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 14, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 15 to 28, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 29 to 38, inclusive, answered orally.

Banking Sector Regulation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

39 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied that previous or existing dialogue and unity of purpose exists between all central banks within the EU with a view to achieving a co-ordinated strategy in dealing with borrowing, lending and recovery; if the ECB maintains sufficient contact with each member state’s central bank in order to maximise the combined strength of the EU in the context of economic recovery throughout the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34425/11]

As Minister for Finance, I have no function in the relationship between the European Central Bank and national central banks. The Governor of the Central Bank carries out his European Central Bank-related functions under the Treaty of Rome and the Statute of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) and his independence in doing so is guaranteed. Section 19A (2) of the Act provides that the Governor has sole responsibility for the performance of the functions imposed, and the exercise of powers conferred, on the Bank by or under the Rome Treaty or the ESCB Statute.

Section 6A(3) of the Central Bank Act 1942 provides that the Minister for Finance may not request information relating to ESCB functions from the Governor or the Bank.

Additionally, article 282(3) of the Treaty of Rome provides that the European Central Bank shall be independent in the exercise of its powers and that European Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies and the governments of the Member States shall respect that independence.

However, at their meeting on 26 October, EU Heads of State and Government agreed on a range of measures additional to those taken at the 21 July summit to address the effects of the financial crisis both for the EU as a whole and within the euro area. These measures foresee further significant efforts to ensure fiscal consolidation in Member States, including support for those Member States in difficulty and strengthening of euro area governance.

In this context, EU leaders also agreed that further measures were needed to address the strength and stability of the banking sector including the need to ensure medium-term funding of banks, in which both national Central Banks and the European Central Bank have a key role to play. In addition, EU leaders agreed that the quality and quantity of banks' capital needed to be significantly strengthened and they agreed on a significantly higher capital ratio of 9% of the highest quality capital, to be attained by banks not later than 30 June 2012. National supervisors, under the auspices of the European Banking Authority, are to ensure that banks, in meeting this capital target, maintain the flow of credit to the real economy.

I can confirm in this context that Irish banks do not require additional capital under the higher standard now required. This outcome reinforces the robust and conservative nature of our Prudential Capital Assessment Review (PCAR) exercise in March of this year.

EU-IMF Programme

Gerry Adams

Question:

40 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance his views that the State will have to borrow the €3.1 billion promissory note payment to Anglo Irish Bank due on 31 March 2012; and if so the amount he believes the interest rate on this borrowing will be; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34432/11]

The Deputy should be aware that the funds that become available to the State from Revenue or as a result of borrowing undertaken by the Exchequer are not generally assigned to one particular area of expenditure. Rather funds available from borrowings, along with the funds sourced from revenues such as tax revenue, non-tax revenue and capital receipts, are used to fund overall expenditure. Accordingly, there was no one tranche of funding that was undertaken or assigned solely for the purpose of funding the Promissory Note payments to IBRC (Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society). Further, the draw downs of funds so far under the Joint EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support have been used for a range of different purposes including of course the general running of the day-to-day operations of the State. However, in so far as the €3.060 million Promissory Note payment constitutes part of the Exchequer deficit in 2012 it does appear that the Government will have to borrow to meet its commitments in this regard.

It is difficult to isolate precisely the exact cost of the interest payments on the borrowing undertaken to fund the Promissory Note payments. However, for illustrative purposes, on the basis of the original 5.8% blended average interest rate which applied to borrowing under the Programme, the interest costs on borrowing of €3,060 million would be just under €180 million per annum. In light of the recently agreed reduction in interest rates on funding available under the Joint EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support however, the estimated interest cost on such borrowing reduces to approximately €115 million per annum as the average Programme interest rate is currently estimated at around 3.7%.

I would caution, however, against attributing particular costs of funding to specific expenditure in Government accounting terms to assess an overall cost of providing capital to Anglo. There is a distinct difference between a commercial approach to funding projects and the approach applied in governmental terms to projects which generally have a social or "public good" focus. If, for example, the Government borrows to build a school, which costs €100 million — the cost of the school is shown as €100 m, not the cost of the school plus interest calculated in perpetuity (based on commercial criteria that the school does not directly provide any financial return to the State). If we are to compare like with like, in terms of Government expenditure, we should assess costs on that basis. The table sets out the Department of Finance's calculation of the cost of the Promissory Note provided to IBRC for the Deputy's information.

Promissory Note Schedule — Anglo and INBS *

€bn

Total interest Paid: A

Total Capital Reduction: B

Repayments: A + B

31/03/2011

0.55

2.51

3.06

31/03/2012

3.06

3.06

31/03/2013

0.49

2.57

3.06

31/03/2014

1.84

1.22

3.06

31/03/2015

1.75

1.31

3.06

31/03/2016

1.65

1.41

3.06

31/03/2017

1.55

1.51

3.06

31/03/2018

1.44

1.62

3.06

31/03/2019

1.32

1.74

3.06

31/03/2020

1.19

1.87

3.06

31/03/2021

1.06

2.00

3.06

31/03/2022

0.91

2.15

3.06

31/03/2023

0.75

2.31

3.06

31/03/2024

0.57

1.52

2.09

31/03/2025

0.45

0.47

0.91

31/03/2026

0.39

0.52

0.91

31/03/2027

0.33

0.58

0.91

31/03/2028

0.26

0.65

0.91

31/03/2029

0.19

0.73

0.91

31/03/2030

0.10

0.81

0.91

31/03/2031

0.01

0.05

0.05

16.8

30.6

47.4

* These numbers may not tot exactly as a result of rounding

Jobs Initiative

Niall Collins

Question:

41 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance if any assessment has been carried out by him on the effectiveness of the measures in the jobs initiative which came into effect on 1 July 2011; if there is any specific evidence of new jobs being created as a direct result of the initiative; his views whether the initiative is having a net positive impact on the Exchequer; if he intends to retain all of the measures in full for 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34396/11]

TheJobs Initiative is designed to support a return to economic growth and strengthen its foundations. It is about focusing our now more limited resources on measures that offer the greatest potential for expansion and employment creation in the domestic economy. The aim is to target key sectors of the economy that can assist in getting people back to work, providing opportunities for those who have lost their jobs to re-skill and building confidence in order to encourage consumer activity. It is of course extremely difficult to separate out the increase in economic activity that is attributable to specific initiatives, particularly as the QNHS employment data only shows gross sectoral flows. Nonetheless, the Jobs Initiative is an important part of the Government’s overall strategy to establish the correct conditions to allow our economy to recover, while at the same time respecting the requirement to return our public finances to a sustainable position. It should be viewed as one element of a wider strategy to support economic activity.

Given our commitments under the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support, and our current public finance difficulties, theJobs Initiative is budgetary neutral over the period to 2014 and is being funded through the introduction of a temporary levy on pension funds.

The measures introduced as part of theJobs Initiative are expected to result in a net gain for the Exchequer in 2011. This is because the yield from the temporary levy on pension funds is expected to more than offset the estimated cost of the other measures introduced. These included the new temporary second reduced rate of VAT of 9%, aimed primarily at the tourism sector, the halving of the lower rate of employer’s PRSI and the small additional amounts of current and capital expenditure.

In 2012, a net loss of revenue to the Exchequer is expected as the full year cost of the measures introduced is estimated to be greater than the forecast yield from the temporary levy on pension funds.

Financial Services Regulation

Pearse Doherty

Question:

42 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he is preparing legislation to force mortgage lenders to pass on ECB interest rate reductions to mortgage holders; if so, when the legislation will be published and brought before Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34429/11]

I have no plans to introduce legislation to force mortgage lenders to pass on European Central Bank interest rate cuts to their standard variable rate mortgage customers. As the Deputy is aware, the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank wrote to the Taoiseach on 11 November 2011 setting out the Central Bank's opinion on recent developments in mortgage interest rates and on possible action by the Bank in this regard. In my reply to the priority question from the Deputy, I outlined the details contained in that letter. In short, the Deputy Governor has stated that the power to exercise regulatory control over retail interest rates is not sought by the Central Bank at this time.

If the Deputy Governor requires additional legislative measures to enable him to carry out his functions more efficiently, I will consider the request with a view to bringing proposals to Government. The question of how interest rates paid on deposits should be treated will also have to be considered in this context.

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Gerry Adams

Question:

43 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance if the ECB has altered the maturity for the emergency liquidity assistance for Ireland from three weeks to one year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34431/11]

The Central Bank of Ireland does not comment on ELA operations, other than what is contained in their Monthly Statistics update and their annual report. I can inform the Deputy however that I understand that there has been no change in the maturity of ELA operations.

State Banking Sector

Sandra McLellan

Question:

44 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Finance if he has requested the day one lists for Anglo bonds from Anglo Irish Bank, IBRC; if he will publish this list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34435/11]

I assume, in replying to this question, that the terminology ‘day one list' refers to a listing of subscribers to bond issues on the launch date of the bonds. The bank has not been requested, during my tenure as Minister for "day one" listing of subscribers to bond issues. I am advised, however, that every effort has been made to establish the identity of current bondholders. In this context a "day one" list of bondholders would generally only provide an indication of acquiring institutions who generally act on behalf of a confidential client base rather than on behalf of the institution in its own right. Further, given that such bonds are actively traded in secondary markets, any such list is not reliable as a record of ownership of bonds. It would not, therefore, be appropriate to publish such a list.

The Deputy may wish to note that the Bank is contractually obliged to repay senior, unsecured securities on their maturity dates. These securities are publicly traded, dealt through dealers and settled via clearing house systems. An issuer (such as the Bank) does not have any access to the records of the registrar. It should be noted that such bonds are freely tradable once issued and therefore the issuer has no means of establishing the underlying ownership at any given time. Unlike in the case of shares, the holders of listed debt instruments are not subject to a disclosure regime. The settlement mechanics are that the Bank will instruct its paying agent to transfer the funds to the clearing house systems who will then distribute the funds to the holders of the security as per their records.

National Asset Management Agency

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

45 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Question No. 18 of 2 November 2011 regarding National Asset Management Agency business plan agreements with debtors, if NAMA takes into consideration outstanding debts that developers owe to sub-contractors for public works programmes previously undertaken and seeks to include some form of payment schedule to these sub-contractors as part of the debtors’ business plans; and if not, will it now so act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34437/11]

As a consequence of the economic downturn there have been instances of individuals and companies having difficulty collecting money owed to them as suppliers, including instances where unsecured creditors have supplied goods or services to a developer or the company of a developer in the carrying out of a public works contract. I am advised by NAMA that it is not part of NAMA's brief, as set out in its list of functions under the NAMA Act, to direct taxpayer funds towards unsecured creditors in all circumstances. However, it may consider doing so on a case-by-case basis. NAMA advise that its decision in such cases is based on commercial criteria.

The primary function of NAMA is to manage acquired loans efficiently, effectively and expeditiously and in the best interests of the State. In doing so, it aims to attain the best achievable financial return subject to acceptable financial risk.

Economic Forecasts

Brian Stanley

Question:

46 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Finance the impact of half a per cent growth reduction in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 from the growth projections contained in the mid-term financial review; and the impact this will have on our debt to GDP ratio in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34443/11]

The Deputy should be aware that Chapter 5 of the Medium-Term Fiscal Statement sets out a range of different scenarios which show the estimated impact on the General Government debt/GDP ratio of both higher and lower nominal rates of economic growth. These are summarised in the table below:

General Government Debt (% of GDP)

2012

2013

2014

2015

Base Case

114.3

118.3

117.0

113.5

Nominal GDP Growth 1% Lower

116.1

122.1

123.4

123.0

Nominal GDP Growth 2% Lower

117.7

126.1

130.1

132.9

Nominal GDP Growth 1% Higher

112.8

114.6

110.8

104.5

Nominal GDP Growth 2% Higher

111.2

110.9

104.7

95.9

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

47 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Finance the nominal GDP assumptions for Q3 and Q4 2011 that are used in the mid-term financial statement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34448/11]

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

60 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Finance the real GDP assumptions for Q3 and Q4 2011 that are used in the mid-term financial statement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34447/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 47 and 60 together.

Quarterly Irish economic data can be very volatile and are subject to non-negligible revisions. This was evident once again in the latest Quarterly National Accounts release, which revealed that, on a seasonally adjusted basis, real GDP grew by 1.6 per cent quarter on quarter in Q2 2011 following positive growth of 1.9 per cent in Q1 2011. The previous estimate for the first quarter of 2011 was 1.3 per cent growth.

Given this volatility, my Department's growth forecasts are based on annual rather than quarterly figures. This is in line with the approach of others, including the Central Bank and ESRI. On this basis, my Department's latest forecasts — set out in the Medium-Term Fiscal Statement which was published on 4 November — are for real GDP growth of 1 per cent this year and a contraction of 0.5 per cent in nominal GDP. For the year as a whole, the level of GDP is projected to be €155 billion.

General Government Debt

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

48 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance his view on whether GNP is a more appropriate measurement of debt than GDP; his views on whether the figures (details supplied) suggest that the debt burden here is going to top 150%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34458/11]

General Government debt is forecast in the recently published Medium-Term Fiscal Statement (MTFS) to reach almost €195 billion by 2013. Based on the nominal GDP and GNP forecasts presented in the MTFS, this equates to a debt/GDP ratio of 118 per cent and a debt/GNP ratio of 147 per cent. I understand that Mr. Whelan's estimate of the debt/GNP ratio exceeding 150 per cent is taken from his working paper”Ireland’s Sovereign Debt Crisis” which was published back in May and might therefore be a little out of date. It is common practice to express General Government debt as a percentage of GDP. This allows for consistent, cross-country comparative analysis to be made.

GDP is the relevant measure in the context of the tax revenue base. In an Irish case, the profits made by multinational firms based here, which are counted as part of GDP but not GNP are part of the tax revenue base.

The percentage of tax revenues and GDP which are accounted for by debt interest expenditure are important measures of debt sustainability. The MTFS forecast that the equivalent of some 19 per cent of tax revenues or around 4½ per cent of GDP will be required to pay interest on the national debt by 2015. While a significant level, it is worth bearing in mind that these ratios are well below those experienced in the mid-1980s when the equivalent of around a third of tax revenues or close to 10 per cent of GDP were used for that purpose.

Tax Yield

Catherine Murphy

Question:

49 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if, in view of the fact that the approximate collective incomes of the 300 wealthiest Irish citizens rose to €57 billion in 2011 from €50 billion in 2010, he can outline to Dáil Éireann a corresponding rise in Exchequer taxation returns from this group over the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34389/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they hold data collected from taxpayers in relation to income but they cannot verify the estimate provided by the Deputy and are not aware of the source of the Deputy's information. For the tax year 2009, which is the latest year for which full data is available, the top 300 income earners declared €911 million in income and paid €262 million in income tax. Income data is not yet available for 2010 as the final filing date for submission of the 2010 Income Tax return is 16 November 2011 where an individual elects to file and pay using Revenue's On-line Service. The 2011 Income Tax returns are not due to be filed until the fourth quarter of 2012.

Fiscal Advisory Council

Mick Wallace

Question:

50 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Finance his views on the significant error on page 34 of the original version of the Fiscal Assessment Report published by the Fiscal Advisory Council on 12 October 2011; the initial lack of transparency the council displayed in correcting this error; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33036/11]

Seán Crowe

Question:

70 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Finance the reason he did not appoint a fiscal policy specialist to the Fiscal Advisory Council and in view of the significant errors contained in their first report published in October if he intends to appoint such a specialist to the council in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34439/11]

Micheál Martin

Question:

99 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance his views that the Fiscal Advisory Council has adequate supports in order to make objective recommendations to Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34012/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

125 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his views on the work to date of the Fiscal Advisory Council and if he is satisfied that its composition is sufficiently broad in terms of background and expertise to enable it to fulfil its mandate. [34375/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 50, 70, 99 and 125 together.

I announced the establishment of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council on 7 July 2011. The Council is part of a wider agenda of reform of Ireland's budgetary architecture which is envisaged in the Programme for Government. When I announced the establishment of the Council, it was stated that the Council would be an independent body whose existence and independence would be underpinned by legislation to be brought forward by Government in the Fiscal Responsibility Bill by the end of March 2012.

The role of the Council is to provide an assessment of, and comment publicly on, whether the Government is meeting its own stated budgetary targets and objectives. It will also be charged with assessing the appropriateness and soundness of the Government's fiscal stance and macroeconomic projections as well as an assessment of the extent of compliance with the Government's fiscal rules. The latter are also to be brought forward in the proposed Fiscal Responsibility Bill.

The five members of the Council are:

Mr. Sebastian Barnes, OECD,

Professor Alan Barrett, TCD (on secondment from the ESRI),

Dr. Donal Donovan, University of Limerick (formerly IMF staff),

Professor John McHale, Head of Economics, NUI Galway and Chair of the Council, and

Dr. Róisín O'Sullivan, Associate Professor, Smith College, Massachusetts.

I appointed the members having regard to a number of criteria including the desirability of having a mix of appropriate backgrounds (academia, the financial sector/financial markets and public finance), macroeconomic/microeconomic expertise and a strong international dimension, as well as the need to take gender considerations into account. I am satisfied that the appointed members have the mix of skills and experience, including in relation to fiscal affairs, to ensure that the Council will be highly effective in fulfilling its mandate.

I am satisfied with the composition of the Council and I am pleased that individuals of such high calibre have agreed to serve on the Council. Indeed, it is fair to say that, when I announced the makeup of the Council, the public commentary about the membership was positive and welcoming.

The Council is supported by a secretariat of three staff, one senior economist, one junior economist/research assistant and one administration staff. A second economist position is expected to be filled shortly. The Council can also obtain specialist expertise as required through consultancy services, so I do not accept that the Council does not have the relevant expertise to do its job.

As part of its first Fiscal Assessment Report published in October, the Fiscal Advisory Council advised that in order to achieve a deficit of 8.6% of GDP next year, consolidation of €4 billion would be required. The Council also suggested that over the period to 2015, Government should implement more consolidation than currently planned so as to achieve a deficit of 1% of GDP in 2015. This would require €4 billion in additional consolidation but would result in a significantly improved debt trajectory. While not opining on the appropriate split between revenue and expenditure, the Council also questioned the view that most of the adjustment should be on the spending side.

These views and indeed those of other bodies, both domestic and international, informed my Department's analysis in producing the Medium-Term Fiscal Statement. However, in striving to restore sustainability to the public finances, we must also be mindful of protecting the emerging economic recovery and seek to strike the right balance between the two. This balancing act is difficult but we believe we have struck the right balance by targeting an adjustment of €3.8 billion so as to achieve the agreed deficit of 8.6% of GDP for 2012 and thereafter pursuing the necessary annual adjustments to achieve the agreed deficit of under 3% of GDP by 2015. This strategy is in line with our commitments under the EU/IMF Programme of External Assistance and as such the EU/IMF troika agree with our approach.

The error, related to an historical figure, on page 34 in the Fiscal Assessment Report as originally published is an operational matter for the Council. Officials in my Department had brought this to my attention. The error was amended very quickly by the Council and a revised version of the Report was published on its website. I would point out that the Fiscal Assessment Report states that " errors and omissions are the responsibility of the Council". Finally, the error in question, which as I have said related to a historical figure, did not affect the analysis and underlying rationale behind the recommendations made by the Council.

Debt Resolution Agency

Denis Naughten

Question:

51 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance his views on the establishment of an independent debt resolution agency as proposed by free legal advice centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34024/11]

The Inter-Departmental Report on Mortgage Arrears, which was published on 12 October 2011, stated that the early introduction of new judicial and non judicial personal insolvency resolution mechanisms is necessary and that, in the absence of such changes, the mortgage arrears problem will not be resolved. The issue of personal insolvency reform, and the precise mechanism for the resolution of unsustainable personal debt, is a matter in the first instance for my colleague the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence. In that regard, and in line with a commitment in the Programme for Government, the Personal Insolvency Bill is in the course of being developed by the Department of Justice and Equality and this will provide for a new framework for the settlement of unsustainable debt and for personal insolvency. The commitment under the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland is to publish the Bill in Quarter 1 of 2012 and the Minister has indicated his objective to publish the measure ahead of the EU/IMF deadline, if possible. Moreover, I understand that it is intended that the Heads of the Bill, which are expected to be finalised in the near future, will be forwarded to the Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality for its consideration.

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Dessie Ellis

Question:

52 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a full breakdown of all senior guaranteed, senior unguaranteed secured and senior unguaranteed unsecured bonds held in all banks covered by the eligible liabilities guarantee including the value of the bonds and the date of their maturity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34441/11]

The information requested by the Deputy is provided in the following schedules.

AIB/EBS

Total AIB Group (including EBS) — also includes cross holding of issuance.

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015+

Total to Maturity

Guaranteed

1,028,235,331

2,368,626,605

3,048,700,000

6,445,561,936

Unguaranteed Secured

1,000,000,000

1,000,000,000

50,000,000

2,665,726,275

4,715,726,275

Unguaranteed Unsecured

52,315,240

3,520,542,954

42,356,511

839,000,000

99,000,000

4,553,214,705

Notes:

Guaranteed includes €23.7m in the 2015+ Timeband reflects its final maturity but has a put date of 31/12/2011

Reflects external issuances only i.e. does not included internal covered bonds, internal securitisations or the own use bank bond.

Total AIB Group (including EBS) — Excludes cross holding of issuance.

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015+

Total to Maturity

Guaranteed

1,006,235,331

2,301,926,605

2,937,100,000

6,245,261,936

Unguaranteed Secured

1,000,000,000

953,000,000

50,000,000

2,648,089,242

4,651,089,242

Unguaranteed Unsecured

52,315,240

3,458,342,954

42,356,511

839,000,000

99,000,000

4,491,014,705

Notes:

Guaranteed includes €23.7m in the 2015+ Timeband reflects its final maturity but has a put date of 31/12/2011.

Reflects external issuances only i.e. does not included internal covered bonds, internal securitisations or the own use bank bond.

AIB/EBS Guaranteed:

Report Date:

01/11/2011

Product

Isin

Ccy

Maturity Date

Current Nominal EUR equiv.

Issued By

MTNs GG

XS0490069266

EUR

25/02/2015

1,000,000,000

EBS

MTNs GG

XS0496459610

EUR

19/03/2015

25,000,000

EBS

MTNs GG

XS0496223255

EUR

19/03/2012

1,000,000,000

AIB

MTNs GG

XS0484576813

EUR

04/02/2013

1,800,000,000

AIB

MTNs GG

XS0494617631

USD

15/03/2013

548,626,605

AIB

MTNs GG

XS0496222877

EUR

19/03/2015

2,000,000,000

AIB

MTNs GG

XS0545957432

EUR

30/09/2015

23,700,000

AIB

MTNs GG

XS0502963183

HKD

19/04/2012

14,117,666

AIB

MTNs GG

XS0504071282

HKD

23/04/2012

14,117,666

AIB

MTNs GG

XS0499510609

EUR

08/04/2013

20,000,000

AIB

6,445,561,936

Held by AIB

check

XS0490069266

30,000,000

6,245,261,936.05

Held by EBS

XS0496223255

22,000,000

XS0484576813

66,700,000

XS0496222877

81,600,000

Self Issuance

XS0701324195

4,500,000,000

AIB/EBS Unguaranteed Secured:

Report Date:

01/11/2011

Product

Isin

Ccy

Maturity Date

Current Nominal EUR equiv.

Issued By

Covered Bond

XS0467861653

EUR

23-Nov-12

1,000,000,000

EBS

Covered Bond

XS0470919696

EUR

01-Dec-14

50,000,000

EBS

RMBS

XS0260593727

EUR

15-Jul-48

900,726,275

EBS

Covered Bond

XS0250267647

EUR

30-Apr-13

1,000,000,000

AIB

Covered Bond

XS0308936037

EUR

29-Jun-17

1,500,000,000

AIB

Covered Bond

XS0308936037

EUR

29-Jun-17

175,000,000

AIB

Covered Bond

Unlisted

EUR

23-Sep-19

15,000,000

AIB

Covered Bond

Unlisted

EUR

30-Sep-19

50,000,000

AIB

Covered Bond

XS0486207870

EUR

12-Feb-30

10,000,000

AIB

Covered Bond

XS0489775535

EUR

01-Mar-30

10,000,000

AIB

Covered Bond

XS0504676510

EUR

28-Apr-28

5,000,000

AIB

4,715,726,275

Held by AIB

Check

XS0260593727

17,637,033

4,651,089,242

XS0250267647

47,000,000

AIB/EBS Unguaranteed Unsecured:

Report Date:

01/11/2011

Product

Isin

Ccy

Maturity Date

Current Nominal EUR equiv.

Issued By

MTNs

XS0238667496

GBP

16-Dec-11

18,600,974

EBS

MTNs

XS0245078406

GBP

16-Dec-11

3,778,323

EBS

MTNs

XS0253554744

GBP

16-Dec-11

8,137,926

EBS

MTNs

XS0257988997

GBP

16-Dec-11

9,300,487

EBS

MTNs

XS0276164539

GBP

16-Dec-11

10,172,408

EBS

MTNs

XS0296914103

GBP

16-Dec-11

2,325,122

EBS

MTNs

XS0243328456

EUR

06-Feb-12

20,000,000

EBS

MTNs

XS0264939512

GBP

12-Jul-12

1,743,841

EBS

MTNs

XS0372296011

EUR

17-Aug-12

5,927,000

EBS

MTNs

XS0279186976

GBP

17-Dec-12

24,646,291

EBS

MTNs

XS0291322088

GBP

17-Dec-12

4,650,244

EBS

MTNs

XS0296914442

GBP

17-Dec-12

2,325,122

EBS

MTNs

XS0287983935

GBP

02-Mar-13

17,438,413

EBS

MTNs

XS0296913550

GBP

02-Mar-13

2,325,122

EBS

MTNs

XS0312295610

GBP

02-Mar-13

9,300,487

EBS

MTNs

XS0321100454

GBP

02-Mar-13

9,292,489

EBS

MTNs

XS0235051181

EUR

28-Oct-13

4,000,000

EBS

Schuldschein

SSD 01

EUR

28-Jan-14

9,000,000

EBS

MTNs

XS0244872882

EUR

20-Feb-14

20,000,000

EBS

Schuldschein

SSD 02

EUR

25-Feb-14

15,000,000

EBS

MTNs

XS0187074546

EUR

25-Feb-14

20,000,000

EBS

MTNs

XS0195980551

EUR

14-Jul-14

25,000,000

EBS

MTNs

XS0228549506

EUR

24-Aug-15

19,000,000

EBS

MTNs

XS0268806709

EUR

27-Sep-16

55,000,000

EBS

Schuldschein

SSD 03

EUR

26-Jan-17

25,000,000

EBS

MTNs

XS0287772130

GBP

20-Feb-12

874,675,350

AIB

MTNs

XS0294958318

EUR

11-Apr-12

1,500,000,000

AIB

MTNs

XS0302797351

USD

24-May-12

36,575,107

AIB

MTNs

XS0367255592

EUR

02-Jun-12

50,000,000

AIB

MTNs

XS0455308923

EUR

01-Oct-12

1,000,000,000

AIB

MTNs

XS0465876349

EUR

12-Nov-14

750,000,000

AIB

4,553,214,705

Held By EBS

XS0294958318

62,200,000

4,491,014,705

Bank of Ireland:

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015+

Total to Maturity

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

Guaranteed (note 1)

9,935.06

1,482.16

47.53

2,866.84

14,331.59

Unguaranteed Secured

127.57

409.92

2,654.51

1,821.69

6,322.20

11,335.88

Unguaranteed Unsecured

71.58

865.65

1,070.51

66.77

538.02

2,612.53

Volumes reflect position as at 1 November 2011

The table excludes securitisations/covered bonds retained by the Group

Note 1: Includes €8.45bn received under Own Issued Bank Bonds maturing January 2012.

IBRC

MTN NO

CUR

Amount (Millions)

Start Date

Maturity Date

370

EUR

1,250

25-Jan-07

25-Jan-12

516

EUR

1,500

15-Apr-10

16-Apr-12

446

GBP

400

28-Jun-07

28-Jun-12

517

EUR

750

15-Apr-10

15-Apr-15

RED FONT:

Guaranteed/Issued under ELG.

Black Font:

Un-guaranteed.

INBS

MTN NO

CUR

Amount (Millions)

Start Date

Maturity Date

INBS-16

EUR

590.7

26-Jun-07

26-Jun-12

INBS-15

GBP

8.5

26-Jun-07

26-Jun-12

IL&P:

IL&P Debt at 4 November 2011 (principal excluding accrued interest)

Secured (MBS)

2,671,800,930.90

Maturities between 2039 and 2050

Senior Guaranteed

Maturity Date

1

1,268,820,786.50

20130114

2

1,992,389,594.05

20150310

3

20,000,000.00

20150316

4

24,959,551.39

20150322

5

25,000,000.00

20150409

6

1,248,167,608.46

20130422

7

3,300,000,000.00

20111027 Own Use Bond

Senior Guaranteed

7,879,337,540.40

Senior Unguaranteed

Maturity Date

1

20,000,000

20360313

2

21,000,000

20460418

3

20,000,000

20460531

4

4,356,349

20130723

5

4,700,000

20141210

6

9,531,942

20161215

7

3,000,000

20150425

8

129,000,000

20350215

9

2,200,000

20120221

10

3,862,630

20130301

11

5,850,000

20200425

12

6,349,379

20130304

13

10,000,000

20150608

14

11,000,000

20130613

15

7,500,000

20130805

16

3,630,291

20150811

17

7,000,000

20201007

18

10,000,000

20301014

19

11,280,000

20111107

20

6,000,000

20140117

21

197,000

20111125

22

8,900,000

20140130

23

11,993,017

20111202

24

16,440,000

20111207

25

12,152,000

20151218

26

1,035,000

20120109

27

8,243,832

20120111

28

3,309,144

20120111

29

5,870,000

20120207

30

2,588,000

20120307

31

10,003,201

20130315

32

10,000,000

20130320

33

8,000,000

20160322

34

10,000,000

20131003

35

8,546,000

20120407

36

2,200,000

20120508

37

9,000,000

20140530

38

3,000,000

20160530

39

3,775,503

20160529

40

6,000,000

20140724

41

7,500,000

20140808

42

5,000,000

20140915

43

3,000,000

20141009

44

10,000,000

20121027

45

4,795,000

20161027

46

3,000,000

20131002

47

5,000,000

20141103

48

5,000,000

20140505

49

3,000,000

20140530

50

3,000,000

20111130

51

10,217,707

20121206

52

8,000,000

20141211

53

3,000,000

20111215

54

4,300,000

20140625

55

6,950,000

20131222

56

5,200,000

20140122

57

3,000,000

20150202

58

60,000,000

20170209

59

10,000,000

20140312

60

7,500,000

20140401

61

7,500,000

20140425

62

4,000,000

20141027

63

5,000,000

20140502

64

49,998,879

20120503

65

7,500,000

20140520

66

15,000,000

20130522

67

10,000,000

20270524

68

5,000,000

20140529

69

7,855,420

20120604

70

10,507,983

20130614

71

4,644,412

20120628

72

8,000,000

20140630

73

4,000,000

20140803

74

9,869,376

20130824

75

3,000,000

20140829

76

15,000,000

20150917

77

5,000,000

20131230

78

4,996,732

20151001

79

2,650,000

20141210

80

3,100,000

20150610

81

16,000,000

20151217

82

10,000,000

20140620

83

11,000,000

20150622

Senior Unguaranteed

824,598,797

Total

11,375,737,268

Total (excluding own use)

8,075,737,268

Proposed Legislation

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

53 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an update on the forthcoming legislation dealing with the regulation of credit unions; when this legislation will be published and brought before the Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34434/11]

In accordance with our commitment under the EU/IMF programme, legislation is being prepared for publication by the end of June 2012 to strengthen the regulatory framework for credit unions, including making legislative provision for effective governance standards and prudential requirements for credit unions. This represents an extension of the earlier EU/IMF deadline of end December 2011, which will allow the necessary time for consultation and to take account of any further recommendations arising from the Commission on Credit Unions. The new deadline has been agreed by the Troika.

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

54 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance if he has sought and secured Cabinet approval for the forthcoming extension of the Credit Institutions (Eligible Liabilities Guarantee) Scheme 2009, which is due for renewal on 31 December 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34433/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

145 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his plans to seek an extension of the eligible liabilities guarantee scheme into 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34587/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 54 and 145 together.

The Eligible Liabilities Guarantee (ELG) Scheme, which commenced on 9 December, 2009, has been an important support to the Irish system, helping to maintain the overall stability of the banking sector.

On foot of a recent Government decision, I have sought EU state aid approval for a prolongation of the ELG Scheme, on the advice of the Governor of the Central Bank and of the other State authorities, on financial stability grounds. I will be placing a Statutory Instrument before both Houses shortly which will enable the issuance period of the Scheme to extend to 31 December, 2012. The ECB was notified of the intention to provide for this extension and has stated that a further extension of the Scheme would be beneficial.

The Deputies will however be aware that approval for the continued provision of financial support under the ELG Scheme must be sought from the European Commission every six months in accordance with EU State aid requirements. This application for approval has been made and a positive reply is expected shortly

The extension of the ELG Scheme is a necessary element in maintaining confidence of deposit holders in the domestic banks and in continuing to facilitate the Irish banking system in accessing both short and longer term funding.

Fiscal Policy

Brian Stanley

Question:

55 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Finance if he has been successful in securing an amendment to the EU-IMF memorandum of understanding not to decrease social welfare rates as is Government policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34444/11]

The Government has successfully renegotiated a number of elements of our EU-IMF Programme and will continue to do so. As the Deputy will be aware, the latest review mission by the External Partners took place from the 11th — 20th of October. There are a numbers of programme documents that underpin the Programme of Financial Support. These documents include:

the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP)

the Memorandum of Understanding on Specific Economic Policy Conditionality, (MoU)

the Letters of Intent to the IMF and the EU Authorities; and

the Technical Memorandum of Understanding (TMU) attached to the Letter of Intent (LoI) to the IMF.

Following each review mission a revised version of these documents is published. These revised documents are being finalised and when that process is completed they will be formally submitted to the External Partners. At this stage it is expected that this process will be completed by the end of the month, and the documents will be published in due course.

As Deputies are aware it would not be appropriate for me to comment in advance of the Budget on possible Budget decisions.

Debt Statistics

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

56 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide figures combining the national debt, household debt and commercial debt for 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 in monetary terms and as a percentage of GDP; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34445/11]

The figures requested by the Deputy are set out in the following tables. Figures for National Debt are calculated and published by the NTMA on their website and represent end-year positions.

Figures on household debt and commercial debt are taken from the Central Bank's Quarterly Financial Accounts, Table 3.1.b and Table 8.1.b respectively, and refer to end year positions. Note that commercial debt refers to the debt of non-financial corporations resident in the State, including foreign multinationals operating in Ireland.

(€m)

National Debt

Household Debt

Commercial Debt

GDP (nominal)

2007

37,559

193,887

263,061

189,933

2008

50,398

203,298

303,371

179,990

2009

75,152

197,635

326,464

160,596

2010

93,446

185,615

286,351

155,992

Expressed as a percentage of GDP, the table looks as follows:

% of GDP

National Debt

Household Debt

Commercial Debt

2007

19.8%

102.1%

138.5%

2008

28.0%

112.9%

168.5%

2009

46.8%

123.1%

203.3%

2010

59.9%

119.0%

183.6%

Budget Submissions

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

57 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if he will meet with trade unions, anti-poverty groups and other civil society groups to hear their opinions prior to budget 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33038/11]

I have met recently with a number of groups as part of the Budget 2012 process. These included the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Community and Voluntary Pillar. As the Deputy will be aware, the Pillar is comprised of seventeen organisations representing the interests of people from many different sectors of society. In addition, my Department has received to date more than 260 submissions from organisations, groups and individuals. These are being considered by officials in the context of Budget preparation.

