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

Foreign Conflicts

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

39 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the latest developments in Syria and the use of extreme violence by the state against democracy activists; the role that he and the EU will play in supporting the democracy movement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2335/12]

Joan Collins

Question:

42 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the latest developments in Syria and the use of extreme violence by the state against democracy activists; the role that he and the EU will play in supporting the democracy movement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2336/12]

Niall Collins

Question:

69 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has made any comments at EU level regarding the ongoing situation in Syria and in particular the Arab League supervision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1943/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 39, 42 and 69 together.

I have made clear my strong condemnation of the ongoing indiscriminate violence against those calling for greater democratic freedoms and fundamental rights in Syria, most recently in a statement on 20 December and in my reply to question number 47 on 11 January. I will be discussing the current situation in Syria, including the performance to date of the Arab League monitoring mission, with my EU colleagues at next week's Foreign Affairs Council where strong Conclusions are likely to be agreed condemning yet again the ongoing violence and repression.

The UN estimates that over 5,000 people have been killed by Syrian forces since last March. I am gravely concerned that, despite the presence of an Arab League observer mission since 27 December, the killings of unarmed protestors and widespread human rights abuses continue and I fully support the call from Arab League Secretary General el-Araby for a complete cessation of all violence in Syria. I also join with others in condemning the utterly indiscriminate bomb attacks in Damascus on 23 December 2011 and 6 January 2012 which resulted in large-scale deaths and injuries.

Ireland and the EU are determined to support those courageous Syrian citizens who are peacefully insisting on greater democratic freedoms and human rights despite an appallingly brutal response. Firstly, the EU has been reaching out, collectively and bilaterally, to the Syrian democratic opposition including the Syrian National Council. In November, the EU's top official-level political committee met informally with SNC President Dr. Bourhan Ghalioun together with other SNC representatives and EU missions in Ankara also met with a SNC delegation. Ireland was represented at both meetings. In addition, individual member states are meeting opposition representatives on an ongoing basis.

Secondly, the international community, including the EU, the UN and the Arab League, has agreed a series of robust economic, political and diplomatic measures to compel the Syrian regime to cease its appalling and unacceptable attacks on those calling for democracy. The Foreign Affairs Council agreed on 1 December additional measures related to the energy, financial, banking and trade sectors, as well as the listing of additional individuals and entities involved in the violence or supporting the regime. This comes on top of extensive existing EU sanctions, including a ban on oil imports from Syria. I entirely support these additional sanctions and the clear position which High Representative Ashton has articulated on Syria, including her statement of 2 December.

The Arab League also agreed sanctions against Syria on 27 November and has put forward a plan which includes the beginning of genuine political dialogue with the Syrian opposition. At UN level, too, there have been clear calls from an overwhelming majority of UN member states, including Ireland, for an end to the violence and human rights abuses in Syria, most recently in a resolution which was adopted by the General Assembly on 19 December. I hope that the Security Council will soon also be able to agree a strong resolution on Syria to make clear its support for those calling for fundamental freedoms in Syria.

Ireland and its EU partners, working with the Arab League, the UN and other international partners, will continue to support all those striving peacefully for democratic freedoms and human rights in Syria.

Election Monitoring

Sean Fleming

Question:

40 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has issued any communication to the Russian Federation over the disputed Duma elections held in December 2011 and subsequent treatment of protestors; if he has discussed the issue with the EU External Action Services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2365/12]

Ireland contributed five short-term observers selected by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. A member of the Oireachtas took part in the observation mission of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and a former member of the Oireachtas observed the election at the invitation of a Russian non-governmental organisation. The OSCE ODIHR Election Observation Mission issued a preliminary report on 5 December which pointed to a number of shortcomings in the election campaign and voting process, and in particular in vote counting.

The High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy issued a statement on 6 December noting the findings of the OSCE ODIHR preliminary report and expressing the expectation that the issues raised would be addressed by the Russian authorities "to allow for smooth and fair Presidential elections in the spring". The OSCE ODIHR final report was issued on 12 January.

The conduct and outcome of the Duma elections have clearly provoked a very broad reflection within Russia on the democratic process, including the large scale demonstrations last month.

It is encouraging that the demonstrations have been able to take place in a mostly peaceful environment.

I welcome the commitment made by President Medvedev on 21 December to undertake a comprehensive reform of the political system, including a return to a system of elections for governors, as well as lowering the administrative requirements for the registration of political parties and election candidates.

Looking ahead to the Presidential elections on 4 March, I also welcome the recent official invitation from the Chairman of the Central Election Commission to the OSCE ODIHR to monitor the elections. Ireland intends to contribute observers to this mission.

I have not been in direct communication with the Russian authorities on the matter but I encourage the Russian authorities to take account of the concerns that have been aired both within Russia and by its partners ahead of the Presidential elections in March to ensure that the conduct and the outcome of the election commands the widest possible support.

Human Rights Issues

Billy Kelleher

Question:

41 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views and those of the EU on the new Hungarian Constitution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2366/12]

I refer the Deputy to my answer to a previous Priority question on this matter. I would add that, in its statement of 11 January, the European Commission recalled that a stable environment, based on the rule of law, including respect for media freedom, democratic principles and fundamental rights, is the best guarantee of citizens' trust and the confidence of partners and investors, which was particularly vital in times of economic crisis.

As Hungary prepares for important discussions with the EU and IMF, I trust that it will reflect on the measures necessary to achieve confidence among partners for the benefit of its people. In adopting such a course, and in engaging with the concerns that have been aired both within Hungary and by Hungary's international partners, Hungary would have the support of Ireland.

Question No. 42 answered with Question No. 39.

Trade Agreements

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

43 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will clarify the nature of the free trade agreement with Colombia; and if it is a mixed agreement or not. [2341/12]

Under the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Union has exclusive competence for the EU's Common Commercial Policy. In international trade negotiations, the Commission negotiates on behalf of the Union, on the basis of a mandate that it receives from the Council.

On 1 March 2010, negotiations on a Multiparty Trade Agreement between the EU and two member states of the Andean Community — Colombia and Peru — concluded in Brussels. The Agreement was initialled by the parties in April 2011.

The Commission is of the view that the Agreement is an EU only one. On that basis, it has submitted for approval by the Council draft proposals on the signature and the conclusion of the Agreement by the EU, as opposed to the EU and its Member States. The issue of the designation of the Agreement as one in which the Union has exclusive competence, or one which involves mixed competence requiring approval and ratification by all 27 Member States, will be determined by the Council in the light of its analysis of the Agreement's content and the legal advice that it receives. The Government takes the view that the Agreement covers matters of mixed competence. The Council will take a position on this in the coming months.

In any event, the approval of the European Parliament will be required before the Agreement can be ratified by the EU.

EU Enlargement

Michael McGrath

Question:

44 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the impact of the 2009 European Court of Human Rights ruling on the Bosnian Presidency on a potential Bosnian application for EU membership; if he will support such an application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2374/12]

I assume the Deputy is referring to the Ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in December 2009 which held that the prohibition in the Bosnian Constitution against those from the Roma and Jewish minorities from standing for election to the Parliamentary Assembly and for the State Presidency violates the European Convention on Human Rights. As outlined by the European Commission in its 2011-2012 Enlargement Strategy, compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights is an essential requirement of the Interim Agreement and the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In the absence of agreement on a new Bosnian government since the last elections in October 2010, there has been little meaningful progress towards harmonising the Constitution with the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights referred to by the Deputy. Bosnia and Herzegovina is not yet, therefore, in a position to make a formal application for EU membership and it is likely to be some time before this is possible.

In general, however, Ireland has been, and will continue to be, a firm supporter of the EU accession process and would support the application of any country with a European perspective that meets the necessary requirements for membership and that upholds and promotes the ideals and values of the European Union.

Foreign Conflicts

Brian Stanley

Question:

45 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his position on the current political situation in Syria; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2353/12]

Brendan Smith

Question:

46 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps he has taken at an EU level to raise the massacre of anti-regime protesters in Syria over the past year; the measures the EU has taken and is considering in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2387/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 45 and 46 together.

I have made clear my strong condemnation of the ongoing violence and serious repression of human rights in Syria, most recently in a statement on 20 December and in my reply to question 47 on 11 January.

The UN estimates that over 5,000 people have been killed by Syrian forces since last March. I am gravely concerned that, despite the presence of an Arab League observer mission since 27 December, the killings of unarmed protestors and widespread human rights abuses continue and I fully support the call from Arab League Secretary General el-Araby for a complete cessation of all violence in Syria.

The international community, including the EU, the UN and the Arab League, has reacted to the violence in Syria with a series of robust economic, political and diplomatic measures to compel the Syrian regime to cease its appalling and unacceptable attacks on the Syrian people.

The EU Foreign Affairs Council agreed on 1 December additional measures related to the energy, financial, banking and trade sectors, as well as the listing of additional individuals and entities involved in the violence or supporting the regime. This comes on top of extensive existing EU sanctions, including a ban on oil imports from Syria. I entirely support these additional sanctions and the statements of High Representative Ashton on Syria, including on 2 December.

Ireland also fully supports implementation of the sanctions, including an asset freeze and an embargo on investments, imposed by the Arab League on Syria on 27 November. The Government, together with its EU partners, welcomes the leadership which has been shown by the Arab League in tackling the crisis caused by the Syrian regime's lethal repression against its own citizens. The Arab League has brought forward a plan which provides for the withdrawal of all Syrian forces from besieged towns and cities, for the release of all detainees and for the beginning of genuine political dialogue with the Syrian opposition. This plan represents the best way forward for Syria and it is vital that the Assad regime complies fully and without any further delay. I support the Arab League plan to continue its monitoring mission until 19 January and strongly condemn the attack against a group of monitors in Latakia. A frank assessment of the situation will be necessary in the near future about whether the monitoring mission is contributing in the way it should to ending the violence against civilians.

At UN level, there have been clear calls from an overwhelming majority of UN member states, including Ireland, for an end to the violence and human rights abuses in Syria, most recently in a resolution which was adopted by the General Assembly on 19 December. However, it is disappointing that the Security Council has still, after all this time, been unable to agree a robust Resolution on Syria to bring further pressure to bear on President Assad and I hope that it will soon be able to do so. I call upon Security Council members with influence on President Assad to seek to persuade him to immediately relinquish power in order that a political transition may begin.

Ireland and its EU partners, working with the UN, the Arab League and international partners such as the US and Turkey, are determined to maintain strong and united political pressure on the Syrian regime until it ends the violent repression against its own people and begins a process of transition.

EU Treaties

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

47 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which he and his EU colleagues have engaged in the context of the future development of the European Union with particular reference to political, fiscal, social and economic issues with a view to identification of consensus on the issues and the need to generate confidence in European institutions and to clearly illustrate the ability and commitment of the member states to the principles adopted originally by the founding fathers of the modern Europe; if all member states now recognise that the concept cannot survive without the commitment of all members of the Union and that selective opting out will not only damage the economic prospects but will also undermine the fundamental original vision of Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2319/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

53 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which agreement has been reached in relation to future amendments to existing European treaties or the introduction of new treaties; if it is intended or expected that approval of any such measures will be done by way of reference to national parliaments, referenda or otherwise; if consideration has been given to the concerns of member states, the constitutions of which require a referendum; if there is general recognition of the need to ensure that fiscal policy in all member states has regard for the well-being of the community at large and that the interests of the most powerful do not obscure those of the smaller countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2320/12]

Billy Kelleher

Question:

65 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the precedent to embark on the EU intergovernmental agreement weakens and may defy EU pillars; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1927/12]

Michael Moynihan

Question:

66 Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has considered setting up an Oireachtas sub-committee to consider the EU intergovernmental agreement similar to the model used previously when the Lisbon treaty was being debated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1935/12]

Micheál Martin

Question:

96 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on whether a constitutional treaty referendum is inevitable in view of the euro crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38473/11]

Micheál Martin

Question:

99 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has published or circulated any document regarding reforms of the European Union. [2446/12]

Micheál Martin

Question:

100 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has prepared any documents for circulation to other Heads of State and Governments setting out Ireland’s position on future reforms of the EU and eurozone. [2447/12]

Micheál Martin

Question:

101 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the procedures he is putting in place to ensure consultation here regarding potential reforms of the EU and eurozone. [2448/12]

Micheál Martin

Question:

103 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has considered or will consider engaging with Opposition parties on the matter of potential changes to the EU treaties. [2450/12]

Micheál Martin

Question:

107 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views regarding the proposal from Prime Minister Cameron regarding the abolition of labour laws in any forthcoming treaty change negotiations and if this issue was discussed in recent meetings with Chancellor Merkel. [2454/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

112 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which he has taken a particular initiative or stance at EU level to support the concept of a rediscovery of the original European ideals and vision having particular regard to the need to create stability and cohesiveness throughout the European Union at this juncture of the modern era; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2595/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

113 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which all European capitals and parliaments have been visited with a view to disseminating a positive message in respect of this country and its economic recovery and in turn hearing the comments from our European colleagues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2596/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 47, 53, 65, 66, 96, 99 to 101, inclusive, 103, 107, 112 and 113 together.

Since the current economic difficulties in Europe arose, European leaders have been seized of the need to find a lasting resolution that allows us to put the crisis behind us and to focus on generating growth and jobs as a means of underpinning recovery.

Significant steps have been taken in this regard, including in strengthening budgetary discipline and in constructing stabilisation facilities and firewalls. Important progress on these elements, both of which are of importance to Ireland, was made at the meeting of the European Council last month.

In particular, leaders agreed to further strengthen economic policy co-ordination within the euro area, by way of an intergovernmental agreement, to construct a new "fiscal compact".

Negotiations are ongoing on a draft Treaty to give legal effect to this agreement.

A first draft text was circulated before Christmas and it is hoped that significant progress towards agreement will have been made before an informal meeting of the European Council scheduled for 30 January. Once agreement is reached, the text will then be prepared for signature and subsequent ratification by each of the participants according to their respective constitutional requirements.

The Government has been clear that we would have wished to proceed at the level of all 27 EU Member States. That would have facilitated inclusion of the new arrangements within the EU Treaties. Unfortunately it was not possible on this occasion.

However, all Member States are represented at the ongoing negotiations, with the UK attending as observers. This is most welcome and work is being undertaken in a spirit of co-operation and compromise, while respecting vital national interests, as has been the guiding approach to previous European negotiations.

The Government has been working intensively, at the negotiating table, in Brussels and in capitals, to make sure that our key points are understood and addressed appropriately. To that end we have offered our views both orally and in writing, including on the detailed elements of the text. Senior Irish officials have been very active in meeting their counterparts, and we have sought to secure the support of all potential allies on issues of importance to us. We will continue to do this as the process evolves.

Only when a final text is available will it be possible to reach a view on what will be required by way of ratification in Ireland. The test will be whether the proposed Treaty is compatible with the Constitution. As the Government has confirmed previously, the Attorney General will study the legal implications carefully, and will advise on what steps will be necessary to enable Ireland to ratify. Until then it is simply not possible to be definitive. As the Government has made clear many times, if a referendum is required, one will be held.

I should add in taking forward the work mandated in December, there has been no discussion of labour laws.

The House can be assured that whatever path towards ratification is required, it will be fully involved in the process.

The Government is firmly committed to continuing to engage actively with the House on matters related to our membership of the European Union. The Taoiseach met, in the immediate aftermath of the December European Council, with Opposition leaders and provided them with a briefing on developments at that meeting.

The Taoiseach and I also both addressed the Dáil on 14 December on the outcome of the Council meeting, what that would mean for Ireland and setting out our approach during the negotiation of the draft international agreement. We responded to a series of queries and points raised by Members of this House. The Government will continue the practice, initiated for the first time by this Government, of also having statements in this House ahead of each European Council meeting, as well as following such meetings, as was the practice previously.

I note also that it continues to be the practice that I or the Minister of State for European Affairs meets with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs ahead of each meeting of the General Affairs Council (GAC). These exchanges have proven to be a useful forum for a wide-ranging exchange of views on issues arising on the GAC and European Council agenda. I trust that this will continue to be the case. In addition, I will meet with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs on Friday of this week to brief the Committee on developments concerning the negotiations on the draft international agreement.

Ireland's commitment to delivering on the terms of its EU-IMF Programme is well understood and accepted. In December, European leaders again welcomed the progress we have made in that regard. Such statements are helpful in rebuilding the international reputation of this country, in generating confidence in our ability to recover, and in creating a positive impression in the minds of international investors.

International Agreements

Martin Ferris

Question:

48 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on whether Morocco has no right, under international law, to sell the resources of Western Sahara and therefore, that the EU should not be paying Morocco for fishing rights in the waters of Western Sahara; and the steps he is taking to address this ongoing contentious EU foreign policy. [2348/12]

The wording of successive EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreements has stated that the Agreements apply to "the waters falling within the sovereignty or jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Morocco". Morocco regards the Western Sahara and its waters as a part of its territory. However, Ireland and our EU partners do not recognise Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara. Western Sahara is a non-Self Governing Territory. The UN General Assembly has consistently condemned the exploitation and plundering of natural resources and any economic activities which are detrimental to the interests of the peoples of these territories, and deprive them of their legitimate rights over their natural resources. It is, however, permissible for an occupying power to take measures to provide for the normal economic development of an occupied territory, so long as this is done to the benefit of the people of the territory, and where possible with their consent. If this were not so, the economic development of the people of the territory would be frozen.

In accordance with these principles, the EU included provision in the 2006 Agreement for a proportion of the EU payments under the Agreement to be applied to the benefit of the people of Western Sahara.

My colleague the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries has reported to the House on the contacts between the European Commission and the Moroccan authorities in relation to the operation of this provision, which has been a key issue in the prospects for a further Fisheries Agreement with Morocco, and a proposed interim extension of the now expired 2006 Agreement. As the Deputy will be aware, the proposed interim extension was not agreed to by the European Parliament, in part because of this issue, which will clearly thus remain central to any consideration by the Commission and by the Fisheries Council of any proposed further Agreement.

Human Rights Issues

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

49 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on recent developments in Egypt and particularly the use of violence by State forces against democracy activists; the role he sees for Ireland and the EU in supporting the democracy movement in Egypt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2334/12]

Joan Collins

Question:

55 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on recent developments in Egypt and particularly the use of violence by State forces against democracy activists; the role he sees for him and the EU in supporting the democracy movement in Egypt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2337/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 49 and 55 together.

I am gravely concerned about the lethal force used against protestors in Egypt during recent demonstrations in Cairo as well as raids last month by Egyptian security forces on local and international non-governmental organisations. I deplore such loss of life and large number of injuries occurring in the midst of Egypt's transition to democracy.

A vibrant and vocal civil society is as essential to democracy as the ballot box. While I am encouraged and welcome that the recent three-phase parliamentary elections to the lower house of the Egyptian parliament appear to have passed off reasonably fairly and peacefully, a democratic society also requires that rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are fully respected.

I again urge the interim ruling Supreme Command of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to ensure that Egypt fulfils its domestic and international obligations to uphold the rule of law in a manner respectful of human rights and fundamental freedoms during the transition period. In particular, I again call for the SCAF to end anti-democratic provisions such as the thirty-year state of emergency, as a demonstration of its commitment to facilitating real change and reform in Egypt. I also support the calls within Egyptian society for a full transition to civilian rule, the parameters of which must be decided by elected representatives. There must also be a credible, independent investigation into all recent violent incidents involving attacks on protestors, with a view to tackling impunity and determining precise causes and responsibility for the deaths and escalation of violence. In addition, the intimidation and persecution of non-governmental organisations must also end immediately.

While the transition to democracy must be Egyptian-led, Ireland and its EU partners are acting to support the democratic transition in two main ways. Firstly, through clear and consistent political support for the democratic transition and democratic values. The situation in Egypt was discussed by EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels on 1 December and will again be considered at the Council's next meeting on 23 January which I shall attend. I fully support the strong Conclusions issued on 1 December as well as the important statements of EU High Representative Ashton on 18 and 30 December. Ireland and other EU member states also engage politically on an ongoing basis with a wide range of government, opposition, parliamentary and civil society interlocutors in Egypt.

Secondly, Ireland and the EU are directly funding a number of organisations working to strengthen democracy and human rights in Egypt. In 2011, Ireland provided €150,000 to UNDP in Egypt for strengthening democratic participation in the Egyptian elections. The EU launched a €20 million civil society package after the departure of former President Mubarak. The EU also offered fully fledged electoral observation missions for both parliamentary and presidential elections though the Egyptian authorities have so far only been willing to accept an EU support programme of €2 million under the Instrument for Stability which will assist the High Electoral Commission in its work and provide support to civil society organisations.

Ireland and the EU will continue to act in support of Egypt and its people in their quest for freedom and a democratic transition.

Question No. 50 answered with Question No. 36.

Nuclear Proliferation

Michael Moynihan

Question:

51 Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the discussions he has held with his EU counterparts in relation to a new round of sanctions on Iran as it continues to pursue an uranium enrichment programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2379/12]

The Government is extremely concerned about the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran issued on 8 November which concluded that there are strong grounds for serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme. The further confirmation from the IAEA in the past week that Iran has begun uranium enrichment to the 20% level at the Fordow underground nuclear plant is highly disappointing in this context and compounds the international community's serious concerns. Given the complete absence of any signal from Iran that it would be willing to comprehensively address the serious issues raised in the report, the 1 December Foreign Affairs Council approved the extension of EU restrictive measures to a further 180 entities and individuals linked with the nuclear programme or associated organisations. The Council also agreed to examine additional measures "including measures aimed at severely affecting the Iranian financial system, in the transport sector, in the energy sector, measures against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as in other areas."

The European Council on 9 December endorsed these decisions and asked the Foreign Affairs Council to adopt these measures at its next session on 23 January, which I shall attend. Work is continuing at official level in Brussels on a set of new measures as instructed by the Council and I expect these will be formally agreed by Ministers on 23 January. Any new restrictive measures agreed by the EU will be in addition to further bilateral measures announced by the US, UK and Canada since the IAEA report, including important US legislation targeting the Iranian financial system signed into law by President Obama on 31 December. Furthermore, on 12 January, Japan announced that it will take concrete steps to reduce its dependency on Iranian oil.

These further restrictive measures are intended to make it clear to the Iranian authorities that the international community is united and committed to increasing political and economic pressure until the valid concerns about possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear programme are addressed. I urge Iran's leadership to act in the best interests of the Iranian people and return to the negotiating table prepared to make a sincere effort to resolve this issue and end Iran's growing international isolation.

Human Rights Issues

Brian Stanley

Question:

52 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps he is taking to support the International Criminal Court’s 2006 arrest warrant for General Bosco Ntaganda’s, for allegedly recruiting children under the age of 15 years as child soldiers in the Congo. [2352/12]

Ireland has been a strong and committed supporter of the International Criminal Court since its establishment under the Rome Statute in 2002. We support the efforts of the Court to bring to justice those responsible for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and other atrocities.

An arrest warrant was issued by the Court in respect of Mr. Bosco Ntaganda in August 2006. This relates to three counts of war crimes covering the enlistment, recruitment and use in hostilities of children under 15 years of age. These are very serious charges and it is essential that Mr. Ntaganda appear before the Court to answer them.

The Government takes the clear position that the Democratic Republic of Congo is legally obliged to arrest Mr. Ntaganda and should do so.

Ireland, both directly and as a member of the European Union, provides ongoing support, including funding, for the ICC and its work. Ireland's contribution towards the running costs of the Court in 2012 will amount to over €800,000. Ireland has also made voluntary contributions to Trust Funds that support the work of the ICC. In addition, some €40 million has been provided from the EU budget to support the work of the ICC, and related international criminal justice initiatives, since 1995.

Question No. 53 answered with Question No. 47.
Question No. 54 answered with Question No. 34.
Question No. 55 answered with Question No. 49.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

56 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the Colombian presidency’s control over the country’s judicial system; and his views on whether such power is compatible with a democratic State. [2343/12]

Colombia has witnessed the longest period of terrorism of any Latin American country (fifty years). Overcoming the consequences of decades of terrorism, as well as the displacement of between two and three million persons, presents significant challenges. The 2007-2013 EU Country Strategy paper for Colombia recognises that the "situation as regards human rights and democracy in Colombia is still critical". Dialogue with the Government of Colombia, bilaterally and with our EU partners, offers the best way to further the objective of supporting democracy in Colombia. I will have an opportunity to seek an update on developments in the country from Vice President Garzon of Colombia during his first visit to Ireland later this month.

Ireland will continue to monitor the situation in Colombia via our Embassy in Mexico and with partners in the European Union.

Emigrant Support Services

Denis Naughten

Question:

57 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the progress made to date on resolving the issue of undocumented Irish in the US; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1947/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

118 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the current or ongoing position in relation to the possible regularisation of the undocumented Irish in the US; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2601/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 and 118 together.

Addressing the situation of the undocumented Irish and reforming our migration arrangements with the United States remain important priorities for the Government in its relationship with the US Administration and Congress. The Taoiseach and I discussed these issues with President Obama when we met with him on 23 May last year in Dublin. During the course of 2011, I also discussed the issue of Irish immigration with Secretary of State Clinton and Senator Patrick Leahy, Chair of the Senate Judiciary committee. I also met with the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and the Coalition of Irish Centres in New York. The Government has provided almost $365,000 to support that organisation since 2006.

A particular focus of the Government's efforts has been on the achievement of E-3 visas for Ireland. These E-3s are non-immigrant worker visas, renewable every two years and are currently available to Australian citizens. Provisions which would allow Irish nationals to apply for E-3 visas were amongst those included in the comprehensive immigration reform Bill as introduced in the US Senate last June by senior Democrats, including Senators Harry Reid, Charles Schumer and Robert Menendez. Unfortunately, and not least due to the current US domestic political climate and the Presidential elections taking place there later this year, to date that Bill has not yet received the additional bi-partisan support which it would require to make further progress.

Another significant development occurred at the end of November when draft legislation entitled the "Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act" (Bill No. HR 3012) emerged from the House of Representatives. Although the political climate for any immigration reform measures remains challenging, the broad bi-partisan support which this draft legislation secured suggested that there might be scope to make progress on Irish E-3s. In early December, Senators Schumer, Leahy and Durbin, all of whom hold leadership positions on the Democratic side of the Senate, came together to co-sponsor a further version of the "Fairness" legislation that would include provision under which Irish nationals could apply for up to 10,500 E-3 visas each year.

The Schumer/Leahy/Durbin Bill (number S.1983) also included "administrative waiver" provisions which would allow undocumented Irish migrants in the US to apply for E-3s without suffering certain applicable penalties for having been out of status. Separately, Senators Scott Brown and Mark Kirk of the Republican Party tabled further stand-alone legislative proposals (Bill number S. 2005) that would also make Irish nationals eligible to apply for up to 10,500 E-3 visas each year but which do not include the additional "administrative waiver" provisions.

Both Bills have since been referred for examination by the US Senate's Judiciary Committee. While recent developments have been encouraging, the prospects for these Bills are uncertain. Acting on my behalf, our Embassy in Washington, working with the Irish-American immigration community, continues to engage on an ongoing basis with the US Administration at senior levels and with both parties in the US Congress. I will also be in Washington in early February where I will be engaging with key players to further advance our support for an Irish E-3 visa.

Middle East Peace Process

Gerry Adams

Question:

58 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in view of his statement to Dáil Éireann on 13 July 2011 that the continuing occupation and the creation of illegal settlements on the occupied lands in Israel is the major obstacle to peace in the Middle East, the way he envisages these obstacles being removed, in the light of Israel’s refusal to halt settlement building and end the occupation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2344/12]

As the Deputy has noted, I have made clear my view that the continuing Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories, and the ongoing settlement construction project, are now the major obstacles to a lasting peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours, including the Palestinians. Settlement construction is in the first place illegal under international law, and inherently involves injustice to Palestinians and further erosion of their rights and freedoms. Furthermore, settlement construction not only undermines the ability of Palestinian leaders to pursue negotiations with Israel, but increasingly makes it difficult for such negotiations to be successful, by making the creation of a viable Palestinian state increasingly hard to achieve on the ground. It is difficult not to conclude that this is the deliberate intention of many of those who support the settlement project, which is facilitated and actively supported by the Israeli Government, and which could not proceed without such support. Ultimately, only the achievement of a comprehensive peace agreement will resolve the issues of the occupation and settlements, and the pursuit and support of a peace process remains the major priority of the EU and the international community, despite the many frustrations this has entailed. The two sides are at present tentatively engaged in a talks process initiated by the Quartet last September, and we will continue to do all we can to support this.

However, I agree with the view that more also needs to be done to pressure Israel to suspend actions on the ground which work against peace, in particular the continuing expansion of the settlements. In my view, the international community has not done all it could in this regard. I will continue to argue strongly for more action in this regard, in my contacts both at EU level and elsewhere.

International Agreements

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

59 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding signing the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which, in his statement to the Human Rights Council on 6 October 2011 as part of the Universal Periodic Review of Ireland, he indicated he hoped to sign before the end of 2011, but which remains unsigned. [2340/12]

The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights opened for signature in New York in September 2009. To date thirty nine (39) States have signed. Nine of the twenty seven European Union member states have signed. Five States have ratified the Optional Protocol: Argentina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mongolia and Spain. The Optional Protocol will come into force three months after the deposit with the United Nations Secretary General of the tenth instrument of ratification or accession. As only five States have ratified the Optional Protocol so far it has not yet come into force. My Department has led consultations between Departments on possible signature of the Optional Protocol. A formal proposal asking Departments for their views as to possible signature of the Optional Protocol was circulated in December. Once this consultation process is completed the question of the possible signature of the Optional Protocol will then be examined.

While my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality, stated on 6 October 2011 that Ireland hoped to be in a position to sign the Optional Protocol to the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights before the end of 2011 during Ireland's Universal Periodic Review, it has not been possible to finalise a decision on this matter pending the completion of the ongoing consultation process. Ratification of the Optional Protocol would be a separate step and would be considered in due course.

Denis Naughten

Question:

60 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the progress being made on bilateral Economic Partnership Agreements between the EU and third countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1948/12]

Since 2002, the EU has been negotiating a series of new trade and development agreements with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of States. The negotiations for these Economic Partnership Agreements are being carried out by the European Commission, on behalf of the European Community and the Member States. They were necessitated by rulings by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that the unilateral trade preferences which the EU had previously granted to the ACP countries established unfair discrimination between developing countries.

The original aim had been to conclude comprehensive Agreements with six regional groupings of the ACP States by the end of 2007, the deadline set by the WTO. However, following a process of protracted and difficult negotiations, only one of the ACP regional groups, representing Caribbean States, was ready to initial an Economic Partnership Agreement by that date. In order to avoid trade disruption, interim Agreements were agreed and initialled at the end of 2007 with 21 other ACP States, either individually or in regional groupings. These interim Agreements provide for full duty and quota-free access to the European Union market but allow the ACP countries a flexible and asymmetric trade liberalisation schedule.

In recent years, there have been well-founded concerns that there was a need to restore momentum to the negotiations and revitalise the original shared commitment to the achievement of strong Agreements which serve the development needs of the ACP countries. Political leaders from both sides agreed at the EU-Africa Summit in November 2010 "to conclude Economic Partnership Agreements that support socio-economic development, regional integration and the integration of Africa into the global economy". As a result, the European Commission last year engaged actively and flexibly in renewed negotiations at the regional level. In tandem with this approach, at the end of September the Commission adopted a proposal, for submission to the Council, which would set a deadline of 1 January 2014 for the conclusion of the negotiations. This proposal is currently under consideration by the European Parliament and the Council.

As Minister of State for Trade and Development, I will be following closely the continuing negotiations for these partnership agreements. I will be working with our partners to help ensure that the EU's negotiating approach is as flexible as possible under WTO law and that the negotiations serve to strengthen the EU's partnership with developing countries. I believe it is essential that we continue to work for Agreements which clearly support the development needs of developing countries, and specifically their programmes to reduce poverty.

Overseas Development Aid

Martin Ferris

Question:

61 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in the context of his stated commitment to the IATI standard for open data, if he intends to make Irish Aid data freely available before year end. [2349/12]

Ireland is working closely with other international donors to improve the quality of international development assistance. In a review undertaken by the OECD in 2011, Ireland's overseas aid programme ranked first among EU member states, in terms of its quality and our commitment to the delivery of effective aid.

Increasing the transparency of information related to development cooperation enables partner governments and civil society organisations to plan more effectively and to hold one another to account for the way aid is used. At the recent High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Korea, the importance of transparency and accountability of all development resources was strongly endorsed. In recent years, and consistent with a commitment to transparency, the Government has substantially increased the volume of information relating to the Irish Aid programme, which is publicly accessible. Comprehensive and detailed information relating to Irish Aid's country strategy papers and budgets, policy documents and annual reports are now available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website. We are updating this website to make it more relevant and accessible.

I am currently leading a review of the Government's White Paper on Irish Aid. As part of this process, we will consider how to ensure that information made available on the Irish Aid programme, and aid programmes implemented by our partner NGOs and other organisations, conform even more fully with internationally accepted standards, such as the OECD and other initiatives such as the International Aid Transparency Initiative.

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

62 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his approach to the upcoming Rio+20 summit; his views on the implications of last December’s Busan summit on aid effectiveness for the Irish Aid programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2350/12]

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development will be held in Rio de Janeiro in June, marking the twentieth anniversary of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development and the tenth anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. The goal of the Summit will be to secure renewed international political commitment for sustainable development. It will focus on the promotion of a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and agreement on the global institutional arrangements to make this happen. The Minister for the Environment is taking the lead in coordinating Ireland's approach to the Summit, and Irish Aid in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been actively engaged in the national consultation process. In line with our priorities in international development, and Ireland's strong focus on the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, we are working to ensure that effective responses to hunger and poor nutrition in developing countries will be prioritised at the Rio meeting.

Last December, my predecessor as Minister of State for Trade and Development, Ms. Jan O'Sullivan, T.D., headed the Irish delegation to the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea. The Chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Pat Breen, T.D., also participated in the delegation. This major international meeting brought together over 2,500 representatives from Governments, Parliaments, civil society and the private sector to review progress on implementing commitments on making development aid more effective and to agree a global framework to improve the impact of development assistance on the reduction of global poverty.

The meeting agreed an outcome document "The Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation" which was endorsed by emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil, which had not previously engaged in international discussions on effective aid.

The Busan outcome document includes commitments to increase the focus on poverty reduction and on development results, particularly in fragile and conflict- affected states. It commits to ensuring women and girls are prioritised in development and to strengthening the transparency and accountability of development spending. The important oversight role of parliamentarians and the role of civil society as partners in poverty reduction were also clearly recognised.

In the coming months, officials from my Department will engage with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations to support the establishment of a new inclusive ‘Global Partnership' which will work to ensure accountability for the implementation of commitments made in Busan. Over the coming months, I will be leading the review of the White Paper on Irish Aid. The commitments made in Busan will be reflected in this review to ensure that Ireland maintains its reputation as an international leader in making development aid more effective, with an overseas aid programme of the highest quality.

