Written Answers.

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 20, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 21 to 85, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 86 to 94, inclusive, answered orally.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

95 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to any recent interest from foreign investors in taking strategic or controlling stakes in any of the credit institutions covered by the banking guarantee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5319/10]

I have informed the House previously that I have discussed the issue of private sector investment in the banks with senior executives of the credit institutions covered by the bank guarantee. I understand that some institutions have engaged in such discussions with representatives of potential investors. To date, none of these discussions have resulted in any detailed investment proposal. However, the Deputy will appreciate that much of this information is received in confidence and could be a market sensitive issue for the potential investors.

National Asset Management Agency.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

96 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance if he has instructed, or will instruct, the National Asset Management Agency board of directors to prepare a new, realistic and updated business plan for NAMA, taking into account all relevant information which has become available since the original draft business plan was prepared; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5314/10]

The NAMA draft business plan published in October 2009, was prepared by the interim NAMA team for the purpose of outlining the background to NAMA and the manner in which it will carry out its functions and duties. It is important to emphasise that much of the information regarding the prospective NAMA portfolio included in this draft Business Plan is based on aggregate data which had been provided by the various institutions.

The NAMA Board was appointed in December 2009 and they will consider the draft plan and how to update it or revise it. Any such revision will be based on detailed data which will be presented and analysed in the context of the acquisition by NAMA of eligible assets. It will not be possible to prepare a revised business plan based on an analysis of the actual data submitted to NAMA for some months yet.

The NAMA Act requires an annual statement by 1st July 2010 and a detailed quarterly report to be submitted by the 30th June 2010. I would expect that NAMA would also provide its revised business plan in or around that time.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

97 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Finance if, in view of falling prices in most sectors of the economy, he envisages significant scope for savings to be made in the operation of National Assets Management Agency through minimising fees and expenses, for which an annual amount of €240 million was foreseen in the draft NAMA business plan; the instructions he has given to NAMA officials in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5321/10]

The National Treasury Management Agency has engaged various firms for advice in regard to the National Asset Management Agency. I have been advised by the NTMA that successful firms priced the work at a substantial discount to win the business. The costs to be borne in 2010 include detailed due diligence costs which are recoverable from the participating institutions as part of the valuation process.

NAMA's mandate is a commercial one. The purpose of NAMA is to obtain the best achievable financial return for the State and cost containment is and will be a key objective of the Board. The NAMA draft business plan published in October 2009, is a draft Business Plan that was prepared by the interim NAMA team for the purpose of outlining the background to NAMA and the manner in which it will carry out its functions and duties. The draft contains estimates based on aggregate information then available to the interim NAMA team. I expect that the details published in relation to fees and expenses will be updated in a revised business plan to be prepared by the NAMA Board for publication around mid 2010.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

98 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if applicants from outside the public sector are considered for the filling of top posts in his Department. [5257/10]

Applicants from outside the public sector are considered for the filling of top posts at Assistant Secretary and Second Secretary General level in the Department. Applicants from outside the public sector are not considered for the posts of Secretary General and Secretary General, Public Service Management and Development in the Department as these appointments are made by the Government without a TLAC competition.

Judicial Remuneration.

Alan Shatter

Question:

99 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Finance the salaries which would be payable to members of the Judiciary if the legislation enacted to provide for the public sector pension deductions and the public sector wage deductions implemented pursuant to budgetary measures adopted in 2009, applied to judicial remuneration in the same manner as it applies to public sector workers in receipt of comparable salaries; and the specific reductions which would have been effected in judicial remuneration in respect of judges appointed to the District, Circuit, High and Supreme Court. [5346/10]

In its report late last year, the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector concluded that the Constitution precluded them from recommending a reduction in judicial pay. Had they not been so precluded, they would have considered a downward adjustment. For the same reason the pension levy was not applied to the judiciary, though many judges have contributed an amount on a voluntary basis. As a consequence, members of the judiciary were exempted from the application of the pension related deduction and pay reduction legislation applied to public servants under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts 2009.

If the Constitution permitted the remuneration of judges to be reduced, and if the 2009 Acts therefore applied to them, the estimated effect of the application of the legislation to the pay rates of the judiciary is set out in the table below.

Position

Current Salary

Notional % Reduction

Notional Pay Reduction

Notional Revised 2010 rate

Notional Pension Related Deduction

%

Judge, Supreme Court

257,872

15

38,681

219,191

20,965

Judge, High Court

243,080

15

36,462

206,618

19,645

Judge, Circuit Court

177,554

12

21,306

156,248

14,356

Judge, District Court

147,961

8

11,837

136,124

12,243

As I indicated in Budget 2010, the Chief Justice and the Presidents of the Courts have urged all Judges to make appropriate voluntary contributions from salary in respect of the levy and I will make provision in the Finance Bill to facilitate these payments.

Banking Sector Recapitalisation.

Joe Carey

Question:

100 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance if he has met with the board of Anglo Irish Bank regarding options for the development of the bank. [5195/10]

As the Deputy may be aware, on 30 November last Anglo Irish Bank submitted its Restructuring Plan to the European Commission. This was a condition for State aid approval of the bank's recapitalisation in 2009. The Restructuring Plan considers all options for the future of the bank.

The submission of the plan marked the beginning of a detailed and comprehensive evaluation process in advance of any final decision by the Commission on the plan. This ongoing process requires extensive consultation and dialogue between the Commission, the Irish authorities and the bank.

As I have stated previously, I am committed to working closely with the Commission and the bank on the assessment of the plan to achieve the best possible outcome for the State from this process. In this regard, I am in contact both directly and through my officials, with the board of Anglo Irish Bank.

National Asset Management Agency.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

101 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Finance if he has been approached by interested parties with respect to taking shareholdings in the National Asset Management Agency special purpose vehicle; when these investments will be concluded; the terms of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5341/10]

I understand that a number of interested parties have indicated an interest in becoming shareholders in the NAMA Master SPV. This is an issue for the Board of NAMA who advise me that they are in advanced discussions with a number of interested parties.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

102 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Finance the progress made to date with the putative merger of building societies (details supplied); the amount of financial support he expects the Exchequer to have to provide to these institutions, whether individually or as a merged entity; if he expects the State to hold a majority or controlling interest in any such merged entity; if such a merger, if it involved majority public ownership, would require new legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5318/10]

The two building societies referred to by the Deputy are independent financial institutions. Accordingly, subject to the requirements and conditions of the Building Societies Act, any question of a merger is a matter in the first instance for the two societies. In that regard, both societies have stated that they have commenced negotiations regarding a possible merger and which, I am informed, are ongoing.

As I indicated in my second stage speech on the NAMA Bill last September, it is likely that some covered institutions will require additional capital to absorb losses that will arise in connection with the transfer of loans to NAMA. I also indicated that, to the extent that sufficient capital cannot be raised independently or generated from internal sources, the Government is committed to providing appropriate capital to allow institutions to continue to meet their regulatory requirements. In the case of a building society, the NAMA Act amended the Building Societies Act to create a new type of share, called a "special investment share", in a building society and which will provide a mechanism for the State to make a capital investment in a building society. The Act also provides that the Minister for Finance may specify the terms and conditions on which special investment shares shall be issued. These may include voting rights on resolutions and the appointment of directors. I do not consider that any further legislative change is required to enable the State make a capital investment in a building society or to assume appropriate control of a building society consequent upon any such investment.

It is still too early to be definitive on the scale of new capital likely to be required by the building societies referred to by the Deputy, either individually or jointly. Prior to Christmas, at their Special General Meetings to allow their Boards to issue "special investment shares", the societies informed their members of their estimate of the capital shortfall. The eventual size of any capital injection by the State is a matter that is kept under constant review by the Boards of the institutions, their auditors, the Financial Regulator and my Department in consultation with its advisors, having regard to commercial performance, the level of future impairments and the price paid for NAMA eligible assets. It can be expected, however, that if the State invests capital in a building society, it will do so on appropriate terms and conditions and that it will seek to secure an appropriate stake in the society in order to ensure that the taxpayers' investment is protected. However, the precise stake, together with the other commercial aspects of any such investment, will be a matter for negotiation and decision at the time of the proposed investment having regard to all the relevant factors including the relative scale of the proposed capital investment.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

103 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the establishment and operations of the credit review system on business lending, announced in budget 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5329/10]

The position is that under the NAMA Act I will shortly be issuing guidelines to ensure that SMEs, sole traders and farm enterprises will have recourse to an independent, external review of decisions of credit refusal by the NAMA participating banks. I hope that banks not participating in NAMA or covered by the Government guarantee will also decide to join the system. My aim is to have a simple, effective review process, run by people with experience and credibility. The banks must comply with the recommendations of the appeal process, or explain why they cannot do so.

In addition to dealing with individual cases, the credit review system will examine the credit policies and practices of the banks in respect of SMEs. This will help me to decide what further action might be necessary to secure the flow of credit. I intend to publish the analysis from the review process so that the performance of the banks participating in NAMA will be clear to all.

Mr John Trethowan, an experienced banker with a demonstrated commitment to public and social service, is overseeing the establishment of this credit review system with initial administrative support from Enterprise Ireland. Work has been ongoing since December on the logistical aspects of the review system and it is envisaged that Mr. Trethowan will be in a position to commence reviews shortly.

Banking Sector Recapitalisation.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

104 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Finance if and when he will convert the State’s preference shareholdings, through the National Pension Reserve Fund, in banks (details supplied) into ordinary equity; the effect this will have on the capital structures of the respective credit institutions; if the next coupon payment will be collected in the form of ordinary equity; if the preference shares are converted to ordinary equity in advance of the next coupon payment coming due, will a pro rata payment accrue to the NPRF in respect of the time for which the investment was held but no coupon was paid; if he will exercise the detachable warrants at the moment of conversion or if the NPRF will retain them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5339/10]

There is no provision in the recapitalisation agreements for the conversion of the preference shares into ordinary shares. The bank can repurchase at par up to the fifth anniversary of the issue and thereafter at 125% of par. As I have indicated before, the Government is open to the possibility of further recapitalising the banks concerned, if this is required, and any conversion options would form part of that consideration.

With regard to the payment of the next coupon, my Department and the recapitalised banks are in continuing discussions with the Commission in respect of the banks' restructuring plans and this issue is a part of that discussion.

Public Service Remuneration.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

105 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied that bonus pay linked to performances of public service managers should be regarded as part of core pay. [5251/10]

Joe Costello

Question:

160 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance the reason, after the passage of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act, 2009, he chose to reduce the cuts in basic pay of certain senior public servants to the extent that their cuts in basic pay are a smaller proportion of basic pay than cuts endured by the lowest paid public servants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5343/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 105 and 160 together.

The total remuneration package of Assistant Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries in the civil service, and of related grades in other parts of the public service, included a scheme of performance-related pay which gave an average payment of 10% of salary. In 2009, it was decided the scheme would be terminated subject to discussion on the implementation of the decision with the relevant staff association.

In applying the recent reductions in pay, I considered that account had to be taken of the reduction in remuneration for Assistant Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries and related grades arising from the termination of the scheme of performance-related pay. Otherwise, the total reduction in remuneration for these grades would have been greater than those for other public servants including higher paid groups at the level of Secretary General or above. I decided that the reductions should comprise both a reduction in the salary scale and the termination of the scheme of performance-related pay previously payable to the grades. The resulting adjustments, including the effect of the termination of the scheme of performance-related pay, produce significant reductions in remuneration of 14% in the case of the grade of Deputy Secretary and 11.8% in the case of the grade of Assistant Secretary. These reductions are higher than those applying to other groups at the lower salary levels and significantly higher than the minimum reduction provided for under the legislation of 5%.

Capital Expenditure.

James Bannon

Question:

106 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Finance his views on new sources of funding for infrastructural development; and his further views on disposing of certain State assets to provide seed capital for an infrastructural programme. [5180/10]

As the Deputy is aware, future investment in critical infrastructure remains a Government priority. Despite the challenging budgetary position, we are committed to maintaining exchequer capital investment of €6.445bn in 2010 and €5.5bn for each year thereafter to 2016. This equates to 5% of GNP and is one of the highest ratios in the EU.

Nonetheless, the Government keeps under continuous review the potential for encouraging and facilitating private sector finance for public infrastructure. My Department has engaged intensively with various private sector parties over the past year to explore the potential for innovative funding mechanisms that could help deliver crucial public infrastructure within the framework of Public Private Partnerships. Obviously, this will only be done on the basis that the terms are right for the State and that any investment makes economic sense. In addition, we have to be mindful of the potential impact of any financing approach on the GGB. The financing of investment through Exchequer borrowing affects the GGB in the normal manner. For other funding options the impact can vary and the treatment is more complex.

I would also note that the Government is committed to exploring and utilising the potential for EIB investment in PPP projects. The EIB has been a major investor in the PPP Roads programme. It may now be willing to consider making funds available for projects in other sectors. Indeed, I am happy to note that the EIB has agreed to invest in the second schools bundle which is currently in procurement.

The State owns significant assets of various types. Given the current economic conditions and the pressure on Exchequer spending, it is vital that this asset base is managed to optimum effect. Any Government consideration of future asset disposals would have to take account of overall policy in the Semi-State bodies, including policy on strategic assets. It could be that asset disposals have the potential to help future infrastructure investment. For example, I announced in Budget 2010 that a multi-annual investment programme in important mental health projects is to be funded from the sale of surplus HSE assets. Some €43 million of additional funding was allocated on this basis for 2010, and further funding for mental health projects will be provided as asset sales allow. The Government will keep an open mind on the potential for other asset disposals that might help infrastructure delivery.

Commissions of Inquiry.

Richard Bruton

Question:

107 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if the proposed banking inquiry will have any constraints on its investigations and the publication of findings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5188/10]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

146 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance the terms of reference of the initial bank inquiry reports, those to be prepared both by the Central Bank Governor and by the hired external report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5308/10]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

157 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance the amount of input he will allow from Members and committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas into the establishment of the terms of reference for the commission of inquiry into the banking crisis; if he will allow a formal procedure of submission from the aforementioned following their review and debate of the two reports commissioned to be delivered by May 2010. [5099/10]

I propose to answer Questions 107, 146 and 157 together.

The Government has decided to establish a framework for a comprehensive investigation into the causes of the systemic failures in the Irish banking sector which culminated in the need for the State intervention in the sector. The framework for investigation will have two stages. The first stage of the investigation will consist of the preparation of two separate preliminary reports from the Governor of the Central Bank and from Mr Klaus Regling, a recognised international expert. The second stage of the investigation will be the establishment of a statutory commission of investigation, which will be chaired by a recognised expert or experts of high standing and reputation. The terms of reference for this commission will be informed by the conclusions of the two preliminary reports.

As part of the preparatory stage, the Government has requested that the Governor of the Central Bank report to me on the performance of the respective functions of the Central Bank and Financial Regulator in the period since the establishment of the Financial Regulator up to September 2008 having regard to the statutory powers, roles and responsibilities of the Central Bank and Financial Regulator.

The Government has also agreed that a second report, to be commissioned from Mr Klaus Regling, a recognised international expert, should consist of an investigation into the background to and causes of the recent crisis in Ireland's banking system up to September 2008; and an assessment of the lessons that can be learned to inform the future management and regulation of the sector, both in relation to individual institutions and in relation to the management of risks and stability issues within the regulatory and Governmental systems.

The Government has agreed that these reports will consider also the international, social and macro-economic environment which provided the context for the recent crisis in the banking sector and that they should have regard as appropriate to existing reports on the banking system, such as the de Larosière and Turner Reports.

I have already announced that Mr Klaus Regling has agreed to the appointment as the independent ‘wise person' to conduct a preliminary investigation into the crisis in our banking system. Mr Regling is a highly-experienced individual with long experience in private and public sector positions, including a period as Director General for Economic and Financial Affairs of the European Commission and Director General in the German Ministry of Finance. Mr Regling was also a member of the Issing Commission, appointed by Chancellor Merkel in 2008 to advise the German Government on the reform of financial regulation.

The formal stage of the inquiry, which is to be established following the completion of the preliminary investigations by Mr Regling and the Governor of the Central Bank, will be established pursuant to the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004. I intend that the inquiry will operate pursuant to the powers set out in the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004.

In relation to the input into the establishment of the terms of reference for the statutory Commission of Investigation by Members and Committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas, I set out in the Dáil on 19 January 2010 the proposed involvement of the Oireachtas in each stage of the process as follows:

an appropriate Oireachtas Committee will meet both the Governor and the independent expert at the outset of their work to be briefed on the Members' priorities for investigation;

the two preliminary reports, when completed, will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas and the Oireachtas Committee will be invited to consider the findings of the reports;

the terms of reference and draft Government Order to establish the statutory Commission of Investigation will be laid before the Oireachtas; and

the report of the Commission of Investigation will, when completed, be laid before the Oireachtas for further consideration by the Committee. It will then be open to the Committee to hold public hearings on the Report.

On that occasion, I also underlined that it is essential that an Oireachtas Committee examines the reports from the preliminary investigations as it will have a vital function in assisting in the formulation of appropriate terms of reference with regard to the statutory stage of the inquiry.

Banking Sector Recapitalisation.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

108 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether Anglo Irish Bank is an appropriate vehicle for expanding small medium enterprise lending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5340/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, €4bn in capital was provided to Anglo in 2009, to protect the economy from the wider losses that would have occurred in the event of a failure of the bank, to protect the deposit base of the bank, and to prevent the bank becoming a systemic threat to the financial system.

A condition for EU approval of the capital provision to Anglo was that the bank would not engage in new lending for a period of one year, except to existing customers for current projects. This is in line with the objective of stabilising and deleveraging Anglo's balance sheet.

On 30 November last, Anglo Irish Bank submitted its Restructuring Plan to the European Commission, as required under EU State aid rules. In line with EU Commission guidelines, the Restructuring Plan considers all options for the future of the bank, including its potential role in meeting unmet lending needs in the economy.

The submission of the plan marked the beginning of a detailed and comprehensive evaluation process in advance of any final decision by the Commission on the plan. This ongoing process requires extensive consultation and dialogue between the Commission, the Irish authorities and the bank.

The Deputy will understand that in view of the commercial sensitivities involved it would not be appropriate for me to make any comment on any detailed elements of the plan at this stage.

However, as I have stated previously, I am committed to working closely with the Commission and the bank on the assessment of the plan to achieve the best possible outcome for the State from this process.

Financial Services Sector.

James Reilly

Question:

109 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the principles that will underlie his legislative proposals to deal with distressed financial institutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5207/10]

In the course of the NAMA Bill debate, I indicated I would examine options for the introduction of a legislative regime to deal in a systematic way with distressed financial institutions. My objective is to ensure the State has in place a range of tools to address problem institutions effectively in the interests of maintaining financial stability, minimising reliance on public moneys and ensuring continuity of key banking activities. Normal corporate insolvency procedures are not adequate for failing financial institutions as they were not designed with the objective of protecting financial stability.

My deliberations in this area are assisted by the work ongoing in a number of international fora. At EU level, the Commission has been consulting on a EU framework for cross-border crisis management in the banking sector to allow the relevant authorities to manage financial crisis events at cross-border banks. Included in the Commission's proposal for discussion are additional powers for supervisors to require the preparation by systemically important institutions of firm-specific contingency and resolution plans. These plans sometimes referred to as ‘living wills' would detail how an institution and its business might be wound up rapidly and in an orderly fashion. Ireland is, of course, participating fully in the work at EU level to examine this and other possible elements of bank resolution tool-kits in a cross-border context.

Internationally, there is growing agreement on the common features that a resolution framework for the financial sector could include. These may involve, for example, permitting relevant authorities to take control of a financial institution at an early stage of its financial difficulties through some form of administration and providing authorities with a range of tools to deal with a distressed institution. When I have completed my deliberations I will consider appropriate next steps having regard to the evolving EU and international discourse on this important area.

Tax Yield.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

110 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if he will make a statement on the December 2009 Exchequer returns. [5309/10]

At end-2009 the Exchequer deficit was €24.6 billion, some €619 million better than was expected in Budget 2010. The improvement in the 2009 position was largely due to a better than anticipated performance in tax revenue in the month of December and savings on debt servicing expenditure.

I believe that the 2009 Exchequer Returns demonstrate that the actions taken by Government in managing the public finances are working. The small improvement in the actual deficit for 2009 over that anticipated in the Budget means that we face 2010 with a greater sense of confidence.

The Exchequer Returns for end-January 2010 were published yesterday on my Department's website. The Exchequer deficit was €780 million at end-January compared to €747 million for the same period last year. In overall terms these Returns are in line with expectations.

Capital Expenditure.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

111 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance the details of the national solidarity bond, announced in budget 2010; if the intention is to ring-fence all money borrowed through this mechanism for capital investment; if these funds will be used to part-finance or to supplement the 2009 to 2014 capital expenditure programme envisaged in the latest stability programme update, published alongside Budget 2010 in December 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5328/10]

I announced in Budget 2010 that the Government intended to introduce a National Solidarity Bond.

This bond will effectively be a new form of our state savings products which are aimed at the retail investor. We already have savings bonds and savings certificates, which are three and five and a half year investment products managed by the National Treasury Management Agency. The new bond will be a longer-term product which will be attractive to people who wish to invest for up to 10 years. Where an investor wishes to encash their investment before the final maturity date of 10 years they will be able to do so.

The structure is quite innovative — there will be an annual interest payment and a final redemption bonus payable. The final investment bonus will be payable to investors who encash their bonds after five, seven or ten years.

Although this new bond will give ordinary citizens an alternative route to fund the State to help to stimulate economic recovery and create employment, it is important to note that the proceeds of the bond will not be used to fund additional expenditure over and above what has already been decided on by the Government in the context of the Budget.

An overall multi-annual capital investment programme of over €39 billion for the period 2010 to 2016 has been announced. In terms of 2010 the planned amount of capital funding by government is €6.445 billion as signalled in the December Budget. For each of the years from 2011 onwards a sum of €5.5 billion is being provided. These large amounts of overall government investment are deemed appropriate taking all factors into account.

The National Treasury Management Agency and my Department are working on the details of the bond and I look forward to it being available for subscription in the near future.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Michael Noonan

Question:

112 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether changes in bank legislation are warranted. [5261/10]

Proposals for change in bank legislation are contained in the Renewed Programme for Government. Indeed, the Government has already made significant progress in this regard. The NAMA Act 2010 contains a number of important changes that will allow NAMA to assist in stabilising the banking sector and restore the flow of credit to business and consumers while minimising risks to taxpayers.

The Government has also decided to reform the institutional structures for financial regulation. The negative impact of the international financial crisis on the banking system and disclosures regarding corporate conduct highlighted structural and institutional weaknesses in existing regulatory structures and the performance of the regulatory system generally. These developments threatened Ireland's reputation in international financial markets and financial stability.

A more appropriate — and where necessary intensive and hands-on — regulatory approach is needed for financial institutions which have the potential to pose systemic risks to the financial sector and the economy in general. As the Governor of the Central Bank indicated during his discussion with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Economic Regulatory Affairs on 15 December 2009, "it is now a question of trusting less and verifying more".

The weaknesses identified are being addressed. Very shortly, I will bring legislative proposals to Government to commence the reform of the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland. The new organisational structure and other reforms will allow Ireland to eliminate weaknesses identified in the existing system and maintain domestic and international confidence in financial regulation here.

The Commission of Investigation into the banking crisis will complete its work by the end of this year. At that stage the Government will consider whether the Commission's deliberations give rise to a need for further legislation.

I am also examining options for the introduction of a legislative regime to deal with distressed financial institutions. The objective is to ensure that the State has in place a range of tools to protect deposit holders and ensure financial stability and maintain international market confidence. My deliberations in this regard will be informed by the work underway at the international level on resolution regimes for the banking sector including in relation to recovery and resolution plans.

At international and EU levels, arising from the international financial crisis, a wide-ranging programme of reform of prudential regulation for the banking sector is underway. The G20 has approved a programme of reform to be implemented by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and the Financial Stability Board encompassing:

reform of existing prudential rules to increase the level of regulatory capital in the financial system;

expansion of the scope of regulation to include parts of the financial services industry not previously subject to direct supervision, such as derivatives, credit rating agencies and alternative investment funds;

strengthening the mandate of international bodies that have a key role to play in international coordination of financial supervision, such as the Financial Stability Board and International Monetary Fund; and

developing a new framework for resolution of large cross-border banks and agreeing specific measures for enhanced oversight of systemically important financial institutions.

Measures to enhance financial regulation adopted at the international level will require to be implemented in EU legislation. An ambitious legislative programme is under preparation by the European Commission for eventual adoption through co-decision in 2010 and 2011. This includes, inter alia, a series of amendments to existing legislation on prudential standards for financial institutions as well as the introduction of new legislation on credit rating agencies, alternative investment funds and derivatives. This legislation may need to be transposed at national level in due course.

Mortgage Debt.

Phil Hogan

Question:

113 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Finance the number of meetings which have taken place to date on the issue of developing policy on mortgage arrears and home repossessions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5236/10]

The Government is conscious of the high value placed on home ownership in Ireland and of the efforts Irish people make to secure and retain their own home. The Government's objective from both a social and an economic policy point of view is that home owners who lose their jobs should be assisted to retain their homes during their period of unemployment.

The Government has committed in the Renewed Programme for Government to introduce new measures to protect families having difficulties with their home mortgage payments.

There have been a number of developments in this area. I approved the setting up of an Inter-Departmental Mortgage Arrears Review Group, chaired by my Department, for the purpose of collecting information and examining options, including initiatives in other jurisdictions, in relation to the matter of mortgage arrears and repossessions. This Group has met on two occasions and work has commenced on bringing forward options for dealing with these matters. The Mortgage Arrears Review Group is examining options for improving State supports for home owners with mortgage arrears including schemes in operation in the USA and UK. These schemes are designed to address particular problems for particular groups of home owners and include options for refinancing mortgages, modifying the terms of existing loans, shared equity, and purchase of mortgages for the purpose of renting back to the home owner.

I have been discussing with my Cabinet colleagues the best way in which to proceed in this matter and I will be bringing proposals to Government.

I have spoken extensively in this House on the supports which are available to those homeowners who find themselves in difficulty. These supports include the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears, the Mortgage Interest Subsidy Scheme and the services provided by the Money Advice Budgeting Services. In addition I have written to the Financial Regulator requesting that consideration be given to extending the moratorium on mortgage arrears from 6 months to 12 months for all mortgage lenders.

The Deputy will be aware that in my Budget speech in December the Government refocused mortgage interest relief on those who bought their homes at the peak of the market, many of whom find themselves in negative equity. Where a homeowner's entitlement to mortgage interest relief would expire in 2010 or after, they will now continue to receive it up to the end of 2017.

Comprehensive statistics on mortgage repossessions have not been kept, but my Department has obtained reports from lenders covered by the State Guarantee. The total of legal repossessions of owner occupier homes to the end of September 2009 by those lenders is twenty. In all cases mortgages were in arrears for over 24 months at time of repossession. While the number of repossessions is a concern to the Government, it is extremely low when compared to the UK and other jurisdictions. It is important to say that repossession orders granted by the Courts do not necessarily lead to homes being repossessed. It is important to note that when a repossession order is granted, homeowners can still work with their lenders in exploring alternative repayment measures such as those outlined in the Mortgage Code.

In relation to the position of mortgage holders generally, the Irish Bankers Federation published a Statement of Intent in November 2009 which provides further reassurance to homeowners who find themselves genuinely unable to maintain repayments on their principal private residence. The Statement of Intent has been agreed and supported by all IBF members and is a welcome development. It is also welcome that the IBF Oversight Committee on the implementation of the Statement of Intent will also include a representation from the Money Advice Budgeting Service.