Economic and Monetary Union

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

58 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied that his EU colleagues, both within the eurozone and without, are conscious of the need to adopt a cohesive, supportive and united approach in dealing with the ongoing economic, fiscal and monetary difficulties throughout the Union; if it is recognised that confidence in the markets will most likely improve when it becomes obvious that the European Union in its entirety has a responsibility to address and resolve any issues affecting such confidence; if due recognition has been given to the potential strength of a single market of the magnitude of the European Union; the extent if any to which strategies have been put in place or are likely to be put in place to capitalise on this strength; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34426/11]

Firstly, I would like to stress the considerable progress that has already been made in terms of improving the functioning of the EU and the euro area in particular. Amongst other things we now have:

The EU Semester;

Strengthened surveillance via the so-called ‘six-pack' of governance measures;

Support for vulnerable economies via the EFSF and the EFSM;

A permanent crisis resolution mechanism in the form of the ESM;

The Euro Plus Pact tointer alia improve competitiveness; and,

Strengthened financial regulation.

These are all important developments and demonstrate that the EU can unite and work in the interests of all. To me this shows that the European Union can make significant decisions and progress that not so long ago would have been seen as almost unthinkable, and I take a lot of encouragement from this.

In addition there is the comprehensive package announced by the euro area Heads of State or Government on the 26th October. This is essentially a five-point strategy involving:

A credible solution to the Greek situation;

Boosting the effective capacity of the EFSF;

Recapitalising Europe's banks;

Enhancing surveillance; and,

Improving economic governance in the euro area.

Work is continuing on implementing these important decisions, and this is how market confidence will be improved. It is in all of our interests that we move forward as rapidly as possible in that regard.

Finally, it is worth pointing out that euro area Heads of State or Government have stated on a number of occasions that they will do whatever is necessary to preserve financial stability in the euro area.

Government Debt Ratios

Michael Colreavy

Question:

59 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Finance his views on the deteriorating Government debt ratios that are contained in the mid-term financial statement which shows a higher Government debt in 2013, 2014 and 2015 than that contained in the April stability programme update, this despite the fact that the €3.6 billion accountancy error has reduced our debt ratio by 2.3%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34449/11]

At the time of the of the Stability Programme Update, the General Government Debt to GDP ratio was forecast to peak at 118% in 2013 before falling to 111% in 2015. This assessment was based on the macroeconomic and fiscal outlook as set at that time. Like all forecasts, these are subject to change. As events have evolved, my Department has revised its assessment for the period 2011-2015. Based on its October macroeconomic and fiscal assessment, the General Government Debt to GDP ratio is now anticipated to peak at 118% in 2013 before falling to 114% in 2015.

There are a number of reasons and assumptions why the debt ratios have changed since the April forecasts for the years from 2013 to 2015.

The macroeconomic and fiscal outlook for the period 2011-2015 has been revised. As a result of the revision the level of GDP in the later document is now lower.

Taking account of double count of HFA funding, the base line debt in 2010 improves by EUR3.6bn

Banking support is EUR3.5bn less than assumed in the SPU.

The assumed exchequer requirements (excluding banking measures) up to 2015 are higher in the later document. The main driver of this particular change is that the Department has lower economic growth forecasts resulting, for instance, in lower tax revenues forecast for the period.

As set out on page 31 of the Medium-Term Fiscal Statement, in light of further technical work since the April SPU forecasts, it has been confirmed, following discussions with the CSO, that the interest due on the Promissory Notes should be accounted for as part of General Government Debt each year. This has the effect of cumulatively worsening the debt ratio by about 0.3% of GDP in 2013 and about 1% of GDP in the following years of the forecast period.

The NTMA has changed its assumptions regarding liquid assets since the last publication. This worsens debt projections by EUR400m per annum for 2013 to 2015.

Inclusion of the pre-paid margin on EFSF lending worsens debt in 2011.

Finally, had it not been for the adjustment of the double count in the calculation of the 2010 debt level, the debt ratio would stand at 120% by 2013, based on current projections.

Question No. 60 answered with Question No. 47.

Postal Services

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Question:

61 Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider giving the An Post a stronger role in the strategy on financial inclusion and in particular to enable the post offices here to offer current account facilities to its customers; his views that in the interest of providing choice and greater competition within banking that the role of the post office should be promoted and enlarged by including such services as motor tax renewals, driver licences, and so on; if he will give an assurance that the ESB contract for the payment of bills will remain with An Post; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34026/11]

A draft report setting out the Strategy for Financial Inclusion was published on my Department's website in June of this year for consultation purposes. The strategy was drafted following a review undertaken by the Social Finance Foundation on my behalf, to identify recommended actions to achieve a substantial reduction in financial exclusion over a 3-5 year period— including the introduction of basic payment accounts on a pilot basis in 2012. It is noted in the report that the post office network has the potential to play a key role in the delivery of basic payment accounts. A number of submissions were received in response to the consultation, and my Department, having reviewed all of the submissions, is currently assessing the best approach to implementation of the strategy. Any products which are offered by the post office network are a matter firstly for An Post — which falls under the aegis of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

Unemployment Levels

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

62 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Finance in view of the upward revision of unemployment projections for 2015 from 10% in April last to 11.6% in the mid-term fiscal statement, his views on the success or otherwise of the April jobs initiative; if he has conducted any assessment of the impact of the various measures contained in the initiative on levels of employment in the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34438/11]

My Department's latest economic forecasts were published in the recent Medium Term Fiscal Statement. A return to annual employment growth is now expected to be delayed until 2013 and as a result the unemployment rate will take longer to decline than had previously been anticipated. The weaker labour market recovery is a consequence of slower economic growth. While the economy is expected to expand this year for the first time since 2007 — and the pace of the expansion will gradually strengthen in subsequent years — GDP growth is nevertheless forecast to be softer in 2012 and 2013 than had been anticipated in April. This less benign outlook primarily reflects slower growth in our main import markets. Employment data are presented in net terms and information on gross flows into and out of employment is not available, making it difficult to assess the number of jobs being created. We are also still awaiting data for the third quarter of the year, which will be released in mid-December. I am confident, however, that the measures introduced by the Government in May, such as reducing the rate of VAT in the high value added tourism sector, have played a role in both sustaining and creating employment. The Government recognises that improving labour market conditions represents its biggest challenge, and, accordingly, is giving priority to job protection, job creation and supporting the unemployed.

Tax Code

Seán Crowe

Question:

63 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a detailed report on the work undertaken by him to fulfil the programme for Government commitment to review the universal social charge including the dates during which the review was conducted; the terms of reference for the review; the members of the review group; the number and authors of submissions to the review group; if the review has been concluded; if a report has been forwarded to him; if so, if he will lay this report before the Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34440/11]

As the Deputy is aware, the Programme for Government contained a commitment to review the Universal Social Charge (USC). The Terms of Reference of the Review were to examine the impact of the USC with particular focus on the following areas:

Low paid income earners;

Persons over 65;

Medical Card Holders;

Widows/Widowers;

Self-employed;

Public Service Pensioners;

Employer contributions to PRSAs; and

Any other issues (including any operational issues that have arisen in the administration of the charge).

The Review of the USC commenced in June 2011 and it is almost complete. I expect the final report of the Review in advance of Budget 2012.

The Review was conducted by officials from my Department with the assistance of Revenue officials. The Department of Social Protection was also consulted on aspects, as was the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

On a number of occasions in the Dáil, I invited interested parties to take part in the Review by way of submission to my Department. To date, my Department has not received any formal submissions regarding the Review. However, representations made to me as Minister of Finance, in relation to the USC generally, by various groups such as the PSEU, the Pensions Ombudsman, Widows' Associations, Insurance Companies as well as individual taxpayers, were considered as part of the Review.

When the Review is complete and the final report is presented to me, I will decide on the appropriate action to be taken in the context of Budget 2012.

Irish Bank Resolution Corporation

Sandra McLellan

Question:

64 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Finance the process by which Anglo Irish Bank was re-named Irish Bank Resolution Corporation; the person who came up with the name; the reason the word resolution was used; if his attention has been drawn to any potential issues arising from the use of the word resolution with respect to receiving EU funding; if any concerns have been expressed to him by any EU official or institution on this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34436/11]

As part of the planning process around the submission of a business plan to the EC, the Bank initiated an internal process to develop a new name. A shortlist of names was approved internally in the bank and submitted to the Department of Finance. The Minister, at that time, considered the shortlist of names and opted instead to call the bank the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Limited. This name was subsequently accepted by the Board of the Bank. I am informed that the word "resolution" was included to reflect the function of the bank. I am not aware of any potential issues arising from the use of the word "resolution" with respect to EU funding.

Tax Yield

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

65 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance if there was a difference between the projected income from the universal social charge and the actual received income from the charge based on the most recent figures available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34446/11]

Universal Social Charge (USC) receipts are collected by the Revenue Commissioners as a component of income tax. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that it is estimated that receipts from the USC amounted to slightly less than €2.3 billion in the first ten months of 2011. This compares to a projected yield of just slightly over €2.3 billion for that period and so receipts were almost exactly in line with expectations.

European Financial Stability Fund

Brendan Smith

Question:

66 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the way Ireland will benefit from the enhanced role of the European Financial Stability Facility as set out in the 21 July and 26 October European Summit communiqués; the plans he has in that regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34421/11]

The Euro Area Heads of State and Government at their meeting of 21 July last, announced a number of significant changes to the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). These changes included increasing the effective capacity of the EFSF to its headline €440 billion figure by increasing the level of over-guarantee from €440 billion (120%) to €780 billion (165%); reducing the interest rate on EFSF loans to Ireland, Greece and Portugal to lending rates equivalent to those of the Balance of Payments Facility, close to, without going below, the EFSF funding cost as well as lengthening the loan maturities; the ability to act on the basis of a precautionary programme; the ability to finance recapitalisation of financial institutions through loans to governments including in non programme countries; and the ability to intervene in primary and secondary markets on the basis of an ECB analysis recognising the existence of exceptional financial market circumstances and risks to financial stability and on the basis of a decision by mutual agreement of the EFSF/ESM Member States, to avoid contagion.

On 27 October, the Euro Area Heads of State and Government agreed a further change to enable leveraging of EFSF funds.

These changes have significantly reduced the cost of our borrowing from the EFSF, both by setting the margin to zero on the loans to Ireland (along with those for Portugal and Greece) and also through the elimination of the credit enhancement measures.

In terms of benefits, it is now estimated that the overall net reduction in Ireland's EFSF interest rate margin and other changes will be in the range of 2.7% to 2.8%. It should be noted that the EFSF's cost of funds depends on the interest rate it pays for its market issuance when raising funds for programme countries.

New Instruments

In relation to the new instruments, Ireland welcomes the introduction of the new flexibilities to the new EFSF. Technical discussions on the implementation of these new instruments are continuing with a view to finalising guidelines for each as soon as possible. Ireland is actively participating in this EU process.

Tax Code

Catherine Murphy

Question:

67 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if, in view of the failure of the domicile levy introduced in budget 2010 to adequately realise its projected return for the Exchequer this year, he is considering making any revisions to the levy to ensure compliance; if so, the nature of these revisions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34390/11]

The Domicile Levy applies to an individual who is an Irish citizen and Irish domiciled, whose worldwide income exceeds €1m, whose Irish located property is worth more than €5m, and whose liability to Irish tax is less than €200,000. Any Irish income tax paid for the tax year in question can be used as a credit against the levy liability. A yield figure for the levy could not be projected, as it was not possible to estimate the number of individuals who would be affected, given the number of factors involved. The yield figure to date in respect of the 2010 tax year is just under €1.08m, with payments received from six taxpayers.

As with all other areas of taxation, the levy provisions are constantly kept under review and any changes will be determined in the context of Budget and Finance Bill.

National Debt

Joe Higgins

Question:

68 Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Finance if he will estimate the total national debt in euro as a percentage of gross domestic product by the year end of 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 and delineate the portion of each figure that can be attributed to the recapitalisation of the country’s banks and the portion that can be attributed to interest payments due by the State. [34292/11]

National debt is essentially the debt of the Exchequer. There is a second, wider measure of debt which is General Government debt. This is the standard measure of gross indebtedness used for comparative purposes within the EU. It includes the National debt as well as Local Government debt, Promissory Notes and some other minor liabilities of Government. Unlike National debt, it is a gross measure which does not allow for the offsetting of cash balances. Based on the Exchequer deficits as per the recently published Medium-Term Fiscal Statement (MTFS), National debt is projected to increase to stand at approximately €120 billion by the end of 2011 and to reach some €168 billion by the end of the current forecast period in 2015. The National debt forecasts, in both nominal euro amounts and as a percentage of GDP are set out in the table below. For the Deputy's information, the table also shows the forecasts for cash debt interest expenditure and the forecasts for Exchequer banking related payments in each of the years 2011-2015.

It is not possible to definitively delineate the estimate of the National debt that can be attributed to particular items of expenditure. However, it is estimated that, by the end of 2010, the cumulative impact on the National debt arising from Exchequer funded banking related payments was just less than €5 billion. This was the result of a €4 billion cash injection into Anglo Irish Bank in 2009 and €0.7 billion in cash payments for special investment shares in INBS and EBS in 2010. National debt at end-2010 stood at €93.4 billion.

The Deputy will also be aware that some €31 billion has been committed in the form of Promissory Notes. While this full amount was accounted for as part of General Government debt in 2010, the National debt is impacted on a phased basis from 2011 onwards as the Exchequer makes the annual payments of 10 per cent of the initial capital value of the Notes or €3.1 billion. The first Exchequer payment was made earlier this year and payments will continue on an annual basis until the full value of the Notes, including interest, has been paid.

Also, in 2011, the Exchequer has provided a net €6.5 billion in the context of the recapitalisation of the banking sector announced in July.

Some €21 billion has also been allocated by the National Pensions Reserve (NPRF) to directed investments in the Irish banks. This does not impact on the National debt measure.

€ billions

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Forecast National Debt

120

137

151

161

168

% of GDP

77

86

92

94

94

Cash Debt Interest Expenditure

4.8

6.8

7.2

8.0

8.3

MTFS Estimated Net Exchequer Banking Recapitalisation Payments

6.5

Promissory Note Payments

3.1

3.1

3.1

3.1

3.1

Financial Services Regulation

Denis Naughten

Question:

69 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the steps he will take to regulate food securities trading on the stock market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34023/11]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to trading in "futures" in foodstuffs such as wheat on stock markets and the need to have a regulatory framework in place to deal with these trades. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that a regulatory regime for these types of trades is already in place. This regime was set down in the 2004 EU Directive on Markets in Financial Instruments, which was transposed into Irish law by way of the European Communities (Markets in Financial Instruments) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 60 of 2007). Part 3 of Schedule 1 of that S.I. provides a list the financial instruments which are within the scope of the Regulations. Paragraph 8 of that Part refers to "options, futures, swaps, forward rate agreements and any other derivative contracts" goes on to set down specific circumstances where these would apply. Similar provisions should be in place in all Member States. The scope of this paragraph is wide-ranging and would include derivative contracts in commodities such as foodstuffs.

The Central Bank of Ireland is the competent authority in this country for the purposes of this Directive.

I should point out to the Deputy that currently there are no commodities exchanges established in Ireland, either as part of the Irish Stock Exchange or elsewhere. There are approximately 10 commodity exchanges operating in Europe. Most of these specialise in particular commodities, such as metals, emissions allowances or agricultural derivatives. The main agricultural exchanges, where foodstuff futures would be traded are based in the United Kingdom and Germany.

Question No. 70 answered with Question No. 50.

Fiscal Advisory Council

Mick Wallace

Question:

71 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Finance his views on the contention by the Fiscal Advisory Council in the most recent version of its Fiscal Assessment Report that a 1.8% deficit reduction following €20 billion worth of austerity measures illustrates that austerity measures are working to reduce the deficit; if he will acknowledge that the report in fact illustrates that austerity is not working; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33192/11]

As has been set out in the Medium-Term Fiscal Statement (MTFS), Ireland's General Government Deficit is expected to be €16 billion, or 10.3 per cent of GDP, in 2011. In order to bridge this gap between revenues and spending, the Irish State has to engage in large volumes of borrowing. Ireland is relying on external assistance through the EU/IMF Programme for this borrowing. The conditionality of this Programme requires Ireland to reach a deficit of no more than 8.6 per cent of GDP next year. By contrast, the underlying deficit in 2009, excluding the €4 billion capital injection into Anglo Irish Bank, was 11.7 per cent of GDP, so we are on the right path. Based on the macroeconomic and fiscal assessment set out in the MTFS, an adjustment of €3.8 billion is required if we are to adhere to the agreed deficit target of 8.6% of GDP. It is of course extremely important that we continue to adhere to the deficit targets which have been set and that we restore sustainability to the public finances as soon as is practically possible.

Some have called for a higher level of adjustment. Both I and the Government are very conscious of the impact that a larger adjustment would have on economic activity. In striving to restore sustainability to the public finances, we must also be mindful of protecting the emerging economic recovery and seek to strike the right balance between the two. This balancing act is difficult but we believe we have struck the right balance and the EU/IMF troika agrees.

On the issue as to whether austerity is working, CSO data show that the Irish economy expanded by 1.9 per cent in the first quarter of this year and by 1.6 per cent in the second quarter of the year. This is the first time Ireland has recorded two consecutive quarters of economic growth since 2006. So, the economy is growing again and the deficit is reducing. As was acknowledged in the recent MTFS, despite returning to growth, Ireland's economy still faces significant challenges. By continuing with the process of consolidation and implementing policies which will result in sustainable economic growth, these challenges can be overcome. We must also recognise that in the absence of consolidation, the deficit would have grown to levels which would have made debt sustainability even more challenging.

European Central Bank

Pearse Doherty

Question:

72 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance his position on the German Government party’s proposal to amend the voting procedure on the European Central Bank board from one member one vote to a weighted voting system based on the member states' capital share of the ECB; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34430/11]

The voting procedure for the Governing Council of the European Central Bank is set out in the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank. Any change to the voting rights set out in Article 10 of the Statute would require the unanimous decision of the European Council, based on either a recommendation from the European Central Bank and after consulting the European Parliament and the Commission, or on a recommendation from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament and the European Central Bank. Any amendments to the voting procedures under Article 10 cannot enter into force until they are approved by all Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. A recommendation made by the ECB under this Article requires a unanimous decision by the Governing Council. Finally, I would note that there are currently no such proposals for amendment before Member States for consideration.

Banks Recapitalisation

Micheál Martin

Question:

73 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an update on the negotiations regarding the promissory note on Anglo Irish Bank; the person attending these negotiations on his behalf; if the reduction of €15 billion to €20 billion will be achieved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34011/11]

As indicated I am eager to have the promissory notes examined to see if they can be reconstituted or re-engineered in a better way for the State, for example by lengthening their maturity or reducing the interest rates on them, or both. I raised this issue during discussions with the EU Commission, ECB and the IMF at the last quarterly review in October. Since then technical discussions are underway between my officials and officials from the ECB and EU Commission in regard to the promissory notes. I have also indicated that discussions have commenced with the relevant authorities, at a technical level, but as yet there is no indication of a successful outcome.

Cabinet Sub-Committees

Anne Ferris

Question:

74 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Taoiseach the number of times the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Climate Change has met since the formation of this Government [33509/11]

The Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and the Green Economy met on 30 June. I anticipate a further meeting of the Committee in the coming weeks.

Croke Park Agreement

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

75 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Taoiseach the number of Croke Park Agreement projects that each State agency under his aegis is progressing; if he will list each project by Department in tabular form; the amount to be saved by each project; the number that have been completed since the agreement came into force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34164/11]

The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) is the only State Agency under the aegis of my Department. The NESDO was established under the NESDO Act 2006 and is the body corporate for the National Economic and Social Council (NESC).

Under the Croke Park Agreement, the NESDO has undertaken the following projects:

Project

Benefit (includes savings where quantifiable)

Status

Reduction staff numbers

Reduction of 11% in staff numbers since April 2010 resulting in annual savings of €302,000.

Completed

Reduction of 30% in the Office’s budget between 2010 and 2011

Savings of €1,007,000.

Completed

Publication of majority of future NESC reports in soft copy

Savings of €7,500 per report.

Ongoing

Introduction of IT facilities which (i) reduces the frequency with which IT hardware is replaced and (ii) facilitates e-working from outside the office.

(i) Average savings of approximately €2,000 per year.(ii) The enhancement in e-working enables working from outside the office, which will facilitate an ongoing boost in productivity.

Completed

Redeployment of staff of the discontinued National Economic and Social Forum (NESF) and National Centre for Partnership and Performance (NCPP) into the National Economic and Social Council (NESC)

Wider skills and knowledge base in the NESC Secretariat enabling it to provide an enhanced service to the NESC, the Department of the Taoiseach and the public generally.

Completed

Introduction of a more active system of absence management

Enhanced management of sick leave in a fair and consistent manner and a culture of good attendance in the Office.

Completed

Extensive review of the Office’s PMDS process.

A process that is more appropriate to the organisation and facilitates the development of higher skills and increased performance levels.

Completed

Introduction of a Risk Management Register and an IT Risk Management Register

Minimising or avoiding potential costs by identifying, assessing, and prioritising potential risks

Completed

It should be noted that the Implementation Body for the Agreement is currently considering the progress reported on the implementation of Action Plans under Croke Park in each sector during the period, April to September 2011. The Body is due to publish a summary of the progress reported to it on its website shortly. Once the Body has completed its consideration, the progress reports for this particular reporting period for individual public service bodies, including each state agency, will be published on their organisation's websites.

Dublin-Monaghan Bombings

Finian McGrath

Question:

76 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Taoiseach if he has raised the issue of the documents that were withheld from the Barron inquiries at recent meetings with the British Prime Minister. [34252/11]

I have raised the issue of the British Government files relating to the Barron Inquiries during the bilateral meetings I have had with the British Prime Minister. I raised it during my meeting with him in Downing Street in April and also raised it with him during his trip to Dublin as part of the Queen's visit in May. I intend to continue to raise the matter with the British Government and will make the case in the best way possible.

Ministerial Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

77 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach the number of his constituency and parliamentary staff, appointed following the February 2011 elections, on salaries that exceed their applicable pay scale grade; the number of his existing and parliamentary staff employed prior to the February 2011 elections but awarded salary increases following the election that exceed their applicable pay scale grade; and if he will provide their annual salary details in a tabular format. [34577/11]

The table provides details of the staff I appointed to my private and constituency offices since 9 March 2011 and their annual salaries.

Staff appointed by Taoiseach since 9 March 2011

Name

Grade

Annual Salary

Mark Kennelly

Chief of Staff

€168,000

Andrew McDowell

Special Adviser

€168,000

Paul O’Brien

Special Adviser

€80,051

Angela Flanagan

Special Adviser

€80,051

Pauline Coughlan

Personal Assistant

€64,257

Sarah Moran

Personal Assistant

€75,390

Gerard Deere

Personal Assistant

€64,257

Teresa Diskin

Personal Assistant

€66,519

Miriam O’Callaghan

Personal Assistant

€64,750

John Lohan

Personal Secretary

€40,233

AnneMarie Durcan

Personal Secretary

€40,233

Eoghan O’Neachtain*

Government Press Secretary

€138,655

Feargal Purcell

Government Press Secretary

€116,295

Cathy Madden

Deputy Government Press Secretary and Head of Government Information Service

€96,295

Joanne Lonergan

Assistant Government Press Secretary

€86,604

Mark O’Doherty

Special Adviser to the Government Chief Whip

€80,051

Colum Coomey

Personal Assistant to the Government Chief Whip

€43,715

Claire Urquhart

Personal Secretary to the Government Chief Whip

€46,935

John Cummins**

Civilian Driver to the Leader of the Seanad

€32,965

Derek Grubb

Civilian Driver to the Leader of the Seanad

€32,965

*Mr. O'Neachtain finished in this role on 30/6/2011

**Resigned with effect from 06/08/2011

Capital Projects

Gerald Nash

Question:

78 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Taoiseach if he will provide details in relation to the number and value of State capital project contracts awarded to companies registered outside the State in the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively; if he will provide details in respect of the number and value of State capital project contracts awarded to companies registered in the Republic of Ireland in the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34816/11]

My Department awarded no State capital projects to companies registered outside the State or companies registered within the Republic of Ireland in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Northern Ireland Issues

Finian McGrath

Question:

79 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if we are likely to have a truth commission within the next seven years. [34253/11]

The issue of how we can best address the legacy of the past is a critically important one. It is also the subject of much valuable ongoing work, both within Northern Ireland and by the British and Irish governments. The Government's efforts are focused on ensuring that the work currently under way is as effective as possible.

Diplomatic Representation

Finian McGrath

Question:

80 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the amount of money saved by closing the embassies of the Holy See, East Timor and Iran; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34041/11]

Robert Troy

Question:

88 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will quantify the economic benefits of closing each of the three embassies as announced last week. [34483/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 80 and 88 together.

The savings accrued by closing the three Missions in Tehran, the Holy See and Dili over a full year are estimated to amount to €1.175 million. This includes the savings on rent accruing from the planned move of the Embassy to Italy to the buildings currently occupied by the Embassy to the Holy See. However, in the short-term, there will be some disengagement and transitional costs, including items such as local staff redundancies and running down of rental contracts. As a result of the closures, it will also be possible to relocate six diplomatic staff to help offset staff losses elsewhere in the diplomatic service.

The regrettable, but necessary, decision to close the Missions in question followed a thorough review carried out by my Department in which particular weight was given to the promotion of Irish economic interests abroad.

Middle East Issues

Finian McGrath

Question:

81 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will support and protect Irish and international citizens sailing to Gaza; and if he will support the besieged Palestinians there. [34042/11]

Patrick Nulty

Question:

83 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the way he intends to hold Israel to account for its endangerment of the lives of Irish citizens aboard the MV Saoirse and for its continuing violations of international law. [34128/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 81 and 83 together.

I have consistently stated my condemnation of and opposition to the overall blockade on Gaza, as it is implemented in practice by Israel. The essential feature of this is the restrictions imposed on the land crossings from Israel into Gaza. The naval blockade is of far less significance, as Gaza has never been and is not equipped to be a port of any significant capacity.

I made clear in the House in advance of Israel's interception of the MV Saoirse, that I could not support the actions of citizens putting themselves at risk by attempting to break a declared naval blockade, but that in the event of such action I would of course ensure that the normal consular assistance and protection was afforded to our citizens. I have reported to the House on the assistance given by the Embassy in Tel Aviv and by my Department at home, which has been recognised by Deputies.

Also leading up to this event, and the earlier intended sailing in July, both I personally and my Department made clear to the Israeli authorities our assurance that the Irish activists intended a non-violent political protest, and our insistence that any measure taken to enforce the blockade, including any interception of the ship, be carried out so as to ensure the safety of the citizens involved. After the disaster that occurred in May 2010, this was clearly my first concern.

I am relieved, therefore, that no injuries to our citizens were reported. The fourteen citizens detained were deported from Israel and arrived back in Ireland on Thursday and Friday last week. I have requested the Embassy in Tel Aviv to follow up with the Israeli authorities on a number of issues arising from this episode, including allegations that the MV Saoirse sustained damage during the interception.

Diplomatic Representation

Finian McGrath

Question:

82 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the amount it costs to maintain the remainder of our embassies; and the benefits accruing to this State by maintaining same. [34044/11]

When the recent decisions regarding Mission closures are taken into account, Ireland will have 56 Embassies, 7 multilateral missions and 10 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 overall operating costs in 2010 for all Missions abroad came to just under €55 million. Operating costs include items such as local staff salaries but not salaries of diplomatic staff, which are a charge on the Headquarters budget.

Ireland's missions abroad perform a wide range of functions in pursuit of Ireland's foreign policy interests. These include representing and advancing government policies with other States and in international organisations, in particular the EU and the UN; economic and cultural promotion; frontline consular and passport services to Irish citizens overseas; engaging with Irish communities and harnessing the resource they offer in assisting economic recovery; and programme management, particularly in Irish Aid priority countries.

Our diplomatic missions have particular strengths in relation to facilitating access to key economic and business decision-makers; ensuring, in cooperation with the relevant State Agencies, that a cohesive message about the fundamentals of the Irish economy is conveyed to major opinion-formers internationally; targeted promotion and, in some locations, in dealing with regulatory issues.

Question No. 83 answered with Question No. 81.

Croke Park Agreement

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

84 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of Croke Park Agreement projects that each State agency under his aegis are progressing; if he will list each project by Department in tabular form; the amount to be saved by each project; the number that have been completed since the agreement came into force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34158/11]

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

Passport Applications

Finian McGrath

Question:

85 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of Irish passports issued to date in 2011 for residents of Northern Ireland; the percentage figure for this year for Irish passports issued to Northern Ireland persons over the past five years; and the overall figure for the number of Northern Ireland persons holding Irish passports. [34232/11]

The Passport Service technology system does not record "address" information in the structured format necessary to facilitate the production of management information in relation to place of residency, place of birth etc. The availability of this information would require a fundamental redesign of the system, which could not be cost justified for this facility alone. This matter will be addressed in the context of any major system changes which may emerge in the future. In relation to figures from Northern Ireland, I can provide some information which may be of assistance to the Deputy. I can confirm that up to end October 2011 31,800 applications were received through the Northern Ireland Passport Express service. This figure compares with 37,600 for all of 2010, 37,800 for 2009, 38,400 applications in 2008 and 36,000 in 2007. The number of Northern Ireland Passport Express applications represent 5.1% of all received to date this year, 5.5% in 2010, 5.8% in 2009, 5.8% in 2008 and 5.1% in 2007.

The Northern Ireland Passport Express service is an equivalent to the Passport Express service and is available in over 60 post offices in Northern Ireland.

Proposed Legislation

Catherine Murphy

Question:

86 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the reason he was informing members of the public, as recently as 21 October 2011, that climate change legislation would be published in 2012, when the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government had told IBEC on 5 October that national climate policy may benefit from support through legislation, as signalled in the programme for Government, but that is a matter for another day, the first priority is completing the climate policy review and the follow-up steps in terms of charting a course to a low-carbon, climate resilient economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34237/11]

Ireland will meet its greenhouse gas target for the purposes of the Kyoto Protocol in the commitment period 2008-2012. Further targets for the 2013-2020 period, which are binding under EU law, will be challenging and it is in light of this challenge, inter alia, that the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government is asking the secretariat to the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) to assist in formulating policy on how the target will be met. All stakeholders will be consulted in the policy development process. I believe this pragmatic approach is important so that any legislation that is produced is robust and has cross-sector support. In line with the Programme for Government and as indicated in the Government Legislation Programme published in September, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government has indicated that 2012 is the earliest expected date before any legislation can be published, taking account of the need to progress the broader climate policy agenda under the aegis of the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and the Green Economy.

Trade Missions

Terence Flanagan

Question:

87 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide an update regarding the trade mission to China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34260/11]

The Government attaches great importance to widening and deepening bilateral relations with China. China is a key high-growth and high-potential priority market under the Government's Strategy and Action Plan for Irish Trade, Tourism and Investment to 2015. Total trade between Ireland and China was worth €7.6 billion in 2010 and over 130 Irish companies now have a business presence on the ground in China.

The Taoiseach intends to visit China and contact is continuing through our Embassy in Beijing to arrange mutually acceptable dates. The trade dimension of this visit will entail close coordination by my Department with the relevant Government Departments and State Agencies. I also hope to visit China next year.

Question No. 88 answered with Question No. 80.

Trade Relations

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

89 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the top 20 items being traded by companies based here with Israel or Israeli-based companies; if any of these items include components that may be used in military or security surveillance equipment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34491/11]

Trade data is compiled on the basis of product description categories rather than individual items. The top 20 categories of merchandise exports to Israel are outlined in the table, which has been provided by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Top 20 Merchandise Exports to Israel for 2010

Product

€,000

Computers, Computer Parts & Storage Devices

57,761

Electronic Components & integrated circuits

39,977

Soft Drink concentrate

34,489

Infant foods & other misc. edible products & preparations

25,113

Medical & pharmaceutical products

23,189

Chemical materials & products

21,221

Organic chemicals (mainly for pharmaceutical sector)

6,074

Pacemakers, cds, dvds & other digital media

5,179

Aircraft engines and parts

4,772

Meat & meat preparations

4,317

Plastics in primary forms

3,864

Professional, scientific & controlling apparatus

3,532

Beverages

3,332

General industrial machinery & equipment & parts

2,825

Dyeing, tanning & colouring materials

2,671

Machinery specialised for particular industries

2,049

Telecommunications & sound equipment

1,431

Dairy products

1,157

Coal, coke & briquettes

1,133

Plastics in non-primary forms

780

The Export Licensing Unit of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation is responsible for managing controls on exports of dual-use items and military items.

Appointments to State Boards

Liam Twomey

Question:

90 Deputy Liam Twomey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of positions on State boards and agencies under his aegis which he has advertised in the past seven months; the number of applications received; the number of applicants subsequently appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34506/11]

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

Ministerial Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

91 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of his constituency and parliamentary staff, appointed following the February 2011 elections, on salaries that exceed their applicable pay scale grade; the number of his existing and parliamentary staff employed prior to the February 2011 elections but awarded salary increases following the election that exceed their applicable pay scale grade; and if he will provide their annual salary details in a tabular format. [34571/11]

The following are details of the appointments made by me since I took up duty as Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs on 9 March 2011. The salaries attaching to the first two listed posts are commensurate with the responsibilities the post holders carry in the Office of the Tánaiste. The remaining salaries are within the guidelines relating to Ministerial appointees.

Post

Salary or scale

Public service post prior to appointment

Special Adviser — Office of the Tánaiste

€168,000

Houses of the Oireachtas — Chef de Cabinet

Special Adviser — Office of the Tánaiste

€155,000

Not applicable

Special Adviser — Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

€80,051

Houses of the Oireachtas — Administrator

Personal Assistant — Office of the Tánaiste

Personal Assistant scale €43,715 — €56,060 per annum

Houses of the Oireachtas — Administrative Assistant

Personal Assistant — Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Personal Assistant scale €43,715 — €56,060 per annum

Not applicable

Personal Secretary — Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Personal Secretary scale €456.50 — €915.20 per week

Houses of the Oireachtas — Secretarial Assistant

Passport Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

92 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the progress made to date in respect of an application for an Irish passport in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34675/11]

The Department assesses passport applications of this type in accordance with guidelines provided by the Department of Justice and Equality, which is responsible for matters of citizenship and immigration. I indicated in my reply to the Deputy, on 2 November, that officials in the Passport Service were discussing legal advice obtained in this area with officials in the Department of Justice and Equality. I expect that these discussions will conclude in the near future and I will revert directly to the Deputy at that time. I can assure the Deputy that officials in my Department are giving this case the highest priority and I expect the matter will be finalised very shortly.

Capital Projects

Gerald Nash

Question:

93 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide details in relation to the number and value of State capital project contracts awarded to companies registered outside the State in the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively; if he will provide details in respect of the number and value of State capital project contracts awarded to companies registered here in the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34810/11]

The 2005 Department of Finance guidelines on Capital Appraisal define minor projects as those with a value under €500,000. Accordingly, details of the three contracts awarded by my Department whose value exceeds that threshold during the period in question are provided in the table. All three projects were carried out by companies registered outside the State and there were no such contracts awarded to companies registered in Ireland during that timeframe.

Contracts over €500,000 awarded from 2009 to 2011

Year of Contract

Company

Type of contract

Country of Registration

Value

2009

GT Consulting Engineers

Construction of Chancery in Addis Ababa

Ethiopia

€1,848,686

2009

Tomas Kopecky Construction

Upgrade of Residence in Prague

Czech Republic

€763,000

2010

IAI Industrial Systems

ICT — replacement of Passport production machine

The Netherlands

€1,552,000

My Department complies with EU and WTO rules on public procurement (which are part of Irish law), which prohibit discrimination against suppliers on grounds of nationality. Similarly, public contracting authorities in other EU Member States are prohibited from discriminating against Irish suppliers and service providers on grounds of nationality. This is a basic feature of the EU and WTO Free Trade rules which are of critical importance in ensuring that Irish exporters have free and unrestricted access to public sector markets overseas, particularly at a time when such opportunities in Ireland are contracting.

Vehicle Registration

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

94 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Finance his views on the introduction of a re-registration system whereby owners of second-hand cars can register their car in their county of residence. [34060/11]

As the Deputy may be aware this matter is the subject of a pre-budget submission and as such will be considered in the context of the forthcoming budget.