Foreign Conflicts

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

63 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will call on the Turkish authorities to investigate immediately the death of at least 35 civilians in a military airstrike near the Iraqi border in south-eastern Turkey last December, when no military targets were reported to have been hit in the attack, but which caused the death of so many innocent civilians. [2347/12]

I assume the Deputy is referring to the airstrike near the town of Uludere in Sirnak Province that took place on 28 December last. The loss of civilian life is in all circumstances a tragedy. Military activity should always be conducted to avoid civilian casualties and States should adhere rigidly to the procedures and rules of engagement for offensive action. I understand that the Turkish Authorities have initiated an official investigation into the incident referred to by the Deputy. They have also expressed regret at the loss of life and offered compensation to the families of the victims.

Official Engagements

Micheál Martin

Question:

64 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the visits that are planned for St. Patrick’s Day; the number of Ministers travelling; the destinations of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1922/12]

St. Patrick's Day offers a unique opportunity to promote Ireland's image and interests abroad. No other country in the world attracts as much public and media attention for its national day as Ireland does. I intend to ensure with this year's programme of travel that targeted use will be made of the marketing opportunity that St. Patrick's Day provides globally. In keeping with this approach, I have proposed a programme of Ministerial visits around St. Patrick's Day 2012 which are designed to have maximum impact on the promotion of Ireland's economic interests. This programme of travel has been drawn up in consultation with the Embassy network and the State Agencies, to ensure that we utilise the opportunity of St Patrick's Day to improve and strengthen relations with Ireland's key business and community contacts.

These proposals are currently under consideration and, once decisions are made, I would expect the Government to make an early public announcement.

Questions Nos. 65 and 66 answered with Question No. 47.

Human Rights Issues

Sean Fleming

Question:

67 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views regarding the constitutional plan adopted by the Parliament of Hungary on 30 December 2011; his views that it is in accordance with the intergovernmental treaty suggested last December; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1941/12]

Michael McGrath

Question:

70 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has raised on any occasion with the Prime Minister of Hungary, Mr Viktor Orban, concerns that the new Hungarian constitution, signed into law in April 2011, may contravene European Human Rights principles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1998/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 67 and 70 together.

I refer to my answers to questions 32 and 41 which I answered earlier today.

Diplomatic Representation

Micheál Martin

Question:

68 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has been in communication with the Vatican recently in relation to Ireland withdrawing its embassy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1942/12]

On 3 November last year, the day of the Government's decision to close our resident Embassy to the Holy See, I wrote to the Holy See's Secretary of State, His Excellency Cardinal Bertone, to inform him of the Government's decision and why it had been necessary, as well as to express Government's intention to continue our active engagement with the Holy See on issues of mutual interest and concern. On the same day, at my request, the Secretary General of my Department met with the Chargé d'Affaires at the Papal Nunciature in Dublin to inform him of the decision in advance of the public announcement later that day. In the meantime, there has been regular contact at official level between my Department and the Vatican. The closure of the resident Embassy has been completed and the Holy See has agreed to the Government's nomination of the Secretary General of my Department, Mr. David Cooney, as our non-resident Ambassador. Mr. Cooney has travelled to Rome twice since his nomination where he has met with Vatican officials. On his most recent visit, earlier this month, he attended the ordination of the incoming Nuncio, Archbishop Charles J. Brown, by Pope Benedict and conveyed to Archbishop Brown the best wishes of the President, Government and people of Ireland.

I very much look forward to meeting Archbishop Brown on his arrival in Ireland and to working closely with him in his roles of Apostolic Nuncio and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps.

Question No. 69 answered with Question No. 39.
Question No. 70 answered with Question No. 67.

Northern Ireland Issues

Brendan Smith

Question:

71 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if North-South co-operation is being adversely affected by budgetary cuts; if North-South relations will be adversely impacted as a result; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2321/12]

Micheál Martin

Question:

105 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide an update on the work of the North-South Ministerial Council. [2452/12]

Micheál Martin

Question:

106 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will detail the steps to be taken in the coming months to address the priorities of the North-South Ministerial Council. [2453/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 71, 105 and 106 together.

North South Cooperation is currently operating at a very high level. The North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) meets in three formats: Plenary, Institutional and Sectoral. Since this Government came into office, the work of the NSMC has been taken forward at all levels, with a total of 16 Sectoral meetings having taken place, along with an Institutional meeting on 3 October 2011 and Plenary meetings on 10 June and 18 November, 2011. The next Institutional meeting is planned for the late spring, and the next Plenary will be in June.

At the meeting in Plenary format in Armagh on 18 November, discussions covered a wide range of issues, particularly in regard to the economic challenges faced in both jurisdictions. There was also a review of progress across a range of areas of North-South co-operation, including the work of the North-South bodies, particularly as they relate to fostering economic recovery across the island. Opportunities for efficiencies and to make mutual savings through co-operation in areas where there is cross-border duplication of services were also discussed.

The special importance of tourism in the economy, North and South, was recognised as was our wish to work closely with the Executive to ensure that the sector's potential is fulfilled, maximising the benefits of forthcoming initiatives both North and South, including the Titanic centenary in 2012, Derry City of Culture in 2013 and "The Gathering", also in 2013.

The Plenary also examined potential collaboration to meet the emerging challenges in third level education and the important contribution that the agri-food sector makes to the economy.

Ministers noted progress on EU-related matters, including collaboration to maximise drawdown of EU funds from the FP7 research and development programme, progress on current EU programmes and the potential for co-operation on future EU programmes.

The Government's decision to defer further investment in the A5 and A8 road projects was noted by the Council, while a payment of £3 million in accordance with the previously agreed procedure in respect of a project milestone reached was approved. The Government's commitment to provide £25 million for these projects in both 2015 and 2016 was acknowledged and the relevant Departments North and South are to prepare a new funding and implementation plan for agreement at the next NSMC transport meeting with endorsement at the plenary meeting in June 2012.

The Council also discussed ways to progress movement on the North-South consultative forum and agreed to finalise deliberations on this at the next plenary meeting.

In regard to establishing the North-South parliamentary forum, the work undertaken by the Ceann Comhairle and the Speaker of the Northern Assembly and in joint meetings of working groups of the Oireachtas and the Assembly was welcomed.

We also discussed the North West Gateway Initiative and agreed that the NSMC Joint Secretariat would convene a meeting of officials from relevant Departments in both jurisdictions, with a view to a progress report being presented to the next NSMC Institutional meeting. The officials' meeting is to take place early next month.

The appointment of Chairpersons, Vice-Chairpersons and members to the Boards of the North-South implementation bodies and Directors of Tourism Ireland Limited for the next four years was approved.

Arising from the Good Friday Agreement, a number of specific priorities were identified which became the agreed areas of cooperation within the remit of the NSMC. Ministers continue to work on these areas in collaboration with their Northern counterparts. Ministers also identify, where possible, additional opportunities to engage cooperatively in areas where there is scope for joint action.

At its November Plenary, the NSMC discussed progress made on the St. Andrews Agreement Review which is examining, inter alia, those agreed areas of North/South cooperation and whether there is a case for adding to them. The NSMC agreed that, as a way to making progress on this, there will be consultation within the Executive and within the Irish Government, as well as discussion at the next NSMC Institutional meeting, with proposals to be agreed at the plenary meeting in June.

As to the impact of budgetary cuts, it is of course the case that Government has to bring forward major savings across the full range of public expenditure, and the North South bodies are not immune from this process. However, a programme of savings has been agreed with our Northern Ireland colleagues to this effect which will focus on ensuring that the bodies can continue to deliver their core objectives. The Government has also underlined its commitment to infrastructure development as I outlined above.

We shall continue to work with our Northern partners to ensure that cooperation grows to the maximum extent possible. I was in Belfast on 16 January for meetings with First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to discuss how we can work even more closely in addressing some of the challenges facing both the Government and the Northern Ireland Executive.

Timmy Dooley

Question:

72 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has had any meetings recently in relation to Northern Ireland and in particular activities in west Belfast; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2323/12]

Since becoming Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade I have visited Northern Ireland on a number of occasions and, during these visits, have met with my Northern Ministerial colleagues, as well as community representatives. Yesterday, I visited Belfast where I met with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and subsequently I participated in a joint meeting with him and with the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. We reviewed matters of mutual concern, including economic cooperation between North and South, focussing on how both parts of the Island can work together to overcome common economic challenges. We discussed how both governments and the Executive could work more closely together on funding issues, such as on EU Programmes and on the International Fund for Ireland. We reviewed plans for the forthcoming Decade of Commemorations, which it was generally agreed should be approached with mutual respect, tolerance and inclusivity, building on the success of the Queen's visit. We also discussed a range of other issues, such as recent developments on security and related matters.

The Government remains fully committed to the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. The Programme for Government affirms our commitment to strengthening North South cooperation even further, and to working with our Northern colleagues to develop greater economic collaboration to accelerate the process of economic recovery and job creation on this island. I intend to continue to travel to Northern Ireland on a regular basis to continue building and strengthening relationships.

Legal Services

Alan Farrell

Question:

73 Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Taoiseach the total cost of legal services paid by the State in 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1894/12]

Alan Farrell

Question:

74 Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Taoiseach the fees paid to barristers for services to the State in 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1895/12]

Alan Farrell

Question:

75 Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Taoiseach the current tendering process undertaken when accessing legal services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1896/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 73 to 75, inclusive, together.

I understand that the Deputy has clarified that the information he is seeking is in respect of the Office of the Attorney General, the Office of the Chief State Solicitor and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The total cost of legal services, including barrister and solicitor fees, AG's Scheme, expert witnesses, stenographers, etc for the three Offices in 2010 and 2011 was as follows:

Year

€m

2010

€43.528

2011

€38.233 (Provisional Outturn)

Of these costs the following were payments to barristers:

Year

€m

2010

€27.106

2011

€23.768 (Provisional Outturn)

It is open to all barristers to apply to be placed on panels from which the Offices engage barristers. As set out in the Programme for Government the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has been examining the possibility of tendering for procurement of barrister and solicitor services and the potential benefits involved.

The Department has accepted that, for the present, it would be preferable not to introduce competitive tendering in the normal sense as the Offices have been successful in reducing legal fees over recent years.

Consultancy Contracts

Billy Kelleher

Question:

76 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Taoiseach the names of all external public relations and consultancy persons and organisations used by his Department for the years 2010 to 2011; the amounts paid to each in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1882/12]

The following table details the Consultancy services used by my Department from 2010 to end of 2011. No Public Relations services were used by my Department during this period.

Year

Details

Amount Paid

2010

Mercer (Ireland) Ltd

€23,595

Mazars

€2,500

2011

QTS LTD

€1,271

Towers Watson (Ireland)

€12,100

Expenditure Reviews

Billy Kelleher

Question:

77 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Taoiseach if he will publish his Department’s comprehensive spending review submitted in advance of Budget 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1883/12]

The 2011 Comprehensive Review of Expenditure was published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform last year. Both the Review and my Department's submission to it are available on the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform's website —www.per.gov.ie.

Departmental Advertising

Arthur Spring

Question:

78 Deputy Arthur Spring asked the Taoiseach the amount of money spent by him on advertising with international, national and local media for each year since 2006. [1885/12]

The table below details the amount spent by my Department and Subhead Programmes on advertising from 2006 to date:

Year

Details

Amount spent on Advertising

2006

Department

€85,924

National Forum on Europe

€166,192

Taskforce on Active Citizenship

€62,465

Change Management Fund*

€76,641

2007

Department

€58,205

National Forum on Europe

€331,446

Change Management Fund*

€201,518

2008

Department

€50,030

National Forum on Europe

€838,354

Change Management Fund*

€968.00

2009

Department

€25,880

National Forum on Europe

€2,406

Change Management Fund*

€3,402

2010

Department

€17,212

Change Management Fund*

€9,372

2011

Department

€107,365

2012 (to date)

Department

€124.00

*These amounts were recouped from the Change Management Fund, Department of Finance.

A breakdown of expenditure by national and local media is not readily available.

Public Relations Contracts

Arthur Spring

Question:

79 Deputy Arthur Spring asked the Taoiseach the amount of money spent by his Department with public relations companies each year since 2006. [1886/12]

The table details expenditure by my Department on public relations from 2006 to date. Expenditure relates to the National Forum on Europe and the Taskforce on Active Citizenship, both of which were discontinued in 2009.

Year

Total Spend on Public Relations

2006

€78,650

2007

€150,524

2008

€6,245

2009

Nil

2010

Nil

2011

Nil

2012 (To Date)

Nil

Departmental Programmes

Denis Naughten

Question:

80 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Taoiseach if his Department runs a graduate internship programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1887/12]

My Department does not run a graduate internship programme but from time to time it participates in such programmes run by other Government Departments, other Governments, EU/international institutions, universities, colleges or other organisations. Examples of internship programmes in which my Department has recently participated include the FÁS JobBridge Scheme; the FÁS Work Placement Programme; the Willing Able Mentoring (WAM) Programme run by the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability; and the Bellevue Scholarship Programme which is administered jointly by the Office of the German President and the Robert Bosch Foundation.

Ministerial Staff

Catherine Murphy

Question:

81 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach the names and salaries of each person serving as a special adviser and the names and salaries of each person directly appointed by a Minister or Minister of State to any other position within his Department in the Department of the Taoiseach on each of the following dates 1 December 2011, 1 December 2010 and 1 December 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1888/12]

The details requested are set out in the tables:

01 December 2011

Name

Title

Annual Salary

Mark Kennelly,

Chief of Staff

€168,000

Andrew McDowell

Special Advisor

€168,000

Paul O’Brien

Special Advisor

€80,051

Angela Flanagan,

Special Advisor

€80,051

Mark O’Doherty

Special Advisor to Chief Whip

€80,051

Pauline Coughlan

Personal Assistant

€64,257

Sarah Moran

Personal Assistant

€75,390

Gerard Deere

Personal Assistant

€64,257

Theresa Diskin

Personal Assistant

€66,519

John Lohan

Personal Secretary

€40,233

Feargal Purcell

Govt. Press Secretary

€116,295

Joanne Lonergan

Assistant Government Press Secretary

€86,604

Cathy Madden

Deputy Government Press Secretary

€96,295

AnneMarie Durcan

Personal Secretary to the Taoiseach

€40,233

Clarie Urquhart

Personal Secretary to Chief Whip

€46,935

Colum Coomey

Personal Assistant to Chief Whip

€43,715

Derek Grubb

Civilian Driver to Leader of Seanad

€32,964

Miriam O’Callaghan

Personal Assistant

€64,750

Total

€1,414,600

01 December 2010

Name

Title

Annual Salary

Joe Lennon

Special Advisor

€188,640

Gerry Steadman

Special Advisor

€126,718

Brian Murphy

Special Advisor

€132,687

Padraig Slyne

Special Advisor to Chief Whip

€96,295

Peter Clinch

Special Advisor

€181,243

Deirdre Gillane

Special Advisor

€98,424

Sineád Dooley

Personal Assistant

€66,519

Peter Lenehan

Personal Assistant

€50,178

Annette McManus

Personal Assistant

€48,297

Denise Kavanagh

Personal Assistant

€57,251

Yvonne Graham

Personal Assistant

€53,532

Sarah McLoughlin

Personal Assistant

€53,532

Aoife Ní Lochlainn

Personal Assistant

€46,426

Elaine Hogan

Personal Secretary

€42,446

Colette Waters

Personal Secretary

€39,223

Eoghan O Neachtain

Government Press Secretary

€138,658

Mark Costigan

Deputy Government Press Secretary

€103,136

John Downing

Deputy Government Press Secretary

€109,382

Nicola Stapleton

Personal Assistant to Chief Whip

€45,125

Shauna Curran

Personal Secretary to Chief Whip

€22,792

Maura Stynes

Personal Secretary to Chief Whip

€23,167

Damien Cassidy

Civilian Driver to Leader of the Seanad

€32,964

Total

€1,756,635

01 December 2009

Name

Title

Annual Salary

Joe Lennon

Special Advisor

€221,929

Gerry Steadman

Special Advisor

€137,737

Brian Murphy

Special Advisor

€137,737

Padraig Slyne

Special Advisor to Chief Whip

€100,392

Peter Clinch

Special Advisor

€213,092

Declan Ryan

Special Advisor

€97,109

Oliver O’Connor

Special Advisor

€177,547

Sineád Dooley

Personal Assistant

€66,519

Peter Lenehan

Personal Assistant

€50,178

Annette McManus

Personal Assistant

€48,297

Denise Kavanagh

Personal Assistant

€57,251

Yvonne Graham

Personal Assistant

€53,532

Sarah McLoughlin

Personal Assistant

€53,532

Aoife Ní Lochlainn

Personal Assistant

€46,426

Elaine Hogan

Personal Secretary

€42,446

Colette Waters

Personal Secretary

€39,223

Eoghan O Neachtain

Government Press Secretary

€138,658

Mark Costigan

Deputy Government Press Secretary

€103,136

John Downing

Deputy Government Press Secretary

€109,382

John Sheridan

Personal Assistant to Chief Whip

€46,558

Margaret Fogarty

Secretarial Assistant to Chief Whip

€21,398

Linda Weir

Personal Secretary to Chief Whip

€20,453

Damien Cassidy

Civilian Driver to Leader of the Seanad

€32,964

Total

€2,015,496

Departmental Properties

Dara Calleary

Question:

82 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Taoiseach his view that he or any agency funded by him that own properties in office complexes in which a management company is in place, should take an active role in the running of such management companies including the appointment of a nominee to the board of the companies in order to protect the investment of taxpayers’ money. [1890/12]

My Department is based only in Government Buildings in accommodation owned by the State. The National Economic and Social Development Office, which is the only agency under the aegis of my Department, is based only in office accommodation that is leased through the Office of Public Works.

Accordingly, questions about participation in the running of management companies do not arise for my Department or NESDO.

Ministerial Appointments

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

83 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Taoiseach the number of advisers, programme managers and press officers and communications personnel employed by the Government in the years (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1891/12]

The information requested by the Deputy is detailed in the tables:

Year 1993

Special Adviser

Programme Manager

Press Officers

Communications Personnel [includes Government Press Secretaries/Press Office support staff and Communications Unit (where applicable)]

2

1

3

8

Year 1997

Special Adviser

Programme Manager

Press Officers

Communications Personnel [includes Government Press Secretaries/Press Office support staff and Communications Unit (where applicable)]

3

1

2

9

Year 2002

Special Adviser

Programme Manager

Press Officers

Communications Personnel [includes Government Press Secretaries/Press Office support staff and Communications Unit (where applicable)]

6

1

4

14

Year 2007

Special Adviser

Programme Manager

Press Officers

Communications Personnel [includes Government Press Secretaries/Press Office support staff and Communications Unit (where applicable)]

4

1

4

9.8

Year 2011

Special Adviser

Chief of Staff

Press Officers

Communications Personnel [includes Government Press Secretaries/Press Office support staff, Communications Unit and the Government News website (where applicable)]

4

1

5

13.8

Records for 1989 are not readily available.

Live Register

John McGuinness

Question:

84 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Taoiseach the most recent unemployment figures at the Tallaght social welfare office, Tallaght, Dublin 24; if he will include a comparison with the previous year’s figures for the same month; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1893/12]

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

The most recent Live Register figures available are for December 2011. The table contains the numbers signing on in Tallaght local office on the last Friday of December 2010 and on the last Friday of December 2011. It should be noted that the Live Register is not a definitive measure of unemployment as it includes part-time workers, and seasonal and casual workers entitled to Jobseekers Benefit or Allowance.

Persons on the Live Register in Tallaght Local Office by sex and age, December 2010 and 2011

December 2010

December 2011

Annual change

% change

Males

Under 25 years

1,549

1,439

-110

-7.1

25 years and over

5,689

6,320

+631

+11.1

Total males

7,238

7,759

+521

+7.2

Females

Under 25 years

820

849

+29

+3.5

25 years and over

2,120

2,598

+478

+22.5

Total females

2,940

3,447

+507

+17.2

All persons

Under 25 years

2,369

2,288

-81

-3.4

25 years and over

7,809

8,918

+1,109

+14.2

Total persons

10,178

11,206

+1,028

+10.1

Source: CSO Live Register

Departmental Agencies

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

85 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Taoiseach the number of State agencies currently financed by the Exchequer; the number of board members attending each State agency; the expenses issued for each meeting; if any review of the membership of board members is to be taken in order to monitor attendance levels or lack of attendance by any member; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2057/12]

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).

The composition of the NESDO, as set out in the Act consists of the chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of the NESC, the National Economic and Social Forum (NESF) and National Centre for Partnership and Performance (NCPP).

Following the dissolution of the NESF and NCPP on 1 April 2010, the membership of NESDO now only comprises the Chairperson of NESC. Historically, the position of Deputy chair of NESC is assigned to an Assistant Secretary in my Department. I intend to fill this position in due course once the current restructuring of my Department is completed. No expenses are paid in respect of membership of NESDO or attendance at its meetings. Attendance is recorded in the minutes of each meeting.

The composition of the NESC, as set out in the Act, consists of a Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson and members appointed on the basis of nominations received from representatives of trade unions, business and employers, farmers' organisations, environmental sector, community and voluntary sectors, in addition to a number of public servants and independent experts. The NESC meets on a monthly basis and attendance is recorded. Members are entitled to claim for travel and subsistence for their attendance at each meeting and €2,002.77 has been claimed by members from 9 March, 2011 to date.

Departmental Bodies

Sean Fleming

Question:

86 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Taoiseach if he will list the number of public bodies under his auspice in which members of the board, employees, staff and other persons are required to complete forms under the ethics in public office rules, framework, regulations; and the number of persons required to complete these forms in respect of each public body under his Department and including his Department. [2082/12]

The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO), which is the body corporate of the National Economic and Social Council (NESC), is the only body under the aegis of my Department of which holders of designated positions of employment are required to complete ethics returns. Within NESDO, there are seven positions for which ethics returns are required, comprising two designated Director positions (the Chairperson and Chief Officer) and five designated positions of employment under the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995.

The question of making ethics returns for the calendar year 2011 arises for 34 serving staff in my Department. This number includes special advisers and holders of designated posts of employment. The two Ministers of State in my Department and I also have obligations under the Ethics Acts.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

87 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Taoiseach the total cost of lump sums paid to staff and the number of staff involved who retired in 2011 in his Department and in respect of each organisation under his auspice; the total annual estimated pension costs associated with these persons in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2098/12]

Three people retired from my Department in 2011 and the total cost of lump sums involved amounted to €698,906. The National Economic and Social Development Office is the only non-commercial State agency under my aegis and there were no retirements in 2011.

Departmental Expenditure

Brendan Smith

Question:

88 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Taoiseach the total allocated budget for his Department in 2011; and the actual outturns in each of his Department subheads at the end of 2011. [2141/12]

The total budget allocated to my Department in 2011 was €21,039,000. The provisional outturn was €17,597,761, a reduction of €2.7 million on the 2010 outturn.

The table details the provisional outturn in each subhead at the end of December 2011.

Subheads

2011 Revised Estimate

2011 Provisional Outturn

A1

Salaries, wages and allowances

12,499,000

11,291,317

A2

Travel and subsistence

275,000

229,107

A3

Incidental expenses

1,517,000

1,353,415

A4

Postal and Telecommunications

370,000

309,918

A5

Office Machinery & Office Supplies

900,000

791,580

A6

Offices Premises Expenses

430,000

488,783

A7

Consultancy Services

50,000

13,371

Admin Total

16,041,000

14,477,489

B

National Economic and Social Development Office (Grant-in-Aid)

2,325,000

2,280,216

C

Commemoration Initiatives

85,000

76,131

D

Tribunal of Inquiry

3,500,000

1,600,725

Gross Total

21,951,000

18,434,560

E

Appropriations-in-Aid

-912,000

-836,799

Net Total

21,039,000

17,597,761

Global Economic Forum

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

89 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Taoiseach if he intends to publish a review of the Second Global Economic Forum held in Dublin Castle; if he will indicate when any such report will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2538/12]

The Second Global Irish Economic Forum took place in Dublin on 7-8 October 2011. The Report of the Forum was published by my colleague, Eamon Gilmore TD, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade on 24 November last. The Government has endorsed 12 initiatives identified in the Report which are prioritised for action before March 2012. Detailed assessments and action plans are also being prepared for the remaining initiatives contained in the Report.

Passport Applications

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

90 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the current policy in relation to renewal of Irish passports by Irish-born citizens who are currently resident in the UK. [2025/12]

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

91 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding a non-resident (details supplied) who is seeking to renew their Irish passport. [2026/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 90 and 91 together.

The Passports Act, 2008 requires that before issuing a passport to a person, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade shall be satisfied as to the identity of each applicant and that the person is an Irish citizen. Documentary proof in respect of identity and entitlement to citizenship are required for all passport applications. These requirements are outlined in the passport application form notes that accompany each application form. Details are also available on the Department's website www.passport.ie.

In the context of mitigating the risk of passport fraud the Department requires that those witnessing passport applications certify that that they are satisfied as to the identity of the applicant. For those Irish citizens who are resident overseas this would ordinarily mean that the witness would also live overseas and that the application is submitted through the nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate. A separate application for APS2 E (English version) and APS 2G (Irish version) are used for this purpose. For citizens resident overseas the range of those who may witness applications is very extensive and significantly beyond the requirement for citizens resident in the State, who may only have their application witnessed by a member of An Garda Síochána. The list of acceptable witnesses include police officers, a member of the clergy, medical doctor, lawyer, bank manager, elected public representative, notary public/commissioner for oaths, peace commissioner, school principals/vice principal or accountant.

The last passport recorded as having been issued to a person of the name and details supplied was a passport of one year's validity, expiring in October 2004. Given that the previous passport for this citizen had been reported as lost; the length of time which has passed since the expiry of its passport; the fact that the application was submitted in Ireland for someone resident overseas who would have had to travel to Ireland without a passport, the Passport Service sought to exercise additional care in relation to this application. The request to have the application witnessed by a person in the applicant's country of residence — in this case Britain — who could identify the applicant and that it be submitted through the Passport Office in London, which is best placed to confirm the bona fides of the witness, was prudent and appropriate, consistent with policy, and served to minimise the risk of identity theft and fraud.

I have asked the Passport Service to assist the citizen in resolving any outstanding issues with the application. If he makes contact with Ms. Assumpta Griffin, Head of the London Office, or Ms. Fiona Penollar, Head of the Molesworth Street Office in Dublin, whichever is most convenient to him, they will assist in processing his application at the earliest opportunity.

Departmental Bodies

Sean Fleming

Question:

92 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will list the number of public bodies under his auspice in which members of the board, employees, staff and other persons are required to complete forms under the ethics in public office rules, framework, regulations; and the number of persons required to complete these forms in respect of each public body under his Department and including his Department. [2076/12]

Each year, under the terms of the Ethics in Public Office Acts, officers of my Department at Counsellor/Principal Officer level and above and others holding certain specifically designated posts are required to furnish the Department with a written statement of any registrable interests they may have. The total number of staff involved is approximately 180. There are no public bodies under the aegis of my Department.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

93 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the total cost of lump sums paid to staff and the number of staff involved who retired in 2011 in his Department and in respect of each organisation under his auspice; the total annual estimated pension costs associated with these persons in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2092/12]

Twenty five staff retired from my Department in 2011. With regard to staff of this Department, the calculation and payment of superannuation benefits is a matter for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. There are no State agencies under the aegis of my Department.

Departmental Expenditure

Brendan Smith

Question:

94 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the total allocated budget for his Department in 2011; and the actual outturns in each of his Department’s subheads at the end of 2011. [2135/12]

The Department was responsible for two Votes in 2011: Foreign Affairs and Trade (Vote 28) and International Cooperation (Vote 29). The total allocation for both Votes in 2011 was €740.5m. The provisional gross expenditure outturn for 2011 is €726.7m. It should be noted that this figure may be subject to adjustment in the Appropriation Accounts in due course. The provisional outturn figures by subhead are set out in the following tables:

Vote 28 Foreign Affairs and Trade

Allocation 2011

Provisional Outturn 2011

ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENDITURE

€000

€000

A1 SALARIES & ALLOWANCES

90,260

92,026

A2 TRAVEL & SUBSISTENCE

6,080

4,376

A3 TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT AND INCIDENTAL EXPENSES

4,688

3,841

A4 POSTAL & TELECOMMUNICATIONS

7,408

6,548

A5 OFFICE EQUIPMENT AND EXTERNAL IT SERVICES

15,386

14,968

A6 OFFICE PREMISES EXPENSES

26,282

21,870

A7 CONSULTANCY SERVICES AND VALUE FOR MONEY AND POLICY REVIEWS

108

28

TOTAL ADMINISTRATION EXPENSES

150,212

143,658

PROGRAMME EXPENDITURE

B1 REPATRIATION & MAINTENANCE OF DISTRESSED IRISH PERSONS ABROAD

79

36

C1 SUPPORT FOR IRISH EMIGRANT GROUPS

12,883

11,562

D1 INFORMATION SERVICES

652

424

E1 CONTRIBUTIONS TO INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (GRANT-IN-AID)

100

100

F1 NORTH SOUTH AND ANGLO-IRISH CO-OPERATION

3,000

2,998

F2 INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR IRELAND

195

150

G1 CULTURAL RELATIONS WITH OTHER COUNTRIES (GRANT-IN-AID)

846

772

H1 IRISH AMERICAN ECONOMIC ADVISORY BOARD

28

13

I1 CONTRIBUTIONS TO INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS

47,440

48,407

J1ACTIONS CONSEQUENT ON TITLE V OF THE TREATY ON THE EUROPEAN UNION

418

226

K1 ATLANTIC CORRIDOR PROJECT

250

250

L1 TRADE PROMOTION FUNDS

400

315

TOTAL PROGRAMME EXPENDITURE

66,291

65,253

GROSS EXPENDITURE

216,503

208,911

X1 APPROPRIATIONS IN AID

43,997

44,512

NET EXPENDITURE

172,506

164,400

Vote 29 — International Cooperation

Allocation 2011

Provisional Outturn 2011

ADMINISTRATION (a)

€000

€000

A.1 -

SALARIES WAGES AND ALLOWANCES

18,626

17,518

A.2 -

TRAVEL AND SUBSISTENCE

2,747

2,013

A.3 -

TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT AND INCIDENTAL EXPENSES

2,920

1,439

A.4 -

POSTAL AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES

1,920

1,595

A.5 -

OFFICE EQUIPMENT AND EXTERNAL IT SERVICES

2,020

1,193

A.6 -

OFFICE PREMISES EXPENSES

3,910

2,874

A.7 -

CONSULTANCY SERVICES AND VALUE FOR MONEY AND POLICY REVIEWS

1,400

748

Subtotal

33,543

27,380

OTHER SERVICES

B. -

PAYMENT TO GRANT-IN-AID FUND FOR BILATERAL AND OTHER COOPERATION (GRANT-IN-AID)

365,633

365,633

C. -

EMERGENCY HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE

51,000

50,997

D. -

PAYMENTS TO INTERNATIONAL FUNDS FOR THE BENEFIT OF DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

34,354

34,354

E. -

CONTRIBUTIONS TO UNITED NATIONS AND OTHER DEVELOPMENT AGENCIES

39,500

39,500

Gross Total (b)

524,030

517,864

F. -

APPROPRIATIONS-IN-AID

1,153

1,500

Net Total

522,877

516,364

Trade Missions

Gerry Adams

Question:

95 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the plans he has to travel to China for a trade mission. [38574/11]

I hope to visit China on an official visit at a mutually convenient date in the coming months. This visit will provide the opportunity to build on the excellent bilateral relations that exist between our two countries; to have discussions with my opposite number in China on matters of mutual concern; to promote Irish interests; and to further enhance our political, trade, investment, education and tourism links with China. The Government attaches great importance to widening and deepening bilateral relations with China, including the political and economic relationships. China is a key high-growth and high-potential market for Ireland under the Strategy and Action Plan for Irish Trade, Tourism and Investment to 2015. The local market team, set up under the Strategy, includes all of the State Agencies present in China in addition to the Embassy in Beijing and the Consulate-General in Shanghai. The team is chaired by our Ambassador in Beijing and has been actively working to build on our growing economic and trade relationships with China.

Ireland had a modest trade surplus with China in 2010. Total merchandise trade between Ireland and China was worth almost €5.3 billion in 2010. Trade in services during the same period was worth €2.3 billion. Over 130 Irish companies now have a permanent business presence in China — an increase of 300% over the last five years.

Question No. 96 answered with Question No. 47.

Tax Code

Micheál Martin

Question:

97 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the corporate taxation rate here will be preserved if EU treaty changes go ahead. [38475/11]

At the European Council last month, important steps were taken in relation to budgetary discipline within the euro area and firewalls, both of which are issues of importance to Ireland, and progress was made towards taking Europe beyond the current crisis. In particular, leaders agreed to further strengthen economic policy coordination within the euro area, by way of an intergovernmental agreement, to construct a new ‘fiscal compact'.

Negotiations are on-going on a draft Treaty to give legal effect to this agreement. Corporation tax is not an issue in those negotiations. For Ireland, as a small open economy with a heavy concentration of foreign direct investment, our corporation tax rate is critical to supporting our economic recovery and employment growth. What was agreed at last month's European Council does not open the question concerning our 12.5% corporation tax rate and the Government's firm position in the matter has not changed.

As a quite separate matter, the European Commission made a formal proposal last year concerning a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB). That proposal is being discussed in the normal way and, as has been made clear on many occasions, Ireland will play a constructive role in that regard.

EU Summits

Micheál Martin

Question:

98 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views that the recent EU and USA summit was successful in building a stronger and fairer rules-based system in the global economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39473/11]

The EU-US summit, which took place in Washington on 28 November 2011, was regarded by both sides as a success. The transatlantic economy accounts for around 50% of global GDP and remains a cornerstone of the global economy. While the global economy is being rebalanced with significant emerging players, the EU and the US together remain well-placed to exercise strong influence in pioneering the rules and standards that will shape global trade and investment. The summit was a timely opportunity for a focussed discussion on the situation in the Eurozone, as well as other international issues of mutual interest and concern. Both sides re-stated the commitment made by the G20 meeting in Cannes last November to support the multilateral trading system, to resist protectionism, to stand by the mandate of the Doha Development Agenda and to pursue fresh, credible approaches in 2012 in order to advance the negotiations and pursue new opportunities.

The summit also highlighted the success of the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) on a range of trade and regulatory issues. The core objective of the TEC is to build a more closely integrated transatlantic marketplace, by strengthening trade and investment links. The TEC, which held its meeting on the day following the summit, has achieved good progress in a number of areas including secure trade; electric vehicles and related infrastructure; regulatory practices; small and medium-sized enterprises; and in the Information Communications Technology sector. Leaders urged the TEC to step up co-operation between regulators and standard-setters in developing compatible approaches to emerging technologies in key sectors such as nanotechnology and raw materials. The summit also instructed the TEC to pursue its work on strategic economic questions, including investment, innovation policy and the protection of intellectual property rights.

A key outcome of the summit was the launch of a joint High-Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth, which will be co-chaired by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and EU Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht. The Working Group will identify and assess options for strengthening the EU-US trade and investment relationship, especially in those areas with the highest potential to support jobs and growth. The Working Group will report its findings, conclusions and recommendations by the end of this year and will present an interim report on the status of its work in June.

Questions Nos. 99 to 101, inclusive, answered with Question No. 47.