I am confident that the recent measures taken by the Government along with the ongoing work of the Inter-Departmental Group and the existing supports I referred to, will assist those who are in difficulty with mortgage arrears as a result of unemployment and the economic downturn.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Brian Hayes

Question:

114 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance if he has had discussions with the European Commission regarding the future structure of the banking sector here in view of State aid decisions and consolidation; and the policy that he is advocating to provide a stable competitive banking sector which does not expose the taxpayer to future risks. [5230/10]

I refer the Deputy to the comments I made in the course of my Second Stage Speech on the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) Bill 2009 on 16 September 2009, in particular my observation that while the banking system can revive and serve our economy in a proper manner, the existing structures cannot remain the same.

The three largest banks (Allied Irish Banks, Anglo Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland) have prepared restructuring plans to meet EU requirements arising from recapitalisation and these plans have been submitted to the EU Commission for consideration. Considerable discussion, dialogue and exchange of information is continuing as the Commission undertake their assessment of the restructuring plan in line with the applicable State aid rules. It is too early to speculate on how long this process will take and when final approval of the restructuring plan will be granted by the Commission, however, I am confident that this restructuring process will result in a reformed and reinvigorated banking system. The Government is committed to working with the Commission and the bank to achieve the best possible outcome for the country as a whole and the taxpayer.

Price Inflation.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

115 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance his views on the fact that price inflation continued during 2009 in the sub-indices of education and miscellaneous goods and services at a time when the consumer price index decreased by 5% over the course of the year; his views on whether bringing down costs in these sectors are important for restoring competitiveness here; if he has proposals to encourage the moderation of price levels in these sectors, particularly in the provision of professional services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5331/10]

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell by 4.5 per cent in 2009 while, as the Deputy notes, increases were recorded in the education and miscellaneous goods and services categories.

The Student Services Charge is levied by third level institutions to defray the costs of examinations, registration and students services. For the 2009/10 academic year, the Government indicated that it was willing to accept increases in the Student Services Charge to bring it to up to a limit of €1,500 (from €900) in individual higher education institutions and brought it more into line with the costs of the range of students services provided.

The miscellaneous goods and services contains a wide range of items including some professional services where the Competition Authority has made recommendations. As set out in the Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal document, Building Ireland's Smart Economy, there is a commitment to publish a whole of Government response to recommendations contained in Competition Authority reports. This was reaffirmed in the October 2009 Review of the Programme for Government, Renewed Programme for Government.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment has received the views of relevant Government Ministers as to how a list of competitiveness recommendations, insofar as they relate to their Departments, can be progressed and she intends to bring an update to Government shortly on the progress achieved to date. In line with the original commitment in the Smart Economy document, a whole of Government response to any recommendations contained in future reports drawn up by the Competition Authority will be published within nine months.

Fiscal Policy.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

116 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Finance his forecast for net migration patterns here for 2010 and 2011; the way he expects these patterns to impact on tax revenues, welfare payments, demand for and cost of public service provision, the overall Exchequer position; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5332/10]

My Department expects 45,000 people to leave the labour force this year due to net outward migration. The equivalent figure for next year is a net outflow of the order 10,000 — 15,000 people.

Clearly this will have an impact on the public finances, with both the revenue and expenditure sides of the Government's balance sheet being affected. The demand for public services will also be affected by lower population growth. All these impacts have been factored into the Budget day fiscal projections.

National Asset Management Agency.

John O'Mahony

Question:

117 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance if he envisages any changes in the operation of the National Asset Management Agency in the context of EU approval; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5187/10]

The official EU State aid notification relating to NAMA was submitted in December 2009 following extensive discussions with the European Commission. My officials are continuing consultations with the Commission to ensure that the design and the implementation of the NAMA Scheme will be consistent with EU State aid requirements. It is anticipated that the necessary approval will be secured in time for the transfer of the first assets under the scheme.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Willie Penrose

Question:

118 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance the progress that is being made with respect to the viability and business plans for the credit institutions covered by the bank guarantee submitted to the EU Commission for consideration; when opinions will be issued by the Commission in relation to each of the credit institutions concerned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5312/10]

Under EU State aid requirements the financial institutions which were recapitalised by the State, (Allied Irish Banks, Anglo Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland) were obliged to submit a restructuring plan to the European Commission within six-months of receiving the Government injection of capital. The Bank of Ireland Plan was submitted to the Commission on 30 September 2009. The Allied Irish Banks Plan was submitted on 13 November 2009 and the Anglo Irish Bank Plan was submitted on 30 November 2009.

Considerable discussion, dialogue and exchange of information is continuing as the Commission undertake their assessment of the restructuring plan in line with the applicable State aid rules. It is too early to speculate on how long this process will take and when final approval of the restructuring plan will be granted by the Commission.

Banking Sector Recapitalisation.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

119 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Finance the way he plans to fund a recapitalisation programme for the banks during 2010. [5217/10]

I indicated last September that, following the transfer of eligible bank loans to NAMA, it is likely that institutions will require additional capital in order to absorb the losses that will arise and to maintain appropriate capital levels. Institutions should explore all available options, both internal and external, for raising such capital. However, I also stated that, to the extent that the institutions are not in a position to raise sufficient capital from such sources, the Government remains committed, consistent with EU rules, to providing relevant banks and building societies with an appropriate level of capital to enable them to continue to meet their regulatory requirements.

The level of additional capital that may be required for individual institutions in 2010 arising from NAMA and other commercial factors has yet to be determined, though the Financial Regulator and my officials and advisors continue to monitor the position. The nature and source of any such necessary capital support for any particular institution will fall for consideration and determination in due course on a case by case basis having regard to the above framework.

Services for People with Disabilities.

David Stanton

Question:

120 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 115 of 13 May 2009, the amount allocated and expended each year over the period 2006 to 2009 under the multi-annual investment programme for disability services as reported to his Department by the other relevant Departments including the Department of Health and Children and the Health Service Executive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5347/10]

David Stanton

Question:

133 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 115 of 13 May 2009, the amount allocated and expended under the multi-annual investment programme 2006 and 2009 for disability services; if this reached the projected total €900 million; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5348/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 120 and 133 together.

As the Deputy will be aware from my reply to his previous question, development and implementation of the Multi-Annual Investment Programme for Disability 2006-2009 to support the development of high priority disability support services in each sector is a matter for the relevant departments and agencies.

The amount allocated and expended each year over the period 2006 to 2009 under the Multi-annual Investment Programme (MAIP) for high priority disability support services as reported to me by the relevant departments is as follows:

Multi-Annual Investment Programme 2006-2009

Current Expenditure €m

Department

Estimate 2006

Outturn 2006

Estimate 2007

Outturn 2007

Estimate 2008

Outturn 2008

Estimate 2009

Provisional Outturn 2009

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

Health &Children

81.0

79.0

83.0

78.0

50.0

33.0

10.0

3.6

Education & Science

7.0

11.0

20.0

20.0

25.0

25.0

5.0

5.0

Justice Equality & Law Reform

3.0

2.7

3.0

4.6

3.0

2.7

2.7

2.0

Total

91.0

92.7

106.0

102.6

78.0

60.7

17.7

10.6

Capital Expenditure €m

Department

Estimate 2006

Outturn 2006

Estimate 2007

Outturn 2007

Estimate 2008

Outturn 2008

Estimate 2009

Provisional Outturn 2009

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

Health &Children

45.0

42.2

45.0

45.1

45.0

63.0

Environment Heritage &Local Government

10.0

9.5

10.0

9.9

10.0

10.5

9.0

8.9

Office of Public Works

5.0

4.2

5.0

4.1

5.0

3.3

10.0

1.85

Total

60.0

55.9

60.0

59.1

60.0

76.8

19.0

10.75

The Office of Public Works has indicated that projects containing a disability support element far exceeded its allocation under the Multi-Annual Investment Programme but the disability element of the projects is not always separately identified. Direct expenditure by OPW on universal accessibility in 2009 was €1.85m. On the basis of the information provided to my Department I am not in a position to comment generally on whether the cumulative expenditure in the base reached the projected levels in the multi-annual investment programme in Budget 2005. I would refer the Deputy to the relevant Ministers if he wishes to pursue this aspect further.

National Asset Management Agency.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

121 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance if he has had cause to revise any of the assumptions made in the draft National Asset Management Agency business plan, particularly with respect to the evolution of the property market, its likely low point and its expected uplift over the life of NAMA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5324/10]

The NAMA draft business plan published in October 2009, is a draft Business Plan that was prepared by the interim NAMA team for the purpose of outlining the background to NAMA and the manner in which it will carry out its functions and duties.

The figures included in the draft business plan are indicative figures. The NAMA Board was appointed in December 2009 and they will over the coming months analyse the real data in relation to eligible assets and valuation. Based on this analysis the Board will decide how best to update or revise the draft business plan, including in relation to the evolution of the property market.

Financial Services Regulation.

George Lee

Question:

122 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether any of the events or actions of parties involved in the collapse of the banking and property sector, which occurred since September 2008, contain lessons for the future. [5244/10]

The Deputy may wish to note that a number of important measures are already being implemented reflecting the lessons learned from the banking crisis since September 2008. The impact of the crisis on the banking system in Ireland has emphasised the importance to the wider economy of the framework for financial regulation as well as the links between financial regulation and functions of central banks. The reform of regulatory structures which I announced on 18 June 2009 will underpin a much more effective and efficient financial services regulatory system. In particular, the reforms will see the establishment of a single fully integrated institution, the Central Bank of Ireland Commission, with responsibility for both the supervision of individual firms and the stability of the financial system generally. The proposed new structure will address a number of the significant weaknesses disclosed in the current system, in particular the need for increased cooperation and coordination between those responsible for monitoring financial stability, and those charged with the prudential supervision of individual institutions, and the prioritisation of prudential supervision of institutions as a central objective of the regulation of the financial system.

At EU level, a comprehensive programme of reforms is currently underway building on the recommendations contained in the de Larosière report in particular (to strengthen risk management on both a micro- and macro-prudential levels, including improvements in risk management in individual firms; improved systemic shock absorbers; reductions in pro-cyclical amplifiers; strengthening transparency; and improvements in the incentives in financial markets and in directors' remuneration). The EU roadmaps on financial supervision, stability and regulation, which were agreed at ECOFIN Council in 2007, and subsequently updated in 2008 and 2009 to reflect the evolving nature of the financial crisis, deal specifically with strengthening EU arrangements for financial stability and actions taken in response to the financial turmoil.

Finally, in relation to the events or actions, since September 2008, of parties involved in the collapse of the banking and property sector, I have already set out in Dáil Éireann that any wrong-doing that has come to light since September 2008 and which was a continuation of previous practices should, in my view, be investigated by the Commission of Investigation.

Pension Provisions.

Martin Ferris

Question:

123 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance his projections for the level of funding in the National Pension Reserve Fund over the next three years; if he will continue to divert funding from and payments to the NPRF; and if he envisages the NPRF meeting the demands made upon it at its end date in 2025. [5103/10]

The value of the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) was €22.3 billion at the end of 2009.

The National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000 provides, inter alia, for the annual payment into the Fund from the Exchequer of an amount equivalent to 1% of GNP as estimated at the time of the Budget. The amount payable to the Fund in respect of the 1% of GNP contribution for 2009 was €1.584 billion.

The Investment of the National Pensions Reserve Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2009 amended the 2000 legislation so as to allow the Minister for Finance to direct the NPRF Commission to invest in a listed credit institution and to make payments into the Fund for the purposes of such an investment, such additional contributions to be offset against the contribution liability in future years. These amendments reflected the Government decision, announced on 11 February 2009, that the recapitalisation of Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland through the purchase of preference shares by the NPRF would be funded by €4 billion of the Fund's own resources and €3 billion from the Exchequer through the frontloading of the 2009 and 2010 Exchequer contributions to the Fund. Following the enactment of this legislation, the Minister for Finance made a total contribution of €3 billion to the Fund in 2009.

Furthermore, the Financial Measures (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 enables the assets of a number of the pension funds of certain non-commercial semi-state bodies and universities to be transferred to the NPRF and that the value of those assets is to be offset against future Exchequer contributions to the Fund. At end-2009, assets provisionally estimated by the National Treasury Management Agency at the time to be worth some €880 million were transferred to the Fund — the final value of these assets has yet to be determined. The value of the remaining assets, expected to be transferred this year and currently estimated to be worth about €980 million, will be determined when those assets are transferred to the Fund.

On this basis, taking account of the total of €3 billion paid into the Fund from the Exchequer in 2009 and the current estimate of the total value of the semi-state bodies and university pension funds' assets being transferred into the Fund, it is estimated that no contribution will be required in respect of the statutory obligation to pay the equivalent of 1% of GNP into the Fund until 2012. This position was set out in Table 10 of the Stability Programme Update which was published as part of the Budget documentation on Budget Day last December.

The objective of the National Pensions Reserve Fund is to meet as much as possible of the cost to the Exchequer of social welfare pensions and public service pensions to be paid from the year 2025 until at least 2055.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

124 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Finance the expected annual cost to the Exchequer of administering and funding, where the double insolvency criterion is met, the pensions insolvency payment scheme for the next three years; the way these costs are to be met to ensure that the scheme is cost neutral in accordance with the relevant legislation; the position regarding the initial success and take up of the scheme; the way he expects it to evolve over the coming years; if further measures are foreseen to reinforce and protect company pension funds in deficit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5320/10]

The Pensions Insolvency Payment Scheme (PIPS) is a three-year pilot scheme offering, as a special measure, payments in cases where a defined benefit pension scheme is winding up in deficit and the sponsoring employer becomes insolvent — the "double insolvency" criterion.

Under PIPS, trustees of a participating pension scheme must pay to the Minister a lump sum which equals the net present value of the future stream of PIPS payments for the lives of the pensioners concerned and the associated administration costs. The sum will be calculated by the National Treasury Management Agency on an actuarially cost-neutral basis.

PIPS will be administered to minimise start-up costs and facilitate orderly wind-up of the participating pension scheme. In this pilot phase, the existing payment administrator of participating schemes or an alternative payment administrator nominated by the trustees will be retained.

The cost of administering PIPS will be charged to participating schemes so that PIPS is cost neutral for the taxpayer, as required by the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2009. As part of the application process, trustees must state the administration costs for the pensioner payments into the future as agreed with their chosen payment administrator. NTMA will convert this to net present value and factor it into the PIPS lump sum described above.

PIPS is a demand-led scheme with participation levels largely contingent on the number of employer insolvencies among defined benefit pension schemes in deficit where the trustees decide that PIPS offers pensions which might not otherwise be available.

PIPS came into effect only two days ago and so it is too early to make an assessment of the likely take-up. PIPS is a pilot scheme which will be reviewed within three years.

Broader policy responsibility for private sector pension issues beyond PIPS rests with my colleague the Minister for Social and Family Affairs. The Deputy will be aware that the Minister has taken a number of initiatives to support pension schemes. As a result the Pensions Board has taken a number of significant actions, for instance:

granting additional time for the preparation of funding proposals, as a temporary measure;

dealing as flexibly as possible with applications for the approval of funding plans;

allowing longer periods for recovery plans (i.e., greater than ten years), in appropriate circumstances; and

taking into account voluntary employer guarantees in approving recovery plans.

To ensure that these extensions will not weaken supervision, the Board will reject recovery plans which fail to demonstrate an appropriate investment approach. The operation of these proposed changes will be reviewed by the Pensions Board no later than 1 January 2011.

The Deputy may also wish to note that the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2009 has amended the Pensions Acts to:

improve the affordability and viability of Defined Benefit pension schemes by allowing trustees to include the benefits of active and deferred pension scheme members, as well as post retirement increases, when considering the restructuring of a Defined Benefit pension scheme;

provide for a more equitable distribution of assets between those who are retired and current members of the pension scheme in the event of the wind-up of the scheme, by excluding post-retirement increases from the priority given to retired members;

strengthen the regulatory provisions in relation to the obligation on employers to submit pension contributions to the trustees of a pension scheme; and

provide the Courts with the power to relieve a trustee in whole or in part from liability for breach of trust where the Court is satisfied that the trustee has acted honestly and reasonably.

The Government will also be considering the National Pensions Framework prepared by the Minister for Social and Family Affairs.

James Reilly

Question:

125 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the costs and the benefits of the proposed 33% tax relief on private pensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5202/10]

The recently published Renewed Programme for Government includes a commitment to introduce a single 33% rate for tax relief on private pension provision. Tax relief on individual pension contributions is currently allowed at the taxpayer's marginal income tax rate, that is, at the standard or higher rate of income tax as appropriate in each case. Tax relief at 33% would result in a reduction in the tax relief on pension contributions available to higher rate taxpayers and an additional incentive to pension savings for standard rate taxpayers. However, the full detail and timing of the introduction of this measure have yet to be decided.

A breakdown of the cost of tax relief on employee contributions to occupational pension schemes is not available by income tax rate, as tax returns by employers to the Revenue Commissioners of employee contributions to such schemes are aggregated at employer level. An historical breakdown is available by tax rate of the tax relief claimed on contributions to personal pension plans — Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs) and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs) — by the self-employed and others, to the extent that the contributions have been included in the personal tax returns of those taxpayers. The latest data available in this regard are preliminary figures in respect of the tax year 2007.

There is, therefore, no statistical basis for providing definitive figures on the costs or benefits involved in moving to a 33% rate of relief. However, by making certain assumptions about the available information, it is estimated that the overall full year yield to the Exchequer from allowing tax relief at a flat rate of 33% in respect of individual contributions to occupational pension schemes, RACs and PRSAs would be about €135 million. It is assumed that tax relief at the flat rate of 33% would also be available to claimants who are currently confined to tax relief at the standard rate of 20%.

The estimated Exchequer saving assumes no change in the current relief arrangements for PRSI and health levy on pension contributions and takes no account of the economic or behavioural impacts which would occur as a result of a change in tax treatment as envisaged in the question.

Mary Upton

Question:

126 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance if he envisages a role for the investment on a commercial basis of funds in the national pension reserve fund in infrastructure projects here; his views on whether this would require amending legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5336/10]

The National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) was established in 2001 under the National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000. The purpose in establishing the NPRF was to meet as much as possible of the cost to the Exchequer of social welfare pensions and public service pensions to be paid from the year 2025 until at least 2055.

The Act provided for the establishment of the National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission. The Commission is solely responsible for the control, management and investment of the assets of the Fund (other than assets which the Minister for Finance has directed the Commission to invest in a listed credit institution under the provisions of the Investment of the National Pensions Reserve Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2009) and for determining the investment strategy for the Fund in accordance with Fund investment policy. The Commission is required to invest the assets of the Fund so as to secure the optimal total financial return, having regard to the purpose of the Fund and the eventual requirements on the Fund to make payments to the Exchequer, provided the level of risk to the moneys held or invested is acceptable to the Commission. It would be open to the Commission to invest in infrastructure projects by way of participation in a public-private partnership. The Commission would of course have to satisfy itself that the investment was in accordance with its investment mandate.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Willie Penrose

Question:

127 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance the way he expects the losses and loss provisions on the mortgage loan books of the credit institutions covered by the bank guarantee to evolve over the coming years; if he expects the Exchequer to have to provide capital to any of the covered institutions as a direct result of losses accruing on these mortgage loan books, above and beyond capital provided as a result of losses relating to loans transferred to the National Assets Management Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5313/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, the covered institutions have made, and will no doubt continue to make as necessary provisions for impaired loans, including impairments on expected losses on their mortgage books. It is a matter for each institution's own Board to decide as to the level of provisions to set aside for future write downs, it would therefore be inappropriate for me to comment or speculate on the mortgage books of individual institutions.

I stated in my Second Stage speech on the NAMA Bill that it is likely that some institutions will require additional capital in order to absorb the losses arising from the transfer of their impaired assets to NAMA and in order to maintain appropriate levels of capital. I also said that if sufficient capital cannot be raised independently or generated internally, that the Government is committed to providing such institutions with an appropriate level of capital to continue to meet their requirements in a manner consistent with EU State aid rules and the credit needs of the Irish economy.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

128 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money that has accrued to the State from the bank guarantee; the amount of this income now on deposit at the Central Bank; if income from the new eligible liabilities guarantee scheme will continue to be paid into the central bank deposit account; if any transfer is foreseen from this account to the central fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5315/10]

Each of the covered institutions covered by the Bank Guarantee Scheme pays a quarterly charge to the Exchequer for the guarantees under the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme 2008 (CIFS) and the Eligible Liabilities Guarantee (ELG).

The amount of money paid under CIFS in the mandated Central Bank account, including interest accrued to date, is €718,360,000.

We intend to collect at least €1bn from the guaranteed institutions for institutions covered under CIFS and ELG guarantees for the period September 2008 to September 2010. After the expiration of the Covered Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme in September 2010, money collected will be transferred to the Central Fund. It is my intention that income from the Eligible Liabilities Guarantee will be paid into a separate Central Bank account which will be transferred into the Central Fund.

In addition to the charge for the Guarantee levied on the covered institutions, institutions under the Guarantee are obliged to recoup the administrative costs of the Guarantee to the Minister. To date payments of €2,495,459 have been made and received by my Department as an appropriation-in-aid, covering the period September 2008 to April 2009. There will be further charges made periodically between now and the end September 2010 when the Scheme is due to end.

EU Funding.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

129 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 103 to 106 of 1 December 2009, the progress made in making the funding available in order that the INTERREG IVA programme will be fully implemented and that the funding allocated under this programme will be properly utilised in an orderly and realistic way rather than spent in a rushed mechanism towards the closing date; if the programme will be allowed to go forward in an orderly fashion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5049/10]

As outlined in the replies referred to by the Deputy, the INTERREG IVA Programme 2007-13 aims to support strategic cross-border co-operation and economic development. The Programme is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) and implementation is overseen by a Monitoring Committee which has representatives from the Irish and Northern Ireland accountable Departments, Local Authorities and community and voluntary sector representatives.

INTERREG IVA funding allocation is based on a comprehensive and robust application and approval process. The process involves full project appraisal and scoring which is based on specific criteria relating to the overall aims, priorities and themes of the programme as well as a number of non specific criteria such as value for money/value added, need and contribution to a number of cross cutting themes. All funding applications are subject to this process which ensures that funding is allocated in an effective manner.

The SEUPB has advised that the programme is progressing well in terms of the assessment of applications, steering committee approval of projects and the issue of letters of offer and has met its key annual N+2 expenditure targets to date.

My Department, as co-sponsor of the SEUPB with the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland, continues to work with its counterparts to ensure a successful implementation of the programme.

Public Service Contracts.

Joe McHugh

Question:

130 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if, in the interest of value for money for the taxpayer, he will alter the pre-qualification criteria in respect of tendering for public projects in view of that fact that existing criteria favour larger companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4961/10]

The establishment of a list of competent firms interested in tendering for a particular project is an essential part of a prequalification procedure. For transparency purposes, it is a requirement that the number of firms being short listed should be stated in the contract notice published on eTenders or, in the case of projects above the EU threshold, in the Official Journal of the European Union. The prequalification criteria in EU Directive 2004/18/EC and SI No 329 of 2006 and the underlying principles in the EU Treaty are there to give confidence to businesses who express an interest in a particular procurement opportunity that they will be treated equally and fairly.

There are two parts to prequalification. The first deals with minimum standards which a contracting authority must set out in a suitability questionnaire applicable in particular situations. Minimum standards can vary from project to project depending on size, nature and complexity. The overriding objective for all contracting authorities, when establishing minimum standards, is to adhere to the underlying principles in the EU Treaty of non-discrimination, proportionality, fairness and transparency. I should say that the establishment of minimum standards is a matter for the relevant contracting authorities to determine as they are nearest to the activity and therefore best placed to decide what is appropriate in particular situations. The minimum standards for suitability criteria in use by various Government Departments, Offices and Agencies, and which are in the public domain at present are published on my Department's construction website www.constructionprocurement.gov.ie

The second part of prequalification is qualitative selection. This is used to assess firms that pass the minimum standards so that those with the best marks go forward to a tender list up to the maximum number stated in the contract notice.

I am conscious of the pressures facing SMEs and I have asked my Department to develop national guidelines for minimum standards for suitability criteria for construction-consultants and works contractors. However, I should say that, even with these guidelines in place, local input by contracting authorities will continue to be required in particular situations. When the work of developing national guidelines is complete, they will be published on the Department's construction website.

Public Sector Pay.

Joan Burton

Question:

131 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if he will impose pay cuts on employees of commercial semi-State bodies and agencies during 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5344/10]

I have previously indicated my intention to carry out a review of the pay of the chief executives of the commercial semi-State companies and will be announcing proposals in this regard shortly.

National Asset Management Agency.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

132 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm comments (details supplied) that the National Asset Management Agency will rent properties for the purpose of social housing with a return in line with NAMA’s mandate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5335/10]

NAMA has a commercial remit and generating a return for taxpayer's is a key objective. However, within this context NAMA could seek to facilitate public bodies seeking the creation of desirable developments that encourage vibrant sustainable communities. I have previously indicated that such bodies could be given first option on NAMA properties for a limited period.

Where it can be shown that providing units for social and affordable housing needs can create a commercial proposition for NAMA, then NAMA may play a role in the provision of social and affordable housing. Indeed I am informed that the Department of Environment Heritage and Local Government has had initial contact with NAMA to explore such arrangements.

Question No. 133 answered with Question No. 120.

Insurance Industry.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

134 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which he monitors developments in the insurance industry with particular reference to the level of premium increases in the past 12 months; the degree to which premiums in respect of various forms of insurance cover have fluctuated in the past five years to date in 2010; the grounds for these fluctuations; if an assessment has been carried out regarding the reason premises should increase while the value of property, motor vehicles and commercial values generally have fallen; the degree to which regulation is applied to the insurance industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5295/10]

The Financial Regulator does not maintain statistics on insurance premium costs, so I am not in a position to comment specifically upon the level of such increases in the past 12 months nor on the fluctuation in the past five years. However, as mentioned in previous PQs (45220/22 of 2009) the Financial Regulator has provided some background as to why insurance prices have increased in recent times. It has advised me that while the non-life insurance market performed well up to the end of 2006, market sources indicate that much non-life business was written at a loss in 2007. This trend continued in 2008, but the companies were still willing to write business at a loss in order to maintain their market share. They were able to do this as a result of the reserves they had built up during profitable years. However, the situation could not go on indefinitely and indications are that firms have taken action on pricing to underpin their financial positions.

This position is supported by a report published in 2009 by Standard & Poor's titled ‘ A Testing 2009 for the Irish Non-Life Insurance Market, Despite Fundamental Strengths’. It provided an insight into the problems facing the industry in 2009. The report envisaged a difficult year for the non-life industry as a result of rising claims and continuing intense competition which they said was limiting price increases. They added that this combined with anticipated lower investment returns was expected to hinder profitability. It should be noted that this outlook has if anything been compounded by the cost of claims as a result of the November flooding and the recent big freeze.

On the issue of regulation, the insurance industry as a whole is governed by the Insurance Acts 1909 to 2000 and regulations relating to insurance and reinsurance made under section 3 of the European Communities Act 1972. This body of legislation deals with a range of issues including authorisation provisions, prudential supervision and governance matters. The day to day responsibility for ensuring that the insurance industry complies with this legislation is a matter for the Financial Regulator which is statutorily independent in the exercise of its regulatory functions.

Consumer issues are covered by the Financial Regulator's Consumer Protection Code which amongst other things sets out a series of general principles about how financial service firms (including all insurance companies) should interact with their customers. The Code however does not prohibit or restrict an insurance company which conducts insurance business from increasing its annual premium rates, as this is a commercial decision for the company in question and is generally determined by such issues as higher claims volumes, and the nature of the product.

Flood Relief.