National Asset Management Agency

Joe Costello

Question:

95 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to a matter (details supplied) regarding the National Asset Management Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34271/11]

NAMA has a commercial mandate to obtain the best achievable financial return on behalf of the State. It has emphasised repeatedly that one of its objectives is to instigate the sale of properties by its debtors and in order to facilitate this, it approves the sale of properties by debtors at realistic current market prices. In terms of determining an appropriate current level of pricing for particular properties, I am advised that NAMA has access to expert valuers with local knowledge of properties. In some cases, potential purchasers may disagree with NAMA-approved pricing. I am informed by NAMA that it is open to discussion with any potential purchaser on the sale of particular properties but only through engagement by those purchasers with sales agents acting for NAMA debtors or NAMA-appointed receivers.

It is not appropriate that details of individual sales transactions should be divulged or discussed in public. However, the Deputy will be aware that NAMA has set up a dedicated e-mail address, oir@nama.ie, to which members of the Oireachtas may direct questions on matters of public interest provided the terms of Section 221 of the National Asset Management Act 2009 are respected. Accordingly, NAMA informs me that if the Deputy directs his query through this channel, the agency will provide him with relevant information.

Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

96 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if he will review a matter (details supplied) regarding cigarette smuggling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34299/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners, who are responsible for the collection of tobacco products tax, and for tackling the illicit trade in cigarettes and tobacco products, that they regard the tackling of the illicit tobacco trade as a high priority area. The strategy employed by Revenue to tackle this illicit trade is multi-faceted. It includes ongoing analysis of the nature and extent of the problem, developing and sharing intelligence on a national, EU and international basis, ongoing review of operational policies, development of analytics and detection technologies, optimum deployment of resources at point of importation and inland, in order to intercept the contraband product and to prosecute those involved.

Interception at the point of importation is achieved through a combination of risk analysis, profiling, intelligence, and the screening of cargo, vehicles, baggage and postal packages. Revenue enforcement officers also target this illicit trade at the post-importation level by carrying out intelligence-based operations and random checks at retail outlets, markets and private and commercial premises. Revenue also carries out regular multi-agency operations, particularly in relation to large maritime importations and in checks at inland markets.

Regarding the introduction of a minimum fine for cigarette smuggling and illegal tobacco selling, I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the penalties for these offences are contained in section 119 of the Finance Act 2001. That section sets out the various actions that constitute evasion or attempted evasion of excise duty, as well as the penalties, by way of fine and/or imprisonment for such offences. Under that provision the penalty on summary conviction for evasion of excise duty is €5,000 and/or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months. The penalty on indictment is up to €126,970 or, where the value of the excisable product concerned is greater than €250,000, up to three times the value of the products, and/or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years. The monetary penalty of €126,970, which was sanctioned by the Oireachtas in the 2010 Finance Act, represents a significant increase on the previous penalty of €12,695.

In 2010, ninety-seven court convictions for cigarette smuggling were secured with total fines of €50,380 and fifteen custodial sentences were imposed. In addition, a further forty-one convictions were obtained for illegal selling of unstamped tobacco products with total fines of €107,750, together with seven custodial sentences and two community service orders imposed. To date in 2011, eighty-five court convictions for cigarette smuggling have been secured with total fines of €113,350 and twenty-six custodial sentences have been imposed with nineteen suspended. A further forty-one convictions for illegal selling of unstamped tobacco products have been obtained with total fines of €85,850 and eleven custodial sentences have been imposed with six suspended.

The Deputy will appreciate that the penalty to be imposed in any particular case is, of course, a matter for the Courts. Section 130(2) of the Finance Act 2001 permits a trial judge, in his or her discretion, to mitigate a fine or penalty incurred for an offence under excise law, provided that the amount so mitigated is not greater than 50% of the amount of such fine or penalty.

The Europol report referred to in the letter accompanying the Deputy's Question is the Europol EU Organised Crime Threat Assessment (OCTA 2011). That report stated that preferred destinations for cigarette smuggling within the EU are countries with comparatively high taxes on tobacco such as the Scandinavian countries, Germany, Spain, the UK and Ireland. However, the level of cigarette smuggling in a given country is influenced by a variety of factors, of which price is only one. These factors also include geographical location, population demographics, the level of cross border trade, price differential with neighbouring countries and general accessibility by air, sea, road and rail.

Economic and Monetary Union

Robert Dowds

Question:

97 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Finance his views on the dominant positions which the German Chancellor and the French President have taken in terms of working out the problems of the European Union and euro area; and the way he envisages the problems relating to the euro being sorted out. [34482/11]

While we need to ensure that no one Member State nor a small number of Member States act entirely on their own in pushing agendas, there are some advantages of larger countries moving the agenda forward — for instance one of the main criticisms during the crisis has been the so-called ‘leadership deficit'. So if the larger Member States can address this deficit, then that is in all of our interests. Of course, this must be balanced and be in the interests of the euro area as a whole. My (and the Government's) preference would be to use the community method more, where other Member States' views and inputs can be made and where the Commission can act to ensure that the voice of the smaller Member States is heard.

In terms of addressing the problems of the euro, it is crucial that the comprehensive strategy announced by euro area Heads of State and Government on 26 October is implemented swiftly and in full. As well as resolving the current difficulties, this strategy aims to put in place the necessary foundations for a strengthened euro area.

Official Engagements

Micheál Martin

Question:

98 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he will detail his recent discussions with Mr. Mario Draghi. [34385/11]

Micheál Martin

Question:

128 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he intends holding a meeting with the incoming President of the European Central Bank. [28456/11]

Micheál Martin

Question:

132 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he has arranged any discussions with Mr. Mario Draghi. [31039/11]

Micheál Martin

Question:

133 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance his plans to meet the new President of the ECB, Mr. Mario Draghi; the issues he plans to discuss with him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32969/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 98, 128, 132 and 133 together.

Since my appointment as Minister for Finance I have engaged with Mr. Draghi's predecessor at the ECB at Eurogroup/ECOFIN meetings. I spoke with Mr. Draghi on the margins of the Eurogroup meeting on 7 November and it is my intention to meet with him specifically at a date suitable to both our schedules. While no agenda has been settled, I would expect that the topics will cover euro area matters generally, as appropriate, as well as Ireland's EU/IMF programme.

Question No. 99 answered with Question No. 50.

National Debt

Micheál Martin

Question:

100 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if there will be an independent review of the €3.6 billion miscalculation that took place in his Department’s 2010 figures; when this will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34013/11]

The figure reported to Eurostat at the end of September for general government debt for end-2010 was €148 billion, or 94.9% of GDP. Subsequently it has emerged that this gross debt figure overstated the amount by €3.6 billion due to a double-counting error. The corrected figure for general government debt for 2010 is €144.4 billion, or 92.6% of GDP. As the Deputy is aware, I told the Dáil in the Topical Debate on this issue on 2 November that this is a matter of upmost gravity and that I am determined to discover how this occurred and what needs to be done to ensure that such errors do not happen in the future. To that end, the Secretary General of the Department of Finance has instigated a review of the matter within the Department and the intention is to have this review concluded by the end of the month.

As I have announced, and as the Secretary General has also informed the Public Accounts Committee, there will also be an external review. This will assess the internal management report along with the systems and risk controls involved in the compilation and reporting of General Government Debt. Accordingly, it will review the respective roles of the Department, the Central Statistics Office and the National Treasury Management Agency and the interaction between all three organisations. This second review will also make recommendations to ensure that the systems are robust. My aim is that the External Review will be completed by the end of the year.

Banking Sector Regulation

Gerry Adams

Question:

101 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance the steps he has taken to address the failure of the Irish banks to pass on to mortgage customers cuts to interest rates by the European Central Bank. [34296/11]

Neither the Central Bank nor I, as Minister for Finance, have a statutory role in the setting of interest rates charged or paid by financial institutions regulated by the Central Bank. While I want to welcome the decision by the majority of lenders to reduce their standard variable rates following the recent announcement by the ECB, I would encourage all lenders to follow suit. Such a reduction will be of benefit to homeowners struggling with mortgage payments. The Government wants the lending institutions to pass on the interest rate cut for a number of reasons. In particular, the interest rate cut will be of assistance to those mortgage holders who are struggling to pay their mortgages.

Following a request from the Taoiseach, Mr. Elderfield, the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, forwarded a report regarding mortgage interest rates on 11 November 2011. The Deputy Governor acknowledges that the Government is not unjustified to have concerns for some particular banks regarding the widening of the spreads by which their standard variable rate (SVR) exceed their cost of funds and how they are still so far above the prevailing rates of their industry peers. However, the Deputy Governor states that the power to exercise close regulatory control over retail interest rates is not sought by the Central Bank at this time. He has indicated that the Central Bank will, within its existing powers and through persuasion use existing processes to engage with specific lenders which appear to have standard variable rates set disproportionate to their cost of funds.

The Deputy Governor has indicated that experience of interest rate controls in the past and in other countries does not encourage the Central Bank to believe that such a regime would be advantageous in net terms as the banking system recovers its normal functioning. Binding controls tend to reduce availability of credit and channel it to the most creditworthy customers, starving smaller and less secure customers from credit. The Deputy Governor indicates that this could have a chilling effect on the entry of sound competitors into the market. By absolving banks from their responsibility to price risk accurately, binding interest rate controls would, especially during this recovery phase, impede progress towards the re-establishment of bank management practices that can ensure a healthy and free-standing banking system no longer dependent on the Government for bail-outs.

I welcome the report from Mr. Elderfield which will be examined to see what further action, if any, is required. My initial reading of his report is that the Deputy Governor is not seeking emergency legislation. Taking into account the advice of the Central Bank, I do not intend to recommend to Government to introduce emergency legislation.

Ministerial Appointments

Gerry Adams

Question:

102 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance if he continues to have confidence in the decision to appoint Mr. Kevin Cardiff to the European Court of Auditors. [34267/11]

Mr. Cardiff retains the Government's full support as Ireland's nomination to the European Court of Auditors. Mr. Cardiff carries with him a long career of distinguished public service here and the credentials to do a first class job in respect of the European Court of Auditors.

Fiscal Policy

Stephen S. Donnelly

Question:

103 Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Finance, in view of his earlier implication that the ECB had effectively threatened that there would be consequences if the bond payments due by the former Anglo Irish Bank were not paid and his more recent statement that the threats of increased interest rates or of a turning off of the tap of liquidity to the banking system were never explicitly made, if he will give details of his fears were the next bond due to Anglo Irish Bank bondholders, of €1.25 billion, due in January, to not be paid; and the stages in which this might happen. [34879/11]

As the Deputy is aware it has always been my position in relation to the payment of unguaranteed unsecured senior bonds that, given the significant cost of IBRC, to the Irish State and the Irish taxpayer, that the burden of debt should be shared with the bondholders. However, if we were to suspend payments to creditors in IBRC this would have a significant impact on both the bank and ultimately the State. This senior debt, unsecured as it is, is an obligation of the bank. If the bank does not meet such obligations it would lead to a default and following that, most likely, insolvency. Insolvency would result in a significant increase in the cost to the State to resolve IBRC.

As I stated after my meeting with ECB President Trichet and Commissioner Rehn last month, our European partners expressed strong reservations about burden sharing with senior bond holders in IBRC. Mr Trichet voiced his opinion that he is against such actions for two reasons:

Firstly private sector involvement carries very significant contagion risk and may be inconsistent with encouraging private investors to return to markets.

Secondly, he said Ireland had done particularly well over the summer. He mentioned the narrowing of bond spreads and he said that he felt that anything to do with senior debt burden sharing might knock the confidence of the market in the absolute commitment of the government to take once again its place in normally functioning markets; as a result bond yields could widen again and we would lose the ground we had gained.

Mr. Trichet's views were echoed by Commissioner Rehn. The positive international commentary on Ireland has been created by the Government's successful renegotiation of the Memorandum of Understanding, the introduction of the Jobs Initiative, the sizeable reduction of the interest rate on the EU IMF Programme and the reduction in the cost of the banks to the taxpayer.

The value of support, present and future, we receive from our European partners far outweighs any short term gain from imposing burden sharing on these bonds in the face of European opposition to such a move. For example, circa €110 billion of funding is provided by the ECB and the Central Bank of Ireland to the Irish Banks at a cost below which they could borrow in the market. This is in addition to the €85 billion set out in the Programme with the Troika.

We still have unfinished business with our partners to find the most cost effective way of resolving IBRC over the long term. The Government's aim is to ensure that the overall cost of resolving IBRC and the costs of resolving the difficulties in the banking sector generally are kept to a minimum. I will consider the future payment of maturing bonds in IBRC in this context and in terms of what is best for the overall position of the State.

However, I can make it very clear that Irish credit institutions access ECB liquidity under the same rules and subject to the same conditions as credit institutions around Europe. Clearly the ECB has given very large amounts of liquidity assistance to Irish banks and it maintains a keen interest in the Irish banking sector. In this regard, I would point to the statement of the ECB on 31 March last to the effect that against the background of the recapitalisation of the banks "the Eurosystem will continue to provide liquidity to banks in Ireland". Together with other decisions announced on this date, the ECB was and is clear about its support for Irish banks.

Departmental Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

104 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance the degree and/or other third level qualification course that the Secretary General to the Department graduated with from the University of Washington and also University College Dublin. [34031/11]

Mr. Kevin Cardiff, Secretary General graduated with the following qualifications from the University of Washington and University College, Dublin:

Qualifications

Location

Year

Degree in History and Psychology

University of Washington, Seattle, USA

1983

Masters in Business Studies

University College, Dublin

1991

Banking Sector Regulation

Dara Murphy

Question:

105 Deputy Dara Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the reason the EBS, which is a part of AIB, has a variable mortgage interest rate of 4.93%, and AIB 3.25%; the reason they do not charge the same variable mortgage interest rate to all customers both in AIB and in EBS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34039/11]

The merger of AIB and EBS was formally completed on 1 July 2011. Prior to the completion of the merger, each of the banks set their variable mortgage rates according to the levels, calculated by the respective management teams and boards, that was required for each of the institutions to operate as a commercially viable entity in light of the challenging market conditions, the expected cost of funds, future impairments and ongoing operational costs.

Notwithstanding the merger of the two banks, EBS continues to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of AIB with its own individual banking licence, brand and cost structure. This arrangement has been determined by the Board of AIB as being the most effective method of integrating the EBS business whilst retaining the core strengths of each individual entity which should return the greatest value to the State over time as shareholder. While this operational position exists it is likely that AIB and EBS will continue to offer different products to customers and as such, the banks can be expected, in the short to medium term, to price their mortgages and deposits differently from each other in the marketplace. Ultimately the pricing of financial products, including variable mortgage interest rates, is a commercial decision for the respective management teams and boards of the banks having given due regard to its customers and the State as majority shareholder.

Fiscal Policy

Pearse Doherty

Question:

106 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the date on which he established a group to examine the issue of the Anglo Irish Bank promissory note; the membership of this group; the terms of reference of this group; if this group has reported back to him; and if so, if he will detail the contents of that report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34062/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

146 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of all meetings, including dates and a list of the attendees, that have been held so far between him and/or officials with the European authorities on the renegotiation of the Anglo Irish Bank, Irish Nationwide Building Society and EBS promissory note arrangement; the progress made so far and the current status of the negotiations; the basis of his calculation that Ireland is seeking a reduction in its debt of €15 billion to €20 billion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34598/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 106 and 146 together.

As the Deputy is aware the matter of the Promissory Note is managed on an ongoing basis within my Department. The section assigned the role is staffed with the appropriate expertise and experience. The section has the facility to draw on the full range of internal and external expertise as required. The relevant section in my Department has been assigned responsibility to progress this matter.

As indicated I am eager to have the promissory notes examined to see if they can be reconstituted or re-engineered in a better way for the State, for example, by lengthening their maturity or reducing the interest rates on them, or both. I raised this issue during discussions with the EU Commission, ECB and the IMF at the last quarterly review in October. Since then technical discussions are under way between my officials and officials from the ECB and EU Commission in regard to the promissory notes. As yet there is no indication of a successful outcome.

Banking Sector Regulation

Finian McGrath

Question:

107 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied) regarding interest rates. [34088/11]

Neither the Central Bank nor I, as Minister for Finance, have a statutory role in the setting of interest rates charged or paid by financial institutions regulated by the Central Bank. While I want to welcome the decision by the majority of lenders to reduce their standard variable rates following the recent announcement by the ECB, I would encourage all lenders to follow suit. Such a reduction will be of benefit to homeowners struggling with mortgage payments. The Government wants the lending institutions to pass on the interest rate cut for a number of reasons. In particular, the interest rate cut will be of assistance to those mortgage holders who are struggling to pay their mortgages.

Following a request from the Taoiseach, Mr. Elderfield, the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, forwarded a report regarding mortgage interest rates on 11 November 2011. The Deputy Governor acknowledges that the Government is not unjustified to have concerns for some particular banks regarding the widening of the spreads by which their standard variable rate (SVR) exceed their cost of funds and how they are still so far above the prevailing rates of their industry peers. However, the Deputy Governor states that the power to exercise close regulatory control over retail interest rates is not sought by the Central Bank at this time. He has indicated that the Central Bank will, within its existing powers and through persuasion, use existing processes to engage with specific lenders which appear to have standard variable rates set disproportionate to their cost of funds.

The Deputy Governor has indicated that experience of interest rate controls in the past and in other countries does not encourage the Central Bank to believe that such a regime would be advantageous in net terms as the banking system recovers its normal functioning. Binding controls tend to reduce availability of credit and channel it to the most creditworthy customers, starving smaller and less secure customers from credit. The Deputy Governor indicates that this could have a chilling effect on the entry of sound competitors into the market. By absolving banks from their responsibility to price risk accurately, binding interest rate controls would, especially during this recovery phase, impede progress towards the re-establishment of bank management practices that can ensure a healthy and free-standing banking system no longer dependent on the Government for bail-outs.

I welcome the report from Mr. Elderfield which will be examined to see what further action, if any, is required. My initial reading of his report is that the Deputy Governor is not seeking emergency legislation. Taking into account the advice of the Central Bank, I do not intend to recommend to Government to introduce emergency legislation.

Tax Code

Michael McGrath

Question:

108 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his plans to change the taxation treatment of redundancy lump sums with particular reference to standard capital superannuation benefit and top slicing relief; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34097/11]

As the Deputy is aware, it is a longstanding practice of the Minister for Finance not to comment in advance of the Budget on any tax or expenditure matters that might be the subject of Budget decisions.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

109 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance his plans to alter the cut off point for the universal social charge; if he has costed a change that would taper this liability; and if so, the outcome of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34099/11]

The position is that an individual is liable to pay the Universal Social Charge (USC) if his/her gross income exceeds the threshold of €4,004 per annum. USC is not levied on payments from the Department of Social Protection. For 2011, the rates of USC for PAYE income are as follows:

* 2% on the first €10,036

* 4% on the next €5,980

* 7% on the balance

It should be noted that there is a commitment in the Programme for Government to carry out a review of the USC. This review is close to completion. The Terms of Reference of the Review are broad and wide-ranging and include, but are not limited to, the following areas:

* Low paid income earners;

* Persons over 65;

* Medical Card Holders;

* Widows/Widowers;

* Self-employed;

* Public Service Pensioners;

* Employer contributions to PRSAs; and

* Any other issues (including any operational issues that have arisen in the administration of the charge).

When the Review is completed and the findings are presented to me, I will make any necessary decisions in the context of Budget 2012.

Croke Park Agreement

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

110 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Finance the number of Croke Park agreement projects that each State agency under his aegis is progressing; if he will list each project by Department in tabular form; the amount to be saved by each project; the number that have been completed since the agreement came into force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34157/11]

In response to the Deputy's question it should be noted that the Implementation Body for the Agreement is currently considering the progress reported on the implementation of Action Plans under Croke Park in each sector during the period, April to September 2011. The Body is due to publish a summary of the progress reported to it on its website shortly. Once the Body has completed its consideration, the progress reports for this particular reporting period for individual public service bodies, including each state agency, will be published on their organisation's websites.

Tax Collection

Michael Creed

Question:

111 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Cork is entitled to a further refund of VAT on foot of receipts submitted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34174/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they are not in a position to provide a detailed reply on this matter within the timeframe for answering Parliamentary Questions. Accordingly, the Deputy will be contacted directly on this issue at an early date.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

112 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the correct level of tax deductible in respect of a pension settlement in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34186/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they are not in a position to provide a detailed reply on this matter at this time. The Deputy will be contacted directly with a reply on the issue before the end of the week.

Tax Code

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

113 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance further to reports that the VAT rate will be increased, his views that this measure will put severe pressure on small businesses who are struggling to survive and drive more shoppers north of the Border. [34213/11]

The level and timeframe of any increases in the VAT rates will be determined in the context of the upcoming Budget.

Tax Collection

John Deasy

Question:

114 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Finance if he will examine the case of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford who has a serious illness and had a lien registered by the Revenue Commissioners against his property in 2008, and this year without any communication to the person they instructed the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to divert all payments to them. [34228/11]

This is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. I am advised by Revenue that the person in question has a significant tax debt with Revenue over a long period, including monies collected in a fiduciary capacity from employees and from businesses. There was no satisfactory engagement with Revenue in relation to this debt and this led to Revenue securing a judgment in the Courts, which was then registered as a mortgage on the property of the person concerned.

Additional to this Revenue placed an Attachment Order on debts owed to the person concerned by a third party — the possibility of such action in the event of the debt remaining unpaid was clearly signalled by Revenue in its communication with the person concerned. This attachment was subsequently revoked by Revenue on 8 November 2011.

I am advised by Revenue that it is reviewing the overall position on the debt owed by the person concerned having regard, inter alia, to his health position. Revenue will be in contact with the person concerned very shortly when that review is concluded.

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Peter Mathews

Question:

115 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance the increase in the eurozone money supply as a result of the emergency liquidity assistance provided by the Central Bank of Ireland to Irish banks; the consequences for the Central Bank, the Irish taxpayer and the eurozone money supply if the money is not repaid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34247/11]

All Emergency Liquidity Assistance or ELA operations conducted by the Central Bank of Ireland are fully collateralised and some details relating to collateral policy are outlined on page 104 of the Central Bank's most recent Annual Report which can be found on its website. Appropriate haircuts/discounts are applied with a view to ensuring that the Bank would not suffer any loss in the event of default on the loan assistance. The Bank has received formal comfort from the Minister for Finance such that any shortfall on the liquidation of the collateral is made good. As regards the second part of the Deputy's question, the evolution of euro area money supply is determined by the confluence of a large variety of factors; the volume of ELA is not a significant influence.

Peter Mathews

Question:

116 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details on any limits the Central Bank of Ireland faces regarding increasing the eurozone money supply by providing emergency liquidity assistance to Irish banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34248/11]

The provision of Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) is solely a matter for the Central Bank in consultation with the ECB. As detailed in the Central Bank's Annual Report for 2010 (p.22), the Central Bank, on behalf of the Eurosystem, continued to provide substantial liquidity support to the Irish banking system throughout the course of 2010. The Bank also provided ELA. This is one of the ways that the Bank has responded to the financial crisis. This is distinct and separate from regular funding operations carried out for monetary policy implementation purposes through the ECB.

A loan provided to a credit institution under ELA is granted against suitable collateral, where suitability is in line with criteria defined by the Bank. As with procedures for ECB eligible collateral, appropriate haircuts/discounts are applied with a view to ensuring that the Bank would not suffer any loss in the event of default on the loan assistance.

The Bank has received formal comfort from the Minister for Finance such that any shortfall on the liquidation of the collateral is made good. At end of December 2010 the Bank had extended ELA of approximately €49.5 billion.

The Deputy may wish to note that ELA lending is captured under Other Assets in Table A.2 of the Central Bank's Annual Report.

Peter Mathews

Question:

117 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance if it is possible to make an arrangement whereby the Irish banks pay back the emergency liquidity assistance owed to the Central Bank of Ireland very slowly over a very long timeframe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34249/11]

The provision of Emergency Liquidity Assistance or ELA, is subject to the approval of the ECB and as this type of funding is designed to remedy temporary disturbances in funding availability, this approval must be resought on a periodic basis. As the Deputy will be aware, the bank with by far the largest reliance on ELA is IBRC (Anglo and INBS). This ELA facility is funding the majority of IBRC's balance sheet including the promissory notes. The total amount of the promissory notes issued to IBRC amounted to €30.6 billion at the end of 2010 and a repayment of capital and interest took place of €3.06 billion earlier this year. In recent weeks I have indicated our intention to explore options around reengineering these promissory notes with the aim of improving the position of the Irish State through a lower interest rate and/or lengthening the maturity of the instruments. Such a solution, if agreed, could have the effect of lengthening the repayment profile of the supporting funding which is what the Deputy has inquired about.

Departmental Staff

Martin Ferris

Question:

118 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm the professional qualifications held by the Secretary General of his Department; his views on his suitability for the EU Court of Auditors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34254/11]

Mr. Cardiff has been awarded the following qualifications: Degree in History and Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, USA, 1983; Masters in Business Studies, University College, Dublin, 1991; and Diploma in Applied Finance Law, Law Society Ireland, 2003.

Mr. Cardiff has been nominated by the Government to the Court of Auditors. He must now go through the relevant Committee of the European Parliament and of course it will be up to the European Parliament, in their independence, to recommend him or not.

Mr. Cardiff retains the Government's full support as Ireland's nomination to the European Court of Auditors. Mr. Cardiff carries with him a long career of distinguished public service here and the credentials to do a first class job in respect of the European Court of Auditors.

Financial Services Regulation

Terence Flanagan

Question:

119 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied) regarding a sovereign trust; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34262/11]

The correspondence to which the Deputy refers relates to very complex financial instruments. I will have the matter reviewed by my Department, in consultation with the National Treasury Management Agency and the Central Bank and revert to him.

Tax Code

Michael McGrath

Question:

120 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to a tax avoidance scheme (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34266/11]

The Deputy is referring to the use of the tax relief for patent royalties by a particular company. The relief, which was abolished in Finance Act 2011, provided a tax exemption for income received by an individual or company from a qualifying patent, subject to an annual limit of €5 million, and a tax exemption for distributions paid by a company from tax-exempt patent income, subject to certain terms and conditions. I am not in a position to comment on the issue of possible tax avoidance in relation to a specific case or on the tax affairs of a particular company as the Revenue Commissioners are obliged to observe strict confidentiality in this regard. However, I have forwarded the Deputy's question for the attention of the Revenue Commissioners and for any action they consider appropriate.

Customs and Excise Operations

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

121 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance if he has been informed by customs and excise authorities as to the number of raids by their officers on properties suspected of being involved in the sale and supply of substances covered under the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Act 2010; the amount and type of substances confiscated in those raids; and the number of seizures in ports and airports, or on persons arriving here. [34286/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that no searches of premises under search warrant have been carried out by Revenue's Customs service under the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Act 2010. The enforcement of controls in respect of products being sold at retail level, including by so-called "Head Shops" is carried out by An Garda Síochána. I am also advised that since the introduction of the Act, forty-four seizures of psychoactive substances, amounting to a total of 31.139 kilos, were made by Revenue's Customs service at ports, airports, postal depots or on persons arriving into the state. These consisted mainly of smoking (spice) mixtures and cocaine or ecstasy-type substitutes. A further forty-six detentions of suspected psychoactive substances have been made, amounting to 4.76 kilos and these are currently being analysed. The Customs service operates predominantly at points of import and export and staff are most likely to encounter psychoactive substances in the course of their controls in these operational areas, where the use of a search warrant is not required.

Budget Submissions

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

122 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if he will review a matter (details supplied) regarding a pre-budget submission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34298/11]

I have received a pre-Budget submission from the organisation concerned. Its contents will be considered in the context of the forthcoming Budget and Finance Bill. As Deputies are aware it would not be appropriate for me to comment in advance of the Budget on possible Budget decisions.

Pension Provisions

Michael McGrath

Question:

123 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied) regarding the pension levy. [34365/11]

In the matter of statements being made to the effect that the pension fund levy could lead to a reduction of 10% in the pensions paid from schemes to the retired members of such schemes, I received copies of correspondence issued by the trustees of a certain scheme during the summer indicating that potential reductions of this scale and of a lesser scale were under consideration. I have recently received a copy of further correspondence issued on behalf of the trustees of that scheme stating that pension payments will, in fact, be reduced by 0.6% from 2012 and by the same percentage each year until 2015. As regards the impact of the levy on the individual outlined in the details supplied with the Deputy's question, I am not in a position to comment although it would appear from the details that the individual is not yet retired.

Where the accrued benefits under a defined benefit pension scheme have been reduced as a result of the levy (or for any other reason), my understanding is that the annual benefit statement should show the effect on pension accrued to date. Of course, if the trustees of the scheme have not yet decided whether to reduce benefits, no change would be shown.

I further understand that there is no obligation on PRSA providers or on defined contribution scheme trustees to inform contributors specifically of the effect of any reduction in pension fund values on foot of the pension fund levy but that the annual benefit statement would show the fund value after the effect of the levy in such cases.

There may be a case that the Statements of Reasonable Projection (SRP) for PRSAs should be adjusted to reflect the effect of the levy. This is a matter for the Pensions Board who, I understand, are aware of the issue. However, it should be recognised that the SRP is an estimate only, and in any event, the final fund value will be different from the projection.

National Pensions Reserve Fund

Michael McGrath

Question:

124 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the value and breakdown by asset class, including cash, of the discretionary portfolio held within the National Pensions Reserve Fund as at 30 September 2011. [34373/11]

The National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) Commission publishes a performance and portfolio update quarterly on the NPRF websitewww.nprf.ie. For the Deputy’s information, the Commission valued the NPRF at €14.9 billion at 30 September 2011. The Directed Portfolio (the part of the Fund which is managed by the Commission on foot of directions from the Minister for Finance) was valued at €9.6 billion, while the Discretionary Portfolio, the investment of which remains the Commission’s responsibility, was valued at €5.3 billion at that date.

The value and asset allocation of the discretionary portfolio as at 30 September 2011 is set out in the following table:

Asset Class

€m

% of Discretionary Portfolio

Large Cap Equity

1,047

19.8%

Small Cap Equity

114

2.2%

Emerging Markets Equity

334

6.3%

Quoted Equity

1,495

28.3%

Eurozone Government Bonds

0

0.0%

Eurozone Inflation Linked Bonds

63

1.2%

Eurozone Corporate Bonds

275

5.2%

Cash

1,018

19.3%

Financial Assets

1,356

25.7%

Private Equity

888

16.8%

Property

510

9.7%

Commodities

213

4.0%

Forestry

30

0.6%

Infrastructure

275

5.2%

Absolute Return Funds

188

3.6%

Alternative Assets

2,104

39.8%

Value of equity market protection (put options)

328

6.2%

Total Discretionary Portfolio

5,283

100%

Question No. 125 answered with Question No. 50.

Tax Code

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

126 Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the various property development tax breaks and incentives available here from 1997-2011; the property breaks and incentives still in existence; the breaks that have been discontinued; the cost to the Exchequer of these property breaks and incentives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34456/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that due to the large volume of information requested by the Deputy they are not in a position to provide a detailed reply on this matter within the timeframe for answering Parliamentary Questions. Accordingly, the Deputy will be contacted directly on this issue at an early date.

EU-IMF Programme

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

127 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if, in the aftermath of the Greek Government’s announcement that it will hold a referendum on the EU-IMF programme agreed at the recent European Council meeting, if he will also now consider holding a referendum on the EU-IMF deal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33037/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, Greece did not proceed with the proposal to hold a referendum on its EU-IMF programme. Ireland's EU-IMF Programme was approved by the Dáil on 15 December 2011. The individual measures within it are subject to Government or Oireachtas approval as appropriate. Ireland's programme is working and this is being increasingly recognised both here and internationally, including by the financial markets. The Government has no plans to hold a referendum on Ireland's EU-IMF Programme.

Question No. 128 answered with Question No. 98.

Financial Services Regulation

Micheál Martin

Question:

129 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he has discussed the issue of financial regulation with other Heads of State or Government. [28451/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the topic of financial regulation is a regular feature on the agendas for both ECOFIN Council and meetings of Heads of State and Government. Financial regulation issues have, as the EU has worked to address the financial crisis in recent times, featured even more prominently in our discussions. As the Deputy will also be aware, a comprehensive programme of regulatory reform in the financial sector is already under way at domestic, international and EU levels. For its part, the European Commission has proposed a wide range of regulatory reforms to the financial sector and one of the key roles of the ECOFIN Council is to adopt such proposals in co-decision with the European Parliament.

In addition to discussions that I have with my colleagues in ECOFIN and discussions that the Taoiseach has at meetings of the European Council, my Department is engaged actively in this regulatory reform agenda in relevant international fora. 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.

Job Creation

Willie O'Dea

Question:

130 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Finance the proportion of the revenue raised via the pension levy that was used for job creation as promised in the jobs initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28851/11]

TheJobs Initiative is about focusing our now more limited resources on measures that offer the greatest potential for expansion and employment creation in the domestic economy. The aim is to target key sectors of the economy that can assist in getting people back to work, providing opportunities for those who have lost their jobs to re-skill and building confidence in order to encourage consumer activity. A range of measures were introduced under the Jobs Initiative. These include the new temporary second reduced rate of VAT of 9%, aimed primarily at the tourism sector, the halving of the lower rate of employers PRSI and the small additional amounts of current and capital expenditure.

Given our commitments under the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support, and our current public finance difficulties, the Jobs Initiative is budgetary neutral over the period to 2014 and is being funded through the introduction of a temporary levy on pension funds.

The measures introduced as part of the Jobs Initiative are expected to result in a net gain for the Exchequer in 2011. This is because the yield from the temporary levy on pension funds is expected to more than offset the estimated cost of the other measures introduced. These included the new temporary second reduced rate of VAT of 9%, aimed primarily at the tourism sector, the halving of the lower rate of employers PRSI and the small additional amounts of current and capital expenditure.

In 2012, a net loss to the Exchequer is expected as the full year cost of the measures introduced is estimated to be greater than the forecast yield from the temporary levy on pension funds.

Financial Services Regulation

Micheál Martin

Question:

131 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he has held consultations concerning the implications for the Irish Financial Services Centre of potential EU proposals concerning financial regulation. [28450/11]

I would like to advise the Deputy that a comprehensive programme of regulatory reform in the financial sector is already under way at 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, especially at EU level. It is a key objective of my Department to engage constructively during EU negotiations and 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. My Department's active engagement with the IFSC is aimed at ensuring that potential implications for IFSC companies are identified well in advance to provide sufficient time for consideration. The Deputy will be aware that the topic of financial regulation is a regular feature on the agendas of both the ECOFIN Council and meetings of Heads of State and Government.

The Programme for Government states that the Government supports the future development of the IFSC as a source of future employment growth, subject to appropriate regulation and commits to the development of the financial services sector to maximise employment opportunities, not least for staff leaving employment as a result of downsizing in the domestic banking sector.

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 2.1 billion euro in corporate and payroll taxes to the Exchequer. Accounting for 10% of multinational 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.

Last July, 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.

Questions Nos. 132 and 133 answered with Question No. 98.

International Agreements

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

134 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Finance the amount of Ireland’s financial contribution to the World Bank’s International Financial Corporation; and the basis on which the contribution is based. [33716/11]

The International Financial Corporation (IFC), which is part of the World Bank Group, was established in 1956 to encourage the development of the private sector in developing countries. The IFC's objective is to foster sustainable economic development in developing countries by financing private sector investment, mobilising private capital in local and international financial markets and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to business and governments. It is the largest multilateral financial institution investing in private enterprises in emerging markets, with activities in 103 countries. In 2010, IFC commitments amounted to $18 billion which was invested in 526 projects. Ireland joined the IFC in 1958. Commensurate with our shareholding of 0.05%, Ireland's subscription to the IFC's capital is some $1.29 million, all of which is paid-in. As indicated in Statement 1.8(B) of the Finance Accounts 2010, this shareholding was estimated at €965,000 at the exchange rates prevailing at 31 December 2010.

