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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 21 Jul 2011

Vol. 739 No. 4

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 9, inclusive, answered orally.
Question No. 10 answered with Question No. 7.

Arts Plan

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

11 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which he will put in place a co-ordinated and integrated plan to enable the arts to play a central role in the projection of the national image with consequent benefit to the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21817/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

405 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which he intends to use the arts as a vehicle to promote the national identity and image thereby contributing to economic revival; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22435/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 11 and 405 together.

One of this Government's top priorities from its first day in office has been the rebuilding of Ireland's international reputation. In doing this, we need to promote all of our key strengths as a country. Irish culture has a global reach, and the worldwide recognition of Ireland's great artists, writers and musicians of past and present is more important now than ever before in projecting Ireland's profile as a creative nation. It is also our most powerful connection to the 70 million members of the global Irish community.

To give effect to the Government's objectives to strengthen Ireland's global reputation and cultural profile, Culture Ireland, as part of my Department, promotes Irish arts in key territories worldwide, working very closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and its mission network, the Department of the Taoiseach, and with the other promotional agencies. This year in particular, Culture Ireland is spearheading Imagine Ireland, a special initiative to promote Irish arts in America, comprising more than 1,000 Irish artists in more than 400 events across more than 40 US States.

I am confident that these measures and initiatives will contribute substantively to sustainable economic recovery.

Question No. 12 answered with Question No. 9.

Cultural Centres

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

13 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his plans to advance the capital development plans for the National Gallery of Ireland, the National Concert Hall, the Abbey Theatre, the National Museum at Collins Barracks and other major cultural centres. [21810/11]

Robert Troy

Question:

18 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will continue to work with the Abbey Theatre to find a solution to the theatre’s need for a new premises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21807/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 13 and 18 together.

As the Deputies may be aware, major building works are underway at the National Gallery of Ireland. The works are necessary to address the deterioration in the fabric of the historic Dargan and Milltown Wings of the Gallery, which are respectively 150 and 100 plus years old, and to upgrade plant and services to deliver a secure and stable environment for its priceless collections.

Regarding the public private partnership project for the National Concert Hall, it was decided in late 2010 not to proceed with the project as originally envisaged, given the current economic situation. A range of rehabilitation and refurbishment issues still remain, however, and will be examined in light of available resources.

Turning to the Abbey Theatre, following consideration of the matter by the Government, it has been decided not to proceed with the re-location of the Abbey Theatre to the GPO complex. I will, however, endeavour to ensure that the Abbey Theatre's accommodation in its current location is maintained to a suitable standard. The intervention made a number of years ago in the Abbey auditorium was an excellent one and ongoing investment there has addressed front-of-house, box-office, staging and mechanical issues.

With regard to the National Museum, the Asgard will be placed on display at the Collins Barracks and minor capital works to allow for public access to it will commence shortly.

Regarding the Irish Museum of Modern Art, capital works to address essential upgrades to the fire and electrical systems amongst other things will have to be carried out at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in the near future and this will necessitate the temporary closure of parts of the Museum.

I am conscious that the severe economic downturn has had an impact on some of the capital development plans of the national cultural institutions. The institutions, while forming an intrinsic part of our heritage, also remain an important part of our cultural tourism offering and I will continue to support them to the greatest extent possible, within the available resources.

Sandra McLellan

Question:

14 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the position regarding the potential acquisition by the State of the Bank of Ireland building at College Green, Dublin 2; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21795/11]

As the Deputy will know from my responses to previous Questions on this matter, I have met the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Bank of Ireland Group in relation to the College Green Dublin building. Those contacts are continuing.

Heritage Sites

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

15 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of heritage sites throughout the country which are protected under various criteria on a county basis; the number of such sites that are not protected; the number and location of any such sites in respect of which protection or preservation orders are pending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21816/11]

The conservation principles of care and protection of the architectural heritage are set out in Part IV of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. Under the Act, planning authorities have a clear obligation to create a record of protected structures.

There are 2,908 monuments recorded in the Register of Historic Monuments and there are approximately 120,000 further monuments recorded in the Record of Monuments and Places and these are protected under the National Monuments Acts. Both the Record and the Register are maintained by my Department. There are 757 national monument sites in my ownership or guardianship — the number of individual monuments is greater as some of these sites contain a number of monuments. There are 490 national monuments protected by Preservation Orders. Currently, there are no monuments subject to temporary preservation orders and there are no preservation orders pending. While a breakdown by county is not readily available across this very large number of sites, a considerable amount of detail is contained on my Department's website at www.archaeology.ie.

Sites designated by my Department for their natural heritage interest include 423 Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), 153 Special Protection Areas (SPAs), 155 Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs), 7 Refuges for Fauna, 78 Nature Reserves and 6 National Parks. Detailed information on these sites, including information on the nature conservation associated with each, is available on a county basis on the National Parks and Wildlife Service website at www.npws.ie.

The number of heritage sites that are not currently protected is not easily defined. New research, surveys and inventories inform where and what protection is offered. Other factors include refinements to the extent of a site boundary, changes to its qualifying interests and the relationship of the individual elements of the site — they may enjoy protection as a group or individually.

Wildlife Protection

Brendan Griffin

Question:

16 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if the level of grant aid available to farmers to assist in the preservation of corncrakes in meadows will be increased to make it viable for farmers to protect these endangered birds, especially as there are so few cases involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21596/11]

My Department runs a number of schemes that provide payments to farmers for prescribed, targeted actions to benefit the Corncrake in areas where it breeds, notably the north Donegal coast, west Connacht and the Shannon Callows.

These include seasonal schemes to protect birds already arrived on farmland, as well as long term schemes incorporating habitat creation and management.

The Corncrake Grant Scheme pays landowners to delay mowing or grazing where nesting corncrakes have been located. The National Parks and Wildlife Service Farm Plan Scheme pays farmers based in the Shannon Callows to maintain meadows suitable for the breeding requirements of the corncrake. A new pilot scheme is being proposed on the Mullet Peninsula in Mayo and the North Coast of Donegal, designed to help maintain or restore the favourable conservation status of these Special Protection Areas (SPAs). Furthermore, the NPWS leases land under Conacre to facilitate longer term management where corncrakes have been present in recent years.

The current payments offer good value to the farmer and the schemes have a high rate of take up in the relevant areas.

Commemorative Events

David Stanton

Question:

17 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his plans to commemorate the tragedy of the Titanic, the centenary of which occurs in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18954/11]

I understand that the commemorative initiatives for this important centenary are being led by the Cobh local authority and the tourism agencies.

Question No. 18 answered with Question No. 13.

Arts Plan

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

19 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will consider the development of a St. Patrick’s fortnight as a two-week programme to celebrate and showcase Irish culture. [21809/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, St. Patrick's Festival is the primary cultural festival during the Spring. The Programme for Government proposed making Culture Night a twice yearly event. Discussions on the most appropriate way to build on the success of the Culture Night event are ongoing. As such there may be scope for the development of an audience-focused cultural initiative as part of these festivities.

The Deputy will appreciate that these discussions must have regard to the resources available to my Department and to the many competing demands on these resources.

It is likely that reduced resources will mean that my priorities will not permit such a wide ranging proposal as put forward by the Deputy.

Arts Funding

Dessie Ellis

Question:

20 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his plans to further develop all-Ireland co-operation in the area of touring arts; his views on the scope for greater efficiencies in delivering performances by visiting and touring groups on an all-island basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21799/11]

The Programme for Government contains a commitment that the Government will encourage the Arts Council to continue to dedicate resources to touring in order to protect the State's investment in regional arts infrastructure and to bring cultural tourism opportunities to towns and villages across the country. Under the section 24 of the Arts Act 2003, the Arts Council is independent in its decisions on funding, including the selection of initiatives and the level of funding. I intend, however, to convey the commitment on touring to the Arts Council in a manner which is appropriate to our respective statutory remits.

Inland Waterways

Heather Humphreys

Question:

21 Deputy Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if €35 million was ring-fenced for the restoration of the section of the Ulster Canal between Clones and Upper Lough Erne; if this funding was included in any budget between 2008 and 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21531/11]

Brendan Smith

Question:

408 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the proposals to progress the restoration of the Ulster Canal; if funding will be provided for this project in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22501/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 408 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, the North/South Ministerial Council (NSMC) Plenary Meeting in July 2007 agreed to proceed with the restoration of the section of the Ulster Canal between Clones and Upper Lough Erne. The then Government agreed to cover the full capital costs of the project, which were estimated at that time to be of the order of €35m. However, Government Accounting procedures do not provide, in that sense, for the "ring-fencing" of funds for projects of this nature and I can confirm that this funding was not included in any budget between 2008 to 2010.

I am advised that it was always the intention that the Ulster Canal project would be funded from the Waterways Ireland annual allocations, as agreed through the annual estimates processes in this jurisdiction, as well as the deliberations of NSMC in relation to annual budgets. I am advised also that it was also a key consideration throughout the process that the Ulster Canal project would be supported by a significant level of projected income from the commercialisation of certain Waterways Ireland assets — a scenario that was affected negatively by the economic downturn.

Clearly, that downturn is of major significance and presents serious difficulties to my Department during this period when there is such pressure on the public finances. While I intend to explore all possible options that may assist in the advancement of this project, it must also be recognised that the Government is engaged at present in a Comprehensive Review of Expenditure, under which all spending is being examined rigorously. Notwithstanding that, I have asked my Department to keep in regular contact with Waterways Ireland with a view to advancing the project to the extent possible, within the current constraints. In this regard, you will be aware that Waterways Ireland is in the process of finalising documentation in order to proceed to the stage of submitting an application for planning permission — a significant milestone for the project.

Cultural Institutions

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

22 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if there has been any progress in finding a new tenant for the Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield, Dublin 7, in order that it can continue operating as an art house and cultural cinema centre. [21811/11]

On 15 April 2011, the High Court placed the Light House Cinema into involuntary liquidation and appointed a liquidator. On 27 April, Mr Neil Hughes of Hughes Blake was appointed receiver and manager by Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board and The Arts Council, with the agreement of my Department.

The receiver sought expressions of interest in taking over the management and running of the Light House Cinema by placing advertisements in the national media. I understand that there were a number of enquiries from interested parties in response to the advertisements and that discussions are ongoing between those parties, the receiver and the landlord.

Under the circumstances, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this stage.

Question No. 23 answered with Question No. 7.

Straitéis 20 Bliain

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

24 D’fhiafraigh Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil sé in ann níos mó eolais a thabhairt don Teach mar gheall ar an tslí ina bhfuil siad chun an Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge a chur i bhfeidhm taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [21862/11]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

30 D’fhiafraigh Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cathain a fhoilseofar an plean forfheidhmithe maidir leis an Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge 2010-2030 de chuid an Rialtais a chur i bhfeidhm; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [21793/11]

Tá rún agam Ceisteanna Uimh. 24 agus 30 a fhreagairt le chéile.

Ag cruinniú Rialtais ar an 31 Bealtaine 2011, tógadh cinntí gur mar seo a leanas a bheidh na struchtúir fhorfheidhmithe faoin Straitéis 20 Bliain:

Go bhfanfaidh an lár-fhreagracht maidir le gnóthaí Gaeilge laistigh agus lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht araon ar mo Roinn;

Go leanfaidh Foras na Gaeilge ag feidhmiú mar áisíneacht teanga thuaidh/theas;

Go mbeidh mo Roinn, i gcomhpháirtíocht le páirtnéirí ábhartha Stáit, freagrach as cur i bhfeidhm na Straitéise lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht agus go mbreathnófar ar na féidearthachtaí go bhféadfadh Foras na Gaeilge seachadadh a dhéanamh ar eilimintí áirithe den Straitéis ar bhonn comhaontaithe le mo Roinn; agus,

Go mbeidh Údarás na Gaeltachta freagrach as cur i bhfeidhm na Straitéise sa Ghaeltacht.

Feictear dom go bhfuil go leor dul chun cinn á dhéanamh ag mo Roinn maidir le cur i bhfeidhm na Straitéise 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge. Tá Aonad Straitéise bunaithe i mo Roinn atá freagrach as pleanáil agus feidhmiú na Straitéise a threorú. Tá plean forfheidhmithe bliana agus trí bliana do chur i bhfeidhm na Straitéise ag mo Roinn ullmhaithe ag an Aonad Straitéise. Tá an tAonad Straitéise ag dul i ndáil chomhairle leis na príomhpháirtithe leasmhara eile faoin Straitéis chun a gcuid pleananna forfheidhmithe siúd a lorg fosta. Feictear dom go mbeadh sé cuí agus cóir go bhfoilseofaí na pleananna forfheidhmithe seo in am tráth ar líne sa chaoi is go mbeadh rochtain éasca orthu.

Tá trí ghrúpa oibre ardleibhéil bunaithe ag an Aonad Straitéise chun dlús a chur le forfheidhmiú na Straitéise. I bhfianaise an tábhacht ar leith a bhaineann le réimse gnímh an oideachais faoin Straitéis, tá grúpa oibre ardleibhéil bunaithe idir oifigigh ó mo Roinn agus oifigigh ón Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna. Bhí dhá chruinniú ag an ngrúpa oibre seo go dtí seo i mbliana agus tá tús áite á thabhairt do na tosaíochtaí maidir le cur i bhfeidhm na Straitéise i réimse gnímh an oideachais, ag tógáil san áireamh na laincisí ar acmhainní i láthair na huaire.

Tá grúpa oibre ardleibhéil eile bunaithe idir oifigigh ó mo Roinn, ó Fhoras na Gaeilge agus ó Údarás na Gaeltachta. Tá an grúpa seo dírithe ach go háirithe ar idirdhealú a dhéanamh idir feidhmeanna reachtúla na Roinne, an Fhorais agus an Údaráis sa chaoi is gur féidir a chinntiú go mbeidh an luach is fearr ar airgead ag an Státchiste agus nach mbeidh aon dúbláil soláthair ann mar thoradh ar chur i bhfeidhm na Straitéise ag na comhlachtaí poiblí seo. Bhí dhá chruinniú ag an ngrúpa oibre seo go dtí seo i mbliana chomh maith.

Ní miste a lua fosta go bhfuil grúpa oibre ardleibhéil eile bunaithe idir oifigigh ó mo Roinn, an Roinn Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe agus an Roinn Post, Fiontar agus Nuálaíochta chun plé a dhéanamh ar na bealaí is éifeachtaí chun infheistíocht fiontraíochta sa Ghaeltacht a chinntiú sa todhchaí.

Faoi láthair, is í an tosaíocht is mó tábhachta atá ag an Aonad Straitéise sa Roinn ná an obair atá ar siúl ar na cinn a dhréachtú don Bhille Gaeltachta faoi láthair. Táthar ag súil go bhfoilseofar an Bille seo níos moille i mbliana, ag brath ar chlár reachtaíochta an Rialtais. Déanfar forálacha faoin mBille Gaeltachta do na struchtúir fhorfheidhmithe faoin Straitéis, de réir mar is cuí, agus don sainmhíniú úr ar an nGaeltacht.

Mar aitheantas ar an mborradh atá tagtha faoin nGaeilge taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht le roinnt blianta anuas, tá sé tábhachtach nach mbeidh an sainmhíniú úr ar an nGaeltacht teoranta do na ceantair sin amháin a bhfuil stádas reachtúil Gaeltachta acu faoi láthair. Chuige sin, tabharfar stádas reachtúil faoin mBille Gaeltachta do cheantair eile "Gaeltacht gréasáin" atá lasmuigh de na ceantair Ghaeltachta reachtúla atá ann faoi láthair. Is ceantair iad seo a mbeidh a bhformhór i bpobail uirbeacha agus a mbeidh toirt bhunúsach chriticiúil de thacaíocht phobail agus Stáit acu don Ghaeilge. Chomh maith leis seo, tabharfar stádas reachtúil faoin mBille do Bhailte Seirbhíse Gaeltachta — bailte atá taobh istigh nó taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht, mar atá sí aitheanta faoi láthair, ina mbeidh raon leathan seirbhísí trí Ghaeilge ar fáil do cheantair Ghaeltachta atá suite cóngarach do na Bailte Seirbhíse Gaeltachta seo.

An Ghaeilge

Michael Colreavy

Question:

25 D’fhiafraigh Michael Colreavy den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta, i bhfianaise tuairim an Choimisinéara Teanga go bhfuil dhá chomhlacht poiblí — Feidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte agus an tArd-Mhúsaem — ag sárú a ndualgas reachtúil teanga, cad iad na céimeanna a ghlacfaidh sé chun an fhadhb seo a réiteach. [21782/11]

Tá sé de chumhacht ag an gCoimisinéir Teanga faoi alt 26(5) d'Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 tuarascáil a chur faoi bhráid Thithe an Oireachtais más rud é go bhfeictear dó go bhfuil comhlachtaí poiblí ag sárú a gcuid dualgais reachtúla teanga.

Ag eascairt as imscrúduithe atá déanta ag an gCoimisinéir Teanga faoi Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla, tá tuarascáil maidir le Feidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte agus Ard-Mhúsaem na hÉireann curtha faoi bhráid Thithe an Oireachtais aige. Ar ndóigh, is ar Thithe an Oireachtais féin atá sé aon chéim bhreise a thógáil, má mheasann siad gur cuí dóibh a leithéid a dhéanamh.

Cé go bhfaigheann Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga maoiniú ó mo Roinnse dá buiséad riaracháin, is oifig reachtúil í atá neamhspleách i gcomhlíonadh a cuid feidhmeanna.

Departmental Agencies

Timmy Dooley

Question:

26 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his views on the recent report from the Western Development Commission which highlighted the potential for a doubling of the workforce employed in the arts and culture sectors over the next ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21812/11]

Pearse Doherty

Question:

32 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his views on the Western Development Commission report published recently that highlighted the potential for a doubling of the workforce employed in the creative sector over the next ten years; his plans to ensure that potential is realised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21796/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 26 and 32 together.

I am aware that the report referred to by the Deputies was published in June by the Western Development Commission (WDC), as a follow-up to an earlier report, also published by the WDC, in 2009.

This latest report is an economic impact assessment that follows on from the original report, which contained a list of recommendations, and assesses the growth potential for the creative sector in Ireland's western region. The recommendations raised are a matter for a number of Government Departments and Agencies, and not just my Department. Clearly, the economic assessment will be of interest in the context of the allocation of scarce resources .

Social Welfare Code

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

27 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his views on the potential application here of a welfare and support programme for artists similar to GUSO in France; if he has carried out any research or feasibility analysis into the possibility of using such a system, or elements of such a system here in view of the potential benefit to the arts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21798/11]

I am advised that the matter referred to by the Deputy relates to social welfare for artists and the collection of levies such as social insurance. I have no statutory responsibility in relation to such matters, which may be more appropriate to my colleague, the Minister for Social Protection.

Tourism Promotion

Brian Stanley

Question:

28 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the way he plans to promote greater co-operation between local authorities to promote the arts and develop cultural tourism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21800/11]

Arts officers are employed by each local authority throughout the State. The activities of these officials, as is the case of all local authority employees, fall, in the first instance, within the statutory remit of the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government. While being Minister with responsibility for the Arts, my statutory authority does not extend to local authority arts officers. I am, however, currently in the process of meeting Arts officers collectively in the context of integrated Arts and Culture promotional strategies at local level.

Mental Health Promotion

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

29 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht how he plans to encourage people to improve, maintain and protect their mental well-being through art; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21802/11]

The Deputy will appreciate that I have no statutory responsibility in relation to mental health, which is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Health.

Question No. 30 answered with Question No. 24.

Údarás na Gaeltachta

Pearse Doherty

Question:

31 D’fhiafraigh Pearse Doherty den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cén plean atá ag an Rialtas maidir le bord Údarás na Gaeltachta a ainmniú; an bhfuil an Rialtas ag dul i gcomhairle le pobal agus eagraíochtaí na Gaeltachta chun córas nua a chruthú; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [21789/11]

Ag cruinniú Rialtais ar 31 Bealtaine 2011, thóg an Rialtas roinnt cinntí sonracha polasaí maidir le struchtúr agus feidhmeanna Údarás na Gaeltachta. I measc na gcinntí seo, rinneadh cinneadh líon na gcomhaltaí ar bhord Údarás na Gaeltachta a laghdú go substaintiúil agus deireadh a chur leis an riachtanas toghcháin a ghairm do bhord an údaráis. Tá na cinntí polasaí seo ag teacht le haidhm an Rialtais go mbeadh boird Stáit ag feidhmiú go héifeachtach ar bhonn sruthlínithe. Tá sé i gceist na cinntí seo a chur i bhfeidhm trí fhorálacha sa Bhille Gaeltachta a bhfuiltear ag súil lena fhoilsiú níos moille i mbliana.

Sa chaoi is nach gcaillfear an ghné dhaonlathach mar thoradh ar na hathruithe ar bhord an Údaráis, tiocfar ar mheicníocht faoin mBille chun gur féidir le húdaráis áitiúla, a bhfuil limistéir Ghaeltachta faoina gcúram, líon áirithe comhaltaí a ainmniú ar bhord an údaráis. Déanfaidh an tAire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta na comhaltaí eile a ainmniú mar thoradh ar shaineolas ar leith a bheith acu i réimsí gnímh an údaráis.

Ar ndóigh, tabharfar deis don phobal tuairimí agus moltaí a chur in iúl maidir leis na hathruithe seo, tráth a fhoilseofar an Bille Gaeltachta.

Question No. 32 answered with Question No. 26.

Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla

Michael Colreavy

Question:

33 D’fhiafraigh Michael Colreavy den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an molfaidh sé beartas faoinar chóir Billí uile an Rialtais a thionscain go dátheangach chun a chinntiú go bhfoilseofaí Achtanna i gcomhthráth sa dá theanga oifigiúla dá bharr sin agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [21792/11]

Mar is eol don Teachta, is faoi Choimisiún Thithe an Oireachtais atá sé Billí agus Achtanna Oireachtais a fhoilsiú. Tá dualgas reachtúil ann faoi alt 7 d'Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 Achtanna Oireachtais a chló agus a fhoilsiú go comhuaineach sa dá theanga oifigiúla. Níl aon dualgas reachtúil ann maidir le Billí a thionscain sa dá theanga oifigiúla.

Tá athbhreithniú le déanamh ag mo Roinnse ar Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla i gcomhréir leis an ngealltanas atá sonraithe i gclár an Rialtais. Tá na céimeanna tosaigh le dlús a chur leis an athbhreithniú sin á dtógáil faoi láthair, ar a n-áirítear téarmaí tagartha a dhréachtú, a thógfaidh san áireamh stádas na Gaeilge sa Bhunreacht, spriocanna an Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge agus na bealaí is éifeachtaí chun seirbhísí an Stáit a sholáthar don phobal trí mheán na Gaeilge.

Reáchtálfar próiseas comhairliúcháin phoiblí mar chuid den athbhreithniú seo. Táim cinnte go bhféadfaí a leithéid de mholadh maidir le Billí a thuaiscain sa dá theanga oifigiúla a thógáil san áireamh le linn an athbhreithnithe.

National Asset Management Agency

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

34 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the position regarding the commitment in the programme for Government to identify buildings in the National Asset Management Agency that could be used as suitable local arts and culture facilities; if such buildings have been identified in discussions with NAMA; the timeline for their coming on stream; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21801/11]

I refer the Deputy to my previous replies in the House on this matter, most recently to Question No. 148 of 1 June 2010. I have met NAMA in this regard and the matter is under ongoing review.

Tourism Promotion

Robert Troy

Question:

35 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he has had any discussions with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport regarding the Gathering, an important initiative to encourage people of Irish heritage to visit the country in 2012; and if he is considering such an initiative for 2012. [21808/11]

The Gathering, in common with many festivals, has both an arts element and a tourism element. In 2011, the Gathering will receive funding from both Fáilte Ireland and the Arts Council for its respective elements. Under the Section 24 of the Arts Act, 2003, the Arts Council is independent in its decisions on funding including the selection of initiatives and the level of funding.

In relation to 2012, The Gathering, which is operated by the private sector, will be required to make it application to the Arts Council in the same way as any other organisation seeking Arts Council support.

Caiteachas Ranna

Brendan Smith

Question:

36 D’fhiafraigh Brendan Smith den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cé mhéad airgid atá ann d’Fhoras na Gaeilge, cé na dualgais a bheidh acu; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [21805/11]

Tagann dhá áisíneacht teanga faoin gComhlacht Forfheidhmithe Thuaidh/Theas, An Foras Teanga, a bunaíodh faoin Acht um Chomhaontú na Breataine-na hÉireann, 1999. Is iad Foras na Gaeilge agus Tha Boord o Ulstèr-Scotch, nó Gníomhaireacht na hUltaise, na háisíneachtaí teanga sin.

Tháinig Foras na Gaeilge i gcomharbacht ar Bhord na Gaeilge agus tá an phríomhfhreagracht air maidir le cur chun cinn na Gaeilge i ngach gné den saol ar fud oileán na hÉireann. Tá eolas maidir le gníomhaíochtaí Fhoras na Gaeilge le fáil ar an idirlíon ag an suíomh www.gaeilge.ie.

Is tríd an gComhairle Aireachta Thuaidh/Theas a aontaítear buiséid, pleananna gnó agus pleananna corparáideacha don Fhoras Teanga. Táthar ag súil go mbeidh an buiséad agus an plean gnó don bhliain 2011 agus an plean corparáideach don tréimhse 2011-2013 faofa san fhómhar ag an gComhairle Aireachta Thuaidh/Theas don Fhoras Teanga.

Mar eolas don Teachta ag an bpointe seo, is é €16.6m an soláthar iomlán i ndáil leis an bhForas Teanga atá i Vóta mo Roinne don bhliain 2011. Baineann €923,206 den tsuim seo le Gníomhaireacht na hUltaise agus baineann €15,636,641 den tsuim seo le Foras na Gaeilge. Áiríonn sé sin caiteachas ar ghníomhaíochtaí Fhoras na Gaeilge féin, ar Chlár na Leabhar Gaeilge agus ar Cholmcille, an tionscadal trípháirteach idir Poblacht na hÉireann, Tuaisceart Éireann agus Albain.

Forbairt na nOileán

Brendan Smith

Question:

37 D’fhiafraigh Brendan Smith den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cé na pleananna atá aige chun na hoileáin sa Ghaeltacht agus na hoileáin i gcoitinne a fhorbairt; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [21804/11]

Tá dul chun cinn maith déanta le blianta beaga anuas maidir le forbairt na n-oileán. Tá fóirdheontais curtha ar fáil trí mo Roinnse le haghaidh réimse leathan seirbhísí iompair go dtí na hoileáin a bhfuil buanchónaí orthu, lena n-airítear seirbhísí paisinéirí, lastais, bus agus aeir. Tá méadú tagtha ar líon na seirbhísí seo ón seacht seirbhís a bhí ann i 1997 go dtí os cionn fiche seirbhís i mbliana. Ina theannta sin, íocann mo Roinn deontais le haghaidh bainistiú na n-aerstráicí ar na hOileáin Árann.

Le linn na tréimhse ó 1997 go 2010, ceadaíodh beagnach €120m trí mo Roinnse chun feabhas a chur ar infreastruchtúr ar mhaithe le pobail na n-oileán. Mar thoradh ar an leibhéal infheistíochta seo, tá feabhas suntasach tagtha ar shaol na n-oileánach de bharr ardchaighdeán bonneagair ar na hoileáin agus áiseanna gaolmhara ar an mhórthír. Cé go n-aithním na constaicí mórá atá ann mar thoradh ar an gcúlú eacnamaíochta, táimse ag súil go mbeidh mo Roinnse in ann leanúint ar aghaidh, feadh a cumais, ag maoiniú seirbhísí riachtanacha rochtana chuig na hoileáin.

Ní miste a rá fosta go gcuirtear maoiniú ar fáil d'Údarás na Gaeltachta ar mhaithe le cruthú fostaíochta, deiseanna oiliúna, forbairt pobail agus teanga sa Ghaeltacht — na hoileáin Ghaeltachta san áireamh. Táim ag súil go n-imreoidh an tionscnamh fostaíochta a fógraíodh tamall ó shin ag an Rialtas tionchar dearfach ar chúrsaí fostaíochta ar na hoileáin chomh maith leis an mhórthír.

Scéimeanna Ranna

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

38 D’fhiafraigh Pádraig Mac Lochlainn den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil scéim nua ag an Rialtas fós chun ionad scéim labhairt na Gaeilge a ghlacadh; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [21790/11]

Faoi mar a thug mé le fios i bhfreagra ar Cheist Dála ar 22 Meitheamh 2011, tá sé i gceist ag mo Roinnse córas nua tacaíochta a chur in áit scéim labhairt na Gaeilge, a thabharfaidh deis níos fearr do pháistí óga an Ghaeilge a shealbhú go nádúrtha cois teallaigh sula mbaintear an scoil amach.

Tá mo Roinn ag iarraidh a chinntiú go mbeidh an cur chuige úr a thiocfaidh i gcomharbacht ar scéim labhairt na Gaeilge ag teacht ar bhealach níos dlúithe le cuspóirí na straitéise 20 bliain don Ghaeilge.

Táthar ag scrúdú na bhféidearthachtaí éagsúla a bhaineann leis an gceist faoi láthair agus tá súil agam go mbeidh ar mo chumas cinneadh críochnúil a dhéanamh sar i bhfad.

Commemorative Events

Question:

39 Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the position regarding the National Famine Commemoration day; the date and venue for the commemoration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21597/11]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that President McAleese has accepted an invitation to lead the official representation at this year's National Famine Commemoration. The National Famine Commemoration ceremony will take place on Saturday, 10 September 2011 in Clones, County Monaghan. The commemoration will comprise a programme in which the local communities in County Monaghan will be prominently involved followed by the formal State ceremonial event, which will include military honours and wreath laying ceremonies.

I should say that my Department is currently engaging with all the relevant stakeholders to make the necessary arrangements for this year's commemoration. The great support in the local communities in Monaghan for this event is very welcome and is evidence of the deep respect still held today for all those who perished, suffered and emigrated during the famine.

