Thursday, 7 November 2013
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
57. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the Irish diplomatic presence in the Slovak Republic; if he will provide a breakdown of the costs of running the office there over the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47539/13]
The Embassy to the Slovak Republic opened in 2001. Our diplomatic presence in Bratislava is important in the context of shared membership of the European Union, in advancing relationships, promoting our interests and fostering goodwill between our two countries. From an economic perspective, and given that the state agencies service the market from regional offices, the Embassy has an important role in the promotion of exports, tourism and inward investment. The Embassy performs a wide range of functions in the context of our foreign policy, including representing and advancing government policies with the Slovakian government. In addition, the Embassy delivers frontline consular and passport services to citizens, and engages with and supports the Irish community. Since 2012, the Embassy has been staffed by only one diplomatic officer, with the rank of Ambassador, with the support of two locally engaged staff. A breakdown of the running costs of the Embassy from 2009 to the present is set out in the table below. The figures include all expenditure items charged to Mission budgets. Salaries and related costs of staff posted from Ireland are not included as they are a charge on the overall budget of the Department.
|Bratislava Mission Expenditure|
All figures in Euro
|2009||2010||2011||2012||2013 to 05/11/2013|
|Local staff salaries, foreign representation and accommodation||131,975||137,298||138,986||92,438||56,302|
|Travel and subsistence||4,157||2,714||2,302||1,565||4,495|
|Postal and telecommunications||7,585||6,846||7,970||6,286||3,818|
|Office machinery and other office expenses||770||929||835||1,329||560|
|Office premises expenses||255,138||200,965||197,813||186,683||148,217|
58. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade when he expects to review the yearly operation of Irish embassies abroad; his plans to re-open the Irish Embassy to the Holy See, as a new administration is now in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47540/13]
The scale and presence of our diplomatic network is considered by the Government on an ongoing basis. Any decision to adjust the state’s external representation, including the opening of missions, will have regard to national priorities and available resources. At present, Ireland’s diplomatic network includes 56 Embassies, 7 multilateral missions and 10 Consulates General and other offices. In addition to their country of residence, several Ambassadors are accredited also to further countries on a non-residential basis which enhances the cost-effectiveness of our external representation. The decision to close the resident Embassy to the Holy See was taken by the Government in response to economic circumstances and on the basis of an assessment as to the impact of budgetary cuts, and the need to focus our modest diplomatic network on economic recovery. In the case of the Holy See also, there are very clear requirements regarding the physical separation of Embassies to Italy and the Holy See. It is not possible for an Ambassador to be accredited to both States simultaneously, neither is it acceptable to the Holy See for them to reside at the same address. Contacts on issues of mutual interest between Ireland and the Holy See are being advanced by means of an Ambassador accredited on a non-resident basis – the Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr David Cooney. The Government will continue to review our network of diplomatic missions to ensure that it most effectively meets Ireland’s current needs, consistent with the resources available.