I understand from my colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, that Ireland, through Irish Aid, has also periodically contributed to various IFC World Bank Group Trust Funds. In this regard, Ireland is currently providing funding to the Conflict-Affected States in Africa (CASA) Initiative and the Foreign Investment Advisory Service (FIAS) as follows:

€300,000 was allocated to the CASA Initiative in 2011 for its work in encouraging the development of private enterprise in fragile and post-conflict countries in Sub Saharan Africa through interventions focused on improving the business environment through regulatory reform, rebuilding financial markets and institutions and strengthening the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises.

€600,000 was allocated to FIAS in 2011. FIAS is a joint facility of the IFC, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the World Bank (IBRD) which advises developing countries on how to improve their business environments to increase private sector activity and encourage inward and domestic investment.

Further information and details of Ireland's financial participation and shareholding in the component organisations of the World Bank are contained in the 2010 Annual Report "Ireland's Participation in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank" which is published by my Department and is available onwww.finance.gov.ie.

Extensive information on the IFC is also published by the World Bank onwww.ifc.org

Tax Collection

Noel Coonan

Question:

135 Deputy Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Finance when an outstanding VAT refund payment will be issued to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; the reason for delay in payment which is ongoing since 2008 in view of the fact all necessary documentation has been provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34466/11]

This is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. I am informed by Revenue that the VAT claims for 2008 were only submitted on 18 May 2010 and that since then correspondence and meetings have been ongoing with the taxpayer and his agent with a view to agreeing the VAT position for 2008. The last submission received from the agent on 8 November 2011 contained new material and a reply issued on 10 November 2011 requesting supporting documentation. It is hoped that the claims for 2008 can be finalised on receipt of the documentation requested.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

136 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide up to date information on the number of high-income Irish tax exiles, that is, Irish citizens with an annual income greater than €1 million arising mostly from Irish business operations who were domiciled abroad in the most recent full tax year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34488/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the only data available in relation to the taxable income of non-residents comes from income tax returns filed in Ireland by those non-resident individuals who have Irish-source income or income derived from working in Ireland. The available data does not distinguish between citizens and non-citizens. The most recent tax year for which figures are available is 2009. There were six non-resident individuals who had taxable income of greater than €1million in their Irish income tax returns for 2009. Data is not available for 2010 as the final filing date for submission of the 2010 income tax returns is 16 November 2011 where an individual elects to file and pay using Revenue's On-line Service. The 2011 tax returns are not due to be filed until the fourth quarter of 2012.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

137 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide the most recent information available to him from the Revenue Commissioners on the number of Irish citizens whose annual income exceeds €1 million; if he will give further details of the most recent information on the number of Irish citizens whose combined assets exceed €5 million in net worth; the total amount of income tax paid by these groups in 2008, 2009, 2010 and to date in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34489/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they do not maintain data in relation to the wealth of Irish citizens. However, for the tax year 2008, the number of income earners whose annual gross income exceeded €1 million was 1,040 and the total amount of income tax paid by them was €603 million. For the tax year 2009, the latest year for which the necessary detailed data is available, the number of income earners whose annual gross income exceeded €1 million was 620 and the total amount of income tax paid by them was €533 million. Income data is not yet available for 2010 as the final filing date for submission of the 2010 Income Tax return is 16 November 2011 where an individual elects to file and pay using Revenue's On-line Service. The 2011 Income Tax returns are not due to be filed until the fourth quarter of 2012. It should be noted that a married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

Appointments to State Boards

Liam Twomey

Question:

138 Deputy Liam Twomey asked the Minister for Finance the number of positions on State boards and agencies under his aegis which he has advertised in the past seven months; the number of applications received; the number of applicants subsequently appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34505/11]

In response to the Deputy's question the State Claims Agency Policy Committee currently has two vacancies. These positions have not been advertised to-date and the appointments have not been made. While not directly covered by the Deputy's question, I would draw to his attention the fact that I conducted an expression of interest process (following a public advertisement in April 2011) for people seeking to be appointed or nominated to the boards of certain banks. Some 480 applications were received and I now have available to me, following the assessment and evaluation of the expressions of interest, a panel of 30 names of suitably qualified individuals from which to make possible appointments or nominations to the boards of certain banks as appropriate.

Banking Sector Remuneration

Gerry Adams

Question:

139 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance the salary being paid to Mr. Dick Spring and Mr. Declan Collier in their positions as public interest directors in Allied Irish Banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34520/11]

The Deputy will be aware that directors at the covered institutions, including public interest directors who were nominated by my predecessor, are appointed and remunerated by the respective boards. Accordingly, disclosure of details of their remuneration is covered by various rules and procedures. The two individuals referred to by the Deputy are paid non-pensionable fees, not salary. The information sought by the Deputy, to the extent that it has been released publicly by the respective covered institution, is available in its 2010 Annual Report (from pages 299 to 304 inclusive) which indicates that fees of €47,000 and €40,000 were paid in 2010 to the respective named individuals.

Tax Code

Dara Murphy

Question:

140 Deputy Dara Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if he is considering introducing a scheme to give standard tax relief for a list of approved works for home insulation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34521/11]

Section 13 of Finance Act 2011 provided for income tax relief at the standard rate for expenditure incurred by individuals on a range of works carried out to improve the energy efficiency of residential premises situated in the State. The underpinning legislation for the scheme was subject to Commencement Order. However, that legislation, on review, was found to have flaws and would have required amendment before it could be implemented.

As part of the announcement in the recent Jobs Initiative, the Government undertook to provide further funding for the grants available under the Better Energy Homes scheme operated by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). Because of these circumstances, I decided to review the requirement for a co-existing tax incentive for similar works and, following this review, I have decided not to proceed with the introduction of the tax relief scheme.

Banking Sector Regulation

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

141 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Finance the action he will take against banks who do not pass on ECB interest rate cuts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34527/11]

Neither the Central Bank nor I, as Minister for Finance, have a statutory role in the setting of interest rates charged or paid by financial institutions regulated by the Central Bank. While I want to welcome the decision by the majority of lenders to reduce their standard variable rates following the recent announcement by the ECB, I would encourage all lenders to follow suit. Such a reduction will be of benefit to homeowners struggling with mortgage payments.

The Government wants the lending institutions to pass on the interest rate cut for a number of reasons. In particular, the interest rate cut will be of assistance to those mortgage holders who are struggling to pay their mortgages. Following a request from the Taoiseach, Mr. Elderfield, the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, forwarded a report regarding mortgage interest rates on 11 November 2011. The Deputy Governor acknowledges that the Government is not unjustified to have concerns for some particular banks regarding the widening of the spreads by which their standard variable rate (SVR) exceed their cost of funds and how they are still so far above the prevailing rates of their industry peers. However, the Deputy Governor states that the power to exercise close regulatory control over retail interest rates is not sought by the Central Bank at this time. He has indicated that the Central Bank will, within its existing powers and through suasion use existing processes to engage with specific lenders which appear to have standard variable rates set disproportionate to their cost of funds.

The Deputy Governor has indicated that experience of interest rate controls in the past and in other countries does not encourage the Central Bank to believe that such a regime would be advantageous in net terms as the banking system recovers its normal functioning. Binding controls tend to reduce availability of credit and channel it to the most creditworthy customers, starving smaller and less secure customers from credit. The Deputy Governor indicates that this could have a chilling effect on the entry of sound competitors into the market. By absolving banks from their responsibility to price risk accurately, binding interest rate controls would, especially during this recovery phase, impede progress towards the re-establishment of bank management practices that can ensure a healthy and free-standing banking system no longer dependent on the Government for bail-outs.

I welcome the report from Mr. Elderfield which will be examined to see what further action, if any, is required. My initial reading of his report is that the Deputy Governor is not seeking emergency legislation. Taking into account the advice of the Central Bank, I do not intend to recommend to Government to introduce emergency legislation.

Patrick Deering

Question:

142 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Finance the way Irish persons who have emigrated can arrange to open a bank account in view the fact that the main requirement is the provision of a utility bill and many persons stay in accommodation that does not require them to have such a document; if he will seek to have same addressed. [34531/11]

I set out below the rules applying to the opening of a bank account with an Irish bank under Irish anti money laundering legislation. Insofar as the Deputy's question relates to difficulties experienced by emigrants in opening a bank account in other jurisdictions, the applicable rules would depend on the legislation of that jurisdiction. However, Member States of the European Union apply broadly similar anti money laundering rules under the 3rd Money Laundering Directive. The 3rd Money Laundering Directive, in turn, reflects the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force on money laundering (FATF), the main international anti money laundering organisation. Those recommendations should be reflected in the anti money laundering rules applicable to opening a bank account in the member countries of the FATF which include countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia. Section 33 of the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 ("the CJA 2010") requires designated persons (such as banks) to apply customer due diligence measures prior to establishing a business relationship with a customer e.g. open a bank account for a customer.

The customer due diligence measures require that the designated person must identify and verify the customer's identity on the basis of documents or information that the designated person has reasonable grounds to believe can be relied upon to confirm the identity of the customer. Where a person has emigrated and does not present in person to the bank for verification of identity, additional customer due diligence measures must be applied. A number of such additional measures are set out in section 33(4) including verification of identity on the basis of obtaining additional documents or information.

The CJA 2010 does not limit the kinds of documents or information that a designated person may have reasonable grounds to believe can be relied upon to confirm the identity of the customer. Draft guidelines which have been prepared by various sectors of the financial services industry in consultation with the Central Bank of Ireland provide guidance on the identification and verification procedures. These guidelines specify a non-exhaustive range of documentation which the bank may choose to accept for the purposes of verifying identity. The range of documentation includes utility bills but also many other types of documentation issued by Government Departments, state agencies and financial institutions. In the event that an individual provides a plausible explanation as to why the suggested documentation cannot be provided, the bank may choose from an additional specified list of methods to assist in confirming the identity of the customer.

Ultimately, it is up to each bank to decide on a risk based approach whether they will accept other forms of customer ID. However, where it is not feasible to expect the customer to meet the documentation standards as set out in the guidelines, the bank is encouraged to consider whether it is appropriate to adopt an alternative approach to facilitate financial inclusion which is set out in an appendix to the guidelines. There is a very clear statement in the guidelines that "where an individual is genuinely not in a position to provide standard evidence of identity it is important that he/she is not prevented gaining access to the financial system solely due to not being able to produce particular documentation."

Ministerial Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

143 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance the number of his constituency and parliamentary staff, appointed, following the February 2011 elections, on salaries that exceed their applicable pay scale grade; the number of his existing and parliamentary staff employed prior to the February 2011elections but awarded salary increases following the election that exceed their applicable pay scale grade; and if he will provide their annual salary details in a tabular format. [34570/11]

Since my appointment as Minister for Finance on 9 March 2011, the following staff have been appointed to my constituency office:

Grade

Salary Scale (per annum)

Wholetime Equivalent

Personal Assistant

€43,715 — €56,060

1.00

Executive Officer (EO)

€30,516 — €47,975

1.00

Clerical Officer (CO)

€23,177 — €37,341

1.00

Clerical Officer (CO)

€23,042 — €36,267

0.40

Since my appointment as Minister for Finance on 9 March 2011 the following staff member has been appointed as Special Adviser:

Name

Title

Salary (per annum)

Duties

Mary Kenny

Special Adviser

€83,337

Any duties which may be assigned to her from time to time as appropriate to the position of Special Adviser as set out in Section 11 of the Public Service Management Act 1997.

The Government has approved the appointment of a second Special Adviser, Mr. Eoin Dorgan. Terms and conditions for this appointment are being finalised at present.

No staff member has been awarded any salary increase that exceeds their applicable pay scale grade since my appointment.

Tax Collection

Gerry Adams

Question:

144 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance the number of companies believed to be members of groups here which actively avail of group relief. [34582/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that, based on information derived from corporation tax returns filed for accounting periods ending in the year 2009, the latest year for which the most complete information is available, group relief was claimed by some 2,507 companies.

Question No. 145 answered with Question No. 54.
Question No. 146 answered with Question No. 106.

Fuel Laundering

Joe O'Reilly

Question:

147 Deputy Joe O’Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the number of detections of fuel laundering in 2011; the number of laundering factories that have been prosecuted and closed; the number of retail outlets that have been prosecuted for using laundered or washed diesel; the staffing levels that exist in the agencies charged with dealing with diesel laundering; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34621/11]

Michael Creed

Question:

153 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost to the Exchequer of fuel laundering; in view of its prevalence and the failure of the State to effectively combat this activity, the consideration being given to alternative policy approaches on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34705/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 147 and 153 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners, who are responsible for the collection of mineral oil tax and for tackling the illicit trade in fuel products, that they are aware of the threat to the Exchequer posed by laundered fuel. The predominant illicit activity in the mineral oil area in both Northern Ireland and the Republic is the laundering of marked diesel and its sale through illegal outlets. In both jurisdictions the respective difference in excise rates between marked (rebated) and normal diesel offers a considerable incentive for oil laundering and this illicit activity poses a serious threat to the Exchequer and the economy on both sides of the border. The Deputies will appreciate that it is not possible to accurately estimate the loss to the national exchequer from individual activities within the shadow economy such as fuel laundering.

Revenue employs a broad range of compliance and enforcement strategies to detect and counteract illegal practices involving mineral oils. These include ongoing analysis of the nature and extent of the problem; development and sharing of intelligence with agencies on both sides of the border; the conduct of intelligence driven operations using covert surveillance to identify oil laundry locations; seizure of illicit product, laundering equipment and vehicles; physical sampling at road checkpoints; closure of unlicensed or improperly licensed outlets and seizure of stock and prosecution of those involved in illegal activities in relation to mineral oils.

So far this year, nine oil laundries have been detected, together with 327,000 litres of laundered fuel, and nine oil tankers and twenty-nine other vehicles have been seized. Sixteen persons were arrested in the course of these operations and files have been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who has to date issued directions to prosecute on indictment in respect of two of these cases. The Deputies will appreciate that there is some time-span between the detection of an offence and the appearance of a defendant before the courts. So far in 2011, in addition to the 327,000 litres of fuel seized in the course of raids on oil laundries, a further 516,270 litres of illicit mineral oil has been seized, the large majority from retail outlets or in the course of delivery to such outlets. Revenue has obtained two convictions in the courts this year against the proprietors of filling stations that were found to be selling laundered mineral oil as auto diesel. Revenue is currently engaged in a vigorous campaign targeting specific locations nationwide, with the intention of immediate closure of unlicensed outlets and the challenging of other instances of non-compliance. As part of this drive, warning letters have been issued to unlicensed retail outlets and a number of these have been effectively closed down by the actions of Revenue enforcement teams. This campaign is ongoing and Revenue is in the process of seizing illicit product and closing down a further number of unlicensed or otherwise illegal retail outlets. This month alone, in a recent targeted enforcement operation by Revenue officers, ten filling stations, one fuel depot and two private dwellings in counties Dublin, Galway and Louth were raided. A total of 158,000 litres of fuel were seized from three of these premises, including two tankers of fuel, and approximately €39,000 was detained under the Proceeds of Crime legislation.

Revenue continuously keeps under review the effectiveness of legislation and regulations in relation to combating the illicit trade in mineral oil. This includes reviewing powers, penalties, etc, and making recommendations to my Department where legislative amendments are required. The ongoing review of effectiveness includes consideration of alternative approaches, as referred to by the Deputy, to tackling the illicit removal of fuel marker. General consideration has been given, in this context, to a rebate system. However, Revenue advises me that such a system would pose different problems. It would involve the establishment of a very extensive repayment system, giving rise to a very significant administrative burden for oil traders, consumers and for Revenue and would pose significant cash-flow difficulties for those who currently use marked gas oil. Repayment regimes are vulnerable to abuse and liable to be exploited by criminal elements, such as those currently involved in fuel laundering.

Revenue is currently reviewing its enforcement options in the context of reductions in the sulphur content of some fuels that have been introduced under recent EU environment legislation. The matters being addressed include the potential development of an enhanced fuel marker. In this regard, close liaison has been established with HM Revenue & Customs. Revenue is also considering strengthening the Regulations governing the keeping for sale of fuel products and a renewed focus on links in the laundered fuel supply chain.

The Irish Petrol Retailers Association, which represents the majority of legitimate retail outlets in the State, is working closely with the Revenue Commissioners to counteract the threat posed by the sale and distribution of illicit mineral oil.

Revenue is an integrated tax and customs administration and staff are not allocated by function. The Deputies will be aware that Revenue's overall staff numbers have been reduced over the past two years in the context of Government policy on civil service numbers and now stand at approximately 5,940. However, the Revenue Commissioners assure me that their staff resources deployed in anti-evasion enforcement have been maintained and are indeed augmented when specific operations are organised.

Tax Code

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

148 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance if a disability extension on a home qualifies for a VAT refund under the tax return regulations or has there been a change in the criteria in recent years. [34634/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that there is provision for the refund of VAT incurred on qualifying goods for the exclusive use of disabled persons. The provision is contained in the Value Added Tax (Refund of Tax) (No 15) Order 1981. The order specifies the degree of disability and defines the qualifying goods as goods which are aids or appliances, including parts and accessories, specially constructed or adapted for use by a disabled person and includes goods which, although not so specially constructed or adapted, are of such a kind as might reasonably be treated as so constructed or adapted having regard to a particular disablement of that person. The provisions of the Order extend to works carried out on homes to adapt them to make them more accessible for disabled persons. The provisions do not apply to the actual construction of a home but would apply, for example, to certain alterations or adaptations that would be necessary to meet the particular needs of the disabled person. Without a sufficient level of detail in relation to the composition of the disability extension mentioned by the Deputy it is not possible to say if all or some of the expenditure would qualify for a VAT refund under the Order. The criteria contained in the 1981 Order have not been changed in recent years. Any application under the Refund Order should be made on Form VAT 61A and submitted to the Revenue Commissioners' Central Repayments Office in Monaghan.

Pension Provisions

Pearse Doherty

Question:

149 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the value of the pension payment on an annual basis to the highest paid public sector pensioner in each of the public bodies under his remit and all public service pensioners not paid by the Office of the Paymaster General; the number in receipt of this level of pension and the total number in receipt of a pension in excess of €155,000 and in each bracket below this at intervals of €20,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34663/11]

In response to the Deputy's question, I have outlined below the position in relation to the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) regarding former employees in receipt of pensions not paid by the Office of the Paymaster General. The remuneration structure in the NTMA is such that there are no general pay grades and all staff are on individually-negotiated contracts. These contracts are confidential to the individual concerned.

Ten former employees are in receipt of pension payments from the NTMA. Given the small number of pensions paid by the NTMA, provision of information in the format requested by the Deputy could lead to data protection and confidentiality issues through the identification of specific individuals. Eight persons are in receipt of pensions of less than €155,000 per annum while two are in receipt of pensions of greater than €155,000 per annum.

Tax Reliefs

Michael Creed

Question:

150 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance the value of outstanding tax reliefs available under the various tax construction schemes including section 23, student accommodation, hotel accommodation and so on; the amount of this relief drawn down in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; the maximum and minimum relief availed of by individual taxpayers in each of these years under the various schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34697/11]

Michael Creed

Question:

151 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance if he has information regarding the level of outstanding mortgages on properties purchased under the various tax incentive construction schemes, including section 23, student accommodation and so on; the existing level of impairment on these mortgages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34703/11]

Michael Creed

Question:

152 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance the value of tax relief already availed of under the various tax incentive construction schemes, including section 23, student accommodation and so on; the profile of taxpayers that have already availed of their entitlements in this regard and the profile of taxpayers still holding this relief; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34704/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 150 to 152, inclusive, together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that for the tax year 2003 and earlier years claims for tax incentive schemes on property were aggregated in tax returns with other claims and could not be distinguished from other reliefs claimed. Accordingly, the specific information on costs for 2003 and earlier years are not available.

Provisions were included in the Finance Act 2004 to allow this data to be obtained separately in subsequent years. The relevant information for 2004-2008 is available from the Revenue Statistical Reports which are accessible on the Revenue website atwww.Revenue.ie. The information is located in Table IT6, under the main chapter heading of Income Tax.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant information in relation to the maximum claim, minimum claim and the tax cost associated with the claims for tax relief allowed in respect of the different types of property related tax schemes for the years 2007 to 2009, the latest year for which this information is available, is as outlined in the following tables. This is based on personal income tax returns filed by non-PAYE taxpayers and corporation tax returns filed by companies for the years in question.

2007

Scheme

Tax Cost

Maximum Claim

Minimum Claim

€m

€m

Urban Renewal

109.3

See Note

1

Town Renewal

34.6

See Note

1

Seaside Resorts

8.0

0.5

1

Rural Renewal

48.6

See Note

1

Multi-storey car parks

9.6

See Note

1

Living over the Shop

3.0

0.5

3

Enterprise Areas

2.8

See Note

1

Park & Ride

1.4

0.6

1

Holiday Cottages

12.4

See Note

8

Hotels

118

See Note

1

Nursing Homes

18.3

See Note

531

Housing for the Elderly/Infirm

2.6

0.3

3,449

Hostels

0.7

0.6

4,047

Guest Houses

Negligible

Negligible

1

Convalescent Homes

0.5

0.1

381

Qualifying (Private) Hospitals

12.1

1.2

1,253

Qualifying Sports Injury Clinics

1.8

0.6

19,582

Buildings Used for Childcare Purposes

9.8

See Note

6

Mental Health Centres

Negligible

Negligible

See Note

Student Accommodation

42.0

See Note

1

2008

Scheme

Tax Cost

Maximum Claim

Minimum Claim

€m

€m

Urban Renewal

84.5

See Note

1

Town Renewal

23.7

See Note

1

Seaside Resorts

5.7

0.4

1

Rural Renewal

34.2

See Note

2

Multi-storey car parks

6.6

See Note

3,657

Living over the Shop

2.5

See Note

1

Enterprise Areas

2.5

0.3

1

Park & Ride

0.7

0.5

1

Holiday Cottages

10.8

0.6

44

Hotels

114.7

See Note

1

Nursing Homes

19.4

See Note

405

Housing for the Elderly/Infirm

3.0

0.3

134

Hostels

0.7

0.6

4,047

Guest Houses

0.1

0.1

7,538

Convalescent Homes

0.5

0.1

381

Qualifying (Private) Hospitals

12.3

0.8

11

Qualifying Sports Injury Clinics

1.5

0.3

5,852

Buildings Used for Childcare Purposes

12.0

See Note

1

Mental Health Centres

Negligible

See Note

See Note

Student Accommodation

22.7

See Note

1

2009

Scheme

Tax Cost

Maximum Claim

Minimum Claim

€m

€m

Urban Renewal

93.1

See Note

1

Town Renewal

18.3

0.7

1

Seaside Resorts

5.3

0.3

1

Rural Renewal

28.0

See Note

1

Multi-storey car parks

5.2

See Note

69

Living over the Shop

1.7

0.5

1792

Enterprise Areas

2.1

0.3

1100

Park & Ride

0.8

0.5

69

Holiday Cottages

13.9

See Note

210

Hotels

102.1

See Note

127

Nursing Homes

21.6

See Note

1

Housing for the Elderly/Infirm

2.8

0.4

783

Hostels

0.30

0.2

7240

Guest Houses

0.10

0.1

815

Convalescent Homes

0.5

0.2

381

Qualifying (Private) Hospitals

12.5

See Note

6418

Qualifying Sports Injury Clinics

1.5

0.2

14823

Buildings Used for Childcare Purposes

12.5

See Note

529

Mental Health Centres

Negligible

See Note

See Note

Student Accommodation

19.1

See Note

57

Registered Caravan Parks

0.2

See Note

See Note

Mid Shannon Corridor

0.2

0.5

15720

The estimated relief claimed has assumed tax forgone at the 41% rate in the case of individuals and 12.5% in the case of companies. The figures shown correspond to the maximum Exchequer cost in terms of income tax and corporation tax.

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).

Corresponding data cannot yet be provided for 2010 as the tax returns for this year are either not yet due or are still being processed.

The information provided in tax returns on the annual amounts of claims for property-based tax reliefs is not sufficiently detailed to provide a basis for deriving an estimate of the value of outstanding reliefs available under the various tax construction schemes. I am not therefore in a position to provide the information requested by the Deputy in this regard.

My Department produced a detailed Consultation Paper as part of an economic impact assessment of potential changes to the "legacy" property-based tax reliefs, which contains information on the profile of tax payers availing of such schemes. Based on preliminary data provided by the Revenue Commissioners the Paper, which is available on the Department of Finance's Tax Policy websitewww.taxpolicy.gov.ie, provides an analysis of claims and investor income levels including the table below, which shows the share of claims by tax unit within five income groupings.

Income level

2007

2008

Less than €100,000

43%

44%

€100,000 — €150,000

17%

18%

€150,000 — €200,000

11%

11%

€200,000 — €275,000

9%

9%

Greater than €275,000

20%

18%

Table: Percentage of claimants by income band

It is anticipated that the results of the impact assessment process will be available for consideration in the context of the forthcoming budget.

The Central Bank collates and analyses data on the mortgage market. I have been informed that they do not have this data according to tax relief status. Their Statistics Department does not collect the credit data at that level of breakdown. The only reliable breakdown available is owner-occupier versus buy-to-let (BTL) mortgages, and this is publicly available in the Central Bank's Financial Measures Programme Report published earlier this year and available on their websitewww.centralbank.ie.

In addition the Deputy might note that a number of these property-based schemes were reviewed by Indecon Economic Consultants and Goodbody Economic Consultants as part of the overall review of property and area based tax incentives in 2005. These reports were published on 6 February 2006 and are available on the Department of Finance's Tax Policy website.

Note:

Because of the Revenue Commissioners' obligation to observe confidentiality in relation to the taxation affairs of individual taxpayers, a figure for the highest and in some cases the lowest amount of relief claimed under some of the schemes is not provided. This is due to the small numbers of returns with amounts exceeding that level.

Question No. 153 answered with Question No. 147.

Denis Naughten

Question:

154 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the cost to the Exchequer of the farm consolidation tax relief in the last available full year which expired last June; the projected annual cost of reinstating the scheme; his plans to re-establish the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34708/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the latest available information on the cost of stamp duty relief for farm consolidation is estimated at close to €0.5 million for calendar year 2010, in respect of all stamped deeds of transaction. It is not possible to predict the cost of reinstating this measure as cost would depend on take up. The scheme of Stamp Duty relief for farm consolidation expired on 30 June 2011. The figure for 2011 is not yet available. Stamp duty relief for farm consolidation was a State Aid and would require EU approval if reintroduced. I have no plans at this time to reintroduce this scheme. It would appear the scheme did not have the intended effect of encouraging farm consolidation, given the low level of take up — there were only 115 applicants in total between 2005 and 2010.

Banking Sector Regulation

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

155 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding a code of practice. [34738/11]

The Central Bank's Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears applies only to mortgage lending activities in respect of an owner/occupier's principal private residence. Responsibility for the rights of tenants in rented accommodation is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality.

Finian McGrath

Question:

156 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the reason Ulster Bank and AIB are refusing to reduce their mortgage interest rates; and if he will act on this matter urgently. [34797/11]

The setting of mortgage interest rates is a commercial decision for the banks concerned. I welcome the recent announcement by AIB that it will reduce its standard variable mortgage lending rate as a follow on to the recent ECB interest rate cut. The Central Bank have advised me that they will engage with lenders which appear to have standard variable rates disproportionate to their cost of funds

Monetary Policy

Catherine Murphy

Question:

157 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if any decision has been taken with regard to the re-issuing of Irish pounds by the Central Bank of Ireland; if so, are Irish pounds currently being printed at the National Mint or elsewhere on the instruction of the Central Bank of Ireland; if so, the total value of this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34798/11]

As Ireland is a Member State of the Euro-zone the question of re-issuing Irish pounds does not arise. Irish pounds are not being printed by the Central Bank nor are they being printed elsewhere on the instruction of the Central Bank. The Central Bank continues to produce euro currency.

Economic and Monetary Union

Catherine Murphy

Question:

158 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if he has been involved in any discussions with his ECOFIN colleagues on changes to the membership and or structure of the eurozone; if his attention has been drawn to any discussions between members of the European Council and the Taoiseach regarding same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34799/11]

I have not engaged in discussions regarding changes in euro area membership with my ECOFIN colleagues. We are, of course, in the process of improving the institutional arrangements within the euro area, to ensure that the current problems do not arise again in the future. I am also aware of comments attributed to some Member States in relation to membership of the euro area. However, I note that over the weekend there was clarification from Germany and France that they are not proposing any breakup of the euro area. Instead, they are talking about making the euro area work better. Any measures that can achieve this are to be welcomed.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

159 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if he has made any contingency plans in the event that Ireland either decides to leave the eurozone or is instructed to do so; if so, the details contained in this plan; the dialogue if any, he has had with his European counterparts in the context of recent reports that the French and German Governments are considering radical structural changes to the eurozone; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34801/11]

Our focus is on improving the functioning of the euro — it is our future. There are many risks in the broad economic environment at present, which I must take into account in conjunction with my Department and the agencies that report to me. The euro is a firm and solid currency currently trading well against all the other major currencies. There is clearly no market expectation, and there is certainly no Irish Government expectation, of any collapse in the euro.

In terms of structural changes to the euro area, I note that over the weekend there was clarification from Germany and France that they are not proposing any breakup of the euro area. Instead, they are talking about making the euro area work better. Any measures that can achieve this are to be welcomed.

Capital Projects

Gerald Nash

Question:

160 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the number and value of State capital project contracts awarded to companies registered outside the State in the years 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively; if he will provide details in respect of the number and value of State capital project contracts awarded to companies registered in the Republic of Ireland in the years 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34809/11]

The Deputy has confirmed that the information sought is in relation to State capitalconstruction projects. My Department did not award any such contracts during the period in question. During 2009 and 2010 my Department co-funded PEACE and INTERREG Programmes which cover the Border counties of Ireland and Northern Ireland. These Programmes are administered by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), a north-south body established under the Good Friday Agreement. PEACE and INTERREG projects are proposed and implemented by Lead Partners who apply to the SEUPB for funding for particular projects. Any contracts for capital works are awarded by the Lead Partners and are not considered as State capital construction project contracts. This Programme transferred to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with effect from 2011.

Economic and Monetary Union

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

161 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which the Ministers for Finance in each member state are in agreement on the issues of European economic, monetary or fiscal policy; if this is in line with the views of the relevant Commissioner; the extent to which a meeting of minds in this regard is likely in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34818/11]

The policies designed to address the euro area sovereign debt crisis were announced by Heads of State or Government on 26 October. The implementation of the policies in this strategy — known as the comprehensive strategy — is mostly a matter for Finance Ministers. In this regard, there is broad agreement that swift implementation will help instill confidence and underpin economic recovery.

In terms of addressing the root causes of the crisis there is a general agreement — and one to which the Irish Government subscribes — that the institutional architecture of the euro area needs to be enhanced, and work is progressing in this regard.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

162 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if there is agreement among the EU Council of Finance Ministers both within the eurozone and without on a strategy whereby each member state within the Union undertakes specific responsibilities with a view to achieving economic recovery and stability in the financial markets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34819/11]

As part of the comprehensive strategy agreed by Heads of State or Government on 26th October, all euro area Member States expressed their determination to continue their policy of fiscal consolidation and structural reforms. The rationale for these measures is to underpin recovery and restore financial market confidence. Member States which are particularly vulnerable — such as Italy — have announced specific plans to help reduce financial market tensions and this is to be welcomed. In terms of the EU27, measures to improve the capital position of European banks and to improve their funding positions have been agreed. These measures are designed to ensure that the banking sector continues to support economic recovery in the EU.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

163 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the degree to which there has emerged a consensus throughout the European Union in respect of economic, fiscal or monetary issues; if there is a recognition that indecision and lack of clarity leads to a lack of confidence resulting in instability; the degree to which these issues are being addressed at the present time with particular reference to the urgent need for such focus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34820/11]

It is important to realise the considerable progress that has already been made in terms of improving the functioning of the EU and the euro area in particular. Amongst other things we now have:

The EU Semester;

Strengthened surveillance via the so-called ‘six-pack' of governance measures;

Support for vulnerable economies via the EFSF and the EFSM;

A permanent crisis resolution mechanism in the form of the ESM;

The Euro Plus Pact tointer alia improve competitiveness; and,

Strengthened financial regulation.

There is also the comprehensive package announced by the euro area Heads of State or Government on 26 October. This, as the Deputy knows, is essentially a five-point strategy involving:

A credible solution to the Greek situation;

Boosting the effective capacity of the EFSF;

Recapitalising Europe's banks;

Enhancing surveillance; and,

Improving economic governance in the euro area.

Work is continuing on implementing these important decisions, which will help bring clarity and restore confidence.

Price Inflation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

164 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent of the reason or reasons for any inflation throughout the European Union; the way it is intended to address such issues in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34821/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

165 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which serious deflation is affecting particular countries throughout the European Union; the strategy in place or likely to be put in place to address such issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34822/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 164 and 165 together.

The Deputy will be aware that the European Commission last week published its Autumn economic forecasts. In this, it states that the main driving force behind the acceleration of HICP inflation in the EU in the first half of the year was the pass through of high energy and food prices to headline inflation.

Looking to the future, the Commission expects that the projected easing of commodity prices and the slowdown in economic activity in the EU should keep inflationary pressures contained over the next few years.

The Autumn forecasts show that inflation in the EU will average 3.0 per cent in 2011 before moderating to 2.0 per cent and 1.8 per cent in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

With regard to deflation, the Commission forecasts show that no Member State is expected to experience deflation in 2011 nor is any Member State projected to enter into deflationary territory over the forecast horizon.

Economic and Monetary Union

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

166 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which he and his EU colleagues have discussed the issue of a consistent economic policy throughout the European Union by way of adherence to incentivised guidelines while at the same time retaining national sovereignty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34823/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

167 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which he and his EU colleagues have examined and analysed the factors which have been the economic strength of the EU since its foundation; the degree and extent to which it is expected and-or intended to rediscover such strategies and recommit to the original economic vision for Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34824/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 166 and 167 together.

Since the onset of the economic and financial crisis in 2008, all the European Union's governments and the European Commission have been working to limit the damage being done to the EU's economy, repair the damage that has been done and to put in place measures that will help the EU to avoid a similar crisis in the future. It follows from the nature of the crisis that Europe's Finance Ministers have been at the forefront in this work and, since becoming Minister for Finance a considerable part of my work in Europe has been focused on this area.

The economic and financial crisis has led Member States to realise that they must co-ordinate their economic policies more closely in order to be able to cope with severe global crises that may arise in the future. The goal for the EU is to put in place reforms that will help to ensure that it leaves the crisis behind and enters a period of sustainable growth and jobs, while ensuring that the lessons from the crisis are taken on board and measures put in place to help avoid a repetition of the failures that contributed to it.

The results of this work can be seen in the EU2020 strategy, the European Semester process, the so called six-pack of economic governance reforms and the Euro-plus pact, all of which are, or will shortly be, in operation.

Work is continuing to bring further appropriate measures to the table for consideration. The recent Commission communication "A Roadmap to Stability and Growth" (October 2011) included a number of commitments for the further enhancement of existing measures and the introduction of new ones. These were further built on at the October 26th Euro Summit, where the euro area's Heads of State or Government agreed on a series of measures designed to improve the economic governance of the euro area. President Van Rompuy is also expected to present an interim report on strengthening the economic union within the euro area in December 2011.

Not surprisingly, some have suggested that greater surveillance and enhanced governance somehow implies an unacceptable loss of national sovereignty. I do not agree.

The Government's view is clear, we are in a monetary union with other Member States and so more coordination of policies is essential. In fact, it must be recognised that the lack of coordination among Member States in the past is one of the main reasons we find ourselves in the current predicament. So it is important to tackle the root causes of the problem — we simply cannot have a currency union without further integration and greater coordination. In these circumstances, putting in place — albeit retrospectively — the appropriate institutional architecture is crucial.

Of course, enhanced policy surveillance and governance must be sufficiently balanced, and in this regard, the Government sees an important role for the Community-based method as it balances the interests of smaller Member States. The Government also takes the view that as much as possible should be achieved at the level of the EU27, however, it also recognises that the level of integration and coordination will be necessarily higher for countries participating in a monetary union than for those outside it.