National Monuments

Mick Wallace

Question:

40 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if there has been any further development regarding the application for ministerial consent to carry out works at the national monument of nos. 14-17 Moore Street since the Dáil Adjournment debate on national monuments of 23 June 2011; if he will give a date for the publication of the proposals received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21815/11]

Gerry Adams

Question:

41 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the steps he has taken to secure the future of 14-17 Moore Street, and to ensure that the area around Moore Street can be developed into a revolutionary quarter at the heart of Dublin City. [18710/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 40 and 41 together.

In January 2007, the then Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government placed a preservation order on nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street under the National Monuments Acts. The order was made on the grounds that No. 16 is a monument, the preservation of which is of national importance by reason of its historical significance as the site of the final council of war and final headquarters of the Provisional Government. The effect of the order is that works affecting these properties, including any excavation or ground disturbance within, around or in proximity to them, will require my consent under section 14 of the National Monuments Act 1930, as amended.

The proposed development of the Carlton Cinema site, of which nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street form part, and for which approval has been granted by An Bord Pleanála, envisages the retention of these buildings and the provision of a commemorative centre to the 1916 Rising in No. 16. An application by the developer for consent to these proposals under section 14 of the 1930 Act was submitted to my Department on 17 June 2011. The consent application is being examined and a decision will be made as quickly as possible.

Any wider plans for the development of the Moore Street area would be a matter for the relevant landowners and the development authority, Dublin City Council.

Údarás na Gaeltachta

Martin Ferris

Question:

42 D’fhiafraigh Martin Ferris den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cathain a bheidh an Rialtas ag earcú príomhfheidhmeannach nua le haghaidh Údarás na Gaeltachta; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [21788/11]

Tá mo Roinnse i gcomhairle leis an Roinn Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe maidir leis na socruithe cuí chun post an phríomhfheidhmeannaigh ar Údarás na Gaeltachta a líonadh. Tiocfaidh an folúntas aníos ag deireadh na bliana seo nuair a bheidh an phríomhfheidhmeannach gníomhach ag éirí as. Ach na socruithe a bheith aontaithe, cuirfear tús leis an bpróiseas earcaíochta tríd an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí.

Diplomatic Representation

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

43 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the locations of the Irish embassies and Irish consulate offices worldwide; and the cost of operations for each office. [21888/11]

The Irish Diplomatic Network is made up of 76 overseas Missions, in addition to offices in Armagh and Belfast. The network consists of 58 embassies, 7 multilateral missions and 11 consulates general and other offices overseas. In addition to their country of primary accreditation, many Ambassadors are also accredited to additional countries on a non-resident basis. The annual costs as set out in the table below for 2010 are the administrative costs of operating each mission. The figures do not include the salaries of the Irish based staff as these are a charge on the overall salaries budget of the Department rather than on a specific mission.

In addition to the administrative costs of operating a mission, many embassies fund programmes in their respective countries, in particular the missions which fund Irish Aid activities. For example, in 2010, while the embassy in Mozambique had administrative costs of almost €1 million, it managed an aid programme of €37.5 million through the mission that year. The administrative costs of offices in Irish Aid Programme countries (highlighted in bold) are often high due to issues such as the additional security required in a developing country context.

Also, from time to time missions may incur significant capital expenditure in relation to their premises or for upgrading of essential infrastructure. These capital costs are not included in the annual administrative costs as detailed:

Mission

2010

ABU DHABI (opened 2009)

600,261

ABUJA

556,374

ADDIS ABABA

898,685

ANKARA

422,633

ATHENS

525,292

ATLANTA (opened 2010)

26,885

BEIJING

841,615

BERLIN

930,500

BERNE

450,170

BOSTON

392,032

BRASILIA

579,964

BRATISLAVA

354,215

BRUSSELS (EMBASSY and P.F.P.)

930,301

BRUSSELS (PR-EU)

4,194,314

BUCHAREST

457,869

BUDAPEST

444,950

BUENOS AIRES

454,202

CAIRO

460,651

CANBERRA

788,271

CARDIFF (closed 2009)

CHICAGO

342,853

COPENHAGEN

448,180

DAR ES SALAAM

720,238

DILI

148,716

EDINBURGH

236,941

FREETOWN

199,440

GENEVA

1,142,564

HANOI

607,332

HELSINKI

539,507

HOLY SEE

455,820

KAMPALA

1,140,515

KUALA LUMPUR

409,445

LILONGWE

445,750

LISBON

376,459

LJUBLJANA

451,370

LONDON

3,702,234

LUSAKA

1,097,048

LUXEMBOURG

724,074

MADRID

1,106,768

MAPUTO

983,406

MASERU

512,812

MEXICO

528,437

MOSCOW

1,064,758

NEW DELHI

967,485

NEW YORK — C.G.

1,915,099

NEW YORK- PMUN

2,081,792

NICOSIA

419,656

OSCE — VIENNA

504,823

OSLO

601,640

OTTAWA

590,775

PARIS (incl OECD)

1,817,710

PRAGUE

612,292

PRETORIA

1,111,600

RAMALLAH

354,106

RIGA

360,659

RIYADH

381,231

ROME

1,180,581

SAN FRANCISCO

428,014

SEOUL

833,161

SHANGHAI

667,532

SINGAPORE

833,820

SOFIA

367,670

STOCKHOLM

591,585

STRASBOURG

424,895

SYDNEY

587,275

TALLINN

415,288

TEHRAN

417,048

TEL AVIV

623,858

THE HAGUE

921,078

TOKYO

1,637,651

VALLETTA

372,090

VIENNA

662,725

VILNIUS

425,124

WARSAW

842,848

WASHINGTON DC

1,329,159

Departmental Properties

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

44 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the numbers and locations of his Department’s buildings that are currently in upwardly-only rent review contracts; and the rents for 2008, 2009, 2010 and the expected rents for 2011. [21889/11]

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

45 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the numbers and locations of buildings his Department leases that are in upwardly-only rent contracts; and the amounts of these rents for 2008, 2009, 2010 and the expected rents for 2011. [21890/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 44 and 45 together.

The rent contracts in relation to all properties in the State occupied by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are negotiated by the Office of Public Works (OPW). In addition, 110 properties are rented by my Department outside the State for use primarily as offices and official residences. Rental agreements vary from country to country in accordance with local law and practice. Leases are usually for a fixed period and many include rent review clauses. Rent increases on renewal of leases are generally in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of the particular country. Rent levels abroad are reviewed each year. In addition, in the current economic climate, all our Missions are routinely instructed to explore the scope for negotiated reductions, having regard to local market conditions.

Human Rights Issues

Finian McGrath

Question:

46 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding a case (details supplied) in the USA, in view of the fact that the Government needs to support it. [21936/11]

The Deputy is referring to five Cubans know as the "Miami five", who were convicted in the United States in 2001 on charges ranging from espionage to first degree murder. The convictions of these individuals were upheld on appeal in 2008. While I am aware of the ongoing campaign for the release of these individuals, the Government has no standing in this matter, which is a bilateral consular question between the United States and the Cuban authorities.

Northern Ireland Issues

Finian McGrath

Question:

47 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Northern Ireland. [21966/11]

I am aware of the case to which the Deputy refers. As I said in my response to Question No. 99 of 5 July 2011 tabled by Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív, I understand that the prisoner in question has initiated legal proceedings with a view to obtaining early release. As the matter is currently before the courts, it would not be appropriate for me to comment any further at this stage other than to confirm that my officials continue to monitor developments.

National Lottery Funding

Paudie Coffey

Question:

48 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the amount of National Lottery funding his Department received in 2009 and 2010; and if he will provide a list of the money that was spent in tabular form. [21977/11]

My Department has received no funding from the National Lottery during the period in question.

Overseas Missions

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

49 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has satisfied himself with the presence of a group of Defence Forces personnel with EUTM Somalia in view of the recent report by Amnesty International on the presence of a secret CIA detention centre in Somalia. [21988/11]

Ireland's participation in EUTM Somalia is part of a larger effort to support, together with our EU partners, the creation of functioning, stable institutions in Somalia, without which there is little prospect of political progress in that country. The EU is also supporting the transitional federal institutions in an effort to encourage dialogue within Somalia as a whole, and to enable an inclusive settlement. The humanitarian problems which afflict Somalia are greatly magnified by the lack of government structures capable of meeting even the most basic needs of the Somali population. Recognising the need for the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG) to gain control of its territory, the United Nations, in Security Council Resolutions 1872 (2009) and 1910 (2010) called on the international community to provide technical assistance towards the training and equipping of the Somalia national security forces. The European Union established its training mission to Somalia (EUTM) in response to this call. The original mandate of the mission was to train 2,000 selected Somali recruits in two intakes over a 12 month period. This training, which was recently completed, took place in the Bihanga camp in Uganda. The EU is now examining options to extend this mission, including refocusing the mission on developing command and control structures for the Somali national security forces.

Following Government approval on 23 February 2010, a Defence Forces team of five personnel, comprising two officers and three non commissioned officers (NCOs), deployed to the mission in April 2010, as part of a joint Irish Defence Forces/Maltese armed forces training team. On 28 June 2011, the Government approved the continued provision of approximately 5 members of the Permanent Defence Force to serve with the mission for a further period of one year beyond August 2011, subject to an appropriate decision of the Council of the European Union authorising the extension of the mission.

I am satisfied that the provision of training to the Somali national security forces is supported by the United Nations and is specifically provided for in relevant Security Council Resolutions 1872 (2009) and 1910 (2010). The role of the mission is consistent with the provisions of both UN resolutions. The deployment of members of the Defence Forces in a training role to the EUTM Somalia is consistent with defence legislation.

Ireland recognises that there can be no purely military solution to the crisis in Somalia. We are strongly supportive of a comprehensive approach to tackling the problems of the region. An important element will be to restore political stability in Somalia, but it will also be necessary to improve livelihoods and economic opportunities, and to develop the rule of law. The EU is preparing a strategy to assist states in the Horn of Africa region to address these and other problems in a comprehensive way.

Human Rights Issues

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

50 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the request of the British Government to allow the injured Iranian refugees in Camp Ashraf to avail of medical treatment here and the request that the Iraqi Government provide this treatment. [21989/11]

I have already expressed on a number of occasions my deep concern at reports of the use of force against Camp Ashraf residents in Iraq resulting in loss of life and serious injuries. The primary responsibility for the protection and human rights of all persons resident on its territory, including Camp Ashraf residents, rests with the government of Iraq. Ireland fully recognises Iraqi sovereignty over the whole of its territory, including Camp Ashraf, but this sovereignty also carries with it responsibilities. I therefore fully agree that the Iraqi authorities should either offer medical treatment to those seriously injured in Camp Ashraf or facilitate their treatment in another jurisdiction. I understand that the British government has not offered medical treatment to date and any such decision is a matter for that government. I would like to reiterate that Ireland and the EU are determined to seek a long-term and peaceful solution to the predicament of the residents of Camp Ashraf. The EU Foreign Affairs Council discussed the situation at Camp Ashraf on 23 May, emphasising the need to respect human rights. I fully support the view widely held within the Council that we must work with the UN (including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees) and US in particular, to seek a lasting resolution to this situation.

HR Ashton has clearly set out the EU position, including a strong condemnation of the recent violence in Camp Ashraf, and has conveyed this position in writing and by telephone to Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari. I particularly endorse HR Ashton's renewal of the EU's repeated call on the Iraqi government to refrain from the use of violence and to show full respect for the human rights of Camp Ashraf's residents. I also strongly support, and reiterate today, her call for a thorough and independent inquiry into the events of 8 April.

Along with our EU partners, Ireland will continue to support clear messages to the Iraqi authorities that while there are no easy remedies to the situation in Camp Ashraf, force or other violations of human rights are not the answer. In actively seeking a solution, Ireland and its EU partners will continue to work with international institutions and partners, while calling upon the Iraqi government to protect the human rights of the residents of Camp Ashraf (including ensuring the provision of all necessary medical treatment), to grant access to independent international observers, to show restraint, and to seek a peaceful and sustainable solution.

Diplomatic Representation

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

51 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide a sum in euro of the value of trade conducted between Ireland and the Holy See for 2010; if he will also provide the number of staff employed at the embassy in 2010; the operational cost for 2010; his views whether this cost and the amount of economic activity justify the continued operation of a full embassy at the Vatican in this time of austerity when Ireland needs to get the best value for money from the budget designed for operating embassies and trade missions abroad, especially in the context that our mission to the Holy See only serves that State and no other sovereign nation or international body; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22006/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

52 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will consider the sale of the building used as the embassy of Ireland to the Holy See as a cost-saving measure and, following that, request the Vatican to recognise our ambassador to the Italian Republic, who also serves as our ambassador to Malta, Libya and San Marino and also Ireland’s permanent representative to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development as our representative to the Holy See; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22007/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 51 and 52 together.

Decisions relating to the size and scale of the Irish diplomatic network area matter for consideration by the Government. The Vatican is not a significant economic entity and the promotion of foreign trade has never been a reason for maintaining our Embassy to the Holy See. By comparison, our Embassy to the Italian Republic, also located in Rome, is highly active in the promotion and development of bilateral trade. In 2010, Italy was Ireland's tenth largest merchandise trading partner with merchandise trade valued at €3.5bn.

The main purpose of our Embassy to the Holy See is twofold. First, to maintain a permanent point of contact with the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, which continues to be the stated religious denomination of a substantial majority of Irish citizens and whose actions and policies have a direct impact and influence on Irish society.

Second, is to maintain ongoing relations with a significant global political entity which has diplomatic relations with 179 states. The Holy See has one of the largest diplomatic corps in the world, making the Vatican an important listening post and crossroads on a range of global social, political and international issues of interest to Ireland, including human rights, development, disarmament and conflict resolution.

The overall operating budget figures for the Embassy of the Holy See in 2010 was €455,820. This figure relates to local salary costs, travel, post and telecommunications, office machinery, office premises expenses and incidental expenses. In 2010, five staff were employed at the mission, comprising 3 locally employed staff and 2 diplomatic staff. It should be noted the Vatican does not accept the accreditation of an ambassador who is also the ambassador to the Italian Republic. Neither will it accept the accreditation of an embassy with the same address as the embassy to the Italian Republic. Regardless, therefore, as to whether or not Ireland maintains a dedicated Embassy to the Holy See situated in Rome, appointing our Ambassador to the Italian Republic to be, at the same time, our Embassy to the Holy See, is not an option.

The scale and presence of the Irish diplomatic network is currently being reviewed, along with all aspects of my Department's operations, as part of the Government's comprehensive review of expenditure. Given the current budgetary situation, and recognising the role that our diplomatic network is playing in Ireland's economic recovery, adjustments to our diplomatic network will continue to be strategically focused. In short, all our missions abroad must continue to deliver benefits for Ireland and must do so in a manner that represents good value for money.

Consideration of proposals to reduce our diplomatic network must balance any potential financial savings against the operational and reputational costs that would be incurred, including undermining our ability to influence the policies of the state in question and writing off investments made over years in the bilateral relationships with the countries in question. At a time when Ireland needs as much international support and cooperation as possible, it is important to get these decisions right.

Passport Applications

Michael Creed

Question:

53 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of applications made to him for travel documentation by Irish citizens for children born through surrogacy; the number of travel documents issued; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22088/11]

My Department is currently in contact with 19 families in relation to travel documents for children born through surrogacy. Of this number, eight requests relate to general information in respect of obtaining travel documents, at a future date, for children not yet born. Of the remaining families, seven have obtained an Irish travel document and,in four instances, families have obtained a travel document from another country. As I indicated in my reply to question number 20180 of 13 July last, a range of Irish laws relating to the areas of citizenship, guardianship, consent for the child to travel and other parental rights must be comprehensively addressed by applicants before any travel document may issue. It will not be possible to issue a passport (including an emergency passport) to a child born through surrogacy unless these questions of citizenship, guardianship and parental rights are comprehensively addressed. They may therefore wish to make appropriate provision for the child, on such matters as accommodation and medical care/insurance etc., to remain in the country of birth until such time as a travel document can issue. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade strongly advises Irish citizens arranging to have a child by surrogacy to engage the services of a lawyer to deal with all the complex issues involved.

Departmental Funding

Shane Ross

Question:

54 Deputy Shane Ross asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the sum of any public funds and their purpose which have been awarded by his Department either directly or indirectly to the Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation in the past decade. [22265/11]

Funding of €50,000 was provided in 2009/10 to Equal Ireland through the Development Education Funding Scheme administered by Irish Aid. Equal Ireland is a non-profit charitable trust founded in 2001 by IBEC, FÁS and SIPTU. It provides training for disadvantaged adults who have not completed second level education. The funding promoted the integration of development education into Equal Ireland training programmes.

Appointments to State Boards

Anne Ferris

Question:

55 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps he is taking to ensure that State boards have at least 40% of each gender, as provided for in the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22477/11]

There are no State boards under the aegis of my Department. There are four bodies operating under my Department to which I make appointments. These are: the Development Education Advisory Committee; the Irish Aid Expert Advisory Group; and the Emigrant Services Advisory Committee; the Ireland - United States Commission for Educational Exchange (the Fulbright Commission).

Information on appointments to the bodies including gender breakdown is included as follows. While the balance varies between bodies and over time, taken together, the current membership comprises 57% men and 43% women.

Body

Year

Male

Female

Total

The Board of the Ireland — United States Commission for Educational Exchange — (The Fulbright Commission)

2010

1

2

3

Development Education Advisory Committee

2010

4

6

10

Irish Aid Expert Advisory Group

2010

4

2

6

Emigrant Services Advisory Committee — note: two Officers of the Embassy in London also serve on the Committee.

2011

8

3

11

Departmental Equipment

Dara Calleary

Question:

56 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of computer servers that are owned or leased by his Department and each State agency under the aegis of his Department; and the capacity of each server. [22490/11]

My Department has 279 computer servers across its offices in Ireland and Missions abroad. Each of these servers is owned by the Department. Server capacity falls into the following ranges:

Up to 200 gigabytes — 98 servers.

Between 200 gigabytes and 1 terabyte — 160 servers.

Greater than 1 terabytes — 21 servers.

There are no State agencies under the aegis of my Department.

Human Rights Issues

Joe Costello

Question:

57 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his position on the treatment of an organisation (details supplied) in China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22529/11]

The Government is concerned about the treatment of Falun Gong practitioners in China. Freedom of religious belief and expression is an issue which is discussed regularly with the Chinese authorities during both bilateral meetings and at European Union level. At these meetings, the Government re-iterates the great importance Ireland attaches to human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law and urges the Chinese authorities to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights without further delay.

Human rights issues are a constant and important point of dialogue between the European Union and the Chinese Government and are dealt with through the framework of the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue. This broad-ranging dialogue has allowed the European Union to engage with China on issues such as freedom of expression, the death penalty, the independence of the judiciary, prison conditions, freedom of religion and minority rights. The last session of the dialogue took place on 16 June in Beijing at which concerns regarding the treatment of Falun Gong practitioners were again raised with the Chinese Government.

For its part, Ireland will continue to actively raise human rights issues and individual cases of concern with the Chinese authorities.

Departmental Expenditure

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

58 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has, in view of the change of name of Departments, procured a new logo for his Department, new signage and any other branding such as stationery and so on; if so, the cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22557/11]

I have not procured a new logo for my Department. Extra costs arising from changes to stationary necessitated by the change in the Department's name have been kept to a minimum through use of computer-based templates rather than an external print order. The change in name will be reflected when the next normal renewal of stock takes place. With regard to replacement signage necessitated by the name change, this has cost €5,066 to date.

Departmental Bodies

Joe McHugh

Question:

59 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of quangos, agencies and authorities that were established by his Department in each of the years 1997 to January 2011; the number of staff employed by his Department in 1997; the number of staff employed by his Department in January 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22582/11]

No State Agencies currently operate under the aegis of my Department. The only semi-state body that operated under my Department during the period in question was the Agency for Personal Service Overseas (APSO), which was established in 1973 and was integrated into my Department on 1 January 2004.

The following bodies which operate, or operated, under the aegis of my Department, were established between 1997 and 2011:

the Irish Aid Expert Advisory Group — established 2010;

the Development Education Advisory Committee — established 2003;

the Audit Committee of the Department of Foreign Affairs — established 2003;

The Hunger Task Force — established 2007 (ceased to exist after reporting in September 2008);

the Advisory Board for Irish Aid (ABIA) — established 2002 (ceased to exist in October 2008).

These bodies employ no staff and their administration is serviced directly from my Department. With the exception of the Hunger Task Force, members of which received a payment, all other members of committees serve in a voluntary capacity.

The number of staff employed in 1997 was 981. In January 2011, the number of staff was 1181.55. These figures exclude the number of locally-engaged staff, which is currently approximately 300.

Increases in my Department's staffing complement over this 14-year period are largely attributable to the:

recruitment of additional staff for the Passport Service to enable it to cope with annual increases in the demand for passports;

expansion of the Irish Aid overseas development programme. The total budget administered by Irish Aid in 1997 was €114 million compared to €524 million in 2011.

I should also inform the Deputy that my Department is obliged to shed a total of 177 posts over the period March 2009 to end December 2014 under the Government's current Employment Control Framework.

Consultancy Contracts

Joe McHugh

Question:

60 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide a report of the number consultancy reports commissioned by his Department between 1997 and January 2011; the cost of commissioning each report; if he will provide information on the implementation of recommendations set out in each report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22599/11]

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is responsible for two Votes — Vote 28 (Foreign Affairs) and Vote 29 (International Cooperation). It is not possible to provide all the information requested in the timeframe provided. However, I would refer the Deputy to questions 22473/05 and 27606/08 which also address this issue. The following table sets out, for both Votes, the details of consultancy reports commissioned by my Department from 2007 to 2011 and the costs in each case. Given the volume of reports involved, it is not possible to give details on recommendations and their implementation. However, I would be happy to provide further information on any of the reports that are of particular interest to the Deputy.

My Department commissions outside expertise where the specialised knowledge and/or skills are not available within the Department and where the effective management and evaluation of programmes necessitates the presence of such skills. During the course of their engagements these consultants/experts may prepare reports and other documentation which are included in the following table.

In addition to the information provided in tabular format, the Advisory Board for Irish Aid (ABIA) commissioned research programmes as part of its remit to undertake policy relevant international research. In 2008, a three year framework agreement was signed with the Institute for International Integration Studies (IIIS) at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) to undertake three research projects around Policy Coherence for Development. The total cost of the three projects was € 301,889 and the Framework contract ran until 2010. No further research projects were commissioned in 2009 or later.

My Department is very conscious of the need the achieve value for money and is in full compliance with national and EU procurement regulations concerning tendering requirements.

VOTE 28 CONSULTANCIES 2007 — date

2007

Name

Description

CORNWELL CONSULTANTS

Development of technical specifications and tender documents for the support and maintenance contract for the Automated Passport System.

19,965

EUGENE DOWNES

Management of cultural events on state and official visits abroad

9,884

IPA

EU — technical advice and management of bilateral assistance programme for new EU Member States and EU candidate countries.

20,469

RITS

Technical advice on the maintenance and development of the Department’s ICT security infrastructure.

151,250

SYSNET LTD

ICT security issues —review for Automated Passport System

28,133

2008

Name

Description

A. AGNEW

Preparations for Archiving

692

CORNWELL CONSULTANTS

Technical services to assist delivery of Automated Passport and Visa systems

12,251

EDWARD DELANY & ASSOCIATES

Management Seminar

2,662

FARRELL GRANT SPARKS

Related to the Irish Aid Management Review

24,200

H. SWIFT

Preparations for Archiving

1,838

LONG ROAD PRODUCTIONSLTD

Management of cultural events on state and official visits abroad

12,584

PA CONSULTING GROUP

ICT consultancy services, for development of grant management system.

1,815

RITS

Technical advice on the maintenance and development of the Department’s ICT security infrastructure.

170,997

SYSNET LTD

Security review of the automatic passport system

1,150

MILLWARD BROWNE

Research Project to establish reasons underlying the result of the Referendum on the Lisbon Treaty

138,061

RICHARD SINNOTT, JOHAN A ELKINK, KEVIN O’ROURKE AND JAMES McBRIDE

Report on Attitudes and Behaviour in the Referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon

11,800

COMMUNICATIONS CLINIC

The preparation of a detailed Communication Action Plan to be used to direct spending under the Department’s Communicating Europe Initiative in 2009

48,000

2009

Name

Description

J O’REGAN

Audit of DFA Travel and Subsistence Budget

18,954

LONG ROAD PRODUCTIONSLTD

Management of cultural events on state and official visits abroad

12,709

RITS

Technical advice on the maintenance and development of the Department’s ICT security infrastructure

26,762

MILLWARD BROWNE

Fieldwork for survey to investigate opinions and attitudes to the European Union

30,253

RICHARD SINNOTT, JOHAN A ELKINK AND STEPHEN QUINLAN

Report on Attitudes and Behaviour in the Second Referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon

11,362

2010

Name

Description

RITS

Technical advice on the maintenance and development of the Department’s ICT security infrastructure

46,843

T. TAAFFE

Professional accounting fees

1,100

MACAULEYASSOCIATES NETWORK

Consultation with funded groups and stakeholders of the Reconciliation and Anti-Sectarianism Funds

7,118

VOTE 29 CONSULTANCIES 2007 — date

Year

Consultants (Vote 29)

Project Description

Cost € (contract value)

2007

Achilles

Provision of high level advice and support on procurement issues

19,000.00

2007

Achilles

Secondment of external expertise to provide specialist knowledge on Procurement issues

25,000.00

2007

Aidan Pender

Participation in Project Appraisal & Evaluation Group (PAEG) Meetings 2006-2008

13,000.00

2007

Aine Costigan

Provision of Technical Support on HIV/AIDS, April-Dec 2007

12,500.00

2007

Aisling Swaine

Technical Advice on the Appraisal, Development and Evaluation of Gender Equality Policy with special emphasis on empowerment of women and gender based violence

80,000.00

2007

Andre Barsony

Participation in Project Appraisal & Evaluation Group (PAEG) Meetings 2006-2008

13,000.00

2007

Ann Pesic

External appraisal and technical support to the Partnership Programme for Europe and Central Asia Funding Committee

25,000.00

2007

Anna Matveeva

External appraisal and technical support to the Partnership Programme for Europe and Central Asia Funding Committee

10,625.00

2007

Anne Anameela

Support to HIV/AIDS Advisers Meetings

2,820.47

2007

Anne Conroy

Implementation and Monitoring of Ireland’s Recovery Programme in Malawi — Jan-Mar 2007

10,000.00

2007

Anne Holmes

Technical Consultant to advise on lessons arising from Tsunami Follow Up

32,000.00

2007

Aodh O’Connor

Appraisal, approval and monitoring of applications to Civil Society Fund and Micro Projects Fund, March 2007 — March 2009.

40,000.00

2007

Art Fell

Participation in Project Appraisal & Evaluation Group (PAEG) Meetings 2006-2008

13,000.00

2007

Bannon & Bannon

Hunger Task Force — Communications

27,104.00

2007

Bernard McLoughlin

Participation in Project Appraisal & Evaluation Group (PAEG) Meetings 2006-2008

13,000.00

2007

Bernard Wood

Participation in Project Appraisal & Evaluation Group (PAEG) Meetings 2006-2008

18,000.00

2007

Bernie Crawford

External Member of Fellowships Selection Committee Meetings

3,500.00

2007

Brendan Tuohy

Consultancy in the area of science and technology in Mozambique (particularly information technology — ICT)

3,200.00

2007

Cathal Higgins

Technical Support to the Zambia/Ireland Teacher Education Initiative April-July 2007 Team Leader

20,570.00

2007

Cathy Gaynor

Technical Consultant for the Multi-Annual Programme Scheme, November 2006 to October 2008

31,500.00

2007

Ciaran McLogan HELM Corp.

Public Financial Management Training in Maseru for Irish Aid Staff from Zambia and Lesotho Programmes — June 2007

24,000.00

2007

Daire Higgins

Irish Aid Centre Public Relations and Client Outreach Consultant

38,500.00

2007

Deirdre Farrell

Provision of external expertise to Development Education Grants Committee

5,000.00

2007

Development Initiatives

Technical support to advance Irish Aid understanding of / approach to vulnerability reduction.

93,351.50

2007

Diarmuid McClean

Provision of Technical Support on Health and HIV/Aids in area of R&D for new drugs, vaccines and microbicides

105,000.00

2007

Dr. Geraldine McDonald

Appraisal, approval and monitoring of applications to Civil Society Fund and Micro Projects Fund, March 2007 — March 2009

40,000.00

2007

Dr. Nick Chisholm,

Support to the Government Hunger Task Force

29,250.00

2007

Dr. Margaret Fitzgerald

Health Consultant to assist in recruitment to the Rapid Response Corps

1,750.00

2007

Dr. Sean Drysdale

Provision of Public Health Specialist Support throughout IA Programme

81,857.00

2007

E O’Reilly

Management and Facilitation of Irish Aid funded Internship Programmes

6,050.00

2007

Eleanor O’Gorman

Consultant to provide technical support to Conflict Resolution Unit

54,450.00

2007

FGS Consulting Ltd

Value for Money and Policy Review Study in Irish Aids HIV / AIDS expenditure

163,350.00

2007

Fitzpatrick Associates

Consultancy to determine how the lessons of Ireland’s economic and social development can be formulated for delivery as part of Ireland’s cooperation programme in SE Asia.

56,625.00

2007

GDSI (O Broderick)

Management and Facilitation of Irish Aid funded Internship Programmes

6,050.00

2007

Helen O’Neill

Participation in Project Appraisal & Evaluation Group (PAEG) Meetings 2006-2008

13,000.00

2007

Hunter McGill

Participation in Project Appraisal & Evaluation Group (PAEG) Meetings 2006-2008

15,000.00

2007

James Polhemus

Provision of Technical Support to the Appraisal, Promotion, Development of Good Governance Policy and Programmes

40,000.00

2007

James Saunderson

Support to Rapid Response Register of experts as part of Rapid Response Initiative

31,000.00

2007

Jill Nesbitt

Support to Irish Aid Centre

32,500.00

2007

Jim Cannon

Appraisal, approval and monitoring of applications to Civil Society Fund and Micro Projects Fund

50,625.00

2007

Jim Kinsella

Participation in Project Appraisal & Evaluation Group (PAEG) Meetings 2006-2008

13,000.00

2007

Jim Sheehan

Consultant to engage in appraisal, approval and monitoring of applications to Civil Society Fund and Micro Projects Fund, March 2007 — March 2009

24,200.00

2007

Joanne Manchester

Provision of Technical Support on HIV/AIDS, April-Dec 2008

12,500.00

2007

John Shiels

External appraisal for the Partnership Programme for Europe and Central Asia Funding Committee

18,125.00

2007

Johnny O’Regan

Appraisal, approval and monitoring of applications to Civil Society Fund and Micro Projects Fund, March 2007-March 2009.

