Ireland is set to contribute another €45 million in non-lethal aid to a European defence and security initiative in the next four years.
The European Peace Facility was set up in 2020, with Ireland’s contributions so far coming to €77 million out of the total expenditure ceiling of €5.6 billion raised from donations to the fund by bloc members.
However, with billions now being donated by Europe in support of Ukraine following last year’s Russian invasion, the total amount being given to the fund will rise from its current level to around €7.6 billion overall - costing Ireland another €45 million in the period 2024-2027.
Irish aid is directed to non-lethal supports, with the country having “constructively abstained” from lethal aid in line with the State’s neutrality policy, a government spokesman said on Tuesday.
The government approved a plan at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting to fund an increased €37.5 million from the Department of Foreign affairs, with the balance coming from the Department of Defence.
Minister for Justice Simon Harris is to refer legislation brought forward by Fianna Fáil Senators which would introduce a specific offence of targeted protest, designed to prevent protest outside someone’s home. It was brought forward in reaction to protests at Ministers homes during the Covid-19 pandemic, but Senator Malcolm Byrne has said it could be applied to protests occurring outside refugee and asylum seeker accommodation.
Elsewhere, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly told cabinet colleagues that trolley numbers are stable, and that “enhanced” weekend working hours had helped increased level of discharges. Pressure from respiratory viruses which had put the health system under severe strain earlier this month continues to recede - with Covid-19 down 47 per cent on last week, influenza 49 pr cent and RSV down 26 per cent.
Mr Donnelly told cabinet that the interim report issued on the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, published on Monday by the Mental Health Commission, raised serious concerns.
Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien secured government approval for the terms and conditions of the chairperson of the Electoral Commission, who may be appointed in the coming days, a spokesman for the coalition said. The chairperson will play a role in interpreting and explaining the subject matter of referendums and reviewing electoral laws in line with commitments made in the Programme for Government. He or she will be nominated by the Chief Justice.
Meanwhile, the Government has agreed not to oppose a Dáil private members motion on forestry from Sinn Féin, which calls on the Government to halt Coillte’s proposed joint venture with UK investment firm Gresham House, and publish the State’s new forestry strategy. A Government spokesman said that while the coalition would not be supporting the motion, there were aspects of it it supported and therefore it wouldn’t oppose it - adding that the “ink is dry” on the Coillte deal with Gresham House.
Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman is deferring the second reading of a Bill on parental bereavement leave, in order to allow a study underway in University College Cork. Focusing on pregnancy loss in workplaces, this study will inform the development of policy around pregnancy loss. This may also incorporate a form of bereavement leave, a spokesman said, with the coalition of the view that it would be best to allow the study to be completed before addressing the issue.