Job Creation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

168 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which the various factors likely to affect growth in this economy have been identified and isolated with a view to specific or particular action likely to result in job creation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34825/11]

As noted in the Medium-Term Fiscal Statement, my Department expects that the economy will return to growth this year following three successive annual contractions. The pace of the recovery is then expected to gradually strengthen in subsequent years, although anticipated GDP growth rates of 1.6 per cent in 2012 and 2.4 per cent in 2013 are weaker than those forecast in the spring. These downward revisions reflect a combination of external and domestic factors. For instance, it is now accepted that growth in our major trading partners is moderating, and this has led to a downward revision to the export growth forecast. The latest economic data, meanwhile, have revealed that the outlook for the domestic growth components is weaker than was the case in the spring.

Slower economic growth will, in turn, lead to a slower recovery in the labour market. A return to net employment creation is now expected to be delayed until the second half of next year and annual employment growth is not foreseen until 2013. The Government recognises that getting people back to work represents its biggest challenge, however, and will continue to take steps to improve the prospects of those out of work.

Banking Sector Regulation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

169 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the manner in which Ireland’s Central Bank liaised with the ECB in the course of the past ten years; if any particular issues arose which might have indicated the necessity for corrective measures in respect of banking here or throughout the Eurozone; if the Central Bank here identified any weaknesses in the banking sector here which were brought to the attention of the ECB and conversely if the ECB identified any issues in the banking sector which requires the attention of the Central Bank; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34826/11]

As Minister for Finance, I have no function in the relationship between the European Central Bank and national central banks. The Governor of the Central Bank carries out his European Central Bank-related functions under the Treaty of Rome and the Statute of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) and his independence in doing so is guaranteed. Section 19A(2) of the Act provides that the Governor has sole responsibility for the performance of the functions imposed, and the exercise of powers conferred, on the Bank by or under the Rome Treaty or the ESCB Statute.

Section 6A(3) of the Central Bank Act 1942 provides that the Minister for Finance may not request information relating to ESCB functions from the Governor or the Bank.

Additionally, article 282 (3) of the Treaty of Rome provides that the European Central Bank shall be independent in the exercise of its powers and that European Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies and the governments of the Member States shall respect that independence.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

170 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which it is expected that recent ECB interest rate will be passed on to the borrower with particular reference to lending institutions that have passed on rate increases to the borrowers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34827/11]

I understand that the recent reduction in interest rates announced by the ECB have been passed on by three lenders, namely Irish Life and Permanent, AIB and EBS. The Government wants the lending institutions to pass on the interest rate cut for a number of reasons. Firstly, the interest rate cut will be of important assistance to mortgage holders who are struggling to pay their mortgages. Secondly, and linked to the first reason, the purpose of the ECB's interest rate cut was a monetary policy measure to increase the level of money in the Eurozone so as to stave off a recession. The ECB did not cut rates so as to allow lenders to rebuild their capital base — there are other methods for this to occur.

Neither the Central Bank nor myself, as Minister for Finance, have any statutory role in the interest rates charged by financial institutions regulated by the Central Bank. However the Central Bank have advised me that they will engage with lenders which appear to have standard variable rates set disproportionate to their cost of funds.

Vocational Education Committees

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

171 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the name, position and a breakdown of the retirement packages for all vocational education committees chief executive officers eligible to retire before the end of February 2012. [33998/11]

There are 33 Vocational Education Committees of which 22 have permanent Chief Executive Officers and 11 acting Chief Executive Officers in position.

The information requested by the Deputy is not held within my Department, and as each individual VEC is a separate employer it would involve an inordinate amount of administrative time to compile.

However, I can inform the Deputy that the following conditions and criteria would apply to any CEO that is eligible to retire.

Standard Retirement provisions for Officers employed by VECs

(1) An Officer who is not a new entrant must retire at the end of the school year following attainment of age 65.

(2) An Officer who is not a new entrant and has reached the age of 60 may retire on pension at any time thereafter.

(3) Under the Public Service Superannuation Act 2004, compulsory retirement age has been abolished in the case of new entrants to the public service. Correspondingly, pension is not payable to new entrants to most sectors of the public service, until age 65. A new entrant is a person who commences employment in the public service on or after 1 April 2004 or who, following a break of more than 26 weeks, returns to employment in the public service on or after 1 April 2004.

(4) A scheme of cost-neutral early retirement based on actuarial reductions, was introduced in 2005. The scheme will permit retirement between age 50 and 60, (between 55 and 65 for new entrants). Retirees on cost neutral early retirement will get a reduced lump sum and pension from the date of retirement, the payments are the payments that would be made when the member reaches age 60 or 65 actuarially reduced.

Standard Retirement benefits for Officers employed by VECs

(1) On retirement, a member of the Scheme, who has at least 2 years' pensionable service (reduced from 5 years with effect from 2 June 2002), will receive a Retirement Gratuity in the form of a lump sum.

(2) With effect from 1 January 2011, overall lifetime limit on tax free lump sum is €200,000. Any excess amount over €200,000 is taxed at standard rate of tax up to €575,000. Any excess over €575,000 is taxed at individual's marginal rate of tax.

(3) The value of the lump sum is 3/80th of pensionable remuneration at retirement (PR) for each year of pensionable service, subject to a maximum of 1.5 times PR.

(4) He will also receive a Pension which will be subject to tax. For Officers liable for the Class D rate of PRSI, the value of the pension is 1/80th of PR for each year of pensionable service, subject to a maximum of half of PR.

(5) For Officers liable for the Class A rate of PRSI, the pension payable is co-ordinated with social welfare entitlements. The value of the co-ordinated pension is, with effect from 1 January 2004, 1/200th of PR up a threshold of 3 and one-third times the maximum personal rate of State Pension (Contributory) + 1/80th of any PR exceeding that threshold.

Departmental Funding

Robert Dowds

Question:

172 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent of support he gives to the yellow flag programme for schools; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Irish Traveller Movement is unable to run the programme in all 16 schools which qualified this year owing to a lack of funding, and cannot source charitable funding for the programme for 2012 until Exchequer funding has been secured; and if further support will be given. [34028/11]

My Department has not provided support for the programme referred to by the Deputy, which I understand was run as a pilot project in some schools. The Deputy will be aware that a Comprehensive Expenditure Review is ongoing in all Government Departments at the request of the Minister of Public Expenditure and Reform and due to the current economic climate the funding for new programmes, including this programme cannot be considered at this time .

Higher Education Grants

Jim Daly

Question:

173 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason an applicant of a higher education grant has had a decision issued which removed 50% of the registration fee allowance and also removed their eligibility for a maintenance grant when their financial position has not changed from previous years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34030/11]

The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter for the relevant grant awarding authority.

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 reckonable income, it would not be possible for me to say why a student's level of grant was reduced.

Where a grant application is refused, the reason for the refusal is given by the grant awarding authority.

An applicant may appeal the decision of the grant awarding authority to its appeals officer.

Where the appeals officer decides to reject the appeal, the applicant may appeal this decision to my Department or the independent appeals board, as appropriate.

Traveller Education

Finian McGrath

Question:

174 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the mechanisms that have been put in place by him to monitor the attendance and support the progress of Traveller pupils in the education system at primary and post-primary level since the abolition of the visiting teacher service for Travellers, the removal of resource teachers for Travellers posts in schools and reduced transport services. [34043/11]

The Education (Welfare) Act, 2000, established the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) charged with ensuring that each child attends a recognised school or otherwise receives a certain minimum education. The Act provides a comprehensive framework promoting regular school attendance and tackling the problems of absenteeism and early school leaving.

While responsibility for the National Education Welfare Board (NEWB) has transferred to my colleague, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, the two Departments are working together to ensure that the services in the NEWB, including the School Completion Programme, Home School Community Liaison and the Education Welfare Service have a renewed focus to more effectively target and support all children at risk, including Traveller children.

The Report and Recommendations for a Traveller Education Strategy which was launched in 2006, following wide ranging consultation with stakeholders including Traveller representatives covers all aspects of Traveller education from preschool to further and higher education. A core principle of the strategy is that allocation of resources is based on ‘individual educational need' rather than ‘Traveller identity'. My Department's aim is to prioritise available resources to maximum effect across the education sector to enhance educational outcomes for all children and adults including Travellers.

In the context of the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 and in keeping with the report, the Government has taken a decision to provide educational teaching supports to Traveller students on the same basis as other students in schools. Additional tuition is provided through the existing learning support provision in schools.

In order to assist schools with high concentrations of Traveller pupils, following the withdrawal of the Resource Teaching posts for Travellers, limited alleviation or adjustment measures are being provided. Furthermore Traveller enrolments have been included in the valid enrolment for the purpose of allocating additional staffing under DEIS from the 2011/12 school year.

The general position of my Department regarding the issue of school transport provision for Traveller children is to accommodate Traveller children within mainstream school transport provision rather than to promote segregation and marginalisation. This flows from the Traveller Education Strategy which states in respect of primary and post primary pupils that "Traveller children should use mainstream school transport in operation at present. Only in exceptional circumstances based on special needs should special transport be provided as a positive action measure". As a continuing positive measure, Traveller children availing of exceptional transport arrangements who meet the distance criterion are allowed retain their transport eligibility for the duration of their education at their current school of attendance.

The Traveller Education Strategy Advisory & Consultative Forum continues to identify issues, including obstacles, to the implementation of recommendations of the Traveller Education Strategy, examining appropriate responses to issues identified and reports to my Department's Traveller Strategy Implementation Group to highlight key issues of concern.

Overseas Student Enrolments

Stephen S. Donnelly

Question:

175 Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills with regard to the registration of students by private colleges for courses accredited by HETAC and FETAC, if he will confirm if it is the case that such students can only be registered if they have a PPS number, or the British equivalent; the reasons for same; if he has considered the negative impact that this may have on uptake by overseas students of e-learning courses delivered by institutions here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34069/11]

HETAC seeks the Personal Public Services Number (PPSN) as part of its learner registration processes. HETAC is aware that certain learners may not have a PPSN available at registration. In these circumstances, an alternative identifier is generated by HETAC.

FETAC requires students to have a PPSN or its UK equivalent for the purpose of certification of learning and uses them as a unique identifier of learners. It is particularly important that a strong and well-understood identifier is used in further education and training where learners may receive FETAC major awards having accumulated modules across a number of different providers.

I am not aware of these practices creating difficulties for HETAC or FETAC registered providers seeking to offer distance learning programmes.

Higher Education Grants

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

176 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the changes, if any, that have been introduced by him to the qualifying year for assessing reckonable income for self-employed persons for the maintenance grant and the HEAR programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34087/11]

I have made no changes to the qualifying year for assessing reckonable income for the self-employed for the student grant.

For 2011/2012 academic year all relevant income arising between 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2010 is considered. The same approach was used for previous academic years.

The Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) is a third-level admissions scheme for students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The scheme is operated by a number of higher education institutions and not by my Department. Admissions to the institutions under this programme are regulated by the institutions themselves. Further details are available atwww.accesscollege.ie.

School Enrolments

Finian McGrath

Question:

177 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a second level school may refuse a pupil a place on religious grounds; and if secondary schools are allowed to have different entrance criteria. [34089/11]

It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of individual schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act 1998. In this regard a Board of Management may find it necessary to restrict enrolment to children from a particular area or a particular age group or, occasionally, on the basis of some other criterion. The criteria to be applied by schools in such circumstances are a matter for the schools themselves. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.

Under section 15(2)(d) of the Education Act 1998, each school is legally obliged to disclose its enrolment policy and to ensure that as regards that policy that principles of equality and the rights of parents to send their children to a school of the parents choice are respected.

Equality legislation, which also outlaws discrimination in relation to the admission of a student, makes provision for exemptions to apply in the case of single sex schools and in the case of schools where the objective is to provide education in an environment that promotes certain religious values. The legislation provides that any school that has this objective may admit a student of a particular religious denomination in preference to other students.

The Deputy will be aware that earlier this year, I launched a discussion paper on school enrolment. The document, "Discussion Paper on a Regulatory Framework for School Enrolment" contains suggestions on how to make the process of enrolling in schools more open, equitable and consistent. I invited education partners and interested parties to submit their views to my Department by the 28th of October.

The feedback from this consultation will help inform the nature and scope of a new regulatory framework for school enrolment.

School Staffing

Sandra McLellan

Question:

178 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reinstate two teachers whose jobs were suppressed in a school (details supplied) in County Cork; if he will ensure that no further cuts are enforced on the school resources and that no further jobs will be suppressed there; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34115/11]

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

As set out in my Departments Circular 0042/2011, in order for the NCSE to complete the processing of applications for mainstream schools in the first instance, the existing 2010/11 level of SNA supports have been maintained in special schools for the coming school year, other than for schools with declining enrolments, with a review to take place early in the 11/12 school year. The school referred to by the Deputy has therefore not received a reduction in its SNA staff levels over those applying at the end of the last school year. The review of SNA support at special schools is currently ongoing and I understand that the review of SNA provision at the school referred to by the Deputy will take place in the coming weeks.

In relation to teaching posts, Circular 0042/11 states that there are a small number of special schools which have significant excess teacher posts and that the NCSE may therefore contact such schools to review the individual circumstances in these schools. The Circular indicated that the NCSE may suppress a post in schools which have excess teaching posts in order to create a post in a school which does not have excess posts and which has growing pupil numbers.

The special school referred to by the Deputy caters for pupils with severe/profound disability and ASD. The correct teacher allocation ratio for schools catering for children with severe and profound disability is 6:1. In 2010/11 the school had 7 approved class teaching posts, 3 surplus teaching posts and 28 SNAs. The enrolment is 38 pupils, including 9 new children enrolled for September 2011. One of the surplus teachers retired at the end of the last school year and the school is not eligible for a replacement. A further surplus post has been withdrawn leaving the school with 1 surplus post above recommended staffing allocation levels.

It is the position of both my Department and the NCSE that given the exceptionally high levels of teaching and support staff which have been allocated to the school, that notwithstanding the outcome of any review of SNA support at the school, that the school has sufficient support within its overall allocation to enable it to provide for the teaching and care support requirements of all of the children enrolled to the school.

School Patronage

Simon Harris

Question:

179 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the patronage tender guidelines for a new secondary school (details supplied) stipulate that the school must be an English language only school; the rationale he has used to set these specific guidelines; if he will consider tender applications from Irish language patrons for this school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34130/11]

As the Deputy may be aware I announced new criteria on 27 June 2011 in relation to the establishment of new second level schools. As part of the new procedures it was clearly stated that an initial decision would be made by the Department on whether the new schools would operate through the medium of Irish or English. Applications would then be sought from prospective patrons when this decision was made.

Prior to seeking applications for the new second-level schools to be established in 2013 and 2014, the Department made the initial decision about which schools would operate through the medium of Irish. The Department had regard to both the existing and planned all-Irish provision at primary and second level in the areas concerned. The new second level school planned for the area referred to by the Deputy will operate through the medium of English. However, in cases there is not sufficient demand to warrant the establishment of a new gaelcholáiste it will be an option for the new English-medium second level schools to operate an all-Irish Aonad within the school where there is sufficient parental demand.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

180 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter regarding a school (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34148/11]

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

184 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will confirm or deny weekend reports that he intends to reduce the numbers of teachers in schools, both primary and secondary. [34210/11]

Brendan Griffin

Question:

192 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding education cuts; if the issues raised will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34362/11]

Brendan Griffin

Question:

194 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if current pupil-teacher ratios and average class sizes will be maintained in our primary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34367/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 180, 184, 192 and 194 together.

At this point I do not propose to give any specific commitment on the allocation of teachers to schools for the 2012/13 school year. The number of teaching posts that we can afford to fund in schools is a matter that I will have to consider with my colleagues in Cabinet in the context of the next budget and meeting our obligations under the EU/IMF Programme.

The Government will endeavour to protect frontline education services as best as possible. However, this must be done within the context of bringing our overall public expenditure into line with what we can afford as a country. All areas of Government will have to manage on a reduced level of resources. The challenge will be to ensure that the resources that can be provided are used to maximum effect to achieve the best possible outcome for pupils.

Croke Park Agreement

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

181 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of Croke Park Agreement projects that each State agency under his aegis are progressing; if he will list each project by Department in tabular form; the amount to be saved by each project; the number that have been completed since the agreement came into force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34155/11]

The Action Plans, Progress Reports and Savings Reports under the Public Service Agreement 2010-2104 for State Agencies under my Department's remit for the period up to April 2011 are available on the Departments website at:http://www.education.ie/home/home.jsp?maincat=17216&pcategory=17216&ecategory=59433&language=EN.

The Implementation Body for the Agreement is currently considering the progress reported on the implementation of Action Plans under Croke Park in each sector during the period, April to September 2011. I understand the Body is due to publish a summary of the progress reported to it on its website shortly. Once the Body has completed its consideration, it is intended that the progress reports for this particular reporting period for individual public service bodies, including each state agency, will be published on their organisation's websites.

School Building Projects

Patrick Nulty

Question:

182 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Education and Skills when construction of a school (details supplied) will commence. [34169/11]

It is envisaged that planning application will be lodged in early 2012. Subject to no issues arising, it is envisaged that construction of Phase I will commence in late 2012 and be completed in August 2013.

Literacy and Numeracy Levels

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

183 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason Ireland has dropped right down the OECD rankings for education; and the way he will rectify same. [34209/11]

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.

The OECD PISA 2009 results showed a significant deterioration in the performance of 15 year olds in Ireland in Mathematical Literacy and Reading Literacyvis-a-vis earlier years. Ireland’s performance in Mathematical Literacy ranked as just below the OECD average, and Reading Literacy was at the OECD average. In Scientific Literacy, Ireland’s score is significantly above the OECD average and is the same mean score as reported in PISA 2006. Independent national and international experts who have examined the data in detail on behalf of the Department have stated that the declines may be explained partly by changes in the profile of students, poorer student engagement with the tests, random factors in school selection, and weaknesses in the methodology used by PISA to determine trends in student performance over time. However, they have also advised the Department that these factors only explain part of the decline in student achievement on the tests and I am acting on the basis that there has been some real decline in standards of student performance.

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 referred to above. These results suggest that the reading standards of Irish 15-year olds may be somewhat 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. In view this decline, a key commitment of the Programme for Government was the development and implementation of a national literacy strategy. I published Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life, the National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy among Children and Young People 2011-2020, in July. The Strategy addresses six key areas aimed at improving literacy and numeracy outcomes, these are enabling parents and communities to support children's literacy and numeracy development; improving teachers' and early childhood education and care practitioners' professional practice through changes to both pre-service and in-service education; building the capacity of school leadership to lead improvements in the teaching and assessment of literacy and numeracy in schools; getting the content of the curriculum for literacy and numeracy right at primary and post-primary levels by making sure that the curriculum is clear about what we expect students to learn at each stage, targeting available additional resources on learners with additional needs, including students from disadvantaged communities, students learning English as an additional language and students with special educational needs; and improving how teachers, schools and the educational system use good assessment approaches to plan the next steps for each learner and monitors progress.

Each of the actions in the Strategy has a timeline and clear lead responsibility for delivery is assigned. Progress has already been made on implementing the early actions identified in the Strategy and a circular on implementation has just issued to all primary schools.

Question No. 184 answered with Question No. 180.

Higher Education Grants

Michael Lowry

Question:

185 Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will clarify whether a named qualification (details supplied) is recognised under the FETAC system; if so, the level rating of this course for the purposes of a higher education grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34219/11]

The qualification referred to by the Deputy is awarded by an awarding body from outside the State and not by FETAC. The awarding body in question had a number of awards aligned with the National Framework of Qualifications in 2009, including a number of awards in the field of beauty therapy. However, the particular award title referred to by the Deputy is not included in the list of aligned awards. The principal financial support available to students in further and higher education is the student grant. Students who are entering approved courses are eligible for financial assistance where they satisfy the relevant conditions including those relating to residency, means, nationality and previous academic attainment. I understand that the college referred to by the Deputy is a private college and as such would not have been included in the list of approved institutions for student grant purposes.

European Globalisation Fund

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

186 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a person (details supplied) in County Meath was one of the named persons in an application by the Government in 2010 for funding under the European globalisation fund for construction workers made redundant between 2009 and 2010; if so, if he will detail the additional training and support available to the person; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34246/11]

Approval from both the European Council and the European Parliament is still awaited of the three EGF applications submitted by Ireland in respect of almost 9,000 construction sector workers who were made redundant between 1 July 2009 and 31 May 20010 and whose eligibility for assistance within the requirements of the EGF regulations has been ascertained by my Department. In the interim a number of national measures, for which EGF co-financing is being currently sought, are already being provided by the relevant service providers and funded from national sources. I refer to the answer to Question No. 29078/11 of 12 October 2011 in this regard.

As I stated in a reply to the Deputy on this matter on 8 November 2011, my Department, in conjunction with other Government Departments and Agencies, is currently seeking to put in place certain new measures to assist these particular redundant workers to obtain any necessary upskilling and to improve their employment prospects, between now and the end of the EGF programmes, if approved by the EU, next June. This is in addition to the supports that they have already received to date. It is my intention that, when these measures are confirmed, all eligible persons would be notified simultaneously of the details.

Bullying in Schools

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

187 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider conducting an investigation into the difficulties surrounding a student (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34261/11]

Under the Education Act 1998, legally, all schools are managed by school Boards of Management, on behalf of the school patrons or trustees, and it is the Board of Management that employ the teachers at the school. Accordingly, whereas I provide funding and policy direction for schools, neither I nor the Department have legal powers to instruct schools to follow a particular course of direction with regards to individual complaint cases, or to investigate individual complaints except where the complaint involves a refused enrolment, expulsion or suspension, in accordance with Section 29 of the 1998 Education Act.

My Department's role is to clarify for parents and students how their grievances and complaints against schools can be progressed. If a parent wishes to make a complaint against a teacher or school they should contact the relevant school authorities. The complaint procedures adopted by most schools are those that have been agreed between the teacher unions and school management bodies. Responsibility for tackling bullying falls to the level of the individual school, as it is at local level that an effective anti-bullying climate must be established and at that level that actions should be taken to address bullying.

The Office of the Ombudsman for Children may independently investigate complaints about schools recognised with the Department of Education and Skills, provided the parent has firstly and fully followed the school's complaints procedures. The key criterion for any intervention by the Ombudsman for Children is that the action of the school has had a negative affect on a child. The office can be contacted at Ombudsman for Children's Office, Millennium House, 52-56 Great Strand Street, Dublin 1, telephone 1800 202040 or (01)8656800, e-mailoco@oco.ie.

Further guidance to parents on progressing a concern in relation their child's school is available on the Guide to Services Page of my Department's website atwww.education.ie.

The Education (Welfare) Act, 2000, established the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) with statutory responsibility to ensure that each child attends a recognised school or otherwise receives a certain minimum education. The Act provides a comprehensive framework for promoting regular school attendance and tackling the problems of absenteeism and early school leaving.

The NEWB's network of Educational Welfare Officers (EWOs) is one of the key means by which the Board ensures that each child attends and benefits from education. Key aspects of the role of an EWO is to advise parents in relation to the procedures for enrolment in schools and to assist parents where they are experiencing difficulties in finding school places.

While the NEWB falls under the remit of my Colleague Minister Frances Fitzgerald, I have confirmed via the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, that the local Educational Welfare Officers are aware of and currently engaged with the case in question. I also understand that my Department has approved home tuition for the child in question.

School Discipline

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

188 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will confirm with his Department if all recommendations from the Health Service Executive and reports by his Department on a school (details supplied) in Dublin 5 have been implemented in view of the fact that the implementation of all the recommendations was a condition for the school in July 2010; if he will also confirm that the board of management of the school in question have signed off on a behavioural support plan, an enrolment policy and a policy on toileting for the pupils of the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34287/11]

The Deputy should be aware that the DES report was completed in October 2010. Also, the Deputy is advised that the HSE report to which he has referred was not published. It is a condition of my Department's recognition of the school that the recommendations of both reports are implemented. The School currently enjoys provisional recognition from my Department.

The Board of Management of school in question committed to fully implementing the recommendations of both the HSE and the subsequent DES report. These recommendations incorporate the plans and policies referred to by the Deputy. My Department has remained in regular contact with the Principal and the Board of Management of this school. The Board of Management of the school has advised DES that all recommendations have been or are being implemented in full. My Department will continue to closely monitor progress in this regard.

Student Grant Applications

Jim Daly

Question:

189 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the appeal process available to unsuccessful student grant applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34302/11]

The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter for the relevant grant awarding authority in the first instance. Where a grant application is refused, an applicant may appeal this decision to the grant awarding authority's appeals officer. Where the appeals officer decides to reject the appeal, the applicant may appeal this decision to my Department or the independent Student Grant Appeals Board, as appropriate. In this regard, appeals under the 2011/12 student grant scheme and onwards are appropriate to the Student Grant Appeals Board. Appeals under prior schemes are appropriate to the Department.

Higher Education Budget

Brendan Smith

Question:

190 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total budget for higher education in 2011; and the total budget for higher education in each of the previous years since 1997. [34321/11]

The information requested by the Deputy is not readily available but I will arrange to have it forwarded when compiled.

Schools Building Projects

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

191 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an extension to a school (details supplied) in County Mayo; and the expected timetable to project completion. [34332/11]

The project for the school to which the Deputy refers was included in the School Building Works Programme for 2011. The Stage 2B submission (i.e. Detailed Design) was submitted recently to my Department and is currently being reviewed. When that review is complete, officials from the Department will be in contact with the Board of Management regarding the further progression of the project.

Question No. 192 answered with Question No. 180.

School Curriculum

Brendan Griffin

Question:

193 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the proposed national strategy to improve literacy and numeracy among children and young persons 2011-2020 can be implemented under the current and anticipated funding constraints; if the proposed document will be made available to schools free of charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34366/11]

The National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy Among Children and Young People contains initiatives and actions across a broad range of areas. The Strategy focuses on achieving better literacy and numeracy outcomes for our children and young people through the best use of the resources at our disposal. Many of the approaches set out in the Strategy have no cost implications. There will be additional costs for teacher education measures (both initial teacher education and teacher upskilling), curricular change and new assessment measures. Costs relating to lengthening of initial teacher education will be met from within the Higher Education Budget. Part of the other costs will be met within existing resources from other areas of continuous professional development. Some additional curricular and assessment costs from 2014 will be found within other areas of the Department's Budget.

My Department has issued a summary document on the Literacy and Numeracy Strategy to primary schools and this will also issue to second-level schools shortly. The full version of the strategy is available to download fromwww.education.ie.

Question No. 194 answered with Question No. 180.

School Staffing

Tom Hayes

Question:

195 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Skills the provision of supervision and substitution in schools for 2010 and to date in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34468/11]

The details of the provision for the Supervision and Substitution scheme for teachers employed in primary, secondary and community/comprehensive schools for the school years 2010/11 and 2011/12 are included in the following table:

Supervision and Substitution scheme 2010/11 school year

Provision for Supervision and Substitution scheme 2011/12 school year

Primary

€57,808,929

€57,541,815.00

Post Primary

€35,691,416

€34,955,840.00

State Examinations

Tom Hayes

Question:

196 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of special centres used during the recent State examinations; the total cost associated with providing these centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34469/11]

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations including organising the holding of examinations, supervising the examinations, making arrangements for the marking of work presented for examination and determining procedure to enable the review and appeal of results of examinations at the request of candidates. In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

Religious Denominations

Robert Dowds

Question:

197 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of Protestants being educated in Protestant — that is, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Methodist — primary schools. [34470/11]

Robert Dowds

Question:

198 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of Roman Catholics, children from non-Christian religions and those with no religious affiliation being educated in Protestant primary schools. [34471/11]

Robert Dowds

Question:

199 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of Protestants being educated in non-Protestant primary schools. [34472/11]

Robert Dowds

Question:

200 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of the students in public Protestant secondary schools who are Protestant; the number who are Roman Catholic; the number of other religious persuasion; and the number of no religious persuasion. [34473/11]

Robert Dowds

Question:

201 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of Protestant students receiving their secondary school education in non-Protestant schools. [34475/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 197 to 201, inclusive, together.

The religious denomination of individual pupils is not collected by my Department.

Public Service Reform

Tom Hayes

Question:

202 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to introduce a paperless system for issuing payslips to teachers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34477/11]

The electronic issue of payslips to school employees and pensioners will be considered by officials in my Department, in the context of Public Service reform and the current budgetary position, with a view to implementing a cost effective electronic payslip system by the end of 2014.

Higher Education Grants

Paudie Coffey

Question:

203 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills when deciding on the distance involved in the non-adjacent grant for third level students, if the distance of 45 km is solely decided as the shortest distance between the student’s address and the college or is the actual journey travelled by the student as a result of using public transport is taken into account; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34479/11]

The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter for the applicant's local grant awarding authority — the relevant local authority or VEC. The guidance given to local authorities and VECs in relation to the application of the distance criterion for student grants is that the shortest, most direct route to the institution attended is measured. The implementation of this guidance is a matter for individual grant awarding authorities, which will be best positioned to interpret its application in the context of local circumstances. Where an applicant is not satisfied with the decision of the grant awarding authority, he/she may submit an appeal to have the decision reviewed.

Paudie Coffey

Question:

204 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review a situation in respect of a person (details supplied) regarding the non-adjacent grant for third level students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34480/11]

The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter for the applicant's local grant awarding authority — the relevant local authority or VEC. The guidance given to local authorities and VECs in relation to the application of the distance criterion for student grants is that the shortest, most direct route to the institution attended is measured. The implementation of this guidance is a matter for individual grant awarding authorities, which will be best positioned to interpret its application in the context of local circumstances. Where an applicant is not satisfied with the decision of the grant awarding authority, he/she may submit an appeal to that body to have the decision reviewed. Where such an appeal is unsuccessful, it is open to the applicant to appeal the decision to my Department or to the Student Grants Appeal Board, as appropriate. No appeal has been received in my Department from the student to date in this case.

School Inspection Reports

Tom Hayes

Question:

205 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total number of inspections carried out in schools under the whole-school evaluation and management leadership and learning systems for 2010; the total cost to the Exchequer for these inspections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34481/11]

Whole-School Evaluation Management, Leadership and Learning (WSE-MLL) is a new model of evaluation in post-primary schools which was trialled in schools during 2009 and 2010. WSE-MLL was formally introduced to the education system in January 2011. The Inspectorate conducted 24 trial WSE-MLL evaluations in 2010. In 2011 the Inspectorate expects to conduct more than 90 such evaluations of post-primary schools. Since the Inspectorate is part of the Department of Education and Skills, all costs associated with its work are paid from the administrative budget of the Department and costs exclusively associated with whole-school evaluations are not recorded separately from the other inspection or policy development work of the Inspectorate. However, the estimated cost of the 24 trial whole-school evaluations (WSE-MLL) conducted in 2010, calculated on the basis of aper diem proportion of the total annual salary, travel and subsistence costs of the Inspectorate, was €258,000.

Appointments to State Boards

Liam Twomey

Question:

206 Deputy Liam Twomey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of positions on State boards and agencies under his aegis which he has advertised in the past seven months; the number of applications received; the number of applicants subsequently appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34503/11]

My Department's officials are currently finalising arrangements to effect the Government decision regarding direct Ministerial appointments to State boards and issues regarding the advertising of future vacancies will be addressed in this context. For the Deputy's information the following appointments have been made to the Boards of the Bodies under the aegis of my Department since my appointment:

Mr. Eamonn Devoy, Mr. Tony Donohoe, Professor Anne Scott, Ms. Maria Bourke and Ms. Audrey Deane were all appointed to the Board of the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI) with effect from end March 2011. While the terms of office for these appointments are for a five year period the NQAI is to be merged with both the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) and the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC) to form a new body to be known as the Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland (QQAAI) in the coming months.

Mr. Mícheál Ó Fiannachta, a Departmental official, was appointed to the Board of Skillnets Ltd with effect from June 2011.

Dr. Maria Hinfelaar and Mr. Aengus Ó Maoláin were appointed to the Higher Education and Awards Council (HETAC) in June 2011. As in the case of the NQAI, this body is to be merged into the Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland in the coming months. It is customary for the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) to have one representative on the board of HETAC. Mr. Ó Maoláin was nominated by the USI.

Ms. Maureen Costello was appointed to the National Council for Special Education Board in September 2011. Ms. Costello is the Director of the National Educational Psychological Service and her appointment was made because of the close interactions between the two agencies concerned.

Mr. Michael Moriarty was appointed to the FÁS Board in July 2011. The vacancy on the FÁS Board arose in July 2011 following the resignation of Mr. Sean Gallagher. Mr. Moriarty, who is General Secretary of the IVEA, was appointed because of his expertise in the Vocational Education Committees which will be availed of particularly when FÁS is transformed into SOLAS, the new further education and training authority.

Mr. Gary Redmond was re-appointed to the Higher Education Authority in July 2011. It is customary for the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) to have one representative on the board of the Higher Education Authority. Mr. Redmond was nominated by the USI.

EU Funding

Pearse Doherty

Question:

207 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the name of the company which is administering the European Globalisation Fund funded programme for 9,000 workers made redundant in the NACE 41, construction of buildings, NACE 43 specialised construction activities, and NACE 71, architectural services, construction sub-sectors between 1 July 2009 and 31 March 2010; if this contract was tendered for; when it was awarded; the duration of the contract, the total fees being paid to the company for administering the contract and the relationship between the company and the dedicated European Globalisation Fund unit established by the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34518/11]

The consultants WRC Social and Economic Consultants Ltd. (WRC) were contracted by the Department to provide certain administrative and technical support unit services to EGF funded programmes in Ireland under the current EGF Programme 2007-2013. The first phase of this framework contract concerns tasks in relation to the S R Technics EGF programme and was signed on 9 June 2011. The next phase of the contract concerns tasks in relation to the three as yet unapproved EGF applications seeking co-financing assistance for almost 9,000 construction workers made redundant between 1 July 2009 and 31 March 2010. The Department is currently finalising the precise details of this phase of the framework contract with a view to its signature shortly. It is intended that the duration of this contract element will include the period in relation to the preparation of the Final Report to the European Commission, assuming these applications are approved. As a decision has not yet been made by the EU budgetary authorities, a precise date in time is not available but it is likely that the contract will be for a date in December 2012.

The first phase contract was for a total sum of just under Euros 169,000 (VAT inclusive). The second phase contract is being negotiated within the overarching framework contract price of Euros 2.89m (VAT inclusive). Certain elements of the activities contracted for will be eligible for 65% reimbursement from EGF co-financing. My Department will continue in its role as the national EGF managing authority. In addition to the services being provided by WRC to the managing authority on relevant EGF programmes, proposals are being developed, including with relevant service providers, for an appropriate interface point or points with the redundant construction sector workers and for the co-ordination of both service provision and data control in terms of the reporting of activity and expenditure progress on all EGF supported measures to the managing authority.

FÁS Training Programmes

Gerry Adams

Question:

208 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will investigate the situation regarding a craft certificate in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34529/11]

I understand from FÁS that the person in question is recorded on the National Apprenticeship Database as a redundant apprentice at Phase 7 of his apprenticeship. I understand that upon completing Phase 6 of his apprenticeship the person obtained employment again with his employer but only for two weeks and that this does not satisfy the requirement for completion of a minimum of 12 weeks at Phase 7. I understand that the person in question has been offered every opportunity by FÁS to complete his apprenticeship.

FÁS with the assistance of the "Leonardo da Vinci Mobility" programme has secured 43 places for redundant apprentices to complete Phase 7 of the apprenticeship programme with a company in Germany. There will be an interview process in order to select apprentices for this programme and FÁS has contacted the person about this opportunity. I am advised that the person in question should contact his FÁS Training Adviser by telephone on 042-9355700 or on e-mail at liz.dullaghan@fas.ie. The Training Adviser will be able to advise him on how best to proceed in his particular circumstances.

Ministerial Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

209 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of his constituency and parliamentary staff, appointed following the February 2011 elections, on salaries that exceed their applicable pay scale grade; the number of his existing and parliamentary staff employed prior to the February 2011 elections but awarded salary increases following the election that exceed their applicable pay scale grade; and if he will provide their annual salary details in a tabular format. [34568/11]

Since February 2011 I have appointed the following in accordance with the terms of the Department of Finance Guidelines published on the 24th, March 2011. Neither of these appointments exceed the pay scales applicable for the positions.