40,000.00

2007

K Rothwell

Management and Facilitation of Irish Aid funded Internship Programmes

45,980.00

2007

Kate Dyer

Support to the revision of Irish Aid’s Country Strategy Planning (CSP) Guidelines and Procedures

36,350.00

2007

Kevin Moore

Consultant to assist in development and implementation of Irish Aid Private Sector Policy and Programmes

20,000.00

2007

Liverpool Associates in Tropical Health (LATH)

Programme Planning Liberia and Sierra Leone

15,700.00

2007

Luis Bran

Local Consultant to provided technical support to Irish Aid Civil Society Programme in Central America Feb 07-Dec 08

24,000.00

2007

M Dwan

Appraisal, approval and monitoring of applications to Civil Society Fund and Micro Projects Fund, March 2007-March 2009.

24,200.00

2007

Margaret Fitzgerald

Participation in Project Appraisal & Evaluation Group (PAEG) Meetings 2006-2008

13,000.00

2007

Margaret Gaynor

Appraisal, approval and monitoring of applications to Civil Society Fund and Micro Projects Fund, March 2007-March 2009.

40,000.00

2007

Margaret Gaynor

Support Irish Aid in the Areas of Vulnerability and Infrastructure

30,400.00

2007

Marie Smith

Appraisal, approval and monitoring of applications to Civil Society Fund and Micro Projects Fund, March 2007-March 2009

24,200.00

2007

Martina Collins

Appraisal, approval and monitoring of applications to Civil Society Fund and Micro Projects Fund

50,625.00

2007

Mary Buckley

Facilitation of Rapid Response Initiative Recruitment Process — March 2007

3,000.00

2007

Mary Jennings

Technical Consultant for the Multi-Annual Programme Scheme, November 2006 to October 2008

31,500.00

2007

Mary McCann

Local Consultant to provided technical support to Irish Aid Civil Society Programme in Central America Feb 07-Dec 08

24,000.00

2007

Mary McKeown

Participation in Project Appraisal & Evaluation Group (PAEG) Meetings 2006-2008

6,500.00

2007

Mary McKeown

Appraisal, approval and monitoring of applications to Civil Society Fund and Micro Projects Fund, March 2007-March 2009

40,000.00

2007

Maura Leen

Consultant to advise Programme of Strategic Co-operation between Irish Aid and Higher Education and Research Institutes

5,000.00

2007

Maura Leen

Project Appraisal & Evaluation Group (PAEG) Meetings 2006-2008

6,500.00

2007

Messrs. Grosso Maldonado

Legal Advices regarding the establishment and operation of the Rapid Response Initiative

2,000.00

2007

Mgt Curtin

Appraisal, approval and monitoring of applications to Civil Society Fund and Micro Projects Fund, March 2007-March 2009

24,200.00

2007

Morina O’Neill

Support to Irish Aid Centre

32,500.00

2007

Mr. Alais Ole Morindat

Consultant to engage in International Community for the relief of Starvation and Suffering (ICROSS) Review April-May 2007

3,500.00

2007

Mr. David Farirai

Review of Irish Aid Support to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFÁS), South Africa

6,250.00

2007

Mr. John Shiels ARP

Consultant to carry out review of the Irish Aid Fellowship Training Programme

40,600.00

2007

Mr. Johnny O’Regan

Provision of Audit Management Support to the Evaluation and Audit Unit, 31 March 2007— 31 Mar 2008

58,080.00

2007

Ms Amber de Vries INTRAC

Review of the Irish Missionary Resource Service (IMRS)

49,000.00

2007

Ms Ann Nolan

Provision of Technical Support on HIV/AIDS, April 2007-31 July 2007.

36,000.00

2007

Ms Ann Nolan

Provision of Technical Support on HIV/AIDS, Sep 2007-31 Jan 2008.

45,000.00

2007

Ms Kate Dyer

Consultant to assist in launch of Irish Aid’s Tanzania Country Strategy Paper for the period 2007 to 2010

2,400.00

2007

Ms. Janet Hayes OPM

Technical and Research Support to the Irish Aid Hunger Task Force

36,000.00

2007

Muriel Visser

Technical support on HIV/AIDS and Education 31 May 2007-30 May 2008

24,000.00

2007

P Regan

Management and Facilitation of Irish Aid funded Internship Programmes

45,980.00

2007

Paul Callan Dalberg

Mapping of Irish Aid Approval Processes

40,000.00

2007

Platinum One

Conference Organiser at Irish Aid/ World Bank Institute Forum on Innovation — Dublin Castle

9,982.00

2007

Roberto Ed. Martinez

Maintenance of Irish Aid Spanish Language website in Central America

2,370.00

2007

Roger Briottet

International Jurist for observation of trial of opposition leadership, civil society and media representatives in Ethiopia

30,000.00

2007

Rosemary McCreery

Participation in Project Appraisal & Evaluation Group (PAEG) Meetings 2006-2008

13,000.00

2007

Rothwell Performance Consulting

Piloting of Organisational Assessment Guidelines.

45,980.00

2007

Rowan Oberman

Consultant to develop Irish Aid Centre Groups’ Programme

10,500.00

2007

Sean Courtney

Temporary Assignment as Programme Coordinator of Irish Aid Development assistance based in Northern Province Zambia

24,000.00

2007

Sherry Mclean

Draw down consultancy for the support of Regional HIV Programme in Africa.

15,000.00

2007

Simon Chiputa

Local Consultant Support to the Zambia/Ireland Teacher Education Initiative April-July 2007 Team Leader

2,000.00

2007

Siobhan Mullally

Independent/External Mid-term Evaluation of the Justice System Programme in Timor Leste August 2007

7,500.00

2007

Sorley McCaughey

Support to Governance and Local Development Advisers Meetings

2,722.50

2007

Terry Allsop

Technical Support to the Zambia/Ireland Teacher Education Initiative.

16,940.00

2007

Tom Crowley

Appraisal, approval and monitoring of applications to Civil Society Fund and Micro Projects Fund, March 2007-March 2009

40,000.00

2007

Una Murray

Appraisal, approval and monitoring of applications to Civil Society Fund and Micro Projects Fund, March 2007-March 2009

20,000.00

2007

Una Murray

Facilitating action planning on gender based violence with joint consortium gender based violence.

6,050.00

2008

Achilles

Provision of Specialist Procurement Assistance

25,000.00

2008

Achilles Procurement Services Ltd

Provision of technical expertise re Procurement Issues.

10,000.00

2008

Aine Costigan

Provision of Technical Support on HIV/AIDS, April-Dec 2008

12,500.00

2008

Aisling Swaine

Protection Consultant for Rapid Response Corps Interview board

1,200.00

2008

Aisling Swaine

Technical Advice on Development, Monitoring and Evaluation of Gender Equality Policy with special emphasis on empowerment of women and gender based violence

90,000.00

2008

ANJO Consulting Ltd

Management Agent for the Civil Society Support Programme in Ethiopia

20,000.00

2008

Ann Holmes

Technical Consultant(s) supporting the work of Emergency & Recovery Section

29,750.00

2008

Anna Matveeva

Support Partnership Programme for Europe and Central Asia

9,000.00

2008

Anne Gallagher

Facilitation of Economist Workshop on 3 & 4 March 2008

2,000.00

2008

Anne Gallagher

Facilitation Education Forum on Global Monitoring Report 2008 February 14th 2008

2,000.00

2008

Anne Holmes

Humanitarian Consultant for Rapid Response Corps Interview Board

1,200.00

2008

Anne Nolan

Provision of Technical Support on HIV/AIDS, with emphasis on policy and programme planning and implementation

103,455.00

2008

Aoife Helly

Review of Irish Aid website

5,000.00

2008

Bob Meggary

ICT Support Consultancy

5,000.00

2008

Brian Barrington

Conflict Resolution Unit Security Sector Reform Consultant

25,000.00

2008

Brian McCarthy

Support Partnership Programme for Europe and Central Asia

16,000.00

2008

C Gaynor/K Dyer

Consultancy To Support The Roll Out, Implementation And Institutionalisation Of Irish Aid’s Revised Country Strategy Paper (CSP’s) Guidelines And Procedures

290,000.00

2008

Cathy Gaynor & Mary Jennings

Support of Mainstreaming Strategy and Practices within Irish Aid

22,500.00

2008

Cruzeiro do Sul

Technical support for poverty analysis of Inhambane region in Mozambique by Civil Society Organizations

6,730.00

2008

D McClean

Consultant to provide technical support in area of HIV/AIDS with emphasis Policy and Programme planning and implementation

90,000.00

2008

Danny Rowan

Rapid Response Corps Interview Panel

162.50

2008

David Weakliam

Consultancy for Technical Support to Irish Aid in Health and HIV

14,000.00

2008

Debbie Thomas

Prepare Child Beneficiary Case Study Report for Global Forum on Children Affected by HIV and Aids

10,000.00

2008

Deirdre Farrell

Support to Development Education Grants Committee

10,000.00

2008

Deogratias Peter Mutalemwa

Senior Advisor to the Tanzanian Co Chair of Accra High Level Forum on mutual accountability

30,800.00

2008

Diarmuid McClean

Health Consultant for Rapid Response Corps Interview Board

500.00

2008

Ellen Pieterse

Consultant, Public information Officer

5,000.00

2008

European Forum for International Mediation and Dialogue

Conflict Resolution Unit Consultant

19,800.00

2008

Frank Murray

Consultant to support Management Review of Irish Aid

14,880.00

2008

Gerald Cawley

Consultant to advise and provide technical support on issues surrounding provision of Budget Support by Irish Aid

60,000.00

2008

Gernot Premper

Technical Support for Irish Aid’s Spanish language Website in Central America

10,080.00

2008

Grace Wells

Production of a Storybook on Irish Aid for Primary schoolchildren

7,000.00

2008

Gregory Smith

Consultancy for General Budget Support and Public Financial Management

98,800.00

2008

Helen O’Neill

Assessment of United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) as potential partner for Irish Aid

4,000.00

2008

Helen O’Neill

External Development Cooperation Expert, Irish Aid EU Accession States Mentoring Programme

4,950.00

2008

Highly Visual Company Ltd

Short Term Communication Consultancy Updating of Irish Aid Tanzania fact sheet

19,000.00

2008

HLSP Ltd

Drafting of publication for like-minded health group: SWAP+ Lessons and Opportunities

20,000.00

2008

INTRAC

Technical Consultant for Multi-Annual Programme Scheme

31,500.00

2008

ITAD

Preparation and Delivery of an Awareness Raising Seminar and Training Session on the Poverty Impact Assessment (PIA) Methodology

5,000.00

2008

Joanne Manchester

Provision of Technical Support on HIV/AIDS, April-Dec 2008

12,500.00

2008

John Geraghty

Facilitation of Joint Economist Workshop and Food and Livelihood Security Meetings 5-7 March 2008

3,500.00

2008

John Grindle

Development Specialist Interview Board

3,000.00

2008

Johnny O Regan

Provision of Audit Management Support to the Evaluation and Audit Unit, 31 Oct 2007-31 Dec 2008

35,000.00

2008

Kate Dyer

Consultant to assist in promotion of Management for Development Results Programme

5,000.00

2008

Kate Dyer

Conduct annual review workshop for Irish Aid’s Tanzania CSP for the period 2007-2010

6,000.00

2008

Kevin Moore

Private Sector Development Sector Assignment Consultancy

55,000.00

2008

Liam Wegimont

Development Education Grants Committee

2,000.00

2008

Margaret Fitzgerald

Provision of Technical Support on Health and HIV/AIDS, 01 July 2008-30 June 2009

30,000.00

2008

Mary Buckley

HR Recruitment Consultancy Emergency & Recovery (E&R) Section

5,000.00

2008

Mary McKeown

External Consultant for the Fellowship Selection Committee

20,000.00

2008

Mary McKeown

Provision of Audit Management Support to the Evaluation and Audit Unit, 31 Oct 2007-31 Dec 2008

35,000.00

2008

Michael Hegarty

Support Partnership Programme for Europe and Central Asia

14,000.00

2008

Mr. Jim O’LearyDepartment of Economics

Assessment of Value for Money Review of the Passport Service

7,260.00

2008

Ms Beni Oburu

Facilitator for Primary Schools Workshops — June 2008

4,000.00

2008

Naill Roche

Technical Consultant(s) supporting the work of Emergency & Recovery Section

29,750.00

2008

Neil Kennedy

Consultant to engage with Central Bank of Ireland Mission to Vietnam as part of Irish Development Experience Sharing (IDEAS) programme

20,000.00

2008

Nicholas Benequista

Publication Consultant

1,018.19

2008

ODI-Overseas Development Institute

Joint Public Financial Management Training for Irish Aid Staff

25,000.00

2008

Orla Duke

Technical support in the organisation of the 4th Global Partners Forum (GPF) on Children affected by HIV and AIDS and other HIV and AIDS-related events

29,500.00

2008

Patrick McMullin

Support on Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)

45,000.00

2008

Paul Murphy

Education Consultant for Rapid Response Corps Interview board

900.00

2008

Paul Murphy

Provision of Technical Support for Education-for- all initiative

10,000.00

2008

Paul Isenman

Consultant to provide support Accra High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness

4,999.00

2008

Paul Murphy

Provision of Audit Management Support to the Evaluation and Audit Unit, 31 Oct 2007-31 Dec 2008

15,000.00

2008

Platinum One

Global Partners Forum on Children Affected by HIV/AIDS Dublin October 2008

25,000.00

2008

Premium Consulting Limited

Mainstreaming Gender and HIV/AIDS issues in the draft Ugandan Land policy

27,951.00

2008

RGB Consulting (Banon & Banon)

Hunger Task Force — Communications

27,104.00

2008

Roberto Ed. Martinez

Maintenance of Irish Aid Spanish Language website in Central America (January to December 2008) & Promotion of the Website

2,760.00

2008

Roberto Ed. Martinez

Maintenance of DCI Spanish Language website in Central America (January 08 to December 2009)

4,715.00

2008

Sarah Jones

Part-time Africa based Technical Consultant to the Civil Society Section Funding Schemes; Civil Society Fund

24,000.00

2008

Sherry McLean

Support implementation of the South African Country Strategy Plan, 2008-2012, with a particular focus on gender/governance

24,990.00

2008

Sherry McLean

Part-time Africa based Technical Consultant to the Civil Society Section Funding Schemes; Civil Society Fund

24,000.00

2008

Shireen Mahdi

Consultancy Support for Private Sector Tamnzania

25,200.00

2008

SHL Ireland Ltd.

Provision of technical expertise in the management and administration of technical recruitment

139,833.00

2008

Vincent McCarthy

Consultancy in the area of science and technology in Mozambique

9,000.00

2009

Aidan Mulkeen

Provision of Technical Support for Education programme

16,000.00

2009

Alan Fitzgibbon

Develop Irish Aid’s Uganda Private Sector Component 2010-2014

15,000.00

2009

Beni Karuga

Facilitator for Primary Schools Summer Programme May & June 2009

11,096.00

2009

Bernard McLoughlin

Participation in Project Appraisal and Evaluation Group (PAEG)

16,800.00

2009

Bernard Wood

Participation in Project Appraisal and Evaluation Group (PAEG)

19,872.00

2009

Cathy Gaynor

Technical Consultant for Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation of Multi Annual Programme Scheme (MAPS) 11; 2009-2011

31,280.00

2009

CR2 Social Development

Participation in Project Appraisal and Evaluation Group (PAEG)

15,000.00

2009

Deirdre Farrell

External consultant for the Development Education Grants Committee Meetings

3,500.00

2009

Dr. Colm Regan

Consultancy steering group for Development Intercultural Education Programme in Irish Aid

21,450.00

2009

Dr. Diarmuid O’Donovan

Technical Support for Engagement with EMVI and representation at Global Forum on Health Research

4,950.00

2009

ESRI

Irish Development Experience Sharing (IDEAS) Programme Vietnam — Provision of Economic Analysis and Forecasting Services

58,113.00

2009

Fitzpatrick Associates

Irish Development Experience Sharing (IDEAS) Programme Vietnam — Provision of Management and Technical Support

35,950.00

2009

Gerald Cawley

Participation in Project Appraisal and Evaluation Group (PAEG)

10,800.00

2009

Helen O’Neill

Participation in Project Appraisal and Evaluation Group (PAEG)

13,200.00

2009

Hunter McGill

Provision of Technical Support for OECD/DAC Peer Review

5,000.00

2009

Hunter McGill

Participation in Project Appraisal and Evaluation Group (PAEG)

18,000.00

2009

INTRAC

Technical Consultant for Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation of Multi Annual Programme Scheme (MAPS) 11; 2009-2011

16,250.00

2009

ITAD Ltd.

Presentation on Poverty Impact Assessment Seminar Paris

1,500.00

2009

James Saunderson

Recruitment Expert to sit on the Rapid Response Corps. Interview Board

3,000.00

2009

Jim Cannon

Technical Consultant to the Civil Society Funding Schemes: Civil Society Fund

1,366.88

2009

Jim Kinsella

Participation in Project Appraisal and Evaluation Group (PAEG)

14,400.00

2009

Johnny O’Regan

Technical Consultant for Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation of Multi Annual Programme Scheme (MAPS) 11; 2009-2011

26,000.00

2009

Johnny O’Regan

Provision of Audit Related Services and Evaluation andAudit unit of Irish Aid DFA

15,600.00

2009

Kevin Farrell

Special Envoy for Hunger

37,500.00

2009

Kevin Moore

Technical Expertise in the area of Private Sector Development

42,000.00

2009

Lorraine Whitty

Consultant to provide Interim Administration for Simon Cumbers Media Fund

50,000.00

2009

Margaret Fitzgerald

Participation in Project Appraisal and Evaluation Group (PAEG)

13,200.00

2009

Mary Buckley

Recruitment Consultant to chair the Rapid Response Corps Interview Board

4,000.00

2009

Mary Jennings

Technical Consultant for Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation of Multi Annual Programme Scheme (MAPS) 11; 2009- 2011

23,460.00

2009

Peter McEvoy

Technical Consultant for Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation of Multi Annual Programme Scheme (MAPS) 11; 2009-2011

13,000.00

2009

Rowan Oberman

Production of Irish Aid Second Level Schools Resource Pack

4,000.00

2009

Ruth O’Doherty

External consultant for the Development Education Grants Committee Meetings

3,150.00

2009

Tara Shine

Technical Support for Environment policy and programmes

60,000.00

2009

Tara Shine

Environmental Consultant to provide a training workshop for members of the Rapid Response Corps

500.00

2010

Cathy Gaynor

Multi-Annual Programme Scheme II Evaluation

11,730

2010

Emma Warwick

Review of Irish Aid Emergency Response Fund

4,000

2010

IOD PARC

Evaluation of Irish Aid Multi-Annual Programme Scheme II 2007 to 2011

214,735

2010

John Coughlan

Senior Consultant to Review the Central America Programme

15,677

2010

Luis Bran

Junior Consultant to Review the Central America Programme

13,300

2010

Mokoro

Evaluation of Vietnam Country Strategy Paper

78,637

2010

Mokoro

Evaluation of Irish Aid Zambia Country Strategy Paper 2007-2010

74,850

2010

Paul Isenmann

Consultancy to support the work to advance Mutual Accountability

43,750

2010

SPN & MLC Consulting

Consultancy to Conduct an External Review of Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED)

40,000

2010

Tony Taffee

Consultancy to advise on the upgrade of the Irish Aid Financial Management System.

864

2010

Jim Kiely

Review of Irish Aid Collaboration with Irish Health Research Board

7,500

2010

Dr. Lawrence Mukuka

Evaluation of Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC)

5,000

2010

Mokoro

Evaluation of Mozambique Country Programme 2007-2010

91,910

2010

UCG (Nata Duvvury)

Drafting of Irelands National Action Plan on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.

13,000

2010

Mary Jennings

Evaluation of Multi-Annual Programme Scheme II

11,775

2010

Rosetti Nabbumba Nayenga

Development of Social Protection Policy Guidance Tool on Gender Analysis of Expanding Social Protection Programme 2010-14 (Uganda)

7,500

2010

John Coughlan

Review of Irish Aid-Ethiopia Partnership with Civil Society Organisations

25,000

2011

Kevin Moore

Support to the Governments of Zambia and South Africa to develop Special Economic Zones for the promotion of inward investment and employment

8,500

2011

Paul Sheane

Support to the Governments of Zambia and South Africa to develop Special Economic Zones for the promotion of inward investment and employment

4,000

2011

Stefanie Meredith

Review of Irish Aid Support for Product Development Partnerships in developing countries.

7,125

2011

Samia Saad

Review of Irish Aid Support for Product Development Partnerships in developing countries.

7,125

2011

Paud Murphy

Development Education Reviews — to examine the current funding support and engagement in each of the priority areas identified in the Development Education strategy (primary, post primary, third level, adult, community and youth work)

7,800

2011

80:20

Development Education Reviews — to examine the current funding support and engagement in each of the priority areas identified in the Development Education strategy (primary, post primary, third level, adult, community and youth work)

8,450

2011

Eilis Murray

Development Education Reviews — to examine the current funding support and engagement in each of the priority areas identified in the Development Education strategy (primary, post primary, third level, adult, community and youth work)

5,850

2011

ISOS

Development Education Reviews — to examine the current funding support and engagement in each of the priority areas identified in the Development Education strategy (primary, post primary, third level, adult, community and youth work)

31,010

2011

Bernard McLoughlin

Review of the Irish Aid Centre

6,000

2011

Cathal Higgins

Preparation of a report on the programme of education sector budget support towards school infrastructural development in Karamoja region and skills development in the oil sector (Uganda)

5,000

Pension Provisions

Brian Stanley

Question:

61 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to a rule regarding private pensions that would allow a person who has not yet reached 65 years and who has in excess of €20,000 in a pension fund can only draw down the first quarter which is tax free but may not draw down the remainder if the total remaining figure is in excess of €20,000 but may drawn down the remainder if it is less that this sum; his plans to change this rule; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22083/11]

While the purpose of approved pension arrangements is to provide for an income in retirement, I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, in some cases, the member's entitlements under an occupational pension scheme may be too small to justify the pension set up costs (e.g. purchase of an annuity). Revenue recognises the difficulty this can cause and will allow full commutation of the pension (that is, the payment of the pension in one sum) in certain circumstances. Firstly, full commutation of a pension is permitted by Revenue on what is referred to as "triviality" grounds where the aggregate benefits payable to an individual from the scheme in respect of the employment does not exceed the value of a pension of €330 per annum. The full amount of the pension commutation sum is subject to tax at a rate of 10%.

Full commutation of a pension is also allowed by Revenue where, following the payment of any tax-free lump sum, the total of all remaining funds from all sources available for pension benefits is less than €20,000. In a defined benefit scheme, the pension benefit is converted to a fund value using the scheme's commutation factor to determine if it is within the €20,000 limit. This treatment is subject to the agreement of both the scheme beneficiary and the trustees and the resulting payment is treated like any other pension payment for the purposes of tax and is taxed under normal tax rules. The above option applies to all pension scheme members including holders of Buy Out Bonds, as an alternative to annuity purchase.

In the case of Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs) and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs), as an alternative to purchasing an annuity, the holders of such pension plans can, under the Approved Retirement Fund regime, exercise an option to take the remainder of their pension fund (after taking the 25% lump sum) as taxable cash (or invest in an ARF), subject to conditions. The conditions are that the holder is over 75 years of age or, failing that, that they have a guaranteed level of pension income (€18,000 per annum at present) actually in payment for life at the time the decision to effect the cash (or ARF) option is exercised. Where the specified income test is not met, then an Approved Minimum Retirement Fund (AMRF) must be chosen into which a "set aside" amount must be invested from the pension fund (€119,800 at present) or the remainder of the pension fund, after taking the tax-free lump sum, if less than the "set aside" amount. However, in line with the full commutation option available to occupational pension scheme members and Buy out Bond holders referred to earlier, if all remaining funds available to the RAC/PRSA holder from all sources for pension benefits is less than €20,000 and it is not possible to establish an AMRF, the full commutation option may be used.

These arrangements are allowed for under discretionary powers given to Revenue under section 772(4) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 and are published in the Revenue Pensions Manual (Chapter 7). I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the €20,000 limit is reviewed from time to time and was last increased (from €15,000) in 2007.

EU Funding

Clare Daly

Question:

62 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Finance if his statement on 13 April 2011 that Ireland’s contribution to the proposed European Stability Mechanism will be €9.87 billion is still valid; they way this figure is calculated; and the further way the State proposes to raise this sum or whatever amount Ireland will be have to pay through this mechanism. [22097/11]

Clare Daly

Question:

63 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Finance if, according to the European Stability Mechanism Contribution Key, Ireland’s contribution to the ESM l subscribed capital will be 1.59 % of €700 billion subscribed capital, that is €11.13 billion made up of €1.28 billion in cash and the rest in the form of callable capital and guarantees, this is still valid; and the reason he has not sought an opt out from these commitments. [22098/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 62 and 63 together.

As the Deputy may be aware, agreement was reached at the European Council meeting on 24 June 2011 on the text of the European Stability Mechanism. On 11 July 2011, Euro Area Finance Ministers signed the Treaty at a eurogroup meeting subject to the completion of national parliamentary procedures.

Under the proposed European Stability Mechanism Treaty, the ESM will have a total subscribed capital of €700 billion. Of this amount, €80 billion will be in the form of paid-in capital by the euro area member states, paid in five equal annual instalments from July 2013. The balance of €620 billion will be callable capital. The contribution key for each member state is based on the ECB capital contribution key. For Ireland the key is 1.5922% of the total paid and committed capital.

Thus, Ireland's share of the €80 billion paid in capital will be just above €1.273 billion, to be paid in five equal instalments starting in July 2013. This will be paid from our annual budget. Ireland's share of the €620 billion callable capital will amount to €9.87164 billion.

Euro area member states' commitment to the ESM will be in the form of paid in and callable capital. There are no guarantees involved in the ESM. The ESM Treaty does not include provision for opting-out of these commitments.

The capital requirement for Ireland for the ESM will be provided for at the time it becomes operational and will be financed, as all expenditure is, through the various sources of funding that are available to the State. These include tax revenues, non-tax revenues, capital receipts and Exchequer borrowing, as necessary.

Strategic Investment Bank

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

64 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Finance the action he has taken to establish a strategic investment bank to finance large capital projects and which will act as a lender to small and medium enterprises. [21166/11]

Ciara Conway

Question:

97 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the establishment of a strategic investment bank as promised in the programme for Government; the work that has been done on this project to date; the way this project is progressing; when same will be up and running; the checks and balances that will be put in place to make sure the bank operates to the highest standards in fiscal policy and public accountability; the level of risk to the taxpayer and the economy associated with this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22233/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 64 and 97 together.

As I said in a reply to a question from Deputy Flanagan on 21 June and Deputy McGuinness on 5 July, ensuring that a strategic investment bank is operating in the domestic banking market, providing finance to large capital projects and acting as a conduit for venture capital as well as a lender to SMEs, is an objective in the programme for Government.

A comprehensive programme of bank recapitalisation and restructuring is currently underway following my statement on the future banking landscape in Ireland at the end of March last. The essential detailed assessment and planning work to meet this objective will be accelerated once the Government's key immediate objectives for the repair of the banking system have been completed. This assessment will include the bank's relationship with the two pillar banks and the timeline for its establishment.

The Deputies may wish to reflect on the usefulness of repeated questions on this topic in such a short period of time and when the prerequisites for change have not been completed.

Tax Code

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

65 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Finance if a cost benefit analysis to the economy of a VAT harmonisation across the island of Ireland has been completed; and if so, the details of same. [21884/11]

I wish to point out that there is currently a greater parity between the VAT rates in Ireland and the UK than previously. The UK standard VAT rate at 20% is only 1 percentage point lower than the Irish standard VAT rate of 21%. At 5% the UK reduced VAT rate is lower than our reduced rates of 9% and 13.5%. However, Ireland applies reduced rates of VAT to a much wider range of goods and services than the UK. VAT is charged on the supply of goods and services, and the rate applying is subject to the requirements of EU VAT law with which Irish VAT law must comply. The EU VAT Directive provides that member states operate a standard VAT rate of between 15% and 25% on the majority of goods and services. Member states can also operate up to two reduced rates of between 5% and 15% on a select number of goods and services as listed in Annex III to that directive. In addition, member states may retain historic VAT provisions that they had in place on 1 January 1991 with regard to applying a zero rate, or a rate of less than 5% (known as super-reduced rate), and also of applying a rate of between 12% and 15%, known as parked rates, on goods and services not listed in Annex III.

Both Ireland and the UK avail of a range of such derogations from the standard VAT rate. However, because of the historic nature of the parked and zero rates derogation, what goods or services they apply to are unique to each member state and could not be imitated by other jurisdictions. For example, the UK historically applies a zero VAT rate to the supply of caravans, which could only apply at the standard rate in Ireland. Similarly, there are many historic VAT derogations that Ireland applies that are not available to the UK or other member states. In this respect, full bilateral VAT harmonisation between Ireland and the UK would only be possible where both jurisdictions remove these derogrations and apply a unified standard VAT rate to those goods and services that they currently apply at the zero-rate or at a reduced rate.

In addition, as stated earlier, Ireland applies reduced rates to a much wider ranger of goods and services than the UK, many of which relate to Annex III services which are open to all member states to charge at a reduced rate. In this case it would be possible for the UK to apply a reduced rate to all the Annex III reduced rated goods and service in Ireland.

As is clear, not only is the overall VAT system complex but the system of VAT rates that apply to the supply of goods and services is equally complex. In this context the harmonisation of VAT between Ireland and the UK would require very substantial reform of VAT rates in both jurisdictions. Given the economic nature of making changes to the VAT rate on any single good or service, it is clear that in the short term VAT harmonisation between Ireland and the UK is unfeasible. In addition, as it is not possible for member states to charge VAT on a regional basis, any changes to VAT rates for the sake of cross-border harmonisation would have to apply on a UK wide basis.