Denis Naughten

Question:

135 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide funding for a relocation grant to families severely affected by the recent flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5046/10]

I understand that the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government does not operate a home relocation scheme to assist households who wish to relocate in the aftermath of a flooding event. I have no plans to introduce such a grant.

However, in recognition of the problems faced by people in many areas of the country due to the recent flooding, the Government allocated an initial sum of €10m to fund a Humanitarian Assistance Scheme. The scheme is being administered by the Community Welfare Service of the Health Service Executive on behalf of the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

The scheme, which is means tested, is intended to provide emergency financial assistance to households who are not in a position to meet costs for essential needs in the period immediately following flooding. The scheme covers emergency income support payments to those in need and damage to a person's home and its basic essential contents, such as: carpets, flooring, furniture, household appliances and bedding. Structural damage may also be considered.

Fiscal Policy.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

136 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Finance if he has adopted a set of measures drawn from the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes Report; the level of savings involved in the measures adopted; and the implementation strategy agreed. [5218/10]

The Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes was published in July 2009 and outlined 271 recommendations with potential savings of up to €5.3 billion in a full year along with associated staffing reductions of over 17,300 in public service numbers. The Special Group’s Report is advisory in nature. The Special Group’s analysis and recommendations have been taken into account in the 2010 Budget and the estimates of expenditure for the year ahead. The Government decided to implement 32 recommendations in full and 89 in part. These savings are estimated to yield some €1.7 billion in 2010 and €1.9 billion in a full year, with savings implemented by the Department of Social and Family Affairs accounting for an estimated €691 million in 2010 and €739 million in a full year.

The Report of the Special Group and its recommendations will continue to inform Government considerations of overall expenditure strategy as well as ongoing structural reform in the public service.

Flood Relief.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

137 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance if he has sought funds under the European Union Solidarity Fund for victims of the recent flooding; if he has secured such funding; if he has sought any other form of funding from the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46828/09]

My Department made an application to the EU Commission on 27th January 2010 for funding under the EU Solidarity Fund based on estimates of damage received from Departments and local authorities.

A regional application was made as the estimate of the extent of the damage does not meet the Solidarity Fund's threshold of 0.6% of GNI or €935.5m for a national disaster. There are specific criteria which must be met to ensure a successful regional application to the EU Solidarity Fund. These criteria include the majority of the population of the region being affected by the disaster and serious and long lasting effects on the region's economic stability and living conditions.

The EU Solidarity Fund does not fund full reconstruction. It funds emergency operations to allow a rapid return to normal living conditions.

My Department is continuing to work with the Commission on finalising the process.

Tax Code.

Martin Ferris

Question:

138 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance if he has any plans to adjust the stamp duty regime to take account of the drop in house prices and the collapse in the property market. [5104/10]

Stamp duty net receipts for 2009 are in the region of €930 million. Of this amount, the yield from property is c. €329 million, of which residential property accounts for c. €150 million and non-residential property for c. €179 million.

I have no immediate plans to change the stamp duty regime but it should be noted that no stamp duty is payable by first time purchasers of new or second hand residential property or by owner-occupier purchasers of new residential property under 125 square metres in size.

Stamp duty on property will be reviewed in the context of potential changes to the taxation of property, such as the Commission on Taxation's recommendation to introduce a residential property tax and the commitment in the renewed programme for Government to introduce a site valuation tax on non-agricultural land. If stamp duty on residential property was reduced or abolished, any shortfall in Exchequer receipts would have to made up by increases in other taxes.

National Asset Management Agency.

Joan Burton

Question:

139 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if the average discount to be paid on assets transferred to the National Asset Management Agency is expected to be less than the 30% initially envisaged; if there have been significant revelations in respect of satisfactory legal title and cross collateralisation of assets securing property, development and associated loan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5345/10]

The estimates I provided in September in relation to the prospective NAMA portfolio were based on aggregate information provided by the relevant financial institutions. At all times I stressed that information on the actual price to be paid for loans would only become clear following a loan by loan assessment once NAMA was established.

Preparatory work on the transfer of assets is now under way and it is envisaged that the first tranche of assets will be valued and transferred to NAMA in February. This will provide clearer information on the level of discount to be applied to loans purchased by NAMA in relation to the first tranche of the expected NAMA portfolio.

Valuation itself is a matter for NAMA in accordance with the NAMA Act and regulations made under it. Where any defects exist in relation to the security for a loan, this will be reflected in the lower price paid by NAMA for it.

Tax Code.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

140 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance if he has any plans to reform the criteria relating to the artists’ tax exemption; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5334/10]

I assume the Deputy is referring to the qualification criteria for the awarding of the artists exemption in respect of particular works that are considered to be original and creative.

Section 195 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides an exemption from tax for the profits or gains arising to a person from the publication, production or sale of an original and creative work which has artistic or cultural merit in any of the five categories set out in the legislation, namely, a book or other writing; a play; a musical composition; a painting or other like picture; or a sculpture.

Under the legislation, the Revenue Commissioners are required to make a determination as to whether or not a work has artistic or cultural merit before the exemption can be awarded. The commissioners are specifically required by the legislation to make their determination having regard to guidelines drawn up by the Arts Council and the Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism with the consent of the Minister for Finance. The guidelines set out definitions of the terms "original and creative", "artistic merit" and "cultural merit". They also set out specific criteria to be taken into account in making determinations relating to works of non-fiction and provide for exclusions from what is to be regarded as original and creative in respect of certain works (e.g. textbooks, works of journalism and functional or utilitarian works). The current guidelines are available on the Revenue website at www.revenue.ie.

I understand that these guidelines are currently being reviewed by the bodies mentioned in conjunction with the Revenue Commissioners and that considerable progress has been made.

Departmental Agencies.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

141 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the proposed merger of the Competition Authority, the National Consumer Agency and the consumer protection function of the Financial Regulator; if it is necessary to put the merged entity on a statutory footing through the enactment of new or amending legislation; when the merger will be completed and the new entity fully operational; the provisions he will make to ensure the new entity is fully accountable to the Houses of the Oireachtas; the annual cost savings envisaged through the merger; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5338/10]

The proposed merger of the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency is a matter in the first instance for the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

However, as the Deputy may be aware, I intend to initiate legislation to reform the institutional structures for financial regulation early this year and, in this regard, I will bring proposals to Government shortly. Part of the process of reform will involve the transfer of certain statutory functions of the Consumer Director in the Financial Regulator to the National Consumer Agency. These functions relate to the provision of consumer information.

National Asset Management Agency.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

142 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance the month on month percentage transfer of toxic properties to National Asset Management Agency envisioned over the next six months. [5101/10]

NAMA was established to purchase portfolios of impaired loan assets from relevant institutions. The draft NAMA business plan published in October set out a projected loan transfer schedule indicating how loans are expected to transfer to NAMA in tranches.

The initial transfer of the first tranche of loans is now envisaged to commence in February, subject to EU approval. NAMA has confirmed the timeline for the subsequent transfer process is expected to be broadly in line with that set out in the draft business plan, though clearly two months later than set out in the plan. The full process should be complete by the end of the third quarter of 2010.

Banking Sector.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

143 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Finance the role he sees for Anglo Irish Bank in the future of Irish banking. [5098/10]

As the Deputy may be aware, on 30 November last Anglo Irish Bank submitted its restructuring plan to the European Commission. This was a condition for State aid approval of the bank's recapitalisation last year. In line with EU Commission guidelines, the restructuring plan considers all options for the future of the bank.

The submission of the plan marked the beginning of a detailed and comprehensive evaluation process in advance of any final decision by the Commission on the plan. This ongoing process requires extensive consultation and dialogue between the Commission, the Irish authorities and the bank.

The Deputy will understand that in view of the commercial sensitivities involved it would not be appropriate for me to make any comment on any detailed elements of the plan at this stage.

However, as I have stated previously, I am committed to working closely with the Commission and the bank on the assessment of the plan to achieve the best possible outcome for the State from this process.

Liz McManus

Question:

144 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Finance the progress made with the restructuring and consolidation of the banking system here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5317/10]

As independent bodies, it is a matter in the first instance for the financial institutions themselves, subject to regulatory, competition and other relevant requirements, to discuss and agree their strategic arrangements. In that regard, there have been a number of recent developments. For example, Irish Life and Permanent has taken steps to form a new group holding company to allow it maintain maximum flexibility in the group's corporate structure. In addition to this, the two building societies have commenced negotiations, which are ongoing, regarding a possible merger. It can be expected that other financial institutions, as independent commercial institutions, will also keep their strategic options under consideration in the context of a changing financial services market.

Regarding the State's role, its primary consideration continues to be to protect, in the public interest, the financial and economic system of the State. The public support that has so far been provided to individual institutions and to the system as a whole has been provided to achieve that objective. Where capital support has been provided to individual institutions, it has been necessary to submit a restructuring plan for the relevant institution to the EU Commission. So far, submissions have been made for Anglo Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland and AIB. These plans are currently being considered by the Commission and, in due course, the outcome of that process will have to be taken on board by the financial institutions and the State. Depending on final decisions, such an outcome may have some implications for the structure of banking in Ireland. Therefore, pending this, it would not be helpful to be very prescriptive on the future structure of banking in Ireland at this point. However, on a general level, I would indicate that the desirable objective of a future banking system should be one that delivers competitive financial services in a sustainable manner and also one that, if feasible, contains a mix of ownership structures.

Tax Yield.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

145 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the further details on measures announced in budget 2010 with respect to the treatment of non-residents for tax purposes; the revenue he expects these new measures to raise in 2010 and in a full year; the number of non-residents for tax purposes he expects these new measures to affect; if he expects these new measures to bring about behavioural changes or to induce such non-residents to take up Irish domicile for tax purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5330/10]

I assume that the measure to which the Deputy refers is the domicile levy which I announced in budget 2010, full details of which will be announced in the Finance Bill on Thursday. The levy of €200,000 will apply to Irish nationals and domiciled individuals whose worldwide income exceeds €1 million and whose Irish-located property is worth greater than €5 million.

I am informed by Revenue that for the 2007 tax year (the latest year for which figures are available), 7,228 non-resident individuals filed Irish tax returns in respect of their Irish-source income or income derived from working here. The total amount of tax paid by these persons was c €43 million. For the 2006 tax year, 5,993 non-resident individuals filed Irish tax returns in respect of their Irish-source income or income derived from working here. The total amount of tax paid by these persons was €44.5 million.

The equivalent figures for 2008 are not yet available. Returns for 2008 were due by 31 October 2009 or, in the case of returns made on ROS (Revenue Online System), by 16 November 2009. The data capture of information of these returns is currently under way and when completed will facilitate the compilation of statistics for 2008.

Many of the individuals who declare on their tax return that they are non-resident in the State do not have an Irish address. Many of these non-residents are foreign nationals or have a foreign domicile; and many of the non-resident Irish citizens or Irish domiciled individuals included in this figure may have become non-resident for reasons unrelated to taxation, but have retained Irish investments (such as rental property). It is therefore not possible to estimate the number of non-residents that this measure will affect.

The policy objective behind this levy is to ensure that every wealthy Irish domiciled individual who pays little or no income tax, makes a contribution to the State, particularly during these difficult economic times. Behavioural change can occur for many reasons and it would be impossible to predict any such changes which may occur due to the implementation of this levy.

Domicile is a concept of general law which means, broadly speaking, the place an individual regards as her/his permanent home. Changing domicile is not a straightforward matter and I do not know whether individuals will attempt to acquire Irish domicile because of the introduction of the domicile levy.

Question No. 146 answered with Question No. 107.
Question No. 147 answered with Question No. 94.

Banking Sector.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

148 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance his views on the oft quoted assertion that the collapse of the economy was in some way attributable to low interest rates which were dictated by the European Central Bank and that corrective measures at national level were difficult in view of the current economic climate whereby interest rates as dictated by the ECB remain low but there seems to be no difficulty taking corrective measures to restrict borrowing even for vital business, domestic and commercial activity; the steps to be taken to ensure that the banking system here fully accepts its responsibilities in line with the supportive commitments given at cost to the taxpayer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5296/10]

Participation in Monetary Union led to a structural shift whereby interest rates in this economy which had been set by the Central Bank of Ireland were reduced to the lower levels pertaining in the euro area. While lower interest rates are clearly beneficial for an economy in the medium and longer term, clearly nominal interest rates over most of the last decade were lower than they would otherwise have been given the strength of domestic demand at the time.

With regard to the banking system and lending to the real economy, the second Mazars report on credit availability, published in December, confirmed that while some SMEs are facing significant challenges accessing credit, and the sector in general is more conservative in its borrowing, nevertheless new lending is still taking place. However, the proportion refused credit, especially in certain sectors, remains a concern for Government.

The Deputy will be aware that under the NAMA Act I will shortly be issuing guidelines to ensure that SMEs, sole traders and farm enterprises will have recourse to an independent, external review of decisions of credit refusal by the NAMA participating banks. I hope that banks not participating in NAMA or covered by the Government guarantee will also decide to join the system. My aim is to have a simple, effective review process, run by people with experience and credibility. The banks must comply with the recommendations of the appeal process, or explain why they cannot do so.

In addition to dealing with individual cases, the credit review system will examine the credit policies and practices of the banks in respect of SMEs. This will help me to decide what further action might be necessary to secure the flow of credit. I intend to publish the analysis from the review process so that the performance of the banks participating in NAMA will be clear to all.

Mr John Trethowan, an experienced banker with a demonstrated commitment to public and social service, is overseeing the establishment of this credit review system with initial administrative support from Enterprise Ireland. Work has been ongoing since December on the logistical aspects of the review system and it is envisaged that Mr. Trethowan will be in a position to commence reviews shortly.

Price Inflation.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

149 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance if he will make a statement on the 2009 outturn for both consumer pricing index and harmonised index of companies’ prices measures of inflation; his views in respect of inflation for 2010; if, in particular, he is concerned that increased lending margins and an increase in European Central Bank reference rates could cause a spike in inflation as measured by HICP in late 2010 and into 2011; the proposals he has to cushion hard pressed homeowners from the full impact of rising home loan costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5325/10]

Prices as measured by the consumer price Index (CPI) fell by 4.5% in 2009 compared with the previous year while the harmonised European measure (HICP) fell by 1.7% over the same period.

ECB rates are now at historic lows and there is broad consensus that they will rise at some stage. When this happens there will be an impact on the CPI but not on the HICP as the latter excludes mortgage interest costs. Irrespective of changes in policy rates, some increase in market lending rates is occurring — again this will impact on the CPI but not on the HICP. My Department expects a second year of falling prices in 2010, with the CPI falling by 0.8% and the HICP falling by 1.2%. This is in line with consensus too. However we expect low, but positive inflation to resume in 2011 and subsequent years.

I am also aware of the broader impact of interest rate increases. The Stability Programme Update submitted to the European Commission with budget 2010 included an outline of the major risks to the forecasts underpinning the budget. This included a quantification of the impact on the macroeconomic outlook of a change in interest rates.

The Government is conscious of the high value Irish people place on home ownership and has committed under the renewed programme for Government to introduce new measures to protect families having difficulties with their home mortgage payments.

Since then the Government decided that all relevant material on the matter of indebtedness and mortgage arrears in Departments should be brought together in consideration of the debt problems faced by some householders. I approved the setting up of an interdepartmental mortgage arrears review group, chaired by my Department, for the purpose of collecting information and examining options, including initiatives in other jurisdictions, in relation to the matter of mortgage arrears and repossessions. This group has met on a number of occasions. Consultations are being arranged with various interested bodies with expertise in the area of mortgage arrears and related matters. Once this has happened the group will be in a position to consider and bring forward feasible options for dealing with these matters.

This work will build on existing Government supported solutions for dealing with home owners with mortgage arrears including: application of the new code of conduct on mortgage arrears which applies to all mortgage lenders; support from the mortgage interest scheme under the supplementary welfare allowance system which is providing vital support for over 15,000 families with mortgage difficulties; and the provision of advice on debt management through the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS). A separate review under the control of my colleague the Minister for Social and Family Affairs of the mortgage interest scheme is near completion and it is expected that its recommendations will be taken into account by the interdepartmental mortgage arrears review group.

Since my budget speech, I have written to the Financial Regulator requesting that consideration be given to extending the moratorium on mortgage arrears from six months to 12 months for all mortgage lenders. Also in that speech I mentioned that the Government refocused mortgage interest relief on those who bought their homes at the peak of the market, many of whom find themselves in negative equity. Where homeowners entitlement to mortgage interest relief would expire in 2010 or after, they will now continue to receive it up to the end of 2017.

In relation to the position of mortgage holders generally, the Irish Bankers Federation published a statement of intent on 10 November which provides further reassurance to homeowners who find themselves genuinely unable to maintain mortgage repayments on their principal private residence. The statement of intent has been agreed and supported by all IBF members and is a welcome development. It is also welcome that the IBF oversight committee on the implementation of the statement of intent will include representation from MABS.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

150 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Finance the cost of nationalising Anglo Irish bank to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5097/10]

To date in 2010, no funds have been provided to Anglo Irish Bank.

As the Deputy will be aware, €4 billion in capital was provided to Anglo in 2009, to protect the economy from the wider losses that would have occurred in the event of a failure of the bank, to protect the deposit base of the bank, and to prevent the bank becoming a systemic threat to the financial system.

As I stated in my Second Stage speech on the NAMA Bill on 16 September last, it is likely that some institutions will require additional capital in order to absorb the losses arising from the transfer of their impaired assets to NAMA and in order to maintain appropriate levels of capital. I also made clear in the speech to the extent that sufficient capital cannot be raised independently or generated internally that the Government remains committed to providing such institutions with an appropriate level of capital to continue to meet their requirements in a manner consistent with EU State aid rules and the credit needs of the Irish economy.

Based on the information provided by me in mid-September to this House, the scale of Anglo's NAMA-eligible loans are such that they will give rise to a further capital requirement for the State. However, the specific requirement for capital for the bank will only become evident following further progress in the implementation of the NAMA and finalisation of the bank's end-year accounts.

I am currently assessing the scale of any further capital support for Anglo Irish bank in the light of the emerging end year financial position of the bank, and the likely impact of the NAMA transfers.

Capital Expenditure.

Jack Wall

Question:

151 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance the details of the 2009 to 2014 capital expenditure programme envisaged in the latest stability programme update, published alongside budget 2010; if he will be preparing a revised national development plan on the basis of the reduced levels of capital expenditure foreseen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5327/10]

The budget for 2010 gave details of capital expenditure allocations by Department for 2010. At 5% of gross national product, the 2010 allocation of €6.4 billion is proportionally very high in comparison to levels of capital investment across the EU. The budget also includes a commitment of Exchequer capital investment of over €39 billion for the period 2010-2016.

A review of capital expenditure has been undertaken by the Department of Finance at the request of Government. It takes full account of the severe economic challenges now facing us and the change in circumstances since the launch of the NDP in 2007. The review considers capital priorities for the period out to 2016 and how such expenditure could be prioritised to support economic recovery, sustainable job-creation, immediate employment support, and the Smart/Green economy. These recommendations fed into consideration of the capital allocations for 2010.

The Government is committed to publishing its investment priorities in due course.

Cross-Border Trade.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

152 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Finance if an estimate has been carried out by his Department into the amount of VAT and excise duty lost through cross-Border shopping; if he is satisfied that sufficient efforts are being made to minimise this loss; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5048/10]

As the Deputy may be aware, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) published on 4 December 2009 the results of a survey of cross-Border shopping as part of its quarterly national household survey (QNHS) Q2 2009. The results show that 16% of households in the Republic made a shopping trip to Northern Ireland in the 12 months to Q2 2009, with 41% in the Border area and 21% in Dublin so doing. The report estimates that the total expenditure between Q2 2008 and Q2 2009 on cross-Border shopping trips at €435 million. This is generally in line with the estimations published in March 2009 in the report on the implications of cross-Border shopping, which was undertaken on my behalf by the Revenue Commissioners and the CSO. The QNHS also showed that the majority of trips involved purchases of groceries (80%), with alcohol (44%) and clothing and durables (42%) being popular as well.

Based on the data contained in the CSO's QNHS survey on cross-Border shopping, Revenue has estimated that the VAT and excise loss in 2008 due to cross-Border shopping, taking into account seasonal adjustments for the Christmas period, would be in the region of €90 million.

The Irish standard VAT rate was reduced in the budget from 21.5% to 21% with effect from 1 January 2010. The UK standard VAT rate has reverted to 17.5% from 15% with effect from 1 January 2010. This means the standard VAT rate differential between Ireland and the UK has been reduced from 6.5 percentage points to 3.5 percentage points. In addition the excise duty rates on alcohol products were reduced with effect from 10 December 2009 and Sterling has appreciated slightly in recent months. These developments combined should provide less incentive for people to shop outside the State.

However, as previously stated, the main influence on cross-Border shopping and trade remains the significant depreciation of Sterling against the euro since mid 2007.

Banking Sector Recapitalisation.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

153 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance the impact on the general Government balance of the refusal by the European Commission to approve the payment of interest dividend on the preference shares issued in relation to the recapitalisation of the Irish banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5139/10]

With regard to the payment of the next coupon, my Department and the recapitalised banks are in continuing discussions with the Commission in respect of the banks' restructuring plans and this issue is a part of that discussion. In the normal course, if payments were permitted, the impact of the dividends payable on the preference shares in AIB and Bank of Ireland is estimated to improve the General Government Balance by €560 million in a full year.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Liz McManus

Question:

154 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Finance his views on the viability of a banking division at a bank (details supplied) as an independent going concern in view of its unsustainable loans to deposits ratio and dependence on the European Central Bank’s extraordinary liquidity measures and money market funding; if he has a preference for it to remain as an independent credit institution, to acquire a strategic partner from overseas or to merge with one or more of the other domestic credit institutions; if he will comment on recent reports that the bank rejected his proposal that they merge with another bank in the weeks after the bank guarantee was issued; if he envisages such a merger as a viable option. [5316/10]

The Deputy will be aware that the named covered institution is not in receipt of state funding nor has it applied for participation in the NAMA programme. It operates as a commercial financial institution subject to relevant regulatory approval. It has indicated publicly that it is involved with other parties in discussing options for restructuring within the banking sector, which is an ongoing matter.

With effect from 18 January 2010, ILP restructured their organisation by way of a scheme of arrangement with shareholders to form a new group holding company the purpose of which is to maintain maximum flexibility in the group's corporate structure and also to provide financial flexibility.

Tax Code.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

155 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the parameters of the revised arrangements for the artists’ tax exemption as outlined in his recent budgetary statement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47571/09]

No changes were made to the artists exemption scheme in Budget 2010. However, the exempt income of artists is one of the specified reliefs which are subject to the restriction of reliefs measure. I announced significant changes in the Budget to the operation of the restriction from the 2010 tax year.

The adjusted income level at which the restriction will now come into operation was reduced from €250,000 to €125,000 and the level at which the full restriction will apply was also reduced from €500,000 to €400,000. In addition, the effective rate of income tax payable by those subject to the full restriction was increased from 20% to 30%. This income tax liability will be in addition to PRSI, the health levy and the income levy. These changes will affect, inter alia, artists with exempt income, where their adjusted incomes exceed the relevant thresholds by limiting the amount of income that can be exempted from income tax in a particular tax year. Full details of the changes will be included in the forthcoming Finance Bill.

Credit Availability.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

156 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if he will make a statement on the current small and medium enterprises lending environment; the proposals he has planned which would ameliorate this lending environment; if he has discussed with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment the possibility of implementing an SME working capital loan guarantee scheme; the level of funding that is to be allocated to any such scheme for 2010 and 2011. [5322/10]

The second Mazars report on credit availability, published in December, confirmed that while some SMEs are facing significant challenges accessing credit, and the sector in general is more conservative in its borrowing, nevertheless new lending is still taking place. However, the proportion refused credit, especially in certain sectors, remains a concern for Government.

Under the NAMA legislation I will shortly be issuing guidelines to all banks participating in NAMA who lend to SMEs, to ensure that SMEs, sole traders and farm enterprises will have recourse to an independent, external review of decisions of credit refusal by the banks. The purpose of this measure is to ensure that the benefits of NAMA lead to an improved flow of credit to viable businesses. I hope that banks not participating in NAMA or covered by the Government guarantee will also decide to participate. My aim is to have a simple, effective review process, run by people with experience and credibility. The banks must comply with the recommendations of the review process, or explain why they cannot do so.

In addition to dealing with individual cases, the credit review system will examine the credit policies and practices of the banks in respect of SMEs. This will help me to decide what further action might be necessary to secure the flow of credit. I intend to publish the analysis from the review process so that the performance of the banks participating in NAMA will be clear to all.

Mr John Trethowan, an experienced banker with a demonstrated commitment to public and social service, is overseeing the establishment of this credit review system with initial administrative support from Enterprise Ireland. Work has been ongoing since December on the logistical aspects of the review system and it is envisaged that this will be completed shortly.

With regard to the possibility of implementing an SME loan guarantee scheme, arising from the Mazars recommendations, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment undertook to have a detailed study on the proposal carried out. I understand that this report is near completion.

Question No. 157 answered with Question No. 107.

National Asset Management Agency.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

158 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance if he envisions the National Asset Management Agency receiving some form of income from the State for the purposes of the provision of social housing. [5102/10]

NAMA has a commercial remit and generating a return for taxpayer's money is a key objective. However, within this context NAMA could seek to facilitate public bodies seeking the creation of desirable developments that encourage vibrant sustainable communities. I have previously indicated that such bodies could be given first option on NAMA properties for a limited period.

Where it can be shown that providing units for social and affordable housing needs can create a commercial proposition for NAMA, then NAMA may play a role in the provision of social and affordable housing. Indeed I am informed that the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government has had initial contact with NAMA to explore such arrangements. However, responsibility for social housing will remain with the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government and any money provided by the Government for this purpose will be done through the vote for the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Flood Relief.

Denis Naughten

Question:

159 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the steps he is taking to address the River Shannon catchment flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5047/10]

The Office of Public Works (OPW) had planned to, and is commissioning consultants to carry out a Flood Risk Assessment and Management (FRAM) Study of the River Shannon catchment. The study is expected to commence by mid-2010, and a draft long-term Flood Risk Management Plan will be produced by the end of 2014.

The OPW will lead the Shannon FRAM, but will undertake the study in partnership with the Local Authorities, and will involve all stakeholders in assessing the issues, constraints and objectives, and in developing solutions. The recent flooding in the Shannon catchment will provide extensive data, and assist in identifying the areas where the study will focus its attentions. Further public and stakeholder consultations will take place at all stages throughout the study.

Pending the carrying out of the FRAM study, the OPW is working with the relevant Local Authorities to bring forward interim measures to address localised flood problems in the Shannon region. The OPW has recently invited applications from Local Authorities for funding for minor flood mitigation works or studies that the Authorities propose to undertake in 2010, under a scheme initiated last year.

In view of the widespread flooding throughout County Galway in 2009, a Joint Working Group was set up by OPW and Galway County Council to assist in the identification and implementation of minor flood mitigation measures in the County, including the Shannon area. At its first meeting, the Working Group identified an initial list of specific locations that they will focus their attention on. They also agreed to review the findings of a previous report on flooding in South Galway in light of the recent flooding there.

My Office will continue to work with the Local Authorities with a view to ensuring that viable proposals for minor flood mitigation works in the Shannon catchment will be progressed as quickly as possible, subject to overall availability of resources.

Question No. 160 answered with Question No. 105.