Appointee

Title

Salary

Ian O’Mara

Personal Assistant

€47,304 p.a.

Neil Ward

Personal Secretary

€45,004 p.a.

Mr. O'Mara was formerly employed by me as a Parliamentary Assistant at the Houses of the Oireachtas and upon his appointment as Personnel Assistant he was placed on the appropriate point of the applicable pay scale. Mr. Ward was placed on the relevant pay scale for the position of Personal Secretary taking account of his then current salary.

Disadvantaged Status

Brian Stanley

Question:

210 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will ensure that a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12 receives full funding for the year 2012. [34593/11]

The school to which the Deputy refers is a recognised national school and attracts funding from my Department in the same way as all other recognised national schools. All recognised national schools running costs are met by my Departments scheme of capitation and ancillary grants. Schools will receive capitation funding in January and June, and the ancillary services grant in March. In addition, St. Ultan's School has DEIS Urban Band 1 status and will therefore continue to qualify for a range of additional supports under the action plan for the 2011/2012 school year.

Grant Payments

Finian McGrath

Question:

211 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will clarify the issue of remote areas boarding grant; the persons who have availed of this grant; and the total amount paid under this grant. [34599/11]

The purpose of the Remote Area Boarding Grant is to give pupils who are educationally disadvantaged because of their remoteness from schools an opportunity to attend school on the same basis as other pupils not so disadvantaged. Grants are paid for pupils whose normal place of residence is outside the range of public transport services to a school providing suitable free second-level education. To qualify for a boarding grant, an applicant must be:

normally resident in the State; and

resident at least 4.8 km from a second-level school where suitable free second-level education is available and more than 3.2 km from a pick-up point on a transport service to such a school; and

unable to obtain a place in a suitable second-level school within 25 km of his/her normal place of residence.

Pupils resident on off-shore islands that do not have a school providing suitable free second-level education may also qualify for assistance under the scheme. The Remote Area Boarding Grant is paid to the parents of eligible students, except where the school attended is a boarding school, in which case the grant is paid to the school. The total funding provided in the 2010/11 school year was €836,877.

Schools Refurbishment

John McGuinness

Question:

212 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will confirm the outcome of a health and safety audit carried out by him at a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if he will fund the work required to be carried out arising from this audit; if an application under the essential works programme will be approved; if a grant will be made available for the purchase of tables and chairs for the students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34607/11]

An application under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme to upgrade the Fire Alarm and Emergency Lighting Systems has been received from the school referred to by the Deputy following a brief fire safety review carried out by the local authority at the request of the school authority. The purpose of the Emergency Works Scheme is solely for unforeseen emergencies or to provide funding to facilitate inclusion and access for special needs pupils. As the scope of works for this project is outside the terms of the Emergency Works Scheme it cannot be considered for emergency funding. The school have been informed of the decision. My Department has no record of receiving an application from the school in question for replacement tables and chairs however, in light of the competing demands on the available budget, it is not possible to approve funding to replace furniture in schools at this time.

School Patronage

Billy Timmins

Question:

213 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the campaign of Church of Ireland and other minority faiths (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34676/11]

I refer the Deputy to the decision of the previous Government to remove certain funding from Protestant fee-charging schools in the Budget of October 2008. The previous Government also decided at that time make changes to how fee-charging schools should be treated in relation to the number of publicly funded teaching posts they are allowed. Teachers in fee-charging schools are now allocated at a pupil teacher ratio of 20 to 1, which is a point higher than allocations in non fee-charging post-primary schools.

The funding was withdrawn with effect from 1 January 2009 due to real concerns about the constitutionality of making grants available to fee-charging schools of one ethos and not to those of another. The Constitution specifically states that the State shall not discriminate against one religion in favour of another.

There are 26 distinctively Protestant schools, of which 20 charge fees. Many of the schools have a boarding facility, reflecting the dispersed nature of the communities across the country. The six Protestant schools within the free education scheme receive the same funding as all other schools within the free education system.

This Government recognises the importance of ensuring that students from a Protestant or reformed church background can attend a school that reflects their denominational ethos while at the same time ensuring that funding arrangements are in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

With regard to the fee-charging Protestant schools, an arrangement exists whereby funding is paid to the Secondary Education Committee, an organisation run by the churches involved in managing the schools. The Secondary Education Committee then disburses funds to the Protestant fee-charging schools on behalf of pupils who would otherwise have difficulty with the cost of boarding fees and who, in the absence of such financial support, would be unable to attend a second level school of a reformed church or Protestant ethos. Funding amounts to €6.5 million annually.

In addition to this funding, teachers employed within the approved annual staffing allocation granted by my Department in fee-charging schools are paid by the State; an arrangement that pre-dates the introduction of free education arrangements and which has existed since the foundation of the state. The estimated cost of these posts in 2011 is in the order of €100m. I am already on record as saying that this is not a simple matter as these arrangements, which are historic and of long standing, impact upon a substantial number of schools which cater for religious minorities.

Capital Projects

Gerald Nash

Question:

214 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide details on the number and value of State capital project contracts awarded to companies registered outside the State in the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively; if he will provide details in respect of the number and value of State capital project contracts awarded to companies registered in the Republic of Ireland in the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34807/11]

The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the following tabular statement.

Information on the value of contracts awarded in 2011 is deemed commercially sensitive. To release this information now could influence current tender competitions. Therefore in order to answer the Deputy's question without undermining current tender competitions, the 2011 contract values have been rounded up or down to the nearest half million Euro.

Jurisdiction

Contractor Details

County

Roll No.

School

Project Description

Sector

Year Contract was Awarded

Amount

Ireland

ABM Ltd., 2B Feltrim Business Park, Drynam Road, Swords, Co. Dublin

Galway City

19858V

Gaelscoil Dara, Galway City

Single contract for work on 3 schools. 1 new school and 2 extension projects

Primary

2011

€3m

Kildare

20271T

Scoil na Naomh Uilig, Rickardstown, Newbridge (Phase II)

Primary

2011

€3m

Louth

20294I

Aston Village Educate Together, Drogheda

Primary

2011

€3m

Cork

20335T

Scoil Phadraig Naofa, Rochestown

New School

Primary

2009

€4.5m

Ireland

Atlantic Developments, Building Contractors and Civil Engineers, Unit 50, Briarhill Business Park, Briarhill, Co. Galway,

Wicklow

10111O

Lacken National School, Lacken, Blessington, Co Wicklow

New School

Primary

2010

€1m

Ireland

BAM Building Ltd., Kill, Co. Kildare

Carlow

18363M

SN Muire gan Smal, Green Lane

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2010

€2.4m

Waterford

19629G

Holy Cross School, Ballycarnane, Tramore

New School

Primary

2010

€3.1m

Ireland

Boyle Construction, Trentagh, Letterkenny

Donegal

17268N

SN An Br M Ocleirigh, Creevy, Ballyshannon

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2009

€1.2m

Ireland

Carroll O’Keeffe & Co. Ltd., The Green, Clonaslee, Co Laois

Offaly

18267Q

Croinchoill NS, Birr

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2011

€1.5m

Ireland

CLG Developments Ltd., Red Cow Business Park, Robinhood Road, Clondalkin, Dublin 22

Kildare

17662R

Scoil Bhride NS, Kill

New School

Primary

2010

€5.5m

Wexford

20214H

Gorey Educate Together NS

New School

Primary

2009

€2.7m

Kildare

20192A

Scoil Atha Í, Athy

New School

Primary

2009

€2.1m

Ireland

Cordil Construction Ltd., Office 4, Sean Mulvoy Road, Galway.

Dublin City

20139T

Inchicore NS, Sarsfield Road, Dublin 10

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2010

€2.4m

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown

70030E

Senior College, Dún Laoghaire, Eblana Avenue, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin

Extension/ Refurbishment

Post-primary

2010

€7.1m

Limerick

64201T

Ardscoil Ris, North Circular Rd.

Extension/ Refurbishment

Post-primary

2009

€6.2m

Roscommon

01607T

Scoil Náisiúnta Cor Na Fola, Athlone

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2009

€1.7m

Galway City

62970K

Coláiste Iognáid SJ Bothar na Mara

Extension/ Refurbishment

Post-primary

2010

€4.8m

Roscommon

65100S

Scoil Mhuire, Strokestown, Co Roscommon

Extension/ Refurbishment

Post-primary

2010

€3.1m

Ireland

Dermot Keating Construction Ltd., Arthurstown, New Ross, Co. Wexford

Waterford

20076V

Bunscoil Bhothar na Naomh, Lismore

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2010

€1.3m

Ireland

Duggan Brothers (Contractors) Ltd., Templemore, Co. Tipperary

Dublin Fingal

00697S

St. Brigid’s NS, Castleknock, Dublin 15

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2011

€4m

Tipperary NR

65470F

Ursuline Convent, Thurles

Extension/ Refurbishment

Post-primary

2011

€4m

Northern Ireland

Francis Haughey Builders, 21-23 St. Patricks St., Keady, Co. Armagh

Meath

19253K

Scoil Naomh Barra, Wilkinstown

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2010

€1.2m

Ireland

Francis McGuigan Builders (Monaghan) Ltd., Carrickaderry, Clontibret, Co. Monaghan

Monaghan

18028V

Corr a Chrainn NS, Corr a Chrainn

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2010

€0.9m

Ireland

Ganson Ltd., Unit 19 Balbriggan Business Park, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown

19374W

Garran Mhuire, Goatstown, Dublin 14

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2011

€2.5m

Carlow

17127S

St. Joseph’s NS, Hacketstown

New School

Primary

2011

€2m

Northern Ireland

Glasgiven McAvoy JV Ltd., Newry, Co. Down

Dublin Fingal

20095C/20145O

Gaelscoil Bhrian Bóroimhe/ Swords Educate Together NS

New Schools — Single contract for 2 new schools

Primary

2010

€6.7m

Dublin Fingal

20161M

Donabate\Portrane Educate Together

Single contract for work on 4 schools. 1 new school and 3 extension projects

Primary

2011

€4m

Dublin Fingal

15315J

St. George’s NS, Naul Road, Balbriggan, Dublin 15

Single contract for work on 4 schools. 1 new school and 3 extension projects

Primary

2011

€1m

Dublin Fingal

20252P

GS Bhaile Brigín, Castlelands, Balbriggan

Single contract for work on 4 schools. 1 new school and 3 extension projects

Primary

2011

€4m

Dublin Fingal

20282B

Bracken Educate Together, Castlelands, Balbriggan (see 20252P)

Single contract for work on 4 schools. 1 new school and 3 extension projects

Primary

2011

€4m

Meath

17821L

St. Mary’s National School, Enfield

New School

Primary

2011

€3.5m

Ireland

Glenman Corporation Ltd., Merrion House, Tuam Rd., Galway

Cavan

61060M

St Patrick’s College, Cavan, Co. Cavan

New School

Post-primary

2010

€7.8m

Kildare

17674B

SN Aine Naofa, Ard Cloc, Straffan

New School

Primary

2010

€2.7m

Meath

20180Q

Scoil Eoin National School, Navan

New School

Primary

2010

€2.9m

Offaly

17637S

SN Sheosaimh Naofa, Beál Átha na gCarr, Tullamore

New School

Primary

2010

€1.8m

Wicklow

09760V

Powerscourt NS, Powerscourt, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow

New School

Primary

2011

€1.5m

Kilkenny

15160G

Marymount N.S., The Rower, Inistioge

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2010

€1.3m

Dublin

18646B

Springdale NS, Lough Derg Rd., Raheny

New School

Primary

2009

€1.6m

Westmeath

18812P

Loch an Ghair NS, Mullingar

New School

Primary

2009

€1.6m

Kildare

16345A

Scoil Bhride, Nurney

New School

Primary

2009

€1.6m

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown

19474D

St. Colmcille’s Junior NS, Templeogue

Joint Contract for two new schools

Primary

2011

€13.5m

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown

19472C

St. Colmcille’s Senior NS, Templeogue

Carlow

17501Q

Bennekerry NS

New School

Primary

2011

€3m

Dublin Fingal

20231H

St. Benedicts Ongar NS, Littlepace

New School

Primary

2009

€6.2m

Northern Ireland

Graham Projects Ltd., Dromore, Co. Down

Meath

20216L

Scoil Oilibhéir Noafa, Laytown

New School

Primary

2009

€6.7m

Ireland

J.J. Rhatigan & Company, Wolfe Tone House, Fr. Griffin Road, Galway

Limerick City

18991S

JFK Memorial School, Ennis Road

New School

Primary

2010

€2.8m

Mayo

20046M

Gaelscoil Na Cruaiche, Cathair na Mart, Co. Mayo

New School

Primary

2010

€1.5m

Galway

19506N

Cappataggle Central School, Ballinasloe

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2011

€1m

Tipperary NR

72370P

Borrisokane Community College, Tipperary

Extension/ Refurbishment

Post-primary

2011

€7.5m

Westmeath

17089N

Cluain Maolain NS, Clonmellon

New School

Primary

2009

€1.7m

Dublin Belgard

18324C

Scoil Bride C, Palmerstown

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2009

€1.8m

Ireland

John G. Burns Limited, Coolmine Business Park, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

Dublin Fingal

60010P

Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan

Extension/ Refurbishment

Post-primary

2010

€4.1m

Kildare

61710C

Meanscoil Iognaid Ris, Naas

Extension/ Refurbishment

Post-primary

2009

€4.2m

Westmeath

63290Q

Loreto College, Mullingar

Extension/ Refurbishment

Post-primary

2011

€5m

Ireland

John Sisk & Son Ltd., Wilton Works, Naas Road, Clondalkin, Dublin 22

Offaly

65610S

Colaiste Choilm, O’Moore Street, Tullamore, Co Offaly

New School

Post-primary

2010

€6.1m

Monaghan

19936P

Gaelscoil Ultain

Joint contract for 3 New Schools

Primary

2011

€30m

Monaghan

76091I

Gaelcolaiste Oiriall

Post-primary

Monaghan

76095Q

Monaghan Institution of Further Education and Training (MIFET)

Post-primary

Sligo

65170Q

Summerhill College, Sligo

New School

Post-primary

2011

€8.5m

Ireland

Joseph McMenamin & Sons (Stranorlar) Ltd, Glebe, Stranorlar, Co. Donegal

Donegal

91409A

Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair, Derrybeg, Letterkenny

Extension/ Refurbishment

Post-primary

2010

€0.6m

Donegal

18052S

Scoil Mhuire gan Smál, Letterkenny

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2011

€3m

Ireland

JP Castle Building Contractors Ltd., 34 Castle Road, Dundalk, Co Louth

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown

60860Q

Our Lady’s School, Templeogue Road, Terenure, Dublin 6W

Extension/ Refurbishment

Post-primary

2010

€3m

Ireland

JSL Group Ltd., 43 Lower Salthill, Galway

Cork

13450F

Rushbrooke NS, Cobh

New School

Primary

2011

€4m

Kildare

18654A

Caragh NS, Naas

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2009

€2.6m

Kerry

61440W

St. Mary’s CBS, Tralee

Extension/ Refurbishment

Post-primary

2011

€5m

Dublin

19373U

St. Michael’s House Special School, Raheny

New School

Primary

2011

€3.5m

Tipperary NR

72440K

Nenagh VS, Nenagh

Extension/ Refurbishment

Post-primary

2011

€4.5m

Ireland

Kilcawley Construction Ltd., Sansheen House, Wolfe Tone Street, Sligo

Mayo

20142I

Scoil Íosa, Abbeyquarter, Ballyhaunis

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2011

€2m

Roscommon

65100S

Scoil Mhuire, Strokestown

Extension/ Refurbishment

Post-primary

2011

€1m

Ireland

Manley Construction Ltd., Main Street, Duleek, Co. Meath

Meath

63870L

Drogheda Grammar School

Extension/ Refurbishment

Post-primary

2011

€3m

Ireland

Martin Fitzgibbon (Builders) Ltd., Ennis Industrial Estate, Gort Road, Ennis, Co. Clare

Kerry

20196I

Ballybunion NS

New School

Primary

2010

€1.8m

Laois

14260F

Abbeyleix Sth NS, Abbeyleix

New School

Primary

2010

€1.3m

Clare

14830U

Barefield N.S., Ennis

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2009

€1.7m

Northern Ireland

McCann Brothers (Ireland) Ltd., 4 Tullyvalley Road, Seskinore, Omagh, Co. Tyrone. BT78 2PX

Donegal

18219F

SN Chonaill, Machaire Chlochair, Bun Beag

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2010

€1.1m

Kilkenny

61580P

Loreto Secondary School, Granges Road

Extension/ Refurbishment

Post-primary

2011

€5m

Meath

18016O

St. Columbanus’ N.S., Ballivor

New School

Primary

2009

€2.4m

Ireland

Merrion Construction Ltd.

Kildare

20114D

Scoil Brid, Naas

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2011

€1m

Ireland

MMD Construction (Cork) Ltd.

Cork

18279A

St. Mary’s NS, Carrigaline

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2011

€0.5m

Ireland

MDY Construction Ltd., Staplestown, Naas, Co. Kildare

Wicklow

61800D

Presentation College, Bray

New School

Post-primary

2010

€5.8m

Wicklow

20016D

Gaelscoil Uí Cheadaigh, Bray

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2010

€1.6m

Ireland

Midland Construction & Engineering Limited, Kells Business Park, Kells, Co. Meath

Longford

71690F

Ballymahon Vocational School

Extension/ Refurbishment

Post-primary

2010

€0.7m

Donegal

71240U

Stranorlar Vocational School (Finn Valley College)

New School

Post-primary

2010

€4.7m

Kerry

17646T

O’Brennan NS, Kielduff, Tralee

New School

Primary

2011

€2m

Kerry

20197K

Kenmare NS, Kenmare

New School

Primary

2011

€2.5m

Wexford

71630K

Vocational School, Enniscorthy

Extension/ Refurbishment

Post-primary

2009

€5.5m

Dublin City

17936F/19006Q

Scoil Eoin Baisde Snr, Clontarf / Scoil Eoin Baisde B Sois, Clontarf — 2 schools one contract

Extension/Refurbishment — Joint contract for two schools

Primary

2011

€3m

Limerick City

19587Q

St. Augustine’s Youth Encounter Project

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2011

€0.5m

Ireland

Midland Contractors Limited, Cortown, Kells, Co Meath

Laois

20071L

Scoil Bhríde, Rathdowney

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2011

€2m

Ireland

Multeen Developments Ltd.

Offaly

17523D

SN Cronain Naofa, Dromakeenan

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2009

€1.3m

Ireland

Mythen Construction Ltd., Longraigue, Foulksmills, Co. Wexford

Tipperary NR

15696B

Silvermines National School

New School

Primary

2011

€1.5m

Wexford

17017L

SN Phadraig, Crossabeg

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2011

€1.5m

Meath

17964K

SN Mhuire, Rathfeigh

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2009

€1.2m

Ireland

Ollie Kenny Ltd., Lissywollen, Cormanagh, Athlone, Co Westmeath

Limerick

13026P

Kilfinane National School

New School

Primary

2010

€1.5m

Ireland

P. Rogers & Co. Ltd., Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan

Louth

19598V

Muire nanGael NS, Bay Estate, Dundalk

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2009

€3.2m

Ireland

Paddy Burke Builders Ltd., Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare

Mayo

76060U

Davitt College, Castlebar

PE Hall

Post-primary

2009

€1.4m

Ireland

PJ McLoughlin & Sons Ltd., Dublin Road, Longford

Sligo

19495L

Carbury NS, The Mall

New School

Primary

2011

€2m

Ireland

Purcell Construction Ltd., Unit 57 Briarhill Business Park, Ballybrit, Galway

Dublin City

16964F

Scoil Mhuire Ogh 1, Loreto College, Crumlin Rd, Dublin 12

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2010

€2.4m

Kildare

11976K

Scoil Choca Naofa, Kilcock, Co. Kildare

Extension/ Refurbishment

Primary

2010

€2.9m

Louth

18069M

Naomh Seosamh, Mell, Drogheda

New School

Primary

2010

€2m

Louth

20205G

St. Mary’s Parish School, Drogheda

New School

Primary

2010

€6.3m

Laois

17617M

Scoil Chomhgain Naofa, Killeshin

New School

Primary

2011

€3m

Louth

20349H

Scoil Oilibhéir Noafa, Drogheda

New School

Primary

2011

€3.5m

Meath

17213L

SN Mhuire, Ma Nealta, Ceannanus Mór

New School

Primary

2011

€1.5m

Waterford City

64970U

Coláiste na Maighdine, Presentation Secondary School, Waterford City

New School

Post-primary

2011

€4.5m

Ireland

Roankabin, Old Milltown, Kill, Co. Kildare

Dublin

20131D

Dublin 7 Educate Together NS

New School

Primary

2009

€2m

Ireland

Sammon Contracting Ltd., Unit 2 The Enterprise Centre, Kilcock, Co. Kildare

Cavan

06998Q

SN Tulach a Mhile, Corlough

New School

Primary

2010

€1.2m

Cork

20105C

Star of the Sea Primary School, Passage West

New School

Primary

2010

€2.8m

Dublin Fingal

19898K

Gaelscoil an Duinnigh, Feltrim, Swords

New School

Primary

2010

€2.4m

Kildare

20058T

Sc Uí Fhiach, Maynooth

New School

Primary

2010

€2.7m

Cork

16746S

Ballygarvan NS

New School

Primary

2011

€3m

Meath

00885T

Ratoath Jnr NS

Joint Contract for 2 Extension/ Refurbishment projects

Primary

2009

€2.4m

Meath

20200T

Ratoath Snr NS

Primary

2009

Laois

07442U

Convent of Mercy NS, Borris in Ossory

New School

Primary

2011

€2m

Cork

00512D

Midleton Convent NS

New School

Primary

2009

€3.3m

Louth

20146Q

Le Cheile Educate Together NS

New School

Primary

2009

€4.4m

Wexford

76127D

Gorey Community College

New School

Post-primary

2011

€5.5m

Ireland

Sammon Elliott Construction Ltd., Unit 2 The Enterprise Centre, Kilcock, Co. Kildare

Dublin Fingal

76104O

Donabate Community College

New School

Post-primary

2010

€11m

Meath

76103M

Colaiste Na hInse, Laytown

New School

Post-primary

2011

€8.5m

Ireland

Walls Construction Ltd. Cork

Cork

17667E

St. Patrick’s NS, Whitechurch

New School

Primary

2011

€2.5m

Northern Ireland

Western Building Systems, Coalisland, Co. Tyrone

South Dublin

20303G

Lucan East Educate Together, Clonburris

Joint Contract for 2 new schools

Primary

2011

€2m

Dublin Fingal

20201V

Tyrrelstown Educate Together

Primary

2011

€5.5m

Kildare

16705E

Scoil Phadraig Naofa, Athy

Single contract for work on 4 schools. 1 new school and 3 extension projects

Primary

2011

€5.5m

Kildare

06209J

Athy Model School (See 16705E)

Primary

2011

Kildare

20192A

Scoil Áth Í, Athy (See 16705E)

Primary

2011

Meath

20215J

St. Paul’s NS, Ratoath

Primary

2011

€4m

Dublin Fingal

76129H

Ardgillan Community College, Balbriggan

New School

Post-primary

2009

€4m

Schools Building Projects

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

215 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the stage at which the plans are for the new schools that have been announced for County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34832/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, in June of this year I announced that 20 new primary schools and 20 new post-primary schools would be established over the next few years. Of these new schools, two are primary schools to be established in County Meath — both in Ashbourne, and two are post-primary schools to be established in County Meath — one in Ashbourne and one in Navan.

The first of the new primary schools in Ashbourne opened in September 2011, under the patronage of An Foras Patrúnachta. The second new primary school for Ashbourne is scheduled to open in September 2012, and will be under the patronage of Educate Together. My Department is looking at site options to provide longer-term accommodation for both of these schools. Applications for patronage of the new second level schools have been sought by my Department from prospective patrons. The closing date for receipt of applications is 13 January 2012. My Department will prepare a report on these applications for the consideration of the New Schools Establishment Group who will submit a report to me for final consideration and decision. My Department is looking at options for providing both start-up and longer-term accommodation for both of these new schools.

Public Service Reform

Terence Flanagan

Question:

216 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding the Civil Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34008/11]

The Programme for Government includes a comprehensive range of commitments in relation to Public Service Reform. Notwithstanding developments to-date, the cost of delivering public services must be reduced further, with fewer staff and tighter budgets, and the Public Service must become better integrated and more customer-focused, as well as being leaner and more efficient.

Implementation of the Public Service reform programme is a key priority for this Government and a detailed Public Service Reform Plan is being developed by my Department which encompasses the commitments to Public Service Reform in the Programme for Government and priority areas from the existing Transforming Public Services programme. The issues to be addressed in the reform programme will, of course, also be informed by the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure across all Government Departments, the results of which will be published shortly.

This Plan, which is due to be published next Thursday, outlines the priority actions and timelines for reform in a broad range of areas such as business process improvement, eGovernment, shared services, procurement, legislative change, etc. and a number of actions in these and other areas are already underway. It also focuses on actions to improve performance by organisations and individuals to ensure greater efficiency, effectiveness and economy.

This Plan will ensure a renewed focus on organisational performance through initiatives such as Strategy Statements, performance budgeting and enhanced reporting of performance and progress, the Organisational Review Programme and legislative change to clarify accountability arrangements, to name but some.

There will also be a strong focus on individual performance to improve capacity and capability across the Public Service including a strong focus on leadership skills through the Senior Public Service (SPS). Staff development and performance at all levels across the Public Service will be enhanced, through the implementation and consolidation of performance management systems.

The Plan also sets out how implementation should be driven and monitored. The organisations and individuals that have responsibility for implementing this Plan will regularly report on progress to the Cabinet Committee on Public Service Reform, which is chaired by the Taoiseach and which I convene.

My Department has been given a clear mandate to drive and enable Public Service Reform, and the focus now is on the key reforms required, and how and in what sequence they will be implemented. In this context, a dedicated Public Service Reform and Delivery Office has been established within the Department to facilitate, drive and support the reform programme. The Reform and Delivery Office is being led by a recently appointed Programme Director who is working closely with organisations across the Public Service, to enable them drive the delivery of reform at a local level, as well as lead on cross cutting reform issues.

Flood Relief

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

217 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if emergency funding will be provided to clean out a section of river (details supplied) in County Kerry. [34337/11]

The Office of Public Works has no maintenance responsibility for the channel in question.

It is open to Kerry County Council, as the relevant local authority in this instance, to submit a funding application to this Office under the Minor Flood Mitigation Works Scheme to undertake the required cleaning works. Any application received will be considered having regard to the scheme eligibility criteria and the overall availability of resources for flood risk management.

Departmental Expenditure

Niall Collins

Question:

218 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will supply a detailed cost breakdown for the count centre, and associated count personnel, for the recent Dublin West by-election, including the additional cost incurred due to the recount called by one of the candidates. [34541/11]

Returning Officers are required to submit accounts to the Department of Finance within six months of holding an election. The accounts for the recent bye-election have not yet been submitted and an accurate break down of costs will not be available until that time. However, the cost for holding the bye-election was estimated to be in the region of €231,000.

Public Procurement Contracts

Gerald Nash

Question:

219 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the measures taken by him and the National Procurement Service to facilitate a larger number of indigenous companies in the State in accessing public contracts; if he is satisfied at the success rates of Republic of Ireland companies in terms of the securing of State contracts; the way he intends to improve the situation within the framework of EU public procurement directives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34662/11]

The National Procurement Service (NPS) in the Office of Public Works has responsibility for initiatives in procurement to achieve efficiencies and value for money for the Irish taxpayer.

Since its establishment in 2009, the NPS has made continuous efforts to ensure that Irish Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are able to take full advantage of the public procurement opportunities that arise and are available to them. The NPS facilitate seminars for SMEs which cover all the issues relating to competing for public procurement contracts, including

Public Procurement regulations;

accessing the market opportunities;

the tendering process, and general guidance on how companies should approach the preparation of tenders.

A number of seminars were delivered to ISME and to Chambers of Commerce in 2010 and 2011, and workshops were also delivered in 2011 on public procurement opportunities in association with Enterprise Ireland and Intertrade Ireland. The NPS has also produced a leaflet "Top Tendering Tips for Public Sector Contracts" which is freely available.

One significant development in the area of facilitating the SME sector was the publication by the Department of Finance in August 2010 of Circular 10/10. These guidelines to public contracting authorities aim to ensure that tendering processes are carried out in a manner that facilitates participation by SMEs, while ensuring that all procurement is carried out in a manner that is legal, transparent, and secures optimal value for money for the taxpayer. It addresses the concerns that SMEs have regarding access to public procurement opportunities, and highlights practices that are to be avoided where they can hinder small businesses in competing for public contracts. The new arrangements include:

greater open advertising of opportunities (threshold now €25,000);

a reduced requirement for paperwork (such as accounts) at the early stages of tendering;

an instruction that suppliers are not to be charged for access to tender opportunities;

an assurance that all criteria used would be appropriate and proportionate; and

an instruction that turnover and insurance levels would be set at proportionate levels.

All of these actions are consistent with the EU-commissioned research, carried out by independent consultants GHK, onEvaluation of SMEs’ Access to Public Procurement Markets in the EU (September 2010), DG Enterprise and Industry, which notes that SMEs in Ireland secured greater access to public procurement than in other countries.

In addition to the work being done by the NPS and the Department of Finance, Enterprise Ireland is running strategic workshops to assist companies, such as Management Development workshops, and Strategic and Change Management programmes. Enterprise Ireland also offers assistance with exports, management development, lean manufacturing, research and development, and overseas offices programmes.

NPS policy seeks to encourage participation by SMEs in public sector competitions. SMEs that believe the scope of some competitions is beyond their technical or business capacity are encouraged to explore the possibilities of forming relationships with other SMEs or with larger enterprises. The NPS tender documentation for larger contracts allows and encourages SMEs to come together to bid for these contracts.

Larger enterprises are also encouraged to consider the practical ways that SMEs can be included in their proposals to maximise the social and economic benefits of the contracts that result from this tendering exercise.

The NPS is responsible for eProcurement and for the operation of the eTenders public procurement portal (www.etenders.gov.ie). On average 5,000 tenders for the procurement of goods, services and works are advertised on eTenders every year.

Since 2009, the NPS has been responsible for producing annual statistical information in relation to above-EU threshold procurement activity by the Irish public sector and providing these statistics to the European Commission. Current thresholds (valid from January 2010 to December 2011) above which tenders must be advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) are as follows:

Works

Contract Notice

€4,845,000

Threshold applies to Government Departments and Offices, Local and Regional Authorities and other public bodies.

Supplies and Services

Contract Notice

€125,000

Threshold applies to Government Departments and Offices

Contract Notice

€193,000

Threshold applies to Local and Regional Authorities and public bodies outside the Utilities sector.

Utilities

Works Contracts / Prior Indicative Notice

€4,845,000

For entities in Utilities sectors covered by GPA

Supplies and Services

€387,000

For entities in Utilities sectors covered by GPA

Information on contract placement is available currently for the years 2005-2009 relates to above-EU threshold contracts only and is contained in the tabular statement below. Data in respect of 2010 will not be available until later this year. The Deputy should be aware that the figures contained in the table relates to the number of contracts placed which were above the EU Threshold for the year in question and must not be interpreted as indicative statistics for the overall procurement spend. It must also be borne in mind that these statistics relate only to above threshold procurements, where contract award notices were published, and where the nationality of the winning tenderer was disclosed.

For example, when considering the year 2009, €2.8 billion worth of expenditure was advertised in the Official Journal, out of the €15 billion public procurement spend in that year. The NPS estimates that less than 5% of the overall spend went to non-domestic suppliers, as a significant proportion of the overall procurement spend is below the EU threshold and is also below the threshold for advertising on eTenders (the eTenders threshold was €50,000 in 2009).

It should be noted also that all the statistics relating to non-domestic suppliers relate to suppliers with an address in countries other than Ireland and do not distinguish between European and non-European supplier.

Above threshold Contracts Awarded to Irish and Non-Domestic Suppliers 2009-2005

2009

No. of Contracts

Value €000

Irish Suppliers

777

2,537,622

Non-Domestic Suppliers

170

347,137

Total

947

2,884,759

2008

No. of Contracts

Value €000

Irish Suppliers

1016

4,217,564

Non-Domestic Suppliers

296

568,338

Total

1312

4,785,902

2007

No. of Contracts

Value €000

Irish Suppliers

Numbers not available

4,786,975

Non-Domestic Suppliers

Numbers not available

513,146

Total

5,300,121

2006

No. of Contracts

Value €000

Irish Suppliers

800

2,682,751

Non-Domestic Suppliers

151

1,039,696

Total

951

3,722,447

2005

No. of Contracts

Value €000

Irish Suppliers

487

1,953,630

Non-Domestic Suppliers

102

458,604

Total

589

2,412,234

Legislative Programme

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

220 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the Construction Contract Bill will have a limit of contracts worth €200,000 or over when it comes before Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34701/11]

It is proposed to address this issue when the Bill comes before the House. There are arguments for and against such a threshold in the Bill which can be debated during its passage.

Pension Provisions

Ciara Conway

Question:

221 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, further to Parliamentary Question No. 77 of 19 April 2011, regarding the pensions insolvency payment scheme in respect of a company (details supplied) if a decision has been reached on this issue; if not, when may we expect a decision and the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34787/11]

Ciara Conway

Question:

232 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding pension payments for workers of a company (details supplied); if a decision has been reached on this issue; if not, when can we expect a decision; the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34788/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 221 and 232 together.

The Pensions Insolvency Payment Scheme (PIPS) offers annuities for sale to defined benefit schemes where the scheme is winding-up and where the parent company is insolvent. Applications to participate in PIPS have been received from two Waterford Crystal schemes.

In the past week the detailed information relating to Waterford pensioners that is needed for the pricing process under PIPS has been sent by the Waterford schemes to my Department. This information has been forwarded to the NTMA as the agency responsible for arriving at the price for entry to PIPS. The NTMA has been requested to calculate a sum which represents the actuarially assessed cost of providing pension payments to the relevant pensioners (the PIPS ‘price'). The NTMA will now carry out the detailed calculations needed for all the pensioners in each of the two schemes. Once I receive the results of the pricing process from the NTMA I will then forward the PIPS prices to the Waterford trustees for their consideration.

Prior to finalising their applications, the Waterford trustees submitted a proposal relating to a number of aspects of their applications to the Department of Finance. That proposal raised technical issues in regard to the pricing of Waterford's applications; an examination of these matters was carried out by officials of my Department and by the NTMA. Following this examination, I approved the trustee's proposal and agreement was reached with the trustees on the approach to be adopted in arriving at a price for the two schemes. The time taken to deal with this matter was in part due to the complex nature of the issues involved.

Garda Stations

Denis Naughten

Question:

222 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, further to Parliamentary Question No. 119 of 5 October 2011, if he will provide an update; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34146/11]

The expected finishing date for the new Garda Station at Clonark is now end November 2011. At this stage, the Contractor is engaged in final completion issues at the building and arrangements are being put in place for final handover to An Garda Siochána before the end of the month.

Croke Park Agreement

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

223 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of Croke Park agreement projects that each State agency under his aegis is progressing; if he will list each project by Department in tabular form; the amount to be saved by each project; the number that have been completed since the agreement came into force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34162/11]

The information is currently being collated and will be provided by the end of this week at the latest.

Departmental Staff

Liam Twomey

Question:

224 Deputy Liam Twomey asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of appointments to principal officer level and above made in the Civil Service in the past seven months; the number of successful candidates who came from outside traditional Civil Service structures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34497/11]

In the period covered by the question there were 2 appointments at PO1 level to posts in the civil service. These appointments were to fill posts at the grade of Senior HR Manager in the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform. One appointee came from the private sector and the other from the wider public sector.

In relation to appointments above Principal Officer level, the Top Level Appointments Committee (TLAC) holds competitions for and advises Ministers/ Government as appropriate on appointments to civil service posts at Secretary General, Deputy Secretary and Assistant Secretary and equivalent levels. Since early 2007 the policy has been that open competitions are held for Assistant Secretary and Deputy Secretary and equivalent posts and more recently this policy has been extended to Secretary General posts, with the exception of a limited number of Secretary General posts which are filled by the Government without a TLAC competition.

