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Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: No employees have been recruited as yet. The Irish Language Agency is in the process of obtaining the necessary approvals to allow it to recruit staff for the Belfast office. A proficiency in the Irish language will be required because the working language of the agency is Irish. As the work of these officials will be carried out wholly or mainly in Northern Irleand the equality laws of Northern Ireland will apply to the recruitment process.

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Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure: Linguistic Diversity Branch

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 6 November (WA 123) concerning the Linguistic Diversity Branch of the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, who has provided expert advice on Irish Language and on Ulster-Scots culture, language and history since 1 December 1999; what the topic was; and how much was paid in each case. [HL395]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Linguistic Diversity Branch (LDB) is an administrative unit of the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL). The North/South Language Body has a remit to advise both governments on Irish and Ullans. DCAL has developed links with two Scottish Universities, the University of Strathclyde and the University of Aberdeen. LDB has also received advice from Mr Miguel Strubel, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya; Mr Joe Lo Bianco, Visiting Professor, Scottish CILT, University of Glasgow; Mr John Walter Jones, Chief Executive, Welsh Language Board; Mr Dauvit Horsbroch, Department of Celtic, University of Aberdeen; Professor Colin Williams, Department of Welsh, Cardiff University; and Dr Padraig O Riagain, Research Professor, Institiud Teangeolaiochta Eireann. Advice was sought in relation to broad-ranging minority language issues from these sources.

DCAL has also co-operated with a number of bodies such as the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages (EBLUL), the European Centre for Minority Issues, Queen's University, Belfast, the University of Ulster and the Placenames Project of Northern Ireland on projects or conferences which would increase awareness of Irish language and Ulster-Scots, heritage and language.

Mr Donall O Riagain has been engaged as specialist adviser in relation to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Mr O Riagain is a former president and secretary general to the European Bureau of Lesser Used Languages.

Professor Gerry Stockman was retained for a period as consultant to advise on standards of Irish language translations.

Views on Irish and Ulster-Scots have also been obtained through commissioned research.

Information on costs is not readily available but I will write to the noble Lord as soon as the information has been collated.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps Linguistic Diversity Branch of the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, has taken to advance the status of Ulster-Scots under the European Charter from Part 2 to Part 3 status; and whether it has fulfilled its obligations towards Ulster-Scots under Part 2. [HL416]

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Lord Williams of Mostyn: Linguistic Diversity Branch is an administrative unit of the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL). The remit of DCAL includes advising the Secretary of State and Northern Ireland departments on their obligations in respect of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and the Belfast Agreement.

The department also supports the work of Tha Boord o Ulster-Scotch of the North/South Language Body, in promoting greater awareness and use of Ullans which can contribute to raising its status.

The Government have submitted their report on the implementation of the charter to the Council of Europe. That report is now under consideration by the Committee of Experts who will, in due course, produce an opinion on the progress by the Government in fulfilling their obligations. A copy of that report has been placed in the Library of the House.

Ulster Scots Agency

Lord Laird asked Her Majsty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 7 November (WA 171), whether a new board member was appointed to the Ulster Scots Agency; whether arrangement was made for the appointment of a chief executive not agreed by the North/South Ministerial Council; and, if so, when. [HL397]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The North/South Ministerial Council approved the appointment of a new member to the board of the North/South Language Body, in accordance with Annex 2, Part 5, paragraph 2.8 of the North/South Implementation Bodies Agreement, made between the British and Irish Governments on 8 March 1999, at a meeting in the Language Sector held on 7 December 2001. The person appointed has responsibility for the functions of the body in relation to Ullans and Ulster-Scots cultural issues through the Ulster-Scots Agency.

With regard to the arrangement for appointment of a chief executive, I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given on 6 November (WA 119).

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the interim chief executive of the Ulster-Scots Agency prepared a chief executive's job description during 2000; who else was involved in its preparation; and to whom was it forwarded.[HL418]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: It was agreed by the Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel and the Department of Finance in the Republic of Ireland that an exercise should be carried out by the Business Development Service (BDS), DFP to evaluate the grading level and salary scale for the chief executive posts in all the North/South bodies. As part of that exercise BDS interviewed the interim chief executives and drew up a job description to assist them

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in the evaluation. The outcome of the evaluation, including the job descriptions were forwarded to the two Finance Departments and the relevant sponsoring departments.

Waterways Ireland

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Regarding the equality scheme of Waterways Ireland referred to in its annual report of 1999–2000, who were the more than 300 people and organisations consulted; and from whom the body sought advice on the issue of human rights.[HL520]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The list of organisations consulted by Waterways Ireland regarding the equality scheme is set out below.

Waterways Ireland employed a consultant who sourced the necessary information to advise the organisation on the impact and implementation of human rights legislation. Waterways Ireland has collated human rights information from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and from the Republic of Ireland's Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Waterways Ireland is continuing to consult with relevant organisations on equality and human rights issues.

Northern Ireland Hospice

Lord Rogan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the level of expertise in specialist palliative care can be maintained during the proposed inquiry into the work of Northern Ireland Hospice Care.[HL662]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: This is a matter for the Northern Ireland Hospice as an independent voluntary organisation. However, the level of specialist palliative care provided by the Northern Ireland Hospice has been inspected, and will continue to be inspected, by the Eastern and Northern Health and Social Services Boards' Registration and Inspection Units, which have statutory powers to ensure that a good standard of care is provided for patients at the adult and children's hospices respectively and to take action if patient care is affected. Recent inspection reports have found that the standard of patient care is satisfactory.

Shannon Navigation

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made on the Shannon navigation by Waterways Ireland; what is the total cost to date; and when it will be completed.[HL701]

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Lord Williams of Mostyn: Waterways Ireland continues to develop the Shannon navigation on an ongoing basis as a multi-purpose amenity and recreation resource offering facilities for navigation and other activities for the benefit of the general public.

Three main capital projects, which had commenced prior to the establishment of Waterways Ireland, have since been completed on the Shannon navigation as follows: Limerick harbour; Boyle harbour; Ballinasloe harbour.

Work is currently in progress on the following capital projects: Ballyleague, County Roscommon: new harbour to be completed June 2004; Shannonbridge, County Offaly: 180 metres of moorings to be completed June 2003; Scarrif, County Clare: extension to existing quay to be completed June 2003.

Funding for capital projects on the Shannon navigation, which is provided by the Irish Government under the National Development Plan (NDP) 2000–06, is 21.6 million euros.

Some 6 million euros will be expended by the end of 2002 and the balance is ear-marked for projects scheduled for development, subject to the usual planning and budgetary constraints, between 2003–06.

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