Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Northern Ireland Issues
Question 115: To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views regarding the recent poverty statistics particularly those in west Belfast and Derry published recently; if he intends to discuss them at a future North-South Ministerial Council meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3306/12]
The statistics published last month were deeply worrying, especially insofar as they concerned child poverty, and I am glad the Deputy has raised the matter. Discussions at North South Ministerial Council meetings, especially at plenaries, cover a wide range of matters including economic issues relevant to this topic. There are also individual measures within the current areas of North South cooperation which touch on this issue such as, addressing educational underachievement, access to health services and supports for job creation.
One of the target support groups of the EU PEACE 111 programme, which is channelled through the Special EU Programme Body (SEUPB), is people who have been excluded or marginalised from economic, social and civil support networks as a result of sectarianism or racism and which includes young people and minority communities. We are actively working to bring about a PEACE 1V programme to continue work in this area. I will raise these important poverty issues at the next Plenary meeting of the NSMC in June 2012.
Question 117: To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide an update on the implementation of the Weston Park Accord, including outstanding issues and his plans on the way in which these issues will be dealt with; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6188/12]
The various measures included in the package agreed at Weston Park in August 2001 addressed four issues to assist in the successful implementation of the Good Friday Agreement: policing, normalisation, the stability of the institutions and decommissioning. There has been huge progress made in all of these areas and this progress was highlighted by a number of important milestones during 2011. April 2011 saw the one year anniversary of the successful devolution of justice and policing to the Northern Ireland Assembly. On 5 May 2011 the Northern Ireland Assembly elections took place, the first time that a full Assembly term had been served out since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. The orderly and non-contentious manner in which the elections were held underlined that politics and society in Northern Ireland has continued the transition towards normality. Another important milestone was reached on 4 July 2011, when the Independent, International Commission on Decommissioning presented its final report to the two Governments. November 2011 marked the ten year anniversary of the establishment of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). The PSNI continues to progress towards being fully representative of the communities it serves and there continues to be an excellent working relationship between it and An Garda Síochána. The Government, together with the British Government, remains committed to the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and stands ready to assist as and when necessary.