Nevertheless, greater VAT harmonisation on an EU basis is one of the longer term goals of the EU. On 1 December 2010, the EU Commission published a Green Paper on the Future of VAT marking the launch of a public consultation on the future of the VAT system and essentially the delivery of a simpler and more efficient system tailored to support/promote activity in the single market. Among other issues, the Green Paper deals with the continued relevance of reduced VAT rates and existing derogations for member states. The paper also deals with the degree of harmonisation needed for the single market, the reduction of red-tape for business, enhanced fraud-proofing of the system, and modernising the administration of the VAT system by tax authorities.

Pension Provisions

Peter Mathews

Question:

66 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money invested in private pension funds each year since 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21926/11]

Pearse Doherty

Question:

77 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a total value of pension contributions relief AVCs, PRSAs and so on claimed by persons on their individual tax returns for the tax years 2006 to 2009. [22026/11]

Pearse Doherty

Question:

78 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a total value of pension contributions claimed by companies on their corporation tax returns for the accounting periods ending in 2006 to 2010. [22027/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 66, 77 and 78 together.

I assume that the information being sought relates to the amounts of contributions to pensions and not on the associated costs to the Exchequer of tax forgone.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the only relevant information they have in this area is in respect of the amounts of contributions to various pension arrangements for which income tax and corporation tax relief is claimed. These are contributions to retirement annuity contracts (RACs) and personal retirement savings accounts (PRSAs) by self-employed individuals and employees in non-pensionable employment and also contributions by employees and employers via payrolls to occupational pension schemes and PRSAs. Contributions by companies on behalf of their employees are included in the figures provided by employers and these figures are derived from the annual P35 returns made by employers to the Revenue Commissioners. The total aggregated amounts of all contributions for the years 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, the latest year available, are as follows:

Amounts Claimed

€ million

2005

3,131.5

2006

4,052

2007

4,257.5

2008

4,470

A breakdown of the main constituents of these aggregates is shown in the following tables:

Contributions to RACs and PRSAs

Year

€ million

2005

1,031.5

2006

1,270

2007

1,244

2008

1,145

The information on RACs and PRSAs is based on income tax returns on Revenue records at the time the data were compiled for analytical purposes, representing approximately between 85% and 95% of all returns expected, depending on when the data was extracted for each year. As is done for the purpose of compiling annual estimates of cost to the Exchequer, these basic figures are, in accordance with normal practice, grossed-up at aggregate level to adjust for the perceived level of incompleteness. The figures given in this reply are on that basis. Consequently the figures now being provided are higher than the figures given in replies to certain other questions to do with actual tax cost breakdowns where no adjustment for incompleteness was made.

Contributions by employees to occupational pension schemes

Year

€ million

2005

1,114

2006

1,423

2007

1,553.5

2008

1,722

Contributions by employers to occupational pension schemes and PRSAs on behalf of their employees

Year

€ million

2005

986

2006

1,359

2007

1,460

2008

1,603

Question No. 67 withdrawn.

Tax Reliefs

Pearse Doherty

Question:

68 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will quantify the cost of income tax revenue foregone by granting relief of 75% to landlords for allowable mortgage interest relief as an expense against rental income for the tax year 2009 and at 100% for the tax years 2007 and 2008. [22016/11]

As the Deputy has noted the level at which interest repayments can be claimed against tax for residential rental properties was reduced from 100% to 75% in section 5 of the Finance Act 2009. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that based on personal income tax returns filed by non-PAYE taxpayers the amount of tax foregone by allowing a deduction for interest on borrowings to be offset against all rental income assessable under Case V, Schedule D is as set out in the following table:

Tax year

Interest Relief (Rental) €m

Rate

2007

877

100%

2008

1,150

100%

2009

730

75%

These estimates are based on assuming that tax relief was allowed at the top income tax rate of 41% and the figures provided could therefore be regarded as the maximum Exchequer cost in respect of those taxpayers.

The figures for 2009 are subject to adjustment in the event of late returns being filed or where returns already filed are subsequently amended.

It should be noted that any corresponding data returned by PAYE taxpayers in the income tax return form 12 is not captured in the Revenue computer system. However, any PAYE taxpayer with non-PAYE income greater than €3,174 is required to complete an income tax return form 11. This return is the source of the figures provided in this reply.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

69 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will quantify the cost of corporation tax revenue foregone by granting relief to property holding companies for allowable mortgage interest relief as an expense against rental income for the tax years 2007 to 2009. [22017/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that as the rental income of companies is returned as net of interest on borrowings the figures for interest are not separately distinguished in corporate tax returns. There is, therefore, no basis on which an estimate of the cost of corporation tax revenue forgone could be provided.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

70 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will quantify the total cost effect/income tax foregone by granting the home carers’ tax credit for the years 2007 to 2010. [22018/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the most recent years for which final information is available on the cost to the Exchequer of the home carer tax credit is for the income tax years 2007 and 2008. The relevant figures are as follows:

Tax Year

Estimated cost to the Exchequer €m

2007

69

2008

80

In addition, provisional estimates, on a preliminary basis, of the cost to the Exchequer of the home carer's tax credit for the income tax years 2009, and 2010 are as follows:

Tax Year

Estimated cost to the Exchequer €m

2009

75

2010

71

The figures for 2009 to 2010 are estimates from the Revenue tax forecasting model using actual data for the year 2008, adjusted as necessary, for income and employment growth for the years in question and are therefore provisional and subject to revision. The figures are rounded to the nearest million as appropriate.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

71 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will quantify the value of income tax foregone or deferred for share options under the deferred payment scheme available under S.128A. [22019/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the detailed information requested by the deputy regarding share options under the deferred payment scheme is not readily available and could not be obtained without conducting a protracted examination of the Revenue Commissioners' records.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

72 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will quantify the total value of share options exercised by persons here for the tax years 2007 to 2009 and the relevant taxable gains on same. [22020/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the gains associated with the tax payments made in 2007, 2008 and 2009, arising from the exercise of share options were €312 million, €239 million and €129 million respectively. Information on the total value of share options exercised is not readily available and could not be obtained without conducting a protracted examination of the Revenue Commissioners' records.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

73 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will quantify the cost effect/income tax foregone by the rent-a-room relief scheme for the tax years 2007 to 2009. [22021/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the most recent year for which the necessary detailed statistical information is available, in relation to the rent-a-room scheme, is the income tax year 2008. The estimated cost of the scheme to the Exchequer for that year was €5.6 million. The cost of the scheme for the 2007 tax year was €4.7 million.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

74 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will quantify the cost effect/income tax foregone by the interest relief claimed for acquiring an interest or share in certain companies or partnerships. [22022/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the most recent year for which final information is available on the cost to the Exchequer of income tax relief for interest relief claimed for acquiring an interest or share in certain companies or partnerships is the income tax year 2008. The cost to the Exchequer in that year is estimated at €48.5 million.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

75 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the potential for tax revenue saved by placing an earnings cap of €100,000 on pension contributions with relief only granted at 20%. [22024/11]

I assume that the Deputy is referring to the current annual earnings cap of €115,000 which operates to limit the level of tax-relieved personal pension contributions in any one year. The annual earnings cap acts, in conjunction with age-related percentage limits of annual earnings, to put a ceiling on the annual amount of tax relief an individual taxpayer can obtain on pension contributions. 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.

There is, therefore, no statistical basis for providing definitive figures. However, by making certain assumptions about the available information, the Revenue Commissioners inform me that the combined estimated full year yield to the Exchequer from reducing the current annual earnings cap of €115,000 to €100,000 and confining tax relief to the standard rate of 20% in respect of individual contributions to occupational pension schemes, RACs and PRSAs would be about €500 million.

The latest full historical data available in this regard is in respect of the tax year 2008.

Pension Provisions

Pearse Doherty

Question:

76 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will quantify the total value of executive pension funds in place for proprietary directors; and if he will further quantify the value of contributions made to these funds for the tax years 2006 to 2009 on which relief from corporation tax and income tax would have been granted. [22025/11]

While there is no particular pension saving scheme or plan specifically designated for use by proprietary directors, many such individuals save for their retirement through what are called small self-administered pension schemes (SSAS). SSAS are typically single member pension schemes with the scheme member normally also being the owner/proprietary director of a business and the trustee of the scheme. The Revenue Commissioners have special rules in relation to the approval, operation and supervision of these schemes. Among other requirements, SSAS are required to submit annual accounts to Revenue which detail the pension contributions made to the scheme, the investment income and gains accrued and the end-year fund value.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the scheme accounts data returned in respect of SSAS in the past are not capable of being electronically captured in a way that would make it possible to provide the information requested by the Deputy for the years in question. The resources necessary to obtain the data manually would be significant and would require the diversion of such resources from other important areas of work such as audit. I am further advised by the Commissioners that section 16 of Finance Act 2010 included an amendment to the administrative requirements on SSAS which oblige the administrators of such schemes to deliver annual scheme accounts for the years ending on or after 1 January 2011 by such electronic means as are required or approved by the Revenue Commissioners. This amendment will allow for more cost-effective and timely collection of data on SSAS in future years and Revenue are progressing the necessary administrative and technical changes required to facilitate electronic delivery at an early date. There is no requirement on occupational pension schemes, generally, (other than SSASs) or personal pension plan providers or owners to provide Revenue with details of the individual or employer contributions made to these pension funds for each individual scheme member or plan beneficiary. To the extent, therefore, that proprietary directors use pension saving arrangements other than or in addition to SSAS, it is not possible to separately isolate or identify those arrangements.

Questions Nos. 77 and 78 answered with Question No. 66.

Tax Reliefs

Pearse Doherty

Question:

79 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the total value of income and number of taxpayers availing of the retirement relief for certain sports persons in respect of the tax years 2006 to 2009. [22028/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that information on the number of claimants availing of the tax relief for qualifying sportspersons, the amount of associated income and the estimated cost to the Exchequer is set out in the following table for the income tax years 2006 to 2008 inclusive.

Retirement relief for qualifying sportspersons

Year

Number of Claimants

Total value of Income €m

Estimated cost to the Exchequer €m

2006

32

0.6

0.2

2007

20

0.5

0.2

2008

17

0.5

0.2

Corresponding figures for 2009 are not yet available.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

80 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the total value of property-based tax incentives on which reliefs were claimed for the tax years 2006 to 2009 by persons. [22029/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant information available on the value of property based tax incentives on which tax reliefs were claimed for the tax years 2006 to 2009 by individuals is based on personal income tax returns filed by non-PAYE taxpayers. The total amount claimed for this period is as set out in the following table:

Value of property-based tax incentives claimed by individuals

2006

2007

2008

2009

Total

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

1,081

1,042

886

821

3,830

It should be noted that any corresponding data returned by PAYE taxpayers in the income tax return (Form 12) is not captured in the Revenue computer system. However, any PAYE taxpayer with non-PAYE income greater than €3,174 is required to complete an income tax return (Form 11).

The estimated relief claimed has assumed tax forgone at the 41% rate in the case of individuals.

The figures for 2009 are subject to adjustment in the event of late returns being filed or where returns already filed are subsequently amended.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

81 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the total value of property-based tax incentives on which reliefs were claimed for the tax years 2006 to 2009 by companies. [22030/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant information available on the value of property-based tax incentives on which tax reliefs were claimed for the tax years 2006 to 2009 by companies is based on corporation tax returns filed by companies. The total amount claimed for this period is as set out in the following table:

Value of property-based tax incentives claimed by companies

2006

2007

2008

2009

Total

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

82

68

72

42

264

The estimated relief claimed has assumed tax forgone at the 12.5% rate in the case of companies.

The figures for 2009 are subject to adjustment in the event of late returns being filed or where returns already filed are subsequently amended.

National Asset Management Agency

Sean Fleming

Question:

82 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Finance if any loans were transferred from the banks to the National Asset Management Agency at full value without a discount, especially in cases in which a loan was being fully paid back, the amount outstanding was relatively small in relation to the underlying value of the property, the payment record to date had been excellent, there was no expectation that the loan would not be repaid in full in view of the track record of payments to date, or there was a prospect of clearing the loan in the short term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22046/11]

I am advised by NAMA that certain loans have transferred to NAMA for consideration which represented 100% of the nominal loan balance, i.e. without a discount. The agency also advises that a small number of the loans transferred would have the features outlined by the Deputy, namely

1) where the amount outstanding was relatively small in relation to the value of the underlying property; or

2) where the repayment record on the loan had been excellent up to the point of acquisition by NAMA; or

3) where there is a reasonable expectation that the loan will be repaid in full; or

4) where there is a reasonable expectation that the loan can be cleared in the short term (and indeed there have been such loans).

However, NAMA also informs me that the discounts were primarily based on the underlying value of the property which was the security for the loan and that the performance status of the loan was not a major factor in the valuation methodology which was approved by the European Commission. The rationale for this was that, in the case of a loan portfolio which was largely distressed, the value of the underlying collateral was the best estimate for the ultimate realisable value of the loan.

Tax Collection

Damien English

Question:

83 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Finance if the Revenue Commissioners will agree to an alternative schedule for repayment on tax due by a company (details supplied) in County Meath; if the Revenue Commissioners will cease all court proceedings until a new schedule can be arranged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22053/11]

I am advised by Revenue that despite the fact that it has worked with the business concerned to reach a mutually acceptable approach to dealing with a very substantial tax debt, the business concerned has failed to meet a fundamental requirement of the approach agreed by not meeting the terms of an arrangement put in place only four months ago. On that basis Revenue is not assured as to the basic financial viability of the business and so has a petition before the High Court in the next week for the appointment of a liquidator. I am advised by Revenue that given its concerns and the fact that the debt is actually increasing, a revised repayment schedule would not be appropriate and it will be proceeding with its liquidation petition to the Court.

Banking Sector Regulation

Michael McGrath

Question:

84 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the rules on the amount of their available cash credit unions can lodge in any one financial institution; and if he plans to review this matter in view of the reduced number of financial institutions now here. [22054/11]

This is a regulatory matter. The Registrar of Credit Unions at the Central Bank of Ireland is responsible for the regulation of credit unions and is independent in the exercise of his duties. I, as Minister for Finance, have no function in decisions in this regard. I have consulted with the Registrar who advises as follows: From time to time, the Registrar of Credit Unions issues guidance to ensure compliance by credit unions with their legal and regulatory obligations. The "Guidance Note on Investments by Credit Unions" issued in October 2006 stated that investments by credit unions in a single institution should not exceed 25 percent of the total value of a credit union's investment portfolio. This guidance note was developed after extensive consultation with stakeholders in the sector including the credit union representative bodies. Further circular letters of clarification were issued to credit unions as required from time to time. Guidance notes issued by the Registrar of Credit Unions are available at http://www.centralbank.ie/regulation/industry-sectors/credit-unions/Pages/guidance.aspx

The Registrar wrote to credit unions on the 20 June 2011 informing them that, as the structural changes now taking place in the Irish banking sector may result in credit unions exceeding the limit set out in the Guidance Note as institutions merge or as deposits are transferred under the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010, credit unions will be allowed a period of 24 months in which to bring their investment portfolio back into compliance with the single institution exposure limit contained in the Guidance Note. The Registrar also noted that this is a transitional arrangement to facilitate credit unions managing the diversification of their investment portfolios over a reasonable period of time in a planned manner and that while it is in place current exposure levels above the 25 percent limit may not be increased.

Fiscal Policy

Damien English

Question:

85 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Finance his views on the Irish Revenue Commission report published in February 2011 entitled Economics of Tobacco which stated on page 29 that a tax increase on cigarettes would reduce revenue but only have a lesser impact on tobacco consumption by encouraging further substitution away from taxed cigarettes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22056/11]

The report referred to is an econometric analysis, carried out by the Revenue Commissioners, on the market for cigarettes in Ireland. It suggests, based on this analysis, that Ireland has moved beyond the optimum point regarding the effectiveness of taxation to reduce cigarette consumption. The research suggests that higher cigarette taxes in Ireland would no longer produce a win-win situation of public health benefits (lower rates of smoking) and benefits to the public finances (higher levels of tax revenue). More likely, it appears that in the Irish market for cigarettes as it currently stands, a tax increase could reduce revenue but only have a lesser impact on tobacco consumption by encouraging further substitution away from taxed cigarettes. The findings of the report which, given our already high levels of excise on cigarettes, at least questions the usefulness of further increases in excise rates as a means of reducing overall cigarette consumption will be considered, along with other relevant factors and issues, when the taxation of cigarettes is being examined in the context of the annual budget.

Banking Sector

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

86 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to any proposals to create a new Irish bank in order to increase competition within the banking sector. [22113/11]

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

90 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if any strategies are in places to encourage foreign banks to open here. [22117/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 86 and 90 together.

The Deputy will be aware of my Statement on Banking of 31 March 2011 where I set out Government policy in relation to the matters the Deputy has raised.

A fundamental element of Government Strategy has been to restore a functioning banking system and the Government has made particular commitments to recapitalising the banks and restructuring the banking sector as part of its Programme for Government. This radical restructuring of the banking system is designed to put our banking system on a firm footing which is essential to Ireland's economic recovery.

The recent positive review delivered by the Troika as well as the EBA stress test results for the two pillar banks reinforces that decision and puts us on the path to re-start stability and economic growth in core businesses based on a sound and well capitalised banking system with two pillar institutions.

While there are, at present, a number of foreign owned entities that operate within the Irish banking market and I would welcome further interest that foreign entities may have in entering the Irish market.

Fiscal Policy

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

87 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if it is his intention to balance the national budget; and the year he estimates that this will happen. [22114/11]

The Government is committed to restoring order to the public finances and as an intermediate step, reducing the General Government deficit to less than 3% of GDP by 2015. The Programme for Government states that further reductions in the deficit will be required thereafter. However, the current budgetary projections contained in the Stability Programme Update, published in April, are only available out to 2015. Based on these projections, the Budget will not be in balance by 2015 but importantly will no longer be in excessive deficit. It is also important to note that a primary surplus — that is an excess of revenues over expenditure excluding debt interest — of 1.7% of GDP is forecast to emerge in 2014.

Credit Availability

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

88 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance his plans to encourage banks to provide timely credit for small and medium enterprises. [22115/11]

Ciara Conway

Question:

96 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Finance the steps that are being taken to ensure that an adequate pool of credit is available to fund small and medium sized business in the real economy during the restructuring and downsizing programme; the methods businesses will be able to use to access this pool; the means by which the availability of this credit is measured; the way he will compel institutions to provide credit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22232/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 88 and 96 together.

The Deputies will be aware that the banking system restructuring plan creates capacity for the two Pillar Banks, Bank of Ireland and AIB, to provide lending in excess of €30 billion in the next three years. SME and new mortgage lending for these banks is expected to be in the range of €16-20bn over this period. In each bank, a team of senior managers will be dedicated to the task of ensuring lending continues to grow to support economic growth. This lending capacity is incorporated into the banks' deleveraging plans which allow for repayment of Central Bank funding through asset run-off and disposals over the period to 2013.

Both pillar banks provide my Department with monthly figures on balance sheet volumes, sanctioned facilities and geographic and industrial breakdowns of their SME lending. The Deputies may also be aware that under the terms of the government recapitalisation, both banks also produce a quarterly report which incorporates figures for sanctions and drawdowns by SMEs. The data contained in these reports will continue to be reviewed and analysed by my Department and the Credit Review Office to ensure that the banks are compliant with the terms of the Government recapitalisation as it relates to the provision of credit for SMEs.

I expect the pillar banks which have received considerable Government support to develop and offer a range of products to support SMEs and to ensure that lending targets are met.

Bank Deposits

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

89 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the strategies he has in place for increasing and maintaining deposits in Irish banks; and his views on a zero rate of DIRT for one year as a possible option. [22116/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, deposits in Irish banks were on a downward trajectory during 2009 and 2010 as fears grew about the health of their balance sheets and rating agencies downgraded their recommendations. The Government's first priority was therefore to ensure that they were adequately capitalised to not only restore depositor and investor confidence, but to ensure they were in a position to support the economy going forward in terms of new lending. The Central Bank completed an in depth analysis of the banks' balance sheets in Q1 of this year using external consultants and the €24 billion capital need identified as a result of this exercise is currently being provided for. The exercise has generally been judged a success by the market a result which was highlighted again last week when the EBA stress tests results were released.

As I understand it, the result of this further recapitalisation of the banks is that if depositors on the ground now have any concerns it tends to resolve around uncertainties at a European level rather than the health of the Irish banking system.

Of course recapitalisation of our banks takes place against a general restructuring effort which will shrink not only the number of players in the market but the size and shape of these institutions and this will also bear fruit in terms of providing a road map to stability.

At a broader level the government remains focused on stabilising and growing the domestic economy such that rising incomes will be reflected in increased deposits in the Irish banking system.

As regards the suggestion of a zero rate of DIRT for one year, if this proposal was introduced that yield would be lost to the Exchequer and the money would have to be found elsewhere, whether through increased taxation from other sources or reduced expenditure. To indicate the amount that may be involved, the 2010 yield from DIRT was €445 million. I do not feel charging DIRT on deposit interest is a significant deterrent to saving, especially since DIRT is a final liability tax (that is, no further income tax is due on interest subject to DIRT) and income subject to DIRT is not liable to the Universal Social Charge. Even if reducing the DIRT rate encouraged savings in Irish Banks, making the reduction for one year would not encourage the maintenance of deposits there. Also, under European law we would be required to charge the same rate of tax on deposit interest in banks throughout the EU.

I have no plans at this time to make the suggested change. However, any taxation changes will be determined in the context of the Budget and Finance Bill.

Question No. 90 answered with Question No. 86.

Tax Code

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

91 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if a reduction in stamp duty on commercial properties has been considered to bring Irish rates in line with the 1% rate charged in London. [22118/11]

The top rate of non-residential Stamp Duty was reduced from 9% to 6% in 2008. (The Deputy may be aware that residential Stamp Duty rates were reduced in December 2010 to 1% on consideration up to €1 million and 2% on the balance over 1 million.) The Stamp Duty Land Tax rate in the UK is not a straightforward 1% across the board. The charge can be up to 4% and the rate charged depends on a number of factors, including whether a property is freehold or leasehold, and whether the property is residential, non-residential or mixed-use. Also, the purchase of a new lease with a substantial annual rent may attract an additional Stamp Duty Land Tax charge. It is, therefore, a more complex tax than our Stamp Duty on transfers of non-residential property, where the primary factor that determines the rate is the consideration for the property.

Any potential taxation changes will be determined in the context of the Budget and Finance Bill and following the comprehensive spending review.

Banking Sector Remuneration

Michael McGrath

Question:

92 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Question No. 92 of 30 June 2011, if the report he has requested from Anglo Irish Bank has been supplied to him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22129/11]

A draft report has been received from Anglo Irish Bank on the matter as requested which is currently being examined within my Department.

Social Welfare Offices

Brendan Ryan

Question:

93 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Finance the timeline for the construction and completion of the local social welfare office in Balbriggan, County Dublin, thus avoiding the need for recipients to travel to the city centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22132/11]

A new temporary Department of Social Protection office at Mill Street, Balbriggan opened in July 2010. In addition to this office the provision of an additional integrated office for the Department of Social Protection's National Employment and Entitlements Service (NEES) in Balbriggan has been agreed as a priority project. OPW and the Department are endeavouring to finalise the brief of requirements for the NEES in Balbriggan with the intention of providing suitable accommodation as soon as possible. The timeline for provision of this accommodation will depend on the availability of suitable options in that location.

Brendan Ryan

Question:

94 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Finance the timeline for the construction and completion of the proposed full local social welfare office in Swords, County Dublin, thus avoiding the need for recipients to travel to the city centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22133/11]

A temporary Public Office was opened on North Street, Swords in June 2009 and a suitable long term accommodation solution has been identified in Swords for a new Local Office to meet the requirements of the Department of Social Protection. The main lease terms and conditions have been agreed and final letting and pre-letting agreements are being prepared for completion with the landlord in question. An exact programme for construction will be agreed with the developer on the signing of these contracts.

Departmental Staff

John Lyons

Question:

95 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Question No. 115 of 3 November 2010, the number of the three apprentices who were offered fixed term contracts that remain in the employment of the Office of Public Works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22150/11]

I am advised by the Commissioners of Public Works that one of the three persons concerned remains in their employment on a fixed term basis.

Question No. 96 answered with Question No. 88.
Question No. 97 answered with Question No. 64.

Departmental Expenditure

Shane Ross

Question:

98 Deputy Shane Ross asked the Minister for Finance the sum of any public funds and their purpose which have been awarded by his Department either directly or indirectly to the Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation in the past decade. [22264/11]

My Department has not awarded any public funds to the Irish Business and Employers Confederation in the past decade.

Banks Restructuring

Pearse Doherty

Question:

99 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding his negotiations with AIB about the broad parameters for AIB’s upcoming redundancy packages; if he is close to agreeing the maximum amount that AIB can agree to pay redundant workers; if he received a second set of proposals from AIB and has he given the bank his verdict on those; when he expects such an agreement to be reached; if he will confirm if he will sanction AIB paying the banking industry norm of six weeks per year of service; if he will offer any view on the maximum package that would be more appropriate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22275/11]

As I indicated in my reply to parliamentary question No. 57 of 5 July 2011 on the matter of redundancies in the banking sector, discussions with the affected covered institutions are on-going. The Deputy will appreciate that negotiations on these matters have great sensitivity attached to them and public disclosure of positions are not usually helpful in arriving at mutually acceptable conclusions that take in to account the interests and concerns of all parties.

Tax Code

Pearse Doherty

Question:

100 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding his deliberations on the way the €600 million call on the Insurance Compensation Fund triggered by Quinn Insurance Limited sale will be funded; if he will confirm if Irish policyholders will pay all €600 million or if he will use relevant legislation to impose the levy on all insurance policies sold out of Ireland, in which case the cost to Irish policyholders would be €200 million; if he will confirm the extent of his engagement with Irish consumer groups, the Irish insurance industry and the international insurance industry on this topic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22276/11]

No decision has yet been made on how the Insurance Compensation Levy (ICF) levy will be applied in order to fund the deficit in Quinn Insurance Ltd. Much consideration however has been given to the matter and my Department has had extensive consultations with the domestic and international insurance industry, the Central Bank and the European Commission. I am also aware of the consumer perspective on this issue and am very conscious in these difficult times of not imposing additional unnecessary burdens on them. However, ultimately I have to ensure that whatever decision is made on this issue is credible, sustainable over time and stands up to legal scrutiny.

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Pearse Doherty

Question:

101 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if the stress tests carried out on the four covered institutions are adequate in view of the fact that there are concerns that some of the adverse criteria have been exceeded, including commercial and domestic property values and the holding of Government bonds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22283/11]

Pearse Doherty

Question:

102 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he is concerned with the recent report (details supplied) which indicated that commercial property has declined in value by 7% in the first six months of 2011; his views on report findings that the abolition of upward-only rent reviews by Government would see a further 20% to 30% decline in commercial property values; the impact such a decline would have on the adequacy of the stress tests of the four covered institutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22284/11]

Pearse Doherty

Question:

104 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider postponing the recapitalising of the covered institutions in view of the concerns about the adequacy of the stress tests; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22286/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 101, 102 and 104 together.

I am aware that certain commentators and reports are suggesting that the Irish property market could experience further declines. However, I would remind the Deputy that the PCAR bank stress tests carried out by the Central Bank are among the most thorough and demanding such tests ever performed in Ireland and or indeed anywhere in the world. For transparency purposes the Central Bank has disclosed the full details of the base and stress scenario assumptions in its report. The potential impact on commercial rents by new legislation was not specifically modelled but the loss forecast involved taking a conservative view on rents actually being received and therefore the values derived from those rents was conservative.

In addition to the conservative economic assumptions built into the capital scenarios the Central Bank has gone further than its international peers — including the recent EBA stress test results — in setting its requirements by taking a three year, rather than two year outlook and also by requiring capital levels after any stress losses of 6%, rather than 5% of Risk Weighted Assets. The need to convince the market as to the strength of our banks has been the significant driver of these higher capital targets. They are founded on robust models, highly conservative assumptions and also include additional conservative buffer layers for any additional unknown factors.

The Government is fully supportive of the work carried out by the Central Bank and its independent advisors in establishing a capital base for our banks that will be one of the most stringent in the world. I see no reason therefore to question the adequacy of the stress tests, and there is no basis for deferring the recapitalisation of the institutions in question.

With regard to upward only rent reviews, the Minister for Justice and Equality recently informed the House that following an initial consultation process with the Attorney General, he had forwarded outline proposals to her for further examination and development. Those proposals have been the subject of preliminary discussion by Government, and will be considered further in the autumn when the work in relation to them should be at a more advanced stage.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

103 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the date on which he intends to recapitalise the covered institutions; the amount of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22285/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

113 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the anticipated final figure for the amount of additional capital, net of the various liability management exercises, which is to be invested in AIB / EBS, Bank of Ireland, and Irish Life & Permanent by the end of July following the stress tests published in March 2011; and the way this amount is to be funded. [22296/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 103 and 113 together.

The recapitalisation commitments made by the State to date and the additional capital requirements of the banks as prescribed by the Central Bank under the March 2011 PCAR/PLAR stress tests are set out in the following table:

Recapitalisation of Credit Institutions

Credit Institution

Cost of Share Acquisition

Cost of Preference Shares

Capital contributions

Capital Provided by the State to 31 December 2010

PCAR 2011 requirement

Contingent Capital

Mar 31st Total(1)

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

Anglo Irish Bank

4.0

25.3

29.3

0.0

Allied Irish Banks

3.7

3.5

7.2

11.9

1.4

13.3

Bank of Ireland

1.7

1.8 (2)

3.5

4.2

1.0

5.2

Irish Nationwide Building Society

0.1

5.3

5.4

0.0

EBS Building Society

0.6

0.3

0.9

1.3

0.2

1.5

Irish Life and Permanent

3.6

0.4

4.0

Total

10.1

5.3

30.8

46.3

21.0

3.0

24.0

(1) Before banks’ potential capital raising actions (LME’s/Asset Sales / Internally Generated Capital)

(2) Original investment of €3.5bn, of this €1.7bn converted to equity in May 2010

The Deputies will be aware that the Government has, however, instigated processes which have reduced and will further reduce the cost to the State by looking for significant contributions from subordinated debt holders, by the sale of assets to generate capital and, where possible, by seeking private sector investors. It is expected that the effect of these actions will be to reduce the amount of capital required by the State very significantly. In particular, a number of the financial institutions have recently engaged in liability management exercises in relation to subordinated debt. The results of the liability management exercises at the AIB, Bank of Ireland and Irish Life & Permanent will be announced in full to the markets on their conclusion but have already resulted in the generation of some €4.4bn in Core Tier 1 Capital, reducing accordingly the amount required to be contributed by the State to the €24bn PCAR capital requirement.