Micheál Martin

Question:

102 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide an update on his plans regarding participation in bilateral trade delegations in the coming months. [2449/12]

Micheál Martin

Question:

104 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will detail arrangements he has made to participate in trade promotion visits in the next six months. [2451/12]

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

Trade missions are a valuable support to Irish business in developing markets abroad and particularly important in the context of the export-led growth which is crucial to our economic recovery. In general, proposals for trade missions to be led at Ministerial level are submitted by Enterprise Ireland on the basis of the priority markets being targeted by their client companies.

Following the transfer of certain trade promotion functions to my Department from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Enterprise Ireland now submits such proposals simultaneously to both me and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, reflecting the close involvement of both our Departments in trade-related matters. The Export Trade Council, which I chair and which will hold its next meeting in February, will also consider the overall programme of trade missions in the context of our priority markets.

Both Minister Bruton and I are currently considering proposals from Enterprise Ireland for trade missions during 2012. My colleague, the Minister of State for Trade and Development, Joe Costello TD, and I, intend to be active in promoting trading opportunities both through specific missions proposed by Enterprise Ireland and in the course of other working visits abroad.

Question No. 103 answered with Question No. 47.
Question No. 104 answered with Question No. 102.
Questions Nos. 105 and 106 answered with Question No. 71.
Question No. 107 answered with Question No. 47.

Middle East Peace Process

Micheál Martin

Question:

108 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has made any contact with the Prime Minister or President of Israel. [2455/12]

I have not been in contact with President Peres or Prime Minister Netanyahu since I took up office. I intend to visit Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories at the end of this month. I expect to meet with Foreign Minister Liberman, with whom I have already had contact, and I would hope also to be able to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Global Economic Forum

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

109 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he intends to publish a review of the Second Global Economic Forum held at Dublin Castle; when any such report will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2519/12]

The formal report of the Forum which includes full details of the outcomes of the working groups that took place during the event was published on 24 November, 2011 and can be viewed on the Forum's website —www.globalirishforum.ie. The Forum was a very positive and successful event that has contributed in a significant way to our economic recovery, to further enhancing our strategic relationship with leading members of our Diaspora and to projecting a positive image of Ireland abroad.

Having reviewed the outcomes of the Forum, the Government has endorsed 12 initiatives identified in the Report which will be prioritised for action between now and March 2012. The Taoiseach undertook to provide Forum participants with an update on progress on these initiatives by St Patrick's Day 2012. Updates will also be published on the website.

Diplomatic Representation

Clare Daly

Question:

110 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has had meetings with the US ambassador or any US official regarding the decision to close the embassy in Iran and that no pressure in this regard has been exerted by the EU European External Action Service; and his views that significant opportunities for trade with Iran exist, particularly for the construction and food processing industries but are constrained by the fact that Irish foreign policy is subservient to US and EU policy in relation to Iran. [2564/12]

As I have previously reported to this House, including in my reply to Parliamentary Question 15 on 10 November, the decision to close the Irish Embassy in Iran was taken following a review of overseas missions carried out by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which gave particular attention to the economic return from bilateral missions. We experienced no pressure from any third country to close our Embassy in Tehran and I had no meetings with the representative of any foreign government on the matter. In light of the current pressures on public finances, the Government decided that the low volume of trade over a prolonged period did not justify maintaining a full diplomatic Mission in Tehran. Ireland will continue to have full diplomatic relations with Iran and the Government intends to seek the appointment of a non-resident Ambassador. The Government remains committed to maintaining and developing our relations with Iran including, to the extent that it may be possible, in the economic area. I can again confirm that there were absolutely no other factors taken into consideration in the Government's decision to close the Embassy in Tehran or any other overseas mission.

Foreign Conflicts

Clare Daly

Question:

111 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will oppose any UN or EU external action proposed for a no-fly zone over Syria. [2587/12]

There is no serious proposal at UN or EU level for a no-fly zone over Syria at present and it is very unlikely that one will emerge given that there is considerable resistance, not least within the ranks of the Syrian opposition and within the region, to any idea of outside intervention in Syria. Any no-fly zone in any case could only be authorised or properly mandated through a UN Security Council Resolution and there is no prospect of this at present, given clear Russian and Chinese opposition to such a step or any idea of external intervention in Syria. Any proposal to establish a no-fly zone would also have to be endorsed by the Arab League and by Turkey. As I have outlined in replies to a number of oral Parliamentary Questions today, the focus of this Government and the international community has been on increasing diplomatic and political pressure on the Assad regime to halt its violence and repression. In this context, the EU, the UN, the Arab League and other partners, have reacted to the violence in Syria with a series of robust economic, political and diplomatic measures to compel the Syrian regime to cease its appalling and unacceptable attacks on the Syrian people. This includes several rounds of EU sanctions, most recently on 1 December.

The Government, together with its EU partners, particularly welcomes the leadership which has been shown by the Arab League which has brought forward a plan which provides for the withdrawal of all Syrian forces from besieged towns and cities, the release of all detainees, unrestricted access for international media, observers and aid workers, and for the beginning of genuine political dialogue with the Syrian opposition. This plan represents the best way forward for Syria and it is vital that the Assad regime complies fully and without any further delay. I support the Arab League plan to continue its monitoring mission until 19 January and strongly condemn the attack against a group of monitors in Latakia. A frank assessment of the situation will be necessary in the near future about whether the monitoring mission is contributing in the way it should to ending the violence against civilians.

The international community is determined to maintain strong and united political and economic pressure on the Syrian regime until it ends the violent repression against its own people and begins a process of transition.

Questions Nos. 112 and 113 answered with Question No. 47.

EU Enlargement

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

114 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position in the matter of European enlargement and-or consolidation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2597/12]

The December General Affairs Council and the European Council considered the recommendations contained in the European Commission's Enlargement Strategy 2012 and Progress Reports, and adopted Conclusions on same. The Councils' saw important progress made on the EU enlargement portfolio. The Conclusions adopted highlighted, in particular, the transformative power of enlargement which helps generate far-reaching political and economic reform in the enlargement countries that in turn benefits the EU as a whole. They also noted that enlargement continues to reinforce peace, democracy and stability in Europe.

Of particular significance was the signature of the Accession Treaty with Croatia by the Heads of State or Government on 9 December and confirmation of an Accession date of 1 July 2013. With the signature of the Treaty, Croatia becomes an Acceding State, with interim privileges such as the right to attend Council meetings as an observer, until accession makes it a full member State. The Ratification process has now begun and Croatia is due to hold a referendum on EU membership on 22 January 2012. Croatia's progress towards full membership is a clear signal to other countries in the Balkans with a European Union vocation that the aspiration to membership can be realised. There are two countries currently negotiating for EU membership: Iceland and Turkey. Iceland continues to make good progress given its close alignment with much of the EU acquis due its membership of the EEA and Schengen. Its progress was commended by the Council. The Intergovernmental Conference with Iceland, held on 12 December 2011, saw a further five chapters opened, with four of these provisionally closed. 11 chapters out of 35 have now been opened with Iceland with 8 of these provisionally closed.

While no new chapters were opened with Turkey in 2011, the country is proceeding with reforms and the government plans a new Constitution, in part to bring it more in line with EU standards. The immediate prospect for further chapters to be opened is dependent on reforms which Turkey is required to carry out. Of course, Turkey's continued refusal to fulfil the terms of the Ankara Protocol and normalise relations with Cyprus remains a serious concern and a brake on progress in the accession negotiations.

The European Council also considered the Commission's opinion on Serbia's membership application which recommended that "the Council should grant Serbia the status of Candidate country taking into account progress achieved so far and on the understanding that Serbia re-engages in the dialogue with Kosovo and is moving swiftly to the implementation in good faith of agreements reached to date". However, the European Council deferred a decision on granting Serbia Candidate status to the February General Affairs Council and the March European Council, pending further progress on the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.

A decision on whether to open enlargement negotiations with Montenegro, as recommended by the Commission, was similarly deferred to allow for the Commission to report on rule of law issues "with a view to opening accession negotiations in June". In the meantime, it was agreed to proceed with the drafting of a negotiating framework. Montenegro was granted Candidate status in December 2010 but the opening of negotiations was delayed until it was deemed to have made sufficient progress on seven key priorities identified by the Commission.

The other official Candidate is Macedonia, which was granted Candidate Status in 2005 (at the same time as Croatia and Turkey) but with whom negotiations have yet to open in the absence of progress on the name issue with Greece. The Council welcomed the progress made by Macedonia in key reform areas but noted that further efforts were needed in a number of areas, including the safeguard of fundamental rights and freedom of expression.

Overseas Development Aid

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

115 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the full extent of the support offered through the medium of international aid to the persons of Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake; the degree to which commitments entered into have been delivered; the full extent of the rehousing programme and social economic rehabilitation to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2598/12]

The devastating earthquake which struck Haiti on 12 January 2010 killed more than 230,000 people and injured 300,000 others. The earthquake destroyed much of Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas, left approximately 1.5 million people homeless and caused losses and damage estimated at approximately €5.9 billion.

Two years on, a massive and sustained humanitarian operation has yielded remarkable results. Almost a million people have moved from camps to homes. Under extremely challenging conditions, five million cubic metres of debris have been removed — half of the amount generated by the earthquake. 400,000 houses have been inspected for damage, and shelters have been provided for 420,000 people. Schools and hospitals have been rebuilt, and more children are being educated today than before the earthquake. These are significant achievements that should be recognised and fully acknowledged.

While it is important now to focus on longer-term development, we should remember that the humanitarian crisis in Haiti is not yet over. More than 500,000 people still live in camps, and a cholera epidemic continues to claim lives. The underlying structural challenges, including under-development and governance, also need to be addressed as we move from crisis to recovery.

Large-scale investment will therefore continue to be required in order to provide immediate relief and to rebuild housing, revitalize urban planning, reconstitute destroyed communities and develop new communities. While US $4.5 billion worth of assistance has been pledged by the international community, UN figures indicate that only US $2.38 billion of this has actually been disbursed to date. We will therefore continue to urge other donors to act on their commitments and to provide long-term, coordinated and predictable funding to help move Haiti from crisis to recovery.

For our part, we in Ireland have worked hard to meet our own commitments to the people of Haiti. Some 90% — or €11.5 million — of the €13 million pledged at the Haiti Donor Conference in New York in March 2010 has now been committed. We intend to meet our entire pledge in the coming months.

Irish funding has prioritised the needs of the most vulnerable populations, including women and children as well as the basic humanitarian needs of the population more generally. Support has been provided to UNICEF, Concern, Goal, Plan, World Vision and Haven in 2010 and 2011 for the provision of clean water and sanitation, shelter and housing to the affected population.

€1 million was also provided to the Haiti Reconstruction Trust Fund for projects managed by the World Bank in line with priorities agreed with the Haitian authorities.

Since the earthquake, there have also been 18 deployments of the Irish Aid-administered Rapid Response Corps to Haiti to assist in areas such as logistics, engineering and water and sanitation. Volunteers have deployed to work with organisations such as the UN World Food Programme (WFP), Concern Worldwide, Goal and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Foreign Conflicts

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

116 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which he and his EU and UN colleagues continue to monitor the stabilisation of the western Balkans with particular reference to the need to focus on stability in the region as a prelude to ongoing peace and prosperity throughout Europe in general; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2599/12]

The UN and the EU maintain a number of Missions whose mandates include the monitoring of the situation in the Western Balkans.

In Kosovo, these include UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX Kosovo), and the UN mandated NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR). Eight members of An Garda Síochána serve with EULEX Kosovo, while the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has deployed two individuals to senior positions within the Mission. Ireland currently contributes 12 Defence Forces personnel to KFOR. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, both main international peace operations are from the European Union: the military stabilisation Operation Althea and the European Union Police Reform Mission (EUPM BiH). One member of An Garda Síochána and one civilian deployed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are currently serving with EUPM BiH. Seven members of the Defence Forces are presently deployed to EUFOR Althea.

These Missions are integral to the stability of the region and are complementary to ongoing EU-related reforms, particularly in the context of enlargement. The Commission's Enlargement Strategy for 2012 adopted the theme of ‘transformation', encapsulating an enlargement process which helps countries transform into modern, dynamic societies upholding and promoting European values and ideals.

Ireland has supported, and will continue to support, the enlargement process as a significant force for change in the Western Balkan region which can bring about lasting and sustainable peace and prosperity.

Croatia's success (the Croatian Accession Treaty was signed in December last year and, following ratification, is set to enter into force on 1 July 2013) has given a boost to the prospects of the other Western Balkans countries. While the December European Council deferred taking a decision on the granting of candidate status to Serbia until the Council in March this year (when its application will be considered again), we trust that reforms that have been implemented by Belgrade will be sufficient to overcome any lingering concerns. A decision to open enlargement negotiations with Montenegro, a Candidate since 2010, has been deferred until June, but work will start in the meantime on drafting a negotiating framework. Macedonia was granted candidate status in 2005, but the opening of negotiations has not been possible in the absence of a resolution to the name issue.

There are a further three countries in the Western Balkans which are regarded as potential EU candidates (Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina) and progress towards achieving candidate status will be according to a country's own merits and track record in implementing Stabilisation and Association Agreement obligations.

Overseas Development Aid

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

117 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will outline the ongoing situation in the Horn of Africa with particular reference to war, famine, starvation, human rights, ethnic cleansing and genocide; the extent to which the international community is bringing positive pressure to bear on the issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2600/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

119 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the degree to which overseas development aid continues to be required at previously identified locations throughout the world; the extent of the new demands that have presented in the past 12 months; the degree to which the international community is collectively responding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2603/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 117 and 119 together.

During 2011 many countries, particularly those in Africa, continued to face significant developmental and humanitarian challenges. Global turbulence, such as the continuing financial and economic crisis and volatile food prices, had a major impact on food security. Ongoing and protracted conflicts caused untold suffering for millions of people. At the same time, millions more continued to live with the effects of natural disasters and their legacies.

In many instances, people already affected by crises faced additional threats, with their livelihoods made more insecure by the effects of climate change. An earthquake in Japan demonstrated that even high-income countries with sophisticated preparedness mechanisms in place can still fall victim to disaster. Elsewhere in 2011, contested elections in Côte d'Ivoire led to countrywide violence and needless death and destruction. The birth of a new country in South Sudan, the UN's newest member, was a milestone and largely peaceful, but followed by some violence and displacement. Instances of cholera spread across large swathes of Central Africa and to Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and already struggling to overcome the devastating 2010 earthquake. Meanwhile, massive flooding led to further suffering and loss in Pakistan, Colombia, Thailand, the Philippines and much of Central America. In the Sahel region of western Africa, indicators at the end of last year were already pointing to alarming levels of food shortages and a potential crisis ahead.

Tackling such challenges is not easy. Indeed, the situation in many countries remains fragile and some of those receiving help today will continue to require assistance in the years ahead. Meeting these demands requires not only an effective humanitarian and emergency response: it also means preparing for new crises, building resilience and working with development actors to address the underlying causes of conflict and disaster. It is tackling these challenges, comprehensively, coherently and effectively that has gained Ireland its international reputation in the field of development cooperation and humanitarian endeavour.

Confronting these difficulties also requires financial commitment — and I am proud to say that the Ireland has played its part in this regard, through the provision of over €66 million in official emergency, humanitarian or recovery-related funding and direct assistance in 2011 as a key part of our projected overall development assistance outturn of €659 million. While total figures for humanitarian aid provided by other donors in 2011 are not yet available, the UN said late last year that it expected to match the contribution of over US $7 billion made in 2010 to its Consolidated Appeals Process, which benefitted over 380 humanitarian organisations in 27 countries and helped 55 million people.

Perhaps no region better illustrates the scale of the challenges involved than the Horn of Africa, where ongoing drought in 2011 left 12 million people in desperate need of assistance. The epicentre of the crisis continues to be felt today in conflict-ridden Somalia, where 250,000 people are estimated by the UN to be living in famine conditions. The overall situation in much of the south of the country remains dire and access and the delivery of humanitarian assistance remains hugely problematic, with Al Shabaab revoking the operations of a number of humanitarian organisations in areas under its control. Across the Somali border however, a much more positive picture is already emerging in Ethiopia and Kenya; two countries whose authorities have worked hard over many years to build resilience and enhance the coping mechanisms of those vulnerable to external shocks or disasters. Thanks in part to support from Ireland, instruments such as Ethiopia's Productive Safety Nets Programme, have already saved many hundreds of thousands of lives from the worst effects of this crisis.

For its part, the Government remains actively involved at EU and international level in pushing for a strongly coordinated approach to the humanitarian crisis in the region. I particularly look forward to my own upcoming visit to Ethiopia, where I will have the opportunity to discuss some of the issues involved and to exchange views on ways in which we can ensure sustainable long-term food security across the region as a whole. In this context, I can assure the Deputy that we will continue to call on the international community to increase its efforts in the period ahead.

Finally, at a national level, total Irish Aid funding allocated towards the relief effort in the Horn now stands at almost €12 million and will reach at least €20 million by the end of this year.

Question No. 118 answered with Question No. 57.
Question No. 119 answered with Question No. 117.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

120 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which he has identified or prioritised the locations to which Irish bilateral or multilateral aid should be focused both directly and through non-governmental organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2604/12]

As Minister of State with responsibility for the development programme, I am very conscious of the need to ensure that development aid reaches the areas or locations of greatest need and that it makes a real difference there. Our aid programme has an international reputation for its quality, its effectiveness and for making a real difference in the lives of millions of poor people.

All Government funding for overseas development assistance is strongly linked to the objectives outlined in the White Paper on Irish Aid. To ensure this is effectively delivered to those most in need in developing countries, we work in partnership with Governments, local communities, Non Governmental Organisations, and key multilateral partners such as the United Nations and the European Union.

The White Paper is very clear that the Irish Aid programme focuses its work on the least developed countries of sub-Saharan Africa, and, in particular, on the poorest and most vulnerable within those countries. Over 70 per cent of assistance goes to sub-Saharan Africa. It aims to build capacity in our priority countries to deliver essential services such as education, health and social protection. It aims to provide these services within a framework of good governance and respect for human rights. Through our programmes of development cooperation Ireland is assisting in putting in place the foundations of a sustainable and prosperous future in Africa, when development assistance will no longer be necessary and where our relations will be informed by mutual interests and good relations.

Foreign Conflicts

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

121 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which the situation in Burma continues to be positively monitored by the international community; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2605/12]

The Government remains closely engaged at both European Union and international level in monitoring the situation in Burma and in supporting the Burmese people in their struggle for democracy and human rights. The European Union has maintained sanctions against the Burmese regime since 2006. The decision to impose sanctions was made in response to reports of systematic and gross violations of human and political rights by the regime against the Burmese people and ethnic minorities.

In the April 2011 session of the Foreign Affairs Council, Ministers renewed sanctions against Burma for a further twelve months. This was done in light of the deeply flawed elections of November 2010 and the continuing flagrant violations of human rights in Burma.

In renewing sanctions, Ministers reiterated their commitment to the people of Burma and demanded the release of all political prisoners and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Burma.

While Ireland is a strong supporter of maintaining sanctions until genuine progress on human rights and political reform takes place, we do not view sanctions as an end in themselves. We have been encouraged by recent movements including the opening of dialogue between the Burmese Government and Aung San Suu Kyi as well as approval of the registration of her political party, the National League for Democracy. We also view positively the negotiation of a cease-fire deal between the Burmese Government and ethnic rebels, the recent visits to Burma of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague, and the reported release last week of a significant number of Burmese political prisoners.

Ireland and our international partners will be following developments in Burma over the coming months and, in particular, will pay close attention to April's by-elections in which Aung San Suu Kyi is intending to stand.

The European Union remains ready to respond positively to genuine progress towards democratisation and respect for human rights.

Export Markets

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

122 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the degree to which new markets have been identified with the likelihood of greater potential for the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2607/12]

As a small, open economy with relatively modest levels of domestic demand, Ireland is reliant on trade. Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy, the Government’s Trade Strategy and Action Plan for the integrated promotion of overseas trade, tourism and investment,seeks to build on our strengths in existing markets and develop exports and tourism in emerging economies. The UK, USA and our Eurozone partners continue to be key markets for Ireland given our strong knowledge and understanding of these markets and the embedded relationships that include historical and cultural linkages. However, the Government is of course fully committed to developing and expanding engagement with key high potential markets, such as the so called BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China. We are already increasing our trade foot print in these markets. In the four years between 2006 and 2010 our Merchandise Exports to them have increased by 69% and our Services Exports by an even more impressive 130%. I am confident that a range of trade mission during the year ahead will help to build on the progress already achieved in these and other markets.

Local market teams chaired by the local Ambassador or Consul General and comprising representatives of the locally based State Agencies have been established in all of the priority markets, both established and new, identified in the Trade Strategy. These teams prepare detailed annual market plans and report on progress to the Export Trade Council, which I have established to monitor implementation of our Trade Strategy. It is my intention to hold the next meeting of the Export Trade Council next month when the Council will have the opportunity to review local market plans for 2012 as well as progress reports for 2011.

Middle East Peace Process

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

123 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which, through the influence of the EU and UN, he can continue to positively affect issues in the Middle East; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2608/12]

I accord a high priority to the resolution of the conflict in the Middle East. I will continue to do all I can to support and encourage both Israelis and Palestinians to work actively to achieve this, and this will be a key feature of my intended visit to the region later this month. I will also continue to urge a stronger involvement by the EU, the Quartet and other parties. The extent to which progress is made will of course depend on the strength of engagement by the international community as a whole, and above all on the genuine commitment of the parties to the conflict to the steps and risks necessary to bring it to an end.

Human Rights Issues

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

124 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the degree to which human rights and other issues in Iran continue to be the focus at EU and UN level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2609/12]

As I have previously stated, the human rights situation in Iran is profoundly disturbing, and the period since the Presidential election of 2009 has been characterised by an intensification of human rights abuses on many fronts. I am particularly disturbed by the increase in the number of executions in Iran last year. Hundreds of individuals were executed in 2011 after unfair trials, without the right of appeal and for offences which according to international standards should not result in capital punishment. I strongly condemn the continuing imposition of the death penalty against minors in violation of Iran's obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, such as the public execution by hanging of Alireza Molla Soltani in September last year.

A further disturbing trend is the practice of secret executions in Iran which has been highlighted by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. In his most recent report to the General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur expressed his concern that the death penalty is regularly used in cases where due process rights were denied to the accused and that secret group executions inside prisons reportedly occur in alarmingly high numbers without the knowledge and presence of families and lawyers. I share his concerns regarding secret executions and also the widespread use of the death penalty for drug related offences in Iran.

EU High Representative Ashton, in a statement issued on 5 January, expressed her concern regarding the worrying increase in executions in Iran last year contrary to the worldwide trend towards the abolition of the death penalty. I fully support her call on Iran to halt the execution of Sakineh Ashtiani and Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and all pending executions and introduce a moratorium on the death penalty.

I reiterate my call upon the government of Iran to respect fully its obligations under international human rights instruments. We have seen the continued repression of civil and political rights in Iran, including in relation to freedom of expression and assembly, arbitrary arrest and torture in detention. This highly targeted repression has been particularly stringent against not only academics but also members of Iran's religious and ethnic minorities, political activists, journalists and bloggers, human rights defenders and members of the legal profession in Iran who represent clients detained by the authorities. These actions are in clear violation of Iran's international obligations under the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, of which Iran is a signatory.

I fully support the strong Conclusions on human rights in Iran issued by the Foreign Affairs Council on 10 October last year. The EU has repeatedly raised human rights issues in Iran with the Iranian authorities and adopted a travel ban and asset freeze against those responsible for grave human rights violations in April last year, further extended to additional persons last October. This sends an important political signal to those in the judicial system and elsewhere in the Iranian regime who perpetrate human rights abuses. Ireland will continue to be active at EU level in pressing for stronger EU action in relation to the human rights situation in Iran.

At UN level, Ireland co-sponsored a General Assembly resolution in October last year expressing the international community's deep concern at the human rights situation in Iran, and calling upon the Government of Iran to take a number of specific and urgent steps to improve the situation, including providing unfettered access to the Special Rapporteur appointed last year to examine Iran's human rights situation.

At a bilateral level, my Department engages in ongoing dialogue with the Iranian Ambassador and his Embassy on these issues. My officials regularly hold meetings with the Ambassador to convey our grave concerns at the human rights situation in Iran. Ireland will continue to raise human rights in Iran, bilaterally and at the EU and UN, at all appropriate occasions.

Fiscal Policy

Brendan Griffin

Question:

125 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance if he will make efforts to secure sustainable access to capital that would enable a comprehensive stimulus package to be provided for the economy, to help persons return to work and secure growth of the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1889/12]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to the possibility of securing private capital, both from home and abroad, to establish a fund which would help stimulate growth and provide jobs. As previously outlined in my reply to the Deputy on 11 January, one of the primary avenues the Government has used to explore such possibilities is through the Global Irish Economic Forum. The first Global Irish Economic Forum brought together 130 globally connected Irish business leaders to explore how the Irish at home and abroad, and those with a strong interest in Ireland, could work together and contribute to our economic recovery.

In early 2010, the Global Irish Network was launched and now comprises over 300 of the most influential Irish and Irish-connected individuals abroad. Members of the Network, who come from a diversity of fields and are based in almost 40 countries, provide Ireland with an invaluable resource of international expertise from which we can draw as we work towards economic recovery.

As the Deputy may be aware, the Government was determined that the Global Irish Economic Forum in 2011 would have concrete outcomes. I, along with the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and other Ministers participated fully in discussions. The report of the Forum confirms that there was an overwhelmingly positive response from Forum participants when requested to be part of the implementation of some of the initiatives identified at the forum. In particular, participants committed to providing internships for graduates in their companies, mentoring start-up companies, communicating positive messages about Ireland and using their influence to harness positive media coverage of Ireland, and participating in a financing project for Irish start-up companies. I am aware that the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade is in contact with these participants to move this process along.

An additional priority of this government has been to incentivise foreign-based entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to place their investments in Ireland. With this in mind, Budget 2012 included an extension of the three year tax Relief for start-up companies and enhancements to Ireland's attractive R&D tax credit regime. As the Deputy will also be aware, the establishment of NewERA and the Strategic Investment Fund within the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), which the Government announced last September, is a major initiative in this sphere.

The Strategic Investment Fund, will, following appropriate legislative changes to the investment policy of the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF), channel commercial investment from the NPRF towards productive investment in the Irish economy. As well as money from the NPRF, the Fund will seek matching commercial investment from private investors and target investment in areas of strategic significance to the future of the Irish economy. It will comprise a series of sub-funds targeted at commercial investment in critical areas of the Irish economy, including infrastructure, venture capital and provision of long-term capital for SMEs. The NPRF will take a lead role in the development and implementation of each sub-fund.

In November 2011, the NPRF announced a significant commitment of €250 million to a new Irish infrastructure fund (the "Irish Infrastructure Trust"). This fund will seek to invest in assets designated for disposal by the Government and commercial State enterprises and also in new infrastructure projects in Ireland. The new fund, which will be an important source of new capital for infrastructure investment in Ireland, has been established by Irish Life Investment Managers while AMP Capital, a leading global infrastructure manager, will be the fund's discretionary investment manager. The fund is seeking commitments of up to €1 billion from institutional investors in Ireland and overseas and has already received commitments of €300 million, including the NPRF's €250 million.

Finally, the Government is currently finalising a comprehensive Action Plan for Jobs which will set out further measures to be taken in 2012 to support job creation. The Action Plan will be published in the coming weeks. Following on from the Jobs Initiative, the broad range of policy measures in this area is testament to the focus that this Government places on returning sustainable growth to the economy and in so doing, putting people back to work.

Copyright Law

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

126 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance his plans regarding protecting the integrity of Amhrán na bhFiann in view of the fact that the copyright of the English language version has expired; if he will confirm which version is considered the official anthem; with whom the copyright of the Irish language version rests at this point; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1892/12]

In response to the Deputy's question I can confirm that copyright protection in relation to the National Anthem will run out in December 2012. The main purpose of ownership by the State of the copyright to the original version of the National Anthem was to ensure that it was freely available for general use. The situation will remain unchanged on the expiry of copyright. Records show that the acquisition of the copyright protection of the National Anthem relates to the music and English text. The State does not hold copyright of the Irish language version of the Anthem. The Irish version of the Anthem that is accepted as being the official translated version of the Anthem is the one that was written by Liam Ó Rinn perhaps as early as 1917. A copy of this version can be found on the Department of the Taoiseach's website.

Tax Code

Finian McGrath

Question:

127 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the ruling under which various utilities suppliers are now permitted to charge VAT on the whole bill including the carbon tax. [1899/12]

The amount on which VAT is chargeable, in accordance with section 37(1) of the Value-Added Tax Consolidation Act 2010, is the total consideration receivable by the supplier, "including all taxes, commissions, costs and charges whatsoever" but not including the VAT itself. VAT is governed by the EU VAT Directive, with which Irish VAT law must comply. Article 78 of the VAT Directive provides that the taxable amount shall include "taxes, duties, levies and charges, excluding the VAT itself".

In this respect, where a supply of service, such as a utility bill, includes carbon tax, VAT law dictates that VAT should be calculated on the carbon tax element of the charge as well as the charge for the service. The same situation applies in the case of other excises, including for example excises on petrol, auto-diesel, tobacco and alcohol products.

Guidance in relation to the VAT treatment of the total consideration receivable by a supplier is set out in the VAT Guide. This publication is available on the Revenue website at www.revenue.ie.

Peter Mathews

Question:

128 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 16 owes the Revenue Commissioners any money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1978/12]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that, having reviewed the circumstances of the person in question, they have arranged for the issue of an amended certificate of tax credits for the year 2012 which will reflect the correct DSP pension that is payable in respect of the person and his spouse and allocate the correct amount of tax credits due to the person. I understand that Revenue has contacted the person concerned on the matter.

Tax Collection

Terence Flanagan

Question:

129 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he will advise as to when he first heard about pension tax liabilities (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1995/12]

Simon Harris

Question:

131 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money the Revenue Commissioners aim to recoup to the Exchequer from the cross-sharing of information between the Departments of Finance and Social Protection which resulted in 150,000 pensioners receiving letters from the Revenue Commissioners last week stating that they were not tax compliant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2016/12]

Michael Lowry

Question:

140 Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm the social protection payments that are considered as earnings for tax purposes and on which an individual may be liable for tax if receiving income from any other source; and if it is the intention of the Revenue Commissioners to pursue these social welfare recipients for tax on these payments. [2145/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 129, 131 and 140 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the data in question was supplied by the DSP to Revenue and at the end of November 2011, Revenue advised my Department that the aggregate amount of additional tax likely to be collected from the exchange of pensions data from the DSP to Revenue and other compliance activities with the DSP was so material that we could factor it in to the Budget arithmetic and an estimated amount of €45 million for 2012 and €55 million for a full year was included in the Summary of 2012 Budget and Estimates Measures in that regard. I am further advised that until that relevant data is analysed in more detail, it is not possible to say how much will be recovered for the Exchequer.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the main Social Protection payments that are taxable include:

State Pension (Contributory)

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

State Pension (Transition)

Illness Benefit

Invalidity Pension

Occupational Injury Benefit

Interim Disability Benefit

Disablement Benefit (when payable in the form of pension rather than as a one off payment)

Death Benefit Pension

Widow/er's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension

Widow/er's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Non-Contributory) Pension

Deserted Wife's Benefit

Deserted Wife's Allowance

Prisoner's Wife's Allowance

One-Parent Family Payment (Unmarried parent, Separated Spouse, Prisoner's Spouse)

Guardian's Payment (Contributory)

Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory)

Carer's Allowance

Carer's Benefit

Jobseeker's Benefit and Short-Term Enterprise Allowance, excluding Jobseeker's Benefit paid to systematic short-term workers.

Unemployability Supplement (payable with Disablement Pension)

Blind Pension

Constant Attendance Allowance (payable with Disablement Pension).

In the case of illness benefit, interim disability benefit and occupational injury benefit any child dependent element is exempt from tax. Up to and including the 2011 tax year the first 36 days injury benefit, interim disability benefit and occupational injury benefit were exempt from tax. However, with effect from 1 January 2012 this exemption no longer applies to interim disability benefit and occupational injury benefit. The first €13 per week of jobseeker's benefit and short-term enterprise allowance is exempt from tax.

Regarding this issue of the pursuit of back tax on the payment details recently provided to Revenue by the DSP, I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that their normal approach to compliance is to put the right arrangements in place on a current year basis and to focus the attention of compliance staff on the cases which represent the greatest risk. By law, Revenue cannot go back more than four years except in cases where fraud or negligence is involved.

I am further informed that as part of Revenue's day-to-day compliance strategy they regularly take a group of cases, analyse them and on the basis of that analysis devise a policy for other cases in the same sector. Revenue's approach in these DSP pension cases will be no different. Accordingly, as soon as possible Revenue will examine in detail the 2,500 largest cases where there is a mismatch between Revenue's own records and the DSP record, and where there is non-DSP income of €50,000 or more. In addition, they will be examining the nature of the information continuing to be received from those pensioners who are contacting Revenue. This analysis will inform their approach to this project thereafter.

Tax Code

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

130 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the charges, duties or taxes that are applied to UK publications such as newspapers, magazines or periodicals on sale here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2009/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the supply of printed material, including UK publications, is liable to VAT. The general position is that books are zero-rated, newspapers and periodicals are subject to VAT at the reduced rate (currently 9%) and stationery and other printed material are liable at the standard rate (currently 23%).

Question No. 131 answered with Question No. 129.

Departmental Staff

Simon Harris

Question:

132 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Finance the number of additional staff that have been assigned to the telephone helpline established by the Revenue Commissioners and Department of Finance to deal with the concerns of the 150,000 pensioners who recently received letters from the Revenue Commissioners stating that they were not tax compliant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2017/12]

Simon Harris

Question:

133 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Finance the number of calls that have been received by the telephone helpline established by the Revenue Commissioners and Department of Finance to deal with the concerns of the 150,000 pensioners who recently received a letter from the Revenue Commissioners stating that they were not tax compliant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2018/12]

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

146 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance the overtime costs that were incurred and the number of staff involved in dealing with client queries over the weekend following the letter issued by Revenue regarding the taxation of pensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2297/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 132, 133 and 146 together.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the telephone calls resulting from the issuing of letters to pensioners following the updating of DSP pension information onto Revenue's records are being handled through the Commissioners general PAYE lo-call telephone service. The number of staff engaged on PAYE telephone duties varies over the course of the year in response to the levels of customer contacts and at this time of the year, normally, some 100 members of staff nationally are deployed to handle telephone contacts.

Over the period Thursday 5 January 2012 to Wednesday 11 January 2012, up to 180 members of staff were involved in call answering duties each day on the PAYE lo-call service. In addition, in response to the high volume of telephone contacts from pensioners the PAYE lo-call service opened especially on Saturday 7 January and some 200 staff members attended for telephone duty that day. Regarding the overtime cost attributable to staff attendance for the exceptional opening of Revenue's lo-call service on Saturday 7 January, I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that it will not be possible to give a precise figure for the cost involved until the overtime claims from the staff in question are submitted and paid. This normally takes some weeks from the date of the overtime.

I am further informed by the Revenue Commissioners that for the period from Thursday 5 January 2012 to Wednesday 11 January 2012 (inclusive), some 52,000 calls were answered nationally by Revenue's lo-call telephone service. This number includes calls that did not relate to the letters issued following the updating of DSP pension information onto Revenue's records and it is not possible to distinguish between these call types.

