Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Question 71: To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the level of participation and responsibility of each Minister of State in his Department in relation to attendance at Ministerial Councils for which he has responsibility since the formation of the Government; if he will list all such meetings which have taken place and the Minister in attendance at each meeting [17061/11]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 70 and 71 together.
There are two Ministers of State at my Department - Minister of State Lucinda Creighton T.D. and Minister of State Jan O Sullivan T.D. Minister of State Creighton, appointed to both the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has special responsibility for European Affairs. She plays an active role in engaging with partners in EU member States and the European institutions. She deputises for me on matters relating to the EU agenda when necessary, including in the context of Foreign Affairs Council and General Affairs Council meetings. She also plays a key role in coordinating the Government's handling of EU issues, including through chairing the Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee on European Affairs and the Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee on the Presidency.
I have responsibility for representing Ireland at the Foreign Affairs Council and the General Affairs Council. On occasions when I have not been able to do so, Ireland has been represented by Minister of State Creighton. Since the formation of the Government she has represented Ireland at the General Affairs Council meetings on 21 March, 13 April, 23 May and 21 June; and at the Foreign Affairs Council meetings on 21 March and 23 May.
Minister of State O'Sullivan is Minister of State for Trade and Development at my Department. This role includes responsibility for the Government's Overseas Development Aid programme, Irish Aid, which is managed by my Department. Ireland's aid programme is internationally recognised as one of the best in the world and has as its overall focus the reduction of poverty with an emphasis on hunger and related areas. The aid programme also responds to humanitarian emergencies and development assistance is delivered through a range of partnerships including local and national authorities, communities, NGOs and international partners such as the UN system.
Minister of State O'Sullivan has also been assigned responsibility for Trade. As the Deputy will be aware, my Department now has an enhanced role in trade promotion and I will be fully supported in this by the Minister of State. In particular, she will be working with me in the Export Trade Council, which I will chair and which will be established shortly. The Council will bring together Government Departments, the State Agencies and representatives of the private sector with experience of the export sector. Both the Minister of State and I will lead trade missions as appropriate. We will work closely together to develop the key contribution of Ireland's Embassy network to the export-led growth essential to economic recovery. I can assure the Deputy that Minister O'Sullivan has already been actively engaged in economic and trade work in the course of a number of overseas visits, including to Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and most recently to Africa.
In relation to Minister of State O'Sullivan's attendance as Ministerial Councils, twice a year, usually in May and November, the Foreign Affairs Council meetings include a session on development, which is attended by Member States' Development Ministers. Minister of State O'Sullivan attended the development segment of the May 2011 Foreign Affairs Council which was held in Brussels on 24 May. The next development cooperation session of the Foreign Affairs Council is scheduled for 10 November 2011.
Both Ministers also undertake other Departmental duties, at my request, as the need arises.