Public Sector Remuneration.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

161 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009 will impact on any employees, such as employees at Health Service Executive grant funded agencies, who were not effected by the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No.1) Act 2009, other than those whose incomes fall below the threshold set out in the latter; if employees in the voluntary and charity sector were explicitly excluded from being affected by this Act; if he will provide a guarantee to public servants that their income will not be further reduced during 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5323/10]

The definition of a public servant in the legislation governing the pension levy and the pay reductions is the same. Therefore, in general the reductions in pay under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009 will apply to employees who are paying the pension related deduction. However, there are a small number of situations where the pay reductions could apply to a public servant who was not subject to the pensions levy. The pay reductions apply to employees of public service bodies, whether or not the public servant is a member of a public service pension scheme or receives a payment in lieu. Furthermore, the income exemption threshold that applies to the pensions levy does not apply to the pay reductions.

Sections 38 and 39 of the Health Act 2004 apply to HSE service providers and other bodies in receipt of funding assistance from the HSE. Organisations that are directly funded by the HSE under Section 38 of the 2004 Act are public service bodies, as defined in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 which provided for the pension levy deduction and the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009, which provided for the reduction in public service pay. Employees in these bodies have access to public service pension schemes or, in a small number of cases, the state funds an employer contribution to a private pension scheme. The pension levy and the reduction in salary apply to all these employees. Accordingly, the pay reduction legislation applies to all members of the Nominated Health Agencies Superannuation Scheme.

Under Section 39 of the 2004 Act, the HSE provides a grant towards the overall costs of running certain organisations. Neither the pension levy nor the reduction in salary applies to such employees. I do not consider it appropriate to speculate on future measures that may impact on public servants' income.

Financial Services Regulation.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

162 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance his views on the creation of a European systemic risk board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46848/09]

The legislative proposal to create a European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) is designed to put a regime in place to monitor and assess risks to the stability of the financial system as a whole (what is called "macro-prudential supervision"). This proposal was one of the key recommendations contained in the Report of the High Level Group on Financial Supervision in the EU, which was published on the 25th of February 2009 — the so-called "de Larosière Report". The ESRB will provide early warning of systemic risks that may be building up in the financial system and, where necessary, issue recommendations for action to deal with these risks.

The creation of the ESRB is part of a suite of measures, which also includes the establishment of three new European Supervisory Authorities for the banking, investment services and insurance and pensions sectors. These new Authorities will play a key role in ensuring that there is better co-ordination between supervisors in situations where a financial institution might be operating on a cross-border basis within the EU. They will also be required to ensure that EU financial services legislation is being implemented in a more uniform manner across Member States and, in that regard, will develop a single rule-book to ensure a more harmonised approach by supervisors.

The establishment of the ESRB will address what has been identified as a major priority in the strengthening of financial regulation internationally by ensuring that there is a strong focus on the stability of the overall financial system alongside closely monitoring the soundness of individual financial institutions. The creation of the ESRB is in line with several international initiatives that have been put in place for this purpose, including the establishment of the Financial Stability Board. The heads of the European Central Bank, national central banks, the proposed new European Supervisory Authorities, as well as national regulatory bodies will participate in the European Systemic Risk Board.

To achieve its role the ESRB will have the power to issue non-binding recommendations and warnings to Member States (including the national supervisors) and to the European Supervisory Authorities, the response to which will be closely scrutinised by a ‘comply or explain' mechanism. I have been a very strong supporter of these proposed reforms and I particularly welcome the closer involvement of the European Central Bank, especially with regard to monitoring possible instances of systemic risk.

The Deputy should be aware that these proposals have now been examined by three Joint Oireachtas Committees — the Joint Committee on European Affairs, the Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service and the Joint Committee on European Scrutiny. A report of the Joint Committee on European Scrutiny was discussed in the Dáil on 28 January last. This examination by the Oireachtas Committees has helped contribute to Ireland's participation in the negotiations carried out at Council level.

Unemployment Levels.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

163 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Taoiseach the number of persons unemployed on 1 January to 31 December 2009 and 1 January to 31 January 2010 in each district office (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5503/10]

Paul Kehoe

Question:

164 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Taoiseach the number of persons aged under 25 years unemployed each month from January 2009 to 31 January 2010 for each district social welfare office for counties (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5505/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 163 and 164 together.

The Live Register series gives a monthly breakdown of the number of people claiming Jobseekers Benefit, Jobseekers Allowance and other registrants as registered with the Department of Social and Family Affairs. Figures are published for each county and local social welfare office.

The following table contains monthly Live Register information for those aged under 25 and total persons in each local social welfare office in Counties Laois, Limerick and Wexford, from January to December 2009 inclusive. The December 2009 figures are the latest data available and were published on 12th January 2010. The January 2010 county and local office data are due to be published on 5th February 2010.

It should be noted that the Live Register is not a definitive measure of unemployment as it includes part-time workers, and seasonal and casual workers entitled to Jobseekers Benefit or Allowance.

Total persons and persons under 25 on the Live Register in Counties Laoighis, Limerick and Wexford by Local Office, January-December 2009

Month1

Total Persons Under 25

Total Persons

Laoighis County

Jan-09

1,453

6,142

Feb-09

1,548

6,569

Mar-09

1,606

6,750

Apr-09

1,648

7,000

May-09

1,710

7,181

Jun-09

1,777

7,459

Jul-09

1,824

7,689

Aug-09

1,808

7,741

Sep-09

1,750

7,562

Oct-09

1,671

7,455

Nov-09

1,658

7,504

Dec-09

1,663

7,679

Portarlington

Jan-09

601

2,368

Feb-09

625

2,576

Mar-09

660

2,688

Apr-09

693

2,800

May-09

722

2,882

Jun-09

748

2,990

Jul-09

773

3,100

Aug-09

744

3,103

Sep-09

723

3,035

Oct-09

688

2,972

Nov-09

659

3,020

Dec-09

682

3,099

Portlaoise

Jan-09

648

2,941

Feb-09

695

3,099

Mar-09

706

3,130

Apr-09

703

3,226

May-09

730

3,295

Jun-09

758

3,418

Jul-09

782

3,503

Aug-09

794

3,526

Sep-09

757

3,385

Oct-09

721

3,362

Nov-09

744

3,370

Dec-09

734

3,461

Rathdowney

Jan-09

204

833

Feb-09

228

894

Mar-09

240

932

Apr-09

252

974

May-09

258

1,004

Jun-09

271

1,051

Jul-09

269

1,086

Aug-09

270

1,112

Sep-09

270

1,142

Oct-09

262

1,121

Nov-09

255

1,114

Dec-09

247

1,119

Limerick County

Jan-09

3,632

15,786

Feb-09

3,910

17,223

Mar-09

4,076

18,043

Apr-09

4,072

18,504

May-09

4,344

19,810

Jun-09

4,738

21,000

Jul-09

4,856

21,791

Aug-09

4,924

22,159

Sep-09

4,616

21,188

Oct-09

4,349

20,326

Nov-09

4,313

20,700

Dec-09

4,329

21,375

Kilmallock

Jan-09

469

1,956

Feb-09

486

2,130

Mar-09

526

2,262

Apr-09

533

2,291

May-09

568

2,336

Jun-09

619

2,487

Jul-09

654

2,607

Aug-09

658

2,675

Sep-09

586

2,534

Oct-09

548

2,577

Nov-09

553

2,628

Dec-09

591

2,762

Limerick City

Jan-09

2,587

11,259

Feb-09

2,816

12,228

Mar-09

2,906

12,691

Apr-09

2,909

13,200

May-09

3,111

14,145

Jun-09

3,386

15,037

Jul-09

3,466

15,638

Aug-09

3,498

15,877

Sep-09

3,312

15,208

Oct-09

3,077

14,403

Nov-09

3,045

14,715

Dec-09

2,997

15,092

Newcastle West

Jan-09

576

2,571

Feb-09

608

2,865

Mar-09

644

3,090

Apr-09

630

3,013

May-09

665

3,329

Jun-09

733

3,476

Jul-09

736

3,546

Aug-09

768

3,607

Sep-09

718

3,446

Oct-09

724

3,346

Nov-09

715

3,357

Dec-09

741

3,521

Wexford County

Jan-09

3,242

14,511

Feb-09

3,439

15,293

Mar-09

3,576

15,790

Apr-09

3,557

16,009

May-09

3,787

16,519

Jun-09

4,118

17,410

Jul-09

4,121

17,817

Aug-09

4,117

17,951

Sep-09

3,955

17,465

Oct-09

3,750

17,431

Nov-09

3,758

17,783

Dec-09

3,800

18,156

Enniscorthy

Jan-09

862

3,625

Feb-09

912

3,857

Mar-09

933

3,919

Apr-09

935

4,025

May-09

975

4,122

Jun-09

1,094

4,325

Jul-09

1,113

4,368

Aug-09

1,108

4,401

Sep-09

1,046

4,242

Oct-09

1,009

4,213

Nov-09

1,015

4,291

Dec-09

1,005

4,333

Gorey

Jan-09

591

2,966

Feb-09

631

3,192

Mar-09

669

3,329

Apr-09

668

3,399

May-09

714

3,461

Jun-09

768

3,637

Jul-09

753

3,773

Aug-09

749

3,767

Sep-09

738

3,712

Oct-09

690

3,661

Nov-09

712

3,772

Dec-09

712

3,847

New Ross

Jan-09

552

2,501

Feb-09

606

2,671

Mar-09

625

2,772

Apr-09

631

2,859

May-09

687

2,978

Jun-09

751

3,186

Jul-09

750

3,300

Aug-09

781

3,365

Sep-09

757

3,276

Oct-09

685

3,243

Nov-09

675

3,279

Dec-09

681

3,347

Wexford

Jan-09

1,237

5,419

Feb-09

1,290

5,573

Mar-09

1,349

5,770

Apr-09

1,323

5,726

May-09

1,411

5,958

Jun-09

1,505

6,262

Jul-09

1,505

6,376

Aug-09

1,479

6,418

Sep-09

1,414

6,235

Oct-09

1,366

6,314

Nov-09

1,356

6,441

Dec-09

1,402

6,629

1 State figures for January to September 2009 have been revised but revisions have not yet been applied to data contained in this table.

Decentralisation Programme.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

165 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Taoiseach if she will state, in view of the decentralisation programme announced in December 2003, the properties rented or acquired as a consequence of the decentralisation programme in respect of her Department and of every State body for which it is responsible; the date of commencement of the rental or date of purchase of each property; the cost of each property purchased or the annual rental of each property rented; the number of staff transferred into each property as of 1 January of each year from the commencement of the rental or the date of the acquisition of each property in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5642/10]

There are no proposals to decentralise my Department or any of the State bodies under its aegis and accordingly the information sought regarding rental or purchase of properties for the purpose of decentralisation does not apply.

Appointments to State Boards.

George Lee

Question:

166 Deputy George Lee asked the Taoiseach the names addresses of all nominees to bodies or agencies under the remit of his Department that were appointed since 26 June 1997, detailing by whom they were appointed; when they were appointed; the amount paid by the Exchequer to each nominee each year from 1997 to 2009 broken down into income, expenses, overtime and any other relevant category; the money paid by his Department each year from 1997 to 2009 to cover expenses or incidentals related to the nominees, such as accommodation, travel and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5667/10]

The information requested by the Deputy will require a considerable amount of time and resources to compile. I have requested my officials to supply a response directly to you as soon as possible.

Economic Competitiveness.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

167 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action she has taken or proposes to take to bring competitiveness in the manufacturing, commercial and service sectors into a more competitive position in respect of adjoining or EU jurisdictions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5554/10]

Competitiveness is a multi-stranded issue. As well as consumer prices, labour and other business costs, productivity-enhancing investment in key areas such as infrastructure is vital. Ireland has consistently been regarded amongst the most competitive economies in the world for supporting enterprise. Reports such as the ‘IBM Global Location Trends Annual Report 2009', published in October of last year, ranked Ireland 1st for attracting FDI on a per capita basis. They listed our key strengths in services and R&D as the reason for topping the list. Similarly, the World Bank's ‘Ease of Doing Business 2010' ranks Ireland 7th out of 181 countries, unchanged from a year previously. Last week Ireland was ranked the third most globalised nation, according to an index published by Ernst & Young at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Macroeconomic forecasts included in December's Budget indicate that prices will continue to fall in 2010. Labour costs have fallen in both the public and private sectors in recent months. In its recent report, "Ireland's Competitiveness Challenge", the National Competitiveness Council noted that "quarterly unit labour cost data from the OECD for Q2 2009 suggests that Ireland's relative cost competitiveness improved driven by the industrial sector". In recognition of these trends, the latest European Commission forecasts for Unit Labour Costs show Ireland's competitiveness in this area is expected to improve considerably relative to the European average over the forecast period. Energy costs have also fallen over the past year. The drop in industrial energy prices in Ireland in the twelve-month period to June 2009 was the third largest in the EU. Elsewhere, 22 out of 27 EU countries experienced increases on industrial energy prices over the same period. In fact, the rate of decline in gas prices for industrial users fell by almost 16%, double the European average. A report by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) published on January 24th, showed that gas prices are now 7 per cent to 10 per cent below the EU average in the two main consumption bands for business.

These two elements will reduce the burden on enterprise in the coming year and improve competitiveness. Ireland continues to invest heavily in infrastructure, which is recognised as a key pillar in sustaining and improving competitiveness. At 5% of Gross National Product, the 2010 allocation of €6.4 billion is proportionally very high in comparison to levels of capital investment across the EU.

In relation to other EU Member States, Ireland's competitive position is improving. Releases from Eurostat (the EU's statistical office) show that price levels (HICP) in Ireland are improving relative to the European average. Similarly, EU Commission macroeconomic forecasts show that key competitiveness indicators such as Unit Labour Costs see Ireland's competitiveness improving in the medium-term.

FÁS Training Programmes.

John O'Mahony

Question:

168 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the rules and regulations in relation to persons in receipt of jobseeker’s benefit taking up a FÁS course; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5400/10]

Clients access FÁS training programmes through FÁS Employment Services offices and following a guidance interview with an Employment Services Officer. People who are in receipt of the Jobseeker's Benefit (JB) receive a FÁS training allowance equivalent to the rate payable under JB.

FÁS has considerably expanded its range of training programmes and the number of places available through the introduction of a number of short-term courses and an increased provision of online, blended and evening programmes. Unemployed people from the following cohorts are accorded priority access:

People with low skills or education levels, i.e. unemployed people who do not have a Leaving Certificate qualification or equivalent;

People who are on the Live Register for long periods (over one year) — this includes people who are in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance/Benefit for one year or longer;

People who are under 35 years of age, with at least 30% of training places reserved for those aged under 25 years;

People who were previously employed in sectors that have been most affected by restructuring and where recovery to near previous levels is not in prospect in the short to medium term (mainly construction, manufacturing and wholesale/retail trade).

John O'Mahony

Question:

169 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the rules and regulations in relation to persons in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance taking up a FÁS course; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5401/10]

Clients access FÁS training programmes through FÁS Employment Services offices and following a guidance interview with an Employment Services Officer. People who are in receipt of the Jobseeker's Allowance (JA) receive a FÁS training allowance equivalent to the full rate payable under JA.

FÁS has considerably expanded its range of training programmes and the number of places available through the introduction of a number of short-term courses and an increased provision of online, blended and evening programmes. Unemployed people from the following cohorts are accorded priority access:

People with low skills or education levels, i.e. unemployed people who do not have a Leaving Certificate qualification or equivalent;

People who are on the Live Register for long periods (over one year) — this includes people who are in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance/Benefit for one year or longer;

People who are under 35 years of age, with at least 30% of training places reserved for those aged under 25 years;

People who were previously employed in sectors that have been most affected by restructuring and where recovery to near previous levels is not in prospect in the short to medium term (mainly construction, manufacturing and wholesale/retail trade).

Róisín Shortall

Question:

170 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the rate of payment for an adult on a FÁS training course when that person has an underlying entitlement to a reduced rate of jobseeker’s allowance; and the way this has changed since 2009. [5420/10]

FÁS allowances are payable to qualifying participants in full even if the social welfare payable prior to the commencement of the training course has been at a reduced rate. There has been no change in this procedure since 2009.

Redundancy Payments.

Thomas Byrne

Question:

171 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the redundancy payment a person (details supplied) in County Meath will be entitled to since they were made redundant in April 2009. [5432/10]

My Department administers the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) in relation to redundancy matters on behalf of the Department of Social and Family Affairs. There are two types of payment made from the SIF — rebates to those employers who have paid statutory redundancy to eligible employees, and statutory lump sums to employees whose employers are insolvent and/or in receivership/liquidation.

I can confirm that my Department received a lump sum claim on 29 April, 2009 in respect of this individual. I understand that an enquiry raised by my Department in relation to this claim has now been resolved and that payment is expected to issue to the individual within the next two weeks.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

172 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of persons that have registered on-line for FÁS training courses in the past 12 months; the average length of time it takes to process an on-line application; the age profile of applicants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5455/10]

At present FÁS only processes online applications for courses for fee paying clients. These are normally employed individuals. In the last 12 months a total of 632 participants have registered on line. Of these, a total of 616 stated their date of birth on the application. Taken together these applications give the average age of participants of 34.8 years. Accounts are created automatically upon validation of credit card payment and the processing of online applications takes a maximum of 5 minutes.

Pat Breen

Question:

173 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to address the situation that many FÁS apprentices find themselves in having completed their formal qualifications. [5466/10]

FÁS has already put in place the following measures to assist redundant apprentices who have completed their formal off-the-job training, but require on-the-job work experience in order to complete their apprenticeships:

1. In 2009, FÁS introduced a temporary Employer Based Redundant Apprentice Rotation Scheme for apprentices made redundant in the Construction Industry. Over 460 redundant apprentices completed Phase 3, 5 and 7 on-the-job training and assessments with employers under this Scheme in 2009. A new scheme to assist redundant apprentices to complete the on-the-job training of their apprenticeship with a FÁS approved employer is currently under discussion between FÁS and my Department.

2. The ESB Networks have agreed a programme with FÁS to provide on-the-job training with ESB Networks to eligible redundant apprentices at Phases 5 and 7 of their apprenticeship. This programme will provide up to 400 places over a period of 18 months and is funded by ESB Networks. To date, 147 redundant apprentices have completed training, 92 are currently in training, and further placements will take place during 2010.

3. FÁS and the Institutes of Technology have agreed the PP5 programme for redundant apprentices who have successfully completed Phases 1 — 4 of their apprenticeship and where an on or off-the-job training opportunity is not currently available. The programme has both a Construction Stream and an Engineering Stream, with a number of core skills modules related to apprenticeship and a number of electives in specific skills. The programme provides apprentices with a Level 5 FETAC award and allows for access and transfer of credits to other post-apprenticeship programmes. The Institutes of Technology are currently issuing invitations to eligible redundant apprentices to participate in the programme commencing late January 2010.

4. FÁS has also developed Phase 7-equivalent assessments for redundant apprentices at the final phase of their apprenticeship in the trades of Carpentry & Joinery, Electrical, Plumbing, Brick & Stonelaying and Plastering. Eligible redundant apprentices will be scheduled by FÁS to these assessment events which will commence in February 2010.

5. Redundant apprentices registered for 4 years who have successfully completed all Phases 1-7 of their apprenticeship, but have not yet completed the required 4 years in employment as an apprentice in the specified trade, will be contacted by FÁS to submit a portfolio of evidence under Recognition of Prior Learning for consideration by the National Apprenticeship Advisory Sub-committee for the award of the Advanced Craft Certificate.

6. Redundant apprentices may also avail of existing trade-related specific skills training courses to enhance their employable skills. They may also avail of the range of trade-related evening courses available in FÁS Training Centres.

In addition, FÁS has put in place an interim measure whereby apprentices who are made redundant may progress to the next off-the-job training phase of their apprenticeship, in line with current scheduling criteria. In 2009, over 2,000 redundant apprentices were provided with off-the-job training and 1,041 redundant apprentices commenced off-the-job training in January 2010.

All of these various measures will support around 4,000 redundant apprentices.

Job Initiative Programme.

Pat Breen

Question:

174 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason salaries have been linked to the national wage agreement for participants in job initiative schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5490/10]

Job Initiative wages are not linked to any national wage agreement, however, they are linked to the Community Employment rates of pay, which are in turn linked to Social Welfare rates (with an additional participation top-up payment). Job Initiative scheme participant wages are double that of the Community Employment wages because JI participants are full-time (39 hours per week) whereas CE participants are part-time (average 19.5 hours per week).

As part of Budget 2010 a number of savings were identified in the area of training allowances that are linked to Social Welfare payments and certain FÁS Allowances that are provided in addition to the core training allowances. The FÁS training allowance for Community Employment and Job Initiative participants has been reduced from €24.40 and €48.80 per week to €20 and €40 per week respectively. These savings will allow for increased activation of the unemployed including an additional 500 CE places bringing the total number of places available to 23,300.

The following table contains details of JI allowances for the years 2009 and 2010.

JI Allowance

Social Welfare element

Training bonus element

2009

€454.70

€408.60

€48.80

2010

€432.00

€392.00

€40.00

Reduction

5.6%

4.1%

18.0%

Job Creation.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

175 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if special attention will be given to the job creation needs of Tallaght, Dublin 24, where there has been an increase in unemployment figures over the past year; her views on the fact that Tallaght has a large youth population and has also lost important jobs over the past 12 months; the contacts she has made in that regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5619/10]

FÁS is helping unemployed people in Tallaght, to consider their options and develop a meaningful career plan to take account of the opportunities in the current labour market and prepare themselves for the economic upturn when it comes. Important linkages are being maintained with employers in the Tallaght area to ensure that FÁS receives the maximum number of vacancies.

FÁS has reviewed many of its courses and is, consequently, providing additional training courses in its Training Centres to help people acquire new skills and be better equipped for the challenges that lie ahead. Where the training needs of the client cannot be met by FÁS directly or any other state provider, within a reasonable timeframe or at a location convenient to the jobseeker, then the training may be funded under the Technical Employment Support Grant.

In 2009 FÁS Employment Services also hosted a pilot programme to support the many Managers and Executives in Tallaght who have been made redundant. This Executive Networking and Support Programme was very successful with a 45% placement rate. FÁS Employment Services is also promoting the Work Placement Programme in the area, with many employers availing of this programme. The Work Placement Programme assists unemployed people, including graduates, to gain valuable work experience and to establish or maintain links to the labour market in order to avail of new job opportunities when they arise.

While activation measures will assist individuals in securing employment and enhancing their skills, the key to addressing our unemployment problem is the creation of more jobs. My Department remains strongly focused on supporting and promoting enterprise development to create new jobs. In this regard the Enterprise Development Agencies of my Department, including IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, are working to ensure that we continue to grow the economy and jobs even in the current challenging climate.

Focusing on the youth population of Tallaght and their future education and employment opportunities, Enterprise Ireland works closely with the Institute of Technology. In June 2001 approved funding of €2.54m towards a new Campus Innovation Centre. The College has particular strengths in Mechanical and Electronic Engineering, Pharmaceuticals and Computing. In addition a Pharma Centre, costing in excess of €4m has been constructed on the campus. This is a key piece of infrastructure, which will feed into the major Biotechnology Developments of Pfizer Inc, formerly Wyeth, in Grange Castle Business Park.

Grange Castle Business Park, which lies adjacent to Clondalkin, is strategically located in the evolving technology crescent situated along the M50 orbital motorway. This Park is being developed by South Dublin County Council as a world class business park. Pfizer Inc is located there and has the world's largest integrated biotechnology facility on the site. It is envisaged that Grange Castle Business Park will attract a cluster of pharmaceutical and biotechnology developments at the leading edge of technology. With a clustering of IT projects taking place at the National Digital Park, the South Dublin could become home to a number of projects at the top end of the value chain, providing employment for highly trained and highly qualified workers. TAKEDA, a pharmaceutical company from Japan, has also located there and employs c.70 people as has Microsoft and Cuisine de France. Planning Permission has also been approved for an Advance Integrated Circuit Manufacturing and Research facility at Grange Castle — this is the largest planning application to date in the State. This will be an invaluable tool for the future marketing of Grange Castle as a potential source of high quality and large scale employment for the population of the environs, including Tallaght.

A Centre of Excellence in Applied Research — Micro Sensors for Clinical Analysis has also been established in the Institute of Technology. This project involves development and fabrication of micro sensor devices for clinical analysis at ‘point-of-care'. This applied research base will act as a technological resource for local and national industry and will develop high-level multi-disciplinary research collaboration between ITT Dublin and the medical device/diagnostic industry. The project, which will run from 2006 to 2011, was approved €1,225,000 in support under the EI Applied Research Enhancement Programme.

The development of the Grangecastle Business Park by the Council and IDA Ireland, combined with the development of the City West Business Park (which includes the National Digital Park) will ensure that this area of South Dublin is an attractive location for high technology state of the art projects, both overseas and indigenous. IDA, in conjunction with South Dublin County Council, continues to market the County to new and existing client companies in the future. Tallaght and South County Dublin are well equipped to compete with other areas for potential foreign direct investment. There are superb infrastructural facilities at Citywest and Grange Castle and educational opportunities at the Institute of Technology tailored to meet future employment opportunities in the area. This combination of factors provides high quality, future employment opportunities for a vibrant young population.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Michael Kennedy

Question:

176 Deputy Michael Kennedy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to the fact that redundant apprentices from a company (details supplied) are still awaiting further communication from FÁS in relation to the completion of their apprenticeships; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5623/10]

SR Technics redundant apprentices can be categorised into 2 distinct groups of Aircraft Mechanics (Groups 1 & 2) and one group of Mechanical Automation & Maintenance Fitters.

23 redundant apprentice aircraft mechanics (Group 1) are scheduled to commence Phase 6 off-the-job training in Dublin Institute of Technology (D.I.T.) on 22 February 2010. 26 redundant apprentice aircraft mechanics (Group 2) completed a special Phase 4 off-the-job training programme in D.I.T. in September 2009. This group of redundant apprentices will be provided with Phase 6 training commencing in February 2011. The provision of on-the-job training opportunities for redundant Aircraft Mechanics Apprentices is currently under discussion between my Department and FÁS.

Of the 6 redundant apprentice Mechanical Automation & Maintenance fitters:

1 apprentice has secured employment and is currently on Phase 4 off-the-job training.

2 apprentices are currently on Phase 4 off-the-job training.

1 apprentice has been scheduled to do Phase 4 off-the-job training in April 2010.

1 apprentice completed Phase 6 off-the-job training in December 2009.

1 apprentice is currently referred and is required to re-sit outstanding assessments before he can progress in his apprenticeship.

All apprentices are instructed to keep in regular contact with their FÁS Training Advisor and to keep FÁS informed of all details relating to his/her apprenticeship.

Community Employment Schemes.

George Lee

Question:

177 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the percentage of the labour market activation programme funding that is absorbed by community employment schemes; the number of unemployed persons catered for by community unemployment schemes; the way the rest of the labour market activation programme funding is allocated; the number of unemployed persons catered for by the rest of the labour market allocation programme funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5626/10]

In 2009 the budget allocated to the Community Employment Scheme was €380.6 million. This represents 51% of the 2009 FÁS budget of €742.4 million for training and work experience for the unemployed. Figures for the end of 2009 show that a total of 30,309 people were either participating in or had completed their Community Employment placement.

By the end of 2009, excluding Community Employment, a total of 107,731 people were either participating in or had completed FÁS training and work experience programmes for the unemployed. Finalised 2009 outturn figures for FÁS programmes are not yet available and will be completed in the near future.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Michael Ring

Question:

178 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a person (details supplied) in County Mayo can remain on their FÁS scheme for an extended period. [5627/10]

As Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment I do not have a role in the administration of individual cases. The administration of individual cases is a day-to-day matter for FÁS as part of its responsibility under the Labour Services Act 1987.

