rehabilitation of women affected by conflict, as well as the promotion by the Irish Government of the resolution at national and international fora.
The national action plan also established a monitoring and evaluation group to track its implementation, comprising representatives from the relevant Departments, agencies and civil society organisations. I hope my preamble is not stealing anything from the scripts of the representatives. On behalf of the committee I welcome representatives of the monitoring and evaluation group, which includes Ms Liz McManus, its independent chair; Ms Helena Keleher, deputy director of the conflict resolution unit of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Ms Orlaith Fitzmaurice, director of the reconciliation fund in the Anglo-Irish division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; and Dr. Melanie Hoewer, school of politics and international relations, University College Dublin. We look forward to exploring how we as a committee can assist in the implementation of the resolution.
Before commencing, I advise that the witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the committee. However, if witnesses are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and they continue to do so, they are entitled thereafter only to a qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. Witnesses are directed that only comments and evidence connected with the subject matter of this meeting are to be given and they are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against a member of either House of the Oireachtas, a person outside the Houses, or an official by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. While Ms McManus knows the drill, it is no harm to refresh her on these matters.
Before calling on Ms McManus to make her opening statement, my colleagues will join me in thinkingof all the good work being done at community level, within our respective constituencies by many women in dealing with post-conflict issues, not necessarily only in Northern Ireland but in the Border areas. They have been at the vanguard at a community level. I would like to see how we can work as a committee to achieve the objectives and aims of the monitoring group, towards which it is working, but also to develop the capacity of the human infrastructure. Many women's groups involved in cross-Border activity have lost out in terms of funding, perhaps because of a two year or three year funding stream. They have built up the capacity and the relationships and are ready to move on to the next stage in dealing with many legacy issues and post-conflict challenges. Today's meeting is an opportunity to explore a few of those issues. It is great to have representation from the reconciliation unit of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It is good to see Ms McManus again. I invite her to make her presentation.