Written answers

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Disability Act Employment Targets

Photo of Cian O'CallaghanCian O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay North, Social Democrats)
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186. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if there is provision for persons with a disability in the rapid response and election observer public competitions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29884/20]

Photo of Cian O'CallaghanCian O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay North, Social Democrats)
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187. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to reform the election observation roster; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29885/20]

Photo of Cian O'CallaghanCian O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay North, Social Democrats)
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188. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade further to Parliamentary Question No. 109 of 23 September 2020, if the application forms of roster members that contain their addresses have been retained; if so, if he will provide a breakdown between roster members that gave an address in the island of Ireland versus those that live overseas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29886/20]

Photo of Colm BrophyColm Brophy (Dublin South West, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 186 to 188, inclusive, together.

The Department of Foreign Affairs enables participation in a range of volunteering opportunities overseas, typically involving placement with, or by, third party organisations and which are facilitated by the Department through a range of rosters, registers, initiatives and programmes, including the Election Observation Roster and the Rapid Response Corps.

The current, five-year Election Observation Roster of volunteers for nomination to EU and/or OSCE election observation missions was established on the basis of an open application process in 2018. It is effective as of 1 January 2019 and is set to run through 2023. Information on the Overseas Election Observation Roster is set out in the Note prepared for the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade (JCFATD) attached to this response, as well as in the Composite Note published on the election observation pages of the Irish Aid website, also attached to this response.

As outlined in response to Parliamentary Question No. 109 of 23 September 2020, all Irish citizens are eligible to apply for inclusion on the Election Observation Roster irrespective of their place of residence, consistent with the principles of the Good Friday Agreement as well as Government policy on the diaspora. The Department of Foreign Affairs does not, as also outlined in the same response, keep any database of roster members' addresses or hold any breakdown by place of residence. The creation of a standalone record of addresses provided would constitute additional processing and storage of roster members' data contrary to data protection considerations, given that, as outlined, there is no residency requirement for roster members and, consequently, no business need to process residency/address data in this way. Further, it is likely that members of either roster could change address over its lifetime.

As highlighted above the Department of Foreign Affairs facilitates participation in a range of volunteering opportunities overseas. Although Ireland nominates observers, the final selection decision rests with the relevant third party organisation. Depending on the role and local context, volunteers may need to be able to operate in challenging circumstances. With regard to provisions for people with a disability in the application processes for the Election Observation Roster and the Rapid Response Corps, the Department of Foreign Affairs is committed to giving applicants' requests for reasonable accommodation at the application stage all due consideration, and to making accommodations as appropriate to ensure that applicants with a disability enjoy equal opportunity in the application process. Both rosters are currently closed to new members, both having been mustered through open, competitive processes in 2018.

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