Written Answers. - European Council Meetings.

Tuesday, 14 October 2003

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 572 No. 3

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  256.  Mr. J. O'Keeffe  Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe   asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs  Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen   the meetings, formal and informal, of the European Union Council relevant to his position or portfolio held since June 1997; the number of such meetings personally attended by him; and the details of the person who led the Irish delegation at such council meetings when not attended by him. [23327/03]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  My predecessors and I have attended all meetings of the European Council since June 1997. Since I became Minister for Foreign Affairs in January 2000, I have attended all meetings of the General Affairs Council – renamed the General Affairs and External Relations Council at the Seville European Council in June 2002 – with the exception of 11 meetings when urgent business obliged me to be elsewhere.

I was represented on these occasions by the following: the former Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Kitt, on 18 September 2000 and on 29 October 2001; the former Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Deputy Eoin Ryan, on 22 January 2001 and on 18 and 19 February 2002; the former Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Hanafin, on 25 June 2001; Ambassador Denis O'Leary, Permanent Representative to the EU, on 19 March 2001; Ambassador Anne Anderson, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the EU, on 13 May 2002; and the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Roche, on 22 July 2002, on 14 April 2003, on 21 July 2003 and again on 13 October 2003.

Between June 1997 and January 2000, my predecessors attended each of the General Affairs Council meetings which took place during their periods in office, with ten exceptions. They were represented on these occasions by the following: Ambassador Denis O'Leary, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the EU, on 15 September 1997 and 26 January 1998; the former Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Liz O'Donnell, on 24 November 1997; the former Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, on 12 December 1997 and 18 May 1998; the former Minister of State, Deputy Fahey, on 30 March 1998 and 21 June 1999; the former Minister of State, Deputy Ó Cuív, on 8 June 1998; the former Minister of State, Deputy Cullen, on 5 October 1998; and Mr. Gerry Corr, senior official, on 29 July 1999.

My predecessors and I have attended all the informal foreign ministers' meetings which have taken place since June 1997, with the exception of the meeting on 6 May 2001, which I was unable to attend. The European correspondent in my Department was present at the informal discussions on that occasion.

With regard to the twice-yearly meetings of the Development Council, the former Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Deputy O'Donnell, had responsibility for this formation until it became part of the General Affairs and External Relations Council at the Seville European Council in June 2002. She attended [714] each meeting from July 1997, with the exception of the meetings on 10 November 2000, 8 November 2001 and 30 May 2002, at which she was represented by the Permanent Representative to the EU and by the head of the development co-operation division in the Department of Foreign Affairs.


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