I have requested that FÁS contact the Deputy directly to outline the full range of supports which might be made available to assist the individuals concerned.

Michael Ring

Question:

179 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a person (details supplied) in County Mayo can remain on their FÁS scheme for an extended period. [5628/10]

As Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment I do not have a role in the administration of individual cases. The administration of individual cases is a day-to-day matter for FÁS as part of its responsibility under the Labour Services Act 1987.

I have requested that FAS contact the Deputy directly to outline the full range of supports which might be made available to assist the individuals concerned.

Decentralisation Programme.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

180 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will state, in view of the decentralisation programme announced in December 2003, the properties rented or acquired as a consequence of the decentralisation programme in respect of his Department and of every State body for which it is responsible; the date of commencement of the rental or date of purchase of each property; the cost of each property purchased or the annual rental of each property rented; the number of staff transferred into each property as of 1 January of each year from the commencement of the rental or the date of the acquisition of each property in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5635/10]

It has not been possible to compile the information requested by the Deputy in the time available to me to answer the question. I will communicate again with the Deputy as soon as the exercise is complete.

Appointments to State Boards.

George Lee

Question:

181 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the names addresses of all nominees to bodies or agencies under the remit of her Department that were appointed since 26 June 1997, detailing by whom they were appointed; when they were appointed; the amount paid by the Exchequer to each nominee each year from 1997 to 2009 broken down into income, expenses, overtime and any other relevant category; the money paid by her Department each year from 1997 to 2009 to cover expenses or incidentals related to the nominees, such as accommodation, travel and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5660/10]

In the time available it has not been possible to provide the information requested. I will revert to the Deputy at a later date.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Richard Bruton

Question:

182 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if he has met with the board of Anglo Irish Bank regarding the options for the development of the bank. [5684/10]

As the Deputy may be aware, on 30 November last Anglo Irish Bank submitted its Restructuring Plan to the European Commission. This was a condition for State aid approval of the bank's recapitalisation in 2009. The Restructuring Plan considers all options for the future of the bank.

The submission of the plan marked the beginning of a detailed and comprehensive evaluation process in advance of any final decision by the Commission on the plan. This ongoing process requires extensive consultation and dialogue between the Commission, the Irish authorities and the bank.

As I have stated previously, I am committed to working closely with the Commission and the bank on the assessment of the plan to achieve the best possible outcome for the State from this process. In this regard, I am in contact both directly and through my officials, with the board of Anglo Irish Bank.

Departmental Correspondence.

Pat Breen

Question:

183 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 103 of 9 July 2008, the position regarding an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5395/10]

I understand from the Chief State Solicitor's office that advertising for next of kin has been undertaken. The Chief State Solicitor is in the process of applying to the High Court this week for a grant of Letters of Administration in this case. Following this, the applicant's case for a waiver of the State's interest in the estate under Section 73 of the Succession Act, 1965 will be considered by the Chief State Solicitor and by the Attorney General who will make a recomendation to me in the matter.

Tax Code.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

184 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance her estimate of the added costs of the mortgage interest relief scheme to the Exchequer for every general and average 1% rise in interest rates. [5419/10]

The increased cost to the Exchequer of mortgage interest tax relief arising from an increase in interest rates would depend on a variety of factors, including the numbers of mortgages affected, the rate of relief applying to those mortgages and the extent to which additional relief would arise within the current ceilings. Accordingly, it is not possible to provide an accurate estimate of the potential cost.

The cost to the Exchequer of mortgage interest relief by way of tax relief at source for 2009 is estimated to be in the region of €485 million.

Public Sector Pay.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

185 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if he has utilised his powers under Section 6 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No.2) Act 2009; if so, the details of his utilisation of those powers; the number of public servants in this class; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5421/10]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

186 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if any individual, informal group, trade union or staff association has approached him seeking that he utilise his powers under Section 6 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009; if so, the details of this representation; his views in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5422/10]

Mary Upton

Question:

187 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance the way in which pay cuts will affect a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5436/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 185 to 187, inclusive, together.

I refer to my reply to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 4578/10, 5095/10 and 5137/10 of 2 February 2010.

Tax Code.

Richard Bruton

Question:

188 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance his views on providing tax relief at 33% on buying a bicycle under his tax initiative which would be equal for all taxpayers instead of providing relief at a person's marginal tax rate. [5469/10]

All tax reliefs and incentives are reviewed regularly, in line with the annual Budget and Finance Bill process, and I will bear the Deputy's suggestion in mind in the context of such reviews. I note, however, that the Report of the Commission on Taxation, did not recommend any change to the scheme.

Pension Provisions.

George Lee

Question:

189 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Finance if he will exclude researcher officers at universities from the pension levy, in view of the fact that researchers rarely have full-time employment, are unlikely to ever benefit from a pension scheme, their employment is made possible by research funding from various bodies and they have no job security; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5483/10]

Public servants who are members of public service pension schemes are liable to pay the pension-related deduction legislated for in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009. On this basis, third-level researchers on fixed-term and temporary contracts must pay the deduction, since they are members of the relevant occupational pension schemes. Distinctions between public servants on the basis of whether they are permanent or temporary, and if temporary what contract duration applies, are irrelevant in so far as liability to pay the deduction is concerned.

Section 6 of the Act provides for a refund of the deduction in circumstances where the departing employee has accrued no benefits under any public service pension scheme, has not received a payment in lieu of scheme membership and has not transferred the service to another public service pension scheme. This provision should be of benefit to third-level researchers on short-term non-renewable contracts who have no prior public service employment history and who accrue no pension benefit at the expiry of their contract due to insufficient service.

Section 8 of the Act grants the Minister for Finance a limited special discretion to exempt groups of public servants from payment of the deduction. Specifically, where he is satisfied that due to exceptional circumstances, a particular class or group of public servants are materially distinguished from other classes or groups who are subject to the deduction, then the Minister may fully or partly exempt this group from paying some or all of the deduction, if he believes it would be fair and equitable to do so. A request for such an exemption has been received from a group of research workers and is under examination in my Department. When that examination is completed, I will be in a position to consider whether an exemption should be granted to that group.

Tax Code.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

190 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance the tax implications for a person who wants to swap land with a neighbouring person; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5531/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a direct swap of land, in the circumstances outlined, would have implications for a number of taxes. I will look at each in turn.

Capital Gains Tax

The exchange of land is a chargeable occasion for both parties involved. Where the parties are connected or the bargain is not at arm's length the disposal proceeds are taken as the market value, at the date of exchange, of the land disposed of. Otherwise the disposal proceeds are the market value of the land received, also at the date of exchange.

The capital gains tax payable is calculated by reference to the difference between the disposal proceeds and the cost of acquisition of the land after allowable adjustments for inflation (prior to 2003) and the costs of acquisition and disposal. The first €1,270 of an individual's annual gains is exempt. The balance is chargeable to capital gains tax at 25%.

The same CGT rules apply to a disposal by way of exchange as to a disposal for money.

If the land had been the subject of a rezoning on or after 30 October 2009, then any gain on disposal attributable to such rezoning would be chargeable at a rate of 80%.

Relief from capital gains tax is available where an individual, aged 55 years or over, disposes of all or part of his/her "qualifying assets". For the purposes of this relief "qualifying assets" include land which have been owned by the individual for a period of not less than 10 years ending on the date of the disposal and have been used by the individual for the purposes of farming throughout the 10-year period ending with the disposal.

Capital Acquisitions Tax

Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT) includes both gift and inheritance tax. If a person swaps land with a neighbouring person and the swapped lands are of equal value, then neither party has made a gift to the other party and, accordingly, CAT does not arise.

If the swapped lands, however, were not of equal value, the person receiving the more valuable lands may be liable to CAT on the excess value he or she is receiving. For example, if the lands received were valued at €100,000 and the lands given away were valued at €40,000, then gift tax would be payable by the person receiving the more valuable lands on the excess of the value being received of €60,000.

The person receiving the gift would be entitled to their normal CAT tax-free Group Threshold based on their relationship to the person making the gift. There are three tax-free Group Thresholds as follows:

Group A: €414,799 — applies where the beneficiary is a child (including adopted child, step-child and certain foster children) or minor child of a deceased child of the person making the gift or inheritance.

Group B: €41,481 — applies where the beneficiary is a brother, sister, nephew, niece, or lineal ancestor or lineal descendant of the person making the gift or inheritance.

Group C: €20,740 — applies in all other cases.

CAT is charged at the rate of 25% on any amount in excess of the appropriate group threshold amount.

Separately, if, as well as giving rise to a liability to CAT, the swapping of the lands also gave rise to a liability for Capital Gains Tax (CGT) for the person making the gift, the CGT paid can be credited against the CAT liability arising provided the lands are not disposed of within 2 years of being swapped.

Stamp Duty

In the case of an exchange of lands, stamp duty is charged at progressive rates based on the value of the lands being exchanged.

However, section 81C of the Stamp Duties Consolidation Act 1999 provides for a relief from stamp duty where a farmer sells land and purchases land in order to consolidate that farmer's holding and both the sale and purchase occur within 18 months of each other. Where the relief applies stamp duty is only chargeable on the purchase to the extent that the value of the land purchased exceeds the value of the land sold.

Under section 81C, each farmer involved in a direct swap of lands would be entitled to claim the relief on the land transferred to him or her where, as a result of the transfer, the farmer's holding has been consolidated and a consolidation certificate has been issued by Teagasc in respect of the transfer.

The main conditions which must be satisfied before the relief will be granted by the Revenue Commissioners are as follows:

There must be a valid consolidation certificate issued by Teagasc in existence at the date of the exchange of the lands.

The farmers involved in the exchange of the lands must spend not less than 50% of their normal working time farming and must farm the lands exchanged for a period of at least 5 years from the date of the exchange.

Each farmer must retain ownership of the lands exchanged for at least 5 years from the date of the exchange. A clawback of the relief arises where the land or part of the land included in the exchange is disposed of or partly disposed of before the end of the 5 year holding period.

European Central Bank Policy.

Joan Burton

Question:

191 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance his views on the economic situation in Greece, the pressure applied on it by the European Central Bank to close its fiscal deficit and the ECB warning that it may not continue to accept Greek sovereign bonds as collateral if their fiscal position and debt rating deteriorates further; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5543/10]

I have noted recent developments in Greece. I fully support the Greek Authorities in their efforts to redress a difficult economic and fiscal situation. I understand that they are being encouraged to implement swiftly the necessary measures to ensure that their targets for budgetary consolidation are achieved, and I am confident that they will succeed in overcoming the fiscal and macroeconomic challenges they face.

As regards Greek sovereign bonds, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on ECB policy.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Joan Burton

Question:

192 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance his views on the recent downgrade of bonds issued by Anglo Irish Bank; the way this is affecting the ability of the bank to raise liquidity or to plan future bond issues; his further views on whether the difference in ratings and yields between Anglo bonds and Irish sovereign bonds and the downgrade is a reflection of the sovereign’s ability to meet Anglo’s ongoing financial commitments in view of the fact that Anglo is a State owned entity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5544/10]

The Deputy will appreciate that the ratings treatment of bonds, whether from commercial or sovereign issuers, is a matter for the ratings agencies concerned, based on their own assessment criteria.

I would also note that, by definition, a range of different elements feed into both the credit rating and yield values of commercial and sovereign debt and straight comparisons between the different values may therefore not be meaningful.

However, with regard to the position of Anglo Irish Bank, I have been clear that, based on the information provided by me in mid-September to the Dáil, the scale of Anglo's NAMA-eligible loans are such that they will give rise to a further capital requirement from the State. The specific requirement for capital for the bank will only become evident following further progress in the implementation of the NAMA. While the assessment of Anglo's further capital requirement is therefore ongoing, the Government is committed to providing such capital to enable the bank to continue to meet its requirements, in a manner consistent with EU State aid rules and the credit needs of the Irish economy. In this context, there is no doubt regarding the Government's commitment to meet the need for further capital support in the case of Anglo Irish Bank.

With regard to any potential impact of ratings treatment on Anglo's ability to raise funding, I would note that Anglo Irish Bank joined the Eligible Liability Guarantee Scheme with effect from 28 January 2010, and this provides additional options for the bank to access funding on the markets with the benefit of a State guarantee. As with the other participating institutions, Anglo pays a quarterly charge in respect of the guarantee provided under the ELG Scheme and the earlier Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme which is also ongoing.

EU Funding.

Pat Breen

Question:

193 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 201 of 27 January 2010, if he has made the application for emergency funding under the EU Solidarity Fund and if this application has been lodged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5547/10]

My Department made an application to the EU Commission on 27th January 2010 for funding under the EU Solidarity Fund based on estimates of damage received from Departments and local authorities.

A regional application was made as the estimate of the extent of the damage does not meet the Solidarity Fund's threshold of 0.6% of GNI or €935.5m for a national disaster. There are specific criteria which must be met to ensure a successful regional application to the EU Solidarity Fund. These criteria include the majority of the population of the region being affected by the disaster and serious and long lasting effects on the region's economic stability and living conditions.

The EU Solidarity Fund does not fund full reconstruction. It funds emergency operations to allow a rapid return to normal living conditions.

My Department is continuing to work with the Commission on finalising the process.

Economic Competitiveness.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

194 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the action he has taken or proposes to take to improve the competitiveness in the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5555/10]

Ireland in recent years has lost competitiveness as our prices have grown ahead of other euro area countries and our wages have increased at rates above that justified by our productivity.

As I said in my recent Budget there is an urgent need to improve the competitiveness of the Irish economy, and in this regard there are already a number of positive developments. Consumer prices in Ireland are now declining at the fastest rate in the euro area and the European Commission now suggest that, uniquely in the euro area, our unit labour costs fell last year when all others rose somewhat. These developments will assist in going some way towards addressing our competitiveness problem.

As a small member of a currency union we have no control over the exchange rates we face so we must focus on improving competitiveness at home. While the falls in domestic prices, easing wage pressures and improvements in productivity are helpful we must not be complacent as further improvements in our competitiveness are essential if we are to position ourselves to benefit as EU and global growth resumes. A highly educated workforce as well as the policies outlined in the Government's Smart Economy document will also help. I want to assure the Deputy that improving the competitiveness of Ireland’s economy is a key priority for this Government.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

195 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which reduced costs in the public and the private sectors respectively has contributed to improved competitiveness in the economy in the past two and a half years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5556/10]

Ireland in recent years has lost competitiveness as our prices have grown ahead of other euro area countries and our wages have increased at rates above that justified by our productivity.

Nonetheless there have been some improvements over the last year although more must be done if sustainable economic recovery is to be achieved. The Consumer Price Index fell by 4.5 per cent in 2009 and is now down 7 per cent from peak. As measured by the HICP — the harmonised European measure — consumer prices are falling at the fastest rate in the euro area. Many business input costs are down in Ireland while commercial rents have fallen substantially. The European Commission estimate that unit labour costs — wages adjusted for productivity — will fall by a cumulative 6 per cent between last year and this year. This compares to an estimated increase of 3 per cent for the euro area over the same period and implies an improvement in competitiveness.

Many sectors of the economy need to restore competitiveness and the Government's pursuit of appropriate wage policies in the public service is providing an important demonstration effect at this time. A highly educated workforce as well as the policies outlined in the Government's ‘Smart Economy' document will also help. I want to assure the Deputy that improving competitiveness and therefore generating future economic activity is a key priority for the Government at this time.

Insurance Industry.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

196 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if he has compared the cost of various forms of insurance cover here with that applicable in other EU member states; the extent to which the charges here have fluctuated in comparison to other jurisdictions in the past two years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5557/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

197 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the basis on which insurance premiums have increased in the past two years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5558/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

198 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which he has studied insurance premium reductions or increases over the past five years to date; the areas or categories subject to most frequent fluctuations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5559/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 196 to 198, inclusive, together.

The Financial Regulator does not maintain statistics on insurance premium costs, so I am not in a position to comment specifically upon the level of such increases in the past 2 years nor on the fluctuation in the past five years. However, as mentioned in previous PQs (45220/22 of 2009) the Financial Regulator has provided some background as to why insurance prices have increased in recent times. It has advised me that while the non-life insurance market performed well up to the end of 2006, market sources indicate that much non-life business was written at a loss in 2007. This trend continued in 2008, but the companies were still willing to write business at a loss in order to maintain their market share. They were able to do this as a result of the reserves they had built up during profitable years. However, the situation could not go on indefinitely and indications are that firms have taken action on pricing to underpin their financial positions.

The Financial Regulator has informed me that no comparative exercise has been done on the cost of various forms of insurance cover here with that applicable in other EU member states. It should be noted that such an exercise might be difficult to conduct on a ‘like for like' product basis because of the varying nature of the insurance market in other EU countries.

Mortgage Interest Rates.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

199 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if mortgage borrowers are likely to become the victims following the overuse of tracker mortgages by lending agencies; the action or actions he proposes to take to ensure that injudicious lending practices do not result in punitive rises in interest rates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5560/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

200 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which he proposes to monitor mortgage interest charges with particular reference to recently announced increases; if it is intended or expected that such increases are likely to continue notwithstanding the low interest rates set by the European Central Bank; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5561/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 199 and 200 together.

As Minister for Finance I have no function in interest rate decisions by commercial lending institutions. The level of mortgage interest rates reflect a broad range of factors including European Central Bank base rates, deposit rates, market funding costs, the competitive environment and an institution's overall funding.

I have already made my views known on the decision by Permanent TSB to increase variable interest rates by 0.5% with effect from Monday 1st February. I repeat I am disappointed by this decision. Unfortunately this increase reflects commercial market realities including the increased cost of accessing funds. A balance must be maintained by Government between influencing private banks through the bank guarantee scheme and other financial support incentives while at the same time ensuring that the day-to-day running of these institutions recognise commercial realities.

The guarantee means that the covered institutions can raise funds more cheaply. This benefits all of their customers and such institutions are paying the State for the costs of the guarantee. The Government has decided to implement a significant programme of reform in the structures of financial regulation and I will be bringing proposals to Government in this regard in the near future.

Tax Yield.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

201 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which VAT, income tax, corporation tax and indirect taxation returns are so far in keeping with budgetary projections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5562/10]

The Exchequer Returns for January, including tax revenue receipts, were published yesterday evening on my Department's website. At end-January, €3,074 million had been collected in tax revenue. The amounts for each tax-head are set out in the following table.

€ millions

Customs

16

Excise Duties

260

Capital Gains Tax

27

Capital Acquisitions Tax

16

Stamp Duties

30

Income Tax

1,051

Corporation Tax

41

VAT

1,616

Unallocated Tax Deposits

17

Total

3,074

At end-January, taxes were down 17.7 per cent on an annual basis. Taking into account the fact that the economy was relatively stronger during the first quarter of 2009 than at the end of the year, the amount of tax revenue collected in January of this year is in line with expectations.

Tax revenue profiles for each of the remaining months of this year were also published yesterday. The profiles show the anticipated trend of tax revenue receipts for each tax-head over the course of the year. Receipts are expected to show a large year-on-year decline in the initial months, before narrowing over the course of the year. A 6 per cent fall in tax revenue receipts is expected during 2010. While it is far too early to draw any conclusions about the likely end-year tax outturn, the January outturn was in line with my Department's expectations.

Credit Availability.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

202 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if a specific request has been made to the lending agencies to facilitate first-time home buyers; the response to such requests; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5563/10]

As part of the recapitalisation package announced on 11 February 2009, Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland reconfirmed their December 2008 commitment to increase lending capacity to provide an additional 30% capacity for lending to first time buyers last year. AIB and Bank of Ireland have also committed to public campaigns to actively promote mortgage lending at competitive rates with increased transparency on the criteria to be met. The Financial Regulator has been monitoring compliance with this commitment and no issues have arisen requiring attention. I note from the most recent IBF/PWC mortgage market profile — providing data up to the third quarter of 2009 — that the number of loans issued to first time buyers increased for the second successive quarter.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

203 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance when it is expected that the traditional lending and borrowing criteria will again become operational with particular reference to the need for the banking system to reciprocate following the Government and taxpayers’ guarantee; the efforts he has made to bring about a restoration of such practices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5564/10]

The second Mazars report on credit availability, published in December, confirmed that while some SMEs are facing significant challenges accessing credit, and the sector in general is more conservative in its borrowing, nevertheless new lending is still taking place. However, the proportion refused credit, especially in certain sectors, remains a concern for Government.

With regard to mortgages, while the latest statistics from the Irish Banking Federation for the third quarter of 2009 shows little change from the previous quarter, the rate of decline in activity that has been evident over recent quarters now appears to be moderating. I would point out that many lenders are conducting extensive advertising campaigns, showing that competition is a real factor on the mortgage scene. The existence of that level of competition in the mortgage lending market is sufficient, I believe, to ensure that credit institutions will lend to suitable qualified customers in order to remain competitive and retain their share of the market.

The Government has taken a number of significant measures to help ensure access to credit for businesses and access to mortgages for homebuyers. Under the NAMA legislation I will shortly be issuing guidelines to all banks participating in NAMA who lend to SMEs, to ensure that SMEs, sole traders and farm enterprises will have recourse to an independent, external review of decisions of credit refusal by the banks. The purpose of this measure is to ensure that the benefits of NAMA lead to an improved flow of credit to viable businesses. I hope that banks not participating in NAMA or covered by the Government guarantee will also decide to participate. My aim is to have a simple, effective review process, run by people with experience and credibility. The banks must comply with the recommendations of the review process, or explain why they cannot do so.

In addition to dealing with individual cases, the credit review system will examine the credit policies and practices of the banks in respect of SMEs. This will help me to decide what further action might be necessary to secure the flow of credit. I intend to publish the analysis from the review process so that the performance of the banks participating in NAMA will be clear to all.

Mr John Trethowan, an experienced banker with a demonstrated commitment to public and social service, is overseeing the establishment of this credit review system with initial administrative support from Enterprise Ireland. Work has been ongoing since December on the logistical aspects of the review system and it is envisaged that this will be completed shortly.

A Code of Conduct for Business Lending to Small and Medium Enterprises took effect last March. This code applies to all regulated banks and building societies and will facilitate access to credit, promote fairness and transparency and ensure that banks will assist borrowers in meeting their obligations, or otherwise deal with an arrears situation in an orderly and appropriate manner. The business lending code includes a requirement for banks to offer their business customers annual review meetings, to inform customers of the basis for decisions made and to have written procedures for the proper handling of complaints. Where a customer gets into difficulty the banks will give the customer reasonable time and seek to agree an approach to resolve problems and to provide appropriate advice. This is a statutory code and banks will be required to demonstrate compliance.

In addition, as part of the recapitalisation package announced last February, Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland reconfirmed their December 2008 commitment to increase lending capacity to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by 10% and to provide an additional 30% capacity for lending to first time buyers in 2009. If the mortgage lending was not taken up, then the extra capacity was to be made available to SMEs. AIB and Bank of Ireland have also committed to public campaigns to actively promote small business lending at competitive rates with increased transparency on the criteria to be met. Compliance with this commitment is being monitored by the Financial Regulator.

My colleague the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, set up a Clearing Group including representatives from the main banks, business interests and state agencies, which is chaired by her Department. The purpose of the group is to identify specific patterns of events or cases where the flow of credit to viable businesses appears to be blocked and to seek to identify credit supply solutions.

Decentralisation Programme.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

204 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance if he will state, in view of the decentralisation programme announced in December 2003, the properties rented or acquired as a consequence of the decentralisation programme in respect of his Department and of every State body for which it is responsible; the date of commencement of the rental or date of purchase of each property; the cost of each property purchased or the annual rental of each property rented; the number of staff transferred into each property as of 1 January of each year from the commencement of the rental or the date of the acquisition of each property in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5637/10]

The numbers serving in my Department in Tullamore as of 1 January of each year is as follows:

Location

Serving on 01/01/2007

Serving on 01/01/2008

Serving on 01/01/2009

Serving on 01/01/2010

Tullamore

110

124

125

117

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the numbers serving in their decentralised locations under the programme are as follows:

Location

Serving on 01/01/2008

Serving on 01/01/2009

Serving on 01/01/2010

Kilrush

57

57

57

Listowel

52

52

52

Athy

48

74

73

Navan

100

100

Newcastle West

51 in Estuary House, Limerick

50 in Newcastle West

52

I am informed by the Office of Public Works (OPW) that the numbers serving in their decentralised locations under the programme are as follows:

Location

Serving on 01/01/2008

Serving on 01/01/2009

Serving on 01/01/2010

Claremorris

29

31

29

Trim

220

I am further informed by the OPW that the following table contains the property costs for my Department and the bodies under the aegis of my Department to date associated with the decentralisation programme.

Location

Occupier

Date of Purchase

Date of Lease Agreement

Date of Rent Commencement

Site Acquisition Cost

Annual Rental Cost

Tullamore

Department of Finance

18/07/2006

7,400,000

Kilrush

Revenue Commissioners

05/04/2007

05/10/2008

85,050

Listowel

Revenue Commissioners

01/08/2007

244,924

Athy

Revenue Commissioners

01/11/2007

01/11/2007

231,554

Navan

Revenue Commissioners

25/12/2007

25/01/2008

575,360

Newcastle West

Revenue Commissioners

15/07/2005

325,000

Claremorris Temporary Accommodation

Office of Public Works

01/01/2007

01/01/2007

68,712

*Scurlockstown Temporary Accommodation

Office of Public Works

12/03/2007

12/03/2007

67,752

Claremorris

Office of Public Works

21/01/2007

2,500,000

Trim

Office of Public Works

12/01/2006

3,500,000

*Please note that the Scurlockstown office was occupied temporarily by 35 OPW staff up to October 2009 in advance of the OPW decentralisation to the new Trim HQ building in October 2009. This property is presently occupied by the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

The decentralisation programme provided for 100 posts of the Public Appointments Service and 100 posts of the Valuation Office to decentralise to Youghal, Co Cork. The Government decided that expenditure on the acquisition of accommodation for decentralisation would be paused. No properties have been rented or purchased in Youghal and no staff from either body have relocated to Youghal as a consequence of this decision.

Appointments to State Boards.

George Lee

Question:

205 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Finance the names and addresses of all nominees to bodies or agencies under the remit of his Department that were appointed since 26 June 1997, detailing by whom they were appointed; when they were appointed; the amount paid by the Exchequer to each nominee each year from 1997 to 2009 broken down into income, expenses, overtime and any other relevant category; the money paid by his Department each year from 1997 to 2009 to cover expenses or incidentals related to the nominees, such as accommodation, travel and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5662/10]

The following are the details requested in relation to bodies or agencies under the remit of my Department:

Credit Union Advisory Committee

The following Committee Members were initially appointed for a three year term by the then Minister for Finance, Mr. Brian Cowen, T.D. in October 2004. The full Committee was re-appointed by the same Minister for a further two year term in October 2007. There is no Committee currently in place. Prior to 2004, the Committee was under the remit of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Mr. Pádraig Ó Cearbhaill (Chairman)

Ms Iris White

Ms Olive McCarthy

Mr. Donal Murphy

Mr. Ken Lillis

Mr. Donal Yourell

Mr. Michael O'Conaill

Expenses relating to the period are set out in the following table.