In 2011 (to date) three appointments have been made from TLAC competitions; 2 from the private sector and the other from the wider public sector.

Appointments to State Boards

Liam Twomey

Question:

225 Deputy Liam Twomey asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of positions on State boards and agencies under his aegis which he has advertised in the past seven months; the number of applications received; the number of applicants subsequently appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34510/11]

In response to the Deputy's question 9 appointments were made to the Public Appointments Service Board on 1 September 2011.

Under the terms of the The Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act, 2004 states that the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (in consultation with Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, the Minister for Health and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence) should appoint members of the Board of the Public Appointments Service.

The majority of the board are civil or public servants, nominated by the relevant Minister. There is also a union representative nominated by ICTU. I reappointed the outgoing Chairman. The two external members were appointed by the Minister because of their expertise in strategic change and public service recruitment respectively.

The Current members of the Public Appointments Service Board are contained in the following table.

Name of board member

Mr. Eddie Sullivan, Chairman

Mr. Des Dowling, Assistant Secretary — Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government

Dr Deirdre O'Keeffe, Assistant Secretary — Department of Justice and Equality

Ms. Patricia Coleman, Director — Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Mr. Seán McGrath — National Director of HR in the HSE

Ms Judith Eve — former Chairperson the Civil Service Commissioners, Northern Ireland

Dr. Eddie Molloy — Management Consultant

Mr. Dan Murphy, former General Secretary of the PSEU

Mr. Bryan Andrews as CEO of the PAS holding office on an ex officio basis.

Ministerial Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

226 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of his constituency and parliamentary staff appointed, following the February 2011 elections, on salaries that exceed their applicable pay scale grade; the number of his existing and parliamentary staff employed prior to the February 2011 elections but awarded salary increases following the election that exceed their applicable pay scale grade; and if he will provide their annual salary details in a tabular format. [34575/11]

Since my appointment as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform on 9 March 2011, the following staff have been appointed to my constituency office:

Grade

Salary Scale (per annum)

Wholetime Equivalent

Personal Secretary

€23,820 — €47,755

1.00

Personal Assistant

€43,715 — €56,060

0.80

Clerical Officer (CO)

€23,177 — €37,341

0.60

Clerical Officer (CO)

€23,042 — €36,267

1.00

Since my appointment as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform on 9 March 2011 the following staff members have been appointed as Special Advisers:

Name

Title

Salary (per annum)

Duties

Anne Byrne

Special Adviser

€83,337

Any duties which may be assigned to her from time to time as appropriate to the position of Special Adviser as set out in Section 11 of the Public Service Management Act 1997.

Ronan O’Brien

Special Adviser

€114,000

Any duties which may be assigned to him from time to time as appropriate to the position of Special Adviser as set out in Section 11 of the Public Service Management Act 1997.

No staff member has been awarded any salary increase that exceeds their applicable pay scale grade since my appointment.

National Monuments

John McGuinness

Question:

227 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he is satisfied that all of the monuments located on the site known as St Mary’s Church, Thomastown, County Kilkenny, continue to be fully protected and available for viewing to the general public; if public access through the two gates to the site will continue to be maintained and operated in the interest of the public; if his views were sought on recent developments and planning permission relative to this site; if his officials oversaw recent works at the graveyard on this site; if his Department will fund the maintenance of the graveyard and listed monuments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34613/11]

The site of St. Mary's Church, Thomastown consists of the ruins of a thirteenth century church and a 19th century former Church of Ireland church, currently used as a private dwelling. The 19th century church is located within the boundary of the 13th century church. Both churches are situated within a walled graveyard. The 13th century church is a National Monument in State ownership and is under the care of the Office of Public Works (OPW). The 19th century church building and graveyard are in private ownership. OPW understands that there is no public right of way to the graveyard or to either church. OPW has access to the 13th century church for the purpose of carrying out maintenance and repair work. The graveyard, which is in private ownership, is not part of the National Monument in State care. Recent works at the graveyard were not overseen by OPW.

The owner of the 19th century Church and graveyard carried out extensive renovations in 2003-4, on foot of a planning permission granted by Kilkenny County Council. As part of the application process, the National Monuments Service of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government was consulted as was the National Monuments Section of OPW.

The conservation and maintenance of the 13th century St Mary's Church, a National Monument in State care, will continue to be the responsibility of the Office of Public works.

Pension Provisions

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

228 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the former Ministers currently in receipt of ministerial and TD pensions; the names of the recipients; and their gross annual pension excluding the public service pension reduction in tabular form which includes a breakdown of the TD pension, ministerial pension and the total of both for each retired Member. [34643/11]

The data in respect of Ministerial and TDs' pensions requested by the Deputy are in the following tabular statement. The figures were provided by the Office of Paymaster General in respect of Ministerial pensions and by the Houses of the Oireachtas Service in respect of TD pensions.

The information takes account of the latest figures in respect of the Public Service Pension Reduction.

Surname

Forename

Annual Amount of TD’s Pension less Public Service Pension Reduction

Annual Amount of Ministerial Pension less Public Service Pension Reduction

Annual Amount of Ministerial and TD Pension less Public Service Pension Levy

Ahern

Noel

€47,718

€22,516

€70,234

Ahern

Michael

€53,136

€23,309

€76,445

Ahern

Dermot

€50,722

€69,243

€119,965

Ahern

Bertie

€49,935

€101,127

€151,062

Allen

Lorcan

€52,359

€11,684

€64,043

Allen

Bernard

€52,206

€12,310

€64,516

Andrews

David

€49,935

€58,495

€108,430

Aylward *

Liam

€49,935

€0

€49,935

Barry

Richard

€65,768

€9,842

€75,610

Barry

Peter

€65,768

€60,713

€126,481

Begley

Michael

€49,935

€19,518

€69,453

Bhreathnach

Niamh

€11,610

€35,566

€47,176

Birmingham

George

€20,157

€17,733

€37,890

Brady

Vincent

€38,914

€20,717

€59,631

Bruton

John

€50,282

€91,567

€141,849

Burke

Richard

€20,157

€33,178

€53,335

Burke

Ray

€49,935

€53,904

€103,839

Byrne

Hugh

€49,935

€18,456

€68,391

Calleary

Sean

€49,337

€23,505

€72,842

Callely

Ivor

€0

€14,754

€14,754

Carey

Donal

€53,976

€12,047

€66,023

Cassidy

Donie

€0

€11,506

€11,506

Collins

Edward

€45,085

€18,328

€63,413

Collins

Gerard

€49,935

€52,630

€102,565

Connaughton

Paul

€49,935

€17,733

€67,668

Connolly

Gerard

€49,935

€24,800

€74,735

Cooney

Patrick

€49,935

€52,630

€102,565

Cosgrave

Liam T

€36,282

€18,768

€55,050

Cosgrave *

Liam (snr)

€65,768

€67,258

€133,026

Cowen

Brian

€49,935

€101,127

€151,062

Creed

Donal

€49,935

€15,996

€65,931

Cullen

Martin

€49,935

€69,243

€119,178

Currie

Austin

€47,070

€12,313

€59,383

Daly

Brendan

€51,975

€43,540

€95,515

D’Arcy

Michael

€51,982

€15,996

€67,978

Davern

Noel

€53,931

€20,221

€74,152

De Valera

Síle

€49,935

€53,713

€103,648

Deasy

Austin

€51,975

€35,924

€87,899

Dempsey

Noel

€49,935

€69,243

€119,178

Desmond

Barry

€49,935

€36,489

€86,424

Donnellan

John

€31,749

€9,050

€40,799

Doyle

Avril

€45,346

€14,789

€60,135

Dukes

Alan

€51,507

€42,961

€94,468

Fahey

Jackie

€49,935

€18,077

€68,012

Fahey

Frank

€51,411

€61,542

€112,953

Faulkner

Padraig

€49,935

€52,630

€102,565

Fitzpatrick

Tom

€45,085

€10,992

€56,077

Flood

Chris

€38,429

€17,364

€55,793

Flynn

Padraig

€39,186

€47,943

€87,129

Gallagher

Pat ‘The Cope’

€50,806

€19,756

€70,562

Harney

Mary

€49,935

€79,871

€129,806

Higgins

Jim

€51,390

€5,973

€57,363

Higgins

Michael D

€50,178

€37,750

€87,928

Honan

Tras

€27,700

€23,050

€50,750

Hussey

Thomas

€44,108

€17,108

€61,216

Hussey

Gemma

€30,537

€35,521

€66,058

Hyland

Liam

€49,490

€11,837

€61,327

Jacob

Joe

€49,935

€29,191

€79,126

Kavanagh

Liam

€53,467

€38,069

€91,536

Kiely

Rory

€35,387

€16,937

€52,324

Kitt

Tom

€50,643

€31,224

€81,867

Lalor

Paddy

€49,935

€51,219

€101,154

Lyons

Denis

€29,241

€19,503

€48,744

MacSharry

Ray

€49,935

€39,002

€88,937

McCarthy

Sean

€26,760

€11,844

€38,604

McCreevy

Charlie

€49,935

€69,243

€119,178

McDaid

Jim

€49,935

€47,472

€97,407

McDonald

Charles

€46,690

€11,811

€58,501

McDowell *

Michael

€30,245

€74,281

€104,526

McManus

Liz

€0

€12,310

€12,310

Moffatt

Tom

€23,737

€18,456

€42,193

Molloy

Robert

€49,935

€63,742

€113,677

Mullooly

Brian

€35,387

€21,916

€57,303

Nealon

Ted

€40,229

€19,507

€59,736

Noonan

Michael J

€49,935

€30,750

€80,685

O’Brien

Fergus

€47,484

€19,507

€66,991

O’Connell

Dr John

€49,935

€26,375

€76,310

O’Donnell

Liz

€40,105

€18,799

€58,904

O’Donnell

Tom

€49,935

€35,862

€85,797

O’Donoghue

Martin

€21,372

€29,958

€51,330

O’Donoghue

John

€49,935

€69,243

€119,178

O’Hanlon

Rory

€49,935

€67,043

€116,978

O’Keeffe

Edward (Ned)

€50,389

€15,127

€65,516

O’Keeffe

Jim

€51,289

€19,508

€70,797

O’Kennedy

Michael

€53,946

€68,858

€122,804

O’Malley

Tim

€12,544

€18,649

€31,193

O’Malley

Desmond

€54,092

€52,630

€106,722

O’Rourke

Mary

€50,938

€67,043

€117,981

O’Shea

Brian

€49,935

€17,036

€66,971

O’Sullivan

Toddy

€41,712

€14,713

€56,425

O’Toole

Paddy

€35,386

€38,683

€74,069

Owen

Nora

€46,587

€27,239

€73,826

Parlon

Tom

€12,544

€18,649

€31,193

Pattison

Seamus

€53,467

€63,738

€117,205

Power

Sean

€27,899

€8,565

€36,464

Power

Patrick

€49,935

€26,034

€75,969

Reynolds

Albert

€49,935

€99,805

€149,740

Ryan

Eoin

€47,885

€5,929

€53,814

Ryan

John

€49,935

€17,400

€67,335

Ryan

Richie

€57,170

€35,863

€93,033

Smith

Michael

€49,935

€69,243

€119,178

Spring

Dick

€49,935

€71,173

€121,108

Taylor

Mervyn

€40,229

€37,750

€77,979

Treacy

Noel

€51,393

€32,216

€83,609

Treacy

Sean

€49,935

€69,243

€119,178

Wallace

Dan

€52,283

€20,809

€73,092

Wallace

Mary

€51,010

€26,437

€77,447

Walsh

Joe

€49,935

€69,243

€119,178

Woods

Michael

€53,453

€69,243

€122,696

Yates

Ivan

€47,607

€27,230

€74,837

Dr. Maurice Manning and Ms Marian Harkin are gifting their TD pensions.

Ms Eithne Fitzgerald, Ms Maire Geoghegan Quinn, Mr Gay Mitchell and Mr Proinnsias de Rossa are gifting their TD & Ministerial pensions.

*Mr Liam Aylward is gifting his Ministerial pension for 2011

*Mr. Liam Cosgrave (Snr) is gifting part of his Ministerial pension for 2011.

* Mr. McDowell's pension of €74,281 is in respect of his service as a Minister, Tánaiste and Attorney General.

Departmental Allowances

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

229 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the cost of delegate allowances, ex-gratia payments, and out of hours allowances paid to civil servants in 2010. [34653/11]

As legislation was only enacted in July 2011 to create my Department, no allowances were paid for my Department in 2010. However, prior to the split of the Department of Finance in July, 2011 to create the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, allowances were paid as follows by the Department of Finance in respect of its staff in 2010:

Delegates Allowance

€47,427.91

On Call Payments

€19,202.98

Ex Gratia

€1,500.00

Pension Provisions

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

230 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, further to Parliamentary Question No. 189 of 18 October 2011, if he will supply the data as requested. [34679/11]

The data will be supplied to the Deputy by the end of this week. The delay is regretted.

Gerry Adams

Question:

231 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in respect of the former holders of the Office of Attorney General currently in receipt of pensions, the names of the recipients; the amount of money they receive from the pensions on an annual basis; if these persons receive additional pensions for their roles as TDs, Senators or Ministers; and the total pension they receive. [34751/11]

The data in respect of Attorney General, Ministerial and TDs' pensions requested by the Deputy are in the following tabular statement. The figures were provided by the Office of Paymaster General in respect of Attorney General and Ministerial pensions and from the Houses of the Oireachtas Service in respect of TD pensions.

Forename And Surname

Annual Amount of AG’s Pension less Public Service Pension Reduction

Annual Amount of Ministerial Pension less Public Service Pension Reduction

Annual Amount of TD’s/Senator’s Pension less Public Service Pension Reduction

Total

Anthony Hederman

€60,611

€0.00

€0.00

€60,611

John Murray

€67,686

€0.00

€0.00

€67,686

Harry Whelehan

€54,025

€0.00

€0.00

€54,025

David Byrne

€43,061

€0.00

€0.00

€43,061

Dermot Gleeson

€47,918

€0.00

€0.00

€47,918

John Rogers

€44,905

€0.00

€0.00

€44,905

Peter D Sutherland

€49,500

€0.00

€0.00

€49,500

Michael McDowell* (See Note Below)

€74,281

€30,245

€104,526

* The Pension of €74,281 is in respect of his service as a Minister, Tánaiste and the Attorney General.

Question No. 232 answered with Question No. 221.

Capital Projects

Gerald Nash

Question:

233 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide details on the number and value of State capital project contracts awarded to companies registered outside the State in the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively; if he will provide details in respect of the number and value of State capital project contracts awarded to companies registered in the Republic of Ireland in the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34814/11]

The Deputy has confirmed that the information sought is in relation to State capital construction projects. My Department did not award any such contracts during the period in question.

During 2011 my Department co-funded PEACE and Interreg Programmes which cover the Border counties of Ireland and Northern Ireland. These Programmes are administered by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), a north-south body established under the Good Friday Agreement. PEACE and INTERREG projects are proposed and implemented by Lead Partners who apply to the SEUPB for funding for particular projects. Any contracts for capital works are awarded by the Lead Partners and are not considered as State capital construction project contracts.

Research Funding

Brendan Smith

Question:

234 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the total amount invested in the programme for research in third level institutions PRTLI since it was first initiated. [34322/11]

The Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions (PRTLI) was launched in 1998 and provides funding for third level research infrastructure, national shared facilities, and structured PhD programmes. The Programme is designed to facilitate Irish institutions to produce world-class research in science, technology, humanities and the social sciences, including business and law.

To date, there have been five cycles of awards under the PRTLI. Funding of the PRTLI is provided via contributions from the Exchequer, private sector partners, philanthropic donations and the European Regional Development Fund. The following table sets out the total investment from all sources in approved projects up to 31 October 2011.

PRTLI Cycle

Capital Investment (€m)

Recurrent Expenditure (€m)

Total (€m)

1

177.5

28.6

206.1

2

48.8

29.7

78.5

3

178.0

142.4

320.4

4

117.9*

117.6

235.5

5

30.1**

7.8**

37.9**

Total (€m)

552.3

326.1

878.4

*To June 2011

**Exchequer only — private funding figures not yet available

PRTLI Cycle 5 was launched in July 2010 with capital and recurrent expenditure awards amounting to €347.6m, comprising public as well as private contributions, in support of over 30 distinct projects.

Departmental Bodies

Brendan Smith

Question:

235 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the total budget for Science Foundation Ireland in 2011; and the total budget in each year since it was established in 2000. [34323/11]

The total SFI expenditure over the period 2000-2010 and allocation for 2011 is shown in the table below.

Year

Capital/ Research grants(€m )

Current expenditure/Pay(€ m)

Administrative costs of running grant programmes(€m )

Total(€m)

2000

0

0

0.40

0.40

2001

8.76

0.43

1.69

10.88

2002

31.00

0.90

3.10

35.00

2003

65.00

1.00

3.42

69.42

2004

108.59

1.32

3.82

113.73

2005

118.20

2.74

4.62

125.56

2006

139.86

3.21

4.49

147.56

2007

155.72

3.56

4.77

164.05

2008

158.81

4.37

5.01

168.19

2009

171.17

4.67

4.54

180.38

2010

150.00

4.32

3.92

158.24

2011 allocation

160.80

4.66

4.66 + €5.00 e-Journals*

175.12

*The eJournals allocation had been transferred from the Vote of the Department of Education and Skills following the transfer of certain functions from that Department to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. This €5 million is not an additional cost to the Exchequer in 2011.

Small and Medium Enterprises

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

236 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the plans he has to support small and medium enterprises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34834/11]

The Government is fully committed to addressing the issues of particular concern to SMEs. Already some important issues have been tackled under the Jobs Initiative. These include initiatives such as:

The design of a Temporary, Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme. A targeted Scheme will be in place over the coming months and will operate for one year;

An initiative on a Microfinance Fund;

The extension of the 15-day prompt payment arrangements across the wider public sector in Ireland for invoices received after 1 July 2011.

Access to Finance is obviously a key issue for the small business sector which is heavily dependent on the banking system. The initiatives taken by the Minister for Finance to restructure and re-capitalise the banking system is the principal response to making credit available. A range of measures has been announced to reorganise, recapitalise and deleverage the domestic financial system in order to restore the banks to health and continue to provide a secure banking system for deposits. These measures create capacity for the pillar banks to lend in excess of €30 billion over the next three years in SME and other important sectors. Government has imposed lending targets on the two domestic pillar banks for the three calendar years, 2011 to 2013. Both banks will be required to sanction lending of at least €3 billion this year, €3.5 billion next year and €4 billion in 2013 for new or increased credit facilities to SMEs.

The design phase of a Temporary Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme is nearing completion and I will bring formal proposals to Cabinet shortly.

In line with the commitment in the Programme for Government, a Microfinance Loan Fund to provide loans to micro enterprises is being developed. The Fund, including scheme design and appropriate delivery mechanisms, is being developed with a view to formalising proposals before the end of the year.

The Prompt Payments initiative plays an important role in redressing the cash flow difficulties experienced by small businesses. It is important that Government makes timely payment to all the businesses around the country who supply goods and services to the public sector. In accordance with the Government's Decision of 19 May 2009, all central Government Departments are now required to pay their business suppliers within 15 days of receipt of a valid invoice. In addition, the Government now requires the Health Service Executive, the local authorities and all other public sector bodies, excluding commercial semi-State bodies, to pay their suppliers within 15 days of receipt of a valid invoice.

The Small Business Advisory Group was established on 16 June 2011 and is chaired by my colleague Mr. John Perry, Minister of State for Small Business. Its objective is to facilitate structured and regular dialogue with representatives of the small business sector on issues of concern. It is intended to present a report on priority issues to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Renewal later this month. The High Level Group on Business Regulation, also chaired by Minister Perry, was set up to provide a fast-track mechanism for business to communicate specific red tape issues to Government and follow through on their implementation. The Group works to identify the administrative burdens placed on businesses, particularly SMEs, arising from regulation and to determine ways to reduce and simplify these or eliminate them where they are unnecessary. The Group has already processed a range of red tape issues and continues to seek practical solutions to further concerns. In addition to this work, the High Level Group was involved in validating the administrative burdens identified with my Department in 2009 and 2010 as part of the target to reduce administrative burdens by 25% by 2012.

The Enterprise Development agencies also have a very significant role to play in providing support to SMEs and Enterprise Ireland provides supports to companies in areas such as:

Driving sustained R&D and innovative activities direct support for in-company R&D and collaboration;

Supports to drive sales and marketing capabilities of companies;

Building Leadership and Management Capabilities;

Embedding Competitiveness Improvements through a tailored programme of Lean Initiatives;

Financial supports, including grant aid to support business development activities in established companies.

Furthermore, the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) promote and develop indigenous micro-enterprise potential and stimulate economic activity and entrepreneurship across the country. The CEBs deliver a series of programmes to underpin this role and provide both financial (grants) and non-financial (advice, training and mentoring "soft supports") assistance to project promoters who have the capacity to achieve commercial viability.

I am confident that the focus that this Government has brought to bear on the particular areas of concern for SMEs, will yield real benefit to individual enterprises and the economy as a whole in the short to medium term.

County Enterprise Boards

Terence Flanagan

Question:

237 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will respond to a matter (details supplied) regarding the provision of funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34077/11]

My Department does not provide direct funding or grants to businesses but provides funding to a number of State Agencies, including the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs), through whom assistance is delivered directly to businesses. The CEBs unique role positions them as a first point of contact for persons wishing to set up in business.

The role of Dublin City Enterprise Board, as one of a network of County and City Enterprise Boards throughout the country, is to provide a source of support for micro-enterprise (less than 10 employees) in the start-up and expansion phases, to promote and develop indigenous micro-enterprise potential and to stimulate economic activity and entrepreneurship at local level. Business growth, job creation and retention are central to the activities of the CEBs.

Subject to certain eligibility criteria new and developing micro-enterprises may qualify for financial support from the CEBs in the form of priming, expansion/development and feasibility/innovation grants. The CEBs give priority to enterprises in the manufacturing or internationally traded services sector and must always give consideration to any potential for deadweight and displacement arising from a proposed enterprise. In addition, the CEBs deliver non-financial supports such as one-to-one mentoring and a range of business advice and training programmes to improve management capability development within micro-enterprises designed to help new and existing enterprises to operate effectively and efficiently so as to last and grow, which may be available as appropriate to the needs of the promoter's business.

The promoter may therefore wish to contact their most appropriate CEB; the Dublin City Enterprise Board, in the first instance, to discuss what options may be available to them and their proposed business venture. The Board is located on the 5th Floor, O'Connell Bridge House, D'Olier Street, Dublin 2, Phone: 01 6351144 Email: info@dceb.ie

Croke Park Agreement

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

238 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of Croke Park Agreement projects that each State agency under his aegis is progressing; if he will list each project by Department in tabular form; the amount to be saved by each project; the number that have been completed since the agreement came into force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34160/11]

Under the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014, my Department, its Offices and the Agencies that come within my Department's remit were required to prepare Implementation Plans, and two subsequent Progress Reports, for consideration by the National Implementation Body, which is responsible for overseeing, driving and verifying progress on the implementation of the Public Service Agreement.

My Department currently has 13 State Agencies supporting us in our work. These are:

1. Enterprise Ireland (www.enterprise-ireland.com)

2. IDA Ireland (www.idaireland.com)

3. Science Foundation Ireland (www.sfi.ie)

4. Shannon Development (www.shannondevelopment.ie)

5. County & City Enterprise Boards (35) (www.enterpriseboards.ie)

6. National Standards Authority of Ireland (www.nsai.ie)

7. InterTradeIreland (the North / South Business Development Body) (www.intertradeireland.com)

8. Forfás (www.forfas.ie)

9. National Consumer Agency (www.nca.ie)

10. The Competition Authority (www.tca.ie)

11. Irish Auditing and Accounting Standards Authority (www.iaasa.ie)

12. Personal Injuries Assessment Board (www.injuriesboard.ie), and

13. The Health & Safety Authority (www.hsa.ie)

To date, each of these Agencies, with the exception of InterTradeIreland which is exempted from the process, has submitted a detailed Plan for implementing the Agreement as well as two Progress Reports. Copies of the Implementation Plans and the first Progress Reports that cover the period to March 2011, and which were approved by the National Implementation Body, are available on the respective Agency websites. The most recent Progress Reports covering the period from April to September 2011 have been forwarded to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for consideration by the Implementation Body. Once this process is completed, I will arrange for each Agency to place their Report on their website.

Many of the actions in the Plans are designed to deliver long-term sustainable savings. The precise amount of savings which will accrue these initiatives has not yet been quantified as it is dependent on, inter alia, central measures that the Government will adopt in relation to, for example, agency rationalisation & shared services. However, the Progress Reports indicate that the most significant savings are through the reduction in numbers and consequent savings on pay.

National Minimum Wage

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

239 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the correct hourly rate of payment in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15 who works one hour per day, seven days a week; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34185/11]

The National Minimum Wage Act, 2000, which became law on 1st April, 2000, applies to all employees, except close relatives of the employer and certain apprentices.

The national minimum hourly rate for an experienced adult worker was increased to €8.65 per hour with effect from 1 July 2011.

Sub-minimum rates of between 70% and 90% of the National Minimum Wage apply where an employee is:

Under age 18 or

In the first two years after the date of first employment over age 18.

In certain sectors, such as Construction and Electrical Contracting, Registered Employment Agreements provide for statutory minimum rates of pay that are higher than the National Minimum Wage.

Notwithstanding the minimum rates established by legislation, more beneficial rates of pay can be agreed by negotiation between employers and employees, or their representatives.

Further information is available on the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) website atwww.employmentrights.ie, or by calling Lo call 1890 80 80 90.

Departmental Bodies

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

240 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he is considering any new legislation or other measures to strengthen the powers of the Competition Authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34264/11]

Both the merger of the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency and proposals arising from a review of the operation and implementation of the Competition Act 2002 will have an impact on the Competition Authority in terms of its functions and powers. In July 2011 Government approved the drafting of the Consumer and Competition Bill which I expect to see published during the first half of 2012. This Bill will merge the two agencies and provide for the powers and functions of the new Consumer and Competition Authority.

In advance of this proposed legislation, the Competition (Amendment) Bill 2011 has been introduced which will strengthen competition law enforcement. This Bill passed Second Stage in Dáil Éireann last week.

Work Permits

Joe Costello

Question:

241 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of applications for work permits received in each of the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34315/11]

I set out hereunder the numbers of applications for employment permits in respect of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals in each of the past ten years and to-date in 2011.

Applications received in respect of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals 2001 — 2011

Year

Nationality

New

Renewal

Total Issued

Total Refused

2011

Bulgaria

24

3

27

6

Romania

275

8

283

103

2010

Bulgaria

74

1

75

8

Romania

814

9

823

119

2009

Bulgaria

23

1

24

2

Romania

191

1

192

15

2008

Bulgaria

23

0

23

23

Romania

122

6

128

67

2007

Bulgaria

32

5

37

15

Romania

94

25

119

55

2006

Bulgaria

46

391

437

5

Romania

180

1314

1494

29

2005

Bulgaria

56

514

570

64

Romania

259

1588

1847

146

2004

Bulgaria

108

617

725

26

Romania

192

1931

2123

118

2003

Bulgaria

413

456

869

28

Romania

887

1642

2529

197

2002

Bulgaria

516

239

755

35

Romania

1522

931

2453

84

2001

Bulgaria

442

75

517

14

Romania

1571

202

1773

70

Appointments to State Boards

Liam Twomey

Question:

242 Deputy Liam Twomey asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of positions on State boards and agencies under his aegis which he has advertised in the past seven months; the number of applications received; the number of applicants subsequently appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34508/11]

In June 2011, I sought expressions of interest from suitably qualified and experienced persons for appointment to several Boards under the aegis of my Department. In total seven vacancies were advertised as part of this process, as follows:

IDA Ireland — one vacancy

National Consumer Agency — two vacancies

National Standards Authority of Ireland — two vacancies

Shannon Development — two vacancies.

A total of one hundred and sixty four expressions of interest were received as a result of the advertisement. I also received representations from a small number of individuals outside of the expressions of interest process.

My Department, in conjunction with the Public Appointments Service, who assisted with the expressions of interest campaign, has shortlisted applicants for the various vacancies. I am currently considering the shortlisted applications. I have not yet made any appointments to the advertised vacancies.

Company Law

Niall Collins

Question:

243 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the financial reporting requirements of a private limited company which is registered as a charity in the State in terms of the detail which must be furnished to shareholders at the annual general meeting. [34517/11]

Niall Collins

Question:

252 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he can advise on the queries raised in correspondence (details supplied) regarding the management of accounts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34721/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 243 and 252 together.

Sectoral legislation in relation to charities is the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Environment, Community & Local Government.

Section 148 of the Companies Act 1963 (as amended) requires that the directors of every company shall on a date not later than 18 months after the incorporation of the company and, subsequently once at least in every calendar year prepare accounts for the company for each financial year, referred to in the Companies Acts as "individual accounts".

Accounts are required by the Companies Acts to show a true and fair view and must be laid before the annual general meeting of the company and must be sent, together with the directors' report and auditors' report (unless the company is exempt from audit), to the members of the company at least 21 days before the annual general meeting.

If any person has a concern as to whether a company is meeting its statutory obligations under the Companies Acts 1963-2009 in relation to the preparation or presentation of accounts it is open to that person to report that concern to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement. The Director of Corporate Enforcement is statutorily independent in the performance of his statutory functions and I have no direct function in such matters.

Ministerial Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

244 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of his constituency and parliamentary staff, appointed following the February 2011, on salaries that exceed their applicable pay scale grade; the number of his existing and parliamentary staff employed prior to the February 2011 elections but awarded salary increases following the election that exceed their applicable pay scale grade; and if he will provide their annual salary details in a tabular format. [34573/11]

The table below identifies the number of constituency and parliamentary staff, appointed by me following the February 2011 elections. It includes their current salary and the salary they received prior to the elections.

Personal Assistant and Personal Secretary:

In accordance with Ministerial Guidelines issued by the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform, the current salary of a Personal Assistant and a Personal Secretary is slightly higher than the salary they received in the Oireachtas. This increase is sanctioned in order to offset the effect of the pension levy.

Special Advisers

One of my Special Advisers was employed in the Oireachtas on a part time basis as a Parliamentary Assistant. On appointment as Special Adviser he was placed on the first point of the Principal Officer (standard) scale, i.e. €80,051 in line with Ministerial Guidelines.

The Ministerial Guidelines also provide for an exemption to be granted in relation to remuneration where the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform sanctions a higher salary rate. This exemption was sought in relation to my second Special Adviser and sanction was received from the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to place him on the higher salary of €127,000. Prior to his appointment, my second Special Adviser was employed on a salary of approximately €110,000.

No

Current Title

Current Salary

Salary prior to February 2011

1

Personal Assistant

€47,304 p.a. — (point 3) Personal Assistant Payscale

€44,323 p.a @ 90% — (point 3) Parliamentary Assistant Payscale

1

Personal Secretary

€43,509 p.a (point 10) Personal Secretary Payscale

€40,906 p.a — (point 10) Secretariat Assistant Payscale

1

Special Adviser

€80,051 p.a (point 1) Principal Officer Payscale

€45,416 p/a @10% — (point 4) Parliamentary Assistant

1

Special Adviser

€127,000 p.a

€110,000 p.a.

Employment Rights

Clare Daly

Question:

245 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his plans to establish regulations of the au pair industry here in order that the rights and entitlements of au pairs are established and protected along with establishing standards for the industry that is rapidly growing as a financial entity. [34579/11]

Typically an "au pair" is a young person who chooses to help look after the children of a host family and carry out light housekeeping duties. The au pair is usually given room and board and is typically paid weekly "pocket-money" and gains experience of a new culture while also improving his or her foreign language skills. There is no specific regulatory framework covering "au pairs" in place in Ireland. It is my understanding that an au pair arrangement is essentially a private arrangement between the parties concerned — a private household or sponsor family and a private individual — and voluntary, on the basis of a shared understanding. Although circumstances can differ from case to case, an "au pair" is assumed not be an employee because there is no contract of employment between the householder and the person in question. If a contract of employment does exist then this places the arrangement on a different footing. In general, where people have concerns that workers may be exploited or receiving less than their statutory entitlement the matter should be reported to National Employment Rights Authority for investigation.

I have no plans to introduce additional legislation specifically to regulate arrangements in relation to "au pairs" in Ireland.

County Enterprise Boards

Paudie Coffey

Question:

246 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his plans to review direct financial assistance grants for small businesses funded from city and county enterprise boards; if he will make the criteria more flexible in order that jobs in small and medium enterprises can be sustained and secured; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34584/11]

The County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) provide support for micro-enterprises in the start-up and expansion phases. The CEBs deliver a range of tailored programmes and supports through the provision of both financial assistance and non-financial assistance.

The forms of direct financial assistance available from a CEB are;

Priming Grant (payable up to 50% of the investment or €80,000 whichever is the lesser), available to micro-enterprises for business start-ups within the first 18 months of start-up. This can cover all business costs directly attributable to starting a new business (save payments to State Bodies).

Business Expansion/Development Grant (payable up to 50% of the investment or €80,000 whichever is the lesser), available to micro-enterprises to grow and develop the micro-enterprise. This can cover all business costs directly attributable to growing and developing a business (save payments to State Bodies).

Feasibility/Innovation Grant (payable up to €20,000 or 50% (S&E region)/60% (BMW region) of the investment, whichever is the lesser), available to micro-enterprises to assist with the cost of necessary pre-start up studies carried out for the purposes of assessing market interest in/demand for a proposed new product or service, the appropriateness of the associated funding plans, the general viability and sustainability of the venture and assistance with innovation.

The most recent review of the direct financial assistance available from the CEBs was conducted in January 2010. At that stage the CEB existing financial supports had been in place since 1993. As a result of the 2010 review grant limits were raised and the range of business costs for which eligible micro-enterprises could seek grant support was broadened. This has allowed for greater flexibility in supporting the micro-enterprise sector whilst remaining within EU limits on provision of state aids.

The criteria under which funding is available from the CEBs is based on the following factors;

the enterprise must be in the commercial sphere;

the enterprise must demonstrate a market for the product/service;

the enterprise must have a capacity for growth and new job creation;

the enterprise must not employ more than 10 people;

the enterprise must not give rise to deadweight or displacement.

Within the above eligibility criteria there are certain necessary priorities and restrictions, in particular, priority must be given to micro-enterprises in the manufacturing or internationally traded services sector which over time can develop into strong export entities and graduate to the Enterprise Ireland Portfolio and, due to the need to consider the issues of deadweight and displacement, it is generally considered inappropriate to support enterprises such as retail enterprises, personal services and professional services.

In addition to direct financial assistance the CEBs also provide non-financial assistance such as business advisory and information services, management capability training and development programmes, e-Commerce training initiatives etc. These soft supports also contribute positively to the policy objective of building an enterprise culture which, in time, may result in job creation without direct financial assistance from the State.

I am satisfied that the current forms of financial support available from the CEBs, and the criteria within which these supports are available, are appropriate to the needs of the micro-enterprise sector and are targeted at enterprises with growth potential which can, over time, develop into strong export entities where they have sufficient mass to access the services of Enterprise Ireland and which can in the long-term maximise State investment in this sector.

Multinational Company Employment

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

247 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of jobs that have been transferred from a company (details supplied) to other locations around the world in the past 24 months; the number of jobs this company will be moving to other locations around the world in the next two months; the reason that this is happening; the level of investigation he has undertaken; the steps he has taken to persuade this company not to carry out these transfers; if he has met with staff or management of the company; and his plans on the issue. [34592/11]

Along with IDA Ireland, I am in regular contact with Intel on its future plans for Ireland.

I understand that as part of Intel's continuing training programme a number of employees are being sent overseas in order for them to up-skill on newer leading edge technologies. No jobs are being lost in Ireland and these employees will return to Ireland once their training/assignment programmes are completed.

I also understand that the movement of highly skilled staff from one Intel location to another is an essential part of the Intel philosophy on training. This type of ‘hands on' training is ongoing and, according to Intel, is almost the only way to gain the experience required when working with the precision and expertise required at the nanotechnology geometries with which Intel works.