The Revenue Commissioners also advise that the average waiting time for a call to be answered was 12 minutes during the special opening on Saturday 7 January and that average wait time had fallen to well under 5 minutes by Friday 13 January 2012.

Departmental Bodies

Sean Fleming

Question:

134 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Finance if he will list the number of public bodies under his auspice in which members of the board, employees, staff and other persons are required to complete forms under the ethics in public office rules, framework, regulations; and the number of persons required to complete these forms in respect of each public body under his Department and including his Department. [2075/12]

In the timeframe allowed, it has not been possible to collate the information requested. However, as soon as the information for my Department and bodies under my aegis has been collated, it will be forwarded to the Deputy directly.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

135 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Finance the total cost of lump sums paid to staff and the number of staff involved who retired in 2011 in his Department and in respect of each organisation under his auspice; the total annual estimated pension costs associated with these persons in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2091/12]

In the time allowed, it has not been possible to collate the information in respect of each organisation under the auspices of the Department of Finance. The details in respect of my Department are outlined in the following table.

Number of staff who retired in 2011

Total cost of lump sums

Estimated pension costs in 2012 (gross)

20

€2,178,230.59

€719,662.25

Tax Code

John McGuinness

Question:

136 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance if the detail of a letter issued by the Revenue Commissioners to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny will be reviewed and explained in view of the fact that their only income is a State non-contributory pension. [2119/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that letters regarding the taxation of State pensions issued to all individuals in receipt of such pensions who were also on Revenue records as having another source of income. The letter was issued to the named individual as Revenue were not informed her other source of income had ceased. The named individual contacted Revenue on 9 January 2012 and her record has now been updated. The named individual has no tax liability.

Tax Collection

John McGuinness

Question:

137 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance further to correspondence from Revenue dated 30 December 2011 to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny, if he will confirm the amount or value which was understated; the amount of additional tax to be deducted in this case; the proposal as to the amount that will be deducted and the period involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2123/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the amount by which the named individual's State pension was understated was €99. The additional tax to be deducted in 2012 amounts to €19.80. The named individual's Tax Credits for 2012 have been adjusted accordingly.

Departmental Expenditure

Brendan Smith

Question:

138 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Finance the total allocated budget for his Department in 2011; and the actual outturns in each of his Department subheads at the end of 2011. [2134/12]

The following table details the budget and provisional outturn figures for my Department in 2011:

Subhead

Budget 2011€’000

Provisional Outturn 2011€’000

Salaries, Wages and Allowances

17,757

17,472

Travel & Subsistence

306

289

Incidental Expenses

797

666

Postal and Telecommunications Services

775

712

Office Machinery and Other Office Supplies

980

977

Office Premises Expenses

725

805

Consultancy Services

28

0

Committees and Commissions

365

353

Commissions & Special Inquiries

755

631

Fiscal Advisory Council

300

222

Consultancy Services

4,270

2,230

Gross Total

27,058

24,357

Appropriations-In-Aid

1,201

1,809

Net Total

25,857

22,548

Tax Code

Terence Flanagan

Question:

139 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the pension levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2143/12]

The Jobs Initiative introduced last year brought forward a number of targeted sectoral measures and tax/PRSI changes designed to assist in employment generation, to provide opportunities for those who have lost their jobs and thus generate confidence in the economy. These included a new second reduced VAT rate of 9% aimed primarily at the tourism sector, a halving of the employers PRSI rate until 2013, small amounts of additional current and capital expenditure aimed primarily at "shovel-ready" projects and increasing the number of available educational, training and up-skilling places.

In order to fund the various measures, the Government introduced a temporary levy on funded pension schemes and personal pension plans. In 2011 this raised approximately €463 million. Over the 2011-2014 period the Jobs Initiative will be budgetary neutral. It is the case, however, that the pension levy was expected to generate a net gain to the Exchequer in 2011 as the yield was expected to more than offset the cost of the other measures introduced. The range of measures outlined in the Jobs Initiative are being or have already been put in place by the relevant implementing Department or agencies.

The Government is currently finalising a comprehensive Action Plan for Jobs which will set out further measures to be taken in 2012 to support job creation. This Action Plan, which complements last year's Jobs Initiative, will be published in the coming weeks.

Question No. 140 answered with Question No. 129.

Bank Deposits

Peter Mathews

Question:

141 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance if he will indicate Irish private sector deposits broken down according to household deposits, non-financial corporate deposits, deposits from insurance corporations and pension funds or other financial intermediaries, for each month since January 2009 in tabular form; if he will provide a further breakdown in each of these categories showing the deposits that are overnight deposits, deposits that have an agreed maturity over two years, deposits that are redeemable at notice up to three months, deposits that are redeemable at notice over three months and repurchase agreements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2186/12]

According to the Central Bank of Ireland's Money and Banking Statistics: Nov 2011, Irish private sector deposits stood at €183,660m in January 2009 and declined to €162,131m in November 2011, this being the latest available information. A breakdown of deposits in the requested categories can be found at http://www.centralbank.ie/polstats/stats/cmab/documents/ie_table_a.11.1_ deposits_from_irish_private_sector_-_sector_and_category.xls.

Tax Collection

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

142 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance the number of pensioners who have recently been identified by the Revenue Commissioners as having previously underestimated tax liabilities, whose occupational pension source is the Paymaster General’s Office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2187/12]

The Paymaster General's Office, which is part of my Department, makes payments to 24,764 pensioners on an agency basis for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, in the case of pensions charged to the Superannuation Vote or to the Central Fund, and for the Department of Education, in the case of retirees from the VECs whose pensions were formerly paid by the local authorities. At the start of each year, files of relevant information to enable the taxation of each pension for the new year are supplied electronically by the Revenue Commissioners and are uploaded electronically to the Paymaster General's system. The basis of taxation for each pensioner is a matter for the pensioner/taxpayer concerned and the Revenue Commissioners, who may have had regard also to other sources of information.

Pension providers are only supplied with sufficient information to enable them to calculate the amount of tax due on pensions and are not privy to the details of the individual elements that make up a person's tax credit and other entitlements which are confidential matters between Revenue and the pensioner. In the circumstances, the Paymaster General's Office is not in a position to determine the basis for the taxation information supplied by Revenue.

Banking Sector Regulation

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

143 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Permanent TSB standard variable rate on a 25-year investment mortgage has increased from 3.84% in April 2009 to 6.84% today, while in the same period, the ECB rate dropped from 1.5% to 1%; if he agrees that these interest rate hikes will have an affect on the arrears or repossession rate and further cripple Irish financial institutions by making current loans unsustainable; if he has a strategy for addressing this problem; the details of that strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2205/12]

I am aware of the interest rates charged by Permanent TSB. However, the lending institutions in Ireland, including those in which the State has a significant shareholding, are independent commercial entities. Ultimately the pricing of financial products, including standard variable mortgage interest rates, is a commercial decision for the management team and board of each lending institution, having due regard to their customers and the impact on profitability, particularly where the cost of funding to each lending institution, including deposit pricing, is under pressure.

I have no responsibility for any increases/decreases in the variable mortgage rates charged by Permanent TSB. However, the Central Bank has advised me that, within its existing powers and through the use of persuasion, it will continue to engage with specific lenders which appear to have standard variable rates set disproportionate to their cost of funds. They also advised me that they wrote to all lenders in October 2011 and asked them to consider the impact on arrears when considering any future interest rate increases.

The Deputy will be aware of the report of the Inter-Departmental Group on Mortgage Arrears which was published last October. The report sets out a number of recommendations to address the situation of those in mortgage arrears. The report stated that the issue of mortgage difficulty can only be addressed in an efficient way on a case by case basis. Arising from the report, a number of developments are under way that will be of assistance to mortgage holders experiencing significant difficulty.

Joe Higgins

Question:

144 Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Finance the reason there is such a difference in variable interest rates between the State-owned AIB and Permanent TSB. [2211/12]

The lending institutions in Ireland, including those in which the State has a significant shareholding, are independent commercial entities. Ultimately the pricing of financial products, including standard variable mortgage interest rates, is a commercial decision for the management team and board of each lending institution, having due regard to their customers and the impact on profitability, particularly where the cost of funding to each lending institution, including deposit pricing, is under pressure.

Neither the Central Bank nor I have any responsibility for any variation in the variable mortgage interest rates charged by the two institutions referred to by the Deputy. However, the Central Bank has advised me that, within its existing powers and through the use of persuasion, it will continue to engage with specific lenders which appear to have standard variable rates set disproportionate to their cost of funds.

Tax Reliefs

Heather Humphreys

Question:

145 Deputy Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance when a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan will receive their stamp duty refund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2296/12]

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.

Question No. 146 answered with Question No. 132.

Brendan Griffin

Question:

147 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter regarding mortgage interest relief in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2301/12]

The position is as I stated in my Budget speech, that the Government has now fulfilled its commitment contained in the Programme for Government to increase the rate of mortgage interest relief to 30 per cent for first-time buyers who took out their first mortgage in the period 2004 to 2008. I will be looking at the technical detail of the legislation in preparation for the Finance Bill and I will take the highlighted case into consideration in that regard.

Tax Code

Denis Naughten

Question:

148 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied that Revenue informed all pensioners and their pension providers of the reduced aged tax credit for the 2011 tax year; when this information was provided to them; the steps taken by him and Revenue to bring attention to this change; the steps taken to date in 2012 by Revenue and him of the current changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2317/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the Age Tax Credit was reduced in value in Budget 2011 from €325 (single persons/widowed person/surviving civil partner) and €650 (married couple/civil partners) in the year 2010 to €245 and €490 respectively in 2011, which are also the current rates. The Age Tax Credit can be claimed by anyone aged 65 years or over and in the case of married couples or those in a civil partnership, where one of the of the parties is aged 65 years or over. The Commissioners are fully satisfied that pension providers were, in mid-December 2010, notified of the reduction in the value of the tax credit in the Employer copy of the 2011 Tax Credit Certificate. A copy of the relevant Employer Tax Credit Certificate is sent to the pension provider for each pensioner in the various schemes under their administration.

As regards notifying the reduction in value of the credit to pensioners themselves, I am further advised that, as with any such changes, relevant information is put into the public domain at the time of the Budget and specifically, last year due to the changes in tax credit amounts announced in Budget 2011, at various times during the month of January 2011, Revenue conducted an information campaign, using various media, to inform taxpayers of all of these changes. This campaign included:—

As part of the general issue of Employer Tax Credit Certificates to all employers, Revenue asked pension providers directly to encourage their pensioners to access the Revenue website for information on the Budget changes and how the tax credit and rate band changes would affect pension payments;

Revenue developed an informational video that was available for viewing through the Revenue website to explain the PAYE changes including worked examples of the likely changes in pension payments for over 65s;

Citizen's Information Centre's (CICs) were contacted by Revenue and were asked to direct any of their clients to our information services;

A dedicated information booklet covering the tax credit changes was developed by Revenue and distributed to CICs.

Lastly, the information campaign also advertised that anyone who required a copy of their 2011 Tax Credit Certificate, setting out details of their individual tax credits, could obtain one from Revenue through a variety of channels.

For the year 2012, as the value of all Tax Credits was unchanged in the recent Budget, the need for an information campaign around tax credit changes was not necessary. The facility to request a copy of the 2012 Tax Credit Certificate through a variety of channels continues to be available to all taxpayers.

In addition, any recipient of a DSP pension who was recently corresponded with, following the updating of pension information supplied by the DSP into Revenue's records, has received a copy of their 2012 Tax Credit Certificate and this displays whether they are currently receiving the benefit of the Age Tax Credit. If the Deputy is aware of any individuals who is not receiving the Age Tax Credit and feels that they are entitled to it, I am advised that details can be supplied to the Commissioners.

The Commissioners further advise that they have commenced discussions with Age Action and the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament about how Revenue can provide information on tax credits and pensioners' tax issues in general and they plan to hold similar discussions with any other interest groups in this area.

Finian McGrath

Question:

149 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will correct the mistake in the drafting of the universal social charge which means that many persons with incomes of more than €200,000 are actually earning more since the tax was introduced. [2390/12]

As the Deputy is aware the previous Government introduced the Universal Social Charge (USC) in Budget 2011 in conjunction with a number of changes to the income tax system i.e. reduction in the value of credits and bands and significant changes to the PRSI rates and ceilings. The USC was amended in the Finance Act 2011 to address any unintended consequences which may have resulted in high income earners benefiting as a result of the tax package contained in Budget 2011.

I will consider any further anomalies of the taxation system in the context of the forthcoming Finance Bill.

Niall Collins

Question:

150 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance if he will examine a payment being made by a person (details supplied) in County Cork in view of the fact that this person has been advised that they are not liable for this charge; and if he will arrange to cease this payment and refund all payments made in this respect, [2413/12]

Based on the most recent information available to the Revenue Commissioners, the person concerned is exempt from the Universal Social Charge (USC) and income tax for the current tax year. When he receives his P60 for 2011 he should contact Mr. Diarmuid O'Connor, Revenue House, Blackpool, Cork (Tel 021-6027506) who will arrange for any refund that may be due.

Illicit Trade in Tobacco

Derek Keating

Question:

151 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Finance his response and that of the Customs and Excise Service to the report that as much as 18% of cigarettes smoked here last year were illegally imported; his estimate of the loss of revenue to the Exchequer due to such activity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2457/12]

I am unaware of the specific report to which the Deputy refers. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that a survey commissioned by Revenue and the Office of Tobacco Control in 2009 estimated that 20% of cigarettes consumed in the State had not been taxed in this jurisdiction. This figure was further broken down as 14% illicit product and 6% legally imported by passengers arriving into the State from other jurisdictions. A similar survey in the last quarter of 2010 confirmed these estimates. Based on an estimate of 14%, the loss to the Exchequer from illicit cigarette consumption in 2011 would be in the region of €250m (excise duty + VAT). A further survey is currently under way.

Revenue is very conscious of the threat posed by the illicit trade in tobacco products and, in 2010, established a high level internal group, chaired at Commissioner level, to examine the risks involved and to oversee and optimise the detection of contraband and counterfeit tobacco products. This group has promoted a number of initiatives aimed at counteracting the illicit trade in tobacco. These include the adoption of a comprehensive tobacco strategy, which is underpinned by annual action plans.

The overall strategy being 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, and optimum deployment of resources at point of importation and inland, in order to intercept the contraband product and to prosecute those involved.

In 2011 Revenue seized 109 million cigarettes with a retail value of €46 million, and 11,158 Kgs of tobacco with a retail value of €4 million.

Also in 2011, Revenue obtained 101 convictions relating to cigarette smuggling, with fines of €136,300 and 30 custodial sentences imposed. Another 57 convictions relating to the sale of unstamped tobacco products, with fines of €115,850 and 13 custodial sentences imposed, were also obtained.

Fuel Smuggling

Derek Keating

Question:

152 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Finance if he would outline to Dáil Éireann the plan of action of Custom and Excise Services to deal with the problem of cross-Border fuel smuggling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2460/12]

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 the price in Northern Ireland for regular diesel and petrol is approximately 15% higher than in the State and that consequently illegal imports of these commodities are not an issue. However, illegal activity in the form of diesel fuel laundering, which takes place mainly in the State, does pose a serious threat to the Exchequer. Fuel laundering involves large-scale removal of markers from rebated mineral oil, which is subject to a reduced rate of mineral oil tax on condition that it is not used in road vehicles. This form of tax evasion is a matter the Revenue Commissioners and the Government take very seriously, particularly given the current economic climate. 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.

In 2010, Revenue enforcement staff detected four oil-laundering plants in this jurisdiction and seized 228,000 litres of laundered oil. In addition, nine retailers were found dealing in laundered oil and eight haulage companies were detected using it in their vehicles. There were four court convictions in 2010 for laundered oil offences.

In 2011 nine oil laundries and 327,000 litres of laundered fuel were seized, together with nine oil tankers and twenty-nine other vehicles. 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 the cases. In addition, a further 718,181 litres of illicit mineral oil has been seized, the large majority from retail outlets or in the course of delivery to such outlets

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.

Revenue is currently reviewing its enforcement options to ensure that its action against this illegal activity continues to be as effective as possible. 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. Consideration is being given also, in the context of the forthcoming Finance Bill, to possible changes in the law, particularly from the point of view of the control of the supply of oil, which would enhance the capacity to combat this illegality.

Tax Yield

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

153 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the amount raised between 2001 and 2011 in vehicle registration tax in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2473/12]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the amounts raised in vehicle registration tax from 2001 to 2011 are as follows:

Year

€m

2001

788.0

2002

792.6

2003

819.5

2004

946.0

2005

1,148.8

2006

1,287.4

2007

1,406.1

2008

1,120.8

2009

375.4

2010

383.5

2011 (Prov)

387.4

It should be noted that the 2011 figure is provisional at this time and is subject to change.

EU-ECB-IMF Reviews

Terence Flanagan

Question:

154 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the costs of the troika (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2474/12]

The costs of the quarterly reviews by the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF are entirely a matter for the bodies concerned. The Irish authorities do not fund their hotel or subsistence costs.

Tax Code

Michael McCarthy

Question:

155 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Finance the tax liability requirements in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork following correspondence received from the Revenue Commissioners regarding their pension; if tax will be deducted in this particular case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2521/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a letter regarding their DSP pension details was issued in this case because the individual has a private pension in addition to their DSP pension and there was a possibility that they were potentially liable to additional tax. In addition, Revenue was unaware that the taxpayer's personal circumstances had changed. However, I am further advised that based on the most recent figures supplied to the Revenue Commissioners by his pension provider, for the 2010 tax year, the person concerned is not liable for tax or Universal Social Charge payments in the current year. I am also informed that the taxpayer's records have recently been brought up to date and a revised tax credit certificate has already issued to the taxpayer.

Michael McCarthy

Question:

156 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Finance the tax liability requirements in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork following correspondence received from the Revenue Commissioners regarding their pension; if tax will be deducted in this particular case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2522/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a letter regarding their DSP pension details was issued in this case because the individual has a private pension in addition to their DSP pension and there is no indication of their date of birth which means that they were potentially liable to additional tax. However, I am further informed that based on the most recent figures supplied to the Revenue Commissioners by his pension provider, for the 2010 tax year, the person concerned is not liable for tax or Universal Social Charge payments in the current year and Revenue will issue a revised tax credit certificate immediately to reflect that fact.

Michael McCarthy

Question:

157 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Finance the tax liability requirements in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork following correspondence received from the Revenue Commissioners regarding their pension; if tax will be deducted in this particular case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2523/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a letter regarding their DSP pension details was issued in this case because the individual has a private pension in addition to their DSP pension and there was a possibility that he was potentially liable to additional tax. However, I am further advised that based on the most recent figures supplied to the Revenue Commissioners by his employer, for the 2010 tax year, the person's tax credits for the current year would appear to be sufficient to ensure that he will not be liable for tax and may also be exempt from Universal Social Charge payments. When he receives his P60 for 2011 he should contact Mr. Diarmuid O'Connor, Revenue House, Blackpool, Cork (Tel 021-6027506) who will ensure that the taxpayer concerned receives his proper entitlements.

Michael McCarthy

Question:

158 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Finance the tax liability requirements in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork following correspondence received from the Revenue Commissioners regarding their pension; if tax will be deducted in this particular case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2524/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a letter regarding their DSP pension details was issued in this case because the individual has a private pension in addition to their DSP pension and there was a possibility that they were potentially liable to additional tax. Based on the most recent figures supplied to the Revenue Commissioners by his pension provider, for the 2010 tax year, the person concerned is not liable for tax or Universal Social Charge payments in the current year and Revenue will issue a revised tax credit certificate immediately to reflect that fact.

Michael McCarthy

Question:

159 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Finance the tax liability requirements in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork following correspondence received from the Revenue Commissioners regarding their pension; if tax will be deducted in this particular case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2525/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a letter regarding their DSP pension details was issued in this case because the individual has a private pension in addition to their DSP pension and there was a possibility that they were potentially liable to additional tax. Based on the most recent figures supplied to the Revenue Commissioners by his pension provider, for the 2010 tax year, the person concerned is not liable for tax or Universal Social Charge payments in the current year and Revenue will issue a revised tax credit certificate immediately to reflect that fact.

Michael McCarthy

Question:

160 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Finance the tax liability requirements in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork following correspondence received from the Revenue Commissioners regarding their pension; if tax will be deducted in this particular case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2526/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a letter regarding their DSP pension details was issued in this case because the individual has a private pension in addition to their DSP pension and there was a possibility that they were potentially liable to additional tax. However, I am further advised that based on the most recent figures supplied to the Revenue Commissioners by his pension provider, for the 2010 tax year, the person concerned is not liable for tax. I am also informed that the taxpayer's records have recently been brought up to date and a revised tax credit certificate will issue shortly.

Tax Collection

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

161 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance if he will seek improvements in communications between the Revenue Commissioners and members of the public regarding the circumstances in which 115,000 pensioners were informed that they may have to pay additional tax bills this year; if his attention has been drawn to the upset, distress and the inconvenience caused to pensioners who were not familiar with the way the tax system works and to some 15,000 who received letters who were not even liable for additional tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2548/12]

The matter of communications between the Revenue Commissioners and members of the public are the responsibility of the Commissioners and they use a variety of methods and means to explain the many complexities of taxation. Regarding the matter of the communications between Revenue and the 115,000 recipients of DSP pensions who may have a potential additional tax liability, I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that two different types of letters were issued to this group of taxpayers which were designed to cover their particular circumstances and explain how the potential additional tax liability arises. Each letter included a copy of the individual's own tax credit certificate for 2012 as well as a note explaining how tax is deducted on DSP pensions. The Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners has already explained at the recent Joint Oireachtas Committee meeting that due to the short timeframe available to update the PAYE records from receipt of the information from DSP in time for the start of 2012, that the standard of service that we come to expect from Revenue was not met on this occasion. The Chairman went on further at the Committee meeting to publicly apologise for the distress caused to some people on receipt of the letters concerned.

On the issue of the 15,000 letters that were sent to people who may be potentially exempt from PAYE on their total income altogether, I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that this particular letter was also aimed at reassuring anyone who, although ultimately exempt from tax, might have found that their private pension was temporarily taxed as a result of the information supplied by the DSP being updated into Revenue's records. The particular letter advised this category of taxpayer that they were not required to do anything for the moment and that Revenue themselves would resolve the issue for anyone affected. The Chairman confirmed at the Committee meeting that Revenue will issue an exemption certificate for these cases "in a short number of weeks".

Lastly, as also indicated at the Joint Committee meeting, the Revenue Commissioners advise that they will be reviewing their approach to communications in the light of the issues raised following on from the issue of the letters to DSP pension recipients and they will be working with Age Action and the Irish Senior Citizens' Parliament as well as other groups representing pensioners and other DSP pension recipients to identify how they can improve their communications with that group.

Michael McGrath

Question:

162 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Cork should be paying income tax and the universal social charge in 2012. [2554/12]

The most recent figures available to the Revenue Commissioners, those for the 2010 tax year, indicate that the person concerned will have a small tax liability in the current year arising from the manner in which he and his partner have shared their tax credits. If he wishes to discuss the matter further he should contact his local Revenue Office at Revenue House, Blackpool, Cork or phone Mr. Diarmuid O'Connor at (021) 6027056. The person concerned is exempt from the Universal Social Charge for 2012 and an amended Tax Credit Certificate in this regard issued to him on 13 January2012.

State Banking Sector

Michael McGrath

Question:

163 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his views on the operation of mortgage lenders (details supplied) whose parent company is a beneficiary of State support. [2555/12]

Neither I, as Minister for Finance, nor the Central Bank, have a statutory role in the setting of interest rates charged or paid by financial institutions regulated by the Central Bank except in the case of the interest rate cap imposed on the credit union sector. Each institution determines the rate it charges its customers, depending on a number of factors, such as cost of funds and commercial considerations, competition in the market, risk pricing and the impact on deposit rates. In his recent letter to the Taoiseach, the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank stated that the Central Bank was not requesting the power to have regulatory control over the setting of retail interest rates. He indicated that the experience of such controls in the past, and in other countries, did not encourage the Central Bank to believe that such a regime would be advantageous in net terms as the banking system seeks to recover to 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. This could have an adverse effect on sound competition in the market. The Deputy Governor mentioned also that, within its existing powers and through the use of suasion, the Central Bank will continue to engage with specific lenders which appear to have standard variable rates set disproportionate to their cost of funds.

Credit Unions

Ciara Conway

Question:

164 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the variety of lending restrictions that have been imposed by the Registrar of Credit Unions and the impact of these restrictions for credit unions and members; if it has been brought to his attention that the nature of these restrictions often means that good lending to good members cannot be made, in turn threatening the viability of credit unions by reducing the income from interest repayments on loans; if the new lending restrictions can be re-examined and applied on a more discerning basis in a way that provides credit unions with a clear rationale for any restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2586/12]

The imposition of lending restrictions is the responsibility of the Registrar of Credit Unions, who is the independent regulator for credit unions. Within his independent regulatory discretion, the Registrar acts to support the prudential soundness of individual credit unions, to maintain sector stability and to protect the savings of credit union members. This is part of normal regulation and supervision of the sector. As Minister for Finance, my role is to ensure that the legal framework for credit unions is appropriate for the effective operation and supervision of credit unions. It would not be appropriate for me, as Minister for Finance, to examine or adjudicate on whether the placing of lending restrictions is necessary on a case by case basis. I believe that such action would represent interference in the work of the independent regulator.

The Registrar has put lending restrictions in place in order to protect the savings of members in credit unions and to ensure that credit unions focus on risks when making lending decisions. Restrictions are imposed on a case-by-case basis and are reviewed regularly. The type of lending restrictions can include maximum individual loan size, overall maximum monthly lending limits and restrictions on business lending.

The Registrar has advised that about 50% of credit unions are subject to lending restrictions at present. Almost all credit unions with a lending restriction have a maximum individual loan size restriction. Of the credit unions with lending restrictions over 65% can lend €20,000 or more to an individual member.

Less than 3% of credit unions are restricted to loans of less than €10,000 to an individual member, and less than 1% of credit unions are restricted to lending less than €5,000 per member. Commercial lending restrictions apply to approximately a third of credit unions. As part of the work to build liquidity levels in the credit union sector, the Central Bank introduced maximum monthly lending limits in a number of credit unions. Currently, maximum monthly lending limit restrictions are in place in a small proportion of credit unions.

Apprenticeship Programmes

Finian McGrath

Question:

165 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will clarify a matter (details supplied) regarding the FÁS apprentice placement scheme. [1967/12]

Finian McGrath

Question:

166 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding funding (details supplied). [1987/12]

Finian McGrath

Question:

167 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the FÁS redundant apprentice replacement scheme (details supplied). [2391/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 165 to 167, inclusive, together.

The Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme (RAPS) was introduced in 2011 to provide opportunities for eligible redundant apprentices to undertake on-the-job training at Phase 3, Phase 5 and Phase 7 of the standard based apprenticeship programme.

I understand that RAPS has re-commenced from 9 January 2012 and will provide opportunities for eligible redundant apprentices.

I am informed that the person in question is on RAPS Phase 5 (26 weeks) and he is due to finish this Phase on 27 January, 2012.

I am advised that FÁS has been in contact with him to confirm that there is another RAPS planned for 2012 and he was advised that if the firm that he is currently on Phase 5 with want to apply to take him back for Phase 7 then this can be explored.

The person in question could be advised to keep in regular contact with his Training Adviser in FÁS in this matter.

Departmental Bodies

Mattie McGrath

Question:

168 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the establishment of the qualifications and quality assurance authority of Ireland; when new applications for provider registration for FETAC will be accepted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1960/12]

The Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Bill, 2011, which provides for the establishment of the new Authority, was published in July 2011 and Second Stage was taken in the Seanad in September. I hope to establish the new Authority in the first half of the year and it will begin processing new applications for provider registration shortly thereafter.

Research Funding

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

169 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there is any funding available for students to pursue a PhD in evolutionary computing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1973/12]

The Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) primarily funds PhD scholarships and early stage postdoctoral fellowships. Selection is on the basis of excellence following assessment by expert independent panels. There is no emphasis on funding one discipline over another and awards are made solely on the basis of academic excellence and in accordance with published assessment criteria.

The EMBARK Initiative, a scheme specifically tailored to those who wish to pursue a Masters or PhD, is currently open and accepts applications from eligible applicants wishing to carry out their research in the Republic of Ireland. The deadline for submissions of applications is February 15, 2012. Included in the range of discipline areas funded is Computer Science of which Evolutionary Computation or Computing is a sub-field.

FÁS Training Programmes

Brendan Smith

Question:

170 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills when he expects the final EU funding decision to be made regarding the release of 65% of the European Globalisation Fund contribution of €35.5 million for construction workers here; if he has sent letters notifying all persons who are eligible for this co-financed funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2011/12]

On 16 November 2011 the EU budgetary authorities approved three separate applications for co-financed assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) made by my Department in respect of almost 9,000 former workers made redundant in the construction NACE 41, 43 and 71 sub-sectors between 1 July 2009 and 31 March 2010.

European Commission financing decisions awarding EGF contributions of €12.7m, €21.6m and €1.4m for the three respective applications were made on 13 December 2011. These monies were duly received by the Department on 29 December 2011.

EGF services include career guidance, full, part-time and evening further education and training courses, apprenticeship on-and off-the-job training, full and part-time third level education programmes, enterprise start-up advisory and financial supports and related training and education allowances where appropriate. The main service providers delivering these supports are FÁS, Vocational Education Committees and publicly funded higher education institutes. Training is also being provided through contracted private providers and the technical employment support grant mechanism administered by FÁS. Letters of notification of relevant EGF services issued to eligible persons from the EGF Managing Authority in the Department encompassed by the three EGF construction applications on 19 December 2011.

A dedicated EGF Construction Contact Centre has been established to provide phone and on-line information and support facilitate access to professional career and occupational guidance for them, make onwards referrals to other service providers and to administer EGF Training Grants in respect of the eligible redundant workers.

In addition, a new EGF website www.egf.ie also went live on 19 December 2011 and provides further information on the EGF programmes as well as an on-line application process for the EGF training grant scheme.

WRC Social and Economic Consultants Ltd have been contracted by my Department to collate management information data on the three EGF construction programmes in cooperation with the EGF Construction Contact Centre. Monthly reports on uptake of personalised services and other relevant statistical information are required to be submitted to this Department. The first such report will cover the period to the end of January 2012.

Between 19 December 2011 and 9 January 2012, 553 queries on EGF services had been received by the EGF Construction Contact Centre and some 73 clients had been referred to the national VEC Coordinator for tailored VEC career guidance courses. For the same period, 1,123 unique visits to the website and 76 on-line applications for EGF training grants via the website were recorded.

Departmental Bodies

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

171 Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide an update on the proposed abolition of the Educational Disadvantage Committee, EDC, contained in the Education (Amendment) Bill 2012; if the EDC will be replaced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2012/12]

The Educational Disadvantage Committee (EDC) was established under Section 32 of the Education Act, 1998. The role of the EDC was to advise the Minister for Education and Science on policies and strategies to be adopted to identify and correct educational disadvantage. The Committee's final report‘Moving Beyond Educational Disadvantage' was published in December 2005.

The Government decided, as part of the decision on rationalisation of agencies in the 2009 budget, that a formal statutory Committee was no longer required in order to advise on the issue of educational disadvantage. This decision required an amendment to legislation which is now provided for under Section 7 of the Education (Amendment) Bill 2012.

The Action Plan for Educational Inclusion (DEIS), which was launched in 2006, draws upon and complements a number of conclusions of the EDC's final report as well as contributions from the Education Partners.

The abolition of the EDC has not adversely impacted upon the Department's commitment to ongoing consultation on educational disadvantage and the wider social inclusion agenda. Both national and European strategies, i.e. the National Anti-Poverty Strategy (NAPS) and the National Action Plans against Poverty and Social Exclusion (NAPs/incl), The Lisbon Strategy, Europe 2020 and the Programme for Government all provide a common language of objectives, priorities, targets and timescales against which future outcomes can be measured.

The Department is also committed to ongoing consultation with stakeholders.

Third Level Charges

Michael McGrath

Question:

172 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a student (details supplied) who left a third level course after a short number of weeks in the 2010-11 academic year is entitled to a refund of the registration fee paid; if there is a policy on the issue or if it is a matter for the individual third level institution to decide. [2030/12]

A new student contribution charge of €2,000 was introduced in higher education by the previous Government with effect from the 2011/2012 academic year. This charge replaced the previous Student Services Charge and applies to all students who currently benefit under the ‘free fees' scheme. The contribution is paid by the Exchequer in respect of students who qualify under the third level grant schemes.

The collection and administration of the contribution is a matter for the third level institution to which a student is attending. In recognition of the financial pressures that the student contribution may place on families, my Department requested higher education institutions to consider putting in place arrangements under which a student may opt to pay the contribution in two instalments in a given academic year. While a few institutions do not have this facility at present due to technical/systems limitations and administrative issues, all institutions have been requested to accommodate students who present with financial difficulties on a case by case basis and, from the academic year 2012/13 onwards, to have systems in place that allow for the payment of the student contribution in two instalments.

Where a student withdraws from their course of study and is therefore not registered for the second semester, free fees funding cannot be claimed by the institution in respect of that student for the second semester.

Departmental Bodies

Sean Fleming

Question:

173 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will list the number of public bodies under his auspice in which members of the board, employees, staff and other persons are required to complete forms under the ethics in public office rules, framework and regulations; and the number of persons required to complete these forms in respect of each public body under his Department and including his Department. [2073/12]

Under the terms of the Ethics Acts, 1995 and 2001 all civil servants serving in a grade of which the maximum salary is not less than the maximum salary of a Principal Officer (General Service Grade) in the Civil Service are required to complete a return in the event they have an interest to declare. In addition to these posts the Department of Public Expenditure, with the assistance of other Government Departments, annually updates the "below PO level " positions of employment in Civil Service Departments and Offices that are to be prescribed as "designated positions" under the Ethics Acts. In this context S.I. No. 644/2011 — Ethics in Public Office (Designated Positions in Public Bodies) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 came into effect from 1st January 2012. There are currently in the region of 200 positions in my Department that come under the remit of the Ethics legislation.

I can confirm that the Ethics Legislation covers the bodies under the aegis of my Department listed below. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, with the assistance of other Government Departments, annually updates:

the directorships and appropriate positions of employment in the wider public service that are prescribed as "designated directorships" and "designated positions" respectively; and

the bodies that are prescribed in the public interest as public bodies under subparagraph 1(13) of the First Schedule to the Ethics Act 1995.