2005

2006

Name

Income

Expenses

Other

Income

Expenses

Other

Padraigh Ó Cearbhaill

1,428.45

1,318.82

1,904.60

1,254.03

Michael O’Conaill

0.00

0.00

598.79

Ken Lillis

952.29

3,197.19

1,269.72

4,001.32

Donal Murphy

952.29

4,419.54

1,269.72

5,862.12

Olive McCarthy

952.29

3,727.10

1,269.72

1,833.91

Donal Yourell

952.29

1,216.86

135.78

1,269.72

1,641.09

Iris White

952.29

0.00

1,269.72

0.00

Dept of Finance Expenses

3,091.85

1,229.44

2007

2008

Name

Income

Expenses

Other

Income

Expenses

Other

Padraigh Ó Cearbhaill

3,401.15

3,548.58

3,900.00

3,480.20

Michael O’Conaill

0.00

579.03

0.00

438.59

Ken Lillis

2,267.43

2,023.40

2,600.00

1,749.64

Donal Murphy

2,267.43

6,492.39

2,600.00

4,778.02

Olive McCarthy

2,267.43

1,403.55

2,600.00

1,507.00

DonalYourell

2,267.43

15,24.02

2,600.00

1,668.39

Iris White

2,267.43

0.00

2,600.00

0.00

Dept of Finance Expenses

874.39

2009

Name

Income

Expenses

Other

Padraigh Ó Cearbhaill

3,900.00

1,332.32

Michael O’Conaill

0.00

502.77

Ken Lillis

2,600.00

1,996.86

Donal Murphy

2,600.00

1,787.94

OliveMc Carthy

2,600.00

1,345.34

National Lottery

Year

Name

Date of Appointment

Appointed by

1999

Paraic O’Rourke

2/2/99

Mr Charlie McCreevy

2006

Barbara Patton

24/3/06

Mr Brian Cowen

2008

Oliver Wilkinson

30/5/08

Mr Brian Lenihan

There were no amounts paid to them from this Department.

Public Appointments Service

In line with The Public Service Management (Recruitment & Appointments) Act 2004 the following were appointed to the Board of the Public Appointments Service by the Minister for Finance in consultation with the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the Minister for Health and Children and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

19th October, 2004 — 18th October, 2007

Board Member

Paid/Unpaid

Gross Payment

Mr. Frank Murray (Chairperson)

Former Civil Service commissioner and former Secretary to the Government

2004–2005 — €20,000

2005–2006 — €15,000

2006–2007 — €14,000

Mr. Bryan Andrews

CEO Public Appointments Service

Unpaid

N/A

Mr. John O’Connell

Assistant Secretary, Department of Finance

Unpaid

N/A

Ms Niamh O’Donoghue

Assistant Secretary, Office of the Revenue Commissioners

Unpaid

N/A

Ms Geraldine Tallon

Assistant Secretary, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government

Unpaid

N/A

Mr. Bernard Carey

Director of Personnel Management and Development, Department of Health and Children

Unpaid

N/A

Ms Rosaleen Glackin

Deputy General Secretary, Civil and Public Services Union

Paid

2004–2005 — €6,350.00

2005–2006 — €8,500.00

2006–2007 — €9,000.00

Ms Maura McGrath

Organisation Change and HR Consultant

Paid

2004–2005 — €6,350.00

2005–2006 — €8,500.00

2006–2007 — €9,000.00

Ms Catherine Clancy

Assistant Commissioner, Northern Region, An Garda Síochána

Unpaid

N/A

20th February, 2008–31st December, 2009

Board Member

Paid/Unpaid

Gross Payment

Mr. Eddie Sullivan

Former Secretary General, Public Service management and Development, Department of Finance

Paid

2008 — €12,000.00

2009 — €13,100.00

Mr. Bryan Andrews

Chief Executive of the Public Appointments Service

Unpaid

N/A

Mr. Michael Errity

Assistant Secretary, Department of Finance

Unpaid

N/A

Ms Breda Power,

Assistant Secretary, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Unpaid

N/A

Mr. Des Dowling

Assistant Secretary, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government

Unpaid

N/A

Mr. Bernard Carey

Assistant Secretary, Department of Health and Children

Unpaid

N/A

Mr. Dan Murphy

General Secretary, Public Service Executive Union

Paid

2008 — €7,700.00

2009 — €8,400.00

Ms Bernie Gray

Independent HR Consultant

Paid

2008 — €7,700.00

2009 — €8,400.00

Ms Michelle Shannon

National Director, Irish Youth Justice Service

Unpaid

N/A

Outside Appointments Board

The Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour was drawn up and promulgated by the Minister for Finance in 2006.

According to the requirements of the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour (Section 21.1), the Outside Appointments Board was established by then Minister for Finance, Mr Brian Cowen.

The members of the Outside Appointments Board are:

Chairperson — Mr Hugh Mohan SC

Ms Breege O'Donoghue

Mr Peter Malone

the Secretary General (Public Service Management and Development, Department of Finance) and

the Secretary General to the Government.

The following fees have been paid to the Board (which do not include tax)

Board Member

Amount and date paid in respect of work for 2006

Amount and date paid in respect of work for 2007

Amount and date paid in respect of work for 2008

Amount and date paid in respect of work for 2009

Hugh Mohan

€5,000 5 October 2007

€5,00030 January 2009

€5,00011 December 2009

€4,60031 Dec 2009

Breege O’Donoghue

€2,5005 October 2007

€2,50030 January 2009

€2,50011 December 2009

€2,30031 Dec 2009

Standards in Public Office Commission

Mr Justice Matthew Smith was appointed for a six year term as Chairman of the Standards in Public Office Commission on 12 December 2001 by the President on the advice of the Government upon resolutions passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas recommending his appointment. On appointment, he continued to receive his salary as a High Court Judge until the date of his retirement on 31 December 2004.

Subsequently, he received a fee of €420 per day, subject to an overall annual limit of €42,000. He was re-appointed by the President for a second term on 21 December 2007. Following his re-appointment, he has received a fee of €526 per day, subject to an overall limit of €52,600. Fee payments for the years in question are as follows:

2005: €42,000

2006: €39,480

2007: €39,900

2008: €52,600

2009: €52,600

Mr Liam Kavanagh was appointed for a six year term as Ordinary Member of the Standards in Public Office Commission on 11 December 2001 by the Government upon resolutions passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas recommending his appointment. He received a fixed fee of €12,697 per annum for the years 2002 to 2007.

Mr Michael Smith was appointed for a six year term as Ordinary Member of the Standards in Public Office Commission on 19 December 2007 by the Government upon resolutions passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas recommending his appointment. He has received a fixed fee of €17,500 per annum for the years 2008 and 2009.

Central Bank

Name of Nominee/ appointee since 26 June 1997

Date of first nomination/ appointment since 26 June 1997

Date of renomination/ reappointment where applicable

Central Bank — Official Appointments

Patrick Honohan

26 Sep 2009

Tony Grimes

18 Aug 2007

Kevin Cardiff (all ex-officio)

1 Feb 2010

Central Bank — Nominated Appointments

Dr. Brian Hillery

1 May 2008

1 May 2008

Dermot O’Brien

1 May 2008

David Begg

12 May 1995

1 May 2008

Appointed by virtue of Membership of

Jim Farrell*

1 May 2003

1 May 2008

IFSRA Board

John Dunne*

1 May 2003

1 May 2008

Deirdre Purcell*

1 May 2003

1 May 2008

Alan Gray*

21 Dec 2006

1 May 2008

Gerard Danaher*

15 Oct 1998

1 May 2008

Matthew Elderfield (ex-officio)

4 Jan 2010

Name of Retired Nominee/appointee since 26 June 1997

Date of first nomination/ appointment since 26 June 1997

Retired from CB Board

John Hurley

10 Mar 2002

25 Sep 2009

Tom Considine

11 Mar 2002

30 Jun 2006

David Doyle

1 Jul 2006

31 Jan 2010

Donal Byrne

15 Sep 2000

1 May 2003

Michael McBennett

22 Feb 2002

1 May 2003

Liam Barron

17 Aug 2007

J. Nugent

12 Feb 1998

11 Feb 2003

Martin O’Donoghue

1 Jul 1998

1 May 2003

Roy Donovan

1 Dec 1999

30 April 2008

Friedhelm Danz

1 Feb 2001

31 Oct 2006

Appointed by virtue of Membership of

Brian Patterson

1 May 2003

30 Apr 2008

IFSRA Board

Liam O’Reilly

1998

30 Apr 2006

Mary O’Dea

1 May 2003

31 Dec 2009

Patrick Neary

1 Feb 2006

Jan 2009

This body does not receive Exchequer Funds.

Financial Regulator (IFSRA)

Ashe, Alan 2003

Danaher, Gerard 2003

Danz, Friedhelm 2003

Dunne, John 2003

Elderfield, Matthew 2009

Farrell, Jim 2003

Gray, Alan 2006

Horan, Con 2003

Patterson, Brian 2003

Purcell, Deirdre 2003

Quigley, Dermot 2003

This body does not receive Exchequer Funds.

Financial Services Consultative Consumer Panel (Industry Panel)

Industry Panel

Bardon, Jim 2004

Carberry, Liam 2004

Culley, Tony 2004

Deeny, James 2004

Farrell, Pat 2004

Fitzgerald, Ann 2004

Goddard, Sarah 2004

Goold, Jonathan 2005

Healy, Tom 2004

Kelly, Brendan 2007

McArdle, Pat 2005

Moynihan, Robert 2004

Murphy, John 2004

O’Connor, Carmel 2004

O’Donoghue, Aileen 2004

O’Halloran, John 2004

O’Rourke, Eimer 2004

Palmer, Gary 2004

Panagiodis, Rachel 2004

Quirke, Sean 2004

Richardson, Robert 2005

Ryan, Mike 2004

This body does not receive Exchequer Funds.

Financial Services Consultative Consumer Panel (Consumer Panel)

Consumer Panel

Barrington, Kathleen 2005

Burgess, Brendan 2004

Byrne, Frances 2004

Byrne, Olive 2004

Byrne, Tommy 2005

Coen, Liam 2004

Connolly, Michael 2004

Culloty, Michael 2005

Doorley, James 2004

Hannon, Gráinne2005

Hobbs, Eddie 2004

Hogan, Ann 2004

Lynch, Eileen 2004

Maher, John 2004

Morrisson, Joan 2004

Mulcahy, Noel 2004

Mutwarasibo, Fidele 2005

O’Rourke, Raymond 2004

O’Sullivan, Sean 2004

Owens, Ann 2004

Power, Aileen 2004

Reynolds, Fiona 2004

Ryan, Peter 2004

Ryan, William 2004

Walsh, Eileen 2004

This body does not receive Exchequer Funds.

Name

Financial Services Ombudsman Council from October 04 (appointed by the Minister)

Dr Con Power (Chairperson)

Mr John Colgan

Mr Dermott Jewell

Ms Caitíona Ní Charra

Mr Paddy Lyons

Mr Jim McMahon

Mr Paddy Leydon

Mr Paul Lynch

Mr Crozier Deane

Mr Paul Joyce

Financial Services Ombudsman Council from October 06 (appointed by the Minister)

Dr Con Power (Chairperson)

Mr Dermott Jewell

Ms Caitíona Ní Charra

Mr Paddy Lyons

Mr Jim McMahon

Mr Paddy Leydon

Mr Paul Lynch

Mr Paul Joyce

Mr Frank Wynn

Financial Services Ombudsman Council from October 08 (appointed by the Minister)

Mr Dermott Jewell (Chairperson)

Mr Paddy Leydon

Mr Frank Wynn

Ms Caitíona Ní Charra

Mr Paddy Lyons

Mr Michael Connolly

Mr Tony Kerr

Irish Financial Services Appeal Tribunal (IFSAT) from Feb 07 (appointed by the President)

Mr Justice Francis D Murphy (Chair)

Ms Inge Clissman

Ms Paulyn Marrinan-Quinn

Ms Geraldine Clarke

Mr John Fish

Mr Liam Madden

Mr John Loughery

None of the bodies in the table above receive Exchequer Funds.

Investor Compensation Company Ltd

The Investor Compensation Company (ICCL) was incorporated on 1 August 1998.

Name

Nominated by

Date appointed

Dates of Resignation

Daire Hogan

10/09/1998

6/10/1998

Patricia Lawless

10/09/1998

6/10/1998

Fidelma Macken

Governor of Central Bank

6/10/1998

8/12/1998

Joseph Maher

Governor of Central Bank

6/10/1998

28/4/2003

James Bardon

Irish Banking Federation

6/10/1998

9/6/2004

Governor of the Central Bank

28/4/2006

Paul Carty

Irish Broker’s Association

6/10/1998

8/11/2002

Geraldine Jones

Irish Stock Exchange

6/10/1998

19/1/2001

Rady Redmond

Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs

6/10/1998

12/11/1999

Tony McGrath

Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs

12/11/1999

13/7/2001

Jack Thompson

Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs

12/10/2001

31/7/2003

Gearoid Geraghty

Minister for Finance

6/10/1998

31/7/2004

Geraldine Layden

Professional Insurance Brokers Association

19/6/2002

31/7/2005

Ann O’Neill

Minister for Finance

6/10/1998

31/7/2005

Jerry Shanahan

Minister for Finance

6/10/ 1998

31/7/2005

Caitriona Murphy

Governor of Central Bank

30/3/1999

28/4/2006

Ann Fitzgerald

Irish Association of Investment Managers

6/10/1998

19/5/2006

Enda Twomey

Irish Banking Federation

12/7/2004

15/1/2007

Paul Lynch

Irish Brokers Association

17/2/2003

31/7/2009

Daniel Coveney

Governor of Central Bank

5/9/2003

Gina Quin

Minister for Finance

1/8/2005

Mark Redmond

Minister for Finance

1/8/2005

Dermott Jewell

Consumers Association of Ireland

19/6/2002

Inge Clissman

Minister for Finance

18/10/2004

Paul O’Donovan

National Consumer Agency

18/10/2004

Frank O’Dwyer

Irish Association of Investment Managers

12/6/2006

Ciaran Phelan

Irish Broker’s Association

1/8/2009

Brian Healy

Irish Stock Exchange

15/1/2001

Terry Hardiman

Professional Insurance Brokers Association

1/8/2005

Eimer O’Rourke

Irish Banking Federation

15/1/2007

The ICCL is self funded. It collects contributions from investment firms and insurance intermediaries that fall within its scope.

Interdepartmental Year 2000 Monitoring Committee

On the instructions of the Government, the Department of Finance established an Interdepartmental Year 2000 Monitoring Committee in 1997. Four people from the private sector were appointed to the Committee by the Minister. The individuals were notified by the Minister on the 19th November 1997. They were:

Norman Ebbs, Bank of Ireland,

Tony Furlong, retired M.D. of IBM (Ireland) Ltd,

John Daly, Centre for Dispute Resolution Ltd,

Maurice Healy, M.D. of ITG Group.

In addition, there were 8 civil servants on the committee, nominated by their respective Departments. These names were notified to the Minister on 13th November 1997. They were:

P.J. Breen, Department of Education and Science,

Eddie Mortimer, Department of Public Enterprise,

Peter Fisher, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment,

Sean O'Connell, Department of Finance — Chairman,

Andy McGarrigle, Department of Agriculture and Food,

Charlie Hardy, Department of Health and Children,

John Clohessy, Office of the Revenue Commissioners,

Colm O'Neill, Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs.

The Committee was disbanded in March 2000 following the completion of its work. No remuneration or expenses were paid to any member during the Committee's tenure.

Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal

The Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal deals with appeals under the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme. It constitutes a Chairperson and a panel of medical doctors. In addition to the Chairperson, two doctors from the panel attend each Appeal Board sitting. All appointments are made by the Minister for Finance on the nomination of the Minister for Health and Children and for a period of 4 years. The following table sets out the nominees appointed to the Medical Board of Appeal in the years indicated.

Nominees

1998

2002

2004

2005(a)

2006

2007

Dr. Angela McNamara

Dr. Angela McNamara

Dr. AustinO’Carroll

Dr. Peter Sweeney

Dr. Brian Barnes

Dr. Jacinta Morgan

Dr. Paul Fahy

Dr. Frank X Keane

Dr. Muiris Houston

Dr. Ida Delargy

Dr. Jimmy Leitch

Dr. Angela McNamara

Dr. Ray Murphy

Dr. Austin O’Carroll

Dr. Monica McWeeney

Dr. Jacinta McElligot

Dr. Manus McCaughey

Dr. Jim Fagan

Dr. Niall Mulvihill

Professor Peter Eustace

Dr. Jacques Noel

Dr. JohnO’Keeffe

Dr. Aine Carroll

Dr. Mark Delargy

Dr. Nicola Ryall

Mr. Martin Walsh FRCSI

Dr. Patrick Murray

(a)New Regulations in 2005 expanded membership of the Board.

The National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) hosts the Medical Board of Appeal on behalf of the Department of Finance and the cost of the Board has been recouped to the NRH since 2005 from the Department of Finance Vote. The Chairperson is a consultant who also works in the NRH and whose salary is recouped to the NRH.

The two doctors who attend each Appeal Board sitting with the Chairperson receive a session rate of €470 per doctor per hearing, which was increased to €660 per doctor per hearing in November 2007. This rate has since been reduced by 8% with effect from 1 March 2009 to €607.20 in line with the Government Decision of 3 February 2009. The overall payments made to such doctors are small, for example in 2009 the total overall amount paid to all such doctors was €14,572 in fees, €3,978 in locum payments and €1,500 in travel and expenses.

Valuation Tribunal 1997 to 2009

Fees paid to Members

(all figures expressed in Euro)

Members

Position

Date first appointed

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Paul Butler

Deputy Chair

22/07/1988

Mary Devins

Deputy Chair

22/07/1988

7,324.89

Hugh O’Flaherty

Chairperson

22/07/1988

Brian O’Farrell

Member

22/07/1988

Padraic Connellan

Member/Deputy Chair

17/01/1990

Veronica Gates

Member/Deputy Chair

28/01/1990

773.94

1985.25

Henry Abbott

Chairperson

05/04/1990

720.09

7,528.06

2,712.15

Joseph Carey

Member

15/02/1991

503.31

Paddy Farry

Member

28/01/1993

Pat Riney

Member

25/02/1994

2,227.45

1,521.68

5,321.16

3,607.10

3,311.24

6,045.72

3,898.97

4,398.18

5,493.12

2,744.10

Brid Mimnagh

Member

29/07/1994

5,366.99

8,125.99

Fred Devlin

Deputy Chair

07/10/1994

11,639.29

5,652.28

9,607.31

836.7

5,791.14

9,498.61

22,029.89

19,996.60

19,552.94

22,379.83

19,208.55

Con Guiney

Member/Deputy Chair

16/10/1995

10,024.37

11,130.37

13,107.00

9,573.84

Marie Connellan

Member

07/11/1995

3,019.87

2,390.69

1,611.20

1,623.93

Liam McKechnie

Chairperson

11/12/1995

18,420.57

10,070.59

10,061.80

9,766.15

Barry Smyth

Deputy Chair

30/01/1996

5,661.79

5,766.62

8,245.31

11,186.49

977.39

Rita Tynan

Member

01/04/1996

5,052.94

2,894.00

3,034.76

3,087.09

760.73

Michael Coghlan

Member

17/02/1997

3,187.64

4,936.58

4,044.88

7,675.36

3,644.91

1,432.62

Finian Brannigan

Member

03/03/1997

4,026.49

4,693.00

4,477.87

3,998.33

2,933.48

257.13

Anita Geraghty

Member

25/06/1997

503.31

1,919.92

1,414.41

1,130.97

Ann Hargaden

Member

25/06/1997

1,006.62

3,019.99

3,931.59

2,330.91

George McDonnell

Member

25/06/1997

4,203.02

3,054.30

2,330.91

Valuation Tribunal 1997 to 2009

Fees paid to Members — continued

(all figures expressed in Euro)

Members

Position

Date first appointed

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Tim Cotter

Member/Deputy Chair

04/01/2000

3,688.74

6,310.70

4,207.20

John Kerr

Member/Deputy Chair

04/01/2000

2,961.35

4,561.19

2,737.98

7,378.67

13,432.72

9,532.44

5,467.78

11,838.76

12,426.08

Maurice Ahern

Member/Deputy Chair

11/06/2001

1,782.36

3,479.22

1,850.13

4,629.57

5,797.24

8,487.54

7,272.74

9,709.61

11,026.22

Margaret Cordial

Member

11/06/2001

55.61

Michael Lyng

Member

11/06/2001

1,653.83

3,683.88

2,107.62

5,350.48

12,418.46

10,629.16

11,161.65

13,272.47

9,277.28

Frank Malone

Deputy Chair

11/06/2001

2,374.85

3,944.25

4,694.35

7,574.11

906.64

1,191.82

Michael McWey

Member

11/06/2001

873.58

2,456.12

9,449.60

9,771.58

2,836.18

Frank O’Donnell

Member

11/06/2001

818.63

4,707.18

5,515.90

5,494.04

8,726.62

11,365.99

10,574.10

7,189.55

6,304.59

William Knowlan

Member

17/04/2002

613.98

818.64

Brian Larkin

Member

17/04/2002

1,023.30

3,601.26

3,138.32

7,554.92

8,648.41

12,479.71

14,713.26

10,691.88

Joseph Murray

Member

17/04/2002

1,345.30

3,410.63

6,985.88

9,928.27

9,743.63

9,257.86

9,436.08

6,530.73

John O’Donnell

Chairperson

17/04/2002

5,036.85

2,340.20

5,912.74

8,899.24

6,009.80

9,279.54

6,853.73

1,697.13

Mairéad Hughes

Member

08/09/2003

5,365.82

7,569.18

8,238.86

7,258.72

5,417.58

Michael Connellan

Deputy Chair

05/04/2005

10,264.84

20,962.71

12,652.55

16,480.36

10,537.85

Leonie Reynolds

Member

05/04/2005

3,451.86

5,690.01

4,113.71

2,397.60

1,547.88

Damian Wallace

Member

12/02/2006

5,085.14

8,455.11

5256.75

Aidan McNulty

Member

17/04/2007

7,080.02

8,279.07

8965.62

Tony Taaffe

Member

16/06/2008

6,622.16

3935.01

James Browne

Member

28/07/2008

3,595.80

5143.68

Fiona Gallagher

Member

28/07/2008

4,369.74

5256.75

Niall O’Hanlon

Member

17/11/2008

3161.07

Frank Walsh

Member

09/02/2009

1934.85

Michael Connellan Jnr

Member

23/11/2009

Valuation Tribunal 1997 to 2009

Travel and Subsistence payments to members — continued

(all figures expressed in Euro)

Members

Position

Date first appointed

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Paul Butler

Deputy Chair

22/07/1988

Mary Devins

Deputy Chair

22/07/1988

5,289.17

Hugh O’Flaherty

Chairperson

22/07/1988

Brian O’Farrell

Member

22/07/1988

Padraic Connellan

Member/Deputy Chair

17/01/1990

Veronica Gates

Member/Deputy Chair

28/01/1990

37.01

Henry Abbott

Chairperson

05/04/1990

356.45

3,736.36

1,300.65

Joseph Carey

Member

15/02/1991

717.68

Paddy Farry

Member

28/01/1993

Pat Riney

Member

25/02/1994

599.93

1,664.20

46.99

573.66

271.85

Brid Mimnagh

Member

29/07/1994

5,114.57

509.32

Fred Devlin

Deputy Chair

07/10/1994

3,192.20

2,510.22

3,584.89

1,460.77

1,718.45

682.83

725.63

2,760.29

3,151.85

3,613.46

2,461.89

Con Guiney

Member/Deputy Chair

16/10/1995

370.71

704.53

1,476.81

510.10

Marie Connellan

Member

07/11/1995

3,666.10

2,641.98

1,921.27

1,622.55

Liam McKechnie

Chairperson

11/12/1995

3,776.12

2,320.45

1,338.09

1,230.82

Barry Smyth

Deputy Chair

30/01/1996

1,922.22

2,059.16

3,362.65

2,752.45

164.47

Rita Tynan

Member

01/04/1996

6,124.39

3,125.42

2,842.96

2,510.86

633.87

Michael Coghlan

Member

17/02/1997

781.31

560.12

1,065.13

2,600.42

1,247.62

Finian Brannigan

Member

03/03/1997

1,392.20

3,050.09

3,311.41

3,147.33

2,715.93

608.82

Anita Geraghty

Member

25/06/1997

57.51

1,338.56

558.47

19.10

Ann Hargaden

Member

25/06/1997

218.45

570.86

1,816.81

George McDonnell

Member

25/06/1997

4,349.07

4,283.54

2,355.07

Tim Cotter

Member/Deputy Chair

04/01/2000

1,277.90

1,399.11

1,569.70

875.32

Valuation Tribunal 1997 to 2009

Travel and Subsistence payments to members

(all figures expressed in Euro)

Members

Position

Date first appointed

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

John Kerr

Member/Deputy Chair

04/01/2000

4,954.77

7,331.68

6,337.30

5,576.90

3,365.95

451.67

11,192.01

7,841.23

12,450.14

12,377.46

Maurice Ahern

Member/Deputy Chair

11/06/2001

2,085.35

6,883.33

3,808.43

2,605.43

2,908.48

10,843.07

8,693.17

12,115.91

9,736.51

Margaret Cordial

Member

11/06/2001

89.59

Michael Lyng

Member

11/06/2001

1,285.89

3,697.88

2,084.66

2,419.66

3,614.90

7,085.46

8,550.33

9,313.74

4,568.91

Frank Malone

Deputy Chair

11/06/2001

98.46

2,138.55

3,465.43

378.54

16.32

69.15

Michael McWey

Member

11/06/2001

442.71

2,499.44

2,541.26

830.16

1,602.32

Frank O’Donnell

Member

11/06/2001

349.89

2,367.91

1,987.23

265.45

255.22

1,074.96

1,012.60

683.39

479.72

William Knowlan

Member

17/04/2002

443.55

756.20

Brian Larkin

Member

17/04/2002

985.71

2,677.31

1,247.31

2,869.71

4,612.49

7,661.14

9,260.44

5,730.52

Joseph Murray

Member

17/04/2002

118.31

182.18

John O’Donnell

Chairperson

17/04/2002

Mairéad Hughes

Member

08/09/2003

1,580.99

1,547.40

9,787.06

7,253.46

5,463.35

3,309.36

Michael Connellan

Deputy Chair

05/04/2005

3,114.48

13,758.14

9,497.60

11,339.41

6,411.28

Leonie Reynolds

Member

05/04/2005

Damian Wallace

Member

12/02/2006

7,940.62

10,326.49

7,449.93

Aidan McNulty

Member

17/04/2007

780.36

931.38

789.61

Tony Taaffe

Member

16/06/2008

466.34

236.24

James Browne

Member

28/07/2008

3,437.97

3,909.10

Fiona Gallagher

Member

28/07/2008

2,380.26

2,975.32

Niall O’Hanlon

Member

17/11/2008

153.21

Frank Walsh

Member

09/02/2009

1,697.69

Decentralisation Implementation Group

Costs of Decentralisation Implementation Group

2009-2004

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

Fees to Members

376,177

23,792

55,295

42,115

56,610

106,267

92,098

Employers PRSI

35,379

2,558

5,944

4,271

4,804

9,057

8,745

Official Entertainment

1,403

421

367

234

380

TOTAL

412,959

26,771

61,239

46,753

61,648

115,704

100,843

Decentralisation Implementation Group Membership

Current Members

Date of appointment

Appointed by

From

To

Finbarr Flood — Chairman

Apr 05

Present

Minster for Finance

Ultan Herr

Nov 07

Present

Minster for Finance

Dermot Quigley

Dec 03

Present

Minster for Finance

Jane Williams

Dec 03

Present

Minster for Finance

Former Members

Date of appointment

Appointed by

From

To

Phil Flynn — Chairman

Dec 03

Feb 05

Minster for Finance

Fred Devlin

Dec 03

Nov 06

Minster for Finance

A further breakdown of the fees for each of the individual members of the DIG will be furnished to the Deputy in the coming days.