Competition Law

Willie O'Dea

Question:

248 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the maximum fine levied on a single business or person for breaching the Competition Act 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34658/11]

Willie O'Dea

Question:

249 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the total number and amount of fines levied on businesses and persons for breaching the Competition Act 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34659/11]

Willie O'Dea

Question:

250 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the total number of jail terms imposed on businesses and persons for breaching the Competition Act 2002; the total length of time actually served; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34660/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 248 to 250, inclusive, together.

The Competition Act 2002 provides for fines of up to €4 million or 10% of the turnover of an undertaking, whichever is the greater, for certain breaches of the Act. The 2002 Act also provides for jail sentences of up to five years for individuals convicted on indictment for a breach of the Act.

The highest fine imposed on an individual under the Competition Act 2002 is €80,000. That fine was not paid and the individual was subsequently sentenced to 28 days imprisonment for default.

The total number of fines imposed on individuals and businesses under the Competition Act 2002 is four, ranging from €50,000 to €80,000 and totalling €260,000.

In addition, since March 2006, 25 fines were imposed under the Competition Act 1991, as amended, ranging from €1,500 to €35,000 and totalling €263,500. Under the Criminal Law Act 1997, three fines totalling €75,000 were imposed on individuals for aiding and abetting breaches of the Competition Acts, also since March 2006.

The total number of jail terms imposed on persons for breaching the Competition Act 2002 was two, each of 15 months duration. Both sentences were suspended for five years.

In addition, since March 2006, five jail sentences ranging from three months to nine months and totalling 27 months were imposed on individuals under the Competition Act 1991, as amended. All five of the sentences were suspended. A further three jail sentences ranging from six months to fifteen months and totalling 33 months were imposed under the Criminal Law Act 1997 since March 2006 for aiding and abetting breaches of the Competition Acts. All three of these sentences were suspended.

Employment Appeals Tribunal

Regina Doherty

Question:

251 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation when a person (details supplied) will receive confirmation notice of a date for their employment appeals tribunal hearing. [34698/11]

The Employment Appeals Tribunal has confirmed that it does not have any record of correspondence from or relating to the person concerned.

At present, the estimated waiting time for Employment Appeals Tribunal hearings is 86 weeks from receipt of application. In July 2011, I announced my intention to streamline the State's five employment rights bodies, including the Employment Appeals Tribunal, and to produce a simpler, more effective system, including a single point of entry for all users of the State's employment rights machinery. It is anticipated that, on completion, this system will produce a speedier and more efficient claims resolution process that will benefit employers and employees alike.

Question No. 252 answered with Question No. 243.

Capital Projects

Gerald Nash

Question:

253 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide details in relation to the number and value of State capital project contracts awarded to companies registered outside the State in the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively; if he will provide details in respect of the number and value of State capital project contracts awarded to companies registered in the Republic of Ireland in the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34812/11]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to construction projects. My Department did not award any capital project contracts of this nature in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Separately, grants to individual companies, both indigenous and foreign owned, are paid by the enterprise agencies operating under the aegis of my Department, including Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Shannon Development and the County Enterprise Boards. These grants are funded by the Exchequer Capital Budget so as to create a competitive advantage or win further FDI investment from existing and new clients, thereby enhancing competitiveness, in order to sustain and increase job creation. Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and IDA Ireland also offer support to companies under a range of research development and innovation programmes which are also funded from my Department's Capital Budget.

The level of capital expenditure allocated to these Agencies in 2011 and the provisional outturn for 2010 is set out in Vote 34 of the Revised Estimates Volume 2011.

Credit Guarantee Scheme

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

254 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation when will the partial credit scheme become active; the way the scheme will operate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34833/11]

The design phase of a Temporary Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme is nearing completion and I will be bringing formal proposals to Cabinet shortly. Once a suitable scheme design has been finalised and approved by the Government, there will then be a further Request for Tender published at the end of November to select an operator to allow for the roll out of the scheme over the coming months.

In parallel with the work taking place on the design of the Scheme, the Department is preparing primary legislation to make the necessary statutory provision for such a scheme.

The Scheme will provide a level of guarantee to banks against losses on qualifying loans to job-creating firms to get banks lending again to industry and entrepreneurs.

This Scheme will be closely targeted at commercially viable, well performing companies that have a solid business plan and a defined market for their products or services which can demonstrate repayment capacity for the additional credit facilities but which cannot secure credit facilities due to the following two market failures:

Insufficient collateral for the additional facilities or,

Growth / expansionary SMEs which due to their sectors, markets or business model are perceived higher risk under current credit risk evaluation practices.

The Government's commitment will be for an initial period of one year. Specific performance criteria will be set down that allow for review and revision of the scheme at the end of that initial period before any commitment to a roll-over of the scheme for subsequent years. The temporary partial credit guarantee scheme will complement the Government plans on the restructuring and recapitalisation of the banking system which seek to secure an adequate flow of credit into the economy to support economic recovery.

FÁS Training Programmes

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

255 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Social Protection the action she will take to ensure the gateway women’s training project will continue to deliver quality accredited FETAC level three and level five training courses despite the recent operational changes in FÁS that no longer allow for second training providers such as Gateway and the blocking of the organisations quality assurance application due to no new applications for provider registration being accepted following the establishment of SOLAS. [34092/11]

As part of the reorganisation of functions and services in support of people who are unemployed, the community and employment support services of FÁS are being transferred to the Department of Social Protection. The legislative changes to give effect to these changes have been put in place and FÁS staff will complete the transfer to my Department in January 2012. As a consequence of these changes, the current practice whereby the Training Standards Quality Assurance System of FÁS processes FETAC certificate requests on behalf of a small number of education and training providers, such as the Gateway project, will be discontinued on 5th December 2011.

The Gateway project has been advised of the changes and of the opportunities to source alternative arrangements for the processing of FETAC applications. My understanding is that Gateway is currently linking with other providers with a view to accessing FETAC certificates. FÁS is also actively engaged so as to ensure that the matter is resolved in a satisfactory manner.

Billy Kelleher

Question:

256 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Social Protection the cost benefit analysis of the laundry services at Farranferris, County Cork operated by FÁS; the extent if any to which this service is subsidised by the State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34093/11]

A community laundry service is operated by a community based organisation as part of its training and development centre based in Farranferris College on the north side of Cork City. FÁS provides funding of approximately €149,000 per annum in total to the laundry to support six work placements under the community employment programme and a further three under the job initiative programme. The Deputy should note that FÁS does not have any direct operational involvement in the delivery or management of the laundry service and matters relating to the value for money or effectiveness of the services offers by the company are primarily a matter for the Board of Management of the organisation.

The organisation in question was established by community interests to provide training and work experience for the unemployed of the area. The centre currently provides a range of training and work placement opportunities in the North Cork City area to over 350 people in the area. Services provided with the support of people on work placements include child care, catering, woodwork, home insulation, laundry, security training, community administration, gardening, and historical research. It is a condition of funding that services offered by the organisation do not displace or substitute employment offered locally by other providers either private, voluntary or public sector.

Redundancy Payments

Michael Creed

Question:

257 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for redundancy in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34123/11]

A Redundancy Lump sum claim in respect of the person concerned was received on 18 May 2011. Redundancy Lump sum claims received at the end of April 2011 are currently being processed.

Employment Support Services

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

258 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of places available on JobBridge, the national internship scheme in County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34134/11]

JobBridge — the National Internship Scheme — is a nationwide scheme and, as such, places are not assigned, or reserved, on a geographic basis.

Currently there are sixty-six (66) offers of internship in County Donegal advertised on the JobBridge website.

Pension Provisions

Joe Carey

Question:

259 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will report on the current position with regards to Labour Court ruling LCR19293 in relation to pension entitlements for FÁS community employment supervisors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34562/11]

Willie O'Dea

Question:

297 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection when she will give a decision in regard to the timescale for implementation of the recommendation by the Labour Court in 2008 that an agreed pension scheme be introduced for community employment supervisors (details supplied) and that the scheme be adequately funded by FÁS. [34217/11]

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

299 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Social Protection if reconsideration will be given to community employment scheme supervisors and assistant supervisors who were rejected on the issue of the introduction of a pension scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34255/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 259, 297 and 299 together.

The Labour Court recommended in July 2008 that an agreed pension scheme should be introduced for community employment (CE) scheme supervisors and assistant supervisors, and that such a scheme should be adequately funded by FÁS. Notwithstanding the positions of the Department in rejecting that liability for these costs falls to be met from public funds, this matter has been the subject of discussions between the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, my Department, and the unions representing CE supervisors. In the event that funding was required from FÁS, the implementation of the claim is not considered sustainable in light of the current and ongoing fiscal environment and the requirement to contain and reduce public expenditure. The costs of the introduction of any scheme are likely to be of the order of €3m with retrospective costs of the order of at least €30m.

The Deputy should also note that FÁS is not the employer of CE supervisors and such employees are not public servants. Neither was FÁS a party to the Labour Court dispute on this matter. The responsibilities of the sponsoring organisations and the individuals concerned must also be recognised when considering pension provision arrangements.

Gerry Adams

Question:

260 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons here estimated to hold private pensions. [34581/11]

The Pensions Board is a statutory body set up under the Pensions Act, 1990. The Board regulates occupational pension schemes, trust Retirement Annuity Contracts and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts in Ireland.

According to the Pensions Boards annual report for 2010, there were 76,291 occupational pension schemes with 809,961 active members as of the 31st December 2010. In addition there was 187,114 Personal Retirement Savings Accounts in force.

In accordance with the Central Statistics Office Quarterly National Household Survey on Pension Provisions (Quarter 4 2009), the rate of workers with a pension was 51%.

Social Welfare Appeals

John McGuinness

Question:

261 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if an application for disability allowance now under appeal will be expedited and approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if supplementary allowance will be paid while they await the outcome of their appeal. [33971/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the disability allowance claim of the person concerned was disallowed following an assessment by a Medical Assessor who expressed the opinion that she was medically unsuitable for the allowance. An appeal was registered on 25th October 2011 and in accordance with the statutory procedures the relevant department papers and the comments of the Social Welfare services on the matter raised in the appeal have been sought. In that context, an assessment by another Medical Assessor will be carried out.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

262 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will be made in respect of an appeal for domiciliary care allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33972/11]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all the evidence, including that adduced at oral hearing, has allowed the appeal of the person concerned. The person concerned has been notified of the decision.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

263 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will be made in respect of an appeal for domiciliary care allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33973/11]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all the evidence, including that adduced at oral hearing, has disallowed the appeal of the person concerned. The person concerned has been notified of the decision.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Patrick Nulty

Question:

264 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of households in receipt of mortgage interest supplement. [33983/11]

Patrick Nulty

Question:

265 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of households in receipt of rent supplement; and the number of same who have been on rent supplement for 18 months or longer. [33984/11]

Patrick Nulty

Question:

266 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount spent on the provision of yearly rent supplement payments in 2008, 2009, 2010 and to date in 2011. [33985/11]

Patrick Nulty

Question:

267 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of households in receipt of rent supplement in the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and to date in 2011. [33986/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 264 to 267, inclusive, together.

The community welfare service (CWS) and the community welfare officers providing it transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP.

There are currently 18,741 recipients of mortgage interest supplement and there are currently 95,904 recipients of rent supplement of which 51,400 are in receipt of the supplement for 18 months or more. The following tabular statement sets out the number of recipients and expenditure on rent supplement from 2008 to 2011.

Tabular Statement

Number of Recipients and Expenditure on Rent Supplement, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011

Recipients

Expenditure

€000

2008

74,038

440,548

2009

93,030

510,751

2010

97,260

516,861

2011*

95,904

417,454

*— Recipients at 4 November 2011 and Expenditure to October 2011

Redundancy Payments

John O'Mahony

Question:

268 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their redundancy payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33999/11]

John O'Mahony

Question:

319 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their redundancy payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34586/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 268 and 319 together.

A Redundancy Lump sum claim in respect of the person concerned was received on 5 July 2011. Redundancy Lump sum claims received at the end of April 2011 are currently being processed.

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

269 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for redundancy payments in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; when the payment will issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34001/11]

A Redundancy Lump sum claim in respect of the person concerned was received on 18 July 2011. Redundancy Lump sum claims received at the end of April 2011 are currently being processed.

Question No. 270 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Benefits

Brendan Ryan

Question:

271 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding rent allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; the reason the payment has been refused; if it will be reviewed and put into payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34046/11]

The community welfare service (CWS) and the community welfare officers providing it transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP.

There is no record of a rent supplement application in respect of the person concerned. If the person concerned wishes to apply for rent supplement she should contact her local Community welfare Officer.

Social Welfare Appeals

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

272 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal against a decision to deny carer’s allowance to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; when a decision will issue on same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34050/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 5 September 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 13 September 2011 and the appeal was assigned to an Appeals Officer on 26 October 2011 who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

273 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal for invalidity pension in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34057/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 27 October 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Social Welfare Services on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred in due course to an Appeals Officer for consideration.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Question No. 274 withdrawn.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

275 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite an appeal for jobseeker’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34073/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in this case.

There has been a very significant increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office since 2007 when the intake was 14,070 to 2010 when the intake rose to 32,432. This has significantly impacted on the processing time for appeals which require oral hearings and, in order to be fair to all appellants, they are dealt with in strict chronological order.

While every effort is being made to deal with the large numbers awaiting oral hearing as quickly as possible, it is not possible to give a date when the person's oral hearing will be heard, but s/he will be informed when arrangements have been made.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

276 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide the details of the average processing time for carer’s allowance applications as well as the average processing time for appeals against decisions to deny carer’s allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34076/11]

The average time taken to award a claim for carer's allowance in the first 9 months of 2011 was 14 weeks. A total of 12, 657 applications were registered in this period and 10,499 were processed in the same period. There are currently 7,992 applications awaiting a decision. There are 51,659 carer's allowance claims in payment.

A major service delivery modernisation project is underway to improve the efficiency of administration of the carer's allowance scheme. This involves the development of IT functionality and associated business process re-organisation. It is anticipated that the new system will introduce significant processing efficiencies and a quicker and more responsive service to the customer.

Accordingly, this project is being given high priority and involves a significant level of time and commitment from the relevant staff in the Department, which has had, however, a short-term negative impact on claim processing times. The first tranche of new carer's allowance claims began to be processed under the new system in August 2011.

While these new systems and processes will facilitate a significant improvement in overall processing times it should be noted that individual claims may still take some time to process. Entitlement to carer's allowance is based on satisfying medical, means and residency conditions. In determining entitlement to the allowance there are, in certain cases, unavoidable time lags involved in making the necessary investigations and enquiries to enable accurate decisions to be made. Delays can also arise if people applying for the allowance are not in a position to supply all the necessary information in support of their claim.

I am assured that the situation is being monitored closely by the Department.

Figures from the Social Welfare Appeals Office show that, in 2010, the average processing time for carer's allowance appeals dealt with by way of summary decision was 26.9 weeks , while a case which required an oral hearing took an average of 47.3 weeks. These processing times are calculated from the registration date of the appeal to the date of its finalisation and include all activities during this period including time spent in the Department for comments by the deciding officer on the grounds of appeal put forward by the appellant and any further investigation, examination or assessment by the Department's inspectors and medical assessors that is deemed necessary. A considerable period of time is added to the process when an oral hearing is required because of the logistics involved in this process.

Jack Wall

Question:

277 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare has not received a rent supplement payment for a period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34090/11]

The community welfare service (CWS) and the community welfare officers providing it transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP.

The person concerned is in receipt of his full entitlement to rent supplement based on his household circumstances. Regarding the payment of arrears, the Central Rents Unit has a policy of paying significant amounts outstanding to the relative landlord. The person concerned will now be paid in his own right as all outstanding monies have been paid.

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

278 Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Social Protection if the application for rent supplement has been approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and when a decision will issue. [34094/11]

The community welfare service (CWS) and the community welfare officers providing it transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP.

The person concerned made an application for rent supplement on 22nd August 2011 the rent was in excess of the maximum rent limit appropriate to his family composition and rent supplement was disallowed.

Patrick Deering

Question:

279 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Social Protection the criteria used in determining qualification for disability allowance. [34104/11]

Disability Allowance is a weekly allowance paid to people with a specified disability who are aged between 16 and 66. This disability must be expected to last for at least one year and is subject to a medical assessment, a means test and a habitual residency test.

In order to satisfy the medical conditions for receipt of disability allowance a person must be suffering from an injury, disease, congenital deformity or physical or mental illness or defect which has continued or may reasonably be expected to continue for a period of at least a year and as a result of the condition the person is substantially restricted in undertaking work which would otherwise be suitable having regard to the person's age, experience and qualifications.

The weekly rate of disability allowance payment depends on the amount of weekly means assessed. Under the legislative provisions set down for disability allowance means are assessable from all income, capital, investments, property which the claimant or claimant's spouse/partner/cohabitant may have with certain exceptions. When calculating a person's means from capital a special formula is used to work out the weekly rate.

In order to get disability allowance the onus is on the applicant to prove that they are habitually resident in the State. In determining whether a person is habitually resident in the State the following five factors, which have been set down in judgements given by the European Court of Justice, are relied on:

1. A person's main centre of interest.

2. The length and continuity of their presence in the Common Travel Area.

3. The length and reason for any absence from the Common Travel Area.

4. The nature and pattern of their employment, if any, in the Common Travel Area and

5. Their future intentions to live in the Republic of Ireland as it appears from their particular situation.

Social Welfare Appeals

Patrick Deering

Question:

280 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Carlow was refused disability allowance. [34105/11]

Disability allowance may be payable to persons who have an injury, disease or physical or mental disability that has continued or may be expected to continue for at least one year and who, as a result of this disability are substantially restricted in undertaking work that would otherwise be suitable for a person of their age, experience and qualifications.

The person concerned was refused disability allowance on the ground that based upon the medical assessor's assessment of the medical evidence supplied in support of the claim, the person was not medically suitable for disability allowance.

The person was notified in writing of this decision and the reason for it.

The decision was reviewed by a deciding officer in the light of further medical evidence subsequently submitted to the department. However, following review of the further medical evidence by a medical assessor, the deciding officer decided that there were insufficient grounds for the original decision to be changed and, accordingly, that the decision to refuse disability allowance should stand.

The person was notified in writing of this review decision and the reason for it.

Social Welfare Benefits

Patrick Deering

Question:

281 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on a carer’s allowance application in respect of a person (details supplied). [34106/11]

The person concerned was refused carer's allowance on the ground that the care recipient is not so disabled as to require full-time care and attention as prescribed in regulations. On 13 October 2011, the person in question was notified of this decision and the reason for it.

Social Welfare Appeals

Gerry Adams

Question:

282 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Social Protection the basis on which the chief appeals officer determined to disallow an application for disability allowance by a person (details supplied) in County Louth stating the person did not demonstrate that they satisfy the conditions on habitual residence; if she will clarify the confusion surrounding this application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34108/11]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer having fully considered all the evidence, including that adduced at oral hearing, disallowed the appeal of the person concerned.

A copy of the Appeals Officer's report, which set out the basis on which the decision was made, was sent, on request, to the person's solicitor on 19th October 2011.

The Appeals Officers decision which issued on 16th September 2011, contained a typing error in relation to the habitual residence conditions. An amended decision was issued to the person concerned on 10 October 2011 with the apologies of the Appeals Officer.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Anne Ferris

Question:

283 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide an update on the appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; the reason this Deputy has not received a response from the appeals office to her representations dated 22 July and 15 August; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34110/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in this case.

There has been a very significant increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office since 2007 when the intake was 14,070 to 2010 when the intake rose to 32,432. This has significantly impacted on the processing time for appeals which require oral hearings and, in order to be fair to all appellants, they are dealt with in strict chronological order.

While every effort is being made to deal with the large numbers awaiting oral hearing as quickly as possible, it is not possible to give a date when the person's oral hearing will be heard, but s/he will be informed when arrangements have been made.

The huge increase in the numbers of appeals to the Office has also resulted in a large backlog in dealing with correspondence, which is also dealt with in chronological order. While this is regretted, priority in the Office is given to the registration and preparation of files for appeals, scheduling oral hearings and the issue of decisions.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Finian McGrath

Question:

284 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7. [34112/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 27 September 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 11 October 2011 and the appeal has been referred to an Appeals Officer, who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

General Register Office

Billy Timmins

Question:

285 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason the General Register Office Research Room in Dublin was closed to the public for a considerable time during office hours on Tuesday, 1 November 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34120/11]

The statutory responsibility for the administration of civil registration in Ireland rests with An t-Ard Chláraitheoir. His office — the General Register Office — is the central repository for all records relating births, deaths, stillbirths, marriages, civil partnerships and adoptions in the state. The Office does not engage in genealogical or family history research on behalf of members of the public, but the Research Room in Dublin facilitates the searching of Indexes by members of the public and provides them with copies of the records on payment of the prescribed fee.

The Research Room in Dublin is open to the public from 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday and can accommodate 40 customers at any given time. The number of customers using the facility has increased greatly over the past year, mainly as a result of television programmes on the subjects of genealogy and ancestral history which have increased awareness among members of the public.

On November 1st this increased demand led to the Research Room operating at full capacity and excess demand for the service during this particular day meant that management had to restrict access to the facility for a period of approximately 1 hour.

Any decision to restrict access to the facility is regrettable and rarely occurs and I acknowledge the inconvenience this causes to our customers. However, it was felt that on this occasion for health and safety reasons it was in the best interest of customers and staff to restrict access to the Research Room for this short period of time.

Social Welfare Benefits

Simon Harris

Question:

286 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow has been refused the back to school clothing and footwear allowance; the rationale for the decision to stop these payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34132/11]

The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BSCFA) scheme operates from the beginning of June until the end of September each year. A person may qualify for payment of BSCFA if he or she is in receipt of a social welfare or health service executive payment, is participating in an approved employment scheme or attending a recognised education or training course, and has household income at or below certain specified levels. The person concerned was refused a BSCFA payment as she was not in receipt of a qualifying payment at the time of her application. The person concerned has been advised in writing of her right to a review of the decision.

Simon Harris

Question:

287 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow has had their rent allowance payments stopped; the rationale for the decision to stop these payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34133/11]

The community welfare service (CWS) and the community welfare officers providing it transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP.

The person concerned has had her rent supplement suspended pending information regarding her current earnings. The request for further information was sent on the 30th of September 2011. A decision will be made on her application when the necessary documentation has been provided.

Croke Park Agreement

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

288 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of Croke Park agreement projects that each State agency under her aegis are progressing; if she will list each project by Department in tabular form; the amount to be saved by each project; the number that have been completed since the agreement came into force; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34163/11]

The information sought is set out in the tables below. Of the overall total of seven projects initiated by agencies under the Department's aegis, one has already been completed by the Citizens Information Board, providing savings of €130,000 in 2010 and a similar amount in 2011 and each subsequent year. Three other projects undertaken by the Pensions Board are not yet completed but nonetheless have generated a combined total of €147,000 over the two years 2010 and 2011 to date. The three remaining projects are in train but have not yet started to generate savings.

Citizens Information Board

Number of Projects

3

List of Projects and savings targets

1. Moving the technical platform forwww.citizensinformation.ie to the Department of Finance. Project completed, savings achieved of €130,000 in 2010.

2. Centralised voice framework for both call and telephone line costs on behalf of CIB and Delivery Partners through Single Point of Telephone Contact (SPOTC) services. Savings will not materialise until 2013.

3. Development of an integrated voice and data infrastructure for both CIB and Delivery Partners. Savings will not materialise until 2013.

Number of Projects Completed

1

Pensions Board

Number of Projects

4

List of Projects and savings targets

1. Development and deployment of online information services to facilitate more efficient and cost effective access for all Pensions Board stakeholders. Savings achieved 2010-2011: €30,000.

2. Review the existing ICT maintenance and support arrangements with a view to achieving savings and more efficient delivery of services. Savings achieved 2010-2011: €22,000.

3. Develop Corporate Procurement Plan. Continue to review and implement appropriate procurement strategies for high spend categories and maintain a central register for all contracts entered into by the Pensions Board. Savings achieved 2010-2011: €95,000.

4. Introduce a new on-line Pensions Board data portal for pension schemes. Savings: As this project is still ongoing no cost savings have been achieved to date.

Number of Projects Completed

Nil

Social Welfare Appeals

Sandra McLellan

Question:

289 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Social Protection the entitlement to social welfare assistance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; if she will expedite the claim; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34168/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal, by the person concerned, was received in that office on 28 September 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 11 November 2011 and the appeal will, in due course, be assigned to an Appeals Officer who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Niall Collins

Question:

290 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection if she would approve a supplementary welfare allowance application in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Cork. [34170/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 26th October 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 8th November 2011 and the appeal will be assigned, in due course, to an Appeals Officer who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Pension Provisions

Michael Creed

Question:

291 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will clarify the value of credited PRSI contributions in the context of entitlement to contributory pension on retirement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34175/11]

Credited contributions ("credits") form an integral part of the social insurance system. They are underwritten by the Social Insurance Fund and are designed to protect the social insurance entitlement record of insured workers who — for reasons relating to incapacity, ill-health, unemployment, early retirement, professional training or the provisions of care (i.e. for children, the disabled or the elderly) — are not in a position to make PRSI payments.

In relation to State pension, there are two categories of contributory State pension:- State pension (transition) (SPT) payable at age 65 and State pension (contributory) (SPC) payable at age 66.

The qualifying conditions for State pension (transition) require the applicant to

have entered insurable employment before attaining the age of 55 years.

have at least 260 full-rate social insurance contributions paid since the date of entry into insurance.

Have a minimum yearly average of 24 contributions (paid or credited) since the date of entry into insurance.

have retired from work.

State pension (transition) ceases at age 66 when the claimant transfers to (SPC).

The qualifying conditions for State pension (contributory) require the applicant to

have entered insurable employment before attaining the age of 56 years.

have at least 260 weeks full-rate contributions paid, from employment or self-employment, since entry into insurance

Have a minimum yearly average of 10 contributions (paid or credited) since the date of entry into insurance.

As provided for in legislation since 1997, the minimum paid requirement for SPT and SPC will increase to 520 next year.

As announced in the National Pensions Framework and as provided for in recent legislation, State pension age will be increased gradually to 68 years. This will begin in 2014 with the standardisation of State pension age at 66 and SPT will no longer be payable to those who reach age 65 in 2014 or later. State pension age will be increased to 67 years in 2021 and to 68 in 2028. By gradually increasing the qualifying age for State pension, people will be further encouraged to remain in employment beyond 65 years of age.

A further planned change outlined in the National Pensions Framework is the introduction of a ‘total contributions' approach from 2020 to replace the current averaging system. This means that from 2020 a person will require 30 years' contributions and credits to qualify for maximum pension with 10 years' paid contributions required for a minimum pension. The amount of credits which can be used to claim pension will be capped at 10 years.

This system will be fairer as the level of pension payment will be proportionate to a person's working career e.g. a person with 25 years contributions will receive 25/30ths of a pension.

Social Welfare Appeals

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

292 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when payment will issue in respect of a claim for disability allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34181/11]

The person concerned was refused a disability allowance on the ground that, based upon the medical assessor's assessment of the medical evidence supplied in support of the claim, the person is not medically suitable for disability allowance.

The person was notified in writing of this decision and the reason for it.

Further medical evidence has been received and has been referred to a medical assessor. When the medical assessor's opinion is received by the deciding officer, s/he will review the decision and the person will be notified directly of the outcome.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

293 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if an application for jobseeker’s allowance will be reviewed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare with particular reference to the outgoings of the household; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34195/11]

An application for jobseeker's allowance from the person concerned was disallowed because his means from parental income is in excess of the scheduled limit.

The decision was upheld on review and he has been advised of his right to appeal the decision to the social welfare appeals office.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

294 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when arrears of rent allowance will be paid in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34196/11]

The community welfare service and the community welfare officers providing it, transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection from 1 October 2011.

There is no record of an application for rent allowance from the person concerned. If she wishes to make an application for rent allowance she should contact the Department's local representative who administers supplementary welfare allowance.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

295 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when invalidity pension will be awarded in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who is correctly in receipt of supplementary welfare allowance which is currently under threat of termination; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34197/11]

Invalidity pension is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the contribution conditions.

This Department received a claim for invalidity pension for the person concerned. The medical evidence provided in support of the claim was examined by a medical assessor who was of the opinion that the person concerned is not eligible for invalidity pension as he does not satisfy the medical criteria. Accordingly, the claim for invalidity pension was disallowed by a deciding officer. The person in question was notified of this decision on 10 November 2011.

Social Welfare Appeals

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

296 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection when the social welfare appeals office expects to make a decision on mortgage interest supplement appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34203/11]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an oral hearing of this case took place on 01 September 2011. Following the hearing, the Appeals Officer wrote to the person concerned seeking additional information concerning her agreement with the mortgage provider. On receipt of a response from the person concerned, the Appeals Officer will further consider the appeal.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Question No. 297 answered with Question No. 259.

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

298 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an illness benefit appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34241/11]

Payment of illness benefit, to the person concerned, was disallowed by a Deciding Officer following an examination by a Medical Assessor of the Department who expressed the opinion that she was capable of work. An appeal was opened and in the context of that appeal the person concerned was examined by a second Medical Assessor who also expressed the opinion that she was capable of work.

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that, following receipt of the grounds of appeal from the person concerned the relevant Departmental papers and comments of the Department were requested. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 27 October 2011 and the appeal was assigned to an Appeals Officer on 09 November 2011 who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Question No. 299 answered with Question No. 259.

Michael Creed

Question:

300 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection if a decision has yet been made on a supplementary welfare allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34258/11]

Michael Creed

Question:

305 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection if a decision has yet been made on a supplementary welfare allowance appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34311/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 300 and 305 together.

Following on from the transfer of the Community Welfare Service from the Health Services Executive (HSE) to the Department of Social Protection, with effect from Saturday 1st October, legislation was commenced which provides that appeals for supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) will be made to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. Up to now, the legislation provided for a 2 step process, first to the Health Services Executive (HSE) and, if still dissatisfied, to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

As part of that process, any appeals that have been submitted in recent weeks to the HSE are being transferred to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. These appeals will be registered and acknowledged by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in due course. In this case, I am informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an appeal for SWA for the person concerned has not yet been registered. The Chief Appeals Officer has assured me that all appropriate measures are being taken to address the smooth transfer of SWA appeals to her office.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Departmental Staff

Terence Flanagan

Question:

301 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she has plans to employ additional staff to deal with the backlog of applications in the appeals office; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34274/11]

The need for additional resources to deal with a very significant increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office has been recognised by the Department. The annual intake of appeals has increased from 14,070 in 2007 to 32,432 in 2010, an increase of 18,362 (130.5%) and currently it appears that in the region of another 30,000 will be received during 2011.

In that context, the Department made 9 additional appointments to the Office earlier this year. These assignments have augmented the 3 appointments made to the Office in 2010, bringing the total number of appeals officers serving in the Office to 29. In addition, since July 2010, 8 retired appeals officers, equating to a further 3 full-time officers, have been assisting on a strictly part-time basis with the backlogs of appeals and it is intended that they will be employed until the end of the year. From the 1st of October, the Community Welfare Service merged with the Department of Social Protection. In that regard, the Community Welfare Service appeals system has been integrated with the Social Welfare Appeals Office and this has resulted in the transfer of 10 additional Appeals Officer from that date. However the integration is expected to add a further 9,000 appeals to the numbers registered in the Social Welfare Appeals Office in a full year.

In addition to the provision of additional staff, I am assured by the Chief Appeals Officer that she is keeping the methods of operation by which the Social Welfare Appeals Office conducts its business under constant review, and that the processes are continuously being enhanced to reduce the backlogs in the Office and, overall, to reduce the processing times for dealing with appeals. As a result of the various initiatives taken, there has been an increase in the number of decisions made by Appeals Officers of 5,708 in the first 10 months of 2011 in comparison to the same period in 2010, as well as a reduction in the backlog of 2,863 in the same period.

Social Welfare Benefits

Jack Wall

Question:

302 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for rent allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34276/11]

The community welfare service (CWS) and the community welfare officers providing it transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP. The person concerned has made an application for rent supplement on 7 November and has been requested to provide further information in order to process her claim. A decision will be made on her application when the information has been provided.

Social Welfare Appeals

Terence Flanagan

Question:

303 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on a matter (details supplied) regarding an appeal for the invalidity pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34280/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 29 September 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Social Welfare Services on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred in due course to an Appeals Officer for consideration. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Brendan Ryan

Question:

304 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite an application for jobseeker’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; when the claim will go into payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34291/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 01 October 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Social Welfare Services on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred in due course to an Appeals Officer for consideration. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Question No. 305 answered with Question No. 300.

Michael Creed

Question:

306 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on a supplementary welfare allowance appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34312/11]

Following on from the transfer of the Community Welfare Service from the Health Services Executive (HSE) to the Department of Social Protection, with effect from Saturday 1st October, legislation was commenced which provides that appeals for supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) will be made to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. Up to now, the legislation provided for a 2 step process, first to the Health Services Executive (HSE) and, if still dissatisfied, to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

As part of that process, any appeals that have been submitted in recent weeks to the HSE are being transferred to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. These appeals will be registered and acknowledged by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in due course. In this case, I am informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an appeal for SWA for the person concerned has not yet been registered. The Chief Appeals Officer has assured me that all appropriate measures are being taken to address the smooth transfer of SWA appeals to her office. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Gerry Adams

Question:

307 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will review a decision to refuse back to school clothing and footwear allowance to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 17; and the position regarding the application. [34314/11]

The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BSCFA) scheme assists eligible categories of people with the cost of school clothing and footwear. The allowance is paid in respect of eligible children between the ages of 2 and 17 years of age and between the ages of 18 and 22 years of age if in full time education in respect of which a qualified child allowance (QCA) is being paid. As the person concerned is not currently in receipt of a qualified child allowance for her son, a payment of BSCFA cannot be made in this instance. The person concerned was notified of this decision. A subsequent review of her claim also upheld the decision to refuse a payment of BSCFA and the person concerned was advised of the review decision in writing.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

308 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the basis on which it is justified to withdraw payment of invalidity pension in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare in view of the incontrovertible medical evidence (details supplied) demonstrating a permanent incapability of work; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34353/11]

Invalidity pension is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the contribution conditions. Following a review of continued entitlement to invalidity pension and based on medical evidence provided by the person concerned, the medical assessor expressed the opinion that the person concerned was no longer eligible for invalidity pension. Accordingly, a decision was made that he was not entitled to invalidity pension with effect from 23 November 2011. He was notified of this decision in writing on 25 October 2011. The further medical evidence provided with this parliamentary question will be forwarded to a medical assessor for further consideration and the decision will be reviewed by a deciding officer upon receipt of the medical assessor's opinion. The person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome of this review.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

309 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when jobseeker’s allowance payment will be restored in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin in view of evidence of attempts to obtain further employment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34354/11]

Jobseeker's allowance payments to the person concerned have been restored with effect from 19 October 2011. Arrears due will be included in the payment on 16 November 2011.

Social Welfare Appeals

Sandra McLellan

Question:

310 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No 213 of 8 November 2011, if she will expedite and approve an application for rent allowance now under appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) taking into consideration that the current accommodation is not wheelchair friendly, has no downstairs bedroom or toilet facility, cannot be adapted and the local authority is unable to provide suitable alternative accommodation; the action she will take to address the situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34374/11]

Following on from the transfer of the Community Welfare Service from the Health Services Executive (HSE) to the Department of Social Protection, with effect from Saturday 1st October legislation was commenced which provides that appeals for supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) will be made to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. Up to now, the legislation provided for a 2 step process, first to the Health Services Executive (HSE) and, if still dissatisfied, to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

As part of that process, any appeals that have been submitted in recent weeks to the HSE are being transferred to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. These appeals will be registered and acknowledged by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in due course. In this case, I am informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an appeal for SWA for the person concerned has not yet been registered. The Chief Appeals Officer has assured me that all appropriate measures are being taken to address the smooth transfer of SWA appeals to her office. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Services for People with Disabilities