The finacial and technical support provided directly or through the EU in the run-up to the presidential elections in Colombia 2018.
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the financial and technical support his Department is providing either directly or through the EU in the run-up to the presidential elections in Colombia in 2018; his views on violence in the run-up to the election; the safeguards in place to protect candidates; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the financial and technical support his Department is providing either directly or through the EU in the run-up to the presidential elections in Colombia in 2018 to ensure a transparent and peaceful process and to encourage the protection of the spirit and promises of the peace agreement.
The first round of presidential elections are due to take place in Colombia on 27 May 2018, following national legislative elections which took place on 11 March 2018, the first since the country’s historic peace accord was approved in November 2016.
I am aware of the reports of violence in Colombia in the electoral season to which the Deputy refers. The security situation continues to be cause for concern, and developments in the aftermath of legislative elections and in advance of presidential elections are being closely monitored by my Department and by our Embassy in Mexico which is accredited to Colombia. I condemn unreservedly any such intimidation or violence perpetrated in Colombia and elsewhere. As the Deputy will agree, peaceful and fair elections are the cornerstone of any democracy and this right must be guaranteed.
Ireland has made significant financials contribution in support of the Colombian peace process.
Ireland is a founder member and one of the largest contributors to the EU Trust Fund for Colombia, which aims to support the implementation of the peace agreement. We have committed to providing €3 million in funding over the lifetime of the Fund.
In addition, in 2017, Ireland contributed €400,000 to the UN Trust Fund for Colombia and €300,000 to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to assist them in carrying out their vital work in Colombia.
Ireland is also funding the secondment of Mr. Pat Colgan as an adviser to the Colombian Ministry for Post-Conflict. Mr. Colgan was formerly Chief Executive of the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), which was set up by the British and Irish Governments to manage the PEACE Programmes and INTERREG Programmes in Northern Ireland.
I firmly believe that Colombia’s peace accord provides the framework in which the endemic violence and impunity which has afflicted Colombian society for decades can successfully be addressed. Historic strides have been made to date in its implementation, including the full decommissioning of FARC weapons by July 2017 and the transformation of the organisation into a political party, which as part of the agreement is guaranteed to have five seats in each chamber of the national congress.
We know from our own experience in Ireland that achieving peace can be complex and challenging and is far from straightforward. Whatever the outcome of presidential elections in May, Ireland remains committed to supporting the full implementation of the agreement, which I believe will ensure a more peaceful future for all Colombians.
I wish to take this opportunity to recall the warm relations which exist between Ireland and Colombia, demonstrated by the announcement in October 2017 that Ireland will open an Embassy in Bogotá, and I wish to extend to the people of Colombia all the best for the electoral period ahead.
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