In this context S.I. No. 707/2011 — Ethics in Public Office (Prescribed Public Bodies, Designated Directorships of Public Bodies and Designated Positions in Public Bodies) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 came into effect from 1st January 2012. There are currently in the region of 280 designated directorships and 90 designated positions of employment identified in this S.I. that relate to bodies currently under the aegis of my Department that come under the remit of the Ethics legislation. Bodies under the aegis of the Department of Education and Skills:

An Chomhairle um Oideachais Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta

Commission into Child Abuse

Education Finance Board

Foras Áiseanna Saothair

Further Education and Training Awards Council

Grangegorman Development Agency

Higher Education and Training Awards Council

Higher Education Authority

Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology

Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Léargas

The Exchange Bureau

National Centre for Guidance in Education (under Léargas entry)

National Council for Curriculum and Assessment

National Council for Special Education

National Qualifications Authority of Ireland

Residential Institutions Redress Board

Residential Institutions Review Committee

Skillnets Ltd

State Examinations Commission

The Teaching Council.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

174 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total cost of lump sums paid to staff and the number of staff involved who retired in 2011 in his Department and in respect of each organisation under his auspice; the total annual estimated pension costs associated with these persons in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2089/12]

In 2011 twenty-one officials at my Department retired. The cost of superannuation lump sum payments amounted to approximately €1.3m. The estimated cost of pension for those concerned in 2012 will be in the region of €378,000. Figures for bodies under the aegis of my Department are not readily available and officials are compiling the information and it will be forwarded to the Deputy in the near future.

Departmental Expenditure

Brendan Smith

Question:

175 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total allocated budget for his Department in 2011; and the actual outturns in each of his Department subheads at the end of 2011. [2132/12]

The following table contains the information requested by the Deputy. It should be pointed out that the 2011 Outturn is provisional, subject to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

VOTE 26 — EDUCATION & SKILLS

2011 Allocation and Provisional Outturn

€000s

€000s

€000s

Subhead/Service

2011 REV Allocation

2011 Provsional Outturn

Variation

A.1 — SALARIES, WAGES AND ALLOWANCES

62,743

60,223

-2,520

A.2 — TRAVEL AND SUBSISTENCE

1,577

1,421

-156

A.3 — INCIDENTAL EXPENSES

1,355

1,001

-354

A.4 — POSTAL AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES

3,250

2,401

-849

A.5 — OFFICE MACHINERY AND OTHER OFFICE SUPPLIES

5,462

5,049

-413

A.6 — OFFICE PREMISES EXPENSES

2,350

1,635

-715

A.7 — CONSULTANCY SERVICES

100

48

-52

A.8 — REGIONAL OFFICE SERVICE

260

193

-67

A.9 — NATIONAL EDUCATION PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICE

18,629

17,762

-867

B.1 — G-I-A FOR GEN EXPENSES OF ADULT EDUCATION (NAT LOTTERY)

854

854

0

B.2 — TRANSPORT SERVICES

179,974

171,483

-8,491

B.3 — INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITIES

1,038

955

-83

B.4 — UNESCO CONTRIB & INTERNATIONAL EDUC EXCHANGES

2,464

2,172

-292

B.5 — RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES

2,475

2,270

-205

B.6 — TEACHER EDUCATION

25,205

23,453

-1,752

B.7 — EXPS FOR NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR CURRICULUM & ASSESSMENT

3,812

3,447

-365

B.8 — LOCAL DRUGS TASKFORCE

543

411

-132

B.9 — G-I-A FOR GEN EXPS OF YOUTH ORGS (NAT LOTTERY)

9,015

8,152

-863

B.10 — EDUCATIONAL DISADVANTAGE (DORMANT ACCOUNTS FUNDING)

2,000

1,613

-387

B.11 — OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH STRATEGY FOR 1st & 2nd LEVEL TEACHERS

1,750

1,744

-6

B.12 — RESIDENTIAL INSTITUTIONS REDRESS

45,000

44,200

-800

B.13 — ROYAL IRISH ACADEMY OF MUSIC GEN EXPS (G-I-A)

3,544

3,544

0

B.14 — G-I-A FOR GEN EXP OF SCIENTIFIC & EDUC ORGS (NAT LOTTERY)

196

187

-9

B.15 — NORTH/SOUTH CO-OPERATION

3,350

1,187

-2,163

B.16 — GEN EXP OF ORGS PROMOTING IRELAND AS INTERNATIONAL EDU CENTRE

100

91

-9

B.17 — MISCELLANEOUS

5,005

4,201

-804

B.18 — SCHOOLS INFO & COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES ACTIVITIES

15,078

9,566

-5,512

B.19 — COMMISSION ON CHILD ABUSE

12,994

2,173

-10,821

B.20 — SCHOOL COMPLETION PROGRAMME

0

0

0

B.21 — NATIONAL EDUCATION WELFARE BOARD

0

0

0

B.22 — NATIONAL QUALIFICATION FRAMEWORK

9,323

7,918

-1,405

C.1 — SALARIES, ETC. OF TEACHERS

2,052,229

2,050,412

-1,817

C.2 — MODEL SCHOOL — MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES

511

470

-41

C.3 — CAPITATION GRANT TOWARDS OPERATING COSTS OF NATIONAL SCHOOLS

187,102

186,933

-169

C.4 — SALARIES ETC. OF NON-TEACHING STAFF IN NAT SCHOOLS

310,451

299,795

-10,656

C.5 — OTHER GRANTS AND SERVICES

55,337

51,039

-4,298

C.6 — SUPERANNUATION, ETC. OF TEACHERS

473,474

487,000

13,526

C.7 — SPECIAL EDUCATION INITIATIVES

6,065

4,970

-1,095

D.1 — SALARIES ETC. OF TEACHERS IN SEC., COMP & COMM. SCHOOLS

1,180,733

1,175,690

-5,043

D.2 — GRANTS TO SECONDARY SCHOOL AUTHORITIES

107,191

104,280

-2,911

D.3 — SALARIES ETC. OF NON-TEACHING STAFF IN SEC, COMP & COMM SCHOOLS

52,151

49,107

-3,044

D.4 — SUPERANNUATION OF SECONDARY SCHOOL TEACHERS

344,125

345,043

918

D.5 — COMPREHENSIVE AND COMMUNITY SCHOOLS — RUNNING COSTS

46,342

46,342

0

D.6 — ANNUAL GRANT TO VOCATIONAL EDUCATION COMMITTEES

906,809

926,340

19,531

D.7 — PAYMENTS TO LOCAL AUTHORITIES RE SUPERANN CHARGES

234,278

230,796

-3,482

D.8 — MISCELLANEOUS POST-PRIMARY SERVICES

18,574

17,929

-645

D.9 — SPECIAL INITIATIVES ADULT EDUCATION

44,465

43,851

-614

D.10 — STATE EXAMINATIONS COMMISSION

54,310

55,913

1,603

E.1 — STUDENT SUPPORT

386,057

355,057

-31,000

E.2 — UNIV SCHOLARSHIPS, RESEARCH GRANTS & FELLOWSHIPS

1,800

1,654

-146

E.3 — AN tUDRAS UM ARD-OIDEACHAS G-IN-A FOR GEN EXPS

5,587

5,037

-550

E.4 — AN tUDRAS UM ARD-OIDEACHAS — GEN GRANTS TO UNIVS ETC (G-I-A)

1,177,032

1,177,032

0

E.5 — TRAINING COLLEGES FOR PRIMARY TEACHERS EXCL HEA FUNDED

12,549

11,469

-1,080

E.6 — STRATEGIC INNOVATION FUND

14,000

14,000

0

E.7 — DUBLIN DENTAL HOSTIPAL — DENTAL EDUCATION (G-I-A)

11,986

11,986

0

E.8 — DUBLIN INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDIES (G-I-A)

7,020

7,020

0

E.9 — GRANT FOR TUITION FEES TO NON-HEA 3RD LEVEL INSTS

5,475

5,018

-457

E.10 — MISCELLANEOUS

220

418

198

E.11 — GRANTS TO CERTAIN THIRD LEVEL INSTITUTIONS

17,019

17,148

129

E.12 — ALLEVIATION OF DISADVANTAGE

16,000

16,000

0

E.13 — RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES

41,085

38,550

-2,535

E.14 — GRANGEGORMAN DEVELOPMENT AGENCY

2,080

1,276

-804

F.1 — SCHOOLS CAPITAL

418,000

455,076

37,076

F.2 — PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS

57,151

54,632

-2,519

F.3 — 3rd LEVEL CAPITAL

57,500

77,320

19,820

G.1 — FAS ADMIN & GENERAL EXPENSES

85,491

85,491

0

G.2 — FAS TRAINING AND INTEGRATION SUPPORTS

40,267

40,267

0

G.3 — LEONARDO PROGRAMME

140

140

0

G.4 — FAS CAPITAL

5,500

4,000

-1,500

G.5 — FAS PENSION PAYMENTS

30,500

30,500

0

G.6 — EUROPEAN GLOBALISATION FUND

1,000

1,055

55

G.7 — OPERATIONAL PROGRAMME FOR HR DEVELOPMENT

1,300

575

-725

GROSS EXPENDITURE

8,888,352

8,865,985

-22,367

Appropriations-in-Aid

-608,933

-617,541

-8,608

NET EXPENDITURE

8,279,419

8,248,444

-30,975

School Staffing

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

176 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Education and Skills the effect of the decision to introduce phased adjustments to the staffing schedules in one, two, three and four-teacher schools from 2012-2013 on a school (details supplied) in County Kildare. [2149/12]

Pat Breen

Question:

191 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will outline the implications of phased changes to the teacher-pupil ratio in one, two, three and four-teacher primary schools in respect of a school (details supplied); his plans to review this decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2559/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 176 and 191 together.

The Deputies will be aware that as part of the Budget 2012 decisions, the number of pupils required to gain and retain a teaching post in small primary schools will be gradually increased between September 2012 and September 2014. The schools concerned are those with four or less classroom teachers. It is important to emphasise that no small schools will be forcibly closed by my Department due to the changes that have been announced.

We have a very significant number of small schools across the country. However, the existing staffing schedule acts as a disincentive for small schools to consider amalgamation. At a time of great strain in our public finances, we have to ensure that the very valuable but limited resources available for the education system are used in the best and fairest way across the whole system.

The decision making authority for any amalgamation belongs to the Patron of a school, subject to the approval of the Minister for Education and Skills. My Department's role is to facilitate any such proposal or discussions between the relevant parties. I want to reiterate that the initiative for an amalgamation may come from a variety of sources, such as parents, staff, Board of Management and in particular, the Patron. I have said on several occasions that any decisions to amalgamate schools will be taken at a local level.

The phasing of these measures provides the schools concerned with time to consider the potential for amalgamation with other schools where this is feasible. It is hoped that all school communities will consider how greater efficiencies and better educational outcomes can be achieved for all of our children.

Even when all of these phased increases are implemented, the threshold will still be significantly lower than the minimum of 28 pupils that were required for the appointment of the second teacher in schools prior to the mid 1990s. Given the constraints on capital funding, the Government has to prioritise school building projects and the very real need to ensure that every child has access to a school place. The need, if any, for any capital expenditure to facilitate an amalgamation will depend on the individual circumstances of the schools concerned. In determining the level of expenditure, my Department must take account of the continuing requirement to manage expenditure within the context of overall educational policy and the level of capital provision available at the time.

The Deputy will also be aware that a value for money review on small primary schools is currently underway in my Department. This review is part of the normal processes undertaken by all Departments on selected areas of expenditure and is being conducted in line with the standard procedure for value for money reviews. I expect that the report of the review should be available to me early in this year. I will then have to consider its outcomes and proposals.

Schools Building Projects

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

177 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for an extension to a school (details supplied) in County Donegal. [2157/12]

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

178 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for refurbishment work within a school (details supplied) in County Donegal. [2158/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 177 and 178 together.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the process of tendering for appointment of a design team on the school building project to which he refers has recently commenced. The project will entail the extension and refurbishment of the existing school.

An advertisement seeking suitably qualified consultants has been published on the Governments public procurement portal (www.etenders.gov.ie) and the school has been informed. Once appointed, the design team will commence architectural planning of the building project.

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

179 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for a new school building on the existing campus in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Donegal. [2159/12]

A major project for the school referred to by the Deputy was included in the Ministerial Announcement on 24th January 2011 to progress into Architectural Planning. As this school is located on a split site, the proposal for the development on the existing site involved detailed discussions between the school authorities and the Local Authority regarding traffic management and other issues. These discussions have recently been concluded and a report on the matter has been received from the school. This report is being examined by my Department which I expect to be completed shortly. My Department will be in further contact with the school authority at that point.

School Catchment Areas

Catherine Murphy

Question:

180 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will explain the methods by which he currently defines the area to be served or catchment area or both of a prospective new post-primary school, specifically in respect of references to such areas in the arrangements for patronage of new schools; the methods by which such areas have been defined prior to 27 June 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2160/12]

Catherine Murphy

Question:

181 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the area served or the catchment area or both for the prospective new post-primary school in Maynooth, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2161/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 180 and 181 together.

Catchment boundaries have their origins in the establishment of free post-primary education in the late 1960s and were determined following consultation with local educational interests. For planning purposes the country was divided into geographic districts each with several primary schools feeding into a post-primary centre with one or more post-primary schools. The intention was and continues to be that these defined districts facilitate the orderly planning of school provision and accommodation needs.

There are five primary schools which feed into the Maynooth post-primary centre, details are outlined below:

Roll No School 00779U Presentation Girls Primary School 17341U Maynooth B N S20058T Scoil Uí Fhiach 20292E Maynooth Educate Together National School 17652O Scoil Oilibhéir Naofa

Redundancy Payments

Peter Mathews

Question:

182 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the redundancy payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2183/12]

A redundancy application from the person referred to by the Deputy was received by my Department on 5th September 2011. Applications are processed in date order of receipt and every effort is being made to process these applications as quickly as possible. Applications received in July 2011 are currently being processed.

Extra resources have been assigned to the Redundancy Unit to ensure that Special Needs Assistants that have been made redundant will have their claims for payment processed as quickly as possible. My Department is also now prioritising the processing of redundancy applications from those SNAs who have not obtained alternative employment in a non-teaching capacity in primary, secondary or community/comprehensive schools in the current school year.

Third Level Sector

Peter Mathews

Question:

183 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide details of the 150 firms that received the most money from each third level institute and college in 2011; the name of each firm and the amount of money paid to them in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2191/12]

The information sought by the Deputy is not readily available in the Department, however, the Higher Education Authority has been requested to contact each institution seeking a response and I will forward the available data to him as soon as possible.

Vocational Education Committees

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

184 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the expected timeframe for the amalgamation of vocational education committees, including when he expects to appoint CEOs to each new body; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2428/12]

In October 2011, my officials concluded an agreement with SIPTU, the trade union representing the Chief Executive Officers (CEO) of VECs, on a redeployment scheme for CEOs in the context of the Croke Park agreement. This scheme will be used, in the first instance, for determining the appointment of CEOs to the new Education and Training Boards, following the enactment of the relevant legislation.

The agreed scheme provides an opportunity for those appointed (other than in a temporary acting capacity) in the grade of CEO of a Vocational Education Committee to elect for redeployment to the new CEO positions. Where there is more than one volunteer for any of the new CEO positions, the scheme provides for the position to be offered, in the first instance, to the most senior eligible volunteer. In the event that the elective process does not result in the filling of all of the posts, the scheme provides for assignment of an existing permanent CEO to a post for which s/he has not volunteered or for appointment of a holder of an analogous post in the Public Service to any of the available positions in accordance with the provisions of the Croke Park agreement.

In October of last year, I finalised and announced my decision in relation to the location of headquarters of the merged VECs. My officials are currently in discussion with SIPTU regarding the salary scales which each of the CEO positions will attract. Details of the salary which each of the CEO positions in the new Boards will attract are required under the scheme in order to inform the elective redeployment of Chief Executive Officers. Also in October of last year, following approval of the Government, in a new way of doing business, I referred the General Scheme of an Education and Training Boards Bill to the Joint Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education.

This Bill is a substantial piece of legislation which will consolidate the existing nine Vocational Education Acts and will provide for the legal establishment of the Education and Training Boards. I have been invited to appear before the Joint Committee later this month, to discuss the Joint Committee's report on the Heads of the Bill, which it published last month. The Bill is expected to be introduced to the Oireachtas in the first half of this year and I am hopeful that the new Boards will be in place and that CEOs will have been appointed to them before the end of this calendar year.

State Examinations

Colm Keaveney

Question:

185 Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Education and Skills the requisite criteria to be met for students sitting the junior and leaving certificate State examinations to become eligible for special centre support while sitting their examinations. [2475/12]

Colm Keaveney

Question:

186 Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of special centres provided for in 2010 and 2011 for junior and leaving certificate examinations. [2476/12]

Colm Keaveney

Question:

187 Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total cost to the Exchequer in providing special centres for State examinations for academic years 2009, 2010 and 2011. [2477/12]

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

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations including the operation of special centres. In view of the above I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

Schools Building Projects

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

188 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the proposed development of two new school buildings projects (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2481/12]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that accommodation briefs for the two schools referred to by the Deputy have been completed. The appropriate method for delivery of these projects is being considered and final decisions will be communicated to the school authorities in the near future.

Services for People with Disabilities

Michael McCarthy

Question:

189 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the sources of funding available from him to assist in the training of persons with learning, physical and sensory, or mental health disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2550/12]

FÁS contracts with Specialist Training Providers (STPs) country-wide to deliver training programmes to people with disabilities. A total of 2,110 training places are available annually. FÁS also encourages all people with disabilities to avail of and participate in its broad range of mainline training options. In addition, the European Social Fund-supported Third Level Access Measure provides support for students with disabilities. The fund, known as the Fund for Students with Disabilities or FSD, is managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of my Department. The FSD provides support to both Further and Higher Education institutions for the provision of services and supports for full-time students with disabilities. A total of €13.7m was approved to support 6,090 students through the Fund in 2010/11.

Teachers’ Remuneration

Jim Daly

Question:

190 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider adjusting the changes to teachers who qualify for the masters allowance to include persons who have invested in and are currently studying to achieve a masters degree; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2557/12]

The Government announced as part of Budget 2012 that, pending completion of the public service-wide review of allowances, changes to teacher qualification allowances were being made with immediate effect. These changes affect both existing teachers and new appointees in the future. The position of existing teachers who, on 5 December 2011, were undertaking courses will be considered in the context of the public service-wide review of allowances announced in Budget 2012 which is being led by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Question No. 191 answered with Question No. 176.

FÁS Training Programmes

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

192 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 167 of 14 September 2011, in view of the fact that FÁS was not required to pay certification fees to FETAC prior to April 2009, if FÁS still charged participants a fee for certification since the commencement of the construction skills certification scheme in 2002; if so, the use to which the funds raised were put; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2565/12]

Certification fees were charged by FÁS for the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) since 2002. In November 2010, FÁS agreed with FETAC to pay fees for all backdated CSCS certificates from April 2009 and for 2010. Fee payments for all certificates going forward were also agreed with FETAC. CSCS certification fees collected by FAS up until April 2009 were allocated as a contribution towards the high overall management, development, monitoring and staff costs associated with the running of the national programme for CSCS and in FÁS.

School Staffing

Seán Kyne

Question:

193 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the practice of recruiting substitute teachers to fill temporary vacancies of those employed to operate the oral examination components of the various language subjects at leaving certificate level can be reviewed with the aim of ensuring both experience gaining and employment opportunities are made available for young, graduate or jobseeking teachers. [2569/12]

Substitute vacancies, however they may arise, must be filled in accordance with agreed recruitment procedures. Circular 31/2011 issued in Summer 2011 and set down rules in this regard which are applicable to all appointments made on or after 1 September 2011. Schools are required to keep a list of those appropriately qualified registered teachers who inform the school that they are available for substitute teaching work. Teachers who are in receipt of an occupational pension must be excluded from this list, thereby prioritising unemployed teachers over those in receipt of a pension. Where the school wishes to source a teacher for short-term substitution duties then the above list or national services such as SubSearch or TextaSub should be utilised to source a registered teacher who is not in receipt of an occupational pension. Only where an appropriately qualified registered teacher who is not retired is unavailable should the school move to employ an appropriately qualified and registered retired teacher. The regulations seek to provide the greatest possible opportunity for unemployed and newly qualified teachers while safeguarding the policy of the Department which is that, to the greatest extent possible, only appropriately qualified and registered teachers should be employed in our schools.

Schools Building Projects

Willie Penrose

Question:

194 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a comprehensive report on the status of the application for a new school (details supplied) in an area in County Westmeath; if same will be now expedited in view of the urgency of the provision of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2612/12]

The provision of a new building for the school to which the Deputy refers necessitates the acquisition of a new site and a suitable site has been identified. My Department sought the assistance of Westmeath County Council in acquiring the site and requested that they commence negotiations, with the landowners, with a view to securing title to the lands and transferring these lands to me. I understand that discussions with the land owners did not result in agreement and that the Council has initiated a compulsory purchase order to acquire the lands. As part of the process, I understand that the land owners were served with the appropriate notices.

When the site is acquired, a project for the school will be considered within the context of my Department's Multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. In light of current competing demands on the capital budget of my Department and the demographic challenge facing the education system in the coming years, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time. The current status of all projects on the school building programme, including the school referred to by the Deputy, may be viewed on my Department's website at www.education.ie and this will be updated regularly throughout the year.

Willie Penrose

Question:

195 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress that has been made in respect of the planning and provision of a new school (details supplied) in an area in County Longford; if same will be now expedited in view of the urgency of the provision of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2613/12]

I can confirm that the school referred to by the Deputy submitted an application for capital funding for a new school. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale capital projects and the appropriate band rating has been assigned. The current status of all projects on the school building programme, including the school referred to by the Deputy, may be viewed on my Department's website at www.education.ie and this will be updated regularly throughout the year.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government's Medium Term Infrastructure and Capital Investment Framework, which was published on 10th November 2011, sets out the demographic challenge facing the education system in the coming years. In view of the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place, the delivery of major school projects and smaller projects devolved to schools to meet the demographic demands will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. On that basis, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of a project for the school at this time. I also wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has approved grant support to the school to facilitate re-location to the current site.

School Services Staff

Brendan Griffin

Question:

196 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding a caretaker position; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1982/12]

State Property

Terence Flanagan

Question:

197 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding property asset management (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2014/12]

While development of policy relating to management of State property is a function of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the delivery of the Property Asset Management section of the Public Service Reform Plan will be under the overall management of the Office of Public Works, subject to the assignment of specific responsibilities to public service property holders.

Departmental Bodies

Sean Fleming

Question:

198 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will list the number of public bodies under his auspices in which members of the board, employees, staff and other persons are required to complete forms under the ethics in public office rules, framework, regulations; and the number of persons required to complete these forms in respect of each public body under his Department and including his Department. [2080/12]

In the timeframe allowed, it has not been possible to collate the information requested. However, as soon as the information for my Department and bodies under my aegis has been collated, it will be forwarded to the Deputy directly.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

199 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the total cost of lump sums paid to staff and the number of staff involved who retired in 2011 in his Department and in respect of each organisation under his auspice; the total annual estimated pension costs associated with these persons in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2096/12]

In the time allowed, it has not been possible to collate the information in respect of each organisation under the auspices of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The details in respect of my Department are outlined in the following table:

Number of staff who retired in 2011

Total cost of lump sums

Estimated pension costs in 2012 (gross)

4

€510,277.60

€169,841

Departmental Reports

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

200 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will publish the new report drawn up by the central expenditure and evaluation unit. [2105/12]

All background documents to the 2011 Comprehensive Review of Expenditure, including analyses carried out by the Central Expenditure Evaluation Unit (CEEU) of my Department, were published on the Department's website, www.per.gov.ie, on 6 December 2011. The CEEU has not issued any further publications since that date.

Departmental Expenditure

Brendan Smith

Question:

201 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the total allocated budget for his Department in 2011; and the actual outturns in each of his Department subheads at the end of 2011. [2139/12]

The following table details the budget and provisional outturn figures for my Department in 2011:

Subhead

Budget 2011€ ’000

Provisional Outturn 2011€ ’000

Salaries, Wages and Allowances

21,573

19,548

Travel and Subsistence

262

119

Incidental Expenses

152

216

Postal and Telecommunications Services

75

71

Office Machinery and Other Office Supplies

555

611

Office Premises Expenses

0

7

Consultancy Services

7

5

Economic and Social Research Institute (Grant-in-Aid)

2,700

2,700

Structural Funds for Technical Assistance and Other Costs

905

789

Technical Assistance Costs of Regional Assemblies

740

657

Peace Programme/Northern Ireland INTERREG

4,040

3,573

Special EU Programmes Body

1,247

1,168

Ireland/Wales and Transnational Interreg

385

385

Procurement Management Reform

140

0

Consultancy Services

175

55

Institute of Public Administration (Grant-in-Aid)

3,000

3,000

Gaeleagras na Seirbhise Poibli

120

40

Civil Service Arbitration and Appeals Procedures

65

35

Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Service

1

0

Public Service Benchmarking Body

1

0

Committee for Performance Awards

1

0

Centre for Management and Organisation Development

1,530

1,105

Change Management Fund *

2,780

352

Civil Service Childcare Initiative

25

8

Referendum Commission 2011*

1

669

Gross Total

40,480

35,113

Appropriations-In-Aid

5,639

5,046

Net Total

34,841

30,067

*Supplementary Estimate of €1,000 September 2011 (€1.5m transferred from Change Management Fund to cover expenditure on this subhead).

Finian McGrath

Question:

202 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if it is correct that the Office of Public Works is paying €500,000 rent for empty office space. [2189/12]

The Office of Public Works (OPW) is in process of significantly reducing the annual cost of leased office accommodation. In the last two years, OPW has surrendered approximately seventy leases and has reduced the annual rent bill by €14m. Such a rationalisation process will inevitably create short term surpluses of space. The OPW currently leases 337 office buildings and, at present, three of these are unallocated.

The information on three buildings is set out in the following table:

Building

Rent Per Annum

Status

Westward Town Centre, Sligo, Co Sligo

€31,000.00

OPW will be surrendering this lease in 2012.

Phoenix House, Conyngham Road, Dublin 8

€365,000.00

OPW will be allocating space in Phoenix House in early 2012.

Irish Life Centre, Block 1, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1 (5th floor)

€215,000.00

OPW will be surrendering this lease in 2012.

As Westward Town Centre and Irish Life Centre Block 1 are surplus to requirements, it was not considered appropriate to incur the cost of refurbishment and moving other clients into these spaces. It should be noted that the cost of rent involved in these 3 buildings represents, of the order of, .006% of the rent associated with office buildings leased by OPW.

Flood Relief

Denis Naughten

Question:

203 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the steps being taken to address flood risks within the Shannon basin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2314/12]

As advised in my rely to the Deputy's previous questions in this matter the assessment and management of flood risk on the River Shannon and all the national river catchments is being addressed through the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme, which is scheduled to continue until the end of 2015. Details of this programme are available on www.cfram.ie and specific updates on the River Shannon CFRAM are available on www.shannoncframstudy.ie

Public Service Staff

Brendan Ryan

Question:

204 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of retired civil or public servants who returned to work in their Departments or semi-State agencies on a short-term or consultancy basis in 2011; the cost to the Exchequer of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2467/12]

Data for the wider Civil and Public Service for retirees re-engaged on a short-term basis is not held centrally. In the time allowed, it has not been possible to collate the information requested. However, as soon as the information for the bodies under my aegis has been collated, it will be forwarded to the Deputy directly.

Brendan Ryan

Question:

205 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to end the practice of civil or public servants who took the early retirement package under the Croke Park agreement returning to work in their previous Departments on a short-term or consultancy basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2468/12]

There is no prohibition on civil or public servants who have retired under normal circumstances from applying for a publicly advertised public service post for which they are suitably qualified. However, restrictions on further public service appointments apply to staff who opted for early retirement under the Incentivised Scheme for Early Retirement (ISER) as set out in Department of Finance Circular 12/09 (applying to Civil Service) and the Department of Health Circular 7/2010 of 1 November 2010 (applying to the Health Service Executive). From time to time, retired public servants are engaged by Departments for specific tasks or assignments. Such engagements are normally remunerated on a fee basis and provision exists for fees to be abated, where appropriate, by reference to pension payments.

Pension Provisions

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

206 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will define in detail a public service body in the context of existing and the new single scheme public service pension schemes legislation. [2490/12]

The terms of the proposed single public service pension scheme are set out in the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme) and Remuneration Bill 2011, which was published last September. The Bill defines public service body as comprising the Civil Service, the Garda Síochána, the Permanent Defence Force, local authorities, the Health Service Executive, the Central Bank of Ireland (subject to the agreement of the Governor of that Bank), educational institutions, the non-commercial State bodies where a public service pension scheme exists or applies or may be made, and any other publicly funded body where a public service pension scheme exists or applies or may be made.

The definition is set out in full in section 5 of the Single Scheme Bill. This definition from the Single Scheme Bill is substantially the same as has been used in recent public service pension legislation, including the Public Service Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004, which increased new-joiner pension age by five years, the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009, which introduced the public service pension-related deduction, and the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2010 which introduced the Public Service Pension Reduction. Commercial State bodies are not included in the definition of public service body for the purposes of public service pensions legislation. These excluded bodies are listed in the Schedule to the Single Scheme Bill.

Freedom of Information

Seán Kyne

Question:

207 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if consideration will be given to amending section 46(1) of the Freedom of Information Acts in order to make available to the public, records created by participants in judicial proceedings on matters of public importance such as a road development for example. [2610/12]

Section 46(1) of the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003 provides that the Act does not apply to records relating to the proceedings in a court of law. I do not intend to amend the Act in this regard as to do so would interfere with and impact adversely on the independent role and functions of the Courts.

Trade Relations

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

208 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the extent to which trade has increased between Ireland and the EU and the worldwide community in each of the past three years to date in 2012; the degree to which future potential in this regard has been identified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2606/12]

Details of Ireland's trade with both the group of 26 other EU Member States and with all countries of the world, are given in the following tables. Data is available up to Quarter 3 of 2011.

With regard to future potential for trade development, a Strategy and Action Plan for Irish Trade, Tourism and Investment, entitled Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy, a Strategy and Action Plan for Irish Trade, Tourism and Investment to 2015, was developed by this Department in late 2010 and is currently being implemented. This strategy has set a number of ambitious targets to be achieved by 2015 and its overall objective is to marshal and coordinate the resources of the State in a way that best supports firms, of all sizes, in all parts of the country, which are trying to trade and grow their business overseas. Implementation of that Strategy will result in the sustained, concentrated and coordinated efforts of all the key Government Departments and agencies, including our embassies and consulates abroad, in support of Irish companies in overseas markets. The strategy presents a suite of actions for building on existing strengths and driving trade relations in existing as well as new and emerging economies. Implementation of the Strategy is driven by the new Export Trade Council, which has broad —ranging representation from key players in both the public and private sectors.

Ireland's trade with other EU countries

Year

Exports (€m)

Imports (€m)

Merchandise

Services*

Total*

Merchandise

Services*

Total*

2008

53,787

44,308

98,095

36,178

39,198

75,376

2009

51,267

42,375

93,642

26,349

37,974

64,323

Change over previous Year

-4.69%

-4.36%

-4.54%

-27.17%

-3.12%

-14.66%

2010

51,544

45,600

97,144

27,417

41,157

68,574

Change over previous Year

+0.54%

+7.61%

+3.74%

+4.05%

+8.38%

+6.61%

Jan-Sep 2010

38,783

33,536

72,319

20,073

29,946

50,019

Jan-Sep 2011

40,211

35,335

75,546

22,507

30,305

52,812

Change over previous Jan-Sep

+3.68%

+5.36%

+4.5%

+12.1%

+1.2%

+5.58%

* It should be noted that some Services trade statistics are suppressed by the Central Statistics Office for confidentiality reasons and therefore are not included in the totals above. These suppressed figures are likely to be quite low, with minimal impact on the totals shown. The following are the countries where services statistics have been suppressed and which impact on the table above —Bulgaria 2008 Imports and 2009 Exports, Cyprus 2008, 2009 and 2010 Exports, Greece 2009 Exports and Imports, Latvia 2008 Imports, Lithuania 2008 Exports, Malta 2008/2009 and 2010 Imports and 2010 Exports, Romania 2008 Imports, Slovenia 2010 Exports and Imports.

Ireland's worldwide trade.

Year

Exports (€m)

Imports (€m)

Merchandise

Services

Total

Merchandise

Services

Total

2008

86,394

67,947

154,341

57,585

75,617

133,202

2009

84,238

67,134

151,372

45,061

75,186

120,247

Change over previous Year

-2.50%

-1.20%

-1.92%

-21.75%

-0.57%

-9.73%

2010

89,193

73,837

163,030

45,764

80,931

126,695

Change over previous Year

+5.88%

+9.98%

+7.70%

+1.56%

7.64%

+5.36%

Jan-Sep 2010

66,638

54,065

120,703

33,989

59,071

93,060

Jan-Sep 2011

69,425

57,864.

127,289

36,185

60,485

96,670

Change over previous Jan-Sep

+4.18%

+7.03%

+5.46%

+6.46%

+2.39%

+3.88%

Job Creation

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

209 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the cost per net job supported by Industrial Development Agency Ireland in the years 2009 to 2011, inclusive. [1873/12]

The cost per job supported by IDA Ireland for 2009 and 2010, as published in IDA's 2010 Annual Report which is available on its web-site, is set out in the table at appendix 1. I am informed that information relating to 2011 will be included in the Agency's 2011 Annual Report which will be published later this year.

Appendix 1

IDA Cost Per Job Sustained Constant 2010 Prices

Year

1995-2001

1996-2002

1997-2003

1998-2004

1999-2005

2000-2006

2001-2007

2002-2008

2003-2009

2004-2010

€16,304

€18,525

€18,210

€16,165

€14,219

€12,903

€12,899

€12,495

€14,159

€14,287

Source: Forfás Annual Employment Survey 2010.

Note: The cost per job sustained is calculated by taking into account all IDA Ireland expenditure to all firms in the period of calculation. Only jobs created during and sustained to the end of each seven year period are credited in the calculations.

Job Losses

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

210 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of jobs lost in Industrial Development Agency Ireland-supported companies in the years 2009 to 2011, inclusive. [1874/12]

The total number of new jobs created and jobs lost in IDA supported companies in 2009, 2010 and 2011 is set out in the following tabular statement:

Year

2009

2010

2011

Number of Companies

1,019

1,014

1,004

Permanent Employment

126,415

125,855

130,499

New Jobs

5,239

9,075

11,594

Net Change in Other Jobs

-1,671

2,149

1,474

Job Losses

17,911

9,635

6,950

Total Net Change in Employment

-14,343

+1,589

+6,118

Job Creation

Brendan Griffin

Question:

211 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if his attention has been drawn to the job losses that have occurred in recent years; if he will put in place a plan dedicated to rejuvenate the labour intensive pub trade; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1957/12]

As Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, I am acutely aware of the number of jobs lost in recent years and I fully appreciate the impact of these job losses, not just on the employees concerned and their families, but also on the wider community. Therefore, job creation is at the top of the Government's agenda. Since coming into office, we have been working hard to create the improved economic conditions which will support the maintenance of existing jobs and the creation of new ones. The Governments objective is to put the country back on the road to economic recovery and full employment.

The Jobs Initiative, announced on 10 May 2011, concentrated on the measures that offered the greatest potential for expansion and employment creation in the domestic economy. The Initiative had a significant focus on tourism and the reduction in the VAT Rate has helped provide an important stimulus to the sector generally. This has undoubtedly benefited the wider tourism industry including the hospitality and drinks sector to which the Deputy refers.

