Dáil Éireann - Volume 580 - 17 February, 2004

Written Answers - Voluntary Agencies.

  270. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when the dedicated unit in his Department to work with the voluntary agencies at home and abroad will be established; the number of staff it will have; the expertise persons in the unit will require; the way personnel will be selected (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4966/04]

  Mr. Cowen: As I informed the House in my statement on 27 January 2004, I intend to establish a dedicated unit in my Department during the course of this year to work with voluntary agencies at home and abroad involved in the provision of services to emigrants.

As the Deputy will appreciate, my Department is focused on our responsibilities as Presidency of the Council of the European Union and many of our staff have been re-deployed to temporary Presidency posts for this period. When the Presidency is over, I propose to assign staff to the new unit.

I have not yet reached a firm conclusion on the number or level of staff required for the unit. I envisage that they will be drawn from personnel currently serving in the Department and will have the skills necessary to advance the implementation of the report of the task force, in partnership with the relevant Government Departments and voluntary agencies.