Only after the burden sharing measures have been completed, all sources of private capital have been exhausted and shareholders in the three institutions have been given the opportunity to vote, will the level of further capital required to be contributed by the State in order to complete the recapitalisation measures be finalised to the level of detail being requested by the Deputies. However, the State has committed to completing the recapitalisations as agreed under the Programme of Financial Support for Ireland to the extent possible by 31 July. State funding for the recapitalisation will come from funds currently held on deposit in the banks by the Exchequer and the National Pensions Reserve Fund.

Question No. 104 answered with Question No. 101.

Banks Recapitalisation

Pearse Doherty

Question:

105 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if the proposed recapitalisation of the covered institutions in July will be the last taxpayer funded recapitalisation by him for the covered institutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22287/11]

As I have said previously in my Statement on Banking in March, the PCAR bank stress tests carried out by the Central Bank are certainly among the most thorough and demanding such tests ever performed in Ireland and or indeed anywhere. The detailed results methodology and assumptions underlying these stress tests have been published, emphasising Ireland's firm commitment for this critical exercise to be fully open and transparent. In addition to the very conservative economic assumptions built into the capital scenarios the Central Bank has gone further than its international peers in setting its requirements by taking a three year rather than two year outlook and also by requiring capital levels after any stress losses of 6% rather than 5% of Risk Weighted Assets.

The bank stress testing exercise, the results of which were announced by the Central Bank of Ireland on 31 March 2011, included a detailed review of loan files on an appropriate sampling basis. As the Deputy will be aware, the Financial Measures Programme also announced on that date included an independent loan loss assessment exercise performed by BlackRock Solutions ("BlackRock"), the results of which informed the calculation of capital requirements for Allied Irish Banks, Bank of Ireland, EBS and Irish Life and Permanent under the PCAR.

BlackRock performed a comprehensive review of the loan portfolios of the PCAR banks, with the assistance of a number of accountancy firms, legal firms and credit experts. The Central Bank also appointed the Boston Consulting Group, an international consultancy firm, to provide oversight and challenge to BlackRock's work and to ensure consistency across institutions and portfolios. To perform the loan loss assessment, loss models were custom-built for the banks' portfolios as of 31 December 2010. A data integrity and verification exercise was performed to ensure robust outputs from the loan loss assessment models. The accountancy firms, hired by BlackRock, carried out four specific activities including a loan file sampling and testing.

BlackRock and its subcontractors conducted in-depth assessments of loan portfolios by reviewing loan files and, in some cases, work-out capacity. By examining and reviewing loan files, a more accurate assessment of the value of the underlying collateral was possible, enabling a refinement of loan loss assessment assumptions. The loan file reviews focused on large loans and impaired assets. The number of files sampled varied across portfolios and banks but was sufficiently large to allow BlackRock to elicit qualitative and quantitative findings that were subsequently incorporated into their loan loss assessments.

In specific terms I am satisfied on the basis of the results of the PCAR assessment carried out by the Central Bank, which have been endorsed by the external authorities, that the loan loss assumptions made reflects a high degree of conservatism and underpin the robustness and credibility of the exercise overall.

I am strengthened in this view by the results of the European Banking Authority (EBA) stress tests on Allied Irish Banks, Bank of Ireland and Irish Life and Permanent which were published on 15 July. The results of the tests show that the Irish banks meet the stress requirements and do not require additional capital beyond the requirement set in the Financial Measures Programme published in March 2011. The results of the EBA stress tests take account of the recapitalisation measures announced following the Prudential Capital Assessment Review (PCAR), which required the banks to raise an additional €24 billion to in order to achieve a core tier 1 ratio of 6% at the end of 2013 in a stressed scenario.

It should be noted that stress testing is used by banking supervisors to determine whether a bank is adequately capitalised to withstand adverse macro-economic events or unanticipated shocks. Our banks will be well capitalised by international standards following the recapitalisation measures but this position will not then remain frozen in time. Apart from anything else, both the global and domestic economies will continue to evolve and the Central Bank will perform future annual PCAR assessments to ascertain the position of the banks at that point in time. That does not necessarily mean that the banks will require any further capital. However; no eventuality, regardless of how remote, can be ruled out when predicting future events. I would nevertheless reiterate that based on the conservative assessments used in the PCAR/PLAR analysis of potential future scenarios for the banks, and indeed the Irish economy, I am entirely satisfied that the banks are currently well capitalised to serve the needs of the Irish economy following this round of measures.

EU-IMF Fund

Michael McGrath

Question:

106 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when he expects to have the next formal opportunity to raise the issue of an interest rate reduction on Ireland’s EU-IMF loan facility with our European partners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22288/11]

A meeting of the Heads of State or Government of the Euro Area will be held today, 21 July 2011, in Brussels at the invitation of the President of the European Council, Mr. Herman Van Rompuy to discuss the financial stability of the Euro Area as a whole and the future financing of the Greek programme. The Taoiseach is attending this meeting. The meeting is expected to discuss further enhancement of the EFSF, including the issue of reducing the cost of the funding for all programme countries. The Taoiseach will take the opportunity to support any proposal for a reduction in EFSF pricing, as it is the Government’s strong position that the margin being charged on loans for all programme countries from both the EFSM and the EFSF is excessive. The outcome of today’s discussion will inform our approach on the pricing of all EU financial support, including our own programme.

Michael McGrath

Question:

107 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he is seeking to have the maturities of the loans under the EU-IMF programme extended, in line with the intended additional flexibility in the EFSF as announced recently by the Eurogroup; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22289/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

134 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the elements of the planned enhanced flexibility in the EFSF that he intends to avail of; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22409/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 107 and 134 together.

The Amendment to the EFSF Framework Agreement was signed by Euro Area Finance Ministers on July 13th 2011, subject to the completion of the necessary national parliamentary procedures of each Euro Area Member State. This amended Agreement was the outcome of months of negotiation and Member States have been requested to ratify the amended Agreement by the end of 2011 at the latest.

The main changes to the EFSF Framework agreement are to raise the maximum guarantee commitments to €780 billion, increase the effective lending capacity of the EFSF to €440 billion and broaden the scope of the EFSF whereby the EFSF may, on exceptional basis intervene in the primary debt market. Other changes include changes to the margin, pricing structure and the new advance margin, all of which are aim to improve the functioning of the EFSF and to facilitate reductions to the cost of borrowing from the EFSF.

On the 11th July, Euro Area Ministers discussed the deepening threat of contagion within the Euro Area and reaffirmed their absolute commitment to safeguard financial stability in the Euro Area. The statement issued by Eurogroup after the meeting noted that "To this end, Ministers stand ready to adopt further measures that will improve the euro area's systemic capacity to resist contagion risk, including enhancing the flexibility and the scope of the EFSF, lengthening the maturities of the loans and lowering the interest rates, including through a collateral arrangement where appropriate. Proposals to this effect will be presented to Ministers shortly".

The interest rate applying to the funds Ireland borrows from the EFSF remains of concern to Ireland. The Government will continue to seek a reduction in our interest rate margin and to avail of any further enhanced flexibility to the EFSF that will lower the cost of borrowing to Ireland and facilitate Ireland's return to the market at the earliest opportunity.

In relation to the additional flexibility proposed for the EFSF, last week's statement noted that proposals are to be presented to Ministers. There proposals are being considered at today's meeting of Euro Area Heads of State and Government. Decisions on how to avail of any additional flexibility within the EFSF must await final agreement and implementation of such measures.

Michael McGrath

Question:

108 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he raised with the EU-ECB — IMF representatives, during their recent mission review of the programme of financial assistance, the issue of the use of any proceeds from the sale of non-strategic State assets; if they confirmed agreement to use any such proceeds for measures other than paying down the national debt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22290/11]

The purpose of the quarterly review mission which was conducted by the EU / ECB / IMF representatives from 6th July to 14th July 2011 was to evaluate performance against the targets set for the third quarter of the Programme of Financial Support for Ireland including fiscal developments, the macroeconomic outlook, progress on commitments in the restructuring of the financial sector and structural reform. The EU-IMF Programme commitment on state assets relates to the fourth quarter of this year, and includes a provision that Government will discuss its plans with the EU Commission, the ECB and the IMF. Progress on this commitment was considered during the recent review, and the Government's commitments on asset disposals in the Programme for Government formed part of that discussion. It is expected that there will be further discussion with the Troika on asset disposals, including a further update at the next quarterly review, before decisions on asset disposals are finalised.

Credit Availability

Michael McGrath

Question:

109 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of new residential mortgages approved by AIB; and the number drawn down to date in 2011 [22292/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

110 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of new residential mortgages approved by Bank of Ireland; and the number drawn down to date in 2011 [22293/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 109 and 110 together.

The financial institutions named by the Deputy do not publish information pertaining to residential mortgage approvals as they deem this information to be commercially sensitive.

The most recent "IBF/PwC Mortgage Market Profile Quarterly Report on New Lending", which contains data relating to loans granted by IBF/IMC member institutions on an aggregate basis up to the end of Q1 2011, shows that there were 3,259 mortgage loans issued in this period with €577m in mortgages drawn down.

Fiscal Policy

Michael McGrath

Question:

111 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if Ireland is required to achieve a fiscal correction of a nominal amount of €3.6 billion in 2012 or achieve an 8.6% under the EU’s excessive deficit procedure rules; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22294/11]

The General Government deficit target for 2012, as set by the ECOFIN Council in December 2010 is 8.6% of GDP. The Government is fully aware of the importance of that target in the context of the 2012 Budget. The Government is committed to implementing an overall adjustment package of at least €3.6 billion in 2012. This is to ensure the deficit target for 2012 can be achieved. As we go through the second half of the year, we will have to study closely the emerging trends, both positive and negative, and formulate what the likely outlook for 2012 will be.

Economic Competitiveness

Michael McGrath

Question:

112 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the nominal amount of GDP and GNP expected to be achieved in 2011 based on all currently available economic data; the way this compares to the expectation when the budget for 2011 was announced [22295/11]

In Budget 2011, the Department of Finance forecast nominal GDP to be €161,200 million and for nominal GNP to be €127,900 million in 2011 (figures rounded to nearest €100m). These forecasts also underpinned the National Recovery Plan that was finalised in October 2010. The Department's latest forecasts were published in the Stability Programme Update (SPU) of April 2011 and thus had the benefit of six months more economic data.

These data pointed, in the main, to weaker than expected domestic activity that would not be compensated for by somewhat stronger external demand. While the possibility of such an outturn was identified in Budget 2011, the fact that these risks had started to materialise meant that they were taken into account in the SPU. As such the forecasts for GDP and GNP for this year were revised down in April's SPU to €156,075 million and €125,925 respectively (rounded to the nearest €25m).

Revised forecasts will be published in the pre-Budget Outlook in the autumn.

Question No. 113 answered with Question No. 103.

Budget Submissions

Michael McGrath

Question:

114 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the work which will be carried out by him on the preparation of budget 2012 from the date Dáil Éireann rises to its resumption in September, including details of the expected contact with other Departments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22297/11]

Preparatory work on Budget 2012 is ongoing. Work will continue over the coming weeks and months in the lead up to the 2012 Budget in assessing all of the emerging economic and budgetary data and the implications they might have for 2012 and beyond. I will be kept fully informed of developments by my Department. Work on the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure (CRE) is also ongoing. The CRE will be a critical building block in formulating Government's budgetary policy for 2012 and beyond. The results of the Comprehensive Review process will be brought before Government for consideration and decision in the Budget and Estimates process later this year.

As Minister for Finance, I will be working very closely with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform over the coming weeks and months in the preparation of Budget 2012 as the expenditure estimates are obviously a key factor in devising budgetary policy. In that regard, and as is usual every year, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform will be in contact with all line Departments. In addition, my Department is in routine contact with the Revenue Commissioners on a variety of matters which have a budgetary dimension, including those relating to tax policy and implementation and receipts from taxation. The Tax Strategy Group — an interdepartmental committee chaired by the Department of Finance, with membership comprising senior officials and advisors from other key Departments and the Revenue Commissioners — will also be meeting over the coming months in the lead up to Budget 2012.

My Department will publish a pre-Budget Outlook in October and it is intended that Budget 2012 will be presented to Dáil Éireann in early December, although the exact date has yet to be decided.

Tax Yield

Michael McGrath

Question:

115 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount by which he expects VAT and PRSI receipts to fall short of budget 2011 expectations for the period 1 July 2011 to 31 December 2011 as a result of the measures in the jobs initiative; the amount he expects to receive from the pension levy in the same period, and the overall impact on the Exchequer returns for 2011 [22298/11]

The Jobs Initiative is designed to be funded on a budgetary neutral basis over the 2011 — 2014 period. The introduction of a reduced 9% VAT rate is expected to cost €120 million this year and the PRSI measures enacted as part of the Jobs Initiative are expected to cost €95 million in 2011. It should be noted that PRSI receipts are not received directly by the Exchequer as part of tax revenues, but are instead used to fund social welfare-related expenditure. The abolition of the Air Travel Tax is expected to cost €15 million this year. Total additional current expenditure to specified areas in 2011 arising from the Jobs Initiative will amount to €29 million, €18 million of which will be funded by the reallocation of existing resources and €11 million from the introduction of the levy on pension funds. Total additional capital expenditure to specified areas arising from the Jobs Initiative will amount to €135 million in 2011 which will be funded by the reallocation of €106 million from within existing resources and €29 million from the pension levy. The temporary Pension Levy being introduced to fund the Jobs Initiative is projected to yield €470 million this year. Therefore, in overall terms, there is a small net gain to the Exchequer in 2011 from the measures introduced as part of the Jobs Initiative. Over the 2011 — 2014 period as a whole, the Jobs Initiative will be budgetary neutral. The Department of Finance has not revised it aggregate tax forecast for this year. However, it will continue to closely monitor the performance of tax receipts during the remainder of the year.

Financial Services Regulation

Michael McGrath

Question:

116 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he has plans to review the interest rates available through the various State savings products in view of the April and July 2011 ECB rate increase; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22299/11]

I am informed by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), which is responsible for managing the National Debt and borrowing on behalf of the Exchequer, that the rates on the State Savings products are kept under constant review. There is no proposal to change those rates at present. The Agency considers that the rates offered remain attractive and that the products offer investors a good choice of investment opportunity.

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Michael McGrath

Question:

117 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details, for each covered institution, of the number and identity of any directors who were a member of the board at the time of the original bank guarantee in September 2008 and continue to sit on the board at the present time [22300/11]

Subsequent to this month's AGM of AIB and consequent on the recent mergers involving EBS and INBS only ten pre-crisis directors will still be in post — a reduction of almost 90%. I do not propose to name the individuals here. For the information of the Deputy, of the above ten, four will be in office at Bank of Ireland, a further four at EBS Ltd — which will operate as a standalone, separately branded subsidiary of AIB with its own branch network — and the remaining two at Irish Life and Permanent. Six of these individuals hold executive positions with the remaining four occupying non-executive roles. Of the remaining institutions no pre-crisis directors are still in post.

The Deputy will be aware that as part of the Programme for Government we committed to restructuring bank boards and to replacing all directors who presided over the failed lending practices in the period to September 2008. He will also be aware that board and management renewal plans for the affected institutions are under consideration and that, as announced by the Central Bank of Ireland, all directors irrespective of date of appointment, who intend to be in office on 1 January 2012 will be subject to assessment against the new fitness and probity standards for such appointments which the CBI envisages being implemented by 1 September 2011.

National Asset Management Agency

Michael McGrath

Question:

118 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he believes the recent decision of the Supreme Court in the McKillen case will have any impact on the work of the National Asset Management Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22301/11]

NAMA advises me that the case has no impact on the management of loans totalling €72.3 billion which have already been acquired by the Agency. NAMA has informed Mr. McKillen of its intention not to acquire loans totalling €1.4 billion advanced by participating institutions to him and to debtor entities associated with him.

In relation to the residual loans of other debtors which have not yet been acquired, NAMA has written to the debtors concerned, in accordance with the right to fair procedure as ruled by the Supreme Court, and has sought their views on the eligibility of their loans and on the potential impact that NAMA acquisition of the loans may have on their interests. I understand that the NAMA Board will review submissions made by debtors and will then make decisions on whether to acquire the loans.

Michael McGrath

Question:

119 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide information on the total nominal value of loans acquired by the National Asset Management Agency to date in 2011; the price which has been paid; the total number of borrowers involved, including details of the number being managed by NAMA directly and the number managed by the NAMA units within the respective institutions; the overall discount applied to loans acquired from each institution; and if he will confirm if there are any further expected loan transfers to NAMA [22302/11]

In addition to loans totalling €71.2 billion which were acquired by NAMA in 2010, the Agency informs me that it acquired an additional €1.1 billion in loans in early March 2011. The loans acquired in 2011 were acquired from one institution at an acquisition price of €440m, which is a discount of 60%.

The tranche included loans from a total of 116 debtors, of whom 38 are directly managed by NAMA.

The Agency may also acquire up to an additional €2.4 billion following an engagement process currently underway with debtors whose loans have not yet been acquired. This engagement is in line with the right to fair procedures as ruled by the Supreme Court.

Michael McGrath

Question:

120 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of business plans which have been submitted to the National Asset Management Agency in 2011; and the number which have been agreed by the agency [22303/11]

NAMA informs me that to date, a total of 152 draft business plans have been received from the 179 major debtors whose debt will be directly managed by NAMA. In 74 of these cases, decisions have been made by NAMA and these have been communicated to the debtors. Another 78 debtor business plans are currently being reviewed. Debtor business plans are still awaited from the 27 other debtors whose affairs are also under the direct management of NAMA. Agreement has been reached in principle with 18 debtors and, in the case of another 27, enforcement proceedings are underway. In the case of the latter, receiver business plans, including plans for asset disposal, will be agreed between the receivers and NAMA.

In the case of debtors whose debt is being managed by participating institutions under delegated authority from NAMA, a fast-track business plan process is in place and those debtors are currently at various stages of engagement with the institutions about their business plans.

Michael McGrath

Question:

121 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the number of cases in which the National Asset Management Agency has become the owner of the land and or property due to the non-performing nature of the loans [22304/11]

I am informed by the National Asset Management Agency that it has not, to date, taken direct ownership of land and property. In cases where enforcement has been necessary, it has appointed, or approved the appointment of, receivers.

Michael McGrath

Question:

122 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the percentage of loans acquired which are being repaid in full in line with the original loan agreement; the number which it regards as completely non-performing and any impact the level of non-performing loans is having on the National Asset Management Agency business plan [22305/11]

The National Asset Management Agency has estimated that, as at end-March 2011, 23% of loans (by nominal balances) were performing. These are loans which are not in arrears by reference to contractual cash payments or where the arrears are outstanding for less than 30 days. 77% of loans were at various stages of non-performance or were subject to enforcement action. In the case of 60% of loans, payments were in arrears for 120 days or more. The NAMA Business Plan envisaged a significant restructuring of debtor loans. This process has begun and the Agency advises that it will lead to a substantial shift in the performance profile of the loan book as debtor performance will be measured by reference to restructured loans.

Michael McGrath

Question:

123 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if the National Asset Management Agency intends to introduce greater transparency to its operations by publicly providing details of assets it intends to sell on the open market [22306/11]

I am informed by the National Asset Management Agency that it will shortly be publishing, through its website, information provided to it by receivers and other insolvency professionals in relation to property which has been subject to enforcement in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain. This information will be updated on a regular basis.

Michael McGrath

Question:

124 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the amount the National Asset Management Agency has lent to borrowers since its inception [22307/11]

The National Asset Management Agency informs me that between 1 March 2010 and 30 June 2011, the Agency approved €900 million in new money advances to debtors. These funds are for purposes of working capital and development capital to enable viable projects to be brought to completion.

Michael McGrath

Question:

125 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of unfinished residential developments in which the National Asset Management Agency has come into the ownership of vacant properties. [22308/11]

I am informed that NAMA has not, to date, taken direct ownership of land and property. In cases where enforcement has been necessary, it has appointed, or approved the appointment of, receivers. While the Agency has not taken ownership of unfinished residential developments, it has recently announced that it will invest €3m to fund urgent construction and remedial work in a number of unfinished residential developments which are linked to loans acquired by it. The Deputy may also wish to note that the report of a Working Group set up by the Government to examine the issue and extent of unfinished estates in Ireland identified about 225 estates that were deemed to require immediate remedial attention. NAMA debtors have loans with an exposure to only 28 of thoseestates.

Michael McGrath

Question:

126 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of professional fees broken down by type, which the National Asset Management Agency expects to incur between now and the end of 2011. [22309/11]

Between now and the end of 2011, NAMA expects to incur costs of €38 million as payment to 500 staff in participating institutions to carry out loan servicing on its behalf, in accordance with the provisions of Section 131 of the National Asset Management Agency Act 2009. The fee is applied on a cost recovery basis up to a limit of 10 basis points, and has been approved by the EU Commission under its State Aid rules and. It is expected that fees totalling €32 million will be paid for due diligence services, including legal, property valuation and loan valuation, in connection with the acquisition and valuation of NAMA's loan portfolio. It may be noted, however, that these costs are recovered from the participating institutions as a deduction on the acquisition price paid by NAMA.

Other expected costs of the order of €25 million include audit fees and fees payable to independent business reviewers to review debtor business plans.

Michael McGrath

Question:

127 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the outcome of the preliminary discussions held between the National Asset Management Agency, AIB and Bank of Ireland on the way the banks and the agency may be able to provide financial support to purchasers of residential properties linked to the agency or its debtors; if he will provide details of the agency’s plans to ensure that any prospective buyer is protected from the risk of negative equity in the future; and if he will provide an up to date statement on these plans. [22310/11]

Preliminary meetings have taken place between NAMA and a number of financial institutions in relation to a residential mortgage initiative which is currently under consideration. The proposed initiative is being subjected to extensive analysis and further detailed discussions are scheduled to take place with the institutions over coming weeks. I am informed that NAMA intends to submit to me a detailed proposal in late September.

EU-IMF Fund

Michael McGrath

Question:

128 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance following the recent successful mission review by the troika, when the next draw down of funds under the EU-IMF programme is due to take place; if he will confirm the source from which the draw down will come; the amount involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22381/11]

Ireland is due to draw down approximately €4.5 billion from EU/IMF sources during quarter 3 of 2011. Following the third review mission completed on 14th July 2011, the IMF and the European Commission Services will prepare staff reports for consideration by the IMF Executive Board on 29 August 2011, and Eurogroup/ECOFIN in September 2011. The disbursement of funds is conditional on approval by the EU and IMF following these reports.

The next planned disbursement from the IMF will be SDR 1.319 billion, equivalent to approximately €1.5 billion, and is scheduled to take place, subject to approval, after their Executive Board meeting on 29th August.

The next planned disbursement from EU sources is expected to be €2.5 billion. This disbursement is subject to the approval by Eurogroup/ECOFIN of the third quarterly review, expected to take place early September. It is anticipated that the disbursement will be between mid-September, and mid/end-October at the latest. The exact date depends primarily on market conditions.

Finally, the first disbursement of approximately €475 million under the bilateral loan agreement with the UK is also scheduled to take place following the third review, i.e. in the third quarter, but the details have yet to be finalised.

Tax Yield

John Lyons

Question:

129 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Finance the amount he estimates could be made from extending the current betting levy to remote and online betting including betting exchanges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22383/11]

The Finance Act 2011 contains legislation that, subject to a Ministerial Commencement Order, provides for the extension of betting duty to remote bookmakers and betting exchanges. The tax changes provided for in the Finance Act can only be implemented once the Betting (Amendment) Bill, which will provide for a regulatory and licensing regime, is enacted. The Betting (Amendment) Bill 2011 is currently at an advanced stage of drafting. It is expected that by including this high-growth area of the betting sector, particularly given the increasing prevalence of smart phones, the tax base from betting will be boosted significantly. In a full year it is expected that the tax yield could grow up to €20 million depending on the prevailing market conditions.

Just as important is the positive signal this measure will convey to international betting operations that have expressed an interest in or have already invested in Ireland. A location with an appropriate licensing framework coupled with relatively low taxes provides real investment and employment opportunities in this sector.

Tax Reliefs

John Lyons

Question:

130 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Finance if he will detail the property tax reliefs that exist; their current annual cost to the State in tax forgone; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22394/11]

It is assumed that the Deputy is referring to the following two property-based tax incentive schemes that remain in the tax code: the scheme for Qualifying Specialist Palliative Care Units (subject to Commencement Order) and the Mid-Shannon Corridor Tourism Infrastructure Investment Scheme under which tax relief applies to qualifying expenditure incurred up to 31 May 2015. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that based on information regarding the cost of these schemes, which has been received and collated for the tax year 2009, the latest year for which data is available, the estimated annual cost to the Exchequer in terms of tax forgone is €0.2 million.

All other such property-based schemes have been terminated, subject to transitional arrangements for certain schemes where projects were already in the pipeline. However, due to their nature these "legacy" reliefs continue to impose ongoing costs on the Exchequer in terms of tax foregone.

I have initiated an economic impact assessment in relation to all the "legacy" property-based tax reliefs, and a public consultation is currently underway as the first stage in that process. The results of this assessment will be considered in the context of the forthcoming Budget.

Tax Code

John Lyons

Question:

131 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Finance the steps he intends to take to implement a minimum effective tax rate of 30% for very high earners, the additional revenue he believes this would generate for the Exchequer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22396/11]

The existing restriction of reliefs, or horizontal measure is activated where individuals have an adjusted income of €125,000 and claim specified reliefs of €80,000 or more. Those subject to the full restriction, at adjusted incomes of €400,000 or greater, pay an effective income tax rate of 30% in addition to PRSI and Universal Social Charge. The list of specified reliefs that are subject to the restriction are set out in Schedule 25B of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. Broadly, the reliefs restricted are the various property based tax incentives and certain other reliefs such as the Business Expansion Scheme, film relief and donations relief. Also restricted are certain tax exemptions including artistic income and patent royalties. The normal deductible items available to the broad range of taxpayers such as medical expenses, trade union subscriptions, the personal tax credits and exemptions such as that for child benefit are not restricted. Similarly, normal business expenses and deductions for capital allowances on plant and machinery, as well as genuine business related trading losses are not restricted.

When the amended restriction was announced in Budget 2010, it was estimated that the changes would yield approximately €55 million in addition to the existing yield of €40 million.

It is worth pointing out that taxpayers who only claim personal tax credits, pay an effective rate of income tax of around 30% where their annual incomes exceed €125,000 approximately.

John Lyons

Question:

132 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Finance his plans to abolish tax shelters that primarily benefit very high earners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22397/11]

In the Programme for Government we have committed to reducing, capping or abolishing property tax reliefs and other tax shelters which benefit very high income earners. I would point out to the Deputy that the existing restriction of reliefs or horizontal measure is activated where individuals have an adjusted income of €125,000 and claim specified reliefs of €80,000 or more. Those subject to the full restriction, at adjusted incomes of €400,000 or greater, are required to pay an effective income tax rate of 30% in addition to PRSI and levies.

The list of specified reliefs that are subject to the restriction are set out in Schedule 25B of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. Broadly, the reliefs restricted are the various property-based tax incentives and certain other reliefs such as the Business Expansion Scheme, film relief and donations relief. Also restricted are certain tax exemptions including artistic income and patent royalties. The normal deductible items available to the broad range of taxpayers such as medical expenses, trade union subscriptions, the personal tax credits and exemptions such as that for child benefit are not restricted. Similarly, normal business expenses and deductions for capital allowances on plant and machinery, as well as genuine business related trading losses are not restricted.

Specifically in relation to property tax reliefs, an assessment process has been commenced to consider the possible impacts of reducing, capping or abolishing the "legacy" property-based tax reliefs. The impact assessment will consider the economic impact of curtailing the costs to the State of outstanding or ‘legacy' reliefs, which have so far not been fully claimed by investors.

Our objective in conducting the assessment, which includes a public consultation, is to gain a better understanding of the benefits that may accrue to the Exchequer in terms of additional tax yield as well as consequences for investor groups and the wider economy arising from possible changes to the treatment of these reliefs. The results of this assessment will inform the budgetary process.

Personal Debt

John Lyons

Question:

133 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Finance his plans to regulate money lenders and debt collectors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22404/11]

The Deputy may wish to know that there is already a comprehensive regulatory licensing system in place for moneylenders. Moneylenders have to apply to the Central Bank annually to have their licenses renewed. Section 93 of the Consumer Credit Act 1995 (as amended) sets out the Central Bank's powers in relation to the grant or refusal of a moneylender's license. The appropriate moneylending application form (new or renewal) must be completed and returned to the Central Bank with a number of items, for review and consideration. In addition to the licensing system, the Central Bank has in place a Consumer Protection Code for Licensed Moneylenders (the Code). The Central Bank has power to impose sanctions on moneylenders for a contravention of the Code. The Code sets out the General Principles with which a moneylender must comply. For example, a moneylender must act honestly and professionally, with due skill, care and diligence in the best interest of consumers. The Code also places requirements on moneylenders in relation to the provision of information to the consumer, preservation of a consumer's rights, knowing the consumer, suitability, unsolicited contact (cold calling), disclosure, errors, handling complaints, consumer records, unsolicited credit facilities, arrears and guarantees, debt collection and the contents and presentation of advertisements.