Work is also continuing on the Government's Action Plan for Jobs which will set out a series of clear, actionable measures to support the creation and retention of jobs. The Strategy will focus on areas such as:

improving competitiveness and intensifying competition in sheltered sectors;

assisting indigenous business to grow;

supporting indigenous start-ups;

attracting inward entrepreneurial start-ups;

developing and deepening the impact of Foreign Direct Investment;

exploiting opportunities in new and emerging sectors; and

supporting employment initiatives within the community.

I am confident that the measures outlined in the Action Plan for Jobs, together with the policies and initiatives being pursued by the Industrial Development agencies and the County and City Enterprise Boards, will create the employment opportunities necessary for national recovery.

Finian McGrath

Question:

212 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the position regarding job creation in Dublin North Central in 2012 and the supports for small businesses. [1988/12]

Job creation is at the top of the Government's agenda. Since coming into office, the Government have focused on improving economic conditions to support the maintenance of existing jobs and the creation of new ones. Our objective is to put the country back on the road to economic recovery and full employment.

The Jobs Initiative, announced on 10 May 2011, concentrated on the measures that offered the greatest potential for expansion and employment creation in the domestic economy. The Initiative had a significant focus on tourism and the reduction in the VAT Rate has helped provide an important stimulus to the sector generally.

Work is also continuing on the Government's Action Plan for Jobs which will set out a series of clear, actionable measures to support the creation and retention of jobs. The Strategy will focus on areas such as:

improving competitiveness and intensifying competition in sheltered sectors;

assisting indigenous business to grow;

supporting indigenous start-ups;

attracting inward entrepreneurial start-ups;

developing and deepening the impact of Foreign Direct Investment;

exploiting opportunities in new and emerging sectors; and

supporting employment initiatives within the community.

The Enterprise Development agencies which fall within the remit of my Department, together with the County and City Enterprise Boards, have continued to provide a wide range of supports, both financial and non-financial to companies in Dublin City, which includes Dublin North Central, and the country generally.

Enterprise Ireland is actively promoting entrepreneurship in Dublin City and provides a range of enterprise programmes and other initiatives to ensure that emerging technologies and business ideas with export potential are supported to become a commercial reality. There are currently 1,049 Enterprise Ireland client companies in Dublin City, employing almost 27,000 people. In 2011, Enterprise Ireland paid out €21.5m in funding to client companies in Dublin City. IDA Ireland's strategy for Dublin is to: Progress the development of a knowledge economy in order that the region can compete both nationally and internationally for foreign direct investment and to work with the existing client base in Dublin to encourage them to expand and diversify into higher value added good and services.

In 2011, there were nearly 500 IDA client companies, employing almost 52,000 people located in the Dublin City area.

Throughout 2011, Dublin City Enterprise Board and Fingal County Enterprise Board continued to support enterprise development and job creation throughout the north side of Dublin, through the provision of both direct and indirect assistance and will continue to ensure that available funds are targeted to maximise these objectives in 2012. The latest figures available indicate that these two Boards support over 113 companies that employ almost 4,000 people. I am confident that the measures outlined in the Action Plan for Jobs, together with the policies and initiatives being pursued by the Industrial Development agencies and the County and City Enterprise Boards, will create the employment opportunities necessary for national recovery.

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

213 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the plans that are in place for the north east region to benefit from the 4% increase in Enterprise Ireland’s capital budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2060/12]

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

214 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the plans that are in place for County Meath to benefit from the 4% increase in Enterprise Ireland’s capital budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2061/12]

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

220 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the plans in place in respect of counties Sligo and Leitrim to benefit from the 4% increase in Enterprise Ireland’s capital budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2295/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 213, 214 and 220 together.

Job creation is at the top of the Government's agenda. Since coming into office, the Government have focused on improving economic conditions to support the maintenance of existing jobs and the creation of new ones. Our objective is to put the country back on the road to economic recovery and full employment.

The Jobs Initiative, announced on 10 May 2011, focuses our limited resources on measures that offer the greatest potential for expansion and employment creation in the domestic economy. The Initiative had a significant focus on tourism and the reduction in the VAT Rate has helped provide an important stimulus to tourism generally.

Work is also continuing on the Government's Action Plan for Jobs which will set out a series of clear, actionable measures to support the creation and retention of jobs. The Strategy will focus on areas such as:

improving competitiveness and intensifying competition in sheltered sectors;

assisting indigenous business to grow;

supporting indigenous start-ups;

attracting inward entrepreneurial start-ups;

developing and deepening the impact of Foreign Direct Investment;

exploiting opportunities in new and emerging sectors; and

supporting employment initiatives within the community.

The importance this Government attaches to job creation and economic recovery is underpinned by the increase of 4%, at a time of declining resources, in the Capital Budget for Enterprise Ireland.

There are currently almost 400 Enterprise Ireland client companies in the north east region (counties Louth, Cavan and Monaghan) employing just over 13,000 people on a full time basis. In 2011, Enterprise Ireland paid out almost €6.8m in funding to clients in the region.

There are 172 Enterprise Ireland clients in Co. Meath employing 4,329 people full-time. Companies received €5.8m in payments in 2011.

In Co. Sligo there are 82 Enterprise Ireland clients employing 1,314 people full-time and companies received €1.03m in payments in 2011, while in Co. Leitrim there are 44 client companies employing 539 people and funding in 2011 of more than €284,000.

Enterprise Ireland, along with the other development agencies under my remit, will continue to provide a wide range of supports, both financial and non-financial to companies in these counties. The increase in capital allocation across all counties will provide Enterprise Ireland with significant resources to further support the development of Irish enterprise, and will allow the agency to continue with current levels of spending on job creation measures.

Departmental Bodies

Sean Fleming

Question:

215 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will list the number of public bodies under his auspice in which members of the board, employees, staff and other persons are required to complete forms under the ethics in public office rules, framework, regulations; and the number of persons required to complete these forms in respect of each public body under his Department and including his Department. [2078/12]

The public bodies under the auspices of my Department that are prescribed under the Ethics in Public Office Acts, 1995 and 2001 are listed in Statutory Instrument No. 707 of 2011, Ethics in Public Office (Prescribed Public Bodies, Designated Directorships of Public Bodies and Designated Positions in Public Bodies) (Amendment) Regulations, 2011.

Table 1 lists the sixty-four public bodies under the auspices of my Department that are prescribed under the Ethics in Public Office Acts. The Table also lists the Designated Directors and Designated Positions of Employment which are subject to the Ethics legislation. In addition any staff member whose maximum salary is not less than the maximum salary of a Principal Officer (General Service Grade, Class B PRSI) in the Civil Service (currently €92,672) is subject to the Ethics legislation.

The requirement to complete a written statement of interests in relation to a person, who is subject to the Ethics legislation including for his/her spouse or civil partner or child of the person or of his or her spouse, only applies where there is an interest to be disclosed. Any such written statements of the Designated Directors or those who occupy Designated Positions of Employment in the public bodies listed in Table 1 are retained in the public body concerned and, in the case of the Designated Directors, are also provided to and retained by the Standards in Public Office Commission. Consequently, my Department does not have statistics on the number of persons who are required to complete a written statement in each public body. In relation to my Department, Table 2 lists the Designated Positions of Employment that are prescribed in Statutory Instrument No. 644 of 2011Ethics in Public Office (Designated Positions in Public Bodies) (Amendment) Regulations 2011, and it also includes any position of employment which is remunerated at a maximum salary that is not less than the maximum salary of a Principal Officer (General Service Grade, Class B PRSI, currently €92,672). There are currently some 112 persons in positions of employment in my Department and its Offices that are designated under the Ethics in Public Office Acts.

Table 1:- Public Bodies under the auspices of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Public Body

Designated Directorships

Designated Positions of Employment

1.

Advisory Board to the National Employment Rights Authority

Chair of the Board Members of the Board

2.

Competition Authority

ChairpersonMembers of the Authority

SecretaryDivisional ManagersLegal Advisers

3.

35 City and County Enterprise Boards

Chairpersons of each BoardBoard Members

Chief Executive Officer of each BoardCompany Secretary

4.

Crafts Council of Ireland

Members of the Board

Chief Executive OfficerCompany SecretaryProgramme Managers Communications Manager

5.

Enterprise Ireland

Members of the Board

Secretary to the BoardAll staff at Level F or higher

6.

Forfás

Members of the Board

Secretary of ForfásManager of Facilities Department (Level E)All Staff at Level F and above

7.

Health and Safety Authority

Chairman of the Authority Members of the Authority

Secretary

8.

Health and Safety Authority Advisory Committees:(i) Construction Advisory Committee(ii) Farm Safety Partnership Advisory Committee(iii) Technical and Scientific Advisory Committee

All Advisory committees:ChairMembers

9.

Irish National Accreditation Board

Members of the Board

10.

Irish Takeover Panel

Board of the Panel

Director GeneralExecutive Member

11.

Industrial Development Agency (Ireland)

Members of the Board

Secretary to the BoardLevel F posts and aboveLevel E Section management posts in the Property Division

12.

Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority

ChairpersonDirector

Chief ExecutiveCompany SecretaryFinance ManagerHead of Financial Reporting Supervision UnitHead of Regulatory and Monitoring Supervision Unit

13.

Labour Relations Commission

Members of the Board

Rights CommissionersChief ExecutiveSecretary to the CommissionSenior Advisory OfficerStrategy and Standards Director of ConciliationDeputy Director of Conciliation

14.

National Competitiveness Council

Members of the Council

15.

National Consumer Agency

ChairpersonMembers of the Board ChiefExecutive Officer

All Assistant Principal Grades or equivalents.

16.

National Standards Authority of Ireland

Members of the Board

Secretary to the BoardLevel PSO / F and higher posts Level E posts in Finance; PR and HRProcurement Officer

17.

NSAI subsidiary:National Standards Authority of Ireland Incorporated

Board Members

18.

Patents Agents Board

ChairMembers of the Board

19.

Personal Injuries Assessment Board

Members of the Board

Chief ExecutiveOfficer Director grade postsAll Manager posts

20.

Science Foundation Ireland

Members of the Board

Director General.Chief Operations Officer.Director of Information, Communications and Emergent Technologies.Director of Life Sciences. Scientific Programme Managers. Accounting Manager. Manager of PR and Communications. Manager Secretariat.Grants Administration Manager. Finance Manager. IT Manager. Business Analyst. Associate Scientific Programme Officers. Positions at Level F or higher grades. Head of Audit and Compliance.

21.

Shannon Free Airport Development Company Limited

Members of the Board

Company SecretaryPositions at E3A or higher

22.

Shannon Free Airport Development Company Limited subsidiaries:(i) Kilrush Creek Marina Limited(ii) The National Technological Park Plassey Limited(iii) Shannon Castle Banquets & Heritage Limited

All subsidiaries:Members of the Board of Directors

Kilrush Creek Marina Limited:Company SecretaryThe National Technological Park Plassey Limited:Company Secretary. Shannon Castle Banquets and Heritage Limited:Chief Executive Officer Company Secretary. Senior Managers

23.

Trade Mark Agents Board

ChairMembers of the Board

24.

Small Business Advisory Group

Ordinary Members of the Group

25.

Cloud ComputingImplementation Group

Members of the Group

26.

High Level Group on Business Regulation

Ordinary Members of the Group

Assistant Principal acting as Secretary to the Group

Table 2:- Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation — Designated Positions of Employment under the Ethics in Public Office Acts, 1995 and 2001

Secretary General

All Assistant Secretary and Equivalents posts

All Principal Officer and Equivalent Posts

Special Advisers

Office of Science and Technology — Assistant Principal, Research, Technology and Innovation Committee — Assistant Principal, Industrial Research and Commercialisation Committee

Personnel, Training and Development Unit — Assistant Principal, HR Policy, Training and Development — Assistant Principal, Personnel — Higher Executive Officer, Training and Development

Management Support Unit — Departmental Legal Advisor

Tax Policy Unit — Accountant Grade I / Tax Policy Specialist

Finance Unit — Accountant, Grade I

Information Technology Unit — Assistant Principal and equivalent posts — Higher Executive Officer/Administrative Officer posts

Market Access Unit — Assistant Principal who is head of Import/Export Licensing Unit

Internal Audit Unit — Assistant Principal and equivalent posts — Higher Executive Officer and equivalent posts

Business Services Unit — Assistant Principal posts — Higher Executive Officer posts— Executive Officer posts engaged in the recommending or approving of contracts or in the processing of tenders

Companies Registration Office— Registrar of Companies— Assistant Registrar of Companies— Higher Executive Officer, Information and Training Unit— Higher Executive Officer, Publications Section— Higher Executive Office, Information Technology Unit

Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement— Director of Corporate Enforcement— Solicitor— Assistant Principal, Corporate Services Division— Higher Executive Officer, Corporate Services Division

Office of the Registrar of Friendly Societies— Registrar of Friendly Societies— Assistant Principal

Patents Office— Controller of Patents, Designs and Trademarks— Senior Examiner of Patents, Patents Office— Examiner of Patents, Patents Office— Assistant Principal, Trade Marks Branch, Patents Office— Assistant Principal, Patents Administration, General Administration and Copyright

National Employment Rights Authority— Solicitor— Assistant Principal, Regional Manager Sligo, Corporate and Legal— Assistant Principal, Regional Manager Dublin and Shannon— Assistant Principal, Regional Manager Carlow and Information Services— Assistant Principal, Regional Manager Cork

Labour Court— Chairman— Deputy Chairpersons— Ordinary Members— Registrar of the Labour Court— Administration Manager— Higher Executive Officer, Secretariat and Support Services Section

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

216 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the total cost of lump sums paid to staff and the number of staff involved who retired in 2011 in his department and in respect of each organisation under his auspice; the total annual estimated pension costs associated with these persons in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2094/12]

In 2011, 23 staff members retired from my Department. The total cost of the lump sums paid to these staff was €2,113,273.79. The cost of their pensions for 2012 is estimated at €698,598.53.

In relation of the agencies under the aegis of my Department, I have referred the matter to the Agencies for direct reply to the Deputy.

Work Permits

Michael McGrath

Question:

217 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the position regarding an employment permit appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [2113/12]

My Department processes applications in respect of the different types of employment permits and all applications are processed in line with the Employment Permits Act 2006.

I wish to advise the Deputy that this Work Permit application was refused on 28 September 2011 on the grounds that it is current Government policy to issue new employment permits only in respect of:

highly skilled, highly paid positions or;

non-EEA nationals who are already legally resident in the State on valid employment permits or;

positions requiring specialist or scarce skills, expertise or qualifications which cannot be filled elsewhere.

Furthermore, it appeared from the information submitted that the position on offer was an administrative position, and all administrative positions are one of the occupational categories currently ineligible for a new employment permit. Having examined the appeal, the Appeals Officer upheld the original refusal decision in this case on the 16th January 2012.

Departmental Expenditure

Brendan Smith

Question:

218 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the total allocated budget for his Department in 2011; and the actual outturns in each of his Department subheads at the end of 2011. [2137/12]

Details are provided on the table below of the total allocated budget for each subhead for my Department in 2011. The 2011 outturn figures are provisional and will not be finalised until the Appropriation Account for 2011 is completed.

Subhead

Description

2011 Allocation€000’s

2011 Provisional Outturn€000’s

Administration

A.1

Salaries

27,564

28,147

A.2

Travel & Subsistence

1,033

812

A.3

Training and Development and Incidental Expenses

846

615

A.4

Postal & Telecommunications

863

823

A.5

Office Equipment & External IT Services

4,256

3,419

A.6

Office Premises

1,169

1,062

A.7

Consultancy Services & VFM & Policy Reviews

210

139

A.8

Advertising & Publicity

282

154

A.9

Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement

5,967

3,397

A.10

Labour Court

2,695

2,441

A.11

National Employment Rights Authority

6,946

6,638

Total Admin Expenditure

51,831

47,647

Programme Expenditure

B.1

Forfas — Administration & General Expenses

42,877

34,683

B.2

Forfas — Pension Payments

14,417

9,777

B.3

Intertrade Ireland

8,041

6,637

C.1

IDA Ireland — Administration & General Expenses

38,577

37,377

C.2

IDA — Grant to Industry

85,000

85,000

C.3

IDA — Building Operations

1,000

11,000

D.1

Enterprise Ireland- Administration & General Expenses

84,300

80,600

D.2

Enterprise Ireland — Grant to Industry

78,923

54,800

D.3

Enterprise Ireland — Grant for Capital Expenditure

1,000

1,000

E.1

Shannon Free Airport Development Company Ltd — Admin & General Expenses

2

E.2

Shannon Free Airport Development Company Ltd — Grants to Industry

3,600

5,600

E.3

Shannon Free Airport Development Company Ltd — Pension Payments

3,516

2,751

F.1

Science and Technology Development Programme

320,670

302,659

F.2

Dublin — City of Science

832

932

F.3

Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI)

55,563

57,856

G

County Enterprise Development

27,242

29,958

H.1

Monitoring & Evaluation of EU Programmes

89

16

H.2

INTERREG Enterprise Development

2,000

1,512

I

National Standards Authority of Ireland — Admin & General Expenses

6,836

6,336

L

Enterprise Ireland — Temporary Employment Subsidy Scheme

4,250

4,250

N

Labour Relations Commission

5,359

4,958

O.1

Grants for Trade Union Education

874

874

O.2

Work Place Innovation Fund Promotion Of Partnership

296

255

P

Trade Union Amalgamations

10

Q

Competition Authority

5,116

3,621

R.1

National Consumer Agency

6,366

5,499

R.2

NCA — Grant for Financial Information and Education Functions

2,000

1,622

R.3

Consumers Support

50

S.1

Companies Registration Office

7,428

7,457

S.2

Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority

1,598

1,442

S.3

Personal Injuries Assessment Board

58

55

T

Health and Safety Authority

20,556

19,828

U

Research

168

1

V

Framework for Family Friendly Policies

2

2

W

Subscriptions to International Organisations

17,184

17,855

X.1

Commissions, Committees & Special Inquiries

425

204

X.2

Miscellaneous Payments

1,647

78

X.3

Superannuation & Pensions for members of Labour Court & Restrictive Practices Commission

758

587

X.4

Export Credit Insurance

8

7

Total Programme Expenditure

848,638

797,089

Admin & Programme Gross

900,469

844,736

Y

Appropriations in Aid

55,629

53,683

Vote 34 Net Total Expenditure

844,840

791,053

Departmental Agencies

Tom Fleming

Question:

219 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will direct Enterprise Ireland and the Industrial Development Agency to set up an office in County Kerry with a full-time official who will act as the co-ordinator for attracting foreign direct investment into the county and who will also interact with all entrepreneurs in County Kerry, the county enterprise board and the partnership organisations in County Kerry. [2202/12]

The management and location of Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland staff is a day to day operational matter for the agencies and not one in which I have a direct role.

Enterprise Ireland currently has a full time office in Denny Street, Tralee with five full-time staff employed and meets regularly with entrepreneurs in Kerry to discuss their business proposals and to assist them in developing their business plans. Enterprise Ireland has a strong working relationship with the Kerry County Enterprise Board, the Partnership Companies, the County Development Boards, Shannon Development etc. and is represented on the following committees:

South Kerry Development Partnership (SKDP) / LEADER

SKDP Projects Assessment Committee

North & East Kerry Development (NEKD)/LEADER

Killarney Technology Innovation Centre (KTI)

Kerry County Enterprise Board

Kerry County Enterprise Board — Evaluation Committee

Kerry County Development Board

Kerry Enterprise Action Team (KEAT)

Tom Crean Business Centre

Institute of Technology Tralee, Governing Body

Tralee Task Force.

IDA Ireland's offices around the country operate on a regional rather than a local basis. Kerry comes within the scope of IDA Ireland's South West Regional office, located in Cork, where Kerry as a County is actively marketed as a location for FDI. IDA Ireland has no plans to open an office in Kerry. I am confident that the policies and initiatives being pursued by the Industrial Development agencies and Kerry County Enterprise Board will continue to attract employment and investment opportunities for Co. Kerry.

Question No. 220 answered with Question No. 213.

Job Protection

Denis Naughten

Question:

221 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the steps he is taking to secure jobs at a location (details supplied) in County Leitrim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2315/12]

As stated previously, my priority is that any decision taken by Bank of America will have minimal impact on employees at the Carrick on Shannon operation and ensure that jobs are maintained at the facility. The process regarding the sale of Bank of America's Irish and UK credit card businesses is ongoing.

There is considerable interest in both the MBNA Ireland portfolio and the MBNA UK portfolio, which will almost certainly be sold separately. Negotiations regarding the sale of the MBNA Ireland portfolio have continued to advance in recent weeks.

IDA has met the relevant parties, is monitoring the situation closely and is providing relevant input into the process as it moves forward. IDA is in regular contact with local Bank of America management in Carrick on Shannon and Dublin and at corporate level to monitor developments.

Separate to the above, IDA has been and continues to market Carrick on Shannon and the Bank of America MBNA capability there to other potential investors, should the above negotiations fail to lead to a positive outcome.

This has included creating a detailed profile/factfile in conjunction with Bank of America MBNA management to highlight the skillset, experience and facility in Carrick on Shannon. This profile is being used by IDA's international network of offices to market both the centre itself and the location.

Redundancy Payments

Robert Dowds

Question:

222 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his views that the treatment of workers (details supplied) who were told that they were to be made redundant with immediate effect on 10 January 2012 was appropriate; if it was just; the action he will take to intervene in the situation to ensure that the workers are paid everything to which they are entitled. [2414/12]

I am aware that a settlement to the satisfaction of the parties to the La Senza dispute has finally been agreed. It is regrettable that it seemed to be necessary for the workers to take the actions they did in order to safeguard the payment of their legal entitlements.

Had established procedures been followed by the employer side, the closure and consequent redundancies could have been handled in a manner which at least gave employees confidence of getting their entitlements without having to resort to the need for action.

Question No. 223 withdrawn.

Sean Fleming

Question:

224 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of redundancies notified to him on a month by month basis in 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2432/12]

The number of redundancy applications received in my Department on a month by month basis in 2011 is as follows:

Year

2009

January

4,846

February

3,089

March

5,349

April

3,725

May

4,102

June

3,669

July

4,703

August

3,828

September

3,367

October

2,265

November

3,969

December

6,850

Total

49,762

Sean Fleming

Question:

225 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of redundancies notified to him between the 6 December 2011 and the 31 December 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2434/12]

The number of redundancy applications (rebate and lump sum) received in my Department between 6 December 2011 and 31 December 2011 was 5,962.

Money Advice and Budgeting Service

Seán Kyne

Question:

226 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Social Protection if the role of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service will be enhanced with corresponding additional resources for assisting over indebted citizens in view of the preparation of the reformed personal insolvency legislation. [2588/12]

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) assists people who are over-indebted and need help and advice in coping with debt problems.

The Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008 provided for the transfer of responsibility for MABS to the Citizens Information Board (CIB), under the aegis of my Department, in July 2009 in order to provide strong management and other supports to the local voluntary MABS companies in the provision of a high quality service to meet the needs of people encountering debt difficulties. The role of money advisers is to help clients to assess their financial situation, make a budget plan and deal with creditors.

In 2012 funding of some €18 million has been provided to support the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS). Sanction has recently been received from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for the retention of 12 temporary posts within the MABS network for a further two year period and I am satisfied that MABS will continue to provide a high quality personal service to assist people in overcoming their indebtedness and managing their finances.

The Dept of Finance has established a high level Steering Group to oversee and drive the overall implementation of the recommendations of the Inter-Departmental Mortgage Arrears Working Group and will report regularly to the EMC. My Department is represented on this group. The future contribution of MABS will be considered in line with commitments in the Programme for Government, recommendations contained in the reports of the Law Reform Commission on Personal Debt Management and Debt Enforcement, the Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt and the Inter-Departmental Mortgage Arrears Working Group.

The Minister for Justice and Equality and Defence has produced an initial General Scheme of a Personal Insolvency Bill, this is being finalised for consideration by Government this month before it is available for publication.

Social Welfare Appeals

Jim Daly

Question:

227 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a decision has not yet been made on an application for carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1870/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 23rd August 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 28th 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.

Question No. 228 withdrawn.

Redundancy Payments

John O'Mahony

Question:

229 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. [1881/12]

A redundancy lump sum claim in respect of the person concerned was received on 5 July 2011. Redundancy lump sum claims received in May 2011 are currently being processed.

Social Welfare Appeals

Brendan Griffin

Question:

230 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection when an appeal for disability allowance will be granted in view of new medical evidence in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1963/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 27th July 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 21st December 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.

Sandra McLellan

Question:

231 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite and approve an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1965/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 3rd December 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 6th January 2012 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.

Social Welfare Benefits

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

232 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to carry out a general review of rent supplement payments in March 2012 with a view to a possible increase of the individual contribution from residents in receipt of this supplement. [2022/12]

My Department has no plans to carry out a general review of rent supplement payments in March 2012.

Budget 2012 introduced changes to the rent supplement scheme. With effect from 1 January 2012 the minimum contribution payable by all tenants under the rent supplement scheme increased from €24 per week to €30 per week. In addition a higher rate minimum contribution of €35 per week was introduced for couples. This reflects the fact that couples have a higher income than one adult households.

New maximum rent limits also came into force on 1 January 2012. These new limits are in line with the most up to date market data available. The emphasis of the rent limit review was to ensure that value for money is achieved whilst at the same time ensuring that people on rent supplement are not priced out of the market for private rented accommodation.

Employment Support Services

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

233 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection the date on which the new pathways to work scheme will be operational. [2023/12]

Pathways to Work is a consolidated approach to the delivery of employment, welfare, and training/education services to unemployed people. Final arrangements are being made for its launch and I expect that it will be launched, as Government policy, shortly.

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

234 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection the career advice services available for university graduates in view of recent announcements on improvements to training, upskilling and employment services. [2024/12]

The Employment Service section of the Department of Social Protection (DSP) provides a range of services and supports to all Jobseekers. Clients can register at an Employment Service office, for on-site career guidance and job placement services.

The following is a brief outline of the range of services/supports available:

Guidance interview(s) with an Employment Services Officer to discuss employment opportunities, training courses, financial supports and other options which may lead to employment (an overview of the process is detailed at the at end of document).

Help with identifying transferable skills which may be used in various occupational settings.

A Jobseeker Pack which provides information on using the job search facility on the Jobs Ireland web site, information on how to: fill out an application form, prepare a CV and covering letter, prepare for a job interviews and a list of useful website addresses.

Online CV — Jobseekers can also input their CVs directly on the Jobs Ireland database. Employers can access these CVs through this database and contact the Jobseeker directly to arrange a meeting.

Employment Services has a number of Social inclusion programmes targeted for specific client groups who are facing difficulties in obtaining / maintaining employment, such as the wage subsidy scheme (WSS).

The National (Free-phone) Call Centre (1800 611116) is available for clients registered with the Employment Service, which provides readily accessible details on job vacancies.

Job Clubs are funded in locations around the country which provide supports to clients, with a view to assisting them to enter or return to employment in the shortest possible time.

The Employment Service web page links to the European Employment Services Network (EURES) job mobility network / database which provides access to job vacancies in 31 countries, as well as practical information such as necessary documentation for those seeking employment within Europe.

Regional job fairs and open days.

A key task of the Employment Service is to provide access to up-to-date and relevant information to jobseekers and employers in a customer friendly and professional manner. This includes the provision of, or access to, accurate information and advice on:—

Employment/job opportunities.

International Employment Services (Eures).

Training and education services.

Other labour market services.

Other appropriate services for Jobseekers, such as the Local Employment Service (LES).

Local networks of information within community organisations and State organisations and the development and maintenance of such networks etc.

Employment legislation.

Work permit guidelines.

Employment Services offices are equipped to cater for these information needs and operate as a resource centre providing access to all labour market opportunities. This Service includes the following publicly accessible resources:—

Touch screen kiosk facilities.

Self help guidance facilities including Career Directions (Database of Careers Information and Interest Inventory tool) and Qualifax.

Promotional literature on services.

Free-phone telephone service for FÁS registered clients on 1800 611 116 (Jobs Ireland).

Promotional literature on other relevant labour market services.

All of the above are carried out in an environment which features ease-of-access, customer friendliness and access to job displays, customer service desk, newspapers, free telephone, internet access, photocopying, PC use, printers and fax machines as appropriate.

(Note: In addition to the above the provision of the Local Employment Service Network (LESN), which operates in 24 designated areas of disadvantage, is supported by the Department under a contract arrangement with Local Development Companies. The LES provide a vocational / career guidance service to a number of client groups including those referred through the NEAP process by the Department) Overview of the Registration and Guidance Interview Process.

The model below provides a guide for the Employment Services Officer to structure the registration interview and manage the guidance process. Individual jobseekers' needs and circumstances, along with the time available for the guidance interview, dictate the pace of each interview. Depending on the needs of the jobseeker the amount of time spent on the different stages of the process will vary.

BASIC GUIDANCE INTERVIEW MODEL (Reference L. ALI & B. GRAHAM)

Introduction and Setting the Scene

It is important at the outset to introduce the jobseeker to the service and clarify the purpose of the registration and guidance interview. This includes establishing the role and commitment of both the Employment Services Officer and the jobseeker, and the time available to devote to the interview.

Building a Verbal Contract

The advantage of having a verbal contract in place is that both the jobseeker and the Employment Services Officer are clear about their expectations of each other. The time involved to get to this stage of the interview may vary from one jobseeker to another (if a jobseeker tends to raise other non-vocational issues, the Employment Services Officer has a structure to bring the jobseeker back to the key issue).

Information Gathering, Establishing/Identifying Needs

These phases are an essential part of the registration and guidance interview process and acts as a road map to help assess the jobseekers needs in order to develop an action plan. Using the jobseeker Registration Form, or the computerised printout, the jobseekers' educational, training and employment background is reviewed and clarified.

The jobseeker is encouraged to talk about his/her concerns regarding employment and to identify issues that are important. The Employment Services Officer helps the jobseeker focus on the important issues and how they might be handled, for example, lack of confidence, duration unemployed, barriers to employment, and outdated skills.

The Employment Services Officer summarises what the jobseeker is saying and prioritises the key issues to be worked on. These priorities may need to be changed from time to time.

Making an Initial Assessment

The Employment Services Officer paraphrases the jobseeker's story and determines:—

the extent of the jobseeker's decision making skills (consistency towards employment aim);

transferability of jobseeker's existing skills;

jobseeker's strengths and weaknesses;

jobseeker's career preferences.

(Assessment of current skills/interests may be done at this point, or by appointment — e.g. use of the Career Directions database/system).

Encouraging the Jobseeker to explore other options

The Employment Services Officer provides feedback on assessments/tests that may have taken place earlier in the process. This feedback broadens the range of options to be explored by the jobseeker.

Action Planning (Helping the Jobseeker to identify what needs to be done)

In order for the jobseeker to progress, the jobseeker needs to understand what the next step should be. To achieve this, Employment Services Officers assists jobseekers in constructing a programme of practical steps.

The Employment Services Officer also assists the jobseeker in breaking down major tasks into more achievable action points and helps him/her to explore suitable approaches i.e. training/educational programmes, work experience/work shadowing. It is important however that the jobseeker takes ownership of the action plan.

Depending on the outcome of earlier phases of the process, the jobseeker may not need further training/education and may be in a position to start searching for work. At this stage the Employment Services Officer assigns a coding (using a system of occupational classifications for coding jobseekers and vacancies — and experience level indicators) to the jobseeker's record indicating them as "Job Ready".

A Curriculum Vitae may be prepared based on information gathered at earlier interviews. Referral to a Job Club may also be appropriate.

Ending the interview process

Prior to ending the process, the Employment Services Officer will:

review with the jobseeker what has happened summarising the key points discussed and the decisions made about actions to be taken;

encourage the jobseeker to summarise what has been agreed;

This helps the jobseeker take ownership of what has happened and empower him/her to work independently towards finding employment. The jobseeker should show they have the following basic understandings:—

what actions are required to get a job;

what employers expect from employees.

Question No. 235 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Benefits

John Lyons

Question:

236 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and if she will expedite a decision on same. [2038/12]

I confirm that an application for carer's allowance was received from the person in question.

Her file has been referred to an investigative officer of this Department for further examination and confirmation that all conditions for receipt of carer's allowance are satisfied.

On completion of the necessary investigations relating to all aspect of her claim a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Social Welfare Code

Simon Harris

Question:

237 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection the projected savings that will be made by the budget 2012 decision to assess carer’s allowance as income for the purposes of the family income supplement; the number of families that will be affected by this decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2063/12]

In assessing weekly family income for the purposes of the family income supplement (FIS) the value of primary social welfare payments is taken into account when means are assessed. This Budget measure relating to the inclusion of carer's benefit or carer's allowance payments in the income assessment for FIS is designed to bring the treatment of carer's allowance and carer's benefit into line with how other primary social welfare payments are assessed. The measure also provides for a more consistent approach to the concurrent payment of FIS with other social welfare payments. Furthermore, the measure reduces a person's secondary payment (FIS) without affecting their primary payment, therefore targeting available scarce resources at those in most need.

From January 2012, for new applicants and upon renewal for existing claimants, income from carer's allowance and carer's benefit payments will be included in the (FIS) income assessment. The measure will be implemented on a phased basis over 3 years with 1/3 of the income from carer's allowance and carer's benefit payments assessed in 2012, 2/3 in 2013 and full assessment in 2014.

At the time of the Budget announcement, and based upon full assessment from the out-set of income from carer's allowance, the savings from this budget measure were estimated at €0.5 million in 2012 and €1.06 million in 2013 and 2014. The updated projection of savings from the phased introduction has not yet been finalised but I expect the figures to be available shortly.

Redundancy Payments

Gerry Adams

Question:

238 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Social Protection if a company (details supplied) in County Cork has been in touch with her regarding the payment of statutory redundancy to workers at the firm who are currently occupying the site; if the company aims to access the Department’s insolvency fund; if she or her Department have sought to view the company’s accounts to determine whether the company is in a position to pay the redundancy payments owed to the workers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2066/12]

An official from my Department contacted the company concerned to establish the position in relation to redundancy claims and to ensure that the workers of the company are in a position to access any redundancy payments to which they may be entitled. Redundancy payments are made from the Social Insurance Fund.

The company submitted 34 applications online on 22 December 2011 and hard copies / associated papers were received on 4 January 2012. The company have supplied documentary evidence, including company accounts and a letter from their auditors, in relation to their inability to pay the projected lump sum costs.

Departmental Bodies

Sean Fleming

Question:

239 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will list the number of public bodies under her auspice in which members of the board, employees, staff and other persons are required to complete forms under the ethics in public office rules, framework and regulations; and the number of persons required to complete these forms in respect of each public body under her Department and including her Department. [2081/12]

Under the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995, all civil servants, and public servants in prescribed public bodies, at Principal Officer level and above are required to make Annual Statement of Interest returns. In addition, board members of prescribed public bodies and certain less senior staff in prescribed ‘designated positions' in the civil service or prescribed public bodies, e.g. staff dealing with contracts or in commercially sensitive areas, are also required to make such returns.

The public bodies under the aegis of my Department that have such responsibilities are the Pensions Board and the Citizens Information Board.

