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Belfast Agreement: Cross-Border Bodies

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The North/South Language Body in 2002 recruited four staff (three male and one female) who are employed under Republic of Ireland employment legislation. It would not be appropriate to identify the religious affiliation of these staff.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Special EU Programmes Body is the only cross-border body responsible for European Union programmes. It is unaware of any European Union funding having been used to provide support to the individuals awaiting trial in Colombia.

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Belfast Agreement: Language Implementation Body

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether either sovereign government had money returned to them in 2001 or 2002 from any part of the Language Implementation Body set up under the Belfast Agreement of 1998; if so, from where, when and how much, and whether the returns were in proportion to the respective government's contributions.[HL6080]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: No. In accordance with best practice, funding is not paid to the North/South Language Implementation Body in advance of demonstrated need in line with objectives in approved business plans.

Northern Ireland Office: Security

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any investigations are being carried out into security in the Northern Ireland Office; if so, by whom; and when they will report.[HL6096]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Security Service has agreed to send a team to conduct an independent and authoritative review of security in the department. The team will make recommendations for the future based on what is known about the events that led to criminal charges. It will also audit security practice generally. The team is expected to begin making recommendations within weeks but the review cannot be completed until after the related police investigations are concluded.

Irish Language Agency

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the steps taken in appointing a chief executive to the Irish Language Agency set up under the Belfast Agreement of 1998; when they were taken; when the appointment was ratified by the appropriate implementation body; and what was that body.[HL6166]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: On 27 June 2001 at a meeting in Waterways Sector format the North/South Ministerial Council (NSMC) approved the procedure for the recruitment, by open competition, of a chief executive for Foras na Gaeilge, the Irish Language Agency, of the North/South Language Body. A steering group comprising representatives of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (DAHGI) and Foras na Gaeilge (FnaG) oversaw the process. FnaG appointed consultants to manage the process. The steering group and consultants met on 29 June 2001. From 16 July 2001 advertisements were placed in newspapers. The steering group met on 5 September 2001 when it

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produced a shortlist. On 21 September 2001 an Irish language proficiency test was held. The selection panel of representatives of DCAL, DAHGI, FnaG and an independent observer met for a pre-brief on 9 October 2001 and held selection interviews on 2 November 2001. On 27 November 2001 NSMC agreed in principle the suitability of the recommended candidate. It confirmed the appointment on 25 January 2002. The joint chairperson of the body, Maighread Ui Mhairtin, issued a letter of appointment effective from 1 February 2002.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In view of the decision of 9 October by the North/South Ministerial Council, set up under the Belfast Agreement of 1998, to approve the continuation of the recruitment process for two assistant editor posts to be filled by the Irish Language Agency, when the recruitment process started; who conducted it; under what equality legislation it is being conducted; why approval was only required for its continuation and not its start; what is the salary scale involved and whether any appointees will be required to start at the lower level.[HL6243]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The recruitment process for two assistant editor posts began in June 2002 and was conducted by Foras na Gaeilge (the Irish Language Agency) in accordance with Republic of Ireland legislation.

Foras na Gaeilge did not think initially that the approval of the North/South Ministerial Council (NSMC) for these posts was needed since the agency was not incurring any costs. Subsequently, after the recruitment process had begun, Foras na Gaeilge learnt that NSMC approval was required. NSMC approval was sought and received at a meeting of the NSMC in October 2002.

The salary scale for the post is £23,769.50-£43,600.27.

One appointment has been made on the fourth point of the scale (£30,414.04) and discussions are currently taking place with a second person.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is meant by the wording state culture in Section IV, Paragraph 2, of the business plan for the Irish Language Agency, created under the terms of the Belfast Agreement of 1998 and approved by the North/South Ministerial Council in spring 2002; whether the promotion of culture is now part of the remit of the agency; if so, when this decision was taken; and by whom.[HL6284]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The statutory functions assigned to Foras na Gaeilge (FnaG) are:


    The promotion of the Irish language;


    Facilitating and encouraging the use of Irish in speech and writing, in public and private life in the south and, in the context of Part III of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, in the north where there is appropriate demand;

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    Advising both administrations, public bodies and other groups in the private and voluntary sectors;


    Undertaking supportive projects and grant-aiding bodies and groups as considered necessary;


    Undertaking research, promotional campaigns, and public and media relations;


    Developing terminology and dictionaries;


    Supporting Irish-medium education and the teaching of Irish.

The North/South Ministerial Council on 14 June 2002 approved the Foras na Gaeilge business plan which set out the activities the agency intended to undertake in 2002 to fulfil its statutory functions across a range of business areas, including promoting the use of Irish in the state, culture & heritage sectors.

Arts Council for Northern Ireland Funding

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What funding the Arts Council for Northern Ireland has provided each year since 1999 to fund (a) Irish cultural activity; and (b) Ulster Scots activity.[HL6167]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The information the noble Lord requested is set out in the table below:

Revenue Funds

1999–20002000–012001–02
Irish cultural activity£102,500£102,750£144,000
Ulster Scots activity£12,700£15,000£1,000

Lottery Fund

1999–20002000–012001–02
Irish cultural activity£72,710£9,987£109,687
Ulster Scots activity£44,445

Ulster-Scots Agency: Interim Chief Executive

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which official, and of what rank, was responsible for the appointment of the interim chief executive of the Ulster-Scots Agency in 1999.[HL6169]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The interim chief executive of the Ulster-Scots Agency was designated by the British and Irish Governments to exercise the functions of the chief executive pending the making of the substantive appointment by the agency.

North/South Ministerial Council Secretariat

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the gender and religious balance of the staff working in the North/South Ministerial Council's secretariat in Armagh; how they were

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    selected; and under what equality legislation.[HL6171]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The North/South Ministerial Council's secretariat located in Armagh comprises civil servants drawn from both the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) and the Republic of Ireland's Civil Service. The respective services are responsible for identifying and posting their own staff to the secretariat and for their terms and conditions of employment.

Of the NICS staff posted to the secretariat, nine are female and six are male. Community background information is not maintained at the level requested. All employees working wholly or mainly in Northern Ireland are covered by the Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998.


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