On 18 February 2011, the Central Bank published the results of a themed inspection of licensed moneylenders. The inspection showed a high level of compliance amongst firms, with the requirements of the Code. Inspections were conducted in 11 of the 46 licensed moneylenders currently operating in Ireland. The inspections focused on whether consumers were being charged in accordance with the moneylenders' authorised APRs (Annual Percentage Rates) and costs of credit as set out in the moneylenders' licenses. It also examined whether firms had their licenses on display and if they indicated the high-cost nature of loans on loan documentation issued to consumers, as required by the Code. Overall the inspections found a high level of compliance with the requirements and that consumers were being charged in accordance with the moneylenders' authorised APRs and costs of credit. In addition, firms had their licenses on display and indicated the high-cost nature of loans on loan documentation issued to consumers.

I would expect that, in future, the Annual Regulatory Performance Statement of the Central Bank will refer to the regulation of moneylenders. This statement will be presented to each House of the Oireachtas. The Central Bank Reform Act 2010 provides that a Committee of the Oireachtas may request the Governor of the Central Bank or the Head of Financial Regulation to attend before it and provide information relating to the regulatory performance statement. This will allow deputies the opportunity to seek relevant information on regulatory matters, including the regulation of moneylenders.

The regulation of debt collectors is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality.

Question No. 134 answered with Question No. 107.

EU-IMF Fund

Michael McGrath

Question:

135 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the amount of Government bonds held by each of the Irish banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22410/11]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to his question No. 61 on this topic which was taken on Thursday, 2 June 2011 and provided data on the sovereign exposures of the four domestic institutions subject to the Prudential Capital Assessment Review (PCAR) 2011 exercise. Detailed information on the sovereign exposure of the four institutions was published by the Central Bank in the Financial Measures Programme Report on 31 March 2011. The Central Bank also published the results of the European Banking Authority (EBA) stress tests on Allied Irish Bank (AIB), Bank of Ireland and Irish Life and Permanent (IL&P) on 15 July 2011 and they are available on the Bank's website. I am informed by the Central Bank that those results which, like the data given in my reply of 2 June 2011 in relation to the PCAR exercise, are based on the situation at 31 December 2010, include data for the debt holdings of the Irish banks but figures for holdings of Irish government bonds are not shown separately.

Appointments to State Boards

Anne Ferris

Question:

136 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Finance the steps he is taking to ensure that State boards have at least 40% of each gender, as provided for in the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22438/11]

I intend to ensure that all boards, under the aegis of the Department of Finance, will have an appropriate gender balance.

Financial Services Ombudsman

Michael McGrath

Question:

137 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the number of complaints currently under consideration by the Financial Services Ombudsman; the number of new complaints received in each of the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and to date in 2011; and if he will provide a breakdown of the complaints received by headings and the typical length of time it is taking for a complaint to be disposed of. [22468/11]

The Financial Services Ombudsman's Bureau has advised me that the number of complaints currently under consideration by the Financial Services Ombudsman is 3,901.

The average length of time required to process a complaint through all stages and issue a finding is between 9 and 11 months.

The number of new complaints received in each of the years 2008 to 2010 and in the period to 19 July 2011 is as follows:

Year

Number of New Complaints

2008

5,947

2009

7,619

2010

7,230

2011 (to 19 July 2011)

4,132

The Bureau has three main sectors covering insurance, banking and investment products. Each sector has its own particular complaint heading type relative to the nature of the complaints, as follows:

Insurance

Claim Handling

Customer Care

Terms and Conditions

Fees & Charges

Mis-selling

Non-Disclosure

Policy Review

Pre-Existing Condition

Premium Rates

Refusals

Renewal/Lapse/ Cancellation of Policy

Repudiation of Claim/Settlement Amount

Subrogation/No claim bonus/ Pre-Accident Value of Motor vehicles

Surrender Values/Bonus Rates

Banking

Cheques

Credit Rating ICB

Customer Care

Direct Debit/Standing Orders

Disputed Balances & Transactions

Terms and Conditions

Fees & Charges

Interest Applied

Leasing Agreements

Maladministration

Mis-selling

Opening/ Closing Accounts

Overdrafts

Refusal

Repayment Terms

Type of Mortgage

Unauthorised Withdrawals

Investment Products

Maladministration & Customer Care

Mis-selling and Misrepresentation

Poor Performance of policy/Fees & Charges

Tax Code

Michael McGrath

Question:

138 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if there are discussions ongoing between officials in his Department and officials at European level regarding plans at European level to introduce a common consolidated corporate tax base; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22476/11]

On 16 March this year the European Commission, which has the right of initiation in terms of bringing forward legislative proposals, published its proposal for a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base. This represented the beginning of a protracted process that will involve a detailed examination of the Proposal, line by line, by all Member States at Council. Since the Commission's proposal has been published, Department of Finance officials, along with officials from the Revenue Commissioners have been attending the Working Party on Tax Questions which is the forum for discussions on the proposal. To date, my officials have attended meetings on a monthly basis in relation to the proposal.

Both I and the Government have made it clear that Ireland, like all other Member States, intend to actively engage in that process because only in that way can we absolutely ensure that all of the arguments are brought to the table.

I want to assure the Deputy that it is clearly understood that our engagement is strictly on the basis that taxation is a matter of national competence and that the principle of unanimity in taxation is fully respected.

Departmental Equipment

Dara Calleary

Question:

139 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance the number of computer servers that are owned or leased by his Department and each State agency under the aegis of his Department; and the capacity of each server. [22489/11]

Sixty-seven servers are owned, and zero servers are leased by the Department of Finance. The "capacity" of each server ranges from 1Gb to 32Gb RAM; 32Gb to 8Tb Hard Disk Drive; and 1 to 2 CPUs. It is not possible for all State agencies to reply within the timeframe. However the following responses have been received from some agencies.

The Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB);

Total number of SEUPB, physical servers: 17. These servers are located in the Belfast, Monaghan and Omagh offices of the SEUPB.

Location/SERVER NO

Capacity (in Gigabytes)

BELFAST/SERVER 1

270

BELFAST/SERVER 2

270

BELFAST/SERVER 3

420

BELFAST/SERVER 4

680

BELFAST/SERVER 5

200

BELFAST/SERVER 6

140

BELFAST/SERVER 7

75

BELFAST/SERVER 8

135

BELFAST/SERVER 9

820

BELFAST/SERVER 10

820

BELFAST/SERVER 11

140

BELFAST/SERVER

140

OMAGH/SERVER 1

280

OMAGH/SERVER 2

280

OMAGH/SERVER 3

820 (DR FOR BELFAST)

MONAGHAN/SERVER 1

280

MONAGHAN/SERVER 2

280

To note — the SEUPB is currently in the process of rationalising its IT infrastructure which will reduce the number of physical servers the Body requires. This forms part of the SEUPB's Virtualisation Strategy which will allow it to create greater efficiencies in its IT delivery.

NTMA Group:

Server Name

Capacity (GB)

Server 001

2400

Server 002

2400

Server 003

2400

Server 004

2400

Server 005

2292

Server 006

2292

Server 007

1800

Server 008

1492

Server 009

1168

Server 010

1168

Server 011

1168

Server 012

1168

Server 013

1168

Server 014

1168

Server 015

1168

Server 016

1168

Server 017

1168

Server 018

876

Server 019

876

Server 020

876

Server 021

876

Server 022

876

Server 023

876

Server 024

876

Server 025

876

Server 026

876

Server 027

876

Server 028

876

Server 029

876

Server 030

876

Server 031

876

Server 032

876

Server 033

876

Server 034

730

Server 035

730

Server 036

730

Server 037

730

Server 038

657

Server 039

657

Server 040

584

Server 041

584

Server 042

584

Server 043

584

Server 044

584

State Banking Sector

Michael McGrath

Question:

140 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the remuneration package in place for the chief executive officer of Anglo Irish Bank. [22502/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, the covered institutions continue to be managed at arms length basis, not withstanding the large shareholding the State holds, in relation to operational matters subject to compliance with prevailing Government policy. This is important from the point of view of ensuring that their operations are managed, by their respective boards and management on a commercial basis in the best interests of, in the case of Anglo Irish Bank, the State. I am advised by the bank that the remuneration package applicable to the Group Chief Executive post consists of a base salary with additional benefits including monthly contribution to a defined contribution pension scheme, a car allowance, a temporary rent allowance, agreed travel expenses, agreed relocation related expenses and club subscriptions.

In relation to the issue of the base salary applying to the position in the Deputy's question, the prevailing Government policy revolves around the recommendations of the Covered Institutions Remuneration Oversight Committee (CIROC) set up by my predecessor. The base salary applicable to the post of Group Chief Executive of the bank is set at €500,000 in line with the CIROC recommendation as amended by Government in March 2009.

The bank further informs me that it does not operate a performance related bonus scheme for executives hence no annual performance bonus has been paid or awarded to the Group Chief Executive during the year ended 31 December 2010.

Further information in relation to the remuneration of the Group Chief Executive is published in Note 54 to the bank's Annual Report and Accounts 2010.

The Deputy will be aware that, as part of the remuneration review underway at the covered institutions, the institutions have been asked to consider measures that could be taken to realign staff expectations with regard to remuneration and benefits in the current economic environment and financial circumstances of the banks.

Michael McGrath

Question:

141 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if, following the merger of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide, any senior executive in the newly merged institution will be having his or her remuneration package reduced; and if he will provide an organisation chart of the way the new institution will look from a corporate governance perspective. [22522/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

150 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if, following the merger of AIB and EBS, any senior executive in the newly merged institution will be having his or her remuneration package reduced; and if he will provide an organisation chart of the way the new institution will look from a corporate governance perspective. [22618/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 141 and 150 together.

The Deputy will be aware that the merger of the respective institutions referred to in his questions was announced on 1 July 2011. The future organisational and operational structures of the combined entities are under detailed consideration. This will be finalised over time in a manner which creates the best possible fit to deliver on the Government's policy of restructuring the banking sector to achieve the objectives of returning the sector to long-term viability and profitability and breaking dependence on the State.

In relation to the issue of remuneration raised by the Deputy in his questions, he will be aware that, as part of the remuneration review underway at the covered institutions, the institutions have been asked to consider measures that could be taken to realign staff expectations with regard to remuneration and benefits in the current economic environment and financial circumstances of the banks.

Banking Sector Remuneration

Michael McGrath

Question:

142 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details, including the overall value involved and the number of current and former employee beneficiaries, of any of the following payments at AIB during 2011 guaranteed bonus, contractual bonus, cash long-term incentives, deferred bonus and retention payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22536/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

143 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details, including the overall value involved and the number of current and former employee beneficiaries, of any of the following payments at Bank of Ireland during 2011: guaranteed bonus, contractual bonus, cash long term incentives, deferred bonus and retention payments;; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22539/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

144 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details, including the overall value involved and the number of current and former employee beneficiaries, of any of the following payments at Anglo Irish Bank during 2011: guaranteed bonus, contractual bonus, cash long term incentives, deferred bonus and retention payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22540/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

145 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details, including the overall value involved and the number of current and former employee beneficiaries, of any of the following payments at INBS during 2011: guaranteed bonus, contractual bonus, cash long term incentives, deferred bonus and retention payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22541/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

146 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details, including the overall value involved and the number of current and former employee beneficiaries, of any of the following payments at EBS during 2011: guaranteed bonus, contractual bonus, cash long term incentives, deferred bonus and retention payments;; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22542/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

147 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details, including the overall value involved and the number of current and former employee beneficiaries, of any of the following payments at ILP during 2011: guaranteed bonus, contractual bonus, cash long term incentives, deferred bonus and retention payments;; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22543/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 142 to 147, inclusive, together.

The Deputy will be aware that the institutions continue to be managed at arms length basis, not withstanding the large shareholding the Government holds. Accordingly, I do not compile the data sought by the Deputy at the level of detail he is seeking. This also applies to a whole series of questions put down for answer on the issue of remuneration matters at the covered institutions lately.

As I have said in response to these questions, my Department cannot compile data on a bespoke basis in relation to a large number of differently framed remuneration related questions at once, in the timeframe applicable to parliamentary replies and within the resources available, so I am seeking to find an approach that can properly respond to the clear public interest here.

As I have indicated in other replies yesterday on the same subject, far from wanting to restrict access to such information, I fully recognise that there is a real public interest in the levels of remuneration at the covered institutions. I have asked the institutions to compile data on remuneration practices and details with a view, as part of the remuneration review presently being conducted by the institutions at the request of my Department, to improving transparency on the issue. I will endeavour to have this completed in light of the above comments in the shortest timeframe possible with a view to putting the information into the public domain.

Consultancy Contracts

Joe McHugh

Question:

148 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a report of the number consultancy reports commissioned by his Department between 1997 and January 2011; the cost of commissioning each report; if he will provide information on the implementation of recommendations set out in each report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22598/11]

The information sought by the Deputy is as follows. It is not possible to provide all the information is a short time frame and more specific information will be provided to the Deputy in relation to the implementation of recommendations.

Company

Year

Cost

Description

McCann Fitzgerald

2008

€48,400

Advice on tender procedures and drafting of contracts for the provision of foreign travel

McCann Fitzgerald/ Raymond Burke Consulting

2003

€54,450

Advice on tender procedures and drafting of contracts for the provision of foreign travel

Deloitte & Touche

2001

€97,000

Annual Audit on the operation of travel policy by Government Departments and Office and Club Travel Ltd

Deloitte & Touche

2000

€97,154

Annual Audit on the operation of travel policy by Government Departments and Office and Club Travel Ltd

Deloitte & Touche

1999

€74,413

Annual Audit on the operation of travel policy by Government Departments and Office and Club Travel Ltd

KPMG / Raymond Burke Consulting

1998

€36,900

Advice on tender procedures and drafting of contracts for the provision of foreign travel

Name

Date Published

Duration

Cost

Report carried out by

Review of Arrangements for the Design of follow up Surveys of people participating in training courses under the Employment and Human Resources Operational Programme

Mar 2002

3 months

€40,207

Capita Consulting

Employment and Human Resources Development Operational Programme : Evaluation of Provision and Targeting of Measures

Jul 2002

8 months

€116,112

Fitzpatrick Associates

Evaluation of Public Transport Priority

Aug 2002

8 months

€96,674

Indecon

Evaluation of Investment in the Road Network

Aug 2002

8 months

€174,462

Fitzpatrick Associates

Evaluation of Eco —Auditing

Jan 2003

7 months

€72,067

Economic and Social Research Institute

Evaluation of the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006

April 2003

10 months

printed in-house

NDP/CSF Evaluation Unit

Mid-Term Evaluation of NDP/CSF

Oct 2003

6 months

€401,115

Economic and Social Research Institute

Evaluation of Social Inclusion Co-ordination Mechanism

October 2003

6 months

printed in-house

Internal

Review of Relevance of NDP/CSF Horizontal Principles to the OP Measures

April 2004

4 months

printed in-house

NDP/CSF Evaluation Unit

Evaluation of the In- Company Training Measures

July 2005

10 months

In house

NDP/CSF Evaluation Unit

Evaluation of water service investment in the NDP/CSF 2000 -2006

Aug 2005

9 months

€163,201

Fitzpatrick Associates

Update Evaluation of Community Support Framework

Nov 2005

4 months

€91,889

Fitzpatrick Associates

Expenditure Review InitiativeFirst Formal Report to the Minister for Finance by the Expenditure Review Central Steering Committee(for period June 2002 June 2004)

November 2004

9-10 months

printed in-house

The Expenditure Review Initiative Central Steering Committee, with assistance from the Expenditure Review Initiative Secretariat in the Department of Finance.

Value for Money and Policy Review initiative Guidance Manual

March 2007

€14,400 consultancy cost in respect of drafting certain aspects of the guidance manual.

Epsilon Consulting

National Treasury Management Agency

(Inclusive of State Claims Agency, National Development Finance Agency, National Pension Reserve Fund and National Asset Management Agency)

2008

Body

Name of Report or Review

Cost (ex VAT)

National Treasury Management Agency

PwC Review of Technical and Operational Procedures in relation to the Prize Bond Scheme

**

2009

Body

Name of Report or Review

Cost (ex VAT)

National Treasury Management Agency

London Economics Report on Derivation of Long-Term Economic Value Adjustment Factors

€94,080

2010

Body

Name of Report or Review

Cost (ex VAT)

National Treasury Management Agency

Accenture Review of NTMA Corporate Services

**

National Pension Reserve Fund Commission

2008

Body

Name of Report or Review

Cost (ex VAT)

National Pension Reserve Fund Commission

WM Review of Fund Investment Performance

**

2009

Body

Name of Report or Review

Cost (ex VAT)

National Pension Reserve Fund Commission

PwC Due Diligence Report on Bank of Ireland*

€650,000

National Pension Reserve Fund Commission

PwC Due Diligence Report on Allied Irish Banks plc*

€650,000

National Pension Reserve Fund Commission

Arthur Cox Due Diligence Report on Bank of Ireland*

€500,000

National Pension Reserve Fund Commission

Arthur Cox Due Diligence Report on Allied Irish Banks plc*

€900,000

2010

Body

Name of Report or Review

Cost (ex VAT)

National Treasury Management Agency

Aksia Review of Hedge Funds Investment Strategy.

**

*These reports were commissioned at the request of the Minister for Finance in the context of the State's preference share investment through the National Pensions Reserve Fund in Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Banks plc.

**Commercial confidentiality provisions in the relevant contracts preclude the publication of the fees paid in respect of these individual reports. However, the total costs (ex VAT) in respect of the 9 reports referred to above are €3,131,330.

Special EU Programmes Body

The Cost in relation to the reports and reviews carried out by the Special EU Programmes Body listed below would have been jointly funded by the European Union, the Department of Finance and the Department of Finance and Personnel. The majority of the Reports and Reviews were commissioned for the INTERREG IVA and PEACE III European Structural Funds Programmes, The EU funds 75% of INTERREG IVA programme costs and 67.5% of the PEACE III Programme costs, with Ireland and the United Kingdom providing the remaining funding.

The Special EU Programmes Body is responsible for the management of the PEACE III and INTERREG IVA Programmes which value some €333m and €256m respectively. In line with public expenditure requirements and as agreed with Accountable Departments, all applicants seeking funding under the Programmes are subject to a robust and defined assessment process. All applications meeting the basic eligibility criteria and seeking funding of over £500,000 will automatically be subject to a full Economic Appraisal (EA). These appraisals make up the majority of external reports and reviews commissioned by the Special EU Programmes Body.

Please note that there are a number of instances where a contract has been awarded to a provider for completion of a block of Economic Appraisals. Detail on the individual Economic Appraisals contained within these contracts is not available within the required timeframes but can be provided upon request.

The information presented is based on the Special EU Programmes Body Consultant Register as at 16 November 2010 and costs outlined within Tables 1-3 are based on the total costs stipulated at the time of award of contract. Should a contract complete under budget, this will not be reflected within the Tables. The Special EU Programmes Body appraisals make up the majority of external reports and reviews commissioned by Special EU Programmes Body.

Please note that there are a number of instances where a contract has been awarded to a provider for completion of a block of Economic Appraisals. Detail on the individual Economic Appraisals contained within these contracts is not available within the required timeframes but can be provided upon request.

The information presented is based on the Special EU Programmes Body Consultant Register as at 16 November 2010 and costs outlined within Tables 1-3 are based on the total costs stipulated at the time of award of contract. Should a contract complete under budget, this will not be reflected within the Tables. The Special EU Programmes Body estimates that the number of contracts to which this applies is negligible. Should however, further costs be incurred on a contract, these will be described as Annex Bs within Tables 1-3.

Table 1: External Reports and Reviews Conducted by SEUPB in 2008

Name of Report or Review

Cost £

Cost €

East Border Region Multi-Annual Plan

8,166

North East Partnership Multi-Annual Plan

11,103

Centre for Sport & Interculturalism

8,812

Programme Branding Review

40,000

EA Annex B — East Border Arts Project (Original Annex A 95/04)

3,466

EA Annex B — Sharing a vision for our coastline (Original Annex A 39/06)

2,879

EA Annex B — Geographical Information Project (Original Annex A 45/06)

2,726

EPI Project

3,525

Destination North West

4,230

Cross Border Railway Cluster

3,290

NWEEC Waste Management

3,290

Impact Evaluation for the INTERREG IIIA Programme

25,554

Assessment & EA of the Multi Annual Plans submitted by COMET, ICBAN & NWRCBG

17,927

EA Annex B — Composting for the Mushroom Industry

5,950

Off Shore Electricity Transmission Grid Between Ireland, N. Ireland & Scotland

6,991

Economic Appraisal (EA) — Programme specification for the Creative Industries Sector

5,611

To undertake an independent assessment and review of the Project Kelvin.

5,875

Economic Appraisal to cover additional founds to the SYNERGY Project.

4,112

Addendum to the Economic Appraisal to cover additional funds to the Digital Media Works Project

2,937

To undertake an Economic Appraisal of the Sail West Project Under INTERREG IVA

6,756

To undertake an Economic Appraisal on PEACE III, Priority 2.1 project — Balloo Community Wetland Project — North Down Borough Council

5,874

To undertake an Economic Appraisal on PEACE III, Priority 2.1 project — Castlesaunderson — All Ireland Scouting/Jamboree Centre — Cavan County Council

8,166

Production of Common Chapter (North/South) Activity Report for 2006

18,682

EA- Annex B — North East Partnership Multi-Annual Plan

2,115

East Border Region Multi-Annual Plan

2,673

EA & project assessment of 4 local authority peace & reconciliation action plans

29,421

EA & project assessment of 5 local authority peace & reconciliation action plans

37,600

EA & project assessment of 5 local authority peace & reconciliation action plans

32,959

Economic Appraisal Transforming Conflict in Border Communities

9,635

Analysis study of Protestant working class areas and the development of a Peace III project proposal

20,327

EA on actions contained within EBR’s Collaboration Theme of their Multi Action Plan

21,358

EA on actions listed within ICBAN’s Collaboration Theme of their Multi Action Plan

15,030

EA on actions listed within North West Region Cross Border Group’s Collaboration of Multi Action Plan

12,500

Management of the successful dissolution of LSP companies seeking to close following P2 programme

53,239

EA Northern Ireland Prison Service application

4,600

EA of 9 PEACE III 1.1 projects

33,120

EA of 6 PEACE III 2.1 projects

22,080

Total €

785,897

Table 2: External Reports and Reviews Conducted by SEUPB in 2009

Name of Report or Review

Cost £

Cost €

Design and implementation of a functional records management policy & system

19,164

EA on the Resource I/Reg IVA Project

5,750

EA Achieving Sustainable Councils

5,750

EA Connexions

4,082

EA Blackwater River Catchment Project

5,750

EA on Workspace at Enniskillen Airport/Innovative Enterprise Prog/HAATCH Projects

14,950

EA Annex B EA PEACE III Priority 1.1 Children and Young People Building Relations(original 70/07)

1,028

EA Annex B Conflict Transformation from the bottom up(original 75/07)

2,937

EA on business incubation support for BelFÁSt/North Down/Sligo

6,325

EA on the innovation and growth programme for NEP which aims to build the success of previous Product Transfer programme

3,565

Establish a Rural Environmental Co-operative which will provide cross border catchment services to farmers and rural households in Lough Melvin

6,325

EA for proposed collaboration project from RNIB with NCBI and deafhear

6,613

EA Collaboration to fund a project aimed at building infrastructure to address current shortage of language service professionals working with the deaf

4,025

EA Collaboration between DHSSPS & DELHLG & NIFRS with six fire and rescue services in the border

4,313

EA Annex B — EA Success through Succession — (original annex A = 41/08)

3,140

EA Cooperation and Working Together — (original Annex A = 33/08)

5,493

EA On Diversity Across Border Projects

4,025

Ea Borderwise Cross Border Project

4,542

To undertake additional work required on the common Chapter Report

920

EA on two operations within marine tourism and angling development project

3,795

Annex B Create dvd to mark the closure of PEACE and INTERREG IIIA (original 87/08)

8,321

Development of SEUPB Website so it meets current best practice

52,499

EA Developing Governance in Transition/Vital Links/Int Childhood Network/FAIR/ The Most Project

14,850

Annex B EA BNcB

3,482

Business Plan for Peace III Priority 2.1 project Clones Erne East Sports Partnership

6,037

EA for an energy project

5,750

2 EA The Power of Possibility and Developing a Peace Building InFÁStructure

8,395

EA on PEACE II 1.1 Promoting Inter-Culturalism North/South

4,600

EA of the Construction Business project under the Enterprise Theme of ICBAN’s MAP

3,479

EA of The Green Business Project under the Enterprise theme of ICBANs MAP

4,594

EA on the Cultural Tourism Network project form the COMET MAP

4,477

EA of 3 projects in the NEP MAP under tourism theme Biker Trip/Causeway Coast/Gobbins

12,592

EA on 3 projects under the Tourism Theme of the North West Regions Multi Action Plan

9,487

EA of 4 projects in the ICBAN MAP= Border uplands/ECO Tourism/Crossborder angling/Events and Festival Management Support

16,503

Review PEACE III+INTERREG IVA programmes performance

74,115

EA Annex B Borderwise Cross Border Project

1,144

EA Annex B Connexions

1,064

EA Annex B on Loughs Agency, Marine Tourism & Angling Project in Foyle and Carlingford

3,770

EA Annex B on the ifactory application

1,880

EA for East Border Region Partnership application under tourism

12,075

Completion of Sports Dev Plan for PEACE III Clones Erne/East Sports Partnership

4,600

EA Annex B Consultant to address comments from DETI on BNCB proposal under INTERREG IVA

799

EA on 2 FAIR projects/CAPABLE project/BOBCAT project

6,635

EA of one Co-operation Ireland project — Effective Choices Helping Ourselves

3,450

EA on the continuation of WAVE key services

6,900

EA Annex B To update Tradelinks II application

1,552

EA Annex B EBR Wider Cross border Regional Work

1,573

EA Intertrade Ireland/East Border Region/North West Region Cross Border Group

4,600

EA Annex B on the Resource I/Reg IVA Project

1,088

5 EA relating to The Administration Costs of the Cross Border P/ship Groups receiving funding under INTERREG IVA

14,087

Propose a methodology to the Member States on the appropriate methods and rates to be applied to facilitate simplification of management administration and control of ERDF funded organisations

8,104

To review the contract and completed works for the Strabane-Lifford Waterways

3,237

3rd Annex B EA on the Tradelinks II application-worked not covered in original TOR

120

EA Annex B Sailwest

6,095

2 EA Moving away from violence project and International network of youth centred public service providers project

9,200

4 EA Group A Forward learning/Sligo Vo Educ Comm/Rural Dev Council/NW Play resource centre

14,778

4 EA Group B Cooperation Ireland/Irish congress of Trade unions/PSNI/BCC Growing a learning city

14,778

Perception Surveys

10,275

EA Annex B North West Regional Sports campus

548

EA 2nd Annex B North West Regional Sports campus

1,150

2 EA Spatial Planning Analysis and Info sharing and Urban-village renewal

7,100

To undertake a needs analysis study on West Tyrone Voice and to develop a project pipeline in order to submit an application

3,750

Undertake Greenbook EA Settlement Regeneration Programme

2,507

Due Diligence Report on North and West housing Ltd

5,623

12 Green book economic appraisals

61,922

12 Green book economic appraisals

53,820

12 Green book economic appraisals

63,705

12 Green book economic appraisals

41,193

10 Green book economic appraisals

67,850

Commercial appraisal assignment of a company in the property/aircraft maintenance sector Enniskillen airport

5,520

EA Annex B Conflict Transformation from the bottom up(original 75/07)1st annex b=08/09

1,762

12 Green book economic appraisals

61,922

Consultant to carry out the work and activities of working group one of the Peace Network

25,500

EA Annex B HAATCH/Enniskillen airport and the Innovative Enterprise Programme

2,555

Total €

1,040,280

Table 3: External Reports and Reviews Conducted by SEUPB in 2010

Name of Report or Review

Cost £

Cost €

Review of the proceeds of the sale of Castlesaunderson lands by scout foundation-jamboree centre project

587

Preparation of proposal for the member states on the application of flat rate costs calculated by standard scales of unit cost to health sector project

9,790

In depth analysis of Major Grant Project, Project Kelvin, to address queries from European Court of Auditors.

6,345

Evaluation of PEACE III, Priority 1.1 Project Positive relations

10,141

12 Economic Appraisals

54,990.

12 Economic Appraisals

56,400

12 Economic Appraisals

54,919

12 Economic Appraisals

45,825

12 Economic Appraisals

57,208

To undertake a review of Theme 1.2 of the PEACE III Programme

19,385

EA Annex B EBR Action for Bio Diversity

1,329

EA Annex B NWR Spatial Planning

4,698

EA Annex B EBR Energy and training and monitoring

1,117

EA Annex B NWR Urban and Rural Village renewal

835

EA Annex B NEP Causeway Connections

1,469

EA Annex B NEP Gobbins and Sliabh Liag

2,291

EA Annex B ICBAN Angling Project

1,469

EA Annex B ICBAN Eco Tourism Project

1,469

EA Annex B HATTCH, Enniskillen Airport. ICBAN’s enterprise application

4,821

To undertake a review of the impact of the activities under each local action plan Theme 1.1 PEACE

19,385

Addendum to EA Castlesaunderson all Ireland scouting jamboree project

1,762

Addendum to EA of Orange Community Network

1,410

Development and design of SEUPB intranet system

12,480

Forensic Audit of a lead Partner- suspected fraud

32,900

Report to ascertain the impact of the removal of project partner from the Irish Peace Centres project

4,641

Perception and awareness survey

11,039

EA on Two sub-projects within the Lough Agency Marine Tourism and Angling Development Projects

2,876

Attitudinal Survey within the PEACE III Programme

41,019

Addendum to economic appraisal for Women into Public Life.

1,243

The Rural Enabler

4,700

Total €

515,402

Anglo Irish Bank

Consultancy charges outside the normal course of business in 2009 and 2010 (cash out basis and to Sept 2010) were as follows:

Name of the Report or Review commissioned

€m

Restructuring Plans

18.8

Nama related charges

16.7

Legacy issues

9.3

Liability Management exercise

7.4

Redundancy & HR

1.5

ELG Scheme

0.1

CIFs Scheme

0.2

Nationalisation

1.6

Other*

1.5

*other includes special items primarily consists of consultants hired to assist with the restructuring plans and NAMA related valuation costs.