The number of persons subject to these requirements in 2011 was:

The Pensions Board27

Citizens Information Board32

Department of Social Protection249

These figures for my Department do not take into account the merger of the former CWS staff and FAS staff with the Department. This will be reviewed in the current year and any further designations necessary action will be assigned.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

240 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection the total cost of lump sums paid to staff and the number of staff involved who retired in 2011 in her Department and in respect of each organisation under her auspice; the total annual estimated pension costs associated with these persons in 2012; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2097/12]

A total of 117 officers retired from my Department during 2011. The total amount of the lump sums paid to these officers in accordance with their entitlements was €6,394,810.88. The annual estimated gross pension costs associated with these persons in 2012 is €2,056,652.38, which does not include the Public Service Pension Reduction.

With regard to the agencies under the auspices of my Department, the Citizens Information Board had one retiree in 2011 who was paid a lump sum of €21,479.47. The gross pension cost associated with this person in 2012 is €5,421.00.

There were no retirements during 2011 in The Pensions Board.

Social Welfare Code

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

241 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding widow or widowers pensions (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2104/12]

The measure introduced in Budget 2012 will reduce the period of time from 12 months to 6 months for the backdating of a claim and will not allow for further proportionate backdating.

This measure is timely as I am satisfied that customers are more likely now than before to have had an attachment to the workforce thus ensuring more awareness of their entitlements arising from their social insurance contributions.

This, together with the Department's focus on provision of information to the public means that people are more aware of their entitlements and are more likely to apply on time.

Developments in the administration of pensions in recent years have also facilitated customers in making pension application in a timely manner and in some cases provide for automatic awards where the social insurance conditions are met.

Customers who establish an entitlement to a pension will get their full entitlement from the date of claim and there is provision for the backdating of the claim for a period up to six months before the date of claim.

There will be no provision for further backdating except in circumstances where the failure to claim arises as a result of incorrect information being supplied by the Department or where the delay in making a claim arises as a result of the claimant's incapacity by illness or infirmity.

I want to reassure the Deputy that customers who establish their entitlement to a Widow's pension will get their full entitlement from the date of application and/or backdated by a maximum of six months as appropriate.

Question No. 242 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Appeals

John McGuinness

Question:

243 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will arrange a review of the application and medical evidence submitted by a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [2125/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 14th January 2012. 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 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.

Departmental Expenditure

Brendan Smith

Question:

244 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Social Protection the total allocated budget for her Department in 2011; and the actual outturns in each of her Department subheads at the end of 2011. [2140/12]

The estimate of expenditure in 2011 for schemes, services and administration for the Department of Social Protection, amounts to €20.62 billion. At the end of 2011 provisional outturns for individual subheads, Social Insurance Fund income items, and Social Insurance Fund expenditure items are set out in the tables below. The outturn figures are provisional, pending final certification by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Vote 38: Department of Social Protection

2011 Estimate

2011 Provisional Outturn

€000

€000

ADMINISTRATION

A.1

SALARIES, WAGES AND ALLOWANCES

235,279

248,083

A.2

TRAVEL AND SUBSISTENCE

3,208

3,115

A.3

TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT AND INCIDENTAL EXPENSES

11,131

6,908

A.4

POSTAL AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES

21,080

18,761

A.5

OFFICE EQUIPMENT AND EXTERNAL IT SERVICES

27,061

26,387

A.6

OFFICE PREMISES EXPENSES

11,981

10,976

A.7

CONSULTANCY SERVICES AND VALUE FOR MONEY AND POLICY REVIEWS

1,360

800

A.8

PAYMENTS FOR AGENCY SERVICES

61,527

65,659

A.9

eGOVERNMENT RELATED PROJECTS

7,500

1,346

SOCIAL ASSISTANCE

B

STATE PENSION — (NON-CONTRIBUTORY)

951,150

983,246

C

BLIND PENSION

15,360

15,657

D

CHILD BENEFIT

2,066,780

2,076,771

E

JOBSEEKER’S ALLOWANCE

2,644,620

2,985,428

F

FARM ASSIST SCHEME

122,620

113,723

G

EMPLOYMENT SUPPORT SERVICES

355,430

344,532

H

PRE-RETIREMENT ALLOWANCE

62,350

59,941

I

ONE-PARENT FAMILY PAYMENT

1,111,710

1,088,940

J

WIDOWS’/ WIDOWERS’ / SURVIVING CIVIL PARTNER’S AND GUARDIAN’S RELATED PAYMENTS (NON-CONTRIBUTORY)

25,730

23,611

K

DESERTED WIFE’S ALLOWANCE

4,470

4,198

L

FAMILY INCOME SUPPLEMENT

199,260

204,338

M

CARER’S ALLOWANCE

499,020

503,733

N

SUPPLEMENTARY WELFARE ALLOWANCES

951,333

963,461

O

DISABILITY ALLOWANCE

1,066,220

1,089,157

P

RESPITE CARE GRANT

131,160

130,383

Q

FREE SCHEMES (ASSISTANCE)

395,028

398,060

R

SCHOOL MEALS SCHEMES

35,000

34,957

S

GRANT TO THE CITIZENS INFORMATION BOARD

46,640

45,114

T

DOMICILIARY CARE ALLOWANCE

104,235

99,971

U

RURAL SOCIAL SCHEME

46,140

46,873

V

COMMUNITY SERVICES PROGRAMME

47,415

45,317

W

FÁS EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMMES, INTEGRATION SUPPORT PROGRAMMES, ASSOCIATED ADMINISTRATION EXPENSES

477,497

468,095

X.

MISCELLANEOUS SERVICES

3,651

3,039

SOCIAL INSURANCE

Y

PAYMENT TO THE SOCIAL INSURANCE FUND UNDER SECTION 9(9) (a) OF THE SOCIAL WELFARE CONSOLIDATION ACT 2005

1,906,168

1,475,718

Appropiations-in-Aid

Z.

APPROPRIATIONS-IN-AID

221,702

226,008

Social Insurance Fund

2011 Estimate

2011 Provisional Outturn

€000

€000

INCOME

Income from Contributions

7,148,303

7,542,718

Income from Investments

0

1,360

Rent

19

19

Receipts (net) under Reciprocal Arrangements

49

0

EXPENDITURE

Illness Benefit

854,730

876,328

Invalidity Pension

628,149

607,538

Partial Capacity Benefit

1

0

Occupational Injuries Benefits

105,440

101,596

Maternity Benefit

303,520

309,086

Health and Safety Benefit

660

643

Adoptive Benefit

920

1,031

Treatment Benefits

23,430

23,045

State Pension (Contributory)

3,567,870

3,629,791

State Pension (Transition)

113,210

132,470

Jobseeker’s Benefit

1,027,060

929,185

Widows’, Widowers’ / Surviving Civil Partners’ Pension (Contributory)

1,304,210

1,341,675

Guardian’s Payment (Contributory)

10,670

11,507

Widowed Parent / Surviving Civil Partner Grant

5,520

6,228

Deserted Wife’s Benefit

88,650

85,991

Carer’s Benefit

28,200

26,761

Bereavement Grant

18,700

19,451

Free Schemes (Insurance)

294,181

311,582

Redundancy and Insolvency Payments

402,000

326,946

Administration

277,418

278,960

Social Welfare Appeals

Sandra McLellan

Question:

245 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will approve and process an appeal in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2152/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 6th January 2012. 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 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.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

246 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will be made in respect of an application for disability allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2174/12]

I confirm that the Department is in receipt of an application for disability allowance from the above named person. On completion of the necessary investigations on all aspects of the claim a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome. The average time taken to process a claim to completion, including assessment of the claimant's means, medical condition and habitual residence status is approximately 17 weeks.

Social Welfare Appeals

Michael McGrath

Question:

247 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding jobseeker’s allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [2178/12]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all the evidence, 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.

Michael Creed

Question:

248 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection if a decision has been made on a review on an application for illness benefit in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2195/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 12th January 2012. 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.

Social Welfare Code

Finian McGrath

Question:

249 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection if an unemployed person on jobseeker’s allowance may work a few hours per week without losing their benefits. [2197/12]

A person on jobseekers allowance may work for a few hours per week without losing their payment depending on the circumstances of the case.

In order to qualify for jobseeker's allowance, a person must be unemployed for at least three days in a six day period and satisfy a means test. In assessing means, account is taken of any cash income (including earnings) of the customer and his/her spouse/partner. The value of capital and property (other than the family home) is also taken into account. In the case of a person working, a disregard of €20 per day worked is applied to these earnings up to a maximum of three days per week. The balance of the means involved is assessed at 60%.

Jobseeker's allowance is based on a family rate of payment which includes the personal rate, and increases for a qualified adult and children, if applicable. To calculate the rate of payment the assessable means is deducted from the overall family rate to arrive at the customer's rate of payment. If the weekly means of the family are equal to or in excess of the family rate payable on jobseeker's allowance, then the claim is disallowed.

Social Welfare Appeals

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

250 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite an appeal in respect of a disability allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2201/12]

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 he was capable of work. An appeal was registered on 10th October 2011 and the Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that, in accordance with statutory requirements, the Department was asked for the documentation in the case and the Deciding Officer's comments on the grounds of the appeal. In that context, an examination by another Medical Assessor will be carried out. The person concerned will be notified when arrangements for the examination have been completed.

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.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

251 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Social Protection the date an appeal against refusal of rent allowance was lodged with the Health Service Executive; the date the appeal was lodged with the social welfare office (details supplied); and when an oral hearing will be heard in relation to the appeal. [2210/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 17 October 2011 and was referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing on 24 January 2012. The person concerned was notified of the arrangements.

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

Barry Cowen

Question:

252 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on their application for carer’s allowance. [2213/12]

The above named was refused carer's allowance on grounds that the department's Medical Assessor expressed the opinion that the care recipient is not so disabled as to require full-time care and attention as prescribed in regulations. She was notified of this decision, the reason for it and of her right to a review/appeal within 21 days.

Additional medical evidence was received and forwarded to the department's Medical Assessor for consideration. However, this information did not alter the opinion of the Medical Assessor and the decision remained unchanged. On 14 January 2011, the person in question was notified of the outcome of the review and of her right of appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

Social Welfare Appeals

Barry Cowen

Question:

253 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on an appeal for disability allowance. [2214/12]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an oral hearing of the appeal of the person concerned took place on 16th January 2012 and the Appeals Officer is now considering the appeal in the light of all the evidence submitted, including that adduced at the hearing. The person concerned will be notified of the Appeals Officer decision when the appeal has been determined.

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

Barry Cowen

Question:

254 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on application for carer’s allowance. [2215/12]

I confirm that the department is in receipt of an application for carer's allowance from the above named. On completion of the necessary investigations relating to all aspects of his case a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Social Welfare Appeals

Barry Cowen

Question:

255 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on appeal for invalidity pension. [2216/12]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer having fully considered all the available evidence allowed the appeal of the person concerned by way of summary decision. The person concerned was notified of the Appeals Officer decision on 13th December 2011.

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.

Barry Cowen

Question:

256 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on appeal for invalidity pension. [2218/12]

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 and 2011 when the intake rose to 32,432 and 31,241 respectively. 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.

Barry Cowen

Question:

257 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on appeal for disability allowance. [2220/12]

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 on 20th January 2012. The person concerned has been notified of the arrangements for the 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.

Barry Cowen

Question:

258 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on appeal for disability allowance. [2223/12]

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 on 17th January 2012. The person concerned has been notified of the arrangements for the 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.

Barry Cowen

Question:

259 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Waterford may expect a decision on application for domiciliary care allowance. [2224/12]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all the evidence, disallowed the appeal of the person concerned by way of summary decision.

Under Social Welfare legislation, the decision of the Appeals Officer is final and conclusive and may only be reviewed by the Appeals Officer in the light of new evidence or new facts.

Following the submission of additional evidence the Appeals Officer has agreed to review the case. The person concerned will be contacted when the review of her appeal has been finalised.

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. 260 withdrawn.

Barry Cowen

Question:

261 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on appeal for carer’s allowance. [2226/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 31st August 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 6th January 2012 and the appeal will, in due course, be assigned 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. 262 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Benefits

Barry Cowen

Question:

263 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on an application for carer’s allowance. [2229/12]

I confirm that the department is in receipt of an application for carer's allowance from the person in question. On completion of the necessary investigations on all aspects of her case a decision will be made and she will be notified directly of the outcome.

Barry Cowen

Question:

264 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Laois may expect a decision on an application for carer’s allowance. [2230/12]

The person concerned was refused carer's allowance on the grounds that the care recipient is not so disabled as to require full time care and attention as prescribed in regulations. She was notified of this decision, the reason for it and of her right of review or appeal.

Additional medical evidence was received and forwarded to the Department's Medical Assessor for consideration. However, this information did not alter the opinion of the Medical Assessor and the decision remained unchanged. On 13 December 2011, she was notified of the outcome of the review.

Barry Cowen

Question:

265 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on an application for carer’s allowance. [2231/12]

I confirm that the department is in receipt of an application for carer's allowance from the above named person in respect of two care recipients. On completion of the necessary investigations relating to all aspects of her claim a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Barry Cowen

Question:

266 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on an application for carer’s allowance. [2232/12]

I confirm that the department is in receipt of an application for carer's allowance from the above named. On completion of the necessary investigations relating to all aspects of her case a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Social Welfare Appeals

Barry Cowen

Question:

267 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on appeal for invalidity pension. [2234/12]

Barry Cowen

Question:

274 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on appeal for invalidity pension. [2250/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 267 and 274 together.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 17th September 2012. 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.

Social Welfare Benefits

Barry Cowen

Question:

268 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on an application for carer’s allowance. [2240/12]

The person in question was awarded carer's allowance with effect from 2 June 2011. The first payment reached her bank account on 8 December 2011. Arrears due for the intervening period issued by cheque to her home address on 20 December 2011.

Social Welfare Appeals

Barry Cowen

Question:

269 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on appeal for invalidity pension. [2243/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 15th November 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.

Social Welfare Benefits

Barry Cowen

Question:

270 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Laois may expect a decision on an application for carer’s allowance. [2244/12]

The above named was refused carer's allowance on grounds that the care recipient is not so disabled as to require full-time care and attention as prescribed in regulations. She was notified of this decision, the reason for it and of her right to a review/appeal within 21 days.

Additional medical evidence was received and forwarded to the department's medical assessor for consideration. However, this information did not alter the opinion of the medical assessor and the decision remained unchanged. On 13 December 2011, the person concerned was notified of the outcome of the review.

Question No. 271 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Appeals

Barry Cowen

Question:

272 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on an application for invalidity pension. [2247/12]

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 and 2011 when the intake rose to 32,432 and 31,241 respectively. 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.

Barry Cowen

Question:

273 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on appeal for disability allowance. [2249/12]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer having fully considered all the available evidence, including that adduced at oral hearing, allowed the appeal of the person concerned. The person concerned was notified of the Appeals Officer decision on 26th November 2011.

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 answered with Question No. 267.

Barry Cowen

Question:

275 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on appeal for disability allowance. [2253/12]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all the evidence, disallowed the appeal of the person concerned by way of summary decision.

Under Social Welfare legislation, the decision of the Appeals Officer is final and conclusive and may only be reviewed by the Appeals Officer in the light of new evidence or new facts.

Following the submission of additional evidence the Appeals Officer has agreed to review the case. The person concerned will be contacted when the review of her appeal has been finalised.

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.

Barry Cowen

Question:

276 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on an application for domiciliary care allowance. [2255/12]

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received from the person concerned on 28th September 2011. The application was refused as the child was not considered to satisfy the medical criteria. The person concerned was notified of the decision on 2nd November 2011 and they have since appealed the decision. As part of the appeal process, the application has been forwarded to another of the Department's Medical Assessors for further consideration, including a review of any new information supplied. Upon receipt of their opinion, the case will be further reviewed and will be forwarded for consideration by the Appeals Office, if necessary.

Social Welfare Benefits

Barry Cowen

Question:

277 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on an application for carer’s allowance. [2256/12]

I confirm that the Department is in receipt of an application for carer's allowance from the person in question. On completion of the necessary investigations relating to all aspects of his case a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Social Welfare Appeals

Barry Cowen

Question:

278 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on appeal for domiciliary care allowance. [2257/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 4 January 2012. 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.

Social Welfare Benefits

Barry Cowen

Question:

279 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on an application for domiciliary care allowance. [2259/12]

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received on 5 August 2011. This application was referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who found that the child was not medically eligible for the allowance. A letter issued on 18 October 2011 advising of the decision.

In the case of an application which is refused on medical grounds, the applicant may submit additional information and/or ask for the case to be reviewed, or they may appeal the decision directly to the Social Welfare Appeals Office within twenty one days. Representations were received on behalf of the person concerned in December 2011 and the Social Welfare Appeals Office has been requested to register an appeal.

Social Welfare Appeals

Barry Cowen

Question:

280 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on appeal for carer’s allowance. [2260/12]

The person concerned was refused carers allowance on the grounds that the care recipient is not so disabled as to require full —time care and attention as prescribed in regulations. On 10 January 2012, she was notified of this decision and the reason(s) for it.

Brendan Griffin

Question:

281 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on an application for domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2294/12]

An application for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) was received on 14 February 2011. This application was referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who found that the child was not medically eligible for DCA. A letter issued on the 30 March 2011 refusing the allowance. The person concerned subsequently lodged an appeal against this decision. She was informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 28 September 2011 that the appeal had been disallowed.

The decision/appeal process for this application is now complete. If the person concerned has additional information which was not made available to the deciding officer and appeals officer when they made their decisions, it is open to her to re-apply for the payment.

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

282 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection when an appeal for an increased rate of disability benefit will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [2302/12]

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 and 2011 when the intake rose to 32,432 and 31,241 respectively. 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.

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

283 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal against a decision made with regard to one-parent family payment and supplementary welfare allowance in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2305/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that a Supplementary Welfare Allowance Appeal by the person concerned was on the basis of a revised decision on 22 December 2011.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that a One Parent Family Payment appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 7 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 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.

Social Welfare Code

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

284 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection if, as a consequence of budget 2012, recipients of deserted wife benefit will not be entitled to qualify for illness benefit should they become ill and unable to work, even if they have made the required number of contributions to qualify for illness benefit; if she will review this decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2306/12]

The social welfare system is primarily a contingency-based system, with entitlement based on defined contingencies, such as sickness, unemployment, old age or widowhood. Primary social welfare legislation provides that only one social welfare payment is payable at any one time. While it can happen that a person may experience more than one contingency at the same time — for example, an unemployed person may become sick — a general principle applies whereby even if a person experiences more than one of the contingencies at any one time, he or she only receives one of those payments. This principle is common to social security systems across the world.

Existing legislation provided that regulations may be made to enable more than one of the payments to be paid concurrently and, where applied, it is usually in the context of short-term benefits. The 2011 Social Welfare Act provides for the discontinuation of the payment of half-rate Jobseeker's Benefit, Illness Benefit or Incapacity Supplement to persons in receipt of certain welfare payments, including Deserted Wife's Benefit.

Continuation of current overlapping payment arrangements, where they exist, re-allocates significant resources to certain groups at the expense of others. The change will have the effect of increasing the equity of the social welfare system.

The abolition of concurrent payments is confined to new applicants for Jobseeker's Benefit, Illness Benefit or Incapacity Supplement and will take effect from the end of January 2012.

Social Welfare Benefits

Pearse Doherty

Question:

285 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a claim for carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal has taken such a length of time to process; and the date on which a decision is expected. [2307/12]

The person concerned was refused carer's allowance on the grounds that the care recipient is not so disabled as to require full —time care and attention as prescribed in regulations. On 10 January 2012, she was notified of this decision and the reason(s) for it.

Question No. 286 withdrawn.

Sandra McLellan

Question:

287 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she can process and approve domiciliary care allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2420/12]

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received on 12 December 2011. This application has been forwarded to one of the Department's Medical Assessors for their medical opinion. Upon receipt of this opinion, a decision will issue to the customer. The Deputy should note that currently it can take up to 9 weeks to process an application.

Social Welfare Code

Sean Fleming

Question:

288 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection the changes following on from budget 2012 and the recent changes to social welfare legislation in respect of payments made to persons on community employment who are currently in receipt of one-parent family payment or widow’s payment in respect of their child dependant allowance, and also in respect of persons who are in receipt of illness benefit or disability benefit but have an exemption for community employment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2433/12]

As announced in Budget 2012, the payment of two qualified child increases per child where the person is employed on a Community Employment (CE) scheme and in receipt of One Parent Family Payment, Deserted Wife’s Benefit/Allowance or Widow(er)’s Pension, will be discontinued for existing participants and new entrants in January 2012. New entrants to CE are defined as persons who have not participated on the scheme in the last 12 months.

New entrants to the Community Employment programme will not be able to claim another social welfare-funded payment at the same time, but will receive the standard additional €20 CE participation bonus on top of their original payment amount. This measure affects persons in receipt of One Parent Family Payment, Deserted Wife's Benefit, Widow(er)'s Pension, Illness Benefit, Invalidity Pension, Disability Allowance and Blind Pension.

Those already on CE will receive their original social welfare payment and one child increase per child. As CE is employment and insurable at the Class A PRSI rate and accordingly, earnings from CE are treated in the same way as other employment earnings for Social Welfare purposes. The One Parent Family Payment will be adjusted upwards to take account of the reduction of the Child Increase allowance. Existing CE participants can retain the original social welfare payment as long as they are continuously employed on CE for a maximum period of three years, based on their eligibility to continue participation.

Community Employment Schemes

Terence Flanagan

Question:

289 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding community employment schemes (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2438/12]

The Community Employment programme provides a very important and valued contribution to social employment, training and progression for unemployed people. Furthermore, many Community Employment schemes provide vital community services right across the country.

There are currently 1,143 CE schemes in operation nationally with 23,300 participants. The overall estimated budget stands at €315,194 million for 2012.

As this area has only recently come under the Department of Social Protection, I have asked for an initial review of the financial resources of all schemes to be completed in March 2012. Standard templates have been developed and issued to the employment officers involved. The review will be carried out between local CE sponsors and the Departmental Employment Officer responsible for the scheme under local management.

The discussion that will be undertaken with schemes will be conducted in an enabling manner and all support possible will be provided to help the schemes to remain viable. Development officers are currently making initial contact with schemes. In addition to these local discussions, discussion and consultation with the main representative bodies and stakeholders involved in schemes will take place over the coming weeks in relation to funding. I can assure you that this review will be completed by the end of March.

Following on from changes to the training and materials grant for Community Employment schemes announced in Budget 2012, I have made a commitment that no Community Employment Scheme would close pending the completion of this review.

The Government has been clear that in the event that the changes in the training and material grant announced in the Budget create financial difficulties for schemes, the Department of Social Protection will continue to provide funding for those schemes and funding has been made available in this context.

Community employment participants can continue to avail of education and training programmes that are available to them free of charge from existing State funded providers. This facility will also form part of the arrangements that will be developed as part of the establishment of SOLAS.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

290 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will outline the details of the planned review of community employment projects, including the make-up of the review body; the criteria being used for the review; the methodology being used for the review; if academic experts, those involved in running CE schemes and participants in CE schemes will be provided with an opportunity to provide input into the criteria, methodology, conduct and outcome of the review; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2439/12]

The Community Employment programme provides a very important and valued contribution to social employment, training and progression for unemployed people. Furthermore, many Community Employment schemes provide vital community services right across the country. There are currently 1,143 CE schemes in operation nationally, with 23,300 participants. The overall estimated budget stands at €315,194 million for 2012.

I have asked for an initial review of the financial resources of all schemes to be completed in March 2012. The review will be carried out at scheme level, between local CE sponsors and the Departmental Employment Officer responsible for the scheme under local management. The outcomes will inform the overall approach to be taken by DSP in implementing these reductions.

The terms of reference for the review have been circulated to regional management. They are as follows:

To examine the income and funding of sponsoring organisations in terms of their ability to continue the programme with reduced funding from DSP. There are community and voluntary sponsoring organisations that receive funding from a multiplicity of state agencies.

To quantify the expenditure on training provided and the qualifications achieved by participants.

Alternative sources of support will be examined, particularly with reference to funding from other State agencies to avoid duplication.

To establish if income is generated by scheme activity and the potential for utilisation of these funds to cover project costs.

The review process has commenced and Department staff have begun engagement with Sponsors and Community Supervisors at local level. Staff have been advised that where schemes have committed expenditure to eligible costs and where this has been approved by regional staff under existing arrangements, this will be reimbursed.

The Government has been clear that in the event that the changes in the training and material grant announced in the Budget create financial difficulties for schemes, the Department of Social Protection will continue to provide funding for those schemes and funding has been made available in this context.

Social Welfare Appeals

Brendan Griffin

Question:

291 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if a decision has been made on an appeal for carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2441/12]

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 and 2011 when the intake rose to 32,432 and 31,241 respectively. 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 Code

Michael McGrath

Question:

292 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection if the new schedule of payment rates for the State contributory pension have been set for persons who have average PRSI contributions of less than 48 weeks; and if she will provide the relevant details. [2445/12]

The information in this reply was included in the reply to Question No. 363 to Deputy Robert Troy on 11 January 2012.

The recently announced changes to the rates of payment for State pension are necessary if we are to ensure the sustainability of pension provision into the future. People are living longer and healthier lives and growing numbers of people want to work, or may need to work beyond State pension age. The challenges facing the Irish pension system are significant. There are currently six people of working age for every pensioner and this ratio is expected to decrease to approximately two to one by 2050. The period for which an average pension will be paid will be greater than the period for which a pension is paid at present. In addition, those aged over 65 will account for a greater proportion of the population while the proportion who are of working age is expected to decline. So the task of financing increasing pensions will fall to a diminishing share of the population. This has obvious and significant implications in relation to the future costs of State pension provision.

The amount of pension paid has always been calculated based on the person's contribution to the PRSI system over a working life. This needs to be adhered to if we are to be able to fund pensions into the future. The upcoming change to the rate bands supports this policy objective. Currently a person with an average of 20-47 PRSI contributions per year over their working life receives a weekly State pension of only €4.50 less than a person with a yearly average of 48 or more PRSI contributions. This situation is neither fair nor sustainable.

With effect from September 2012, the rate band of between 20 and 47 yearly average contributions will be replaced with new rate bands of between:

(i) 40 and 47 yearly average contributions

(ii) 30 and 39 yearly average contribution and

(iii) 20 and 29 yearly average contributions.

The rate of State pension paid to new applicants will be appropriate to the average number of contributions paid. Those who have fewer contributions will receive a lower rate of pension. The maximum rate is unchanged as is the rate for those with yearly average contributions between 40 and 47.

Existing pension recipients are unaffected and any changes only apply to new claimants from September 2012. A person qualifying for State pension in July 2013 will be assessed using the new rate bands. Details of the new rates bands for both State pension (transition) and State pension (contributory) are set out in the tables below.

New State Pension (Contributory) Rates

Yearly Average Contributions

Personal Rate Per Week €

48 or over

230.30

40-47

225.80

30-39

207.00

20-29

196.00

15-19

150.00

10-14

92.00

New State Pension (Transition) Rates

Yearly Average Contributions

Personal Rate Per Week €

48 or over

230.30

40-47

225.80

30-39

207.00

24-29

196.00

Social Welfare Appeals

Ann Phelan

Question:

293 Deputy Ann Phelan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will investigate the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny in respect of an appeal for payment of arrears entitlement with regard to a State pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2471/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 1 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 25 October 2011 and the appeal was assigned to an Appeals Officer on 21 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.

Michael Creed

Question:

294 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on an appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Cork in respect of their application for rent allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2482/12]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all the available evidence, including that adduced at oral hearing, disallowed the appeal of the person concerned. The person concerned has been notified of the Appeals Officer 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.

Michael Creed

Question:

295 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive a decision on their disability allowance appeal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2488/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 5 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 14 December 2012 and the appeal will, in due course, be assigned to an Appeals Officer for consideration. As part of this consideration that Appeals Office will decide if an Oral Hearing is warranted in this case.

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.

Michael Creed

Question:

296 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive a decision on their appeal in respect of their application for invalidity pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2489/12]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all the available evidence, disallowed the appeal of the person concerned by way of summary decision. The person concerned was notified of the Appeals Officer decision on 13 January 2012.

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.

Redundancy Payments

Terence Flanagan

Question:

297 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection the redundancy figures from August 2011 to December 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2491/12]

The table shows the figures in respect of redundancy claims received for the months concerned.

August

September

October

November

December

3,828

3,367

2,265

3,969

6,850

Community Employment Schemes

Mattie McGrath

Question:

298 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection when the review of community employment schemes will be completed so that the position of these schemes can be clarified; her views on the fact that CE schemes have only received an allocation of €500 per participant while this review is ongoing; her further views that this cut has left CE schemes in an impossible position as their future is very uncertain; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2498/12]

Community Employment Schemes provide a valuable contribution to social employment, training and progression for unemployed people. Furthermore, many Community Employment schemes provide vital community services right across the country. There are currently 1,143 CE schemes in operation nationally with 23,300 participants. The overall estimated budget stands at €315.194 million for 2012.

Given the level of reductions in the recent Budget, I have asked for an initial review of the financial resources of all schemes to be completed in March 2012. The review will be carried out between local CE sponsors and the Departmental Employment Officer responsible for the scheme under local management. The discussion that will be undertaken with schemes will be conducted in an enabling manner and all support possible will be provided to help the schemes to remain viable. Development officers are currently making initial contact with schemes. In addition to these local discussions, consultation with the main representative bodies and stakeholders involved in schemes will take place over the coming weeks in relation to funding.

Following on from changes to the training and materials grant for Community Employment schemes announced in Budget 2012 I have made a commitment that no Community Employment Scheme would close pending the completion of this review. The Government has been clear that in the event that the changes in the training and material grant announced in the Budget create financial difficulties for schemes, the Department of Social Protection will continue to provide funding for those schemes and funding has been made available in this context.

Community employment participants can continue to avail of education and training programmes that are available to them free of charge from existing State funded providers. This facility will also form part of the arrangements that will be developed as part of the establishment of SOLAS.

Simon Harris

Question:

299 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection the situation regarding a community employment scheme (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if funding for this scheme will be removed before a review has been completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2502/12]

My Department staff have had a series of meetings with the Sponsors of the Community Scheme in Aughrim, Co. Wicklow. A further meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, 18th January. A full review will be carried out in relation to the impact of the reductions; the scheme will be fully supported pending the review outcome.

The Government has been clear that in the event that the changes in the training and material grant announced in the Budget create financial difficulties for schemes, the Department of Social Protection will continue to provide funding for those schemes and funding has been made available in this context. Community employment participants can continue to avail of education and training programmes that are available to them free of charge from existing State funded providers. This facility will also form part of the arrangements that will be developed as part of the establishment of SOLAS.

Simon Harris

Question:

300 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection the situation regarding a community employment scheme (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if funding for this scheme will be removed before a review has been completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2503/12]

My Department staff have had a series of meetings with the Sponsors of the Community Scheme in Aughrim, Co. Wicklow. A further meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, 18th January. A full review will be carried out in relation to the impact of the reductions; the scheme will be fully supported pending the review outcome.

The Government has been clear that in the event that the changes in the training and material grant announced in the Budget create financial difficulties for schemes, the Department of Social Protection will continue to provide funding for those schemes and funding has been made available in this context. Community employment participants can continue to avail of education and training programmes that are available to them free of charge from existing State funded providers. This facility will also form part of the arrangements that will be developed as part of the establishment of SOLAS.

Simon Harris

Question:

301 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection the situation regarding a community employment scheme (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if funding for this scheme will be removed before a review has been completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2504/12]

The Community Employment programme provides a very important and valued contribution to social employment, training and progression for unemployed people. Furthermore, many Community Employment schemes provide vital community services right across the country. There are currently 1,143 CE schemes in operation nationally with 23,300 participants. The overall estimated budget stands at €315.194 million for 2012.

As this area has only recently come under the Department of Social Protection, I have asked for an initial review of the financial resources of all schemes to be completed in March 2012. Standard templates have been developed and issued to the employment officers involved. The review will be carried out between local CE sponsors and the Departmental development officer responsible for the scheme under local management.

Following on from changes to the training and materials grant for Community Employment schemes announced in Budget 2012 I have made a commitment that no Community Employment Scheme would close pending the completion of this review. Therefore this scheme will continue to be supported during the review period.

The discussion that will be undertaken with schemes will be conducted in an enabling manner and all support possible will be provided to help the schemes to remain viable. Development officers are currently making initial contact with schemes. In addition to these local discussions, discussion and consultation with the main representative bodies and stakeholders involved in schemes will take place over the coming weeks in relation to funding. Community employment participants can continue to avail of education and training programmes that are available to them free of charge from existing State funded providers. This facility will also form part of the arrangements that will be developed as part of the establishment of SOLAS.

Social Welfare Appeals

Tom Fleming

Question:

302 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will issue a decision which is long overdue in relation to a scope appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2510/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that following an oral hearing of the case in question, the Appeals Officer referred the case back a Social Welfare Inspector for further investigation and clarification on certain issues. The Social Welfare Inspector has written to the person concerned to arrange an interview which will take place on 19th January 2012. 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.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

303 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow, in financial distress, has been waiting on an appeals decision for disability allowance since September 2011. [2520/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 6 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 1st December 2011 and the appeal will, in due course, be assigned 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.

Barry Cowen

Question:

304 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly can expect a decision on an appeal for carer’s allowance. [2529/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 27th 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.

Departmental Expenditure

Denis Naughten

Question:

305 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Social Protection, further to Parliamentary Question No. 406 of 11 January 2012, if she will furnish the total figure outstanding at the end of 2011 and the number of clients involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2556/12]

The Department is subject to annual audit by the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General. As part of this audit, the level of annual overpayments and recoveries is examined. The outstanding balance of overpayments at end 2010 was €314.8m in respect of approximately 145,000 debt holders. As the 2011 C & AG audit is currently under way, the Department is not yet in a position to provide data on overpayment and recovery levels for last year as these figures form part of the statutory accounts of the Department which are currently being compiled and audited.

Community Employment Schemes

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

306 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection if a community employment participant (details supplied) will be approved for an extension on the CE scheme in view of the fact that they will be 55 years in June 2012 and the fact that the work they are doing on the scheme is benefiting the most vulnerable persons in our society; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2558/12]

The person concerned is about to complete 4 years on Community Employment, and therefore is no longer eligible to participate under the current rules governing the programme. I would suggest she contact her local Employment Services Office to discuss other options that may be available to her.

National Monuments

Gerry Adams

Question:

307 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will confirm his undertaking to preserve the national monument at 14-17 Moore Street, Dublin, as designated under preservation order; if the National Asset Management Agency has any involvement with any part of this site; the progress that has been made in developing a historical or revolutionary quarter at the site and its environs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2065/12]

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

The proposed development of the Carlton Cinema site, of which Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street form part, and for which approval has been granted by An Bord Pleanála, envisages the retention of these buildings and the provision of a commemorative centre to the 1916 Rising in No. 16. The developer's application to my Department for consent to these proposals under section 14 of the National Monuments Acts is being examined. As part of the process, I have visited the monument site and met various interest groups, including relatives of the 1916 leaders. My Department is currently in consultation with the National Museum of Ireland in relation to the application and I hope to be able to make a decision on it shortly.

Any wider plans for the development of the Moore Street area would be a matter for the relevant landowners and the development authority, Dublin City Council. I have no function in relation to the operations of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). However, I understand from NAMA that a NAMA debtor has an interest in 14-17 Moore Street and in adjoining sites.