NTMA

Board

Name

Comment

Date Appointed

Date Expires

Appointed by

1997

1998

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

NTMA Advisory

Joe Moran

Chairman

03/12/1990

08/03/2002

Albert Reynolds TD

25,395

25,395

25,395

14,985

12,697

12,697

12,697

1,531

NTMA Advisory

Joe Moran

Ordinary Member

08/03/2002

13/02/2006

Charlie McCreevy TD

NTMA Advisory

John F Daly

Ordinary Member (1st)

03/12/1990

08/03/2002

Albert Reynolds TD

NTMA Advisory

John F Daly

Chairman

08/03/2002

31/12/2007

Charlie McCreevy TD

12,697

12,697

12,697

19,629

25,395

25,395

25,395

50,000

50,000

NTMA Advisory

John F Daly

Ordinary Member(2nd)

01/01/2008

31/12/2008

Brian Cowen TD

25,000

NTMA Advisory

David Byrne

Chairman

01/01/2008

31/12/2012

Brian Cowen TD

50,000

45,192

NTMA Advisory

Don Roth

Ordinary Member

03/12/1990

31/12/2010

Albert Reynolds TD

12,697

12,697

12,697

12,697

12,697

12,697

12,697

12,697

25,000

25,000

25,000

22,500

NTMA Advisory

Gerold Brandt

Ordinary Member

03/12/1990

31/12/2009

Albert Reynolds TD

12,697

12,697

12,697

12,697

12,697

12,697

12,697

12,697

25,000

25,000

25,000

22,500

NTMA Advisory

Paul Carty

Ordinary Member

03/12/1990

01/08/2005

Albert Reynolds TD

12,697

12,697

12,697

12,697

12,697

12,697

12,697

7,407

NTMA Advisory

Lewis L Glucksman

Ordinary Member

25/11/1994

06/07/2006

Bertie Ahern TD

12,697

12,697

12,697

12,697

12,697

12,697

12,697

12,697

6,470

NTMA Advisory

Graeme Wheeler

Not paid

01/08/2005

31/12/2006

Brian Cowen TD

NTMA Advisory

Tytti Noras

Ordinary Member

01/08/2005

01/08/2010

Brian Cowen TD

3,086

25,000

25,000

25,000

22,500

NTMA Advisory

Shane O Neill

Ordinary Member

01/05/2007

01/05/2012

Brian Cowen TD

16,667

25,000

22,500

NTMA Advisory

Hugh Cooney

Ordinary Member

01/01/2008

31/12/2012

Brian Cowen TD

25,000

22,500

NTMA Advisory

Paddy Mullarkey

Ordinary Member (Secretary General, D/Finance

13/06/1994

09/03/2000

Bertie Ahern TD

NTMA Advisory

John Hurley

Ordinary Member (Secretary General, D/Finance

10/03/2000

11/03/2002

Charlie McCreevy TD

NTMA Advisory

Tom Considine

Ordinary Member (Secretary General, D/Finance

11/03/2002

30/06/2006

Charlie McCreevy TD

NTMA Advisory

David Doyle

Ordinary Member (Secretary General, D/Finance

01/07/2006

31/01/2010

Brian Cowen TD

State Claims Agency Advisory

Noel Whelan

1st Term

17/04/2002

17/04/2007

Charlie McCreevy TD

10,770

15,237

15,237

15,237

15,237

15,237

15,237

14,856

NTMA — continued

Board

Name

Comment

Date Appointed

Date Expires

Appointed by

1997

1998

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

State Claims Agency Advisory

Noel Whelan

Re-appointed 2nd Term

18/04/2007

17/04/2012

Brian Cowen TD

State Claims Agency Advisory

John F Dunne

17/04/2002

17/04/2007

Charlie McCreevy TD

7,180

10,158

10,158

10,158

10,158

3,013

State Claims Agency Advisory

Michael Grace

17/04/2002

17/04/2007

Charlie McCreevy TD

7,180

10,158

10,158

10,158

10,158

3,013

State Claims Agency Advisory

Margaret Lane

1st Term

17/04/2002

17/04/2006

Charlie McCreevy TD

7,180

10,158

10,158

10,158

10,158

10,158

10,158

7,618

State Claims Agency Advisory

Margaret Lane

Re-appointed 2nd Term

03/07/2006

11/11/2009

Brian Cowen TD

State Claims Agency Advisory

Frank Martin

17/04/2002

17/04/2006

Charlie McCreevy TD

7,180

10,158

10,158

10,158

3,013

State Claims Agency Advisory

Ann Marie Hayes

1st Term

17/04/2002

17/04/2006

Charlie McCreevy TD

7,180

10,158

10,158

10,158

10,158

10,158

10,158

7,624

State Claims Agency Advisory

Ann Marie Hayes

Re-appointed 2nd Term

03/07/2006

02/07/2011

Brian Cowen TD

State Claims Agency Advisory

Ann Nolan

Department of Finance

17/04/2002

17/04/2007

Charlie McCreevy TD

State Claims Agency Advisory

Brendan Phelan

Department of Health

03/05/2007

02/05/2012

Brian Cowen TD

State Claims Agency Advisory

Ms Deirdre Hanlon

Department of Finance

03/05/2007

02/05/2012

Brian Cowen TD

NPRF Commission

Donal Geaney

Chairman

02/04/2001

07/10/2005

Charlie McCreevy TD

42,854

57,138

57,138

57,138

42,854

NPRF Commission

Paul Carty

1st Term

01/08/2005

18/12/2005

Brian Cowen TD

16,541

57,138

57,138

57,138

57,138

NPRF Commission

Paul Carty

Chairman

19/12/2005

19/12/2010

Brian Cowen TD

NPRF Commission

Brian Hillery

1st Term

01/07/2004

01/07/2009

Charlie McCreevy TD

19,046

38,092

38,092

38,092

38,092

37,140

NPRF Commission

Brian Hillery

Re-appointed 2nd Term

01/07/2009

30/06/2014

Brian Lenihan TD

NPRF Commission

Brid Horan

1st Term

02/04/2001

02/04/2004

Charlie McCreevy TD

28,569

38,092

38,092

38,092

38,092

38,092

38,092

38,092

37,140

NPRF Commission

Brid Horan

Re-appointed 2nd Term

01/07/2004

01/07/2009

Charlie McCreevy TD

NPRF Commission

Dan Tully

02/04/2001

01/04/2004

Charlie McCreevy TD

28,569

38,092

38,092

9,523

NPRF Commission

Don Roth

1st Term

02/04/2001

02/04/2005

Charlie McCreevy TD

28,569

38,092

38,092

38,092

38,092

38,092

38,092

38,092

37,140

NTMA — continued

Board

Name

Comment

Date Appointed

Date Expires

Appointed by

1997

1998

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

NPRF Commission

Don Roth

Re-appointed 2nd Term

02/04/2005

02/04/2010

Brian Cowen TD

NPRF Commission

Frances Ruane

01/07/2009

30/06/2014

Brian Lenihan TD

NPRF Commission

John Canning

02/04/2005

02/04/2010

Brian Cowen TD

28,569

38,092

38,092

38,092

37,140

NPRF Commission

Martin Kohlhaussen

02/04/2001

01/04/2005

Charlie McCreevy TD

28,569

38,092

38,092

38,092

9,523

NPRF Commission

Maurice Keane

05/02/2007

05/02/2012

Brian Cowen TD

34,335.107

38,092

37,140

NPRF Commission

Robert Curran

02/04/2001

01/04/2005

Charlie McCreevy TD

28,569

38,092

38,092

38,092

9,523

NDFA Board

Peter McManamon

1st Term

01/01/2003

31/12/2007

Charlie McCreevy TD

10,000

10,000

10,000

10,000

18,000

14,000

13,650

NDFA Board

Peter McManamon

Re-appointed 2nd Term

01/01/2008

31/12/2012

Brian Cowen TD

NDFA Board

Ann Fitzgerald

1st Term

01/01/2003

31/12/2007

Charlie McCreevy TD

10,000

10,000

10,000

10,000

18,000

14,000

13,650

NDFA Board

Ann Fitzgerald

Re-appointed 2nd Term

01/01/2008

31/12/2012

Brian Cowen TD

NDFA Board

Tony Jones

1st Term

01/01/2003

31/12/2007

Charlie McCreevy TD

10,000

10,000

10,000

10,000

18,000

14,000

13,650

NDFA Board

Tony Jones

Re-appointed 2nd Term

01/01/2008

31/12/2012

Brian Cowen TD

NDFA Board

Fred Barry

Appointed Interim Basis

23/11/2005

01/05/2007

Brian Cowen TD

1,064

10,000

18,000

14,000

13,650

NDFA Board

Fred Barry

Appointed on statutory basis

02/05/2007

02/05/2012

Brian Cowen TD

NDFA Board

Stewart Harrington

Appointed Interim Basis

23/11/2005

01/05/2007

Brian Cowen TD

1,064

10,000

18,000

14,000

13,650

NDFA Board

Stewart Harrington

Appointed on statutory basis

02/05/2007

02/05/2012

Brian Cowen TD

NDFA Board

Liam Berney

Appointed Interim Basis

13/11/2006

01/05/2007

Brian Cowen TD

1,333

14,526

14,000

13,650

In relation to the expenses paid to members of the NTMA Advisory Committee, the National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission, the State Claims Agency Policy Committee and the Board of the National Development Finance Agency, I have been informed by the Agency that it has not been possible to assemble the information requested in the time available. I am making arrangements for the information to be provided to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

206 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that the right to preschool and primary school access is fully vindicated in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5482/10]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

222 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the additional measures she has put in place to ensure that children with disabilities and special needs are provided with the free preschool child care year recently introduced; her views on whether it is anomalous and unjust that while able bodied children can avail of this new service, the lack of appropriate staff precludes children with disabilities and special needs from availing of this child care facility; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5481/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 206 and 222.

I have responsibility for the implementation of the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme which commenced in January of this year.

All pre-school services participating in the ECCE scheme are required to make reasonable accommodation for children with special needs, as required under the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2004. In addition, I understand that specific supports for children with special needs who wish to access mainstream pre-school services, are provided by the Health Service Executive (HSE). Parents seeking such supports, including the parents of the child referred to by the Deputy, should contact their Local Health Office in this regard.

The ECCE scheme includes a number of provisions specifically intended to assist children with special needs. One of these is that, while the age range in which children qualify for the scheme is, generally, between 3 years 3 months and 4 years 6 months in September of the relevant year, exceptions are allowed where a child has been assessed as having a special need which will delay his or her entry to primary school. In such cases, the pre-school year relevant to such children will be taken as their qualifying year.

Additionally, the general requirement that a child would be expected to attend 4 or 5 days each week will not apply to children with special needs where a shorter week would be more appropriate to their needs. Many specialist pre-school services arrange for children attending their services to also attend a mainstream service for 1, 2 or 3 days a week. As a result, 1 full week place in the mainstream service could cater for 2 or more children with special needs on a pro-rata basis. Where appropriate, children with special needs attending a mainstream pre-school service on a pro-rata basis can avail of a second free pre-school year. Should additional flexibility in the arrangements for the scheme be required by specialist pre-school services for children with special needs, these will also be considered.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme.

John O'Mahony

Question:

207 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of applications awaiting approval in the Health Service Executive west area under the fair deal scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5405/10]

John O'Mahony

Question:

208 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of applications approved in the Health Service Executive west area under the fair deal scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5406/10]

John O'Mahony

Question:

209 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of applications made in the Health Service Executive west area under the fair deal scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5407/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 207 to 209, inclusive, together.

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Hospital Accommodation.

John O'Mahony

Question:

210 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of long-stay patients who are occupying acute hospital beds in each of the hospitals in the Health Service Executive west area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5408/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Cards.

Michael Ring

Question:

211 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if the medical card will be renewed. [5415/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

212 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a day care centre (details supplied) in County Cork has not operated for the past number of weeks. [5433/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

213 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will arrange an appointment for a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [5435/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

214 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a public psychologist is not available to deal with patients attending a unit in a hospital (details supplied) in County Kildare. [5442/10]

As this is a service matter the question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Cards.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

215 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children if patients suffering from cancer have an automatic entitlement to a medical card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5449/10]

At present, medical cards are granted primarily on the basis of means and individual circumstances. Under the Health Act, 2004, determination of eligibility for medical cards is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive. The HSE has discretion, in cases of exceptional need, to provide assistance to individuals where undue hardship would otherwise be caused.

Medical cards are made available to persons and their dependants who would otherwise experience undue hardship in meeting the cost of general practitioner services. In 2005, the GP visit card was introduced as a graduated benefit so that people on lower incomes who do not qualify for a medical card would not be deterred on cost grounds from visiting their GP. In June 2006, I agreed with the HSE to raise the assessment guidelines for GP visit cards and these are now 50% higher than those in respect of medical cards. For medical card and GP visit card applications, the HSE now considers an applicant's income after tax and PRSI are deducted, rather than total income. Allowances are also made for expenses on child care, rent and mortgage costs and the cost of travel to work.

I have no plans to provide for the granting of medical cards to any particular group as a whole. However, my Department is currently reviewing the eligibility criteria for medical cards with a view to making the system as fair and transparent as possible, taking into account financial and medical need.

Accident and Emergency Services.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

216 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children if drinking water is provided free of charge to patients in hospital accident and emergency departments here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5450/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Health Service Staff.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

217 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children if dentists have been redeployed to administer the H1N1 flu vaccination; if so, the number of dentists that have been redeployed; the way this has affected waiting lists for dental treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5451/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Vaccination Programme.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

218 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of the new cervical cancer vaccination programme; if she will vaccinate girls in second year up to sixth year in view of the high incidence of cervical cancer in young women here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5453/10]

I have always accepted the consensus view of the relevant expert bodies that the introduction of a universal high uptake vaccination programme in young girls, in conjunction with population based cervical screening, could significantly reduce overall cervical cancer incidence. The issue was not, therefore, whether the case for a cervical cancer vaccination programme was accepted by myself and the Government — because it always was — but how to place such a programme in order of clinical priorities for the allocation of scarce resources available for public health services and for the cancer programme in particular.

Recently I requested the HSE to initiate a tendering process for the procurement of a HPV vaccine with a view to commencing a HPV vaccination programme for all girls in first year in secondary school and until this process was completed I was not in a position to say if or when I would introduce this programme. This tendering process for the vaccine is now complete. We can now purchase the vaccine at a price much lower than we expected to pay in 2008 and at a price much closer to what is being paid in other countries. In these circumstances, the programme can now be delivered from the extra resources committed in this year's budget to the overall Cancer Programme.

The HSE is committed to starting this campaign during the current school year. This will involve the free vaccination of up to 30,000 girls mainly in school settings and an announcement of the details of the full programme involved will be made by the HSE in the near future. The programme will continue with vaccine being offered to all girls in first year in secondary school each year but it is not proposed to extend the vaccination programme to other classes at present.

Preschool Services.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

219 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of parents that have signed up for the new early childhood care and education scheme; the number of child-care providers participating in the scheme; the way child-care providers distinguish between children that are entitled to lunch and those that are not; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5454/10]

I have responsibility for the implementation of the free Preschool Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme which commenced in January this year. Approximately 4,000 preschool services are participating in the ECCE scheme. Each of these was required to make a return to my Office, by 29 January 2009, giving details of qualifying children attending. The service returns are currently being processed by the Child care Directorate of my Office and I understand that this process will be completed very shortly. Full and part-time day care services and sessional playschool services are subject to differing levels of regulatory requirements regarding the provision of meals and snacks including requirements where the service rather than the parent provides the meal or snack. While it is a fundamental principle of the scheme that the preschool year is provided free of charge to parents, services may charge parents for additional services including the provision of meals.

Health Services.

Mary Wallace

Question:

220 Deputy Mary Wallace asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she is taking to provide a better service regarding an in-house psychologist at a location, (details supplied) in County Meath; the further plans of the Health Service Executive regarding occupational therapy and provision of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5467/10]

As this is a service matter the question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

221 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that all required health and personal social services are made available to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5480/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Question No. 222 answered with Question No. 206.

Health Service Staff.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

223 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of doctors assigned to provide medical examinations for Australian visa applicants in the eastern region. [5491/10]

I have no function in assigning doctors to provide medical examinations for Australian visa applicants.

Thalidomide Survivors’ Compensation.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

224 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health and Children if her Department and the Health Service Executive are cognisant of the fact that, among the small cohort of thalidomide victims resident in the State, the natural ageing process is giving rise, in some cases, to additional medical needs for additional support; the proposals, which exist to deal with these people’s urgent need; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5497/10]

Each Irish victim of thalidomide receives a tax free monthly payment from my Department, has a medical card and is eligible to receive the full range of public health services from the Health Service Executive. I have met with the Irish Thalidomide Association on a number of occasions and I am considering the issues raised by the Deputy in the context of their submissions to me.

Medical Cards.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

225 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ascertain the position regarding an application submitted for an over-70s medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [5498/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Security.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

226 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of incidents in which hospital patients have reported property stolen; the number of such cases which have resulted in a Garda investigation; the number resulting in criminal proceedings; the number of cases in which compensation has had to be paid out for property stolen; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5516/10]

The HSE has been asked to reply directly to the Deputy on the specific issues relating to the number of reported incidents of robbery of patients' personal property and any compensation which may have been paid as a result.

The number of cases which may have resulted in a Garda investigation and criminal proceedings are not matters for my Department.

Accident and Emergency Services.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

227 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will confirm that it is intended to cease all emergency care at the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital, Cork, under the proposed reconfiguration of acute services in the Health Service Executive South; if a recent review of emergency departments recommended the creation of medical assessment units and urgent care centres at both SIVUH and Mercy University Hospital. [5521/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Hospital Charges.

Richard Bruton

Question:

228 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if patients who are undergoing courses of chemotherapy treatment are obliged to pay the daily public ward charge on each occasion that they visit, which appears to be the practice in some hospitals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5530/10]

The Health (In-Patient Charges) (Amendment) Regulations, 2008, impose a charge of €75 per night up to a maximum of €750 in any 12 consecutive months, during which an individual is maintained as an in-patient in a public hospital or is admitted to the hospital as a day case. This charge applies to everyone receiving treatment in a public hospital with the exception of, inter alia, persons with full eligibility, women receiving services in respect of motherhood, children up to the age of six weeks and children suffering from prescribed long term diseases.

If the Deputy has a particular case in mind he might forward the details to me and I will have it investigated by the Health Service Executive.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

229 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied). [5532/10]

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Staff.

James Reilly

Question:

230 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if the long standing term-time scheme arrangement which applied to the staff at Saint Ita’s Hospital, Portrane, County Dublin, has been suspended; if so, the reason for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5542/10]

As this is a service matter the question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Tobacco Control.

James Reilly

Question:

231 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans for the future of the Office of Tobacco Control; the person who will carry out the ongoing work of this office into the future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5545/10]

Following the recommendations of both a Joint Oireachtas Committee and the Dioxin Review Group that the decision announced in the October 2008 Budget to merge the Office of Tobacco Control, the Food Safety Authority, and the Irish Medicines Board be reviewed and evaluated, I am currently considering the matter and will consult with my colleagues in Government in this regard.

James Reilly

Question:

232 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to introduce pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs on sale here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5565/10]

The introduction of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs on sale here is provided for under Section 6 of the Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Act, 2009. Regulations to facilitate the introduction of the new pictorial warnings are being drafted. The date for the introduction of the new warnings will be determined following consultation with the relevant stakeholders.

James Reilly

Question:

233 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to introduce a ban on smoking in cars when there are children present, as proposed by a number of health non-governmental organisations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5566/10]

Exposure to cigarette smoke is particularly dangerous in enclosed spaces such as cars, and parents and others with responsibility for the welfare of children have a particular responsibility to ensure that such exposure does not take place. My Department is currently reviewing the measures that have been undertaken in other countries. While there are currently no proposals to introduce a ban on smoking in cars where there are children present, the matter will be kept under review.

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

234 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5581/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Vaccination Programme.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

235 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Health and Children if a parent who is now unemployed and who paid a total of €760 during 2009 to have their two teenage daughters vaccinated against cervical cancer will be given a refund in view of the decision to fund a cervical cancer screening programme for teenage girls; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5622/10]

I have always accepted the consensus view of the relevant expert bodies that the introduction of a universal high-uptake vaccination programme in young girls, in conjunction with population-based cervical screening, could significantly reduce overall cervical cancer incidence. The issue was not, therefore, whether the case for a cervical cancer vaccination programme was accepted by myself and the Government — because it always was — but how to place such a programme in order of clinical priorities for the allocation of scarce resources available for public health services and for the cancer programme in particular.

Recently I requested the HSE to initiate a tendering process for the procurement of a HPV vaccine with a view to commencing a HPV vaccination programme for all girls in first year in secondary school and until this process was completed I was not in a position to say if or when I would introduce this programme. This tendering process for the vaccine is now complete. We can now purchase the vaccine at a price much lower than we expected to pay in 2008 and at a price much closer to what is being paid in other countries. In these circumstances, the programme can now be delivered from the extra resources committed in this year's budget to the overall Cancer Programme.

The HSE is committed to starting this campaign during the current school year. This will involve the free vaccination of up to 30,000 girls mainly in school settings and an announcement of the details of the full programme involved will be made by the HSE in the near future. The programme will continue with vaccine being offered to all girls in first year in secondary school each year but it is not proposed to extend the vaccination programme to other classes at present. Unfortunately it will not be possible to refund the costs of vaccinations administered privately.

Decentralisation Programme.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

236 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will state, in view of the decentralisation programme announced in December 2003, the properties rented or acquired as a consequence of the decentralisation programme in respect of her Department and of every State body for which it is responsible; the date of commencement of the rental or date of purchase of each property; the cost of each property purchased or the annual rental of each property rented; the number of staff transferred into each property as of 1 January of each year from the commencement of the rental or the date of the acquisition of each property, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5639/10]

My Department is not one of the Departments scheduled for decentralisation under the Government's Decentralisation Programme.

The information relating to the agencies that come under the aegis of my Department is currently being collected and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Medical Cards.

John McGuinness

Question:

237 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 305 of 20 October 2009, if she will contact the Health Service Executive to insist on a comprehensive response being issued. [5646/10]

My Department has made enquiries of the Health Service Executive (HSE) regarding the status of its reply to the Deputy's Parliamentary Question No. 305 of 20 October 2009 and I understand that the Executive issued a reply yesterday to the Deputy in this matter.

The Health Act 2008 allows for a surviving spouse of an over-70s medical card holder to retain their card for a period of three years, provided that the death occurred on or after 1 January 2009; the surviving spouse/partner was aged 70 or over at the time of the death; and the surviving spouse remains within the €1,400 gross weekly income limit for a couple. After three years, the surviving spouse will be assessed under the €700 single weekly gross income limit.

I moved an amendment during the legislation's passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas to ensure that a person aged 70 or over would not lose his/her medical card as an immediate consequence of the death of a spouse. My Department examined the options available to ensure that the trauma is minimised for an elderly person whose spouse dies. I am satisfied that the provision in the legislation offers the best solution from a non-discrimination point of view.

A surviving spouse aged 70 or over who no longer qualifies for a medical card after 1 January 2009 may apply to the HSE for a card under the existing net income thresholds, which take account of medical, nursing and other relevant expenses. The HSE may also issue a medical card on a discretionary basis if the person would otherwise be caused undue hardship in providing general medical and surgical services for themselves and any dependants.

Nursing Home Subventions.

David Stanton

Question:

238 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children if nursing homes and community hospitals that were supported by the State before the introduction of the nursing home support scheme will continue to receive at least the same level of support after the introduction of the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5648/10]

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme is a new system of financial support for individuals in need of long-term residential care. The commencement of the scheme brought about a fundamental change in the way in which such care is funded and, consequently, the way in which the nursing homes and community hospitals referred to by the Deputy are funded.

In the past, these facilities were allocated a lump sum annually. In contrast, the new scheme supports the individuals in need of long-term residential care, not the facilities providing the care. This means that funding follows the patients and ensures that these facilities are not being funded for empty beds.

The legislation underpinning the scheme requires all nursing homes operated by or on behalf of the HSE to publish the cost of care. The cost for these nursing homes has been determined using the definition of "long-term residential care services" underpinned by an agreed set of cost components which has been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. All other nursing homes must negotiate and agree a price for the cost of care with the National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Finally, as stated above, the Nursing Homes Support Scheme only applies to long-term residential care. Nursing homes and community hospitals can continue to have separate agreements with the HSE for the provision of other services, e.g. day care, respite and convalescence.

Appointments to State Boards.

George Lee

Question:

239 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Health and Children the names addresses of all nominees to bodies or agencies under the remit of her Department that were appointed since 26 June 1997, detailing by whom they were appointed; when they were appointed; the amount paid by the Exchequer to each nominee each year from 1997 to 2009 broken down into income, expenses, overtime and any other relevant category; the money paid by her Department each year from 1997 to 2009 to cover expenses or incidentals related to the nominees, such as accommodation, travel and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5664/10]

I currently make appointments to over 40 agencies, councils, offices, advisory committees and other bodies. More than 20 bodies, including the former health boards have been abolished during the period in question. The information being sought by the Deputy is not routinely collected or compiled by my Department. The Deputy will appreciate that the provision of the information requested cannot be facilitated without undue commitment of staff resources and administrative cost. However, if the Deputy has a question in relation to a specific agency, I will make appropriate inquiries.

Medical Cards.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

240 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of adults with medical cards at 1 January for each year from 2005 to 2009 on a county basis. [5671/10]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

241 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of adults with general practitioner only cards at 1 January for each year from 2005 to 2009 on a county basis. [5672/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 240 and 241 together.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has the operational and funding responsibility for the medical card and GP visit card benefits. It collates medical card and GP visit card data by county, age and gender. Therefore, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

David Stanton

Question:

242 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a sum of money was deducted as owing to the Health Service Executive with reference to the health repayment scheme in respect to a payment made (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5675/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Assisted Human Reproduction.

Finian McGrath

Question:

243 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [5678/10]

For the area of embryonic stem cell research, the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction recommended that:

"Embryo research, including embryonic stem cell research, for specific purposes only and under stringently controlled conditions, should be permitted on surplus embryos that are donated specifically for research. This should be permitted up to fourteen days following fertilisation."

Of significance to this recommendation is the recent judgment in the RvR (frozen embryos) case. The Supreme Court decided in that case the frozen embryos concerned do not have the constitutional protection of Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution. It is my intention to bring forward proposals to Government later this year with a view to drafting legislation to govern the area of Assisted Human Reproduction and related practices — such as that mentioned by the Deputy. The work involved in developing these proposals will examine and consider — among other things — the issues arising from the frozen embryos Supreme Court judgment; and, in the interim, I will not pre-empt this work.

Inter-Country Adoptions.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

244 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a couple who have already adopted a child from Russia and have met with a second child from the same country that they hope to adopt; if that adoption can proceed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5679/10]

I announced on 26 January my intention to bring forward on Committee Stage an amendment to the Adoption Bill 2009 that will enable prospective adoptive parents to proceed with an adoption from a non-Hague or non-bilateral country, if prior to the establishment date, they have been issued with a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability to adopt. The proposed amendment requires that the Adoption Authority (to be set up under the Act) would be satisfied that the particular adoption meets all the standards of the Hague Convention.

The issue of a ‘grandfather' clause was previously given careful and detailed consideration in the preparation of the legislation. It was decided against including such a provision in the Bill as it would represent a considerable dilution of the intent of the legislation in terms of setting improved standards for inter-country adoption.

Public Transport.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

245 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the number of buses in the Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus fleet for the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5486/10]

My Department has asked Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann to compile the information sought and forward it directly to the Deputy.

Road Safety Authority.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

246 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the budget for the Road Safety Authority in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5487/10]

The total allocation for the Road Safety Authority for 2010, as published in my Department's Estimate, is €32.846m. An adjustment to this figure will be made in respect of the reduction in salaries for public sector workers announced in the Budget, and the revised figure will be published shortly in the Revised Estimates Volume.