Central Bank of Ireland

In addition to the reports listed above a number of reports or reviews were carried out by external parties on behalf of the central bank of Ireland (including the Financial Regulator for pre — October 2010) in the period 2008 to date in 2010. Details of the reports are included in the following tables:

2008

Name of Report or Review

Total Cost

Financial Capability Study consultancy for 2008/09

Financial Capability Study consultancy for 2008/09

Loanbook analysis and assessment review

Review of trading controls

Consumer tracking research

Report on calculating a consumer rebate

Review of the Life Assurance Disclosure Regulations

Consumer Research for Review of the Intermediary Market

Total costs for 2008

€4,295 115

2009

Name of Report or Review

Total Cost

Review of Business Processes

Review of Directors Loans

Review of Banking System pre NAMA (at request of Department of Finance)

Total Costs 2009

€778,724

2010

Name of Report or Review

Total Cost

Strategic Review of the Credit UnionSector in Ireland (requested by the Minister for Finance)

Organisational effectiveness of financial sector regulators/Supervisors

Due Diligence Report (at request of Department of Finance)

Review of NAMA Asset Valuation Methodology

Total Costs to date 2010

€2,031,423

In addition the consultative consumer and industry panels commissioned reports in 2008 to date in 2010. the reports cost €114,836 in 2008, €4,860 in 2009 and €4,599in 2010.

Consultancy Reports — Valuation Office 1997 — January 2011

2000 — 2001

Deloitte Touche

Methodology for implemenation of the Valuation Act 2001

161,000.00

Recommendations were implemented following receipt of the report and were reviewed in 2008 on completion of one complete Revaluation area.

2001 — 2002

Cap Gemini

Financial System Tender Evaluation and Selection Support

67,500.00

The recommendation was accepted and implemented.

2004

Price Waterhouse Coopers

Expenditure Review of the Valuation Office

20,010.00

The recommendations in this report were, where practicable, implemented

2005

Epsilon Consulting

Review of Internal Financial Controls and Procedures

14,000.00

The operations manual on Internal Financial controls and procedures was rewritten following receipt of the report.

2008

David Rainey

Rainey Report on Revaluation

13,853.24

All practicable recommendations in this report have been implemented, including the setting up this year of a central market analysis Unit to assist the National Revaluation project.

2009

Occupational Health and Safety Services

Review of Safety Statement and audit of safety management system

1,176.12

All recommendations on Safety Management Systems, Improvements in Preventative arrangements and the formulation of the Office Safety Statement were implemented.

Year

Company

Unit

Purpose/Report

Cost

2001

Price Waterhouse Coopers

Cen PPP Unit

Review of existing PPP structures in the Irish public sector.

114,276

2003

Adam Smith Consortium (incl. PWC)

Cen PPP Unit

Research on pensions issues in PPPs.

12,100

2003

Deloitte and Touche

Cen PPP Unit

Research on Public Sector Benchmark and Value for Money Comparison.

143,990

2004

IPA

Cen PPP Unit (NDP Information Office)

Report on Cohesion Fund

14,250

2003

IPA

Cen PPP Unit (NDP Information Office)

Compilation of Publications on Cohesion Fund

14,250

2006

ESRI

Cen PPP Unit (NDP Information Office)

Ex-Ante Evaluation of Investment Priorities for the NDP (2007-2013)

356,941.60

2008

Baseline

Cen PPP Unit (NDP Information Office)

NDP Identity Guidelines

12,881

2008

Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector (Report No 43) — €190,561

Job evaluation of posts in the public sector for the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector — €114,000

2009

Parallell Benchmarking Pensions Review — €32,805

Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector (Report No 44) — €268,959

Aine Griffin/Marie Ralph:

Year

Consultant

Purpose

Payments

Area

Additional

2005

Hay Management Group

204420 Review body on Higher Renueration in the Public Sector

14,000

Department of Finance

Amount contract for = €7,000 however €14,000 spent. €7,000 spent in year 2005

Eamann Phelan:

Maurice O'Connell, former Governor of the Central Bank and Financial Services Regulatory Authority, was asked to address, in October 2008, in the context of a review of the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF), the following questions:

Whether existing arrangements for automatic payment into the NPRF should be modified, and

Whether the Minister for Finance, on behalf of Government, should be empowered to direct or influence the strategic investment policy of the Fund.

Mr O'Connell's conclusions were:

1. The performance of the NPRF since its establishment has been professional. In recent times it has suffered poor returns in exceptionally volatile conditions. This has been the experience generally of comparable investment institutions.

2. Where the national interest is concerned, it is appropriate that the Minister for Finance should be in a position to give directions on investment policy to the NPRF Commission, notwithstanding the requirement on the NPRF to secure the optimal financial return. This will require enabling legislation.

3. A top financial priority at this time is to contain the State's borrowing requirement which has exceeded earlier expectations by a wide margin. In this climate there is a case for suspending or adjusting payments to the Fund, especially as the cost of borrowing may well be higher than the Fund is likely to earn on its investments in the short term.

4. Any decision should also take account of the need to preserve the Fund, to the maximum extent possible, and the potential reactions from prospective international investors and credit rating agencies.

5. The options in relation to contributions to the Fund are to continue with existing arrangements or to adjust downwards or suspend payment in full on a temporary basis (preferably for the calendar year 2009 only). Valid arguments can be put forward in support of each option and the issues are finely balanced.

6. In view of the conflicting priorities and uncertainties that lie ahead, the more prudent approach at this time is to take a longer term perspective and maintain a contribution to the Fund, even at a lower level than is now required. Any change in existing arrangements will require enabling legislation.

7. The scope for non-cash payments, such as shareholdings, in making contributions to the Fund, should be explored further. In this context, it is for consideration also whether the legal prohibition on the Fund taking control or large stakes in individual companies should be amended.

8. The NPRF Commission should redouble their efforts at this time to find suitable investment opportunities in Ireland given the new economic realities.

Implementation of recommendations:

Not directly resulting from Mr O'Connell's report, under legislation enacted in 2009 and 2010, the Minister for Finance has power to direct the NPRF Commission to —

invest in credit institutions (used to recapitalise AIB and BoI)

buy Irish Government bonds

provide cash to the Exchequer for capital expenditure until 2013

ensure that it has cash or liquid assets available in the event of a direction.

In addition, the Minister for Finance has power, until 2013, to suspend or reduce the statutory annual Exchequer contribution of 1% of GNP to the Fund.

In relation to the investment of the Fund, the NPRF Commission has in the Fund's Discretionary Portfolio increased its commitment to Irish assets within the framework of its commercial investment mandate, including to Innovation Fund Ireland, water metering and infrastructure.

Cost of consultancy:

Nil.

Tax Code

Barry Cowen

Question:

149 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Finance his views on the statement (details supplied) that a household charge has to reflect a person’s ability to pay; the way he plans to calculate such a levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22616/11]

As the Deputy is aware, the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland under its fiscal consolidation measures commits to the introduction of a property tax for 2012 and to an increase in the property tax for 2013. Decisions have yet to be taken on the precise legal mechanism to be used to introduce a property tax; what form that tax will take; the extent of the tax and any exemptions or waivers therefrom; and whether it will be introduced in tax legislation such as the Finance Bill or through other legislation which may fall within the ambit of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

Question No. 150 answered with Question No. 141.

Financial Services Regulation

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

151 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide for safe regulations and incentives for the financial services industry here; the amount that these provisions will cost; the way they will prevent firms that set up domiciles here from being a potential cost to the Exchequer in future; and if the plans will allow for other centres of financial services development outside of the IFSC. [21145/11]

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

153 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Finance the action that he has taken to establish a task force on the future of the financial service sector; if so, the persons that will be part of this task force; if not, when he will establish this task force; and the persons he sees playing the role on this task force. [21150/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 151 and 153 together.

More than 32,000 people are directly employed in international financial services, in over 500 firms. Substantial indirect employment is also generated, and the sector contributes €2.1bn in corporate and payroll taxes to the Exchequer. Accounting for 10% of multi-national employment, international financial services represents an estimated 7.4% of GDP, and 5% of EU international financial services activity is carried out from Ireland.

The fundamental goal of public policy in relation to the IFSC is to develop the international financial services industry in Ireland, built upon sustainable, responsible and internationally respected foundations, to maximise not only the number of jobs, but also the quality of employment and the future sustainability and growth prospects of the industry. The Government believes that it is necessary to continue to adopt, articulate and implement a clear vision for the development of the IFSC to demonstrate Ireland's commitment to the promotion and growth of its international financial services industry.

As part of this, the Deputy will be aware that last week, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D., announced a new IFSC Strategy for the future of the international financial services industry in Ireland over the next 5 years. The Strategy, which will be implemented by the Clearing House Group of the Department of the Taoiseach, sets out the key drivers to support the achievement of the overall objective of 10,000 net new jobs. The foundations are a tax framework which is competitive and internationally respected and a regulatory regime which supports responsible business operations and ensures effective oversight and control. The Strategy recognises and fully supports the critical importance of a credible, responsible and proportionate regulatory system whose own capacity and reputation provides, in itself, a source of competitive advantage for this jurisdiction, attracting reputable, responsible and sustainable financial services activity.

As Minister for Finance, I welcome the IFSC Strategy and consider that it represents a comprehensive approach to maintaining and developing the international financial services sector in Ireland. In this context, I do not have any immediate plans to establish a separate task force on the future of the financial service sector. I will, however, keep the situation under review.

With regard to the provision for safe regulations and incentives for the financial services industry here, the Strategy recognises that it is essential to develop tax and regulatory structures within the parameters of EU and other international requirements. While the Strategy sets out a commitment to the development of the IFSC and a direction for policy development, any relevant implementing measures will be considered through the appropriate legislative or other processes, including, inter alia, consideration of relevant EU law implications, in particular around state aid rules. The Deputy will note that a comprehensive programme of regulatory reform in the financial sector is already underway at domestic, international and EU levels which will have significant implications for the regulation of the different IFSC sectors. My Department is engaging actively in this regulatory reform agenda in relevant international fora and it is a key objective of my Department to transpose all EU legislation in good time to ensure that both the Central Bank and industry are well placed to implement new regulatory requirements.

In addition to international regulatory reform, the Deputy will also be aware that domestic legislative changes have been introduced to merge the Central Bank and Financial Regulator and to enhance the powers of the unified organisation. Further enhancements to the Central Bank's powers will be introduced to the Oireachtas shortly in the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Bill. In addition, the Central Bank is engaged in a significant programme to increase its staff numbers and to enhance its supervisory capacities.

Credit Availability

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

152 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Finance the steps he will take to force the banking industry to provide fixed rate loans that are not excessively inflated with large banking premiums. [21144/11]

The Deputy will appreciate that I cannot do much to prevent the banking industry, which operates on a commercial basis and must compete for funding, from increasing the interest rates. However, as I have already stated in this House, the banks are engaging in cost cutting plans which are already underway. These cost reductions which will improve operating margins and permit the banks to better absorb any future raises in funding costs and I would expect this to be reflected in their interest rates.

Question No. 153 answered with Question No. 151.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

154 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance the money saved if all State agency board member payments in his Department were reduced by €10,000 where their current annual payments are in excess of €50,000. [22738/11]

I am not aware of any instance in which the annual fee payable to a State agency board member exceeds €50,000.

Special Educational Needs

Finian McGrath

Question:

155 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of money that will be saved by cutting the services of special needs assistants. [21931/11]

I wish to inform the Deputy that there will be more Special Needs Assistant (SNA) posts this year than there were last year. There is therefore no estimated budget saving. 10,575 whole time equivalent (WTE) posts are being provided for SNA support for the coming school year. This is a significant number of posts and unlike other areas of the public sector vacancies are being filled up to this number. It is considered that with equitable and careful management and distribution of these resources that there should be sufficient posts to provide access to SNA support for all children who require such care support to attend school, in accordance with Departmental criteria.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and SNAs to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts.

The NCSE has issued a circular to all schools advising of the allocation process for the 2011/2012 school year. A key feature of the amended scheme will be to provide for an annual allocation of SNA support to eligible schools.

The NCSE asked schools to submit all applications for SNA support to them by 18th March, 2011 and are currently in the process of informing schools of their annual SNA allocation for the coming school year.

In order to manage this limited resource, 475 of these posts will be retained for allocation over the coming school year to address significant emergency cases; new entrants with special needs; or new assessments or injuries acquired during the school year.

The NCSE will advise schools early in the new school year of a review process to review allocation decisions to ensure that correct procedures were followed and that they comply with my Department's policy. The merits of individual allocation decisions will not be open to appeal under this mechanism.

It will be expected that schools, before requesting a review, will be in a position to demonstrate that they have made every effort to manage their allocation of SNA posts to best effect.

European Globalisation Adjustment Fund

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

156 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he plans to examine proposals issued by the European Commission on 10 June 2011 to continue the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, EGAF, until the end of 2013 (details attached) and on 29 June 2011 it issued further proposals for EU spending between 2014 to 2020; if so, if, in view of the fact that the current EGAF regulation limits spending to the two years from the date of application as opposed to the date of approval, he will consider these current regulations during this process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22095/11]

The European Commission has issued proposals to extend the temporary crisis-related derogation that allows the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to be used for workers made redundant as a result of the current financial and economic crisis in addition to those losing their job under the normal qualifying scenario, namely changes in global trade patterns. This derogation is currently due to expire on 30 December 2011. The Commission's proposal would extend it until 31 December 2013, which is also the end of the current implementation period provided for under EGF Regulation (EC) No. 1927/2006.

Ireland is supportive of the extension of the global financial and economic crisis derogation as it will allow for an increased number of scenarios which could trigger further applications for EGF support.

Generally, the implementation period for delivery of services to EGF eligible persons commences with the date of submission of the EGF application by the EU Member State. Regulation (EC) No. 546/2009 amending Regulation (EC) No. 1927/2006 provides for an implementation period of 24 months and also allows in certain cases for this period to commence 3 months after the date of submission of the EGF application. This provision is not up for review at this time. I do, however, understand that a review of the EGF with a possible proposal to continue it beyong 2013 is to begin in the near future. I can assure you that Ireland will participate actively in that review process and will seek to introduce whatever measures that will improve the operation of the EGF in practice.

Computerisation Programme

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

157 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of primary and post-primary schools that are broadband enabled; the percentage of primary and post-primary schools that are not broadband enabled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22180/11]

There are 739 post primary and 3336 primary schools connected to the Schools broadband network. In addition to this there are 78 post primary schools on the 100mb piloy project and 9 primary schools on the Hermes project.

4% of post primary and 3% of primary schools are not connected to the schools broadband network. I understand that many of the schools who have declined a connection from the Department have made their own internet connection arrangements. There is no obligation on schools to avail of a connection provided by the Department and schools are free to source their broadband from the market should they so chose. All of these schools are also free to avail of a connection provided by the Department anytime in the future.

However I would encourage schools to avail of an internet service under the Schools Broadband Programme, as under the Programme connectivity to the internet is routed through a National Broadband Network, which has been developed by HEAnet — the National Education and Research Network provider. HEAnet has established a Network Operations Centre to channel and control the broadband access to schools, and it provides centrally managed services for schools such as security, anti-spam/anti-virus and content filtering. Access to resources such as on-line versions of Britannica and World Book are also only available through the Schools Broadband Network.

School Curriculum

John Lyons

Question:

158 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Education and Skills in view of the recent disclosure about the usage by youths of synthetic drugs deriving from online delivery services; his plans to revise the outdated drugs awareness programmes in schools to reflect changing attitudes and culture; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22403/11]

There is a commitment in the Programme for a National Government, 2011-2016, to "update the out-dated drugs awareness programmes in schools to reflect current attitudes and reality of recreational drug use amongst teens".

To meet this commitment, I have established a Working Group to examine the resource materials being used in the SPHE curriculum, especially those materials that are most relevant to substance use education. The Group has representatives from both the Department of Health and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs as well as from my own Department.

I am expecting the Group to complete a report for me by the end of 2011.

Employment Support Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

159 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated number of places on the Springboard scheme available in Counties Cavan and Monaghan. [22458/11]

Springboard provides 6,000 funded part time higher education places for the unemployed in public and private institutions throughout Ireland. The evaluation panel selecting the programmes used rigorous criteria of quality, industry and skills needs relevance, value for money as well as the need for a good geographical spread. While there are no instituions based in Cavan and Monaghan, delivering Sprinboard programmes there are a large number of places available in neighbouring counties including Sligo IT (241 places); Dundalk IT (179) and in IT Blanchardstown (305).

In addition many Springboard courses are delivered on-line enabling people to access them regardless of where they reside. These include:

150 places with the Open University and 70 places with Oscail

All 12 courses in IT Sligo (241 places) have a significant online/virtual learning element, attendance will be 2 days per semester with the remaining teaching being delivered online

115 of all courses include an element of online or distance learning.

Full details regarding all Springboard courses including course delivery methods can be found on www.bluebrick.ie.

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

160 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of the 60,000 apprenticeships, work placement, education opportunities and internship places promised in the programme for Government that have been accessed for young unemployed persons. [21153/11]

The Jobs Initiative contains details of over 20,000 additional training, education and work experience places for the unemployed. The majority of the places (15,900) will be delivered through the Department of Education and Skills through the following programmes. 6,000 places on FÁS Specific Skills Training Courses (FÁS) 3,000 places on the Back to Education Initiative (FE) 1,000 places on Post Leaving Certificate Courses (FE) 5,900 places on the Springboard Initiative (HE). 5,000 places will be made available through the National Internship Programme (JobBridge) which is being managed by the Department of Social Protection.Plans for activating the additional 6,000 Specific Sklls Training places allocated to FÁS are at an advanced stage however no trainees have yet commenced participation under this provision.

5,000 of the places will be in short, evening and blended Specific Skills training courses delivered by FÁS within existing resources.

€3.5 million will be provided for 1,000 places in longer FÁS Specific Skills Training courses. Exact delivery mechanisms of these 1,000 places have now been identified and scheduling has commenced.

It is anticipated that each of these additional places will have been activated by the end of 2011.

In relation to the additional 3,000 Back to Education Initiative (BTEI) and 1,000 Further Education Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) places which are to be prioritised for the unemployed, these additional places have been allocated and will be available from September.

5,900 additional places for higher education and training opportunities for the unemployed have been allocated under Springboard. Applications for all of the Springboard programmes opened on 25 May 2011 and institutions are still processing applications for courses, the majority of which will begin in September 2011. Comprehensive information on all of the programmes the application process can be accessed through the Bluebrick.ie website.

The National Internship Scheme (JobBridge), launched on 29 June, 2011, will provide up to 5,000 unemployed people with an internship opportunity ranging from 6 to 9 months in an organisation in the private, public or community and voluntary sectors.

It is three weeks since the launch and there are already over 700 opportunities available on the JobBridge website (offering just over 1,000 placements). 65 Interns have been selected of which 27 have currently been verified by the Department of Social Welfare and of these 8 have commenced their internship.

The Government will continue to explore new and existing programme to provide additional training, education and work experience places for the unemployed including young unemployed persons.

Irish Language

Brendan Griffin

Question:

161 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the students attending a school (details supplied) in County Kerry will have the same language supports as those children attending post-primary schools in all the Munster Gaeltachtaí, in view of fact that the Aonad Lán-Ghaeilge at the school is the only all Irish post-primary provision available to the Gaeltacht students in the Iveragh Gaeltacht, despite the school being outside the Gaeltacht boundary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21530/11]

The students attending the Aonad Lán-Ghaeilge in the school referred to by the Deputy receive the same language supports as those children attending post primary schools in Gaeltacht areas.

An Ghaeilge

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

162 D’fhiafraigh Seán Ó Fearghaíl den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna an bhfuil plean aige faoi na hábhair múinteoirí a bhíonn ag freastal ar chúrsaí sa Ghaeltacht; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [21806/11]

Mar is eol duit, tá an rochtain ar ghairm na múinteoireachta i scoileanna aitheanta na hÉireann rialáilte. Is í an Chomhairle Mhúinteoireachta an tÚdarás sainithe atá inniúil an ghairm a rialáil agus caighdeáin a leagan síos d'oideachas múinteoirí. Tar éis phróisis fhada comhairlithe, d'fhoilsigh an Chomhairle le déanaí Policy on the Continuum of Teacher Education ó oideachas tosaigh múinteora go dtí Forbairt Leanúnach Ghairmiúil. Feictear don Chomhairle go bhfuil tábhacht eochrach ag baint le comhtháthú na n-eilimintí éagsúla d'oideachas múinteora.

Áiríonn an Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge 2010-2030 líon áirithe bearta a bhaineann le oideachas múinteoirí, ina measc clár sainithe múinteoireachta teanga a thabhairt isteach, agus fadú ar an am teagaisc agus freastal ar chúrsaí Gaeltachta d'ábhair mhúinteora.

Bunaíodh meitheal oibre le déanaí faoi choimirce na Roinne Gnóthaí Pobail, Comhionannais agus Gaeltachta chun na céimeanna is gá chun an straitéis a chur i bhfeidhm thar an tréimhse 20 bliain a fháil amach agus a chomhaontú. Caithfear infhaighteacht na n-acmhainní a chur san áireamh sa phróiseas feidhmithe chomh maith.

Tá an Rialtas seo tiomanta do thacaíocht a thabhairt d'éirim na Straitéise 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge 2010-2030 trí chéile agus cuirfidh sé i gcrích na haidhmeanna agus na spriocanna atá beartaithe áit gur féidir iad a bhaint amach.

Psychological Services

Noel Harrington

Question:

163 Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will ensure that a person (details supplied) in Bantry, County Cork who is transferring schools following the amalgamation of two schools will continue to receive the recommended resource hours and other aids proposed by the Health Service Executive and the National Educational Psychological Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21864/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts.

In considering applications for teaching and SNA supports for individual pupils, the Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) take account of the pupils' needs and consider the resources available to the school overall to identify whether additionality is needed or whether the school might reasonably be expected to meet the needs of the pupils from its existing level of resources.

The NCSE has issued a circular to all schools advising of the allocation process for the 2011/2012 school year. A key feature of the amended scheme will be to provide for an annual allocation of SNA support to eligible schools.

The NCSE asked schools to submit all applications for SNA support to them by 18th March, 2011 and are currently in the process of informing schools of their annual SNA allocation for the coming school year.

In relation to the allocation of Resource Teaching hours, an allocation of 90% of valid identified resource teaching allocations has been made by the NCSE to schools for the coming school year, in the first instance, to provide schools with the majority of their allocation, while also preserving enough capacity to deal with late applications and ensure that the Department of Education and Skills can remain within Employment Control Framework obligations.

Schools have been asked to forward as soon as possible any outstanding applications, or additional outstanding materials to support incomplete applications, to the NCSE for consideration, but in any event by no later than 16th September 2011.

Skill Shortages

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

164 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps being taken to develop skills and training to meet the needs of the IT sector. [21891/11]

There are a wide range of full and part time undergraduate and post graduate programmes available within the higher education system for students who wish to pursue careers in the IT indusrty and for professionls who wish to develop their skills. The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs plays a key role in advising on the future skills needs of enterprise. Its reports are disseminated to education and training providers and provide a valuable input to the development of curricula in education and training provision. EGFSN research and industry engagement also informed the development and selection of part-time higher education programmes for unemployed people being funded through Springboard. Under this initiative 2,000 places are available for unemployed people on programmes from certificate to masters degree level in areas relevant to the skills needs of the IT. My Department and the HEA, in collaboration with the Secretariat to the EGFSN are also working closely with ICT industry to develop further responses to specific high level skills needs that have been identified by the sector. A wide range of education and training programmes relevant to the IT sector are also provided by Further Education instituions and through FÁS and Skillnets.

Departmental Properties

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

165 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the numbers and locations of buildings his Department leases that are in upwardly only rent contracts and the amounts that these rents have been for 2008, 2009, 2010 and the expected rents for 2011. [21892/11]

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

166 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the numbers and locations of buildings his Department leases that are in upwardly only rent contracts and the amounts that these rents have been for 2008, 2009, 2010 and the expected rents for 2011. [21893/11]

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

172 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the numbers and locations of his Department’s buildings that are currently in an upwardly only rent review contract; the cost of rents for 2008, 2009, 2010 and the expected rents for 2011. [21909/11]

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

173 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the numbers and locations of buildings his Department leases that are in upwardly only rent contracts; the amount of rent for 2008, 2009, 2010 and the expected rent for 2011. [21910/11]

I propose to take Questions 165, 166, 172 and 173 together.

The provision of buildings and accommodation for the Department of Education and Skills, and the management of associated leases, is a matter for the Office of Public Works.

In relation to schools, my Department generally grant aids school authorities who use the funds to rent temporary school accommodation. The terms of the leases are a matter for individual boards of management.

Schools Building Projects

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

167 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of school building projects planned to enter the architectural and planning stages for each of the next four years. [21904/11]

Based on my Department's most recent statistics, it is expected that enrolments will increase nationally from a current enrolment at primary level of circa 509,652 pupils to circa 552,800 pupils by 2017 and at post-primary level from a current enrolment of circa 317,432 pupils to circa 342,300 pupils by 2017. My Department is currently examining all areas of the country to determine where additional provision will be required at both primary and post-primary level up to 2017. This analysis will inform the development of a multi-annual plan for capital investment in schools.

It is within this context that I recently announced that up to 40 new schools are to be established within the next six years, comprising of twenty new primary schools and twenty new post-primary schools. Of the 40 new schools, 17 will be in the Dublin area with a further twelve in the commuter belt of Wicklow, Kildare, Meath and Louth. Six new schools will be established in Cork, three in Galway and one each in Wexford and Cavan. In addition, it will be necessary to extend the capacity of many existing schools to meet the demand for increased pupil places.

The Deputy will be aware that in January 2011, the Minister made an announcement regarding projects to enter architectural planning and to proceed to tender and construction. The announcement provided details of the major projects which make up the School Building Work Programme for 2011. The listings which accompanied the announcement provided an overview of the programme as announced and also details in relation to the current status of each project on the programme. The details in relation to the current status of the projects are updated on a regular basis as projects progress through the stages of architectural planning, tender and construction on my Department's website. The current status of all projects on the school building programme may be viewed on my Department's website at www.education.ie and this will be updated regularly throughout the year.

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

168 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools currently at stage three tender stage; the number of these that will begin construction in the next three months; and the timetable for beginning construction on the remaining schools in stage three. [21905/11]

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

169 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools in the design stage; and the timetable for schools in the design stage to move into the construction stage. [21906/11]

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

170 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of school building projects in each stage of development from planning through to construction. [21907/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 168 to 170 inclusive together.

Information, including the current status of all projects on the 2011 School Buildings Works Programme, is available on my Departments website. The current status of projects on the programme is updated on a monthly basis as projects progress from one stage to the next. The website also provides information on all projects in architectural planning which are not currently on the 2011 School Buildings Works Programme and also those projects announced in January of this year to complete brief formulations and to progress into architectural planning.

In general, where no unforeseen issues arise, the tender phase on a major project takes 5-6 months to complete from the point of approval to issue the invitation to tender to the point of appointment of a building contractor. Information on the web-site in relation to those projects which complete tender stage is updated on a monthly basis.

Education Schemes

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

171 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress made on implementation of the Investing Effectively in Information and Communications Technology in Schools 2008 to 2013 report. [21908/11]

The Strategy Group Report, Investing Effectively in ICT in Schools, 2008-2013, proposes a comprehensive agenda for pursuing the integration of ICT into teaching and learning in our schools and provides an essential strategic framework which has been invaluable to my Department in enhancing and refining the ICT in Schools Programme. As the Deputy may be aware, following publication of the Strategy Group Report, a Joint Advisory Group was commissioned to advise on specific priorities for investment in this context, and published its report ("Smart Schools = Smart Economy") in November 2009, with a particular focus on investment priorities over the period 2010-2012.

My Department has actively pursued key recommendations made in these reports within available resources. While it would not be practical to outline every individual action taken in this response, I would draw the Deputy's attention in particular to the distribution of some €92m in ICT Infrastructure Grant funding across primary and post-primary schools since November 2009. This new scheme prioritises the equipping of all classrooms with digital projectors, teaching computers, wireless mice and wireless keyboards, with schools free to spend remaining grant funding on other ICT hardware and software purchases in line with local needs. Central national "Framework" contracts have been made available to schools to assist them in getting better value for money in their ICT procurements and to provide them with the benefit of three-year next-business-day on site warranties as standard. A national programme of "elearning" seminars has also been made available to all primary and post-primary principals, to assist them in planning for the integration of ICT into teaching and learning practice and in making best use of the recent infrastructural investment. As the Deputy will appreciate, my Department is not currently in a position to commit additional resources to ICT capital investment having regard to other priorities. I am fully aware of the importance of integrating ICT into teaching and learning and remain committed to investing in this area as resources permit.

Questions Nos. 172 and 173 answered with Question No. 165.

Adult Education

Finian McGrath

Question:

174 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [21933/11]

I have no role in the case in question. Matters in this area should be dealt with in accordance with FETAC's published guidelines. The guidelines are available on the FETAC website, www.fetac.ie.

Departmental Funding

Paudie Coffey

Question:

175 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the proposals he has to provide funding for the further development of e-learning in schools and the provision of high quality broadband connectivity in schools, in view of the fact that the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has made a provision of €10 million in its 2011 Estimates to develop high speed broadband infrastructure for schools; his plans to develop a cross-departmental strategy to enhance and support this initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21957/11]

No decision has been made in relation to the next phase of providing 100Mbps to schools. Any decision to extend the programme will be made having regard to the current budgetary constraints and other priorities of my Department. A pedagogical review of the pilot project is currently being prepared, the outcome of which will also inform future plans in this area.

Schools Building Projects

Frank Feighan

Question:

176 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress that has been achieved in the building and completion of a school (details supplied) in County Leitrim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21959/11]

The new school to be provided in Co Leitrim, referred to by the Deputy, is one of eight schools which were approved for inclusion in the 3rd Bundle of schools to be procured via Public Private Partnership. This Bundle was handed over to the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) in July 2010 to commence the tender procurement process.

This process is ongoing with tenders received this month. Subject to the successful completion of the procurement process, including securing the necessary Local Authority consents, it is anticipated that construction of the schools in this bundle will commence in the first quarter of 2012 and the accommodation is expected to be ready for occupation in September 2013.

