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Written Answers — Human Rights Issues: Human Rights Issues (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: The Government is completely opposed to the practice of extraordinary rendition. The Government has actively engaged and cooperated fully with all multilateral organisations which have examined this issue. I have no plans to establish a Committee to examine the subject of extraordinary rendition.

Written Answers — Foreign Conflicts: Foreign Conflicts (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: I propose to take Questions Nos. 28, 38 and 41 together. I would be supportive of any development that could contribute to the permanent ending of violence by ETA and lead to peace in the Basque Country. I would pay particular heed and be guided in the first instance in this by the assessment of the Spanish authorities. In that context, I have noted the statements by the Spanish Government...

Written Answers — Natural Disasters: Natural Disasters (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: In light of the very severe flooding currently affecting Australia, and Queensland in particular, sympathy was conveyed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Australian Government and people. The Irish Embassy in Canberra and the Consulate General in Sydney continue to monitor the situation and are providing reports on an ongoing basis. The Embassy is in continuous contact with Irish...

Written Answers — EU Enlargement: EU Enlargement (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: I propose to take Questions Nos. 30, 37, 160 and 172 together. In November 2010 the European Commission published its Enlargement Strategy for 2011 and Progress Reports on the candidate and potential candidate countries. The General Affairs Council discussed that Enlargement Package in December. The Council conclusions broadly shared the Commission's assessment that Enlargement continues...

Written Answers — Foreign Conflicts: Foreign Conflicts (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: Since the conclusion of the Gaza conflict in January 2009, the use of military force between Gaza and Israel, in both directions, has considerably abated. Hamas has broadly refrained from rocket or mortar attacks into Israel, and has acted with some degree of success to restrict such attacks by other militant groups in Gaza. Nonetheless, there have been continuing mortar and missile attacks...

Written Answers — Human Rights Issues: Human Rights Issues (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: The Deputy is referring to the case of Michael Dwyer, who was shot dead by the Bolivian State Security Services on 16 April 2009 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. From the outset, every effort has been made to establish the facts surrounding the death of Mr Dwyer and to provide all possible consular assistance to his family. Minister Micheál Martin wrote to the UN Special Rapporteur for...

Written Answers — Human Rights Issues: Human Rights Issues (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: It is not my practice to comment on matters contained in leaked documents which have no official standing. Ireland's response in February 2006 to the Secretary General's Article 52 Questionnaire circulated by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe was and remains accurate.

Written Answers — EU Presidency: EU Presidency (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: Widespread international concern has been expressed about the "Law on Media Services and Mass Communication" recently introduced by the Hungarian government, including suggestions that the legislation could undermine the EU's capacity to advocate in favour of freedom of expression in third countries. The Irish Government, understandably, would be concerned at such suggestions. The European...

Written Answers — Foreign Conflicts: Foreign Conflicts (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: On 4 January, Mr. Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab Province, a close associate of President Asif Ali Zardari, was killed in Islamabad by a member of his security detail. The Pakistani Government has ordered an inquiry into the killing. However, it is believed that he was killed after speaking out publicly against Pakistan's blasphemy laws. The killing has been marked by three days of...

Written Answers — Natural Disasters: Natural Disasters (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: I am pleased to inform the Deputy that our Embassy in Pretoria has received no requests from Irish citizens affected by the tragic flooding in South Africa, and is not aware of any Irish citizens facing serious difficulties due to it. The Embassy is located in a part of Pretoria that was not impacted by the flooding. Our Embassy has been asked to continue to monitor closely the situation...

Written Answers — Diplomatic Representation: Diplomatic Representation (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: Dilma Rousseff was inaugurated as the 36th President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, having taken 56% of the vote in the second-round of the elections, which took place on 31 October 2010. The Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, T.D. wrote to congratulate President-elect Rousseff immediately after the election. Following President Rousseff's inauguration and the appointment of the new Government,...

Written Answers — Human Rights Issues: Human Rights Issues (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: I propose to take Questions Nos. 42 and 51 together. Ireland strongly condemns the violence and widespread arrests which followed the presidential election in Belarus on 19 December 2010. In particular we condemn the disproportionate use of force against presidential candidates, political activists, representatives of civil society and journalists. We also call for the release of...

Written Answers — Human Rights Issues: Human Rights Issues (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: I propose to take Questions Nos. 43 and 50 together. The first round of Presidential elections was held in Cote d'Ivoire on 31 October 2010, after having been initially scheduled for 2005. With no outright winner, a second round was held on 28 November, in which President Laurent Gbagbo faced opposition leader Alassane Ouattara. Both rounds of the election were observed by an EU electoral...

Written Answers — Foreign Conflicts: Foreign Conflicts (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: My Department is closely following events in the Lebanon following the collapse of the Government of National Unity on 12 January. The current crisis in the Lebanon has serious implications, not only for Lebanon itself to which, subject to securing the necessary Dáil approval, it is hoped to dispatch a contingent from the Defence Forces to serve with UNIFIL II in the coming months, but also...

Written Answers — Human Rights Issues: Human Rights Issues (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: I refer the Deputy to previous replies on this matter including Question 268 of 16 December 2010 and Question 626 of 12 January 2011. The Government is very conscious of the discriminatory treatment of the Baha'i community in Iran and of the particular case of the seven former Baha'i community leaders (known collectively as the Yaran), who have been in detention since 2008 and were sentenced...

Written Answers — Human Rights Issues: Human Rights Issues (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: As stated in response to previous Parliamentary Questions regarding the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan, most recently on 7 December, the promotion of religious tolerance is a key objective in our bilateral and European Union relations with Pakistan. The Government condemns in the strongest terms all attacks on and persecution of the Ahmadiyya community, a particularly vulnerable minority in...

Written Answers — Passport Applications: Passport Applications (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: As part of the policy to protect the integrity, security and international reputation of the Irish passport, all passports which are reported lost or stolen are immediately cancelled. This cancellation notice is circulated to worldwide border control agencies through Interpol on a daily basis. This policy equally applies to those passports which are found by third parties and returned to...

Written Answers — Departmental Agencies: Departmental Agencies (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: There are no State agencies operating under the aegis of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Written Answers — EU Policy: EU Policy (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: Addressing the very considerable economic challenges which the Union currently faces is a top priority of the incoming Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which has identified economic growth, the creation of employment and the enhancement of the sustainable competitiveness of Europe for particular focus during the first half of 2011. Ireland, in common with our EU...

Written Answers — International Diplomacy: International Diplomacy (20 Jan 2011)

Brian Cowen: Minister Martin met with the Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez Parilla on 19 May 2010 during his visit to Dublin. During this meeting, a range of bilateral and multilateral issues, including EU-Cuba relations were discussed. At the Foreign Affairs Council in October 2010, Ministers considered developments in Cuba, including the release of political prisoners and the announcement of...

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