Roads Network.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

247 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport if he will direct the National Roads Authority, under section 41 of the Roads Act, 1993, or otherwise, to upgrade and maintain the N17 between County Galway and County Mayo in view of the recent deaths of four young persons on this stretch of the N17 and the numerous incidents of non fatal collisions on this road; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5528/10]

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme element of Transport 21. The construction, improvement and maintenance of individual national roads, including the N17 between County Galway and County Mayo, is a matter for the National Roads Authority under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

I do not propose to issue any directions to the NRA under section 41 of the Roads Act 1993.

Decentralisation Programme.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

248 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Transport if he will state, in view of the decentralisation programme announced in December 2003, the properties rented or acquired as a consequence of the decentralisation programme in respect of his Department and of every State body for which it is responsible; the date of commencement of the rental or date of purchase of each property; the cost of each property purchased or the annual rental of each property rented; the number of staff transferred into each property as of 1 January of each year from the commencement of the rental or the date of the acquisition of each property in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5643/10]

Under the decentralisation programme 15 staff members of the Department of Transport were transferred to Loughrea, Co. Galway, in July, 2007. These staff are accommodated on the 2nd Floor, Clonfert House, Bride Street, Loughrea. The Road Safety Authority occupies the remainder of Clonfert House.

All arrangements associated with the provision of this property were discharged by the Office of Public Works. The Office of Public Works has indicated that they took out a lease on this property on 1 February 2007 and that the annual rent for the 2nd Floor is €51,837.50.

In so far as agencies under the aegis of the Department are concerned, the rental, leasing or purchasing of accommodation is a matter for the agencies concerned.

Public Transport.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

249 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Transport if his Department’s project to install real time passenger information for bus stops will be extended beyond the greater Dublin area; if it will be extended to Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5652/10]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

250 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Transport if extra funding beyond the €5.8 million that had been allocated to the project has now been received to install real time passenger information at bus stops; the amount of this funding that will be allocated to Cork; the amount of this funding that will be allocated to Dublin; when and the reason the decision was taken to extend the project beyond the greater Dublin area; when these displays will be installed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5653/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 249 and 250 together.

The renewed Programme for Government of October 2009 commits the Government to the roll-out of Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) in Dublin and Cork in 2010 and to Limerick, Galway and Waterford in 2011.

The National Transport Authority will have responsibility for ensuring the delivery of the commitment in the Programme for Government.

I have allocated approximately €350m to the National Transport Authority in 2010, for the delivery of public transport projects, including Real Time Passenger Information. The Authority will engage with both Dublin City Council and Cork City Council on the delivery of on street Real Time Passenger Information in both cities this year.

Appointments to State Boards.

George Lee

Question:

251 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Transport the names addresses of all nominees to bodies or agencies under the remit of his Department that were appointed since 26 June 1997, detailing by whom they were appointed; when they were appointed; the amount paid by the Exchequer to each nominee each year from 1997 to 2009 broken down into income, expenses, overtime and any other relevant category; the money paid by his Department each year from 1997 to 2009 to cover expenses or incidentals related to the nominees, such as accommodation, travel and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5668/10]

The following table sets out the names of all nominees to bodies and agencies appointed by a Minister of this Department since the establishment of the Department of Transport on 6 June 2002. The Table includes the date of appointment and the name of the Minister who made the appointment. It would not be appropriate to include the addresses of appointees.

In relation to nominees to port companies and harbour authorities, the table lists the appointments from January 2006 when responsibility for ports and harbours transferred to the Department.

The payment of fees, expenses, overtime and other incidental costs associated with members of Boards are a matter for the agencies and bodies concerned. Officials of the Department who are members of boards do not receive a fee, salary or remuneration in respect of such membership and any expenses incurred are normally payable by the Department in accordance with civil service norms.

The Commission for Taxi Regulation (CTR) and the Railway Safety Commission do not have Boards. However, both have Advisory Councils and the Minister appoints the members to both Councils.

Name of Body

Nominee

Date of Appointment

Minister

Railway Safety Advisory

William Galloway

11/05/2007-11/05/2010

Martin Cullen

Council

Peter Cuffe

11/05/2007-11/05/2010

Do

Audrey Bradley

11/05/2007-11/05/2010

Do

Kay Doyle

11/05/2007-11/05/2010

Do

Pat O'Donoghue

11/05/2007-11/05/2010

Do

Brian Brennan

11/05/2007-11/05/2010

Do

Michael Kennedy

11/05/2007-11/05/2010

Do

Paul Cullen

11/05/2007-11/05/2010

Do

Dermot O'Leary

11/05/2007-11/05/2010

Do

Peter Rigney

11/05/2007-11/05/2010

Do

Mary Dorgan

11/05/2007-11/05/2010

Do

Donie O'Shea

11/05/2007-11/05/2010

Do

Kit Holden

11/05/2007-11/05/2010

Do

Railway Procurement Agency

Frank Allen

06/08/2002-05/08/2011

Seamus Brennan

Hamid Foroughi

27/11/2002-26/11/2007

Do

John M. Maguire

20/03/2003-19/03/2006

Do

Do

20/03/2006-19/03/2011

Martin Cullen

Brendan P. Malone

17/05/2005-09/01/2007

Do

Do

07/02/2007-06/02/2010

Do

Tom Mulcahy (Resigned with effect from 30/06/2006)

07/02/2007-06/02/2012

Do

Tom Wall

Jacqueline Cross

07/02/2007-06/02/2010

Do

Cianan MacSamhrain

07/02/2007-06/02/2010

Do

27/11/2007-26/11/2012

Noel Dempsey

11 Up to 1st August 2008 appointments to the Boards of Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus and Iarnród Éireann were made by the Chairman of CIE with the approval of the Minister for Transport.

Bus Éireann

Bill Lilley

02/01/2003-31/12/2003

Seamus Brennan

Do

09/02/2004-30/06/2004

Do

Do

01/07/2004-30/06/2005

Do

Jim Hegarty

29/03/2003-28/03/2004

Do

Do

29/03/2004-28/03/2005

Do

Do

29/03/2005-28/03/2006

Martin Cullen

Do

29/03/2006-28/03/2007

Do

Do

29/03/2007-28/03/2008

Do

Do

29/03/2008-28/03/2009

Noel Dempsey

Dick Langford

29/04/2003-28/04/2004

Seamus Brennan

Do

29/04/2004-28/04/2005

Do

Do

29/04/2005-29/04/2007

Martin Cullen

Do

29/04/2007-28/04/2010

Do

Gerry Charles (Worker Director)

29/04/2003-28/04/2004

Seamus Brennan

Do

29/04/2004-28/04/2005

Do

Do

29/04/2005-30/11/2005

Martin Cullen

Tras Honan

09/02/2004-08/02/2005

Seamus Brennan

Do

09/02/2005-09/02/2011

Martin Cullen

Dr. John J. Lynch

27/05/2005-27/03/2008

Do

Do

28/03/2008-27/03/2010

Noel Dempsey

Kathryne Byrne

27/05/2005-31/05/2006

Martin Cullen

Do

01/06/2006-31/05/2007

Do

Jim Byrne

23/09/2005-22/09/2006

Do

Do

23/09/2006-22/09/2010

Do

Bill McCamley (Worker Director)

01/01/2006-31/12/2006

Do

Do

01/01/2007-31/12/2007

Do

Do

01/01/2008-31/12/2008

Noel Dempsey

Do

01/01/2009-30/11/2009

Do

John Moloney (Worker Director)

01/01/2006-31/12/2006

Martin Cullen

Do

01/01/2007-31/12/2007

Do

Do

01/01/2008-31/12/2008

Noel Dempsey

Do

01/01/2009-30/11/2009

Do

Do

01/12/2009-30/11/2012

Do

John Pender

29/04/2007-28/04/2010

Martin Cullen

Thomas M. Byrne (Resigned with effect from 03/11/2008)

24/06/2008-23/06/2010

Noel Dempsey

John Griffin

Mick Cullen (Worker Director)

18/05/2009-17/05/2012

Do

01/12/2009-30/11/2012

Do

11 Up to 1st August 2008 appointments to the Boards of Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus and Iarnród Éireann were made by the Chairman of CIE with the approval of the Minister for Transport.

Dublin Bus

Arnold O'Byrne

01/06/2002-31/05/2003

Seamus Brennan

Do

01/06/2003-31/05/2004

Do

Do

01/06/2004-31/05/2005

Do

Do

01/06/2005-31/05/2006

Martin Cullen

Do

01/06/2006-31/05/2007

Do

Do

31/05/2007-30/05/2009

Do

Do

01/06/2009-31/05/2012

Noel Dempsey

Peter Webster

01/06/2002-31/05/2003

Seamus Brennan

Do

01/06/2003-31/05/2004

Do

Do

01/06/2004-31/05/2005

Do

Do

01/06/2005-31/05/2006

Martin Cullen

Do

01/06/2006-31/05/2007

Do

Do

31/05/2007-30/05/2008

Do

Do

31/05/2008-30/05/2009

Noel Dempsey

Dr. Alan Westwell

03/06/2002-02/06/2003

Seamus Brennan

Do

03/06/2003-31/12/2003

Do

Do

09/02/2004-30/06/2004

Do

Do

01/07/2004-30/06/2005

Do

David Egan

01/03/2003-08/12/2003

Do

Do

09/02/2004-08/02/2005

Do

Do

09/02/2005-08/02/2006

Martin Cullen

Do

09/02/2006-08/02/2007

Do

Do

09/02/2007-08/02/2008

Do

Do

26/02/2008-25/02/2009

Noel Dempsey

Tom Coffey

29/04/2003-28/04/2004

Seamus Brennan

Do

29/04/2004-28/04/2005

Do

Do

29/04/2005-28/04/2007

Martin Cullen

Do

29/04/2007-28/04/2008

Do

Do

29/04/2008-28/04/2009

Noel Dempsey

Anne Marie Mannix (Worker Director)

29/04/2003-28/04/2004

Seamus Brennan

Do

Do

29/04/2004-28/04/2005

Do

Bill McCamley (Worker Director)

29/04/2005-30/11/2005

Martin Cullen

Do

01/01/2006-31/12/2006

Do

Do

01/01/2007-31/12/2007

Do

Do

01/01/2008-31/12/2008

Noel Dempsey

Do

01/01/2009-30/11/2009

Do

John Moloney (Worker Director)

01/12/2009-30/11/2012

Do

Do

01/01/2006-31/12/2006

Martin Cullen

Do

01/01/2007-31/12/2007

Do

Do

01/01/2008-31/12/2008

Noel Dempsey

Dr. John J. Lynch

01/01/2009-30/11/2009

Do

Mary Mooney

28/03/2008-27/03/2010

Do

Grainne Ahern (nee Tuke)

18/05/2009-17/05/2012

Do

Nuala Maher

02/06/2009-01/06/2012

Do

Willie McDermott (Worker Director)

02/06/2009-01/06/2012

Do

01/12/2009-30/11/2012

Do

11 Up to 1st August 2008 appointments to the Boards of Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus and Iarnród Éireann were made by the Chairman of CIE with the approval of the Minister for Transport.

Iarnród Éireann

Gerry Duggan

01/03/2003-08/12/2003

Seamus Brennan

Do

09/02/2004-08/02/2005

Do

Do

09/02/2005-08/02/2006

Martin Cullen

Do

09/02/2006-08/02/2007

Do

Do

09/02/2007-08/02/2010

Do

Joe Meagher

01/03/2003-28/02/2004

Seamus Brennan

Do

01/03/2004-28/02/2005

Do

Dr. John J. Lynch

29/04/2003-28/04/2004

Do

Do

29/04/2004-27/03/2005

Do

Do

28/03/2005-27/03/2008

Martin Cullen

Do

28/03/2008-28/03/2010

Noel Dempsey

Bill McCamley (Worker Director)

29/04/2003-28/04/2004

Seamus Brennan

Do

29/04/2004-28/04/2005

Do

Do

29/04/2005-30/11/2005

Martin Cullen

Paul Prescott

01/05/2003-30/04/2004

Seamus Brennan

Do

01/05/2004-30/04/2005

Do

Do

01/05/2005-31/10/2005

Martin Cullen

Do

01/11/2005-31/10/2006

Do

Plev Ellis

01/06/2003-31/05/2004

Seamus Brennan

Do

01/06/2004-31/05/2005

Do

Ted Murphy

23/09/2005-22/09/2006

Martin Cullen

Do

23/09/2006-22/09/2007

Do

Dick Byrne

23/09/2005-22/09/2006

Do

Do

23/09/2006-22/09/2007

Do

Phil Gaffney

01/01/2006-31/12/2006

Do

Do

01/01/2007-31/12/2007

Do

Do

01/01/2008-31/12/2008

Noel Dempsey

Do

18/05/2009-17/05/2012

Do

Paul Cullen (Worker Director)

01/01/2006-31/12/2006

Martin Cullen

Do

01/01/2007-31/12/2007

Do

Do

01/01/2008-31/12/2008

Noel Dempsey

Do

01/01/2009-30/11/2009

Do

Mary Johnston (Worker Director)

01/01/2006-31/12/2006

Martin Cullen

Do

01/01/2007-31/12/2007

Do

Do

01/01/2008-31/12/2008

Noel Dempsey

Do

01/01/2009-30/11/2009

Do

Cliff Perry

23/09/2006-22/09/2007

Martin Cullen

Do

13/11/2007-12/11/2008

Noel Dempsey

Do

18/05/2009-17/05/2012

Do

Laurence O'Neill

11/06/2007-10/06/2010

Martin Cullen

Dermot Patrick Faulkner

13/11/2007-12/11/2008

Noel Dempsey

Michael Giblin

18/05/2009-17/05/2012

Do

Dearbhalla Smyth

18/05/2009-17/05/2012

Do

Mick Cullen (Worker Director)

01/12/2009-30/11/2012

Do

John Moloney (Worker Director)

01/12/2009-30/11/2012

Do

Border Controls.

Mary Upton

Question:

252 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will address the concerns of a person (details supplied) regarding Schengen visas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5430/10]

While I am sympathetic to the concerns of the Deputy's correspondent in relation to promoting tourism, and would wish to facilitate that industry where I can, it clearly cannot be at the expense of undermining our border controls.

Schengen is a complicated issue and a more detailed background was supplied in my reply to priority question 46447/09 on 10 December 2009. As I stated then, Ireland has not applied to participate in the Schengen arrangements to the extent that they deal with the abolition of border checks. This decision has been taken to maintain the common travel area (CTA) with the United Kingdom which remains a priority for Ireland. The Common Travel Area could not continue to operate if Ireland were to remove border checks with Schengen states generally while the United Kingdom did not do so. To do so would result in a situation where the land border with Northern Ireland would become the border between the Schengen area and the United Kingdom. The inevitable consequence of this would be the introduction of border controls.

A unilateral decision to recognise UK visas as valid for Ireland, quite apart from the matter of sovereignty, is not as straightforward as might appear. The purpose of a visa regime is to examine applications from certain designated countries in advance, bearing in mind the immigration risks associated with such countries and ensuring that the purpose of that person's visit to Ireland is appropriate. Setting aside that examination (bearing in mind also that the purpose of the UK visit may well be different to that of Ireland) could risk undermining our border controls.

A joint visa system clearly has attractions in terms of promoting tourism. However the Schengen visa regime, on which such a proposal would be modelled, did not come about merely because countries wanted mutual recognition. The Schengen regime is underpinned by a raft of rules and procedures built up over years.

All of that said, my Department is always open to constructive suggestions and I will arrange a meeting between senior officials and the representative group of which the deputy's correspondent is Chief Executive.

Prison Drug Treatment Services.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

253 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of prisons that are currently operating a methadone maintenance programme; the number of prisoners that are accessing this programme; the cost of this programme each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5456/10]

The Irish Prison Service continues to work to implement its Drugs Policy & Strategy, entitled Keeping Drugs Out of Prison, which was launched in May 2006. Working to fulfil the commitments contained in the Policy and Strategy involves the implementation of stringent measures to prevent drugs from getting into prisons while, at the same time, continuing to invest in services within prisons to reduce the demand for illicit drugs in the prisoner population as well as meeting prisoners' treatment and rehabilitative needs. At present, any person entering prison giving a history of opiate use and testing positive for opioids is offered a medically assisted symptomatic detoxification if clinically indicated. Patients can, as part of the assessment process, discuss with healthcare staff other treatment options. These may include stabilization on methadone maintenance for persons who wish to continue on maintenance while in prison and when they return to the community on release. Prisoners who on committal are engaged in a methadone substitution programme in the community will in the main have their methadone substitution treatment continued while in custody. Methadone substitution treatment is available in 8 of the 14 prisons (accommodating over 80% of the prison population). 2,014 prisoners were in receipt of methadone maintenance treatment during 2008 (see table below). In 2009, provisional figures indicate 2,424 prisoners were in receipt of methadone substitution treatment, a 20% increase on the 2008 figures. A breakdown by prison for 2009 is currently being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy.

Staffing costs represent the bulk of all drug treatment funding, and as such it is not possible to apportion the actual cost of providing methadone substitution treatment. However, expenditure on drug treatment, excluding indirect staff and ancillary costs was approximately €2.5m in 2008.

Table 1: Methadone Treatment Per Prison

Prison

Number of Prisoners Treated in 2008

Cloverhill

827

Dochas

245

Limerick

37

Midlands

110

Mountjoy

553

Portlaoise

4

St Patrick’s

28

Wheatfield

210

TOTAL

2,014

Garda Investigations.

Joe Costello

Question:

254 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the file in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Sligo will be reviewed in order that an investigation will re-open; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5438/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the investigation into the death of the person referred to by the Deputy was the subject of an intensive review in 2004.

I am further informed that the Commissioner appointed the Assistant Commissioner, Northern Region to examine the investigation file, which remains open, and is under the supervision of the Assistant Commissioner. Liaison is being maintained with the family of the person referred to.

The Deputy will appreciate that, as the investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this time.

Irish Prison Service.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

255 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the cost of keeping one prisoner in St. Patrick’s Institution, Dublin, for one year; if health and education schemes are available to these prisoners; if prisoners receive a daily monetary allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5452/10]

The average annual cost of providing an available, staffed prison space in St Patrick's Institution was €101,590 in 2008; figures for 2009 are not yet available.

St Patrick's Institution offers a diverse range of general and specialist services provided both by the Irish Prison Service and in-reaching statutory and non-statutory services. Among these are healthcare, psychiatric, psychological, educational, vocational, counselling, welfare and spiritual services. These services are important in addressing offending behaviour, drug and alcohol addiction, missed educational and vocational opportunities, anger management and self-management in the interest of encouraging positive personal development in prisoners and preparing them for re-integration and resettlement on release from custody.

The current rate of gratuity payable to prisoners is €2.35 per day.

Garda Investigations.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

256 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the culprits to the 78 hoax call-outs of the explosive ordnance disposal team from the period from 1 January to 15 November 2009 have been apprehended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1977/10]

The primary objective of the Garda Síochána in dealing with incidents involving improvised explosive devices (IEDs), including hoax incidents, is to protect the life and safety of the public. The Gardaí receive ongoing support in achieving this aim from the Army's Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams.

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that in 2009 a total of 96 calls have been identified involving hoax IED incidents and an Army EOD team attended at 88 of these. To date, detections are recorded in 22 of these incidents, which are subject of thorough investigation by the Garda Síochána.

The use of pipe bombs and other IEDs and hoax incidents is a matter of concern to me, a concern that is shared by the Garda Commissioner. Garda strategies are firmly focused on identifying the culprits in such incidents and, where sufficient evidence is adduced, proffering charges and bringing such persons before the Courts.

Neighbourhood Watch Schemes.

Jack Wall

Question:

257 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of neighbourhood watch schemes in operation; the number in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47034/09]

Neighbourhood Watch is a crime prevention programme which aims to enlist the active co-operation of the community in a neighbourhood by observing and reporting suspicious activities and by so doing reducing the level of criminal behaviour. Since its establishment, the Garda authorities have sought to encourage the active participation of the public in Neighbourhood Watch by encouraging and supporting communities to establish and maintain such initiatives and deploying crime prevention officers and liaison Gardaí to assist schemes. Neighbourhood Watch is supported by and operates under the Neighbourhood Watch Strategy 2007 — 2011, which has helped to strengthen its management and operation.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that presently there are 2,342 Neighbourhood Watch Schemes in operation in Ireland, 148 of which are located in Co. Kildare.

Community Graffiti Reduction Programme.

Jack Wall

Question:

258 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the amount of moneys allocated under the community graffiti reduction programme; the communities at which this funding was aimed; if there will be an increase in funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47035/09]

The Community Graffiti Reduction Programme (CGRP) was launched in April 2008. My Department contracted Pobal to manage and maintain the scheme and associated funds for projects to address the problem of graffiti. In 2008, a budget of €2.75 million was initially made available to the Programme. The CGRP was to be organised into two Phases. Phase 1 of the Programme applied to RAPID areas only to cover immediate graffiti removal work. A total of approx €1 million was actually spent under this phase of the scheme.

It was envisaged that a second strand of funding would be made available nationally, to eligible groups to develop local mechanisms within communities to support long-term reduction of incidences of graffiti. Unfortunately, due to the declining state of the public finances, this Phase could not be commenced and the Programme was formally brought to an end in June 2009. No funding is consequently being made available for the scheme in 2010.

In addition to the CGRP as outlined above, a pilot Community Service Graffiti Removal Project was officially established in 2008 by the Probation Services in partnership with South Dublin County Council. The initiative was based on previous Community Service work in the Tallaght area involving the painting over of graffiti and site clearing work by offenders in lieu of a custodial sentence. My Department provided funding of approximately €70,000 for the initial cost of the conversion of a vehicle and purchase of specialised equipment for this very successful project which is ongoing.

Garda Stations.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

259 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will consider funding in respect of additional accommodation for Coolock Garda station, Dublin 5; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5484/10]

The Garda accommodation programme is based on agreed priorities established by An Garda Síochána and it is brought forward in close cooperation with the Office of Public Works, which has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation. The accommodation requirements of Coolock Garda station will be considered in the context of the Garda Síochána's identified accommodation priorities and in light of available resources.

Garda Deployment.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

260 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí stationed at Coolock, Finglas, Store Street, Blanchardstown, Kevin Street and Donnybrook Garda stations, Dublin, for the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5485/10]

I regret that the information requested by the Deputy is not readily to hand. I will write to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

261 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will allocate a crime prevention officer to Coolock Garda station, Dublin 5; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5488/10]

The allocation of Garda resources, including the distribution of personnel, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner, his senior managers and Divisional Officers. Garda management is aided in this by a distribution model known as the Garda Establishment Redistribution Model (GERM).

I am advised by the Commissioner that this model indicates the most effective means to distribute Garda personnel and acts as a guide to Garda management decision making. It takes into account many different policing variables, including crime trends, socio-economic factors, and census information. The allocation of Garda personnel is determined by these factors and also takes account of the policing requirements of each individual Division. Any case for an allocation of the nature suggested in the question will be considered in that context.

Garda Recruitment.

Joe Costello

Question:

262 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for the delay in recruiting new gardaí who have passed the relevant examinations and interviews; when the next recruitment will take place; the number of gardaí that will be recruited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5493/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that following selection by the Public Appointments Service each applicant must undergo a Physical Competency Test, a Medical Examination and also Character Vetting. Applicants successful at all three stages will remain on a panel and are available to be offered positions as Garda Trainees in a future intake.

While the moratorium on recruitment and promotion in the Public Service applies to the Garda Síochána, I am keeping under continuing review the case for derogations from this and I am in ongoing discussion on the issue with my colleague the Minister for Finance. The Deputy may be aware that I recently secured a derogation to permit a significant number of promotions in the Garda Síochána which will enable key vacancies to be filled across all ranks.

Cross-Border Projects.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

263 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the detail of all cross-Border programmes, initiatives, areas of co-operation and similar which his Department is currently engaged in or about to engage in with its counterparts in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5494/10]

In line with Government policy, my Department continues to engage with the authorities in Northern Ireland with a view to providing integrated and seamless co-operation across a number of policy areas.

Under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Co-operation on Criminal Justice Matters, signed in June 2005, project groups comprising relevant officials and practitioners from the two jurisdictions have been established to take forward co-operation in the fields of Youth Justice, Victim Support (including representation from the two Courts Services), Management of Sex Offenders, Public Protection (including representation from the two Prison Services), Forensic Science and Social Diversity. These groups involve high-level representation from relevant criminal justice agencies North and South and their role is to promote and co-ordinate co-operation in their specific policy area. This includes practical operational co-operation, exchange of best practice and sharing of policy initiatives, and, where appropriate, exchange of personnel.

In relation specifically to the management of Sex Offenders, a new cross-border Group is currently being formed to investigate current arrangements for returning sex offenders who travel to the other jurisdiction in breach of the conditions of their release or notification requirements. The Group will also seek to identify any weaknesses in arrangements for their return and make recommendations to Ministers for improvements where necessary. My Department is also engaged in a process involving Northern Ireland, England and Wales, and Scotland which seeks as its final aim the better harmonisation of sex offender legislation across Britain and Ireland.

The two Probation Services on the island have a long history of co-operation, including on operational matters, and their senior management teams meet regularly. Where appropriate, representatives of the two Services have collaborated on the drafting of joint practice development and information sharing initiatives and protocols. They also have reciprocal arrangements for the mutual completion of Court requested assessments and supervision of offenders living in one jurisdiction but appearing in Court in the other.

Under the auspices of the Public Protection group, the two Probation Services are currently seeking to introduce an all island system for sex offender assessment. A joint cross border approach is also being advanced to the evaluation and validation of the risk assessment tools.

In relation to the child protection work programme agreed under the auspices of the North South Ministerial Council, officials of my Department are co-operating with their counterparts in the Northern Ireland Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety on the issue of internet safety. In this context they are considering the increasing problems associated with the internet and social networking, and a working group has been tasked with considering the scope for cross-border co-operation including the sharing of best practice.

The Courts Service has engaged in significant cross border co-operation and dialogue since its establishment. Regular bilateral meetings are held between senior management, and co-operation takes place in relation to the development of major ICT and capital building projects. The Courts Service will be hosting the regular Conference of the Guardianship, Protection and Wardship jurisdictions for UK and Ireland in September 2010.

In the context of work on the National Strategy for Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence, officials from Cosc, the National Office for Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence, met with their counterparts in the Northern Ireland Office and the NI Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in June last year to discuss the development of policy and awareness-raising in the area and the challenges still faced in tackling domestic and sexual violence. There has been informal contact between the parties since the meeting and it is intended to continue this co-operation.

Officials from Cosc also meet regularly with the NI officials and NGOs at the Raising the Standards Group. The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform is a founder member of this Inter-Jurisdictional group, which was set up in 2000 to share information and good practice on domestic violence-related issues. The group is composed of representatives from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

My Department, in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Office and law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border, organises an annual conference considering the topic of co-operation between law enforcement agencies in tackling the subject of serious cross border criminality. This conference is a regular annual event and brings together a wide range of law enforcement agencies North and South to discuss issues and common difficulties with a view to seeing how co-operation can be further enhanced in practical terms. In previous years this event has acted as a catalyst in driving forward efforts on specific areas of criminality such as tiger kidnappings and fuel laundering.

I should also mention the 2002 Intergovernmental Agreement on Police Co-operation. While obviously the implementation of this Agreement is a matter in the first instance for the Garda Síochána and the Police Service of Northern Ireland, my Department engages in and supports this process wherever appropriate and practicable. To give an idea of some of the measures taken forward under the Agreement, eighty personnel exchanges have so far taken place between the two police services and the first secondment with full police powers of a Gard