School Accommodation

Finian McGrath

Question:

177 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reconsider his decision to close a school (details supplied) in Donaghmede, Dublin 13 on 29 July 2011. [21967/11]

The Deputy's question refers to a proposal for an academy for children with autism which was submitted to my Department for consideration by Achieve ABA. The Deputy will be aware that my Department had no direct funding arrangements with the group in question.

Consideration of this proposal took account of my Department's policy in this regard, which is focused on ensuring that all children, including those with autism, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network. This facilitates access to individualised education programmes, fully qualified professional teachers who may draw from a range of autism-specific interventions, including ABA, special needs assistants, and the appropriate school curriculum with the option where possible of full/partial integration and interaction with other pupils. As each child with autism is unique it is important that children have access to a range of interventions so their broader needs can be met.

My Department's policy is to provide for children with special educational needs, including autism, to be included in mainstream schools unless such a placement would not be in their best interests or the interests of the children with whom they are to be educated. Some children may be supported in a special class attached to a mainstream school. These students have the option, where appropriate, of full/partial integration and interaction with other pupils. Other children may have such complex needs that they are best placed in a special school. Students with special educational needs have access to a range of support services including additional teaching and/or care supports. In special schools and special classes, students are supported through lower pupil teacher ratios. Special needs assistants may also be recruited specifically where pupils with disabilities and significant care needs are enrolled.

National Lottery Funding

Paudie Coffey

Question:

178 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of National Lottery funding that his Department received in 2009 and 2010; if he will provide a list of the money that was spent in tabular form. [21974/11]

The details of National Lottery Funding disbursed by my Department in 2009 and 2010 is provided in tabular form in the following spreadsheet.

The Revised Estimates Volume (REV) published by the Department of Finance provides summary details of programmes part-financed by the National Lottery and disbursed by relevant Government Departments and Offices. The REV provides these details at Vote subhead level and identifies the aggregate amount of National Lottery funding towards the programmes in question, together with the amount of Exchequer funding. For example the 2011 REV indicates that total funding of €410.685 million in 2010 was financed by €250 million from the National Lottery and the remaining €160.685 was funded by the Exchequer (ref REV Appendix 1, page 235).

2010 & 2009 National Lottery Funding from Vote 26 — Education & Skills

6.1 National Lottery Funding

Under subheads B.1 and B.14, a total of €1.06 million was grant aided in 2010 and €1.148m in 2009 to support adult education and cultural activities. The subheads in Vote 26 from which the funding was paid are noted below.

Recipients of Funding from National Lottery

Name of Recipients

2010

2009

€000

€000

Expenses of Adult Education Organisations (Subhead B.1.)

864

941

Cultural Activities (Subhead B.14.)

196

207

Total

1,060

1,148

Recipients of Grants from Subhead B.1 — Adult Education Organisations

Name of Recipients

Sum received

2010

2009

Aontas

440,000.00

477,000.00

National Adult Literacy Agency

302,000.00

333,000.00

Peoples College

99,000.00

108,000.00

Irish Countrywomen’s Association

23,000.00

23,000.00

Total

864,000.00

941,000.00

Recipients of Grants from Subhead B.14 — Cultural Activities

Name of Recipients

Sum received

2010

2009

Foras Éireann

11,000.00

11,400.00

National Youth Orchestra of Ireland

108,000.00

114,000.00

Feis Maitiu

38,500.00

41,000.00

Artane School of Music

38,500.00

41,000.00

Total

196,000.00

207,400.00

Special Educational Needs

John McGuinness

Question:

179 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review the decision to discontinue the services of the two special needs assistants at a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if he will immediately reverse the decision in view of the fact that the loss of both positions will cause difficulty for the students most in need of the services at the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21984/11]

Firstly, I wish to clarify for the Deputy that Special Needs Assistant (SNA) allocations are not permanent, as the level of SNA support allocated to a school may be increased or decreased as pupils who qualify for SNA support enrol or leave a school. They are also decreased where a child's care needs may have diminished over time. I wish to clarify also that the recruitment and deployment of SNAs within schools are matters for the individual Principal/Board of Management. SNAs should be deployed by the school in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated. It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts. The NCSE has issued a circular to all schools advising of the allocation process for the 2011/2012 school year. A key feature of the amended scheme will be to provide for an annual allocation of Special Needs Assistant support to eligible schools. The NCSE is currently in the process of informing schools of their annual SNA allocation for the coming school year.

School Patronage

Brendan Smith

Question:

180 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the work and timetable of the review of school patronage and diversity. [21994/11]

I announced my intention to establish a Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector on 28th March, 2011. The Forum is a key objective of the Programme for a National Government 2011 — 2016. On 19th April, I officially launch the Forum and noted that the Advisory Group to oversee the work of the Forum would be chaired by Professor John Coolahan who would be assisted by Dr Caroline Hussey and Ms Fionnuala Kilfeather. At the launch, the Advisory Group sought written submissions on key themes. Over 200 submissions have been received. The Advisory Group will receive and distil the various views and perspectives, will engage in further consultation and will draw from research reports and relevant literature.

There was a three day open working session of the Forum on 22nd, 23rd and 24th June. This involved dialogue between the Advisory Group and thirteen main stakeholders plus the Department of Education and Skills. A recording of the three day session is available on my Department's website www.education.ie. It is planned to hold a plenary session of the Forum on 17th November where the interim considerations of the Advisory Group can be presented. Subsequent to this, the Advisory Group, which is independent of the Department of Education and Skills, will prepare a final report to be submitted to me by the end of the year.

School Curriculum

Brendan Smith

Question:

181 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the details of the likely impact in terms of subjects of his intention to reduce the number of junior certificate subjects. [21995/11]

As part of the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy I announced plans to limit the number of subjects which can be taken in the Junior certificate examinations to a maximum of 8 to allow more time to be spent on the development of key skills such as literacy and numeracy, and to provide for greater depth of learning. While it is my intention to limit the number of examinable subjects a student will sit to eight, there will be no restriction on the number of subjects a student can study during the three years of the junior cycle.

Key objectives of the reform are to promote active learning and embed key skills, promote greater creativity and innovation, address curriculum overload and rote earning and strengthen literacy and numeracy. It is important too to put the focus on learning as opposed to examinations in what is no longer a high stakes environment. The purpose would not be to limit the range of subject choices in schools or the range of subjects available for examination purposes, but rather to make time and space for active learning, the development of key transferable skills and to reduce the focus on examinations at this stage of the cycle. Research undertaken by the ESRI on students as they transferred from primary level and progressed through the second level system indicates that junior cycle students were taking 10 to 15 subjects for examination purposes and were stressed, and that the examinations had a negative backwash effect on the quality of their learning. It is important that we address these issues.

Literacy Levels

Brendan Smith

Question:

182 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the research which he has commissioned on issues of literacy in schools and the wider community. [21996/11]

Brendan Smith

Question:

184 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has received any report on conflicting literacy measures for Irish pupils in international surveys; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21998/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 182 and 184 together.

Irish 15-year old students have participated in two recent international studies of achievement levels in literacy and numeracy. These were the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009 which tested students' reading literacy, mathematical literacy and scientific literacy using traditional pencil-and-paper tests and the OECD PISA 2009 Digital Literacy Assessment which assessed students' ability to read computer-based text. Details of the performance of Irish students in these studies are available in "PISA 2009: The Performance and Progress of 15-year-olds in Ireland — Summary Report" and "Digital Reading Literacy in the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA 2009): Summary of Results for Ireland", both of which have been published by the Educational Research Centre, Drumcondra. The OECD PISA 2009 Digital Literacy Assessment showed that Irish students' ability to read computer-based text was significantly above the average of the 19 OECD countries that took the test. The above-average results of Irish students on the digital literacy tests contrasts with their average-level performance in the 2009 round of the traditional pencil-and-paper PISA literacy tests. These results suggest that the reading standards of Irish 15-year olds may be better than the results achieved on the traditional pencil-and-paper test in 2009 but not at the above-average levels scored by Irish students in 2000.

Three reports have been commissioned by my Department that examine in further detail the performance of Irish students in the PISA 2009 assessments. Two of these have been received and published: "Comparisons of Performance in Ireland PISA 2000 to PISA 2009: A Preliminary Report to the Department of Education and Skills" which was completed by the Educational Research Centre and "Independent Review of the 2009 PISA Results for Ireland" which was completed by Statistics Canada. Both reports are available on the website of my Department and the website of the Educational Research Centre. A third report has yet to be completed by Statistics Canada.

In order to provide international comparative data on the performance of Irish students at primary level, Ireland has joined the primary-school phases of the Progress on International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and the Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) under the auspices of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). Testing was undertaken in the sample schools in Ireland in spring of this year and the outcomes of the study are expected to be published by the IEA in December 2012.

National data on the achievement of primary-school pupils in reading and mathematics is collected and published on behalf of my Department by the Educational Research Centre in the periodic National Assessments of Mathematics and English Reading. The most recent report, based on data collected in 2009 was published in 2010 and is available on the website of the Centre.

Departmental Expenditure

Brendan Smith

Question:

183 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the projected outturn of net spending by his Department; and the way this figure relates to the Estimates as available in January 2011. [21997/11]

The net allocation for my Department for 2011, as set out in the 2011 Revised Estimate, is €8.279 billion. In addition, provision for expenditure of some €362 million has been made under the National Training Fund in 2011. There are no savings or excesses being projected on the estimate at this stage. However, my Department will closely monitor the spending situation over the months ahead with a view to ensuring that Government expenditure is maintained within the limits available.

Question No. 184 answered with Question No. 182.

Research Funding

Brendan Smith

Question:

185 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has taken any decision concerning the future of research funding programmes operated under the Higher Education Authority. [21999/11]

This year my Department is providing some €41 million to support research activities across a range of programmes, including schemes managed by the two research councils, and the technological sector research initiative.

As the Deputy will be aware, my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform is undertaking a Comprehensive Expenditure Review across all areas of Government spending. This process, which will be completed by end September, will inform budgetary decisions. In this context, the Deputy will appreciate that I am not presently in a position to comment on specific areas of expenditure within my Department.

School Patronage

Brendan Smith

Question:

186 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has asked the review of school patronage and diversity to consider potential issues concerning educational attainment in the course of its work. [22000/11]

I announced my intention to establish a Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector on 28th March, 2011. An Advisory Group, under the Chairmanship of Professor John Coolahan, is overseeing the work of the Forum.

The terms of reference of the Forum are very specific. They are to advise me on: 1. how it can best be ensured that the education system can provide a sufficiently diverse number and range of primary schools catering for all religions and none; 2. the practicalities of how transfer/divesting of patronage should operate for individual primary schools in communities where it is appropriate and necessary; 3. how such transfer/divesting can be advanced to ensure that demands for diversity of patronage (including from an Irish language perspective) can be identified and met on a widespread basis nationally.

In undertaking this work the Forum will, in particular, have regard for the following:

the expressed willingness of the Roman Catholic Church to consider divesting patronage of primary schools

the current financial constraints within which the State is operating, the need for continued restraint into the future and the requirement in this context to make maximum use of existing school infrastructure in catering for future demands. The Advisory Group which is independent of the Department will prepare a final report, based on the above terms of reference, and this will be submitted to me by the end of the year.

Special Educational Needs

Micheál Martin

Question:

187 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will ensure that the full allocation of special needs assistants is made in 2011 as provided for in this year’s financial allocation, that any changes brought about to the special needs assistants scheme following the recent value for money review are implemented in a way that ensures that those pupils that need an assistant are allocated an SNA. [22034/11]

I wish to confirm for the Deputy that 10,575 whole time equivalent (wte) Special Needs Assistant (SNA) posts are being provided for primary, post-primary and special schools for the coming school year in order to support the care needs of pupils with disabilities. This is a significant number of posts and unlike other areas of the public sector vacancies are being filled up to this number. For example, it represents an increase over the December 2010 position where 10,543 posts were sanctioned and in place.

The Deputy will be aware that my Department has published a Value for Money and Policy Analysis review of the Special Needs Assistant scheme. This review is available on my Departments website: www.education.ie. The Review has shown that the SNA Scheme has been successful in supporting schools in meeting the needs of students with disabilities who also have significant care needs. However, it is clear that the allocation process is generally not well understood within schools and by parents nor is the purpose of the Scheme fully understood. The review recommended that the SNA scheme should be restated to ensure an efficient allocation of SNA resources and to clarify the ‘care’ nature of the SNA role for parents, schools and professionals. The review did not recommend a change in the role of the SNA. The DES is currently establishing a working group which will consider and implement the recommendations of the SNA Value for Money report.

Higher Education Grants

John McGuinness

Question:

188 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the full grant will be awarded in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [22038/11]

The decision on eligibility for a grant is a matter for a student's local grant awarding body — the relevant local authority or VEC. The Deputy will appreciate that in the absence of all of the relevant details that would be contained in an individual's application form, including those relating to distance from home to college, it would not be possible for me to say whether or not a student would qualify for a grant or what level of grant would be appropriate. However, for the 2011/12 academic year, the qualifying distance criterion for the non-adjacent rate of student grant is 45kms. The Deputy will be aware that this change was introduced by his Government under Budget 2011.

Students qualifying for a grant and living 45kms or less from their college will receive the adjacent rate of grant and their fees or student contribution will be paid on their behalf. Students on particularly low incomes will receive a top-up in the special rate of grant and €5m continues to be available through the access offices of third level institutions for students in exceptional financial need.

John McGuinness

Question:

189 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review the application for a higher education grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny which has been cut by two thirds due to the fact that this person lives less than 46 km from the college; and if he will reverse the decision due to the safety factor involved. [22039/11]

The measurement of the distances in question is a matter for grant awarding bodies. It is not possible, therefore, for me to say what the distance calculation or route for an individual student will or should be. However, the shortest most direct route to college is measured. If there is a dispute, this matter should be taken up with the grant awarding authority.

Schools Building Projects

Michael Conaghan

Question:

190 Deputy Michael Conaghan asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 28 of 9 June 2011, the position regarding the liaison with the receiver in question; the next steps proposed; and if he expects the issue to be resolved before the new school year begins in September 2011. [22101/11]

My officials are liaising with the school authorities and other relevant stakeholders on the project to which the Deputy refers. A decision was taken in recent weeks that the Department will re-tender the project directly. It is anticipated that construction work will resume on the project in the coming months.

Higher Education Grants

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

191 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reasoning behind Dublin City Council changing the requirements for non-adjacent grants for independent mature students, resulting in a cut of €2000; and the reason this cut is not means tested in the case of a person (details supplied). [22122/11]

The changes to the student grants scheme to which the Deputy refers were introduced by the previous Fianna Fáil — Green Party Government under Budget 2011. These changes alter the qualifying distance criterion for the non-adjacent rate of grant from 24kms to 45kms and remove the automatic entitlement of mature students to the non-adjacent rate of grant. While these measures will result in changes to the rate of grant payable, none of the measures will result in a student losing a grant or becoming ineligible for a grant.

All student grants applications are means tested and qualifying students receive the rate of grant available under the scheme in accordance with their individual circumstances. Students on particularly low incomes will continue to receive a "top-up" in the special rate of maintenance grant and the Student Assistance Fund at some €5m continues to be made available through the access offices of third-level institutions to assist students in exceptional financial need.

Special Educational Needs

Brendan Ryan

Question:

192 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the special needs unit in a secondary school (details supplied) in Dublin North; if this unit will provide for children with Down’s syndrome; if not, the other provisions being made for such students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22128/11]

Firstly, I wish to explain to the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from primary and post primary schools for special educational needs supports. This includes the allocation of resource teaching hours to schools as well as the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas as required and the discontinuation of such classes where the need no longer exists. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such supports.

I understand that the ‘special needs unit' referred to by the Deputy is a special class for pupils with Autism. I wish to clarify for the Deputy in respect of special classes that schools are required to observe Department policy in enrolling children to these classes. This includes having a professional assessment confirming that the child's attainment levels meet the Department's criteria and a recommendation for special class placement. As such, enrolment in the special class in question is confined to pupils with a diagnosis of Autism. Schools are eligible for resources for special classes when the pupils enrolled meet the Department's criteria and where there are enough eligible pupils to retain a class.

Second level schools which have enrolled pupils with special educational needs, including pupils with Down Syndrome with an assessed special educational need, are allocated additional resource teaching support on the basis of the pupil's special educational needs. The number of additional teaching hours sanctioned ranges from one-and-a-half hours to five hours per week, depending on the pupil's special educational needs.

Gerry Adams

Question:

193 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) in September 2010, had 19 attending children with special needs and an allocation of 12 special needs assistants; if his further attention has been drawn to the fact that in September 2011 this school will have 31 attending children with special needs and an allocation of 13 special needs assistants and that while there has been an increase of 1 SNA that at least two SNAs have had their hours cut; if he has satisfied himself that these children will be adequately catered for and receive the education to which they are entitled, with less time with a special needs assistant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22137/11]

Gerry Adams

Question:

194 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) has at least two children with autism who are ready to transition to mainstream school but cannot due to the lack of required special needs assistants to enable them to do so; his plans to rectify this in order that these children may transition to mainstream according to their education plan; his further plans to immediately rectify this situation in general in order that other children ready to move to mainstream may do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22138/11]

Gerry Adams

Question:

195 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the only access to a special needs assistant for a child with special needs is wholly inadequate; if children with special needs attending a school (details supplied) will have one to one special needs assistants in the coming school year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22139/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 193 to 195, inclusive, together.

First, I wish to clarify for the Deputy that Special Needs Assistant (SNA) allocations are not permanent, as the level of SNA support allocated to a school may be increased or decreased as pupils who qualify for SNA support enrol in or leave a school. They are also decreased where a child's care needs may have diminished over time.

I wish to clarify also that the recruitment and deployment of SNAs within schools are matters for the individual Principal/Board of Management. SNAs should be deployed by the school in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated. It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts.

The NCSE has issued a circular to all schools advising of the allocation process for the 2011/2012 school year. A key feature of the amended scheme will be to provide for an annual allocation of Special Needs Assistant support to eligible schools. The NCSE is currently in the process of informing schools of their annual SNA allocation for the coming school year.

Higher Education Grants

John Lyons

Question:

196 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide assurances that students on particularly low incomes will continue to receive a top-up in the special rate of the higher education grant; that students from disadvantaged backgrounds will receive higher grants of €2,445 at the adjacent rate, or €6,100 at the non-adjacent rate; and if he will safeguard this payment for single parents. [22145/11]

There are no changes to the qualifying criteria for the top-up in the special rate of grant for students applying under the 2011 student grant scheme. Students, including single parents, satisfying the criteria will be eligible for the top-up payment. The conditions are: 1. Student must qualify for the ordinary rate of grant. 2. Total reckonable income must not exceed €22,703. 3. On the 31st December 2010, the reckonable income must include an eligible long-term payment prescribed under the scheme. The grant rates quoted by the Deputy are correct.

Departmental Expenditure

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

197 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost for the rental of prefabricated buildings in primary schools for 2010; and the projected cost for 2011 in tabular form. [22198/11]

The amount spent on renting temporary accommodation at primary and post-primary level, including — but not limited to — prefabricated accommodation in 2010 was €29m. Approximately €24m of this related to prefab rental only. The allocation for 2011 for rental of temporary school accommodation is €29m.

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

198 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost for the purchase of prefabricated buildings in primary schools for 2010; and the projected cost for 2011 in tabular format. [22199/11]

Since July 2008, it is my Department's policy to offer schools being approved for devolved grant aid for additional accommodation the option to use their capital grant aid to build a permanent classroom(s) rather than purchase a prefab. This has reduced the usage of prefabricated accommodation, with the majority of schools opting to build permanent classroom extensions instead of purchasing or renting prefabs. In 2010, €50.7m was approved by my Department under this scheme, of which €6.6m was used by 52 schools to purchase prefabricated buildings. In relation to 2011 it is not possible at this time to identify how many schools will opt to purchase prefabs however it is expected that the usage will be similar to 2010.

School Refurbishment

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

199 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application by a school (details supplied) in County Donegal and the progress made by his Department facilitating same in view of the support it provides to families of disabled children in Donegal. [22223/11]

The brief for the project referred to by the Deputy is for an extension to the existing school and refurbishment of existing accommodation. The process of appointing a Design Team for the proposed building project is expected to commence shortly. Officials from my Department will be in contact with the school authorities to outline the tendering process for appointment of the design team. Upon appointment, the Design Team will then commence architectural planning of the project.

School Staffing

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

200 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will appoint more teachers to a school (details supplied) in County Donegal as it has requested, in view of the support that it provides to families of disabled children in Donegal. [22224/11]

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

201 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will take time to visit a school (details supplied) in County Donegal and witness at first hand the work it does in order to fully understand its real additional needs. [22225/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 200 and 201 together.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for determining the appropriate staffing levels in relation to the support of pupils with special educational needs in mainstream and special schools. The NCSE operates within my Department's policy in allocating this support.

My Department's Circular 0042/2011 provides details of the staffing arrangements which will apply for special schools for the coming school year. This Circular outlines that current teaching staff levels will be retained in Special Schools for the 2011/12 school year at existing levels, except in the case of schools with excess teaching posts who are losing such posts through retirement. The Circular also sets out that Special Schools, going forward, will be staffed based on their actual current pupil profiles and the disability category of each pupil, as opposed to primarily by school designation. It is intended that school staffing schedules will be reviewed and updated each year by the NCSE.

It is open to the school concerned to contact their local Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) regarding their staffing allocation, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie. I regret I am not in a position to visit the school in the near future due to diary constraints. However, I wish to acknowledge the valuable contribution made by Special Schools to the continuum of provision being made for children with special educational needs.

Educational Disadvantage

Ciara Conway

Question:

202 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Education and Skills the work that has been completed on a targeted early childhood education programme for disadvantaged children, building on existing targeted preschool supports for families most in need of assistance such as a project (details supplied) in Dublin 11; the geographical areas that this scheme will benefit; the number of children that will be able to participate in this programme; the cost implications of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22240/11]

The commitment in the Programme for Government is that ‘As resources allow, this Government will invest in a targeted early childhood education programme for disadvantaged children, building on existing targeted pre-school supports for families most in need of assistance such as the youngballymun project.' I am aware of the excellent work the youngballymun project does in an area of severe socioeconomic disadvantage.

There are existing wholly State-funded intervention programmes for young children at risk of educational disadvantage. The Early Start programme aims to provide an educational programme for children aged 3-4 which would enhance their overall development and offset the effects of social disadvantage. The specific objectives of the programme are: To enhance the children's language cognitive and social / emotional development by engaging them in structured play activities which are characterised by high quality adult/child interaction. To assess the strengths and needs of each child in relation to language, cognition and social / emotional development and to plan and deliver a programme of learning to meet the identified needs in these key areas of learning. To devise strategies which actively engage parents in the education of their children.

The Early Start programme has been in existence since the mid 1990s and this programme along with the Rutland St pre-school programme were, until recently, the only wholly State funded educational programmes for pre-school children. In recent years, the State along with Atlantic Philanthropies have funded Prevention and Early Intervention Programmes in areas of disadvantage. These include YoungBallymun, Tallaght's Childhood Development Initiative and the Preparing for Life Programme in Darndale. The evidence accruing from these intervention programmes as to what works most effectively for young children at risk of educational disadvantage will inform any further targeted interventions.

Schools Building Projects

Robert Troy

Question:

203 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for a new school by a school (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22251/11]

The process of appointing a Design Team, for the project referred to by the Deputy, commenced on 26th June last when an advertisement seeking design team consultants was published on the e-tenders website. When the appointment process has been completed, assuming no issues arise, the Design Team will commence architectural planning of the project.

Robert Troy

Question:

204 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for a new school by a school (details supplied) in County Westmeath. [22252/11]

The provision of a new building for the school to which the Deputy refers necessitates the acquisition of a site. I wish to advise the Deputy that a suitable site has been identified for the proposed school and my Department is working with the local authority to acquire this site. When the site is acquired, a project for the school will be considered within the context of my Department's Multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. In light of current competing demands on the capital budget of my Department, and the position relating to the potential site, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

Robert Troy

Question:

205 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for relocation by a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22253/11]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has submitted a proposal to my Department to relocate the school to alternative accommodation. My Department will convey a response to the school authority as soon as the proposal has been considered.

Robert Troy

Question:

206 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for a new school by a school (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22254/11]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has submitted a proposal to my Department to relocate the school to alternative accommodation. My Department will convey a response to the school authority as soon as the proposal has been considered.

Departmental Expenditure

Shane Ross

Question:

207 Deputy Shane Ross asked the Minister for Education and Skills the sum of any public funds, and their purpose, which has been awarded by his Department either directly or indirectly to the Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation in the past decade. [22262/11]

Information sought by the Deputy in relation to the period prior to 2004 is not readily available and would involve a very significant amount of administrative time to compile.

Since 2004 my Department has made payments of €48,169 to the ‘Irish Business and Employers Confederation', arising principally from the provision of staff training and academic programmes, as well as conference fees.

Payments of €400,000 were also made to the ‘Irish Business and Employers Confederation — Financial Services'. These payments were made during the years 2010/2011 and arose from the award of a contract to run the Financial Services Ireland Career Start programme. The Career Start Programme, which is funded by the Labour Market Activation Fund, is designed to provide employees with the skills, support and experience to enable them to enter the International Financial Services sector and to access sustainable employment.

Vocational Education Committees

Michael McGrath

Question:

208 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills his reasoning, including the details of the criteria used, for the revised mergers of vocational education committees as announced in June 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22311/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

209 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills his reasons for proposing a merger of Cork city and Cork county vocational education committees even though on 12 October 2010 he confirmed that these VECs would remain separate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22312/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 208 and 209 together.

In July 2009, the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes recommended that the number of VECs could be reduced from 33 to 22 and aligned with the functional areas of the 22 Local Authorities, also recommended by the Group. In September 2009 the then Minister for Education and Science invited interested parties to make written submission in relation to a reduction in the number of VECs.

Arising from this process, the previous Government decided in October 2010 to reduce the overall number of VECs from 33 to 16 and agreed on the merger of particular counties.

At the core of the proposed restructuring is the need to address the current low scale and size of operations in particular VECs in order to position the sector for future development. In this regard, the previous Government decided on a reduction to 16 new entities.

On entering office, I invited the Irish Vocational Education Association (IVEA) to submit alternative rationalisation proposals following their expression of concerns regarding the configuration of the revised entities decided by the previous Government. The IVEA subsequently submitted a proposal that involved 20 new entities.

I am satisfied that having regard to cost and critical mass considerations, a reduction to 16 new entities is appropriate. Consequently, while the new configuration takes account of the IVEA submission to the greatest extent possible, it does not modify the reduction from 33 to 16 in the number of VECs decided by the previous Government.

In this new configuration, eleven of the new entities match the IVEA proposal. In addition, the IVEA proposals to merge City of Galway VEC with Co. Galway VEC, Co. Sligo VEC with Co. Leitrim VEC and City of Waterford VEC with Co. Waterford VEC have also been reflected, albeit with the inclusion an additional county in each case. Only three of the existing entities will continue, City of Dublin on the basis of overall scale; and Co. Donegal and Co. Kerry on the basis of their peripheral geographic location.

It was the previous Government that decided to maintain City of Cork and County Cork as separate entities. The recent Government decision to merge City of Cork and County Cork VECs aligns the position in Cork with that planned for Limerick, Waterford and Galway.

Higher Education Grants

John McGuinness

Question:

210 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a grant for a FETAC 5 nursing studies course at Ormonde College, Kilkenny, will be approved by Kilkenny Vocational Education Committee in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [22327/11]

The decision on eligibility for a grant is a matter for a student's local grant awarding body — the relevant Local Authority or VEC. The Deputy will appreciate that in the absence of all of the relevant details that would be contained in an individual's application form, including those relating to residence, means, nationality and previous academic attainment, it would not be possible for me to say whether or not a student would qualify for a grant. The student in question should, therefore, apply to her local grant awarding authority to have her eligibility for a grant assessed.

School Curriculum

Brendan Smith

Question:

211 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the proposals, if any, he has to review the leaving certificate engineering syllabus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22358/11]

Revised Leaving Certificate syllabi were submitted by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment in relation to the four Leaving Certificate technology subjects in 2004. Two of these subjects, Technology and Design and Graphic Communications were introduced in September 2007. The remaining two subjects, Leaving Certificate Engineering Technology and Architectural Technology are awaiting implementation.

Both subjects require significant investment in equipment and professional development for teachers, and the resources for this are not available at the current time. The major priority for the present government is to raise standards in literacy and numeracy. The Programme for Government contains a determination to make literacy a national cause and as a result, this policy goal will have to be prioritised over other curricular reforms. It is my intention to proceed with the Maths and Irish reforms which are under way, to strengthen literacy and numeracy, and reform junior cycle provision to allow for greater creativity and innovation, embedding key skills and addressing curriculum overload.

While I agree that it would be desirable to implement the revised Leaving Certificate Engineering Technology and Architectural Technology curricula, it is also essential to have sustained and cumulative reductions in public expenditure over the coming years. It is regrettable that when the public finances were in a much better position under the last government, in which the Deputy served, that significant reforms like this were never implemented.

Post-Leaving Certificate Courses

Brendan Smith

Question:

212 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if additional post-leaving certificate course places will be allocated to County Leitrim Vocational Education Committee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22360/11]

County Leitrim Vocational Education Committee (VEC) has approval for an allocation of 92 Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) places and this allocation is being maintained for the 2011/2012 academic year.

FÁS Training Programmes

Brendan Smith

Question:

213 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has decided on the model of delivery to facilitate the provision of training opportunities after the integration of the training section of FÁS into his Department; if consideration will be given to the back-to-education model, which has proven to be a successful, cost-effective and flexible model; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22368/11]

As far as the training activities of FÁS are concerned, I am currently reviewing options regarding the provision of further education and training and the structures to support it.

Adult Education

Brendan Smith

Question:

214 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide clarification on the scope and definition of further education in the context of forthcoming legislation on the rationalisation of vocational education committees and training and skills; if further education will encompass adult literacy, community education and the back-to-education initiative, and Youthreach skills for work and workplace learning, particularly in view of the success to date in these particular areas due to the flexibility of part-time learning opportunities and the fact that the part-time structure model represents good value for money in terms of training and upskilling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22373/11]