Departmental Bodies

Sean Fleming

Question:

308 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will list the number of public bodies under his auspices in which members of the board, employees, staff and other persons are required to complete forms under the ethics in public office rules, framework, regulations; and the number of persons required to complete these forms in respect of each public body under his Department and including his Department. [2069/12]

Details of posts subject to the Ethics in Public Office legislation are set out in Statutory Instrument No. 644 of 2011 [Ethics in Public Office (Designated Positions in Public Bodies) (Amendment) Regulations 2011] in respect of my Department and in Statutory Instrument No. 707 of 2011 [Ethics in Public Office (Prescribed Public Bodies, Designated Directorships of Public Bodies and Designated Positions in Public Bodies (Amendment) Regulations 2011] in the case of those bodies subject to the Ethics in Public Office legislation that are funded by, or broadly under the aegis of, my Department.

While the table indicates the number of positions covered in my Department and each relevant body, the legislation, as the Deputy will be aware, only requires the completion of forms by persons with a declarable interest.

Table outlining the number of staff and directors listed in the Statutory Instruments referred to in the reply

Body

Number

Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

219

The National Archives

24

The Abbey Theatre

24

The Arts Council

14

Bord Scannán na hÉireann

9

The Chester Beatty Library

15

An Coimisiún Logainmneacha

17

Council of National Cultural Institutions

12

Crawford Art Gallery

16

Culture Ireland

12

Designated Areas Appeals Advisory Board

6

The Heritage Council

11

The Irish Heritage Trust

9

Irish Manuscripts Commission

22

Irish Museum of Modern Art

16

National Archives Advisory Council

10

National Concert Hall

16

National Gallery of Ireland

19

National Library of Ireland

36

National Museum of Ireland

74

Údarás na Gaeltachta

39

Údarás na Gaeltachta Subsidiaries (Arramara Teo; Ealaín (na Gaeltachta) Teo; Muintearas)

13

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

309 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the total cost of lump sums paid to staff and the number of staff involved who retired in 2011 in his Department and in respect of each organisation under his auspices; the total annual estimated pension costs associated with these persons in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2085/12]

Since its establishment in June 2011, the total cost of retirement lump sums paid in 2011 to staff in my Department is €486,780. A total of 8 staff retired in my Department in this period. The estimated cost of pensions to these retirees in 2012 is €142,527. The total cost of retirement lump sums paid to staff in the bodies under the aegis of my Department in 2011 is €1,546,791. A total of 30 staff were paid lump sums in 2011. The estimated cost of pensions to these retirees in 2012 is €397,597.

Inland Waterways

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

310 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the progress made to date with the Ulster Canal project; the progress made with the planning and redevelopment of the section from Lough Erne to Clones; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2108/12]

As the Deputy will be aware, the North/South Ministerial Council (NSMC) Plenary Meeting in July 2007 agreed to proceed with the restoration of the section of the Ulster Canal between Clones and Upper Lough Erne. The then Government agreed to cover the full capital costs of the project, which were estimated at that time to be of the order of €35m.

However, Government Accounting procedures do not provide, in that sense, for the ‘ring-fencing' of funds for projects of this nature. I am advised that it was always the intention that the Ulster Canal project would be funded from the Waterways Ireland annual allocations, as agreed through the annual estimates processes in this jurisdiction, as well as the deliberations of NSMC in relation to annual budgets. I am advised that it was also a key consideration throughout the process that the Ulster Canal project would be supported by a significant level of projected income from the commercialisation of certain Waterways Ireland assets — a scenario that was affected negatively by the economic downturn.

It was noted at the NSMC Plenary Meeting held in Armagh on 18 November 2011 that the Ulster Canal project is progressing incrementally. Planning applications were lodged by Waterways Ireland with Monaghan County Council, Clones Town Council and Cavan County Council on the 25 October and with the Department of the Environment Planning Service Northern Ireland on the 28 October. I am informed that Cavan County Council has granted planning permission. Monaghan County Council and Clones Town Council have requested additional information. I am sure that the Deputy will agree that this is a significant milestone for the project.

I am continuing to explore all possible options to advance this project. In this regard, towards the end of last year, I met with senior officials of Monaghan County Council, Fermanagh District Council and Waterways Ireland to discuss approaches to setting up an inter-agency group that could examine ways in helping to advance the Ulster Canal project. Officials of my Department are currently in discussions about the setting up of this inter agency group. I look forward to that work continuing in the period ahead.

Departmental Expenditure

Brendan Smith

Question:

311 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the total allocated budget for his Department in 2011; and the actual outturns in each of his Department subheads at the end of 2011. [2128/12]

As the Deputy will be aware, a gross total of €269.089m was made available to my Department in the 2011 Revised Estimates Volume. My Department's provisional out-turn to year-end totalled €267.249m, which is approximately 99% of the REV 2011 Allocation.

In addition to that expenditure, circa €27m was also expended during 2011 by the former Department of Community, Equality, and Gaeltacht Affairs on functions which transferred to my Department. Thus the combined provisional out-turn for my Department's functions for 2011 is approximately €294.149m. The table shows the breakdown of this figure at subhead level. The Deputy will appreciate that these end-year expenditure figures are provisional and are subject to verification internally through my Department's financial management system and, ultimately, by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

TABLE: Provisional out-turn by subhead for the functions of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for 2011

Subhead Title

Expenditure €000

ADMINISTRATION

A.1

SALARIES, WAGES AND ALLOWANCES

32,422

A.2

TRAVEL AND SUBSISTENCE

1,243

A.3

TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT AND INCIDENTAL EXPENSES

634

A.4

POSTAL AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES

649

A.5

OFFICE EQUIPMENT AND EXTERNAL IT SERVICES

1,425

A.6

OFFICE PREMISES EXPENSES

722

A.7

CONSULTANCY SERVICES AND VFM/POLICY REVIEWS

44

ARTS, CULTURE AND FILM

B.1

PAYMENTS TO MATCH RESOURCES GENERATED BY THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES

29

B.2

GENERAL EXPENSES OF THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND NATIONAL ARCHIVES ADVISORY COUNCIL

1,522

B.3

GENERAL EXPENSES OF THE IRISH MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, CHESTER BEATTY LIBRARY, NATIONAL CONCERT HALL AND THE CRAWFORD GALLERY (GRANT-IN-AID)

12,896

B.4

REGIONAL MUSEUMS, GALLERIES, CULTURAL CENTRES AND PROJECTS

4,296

B.5

CULTURAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND DEVELOPMENT

8,457

B.6

CULTURE IRELAND

6,994

B.7

AN CHOMHAIRLE EALAÍON

65,163

B.8

GENERAL EXPENSES OF THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF IRELAND (GRANT-IN-AID)

14,240

B.9

GENERAL EXPENSES OF THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF IRELAND (GRANT-IN-AID)

8,084

B.10

IRISH FILM BOARD (GRANT-IN-AID)

18,431

HERITAGE

C.1

HERITAGE COUNCIL

5,992

C.2

BUILT HERITAGE

3,508

C.3

NATURAL HERITAGE (NATIONAL PARKS AND WILDLIFE SERVICE)

13,570

C.4

IRISH HERITAGE TRUST

375

IRISH LANGUAGE, GAELTACHT AND ISLANDS

D.1

GAELTACHT SUPPORT SCHEMES

10,878

D.2

IRISH LANGUAGE SUPPORT SCHEMES

6,677

D.3

AN COIMISINÉIR TEANGA

630

D.4

ÚDARÁS NA GAELTACHTA — ELECTION

D.5

ÚDARÁS NA GAELTACHTA — ADMINISTRATION

10,300

D.6

ÚDARÁS NA GAELTACHTA — CURRENT PROGRAMME EXPENDITURE

3,300

D.7

ÚDARÁS NA GAELTACHTA — GRANTS FOR PROJECTS AND CAPITAL EXPENDITURE ON PREMISES

6,000

D.8

ISLANDS

9,495

NORTH SOUTH CO-OPERATION

E.1

AN FORAS TEANGA

15,873

E.2

WATERWAYS IRELAND

30,300

TOTAL

294,149

Turbary Rights

Frank Feighan

Question:

312 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in connection with sale of turbary rights when a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim may expect finalisation of a long running sale. [2163/12]

The land referred to by the Deputy is located in a Natural Heritage Area (NHA) designated in 2003. In 2010, the then Government decided that turf-cutting should come to an end on raised bog NHAs at the end of 2013. However, the current Programme for Government contains an undertaking to review the situation with regard to turf cutting on NHAs.

On 15 April 2011, the Government made a number of decisions in relation to turf cutting in Ireland, including the putting in place of a compensation package for those who are required to cease cutting, the establishment of a Peatlands Council and the drawing up of a national strategy on peatland conservation and management. In the context of the national strategy, the position regarding raised bog NHAs, which are designated under national legislation, will be examined in advance of the 2014 cutting season in accordance with the Programme for Government.

My Department is giving priority to putting in place the compensation requirements in relation to the cessation of cutting on the 53 raised bog Special Areas of Conservation. In the circumstances, and in light of the decision to review the approach to these areas more generally, the issue of any further purchase of land/rights in NHA bogs, including the land referred to, is being kept under review.

Architectural Heritage

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

313 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which Dublin City Council is meeting its obligations; the oversight role he has in maintaining and protecting structures of architectural and historical importance in the Dublin area, as required under the Derelict Sites Act 1990; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2179/12]

For clarification, I wish to advise the Deputy that I have no role in relation to the Derelict Sites Act 1990, which is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government. Under the provisions of the Planning and Development Act 2000 regarding architectural heritage, each planning authority is required to include in its development plan a record of protected structures. Details of the structures in Dublin City included on the record of protected structures are available from Dublin City Council.

In relation to protected structures, section 59 of the 2000 Act provides for a planning authority to serve notice to require works to be carried out in relation to endangerment of such structures. On the basis of information submitted by the planning authorities to my Department, there were 19 such notices served nationwide in 2008, 27 in 2009 and 10 in 2010. On the basis of information provided by Dublin City Council, 16 notices were served in 2008, 17 in 2009, 2 in 2010 and 8 in 2011.

My role in relation to protected structures is to ensure that there are appropriate legislative and policy frameworks in place in relation to the built heritage. However, operational issues are generally a matter for planning authorities under those frameworks. My Department has responsibility for the National Inventory on Architectural Heritage, which provides a basis for me to recommend structures to local authorities for protection. In addition, my Department provides advice to planning authorities in relation to development applications which may impact on protected structures. My Department also provides limited funding directly to local authorities, or through the Heritage Council, which is used for works on protected structures, including those which may be endangered.

Irish Placenames

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

314 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he has considered a request to have the official Irish name of Bruff, County Limerick, changed from An Brú to Brú na nDéise in view of the historical significance of the latter to the persons and area of Bruff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2508/12]

I am advised that An Brú has been the official Irish form of Bruff since 1969 and was included in the book Ainmneacha Gaeilge na mBailte Poist, which was published in that year. That publication gave the official Irish language names of the post-towns of Ireland which had been decided on the advice of An Coimisiún Logainmneacha (The Placenames Commission), based on research of written sources and local evidence undertaken by An Brainse Logainmneacha (The Placenames Branch).

Provisional Irish forms of the post-towns were published prior to that. The provisional list for Co. Limerick was published in 1960, where An Brú was also given as the Irish name of Bruff . One of the reasons for the publication of a provisional list was to give the public a chance to recommend changes to the Irish forms. I understand that there is no evidence to show that the Irish name An Brú was queried at that time. An Brú was subsequently given legal status by the then Minister for Finance in the Placenames (Irish forms) Order 1975, under the provisions of the Placenames (Irish forms) Act 1973. The name An Brú was given equal legal status with the English name Bruff by the then Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs in the Placenames (Co. Limerick) Order 2003, under the provisions of Part 5 of the Official Languages Act 2003, which replaced the Placenames (Irish forms) Act 1973.

I am advised that there is ample historical evidence to support the designation of An Brú as the official Irish language version, which I can arrange to be forwarded to the Deputy, if he so wishes. I would be happy furthermore to arrange a meeting for the Deputy with relevant officials should he wish to explore potential approaches to having a review initiated of the official Irish language placename in this case.

Calaí agus Céanna

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

315 D’fhiafraigh Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltactha cén uair a bhfuil sé i gceist ag an tSeirbhí Páirceanna Náisiúnta agus Fiadhúlra suirbhé a dhéanamh ar Chéi Chill Mhuirbhéigh, Inis Mór, mar atá beartaithe faoin treoir maidir le Gnáthóga ón Aontas Eorpach, mar gheall ar an moill atá an easpa suirbhé seo ag cur le forbhairt ar an gcéibh; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [2552/12]

Tá na hoibreacha atá beartaithe chun cé nua a thógáil i gCill Mhuirbhigh os comhair an Aire Comhshaoil, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil mar iarratas faoi na hAchtanna um Urthrá. Faoi na Rialacháin Chomhphobail Eorpaigh (Éanlaithe & Gnáthóga), tá sé de dhualgas ar an Aire é féin a shásamh maidir leis an tionchar a bheadh ag na hoibreacha ar an Suíomh Caomhnaithe Speisialta ina bhfuil an ché nua beartaithe.

Mar a thuigim an scéal, tá sé tugtha le fios don bhforbróir sa chás seo, Comhairle Contae na Gaillimhe, go bhfuil breis eolais ag teastáil maidir le héiceolaíocht an láithreáin ar a bhfuiltear ag iarradh an ché a thógáil sula mbeidh an tAire in ann cinneadh a dhéanamh maidir leis an iarratas. I gcásanna dá leithéid, tugann mo Roinn comhairle don Aire Comhshaoil, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil ach is cinneadh don Aire sin é. Is ceist don bhforbróir é conas bearnaí eolais a líonadh ach bíonn mo chuid oifigigh sásta comhairle a thabhairt dóibh ina leith.

Energy Conservation

Brendan Griffin

Question:

316 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if a better energy homes scheme grant will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1958/12]

Brendan Griffin

Question:

321 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if an improved energy home scheme grant will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2300/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 316 and 321 together.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) administers the Better Energy Programme, on behalf of my Department. To date, the Scheme has resulted in the installation of 274,184 energy efficiency measures in 110,254 homes. SEAI advises that all applicants are required to undertake complete works in accordance with the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme. In accepting the grant offer the applicant accepts all conditions of the scheme indicating those set out in the Application Guide. The Scheme rules explicitly state that the grant offer, once accepted, remains valid for 6 months from the date of issue of Grant Offer notification.

Queries in relation to individual applications are an operational matter for the SEAI and a dedicated hot line can be reached at 1800 250 204. In addition, the SEAI has established a specific email address for queries from Oireachtas members, which can be sent to oireachtas@seai.ie and will be dealt with promptly.

Energy Market Regulation

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

317 Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding regulations currently in operation regarding customers who are being pressurised by energy companies through letters, telephone calls, text messages and house calls demanding payment of bills and so on; if there are restrictions on companies contacting customers on weekends; if energy companies are fully compliant with the guidelines laid down by the Commission for Energy Regulation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1980/12]

The regulation of the electricity and gas market is the responsibility of the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), which is an independent statutory body.

All licensed electricity and gas suppliers are required to comply with the CER's Marketing Code of Conduct. I am advised that the CER is currently consulting on this code of practice and that the code will be strengthened as required. The proposed decision paper is available on the CER website which also describes the arrangements for making submissions to the CER on the consultation. I welcome the CER's commitment to enhance protections for energy consumers, which is also in line with EU requirements.

The CER decision paper on Customer Disconnections — Review of Cost Allocation & Code of Practice, which aims to provide enhanced consumer protection measures for domestic customers facing financial hardship, is also pertinent and provides, inter alia, for a minimum number of contacts between suppliers and customer in difficult situations including written and telephone communication.

Contracts between the energy companies and consumers are also governed by the Consumer Credit Act 1995, which is regulated by the Central Bank. Section 46 of the Consumer Credit Act provides that a creditor or person acting on his behalf shall not, inter alia, visit or telephone a consumer at any time on a Sunday or public holiday or between the hours of 9 o’clock in the evening and 9 o’clock in the morning on the following day.

Departmental Bodies

Sean Fleming

Question:

318 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will list the number of public bodies under his auspice in which members of the board, employees, staff and other persons are required to complete forms under the ethics in public office rules, framework and regulations; and the number of persons required to complete these forms in respect of each public body under his Department and including his Department. [2071/12]

The following bodies under the aegis of my Department are obliged to make returns under the Ethics in Public Office Act:

Broadcasting Authority of Ireland

RTÉ

TG4

Commission for Communications Regulation

An Post

EirGrid

ESB

Irish National Petroleum Corporation

National Oil Reserves Agency

Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

Inland Fisheries Ireland

Digital Hub Development Agency

Bord Gáis Éireann

Bord na Móna

Commission for Energy Regulation

Ordnance Survey Ireland

Mining Board

These bodies are aware of their obligation to comply with the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995-2001 and Regulations made thereunder. The completion of forms as prescribed by this legislation is an operational matter for the bodies concerned. Details of persons covered by the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995-2001 in the bodies under the aegis of my Department are set out in Statutory Instrument No. 645 of 2010 — ETHICS IN PUBLIC OFFICE (PRESCRIBED PUBLIC BODIES, DESIGNATED DIRECTORSHIPS OF PUBLIC BODIES AND DESIGNATED POSITIONS IN PUBLIC BODIES) (AMENDMENT) (NO. 3) REGULATIONS 2010, which is publicly available on the Irish Statute Book website http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/.

With regard to staff in my Department, the latest figures available are for 2010 when 50 staff were required to complete forms under the ethics in public office rules.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

319 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the total cost of lump sums paid to staff and the number of staff involved who retired in 2011 in his Department and in respect of each organisation under his auspice; the total annual estimated pension costs associated with these persons in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2087/12]

Retirement Lump Sums amounting to a total of €312,841 was paid to the 6 staff who retired from my Department during 2011. They will be paid an estimated total of €95,391 in gross pensions during 2012. Information in respect of bodies and agencies under the aegis of my Department is a day to day matter for those organisations and my Department does not have the information sought by the Deputy, which should however, be available directly from the bodies in question.

Departmental Expenditure

Brendan Smith

Question:

320 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the total allocated budget for his Department in 2011; and the actual outturns in each of his Department subheads at the end of 2011. [2130/12]

The total funding allocated to my Department as set out in the Further Revised Estimates published in June 2011 is €494.716m. The provisional outturn for my Department for 2011 is €446.322m. Final outturn figures cannot be confirmed until after the Comptroller and Auditor General has completed his audit of 2011 accounts.

The table shows the 2011 allocations and provisional outturns for each subhead under my Department's Vote.

Subhead

2011 Budget

2011 Provisional Outturn

€000

€000

A1 — Salaries, Wages & Allowances

16,289

15,690

A2 — Travel & Subsistence

552

407

A3 — Training and Development & Incidental Expenses

1,092

871

A4 — Postal & Telecoms Services

528

425

A5 — Office Equipment & External IT Services

3,118

2,741

A6 — Office Premises Expenses

920

763

A7 — Consultancy Services and Value for Money & Policy Reviews

1,980

1,364

A8 — Equipment, Stores & Maintenance

123

87

B1 — Information and Communications Technology Programme

29,630

8,832

B2 — Multimedia Developments

8,495

8,074

B3 — Information Society

950

179

C1 — Grant to RTE

185,724

182,444

C2 — Payment to an Post

12,457

12,405

C3 — Deontas I Leith TG4

33,550

36,260

C4 — Broadcasting Fund

14,704

14,420

C5 — Grants for Digital Terrestrial Television

3,000

575

D1 — SEAI Admin & General Expenses

8,968

7,850

D2 — Sustainable Energy Programmes

109,451

100,769

D3 — Energy Research Programmes

14,400

8,896

D4 — Strategic Energy Infrastructure

1

E1 — Petroleum Services

1,367

1,183

E2 — Mining Services

4,700

1,971

E3 — GSI Services

540

491

E4 — Geoscience Initiatives

2,208

1,422

E5 — National Seabed Survey

2,900

2,856

E6 — Ordnance Survey Ireland

7,451

7,451

F1 — Inland Fisheries

28,617

27,565

G1 — Subs to International Orgs

467

299

G2 — Change Management Fund

1

G3 — Gas Services

32

32

G4 — Other Services

501

1

Gross Total

494,716

446,322

Question No. 321 answered with Question No. 316.

Broadcasting Services

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

322 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding local radio stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2431/12]

RTÉ, as a public service broadcaster, is funded through a mix of licence fee and commercial revenues obtained largely from advertising. The public funding element is provided for the purpose of allowing the company to meet its public service broadcasting objectives.

These objects are set out in Part 7 of the Broadcasting Act 2009, and they provide the company's statutory mandates and encapsulate national policy in terms of public service broadcasting. They include the specific objective of providing national, free-to-air public service broadcasting services, as well as the provision of a broad range of other additional services that are seen as fundamental to the role of the public service broadcaster. In pursuit of these objects, the provisions in the Act subject the company to a range of additional requirements.

The rationale for providing State funding for Public Service Broadcasting is to provide an independent and reliable income flow that allows the two public service broadcasting corporations, RTÉ and TG4, to attain their public service objects, while ensuring they can maintain a high level of editorial independence. This is especially important in the context of news and current affairs.

These statutory objects and requirements clearly set the State-owned public service broadcasters apart from their commercial counterparts who, while bringing choice and competition to the market, are privately owned and funded companies that have entered the market on the basis of a commercial proposition.

I am aware that the funding of the public service broadcasters has been subject to criticism by private sector broadcasters and, in particular, that there has been criticism of the dual public and commercial funding model as applied to RTÉ.

The funding of privately owned independent broadcasters is, of course, derived from their own commercial activities. Independent broadcasters can voluntarily apply for a broadcasting licence from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) and are not subject to the same statutory requirements in terms of their broadcasting remit.

It is also worth noting that public, community and independent commercial broadcasters can all access funding from the Broadcasting Funding Scheme, the purpose of which is to encourage the inclusion of additional programming of a particular character in broadcasters programme schedules. The Scheme is open to independent producers and all ‘free to air' broadcasters and is funded by way of a payment of 7% of net licence fee receipts, which is paid to the BAI in respect of this Scheme. This amount was increased from 5% to 7% under the Broadcasting Act 2009.

Energy Security

Derek Keating

Question:

323 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, in view of the heightening of tensions in the Middle East, the provisions being made by the State to ensure an adequate store of petroleum products and diesel fuel is made; if the Minister is concerned about this and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2465/12]

Ireland is critically dependent on imported fossil fuels, particularly oil and natural gas to meet its energy needs. This dependency underlines the immediate and long term imperatives of enhancing energy security, reducing price volatility and ensuring energy sustainability. National energy policy objectives are in line with overall EU policy objectives and are informed by the critical work of the International Energy Agency (IEA) on all aspects of energy supply.

The National Oil Reserves Agency (NORA) is responsible for ensuring that Ireland meets its legal EU and IEA obligations to maintain 90 days' oil stocks for use in the event of an oil supply disruption. NORA currently holds approximately 80 days of Ireland's 90 day stockholding requirements, the balance of which is held by industry. NORA holds stocks of oil products including motor fuels such as gasoline and diesel.

NORA meets its stock-holding obligations by a combination of wholly-owned stocks and stock "tickets" (short term contracts to purchase oil in the event of a crisis). Of the stocks currently held by NORA, approximately 63% are held as physical stocks on the island of Ireland, 32% are held as physical stocks abroad, and 8% are held as stock tickets.

It is Government policy to increase the volume of strategic stocks held on the island of Ireland, subject to value for money considerations. In 2011, NORA commissioned two new storage facilities at Ringsend, in Dublin and Kilroot, in County Antrim. In addition, planning permission has been obtained to refurbish an existing storage facility at Tarbert Power Station, County Kerry. This additional storage capacity will considerably enhance oil security on the island of Ireland.

Fisheries Protection

Joe McHugh

Question:

324 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when he expects to complete an environmental survey (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2492/12]

I understand the Deputy's question relates to the issue of oyster dredge licences on Lough Swilly, County Donegal.

As the Deputy may be aware an appropriate assessment of Lough Swilly is a matter for the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine. In the absence of the such an assessment, Inland Fisheries Ireland must ensure that no intensification of the oyster fishery takes place and as a consequence must limit the number of licences that can be issued for 2012 to no more than the average number of licences that have been issued for that District/area over the previous 5 years when dredging actually took place.

For the Deputy's information, I have set out below the position as it relates to licence applications for 2012. I am advised that all the applications for oyster dredge licences have been processed by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) according to the published procedures as outlined on the www.fisheriesireland.ie website.

A total of 24 licences is available for issue in 2012 (as identified last year by the average number of licences issued over the previous 5 years). A total of 23 licences have been issued to date. There is 1 application currently under appeal where the licence application was received on 5th January (later than the 30 December 2011 deadline for receipt).

Other applications have been received, mainly from fishermen who have not held a licence on the fishery over the past 5 years (i.e. new entrants or licence holders who may have held licences prior to 2007). In that regard, because of the policy imperative not to intensify fishing activity it has not been possible to facilitate these applications as it would have disadvantaged fishermen who have a recognised track record.

Illegal Dumping

Derek Keating

Question:

325 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he would outline to Dáil Éireann the plan of action to deal with the problem of diesel sludge dumping on motorways in the State and the cost incurred by local authorities to address this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2460/12]

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 the price in Northern Ireland for regular diesel and petrol is approximately 15% higher than in the State and that consequently illegal imports of these commodities are not an issue. However, illegal activity in the form of diesel fuel laundering, which takes place mainly in the State, does pose a serious threat to the Exchequer. Fuel laundering involves large-scale removal of markers from rebated mineral oil, which is subject to a reduced rate of mineral oil tax on condition that it is not used in road vehicles. This form of tax evasion is a matter the Revenue Commissioners and the Government take very seriously, particularly given the current economic climate. 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.

In 2010, Revenue enforcement staff detected four oil-laundering plants in this jurisdiction and seized 228,000 litres of laundered oil. In addition, nine retailers were found dealing in laundered oil and eight haulage companies were detected using it in their vehicles. There were four court convictions in 2010 for laundered oil offences.

In 2011 nine oil laundries and 327,000 litres of laundered fuel were seized, together with nine oil tankers and twenty-nine other vehicles. 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 the cases. In addition, a further 718,181 litres of illicit mineral oil has been seized, the large majority from retail outlets or in the course of delivery to such outlets

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.

Revenue is currently reviewing its enforcement options to ensure that its action against this illegal activity continues to be as effective as possible. 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. Consideration is being given also, in the context of the forthcoming Finance Bill, to possible changes in the law, particularly from the point of view of the control of the supply of oil, which would enhance the capacity to combat this illegality.

Fire Services

Patrick Nulty

Question:

326 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if the recruitment panel for Dublin Fire Brigade will be maintained and utilised to recruit further Dublin Fire Brigade staff members, in view of the pressing need for vacancies to be filled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2480/12]

Under section 159 of the Local Government Act 2001, each county and city manager is responsible for the staffing and organisational arrangements necessary for carrying out the functions of the local authority for which he or she is responsible. Accordingly, the question raised is a matter for Dublin City Council.

My Department considers all staffing sanction requests on a case by case basis, having due regard to the continued delivery of key services and the need to further reduce overall staffing levels and expenditure in the local authority sector.

Construction Industry

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

327 Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the measures undertaken by him to combat the issue of self-regulation in the construction industry; the impact the withdrawal of inspectors of tax break apartments and housing will have on this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1875/12]

In July, 2011, I announced a number of measures to be advanced by my Department and by local authorities with a view to improving compliance with, and oversight of, the requirements of the Building Regulations.

In broad terms the measures will involve:

(a) the introduction of mandatory certificates of compliance by builders and designers of buildings confirming that the statutory requirements of the Building Regulations have been met;

(b) the lodgement of drawings at both commencement and completion of construction, demonstrating how the building has been designed and built to comply with all parts of the Building Regulations;

(c) more efficient pooling of building control staff and resources across the local authority sector to ensure more effective and meaningful oversight of building activity;

(d) standardised approaches and common protocols to ensure nationwide consistency in the administration of building control functions;

(e) better support and further development of the building control function nationwide.

The Departmental inspectors referred to in the Question have no formal role in relation to the Building Control Acts. The duties of the inspectorate included the issuance of Floor Area Compliance Certificates (FACCs) for dwelling units which qualified for a concession on stamp duty under the Stamp Duties Consolidation Act 1999. However, the demand for FACCs no longer exists following the granting of a general exemption from stamp duty to first time buyers.

Of a total complement of 34 in the Housing Inspectorate in my Department, 1 has recently retired and 1 has transferred to the Office of Public Works. 14 of the remaining inspectors are available for redeployment to other duties and areas of business in the context of overall public service reform and the Croke Park Agreement. My Department continues to retain an appropriate level of technical expertise necessary to support the determination of public policy in relation to housing, planning and building control matters.

Building Regulations

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

328 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding proposals to take care of the housing needs of the residents of the Priory Hall apartments, Dublin, who have been living in temporary accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1897/12]

The legal proceedings in relation to Priory Hall are continuing and it would be inappropriate to anticipate their conclusion.

My Department has made a contribution towards the costs necessarily incurred by Dublin City Council, in the context of a judgment of the High Court, in providing temporary accommodation for households evacuated from Priory Hall.

The overriding priority is to ensure the optimum outcome for the households concerned and to facilitate as early as possible a return to their homes. In this respect it will be necessary to ensure that these homes are made fit for purpose and that the costs of so doing fall where they should. I have asked Dublin City Council to do all within its powers to achieve this objective and have asked my Department to continue to liaise closely with Dublin City Council in this regard.

Dublin City Council is the designated authority with powers to enforce the statutory requirements arising under the Fire Safety Act, the Building Control Acts and the Planning and Development Acts, all of which are at issue in relation to Priory Hall. The Council is also the designated housing authority under the Housing Acts.

Dublin City Council has made commendable efforts to provide for the needs of residents to date, and I urge the Council to continue to meet and communicate with the residents and to take all reasonable steps to support them at this difficult and vulnerable time.

Local Government Charges

Niall Collins

Question:

329 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that county councils are imposing additional administrative fees on the local government household charge if they are processed directly in their council offices; and the action he will take on the matter. [2013/12]

Simon Harris

Question:

332 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the practice of some local authorities of charging an additional fee for persons attending their local councils to pay the household charge; his views on whether this is acceptable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2103/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 329 and 332 together.

A fee is not payable for attending at the offices of a county/city council for the purposes of payment of a household charge. The Local Government Management Agency, which has been assigned responsibility for the operation of the household charge system on a shared service basis on behalf of county and city councils, has informed and has subsequently reminded councils that fees are not payable in such circumstances.

A fee of €10 has been introduced from 1 January 2012 for the payment of a charge on non-principal private residences by a person attending at the offices of a county or city council.

Departmental Bodies

Sean Fleming

Question:

330 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will list the number of public bodies under his auspice in which members of the board, employees, staff and other persons are required to complete forms under the ethics in public office rules, framework and regulations; and the number of persons required to complete these forms in respect of each public body under his Department and including his Department. [2074/12]

The Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001 (The Ethics Acts) provide for the disclosure of interests by office holders, the Attorney General, members of the Houses of the Oireachtas, special advisers and holders of designated directorships and occupiers of designated positions in the civil service and the semi-state sector.

Regulations under the 1995 Act designate a number of positions of employment in prescribed public bodies for the purposes of the legislation. In the Civil Service, grades with a salary level at or above the minimum point of the Principal (Standard Scale) are designated positions. A number of other positions with lower salary levels have also been designated e.g., posts requiring the holder to interface with the commercial sector. The Ethics in Public Office (Designated Positions in Public Bodies) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 lists these designated positions for the period January-December 2012. A total of 152 employees in my Department are currently in positions designated under these regulations and are required to make returns under the Ethics Acts for 2012. The obligations of Civil Servants under the Ethics Acts are set out in Department of Finance Circular 4/2002, available at www.per.gov.ie . The obligations applicable to established civil servants also apply to Special Advisers to Office Holders. There are currently 2 Special Advisers in my Department.

Regulations under the 1995 Act also prescribe Public Bodies and designate directorships and positions of employment therein for the purposes of the Ethics Acts. Currently the Ethics in Public Office (Prescribed Public Bodies, Designated Directorships of Public Bodies and Designated Positions in Public Bodies) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 lists these Public Bodies and designated directorships and positions of employment for the period January-December 2012. Oversight of employees and directors is a matter for each Public Body concerned and full details regarding the number of employees and directors obliged to make returns under the Ethics Acts are not generally available in my Department. The obligations of all Public Servants under the Ethics Acts are set out in the Guidelines for Public Servants on Compliance with the Provisions of the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2011, available at www.sipo.ie. Office Holders, including Ministers and Ministers of State, also have obligations under the Ethics Acts and these are outlined in Guidelines for Office Holders on Compliance with the Provisions of the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2011, available at www.sipo.ie.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

331 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the total cost of lump sums paid to staff and the number of staff involved who retired in 2011 in his Department and in respect of each organisation under his auspice; the total annual estimated pension costs associated with these persons in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2090/12]

The information requested in respect of my Department and State Agencies under the aegis of my Department is set out in the table:

Agency

Number of retirements in 2011

Cost of Retirement Lump Sums

Associated Estimated Pension cost for 2012

Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government

27

€2,192,219

€696,737

An Bord Pleanala

7

€762,386

€338,823

Dublin Docklands Development Agency

1

€21,030

€3,951

An Chomhairle Leabharlanna

1

€76,555

€25,518

Local Government Computer Services Board

2

€162,857

€50,198

Local Government Manangement Services Board

1

€50,198

€2,600

National Building Agency

2

€133,606

€22,958

Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland

1

€74,848

€28,244

Total

42

€3,473,699

€1,169,029

Question No. 332 answered with Question No. 329.

Departmental Funding

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

333 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the amount of funding provided to the Clones Redevelopment Partnership in 2010 and 2011; the funding approved for 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2109/12]

The Clones Regeneration partnership sought funding from the Rural Development Fund (RDF) to support the employment of a co-ordinator to undertake a programme of development work in preparation for the opening of the Ulster canal. It is hoped that the opening of the canal will make a major contribution to the economic regeneration of Clones and surrounding areas.

The formal approval given to the Clones Regeneration project in June 2009, allowed for funds up to a maximum of €85,000 annually to be made available to the end of 2012 from the RDF, subject to the availability of resources. The support drawn down to date amounted to €27,000 for 2010 and €68,000 for 2011 and an amount of up to €85,000 has also been allocated for 2012.

The purpose of the RDF is to finance research, evaluation and pilot actions, so as to provide information and advice for policy makers on important rural development issues, and it is not, therefore, intended to be a source of long-term funding.

Local Government Charges

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

334 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if the €100 household charge will have to be paid on a house that has a roof and doors but is completely uninhabitable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2111/12]

Mattie McGrath

Question:

350 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if a homeowner who is unable to live in their home due to the condition of their house and who is renting a property will be exempt from the household charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2517/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 334 and 350 together.

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 provides the legislative basis for the household charge. The definition of residential property in section 2(1) is relevant when considering whether a residential property that is not used or lived in is liable to the household charge.

There are a number of indicators as to what makes a house suitable for occupation for the purposes of determining any liability to the household charge. The indicators include the structure of the house, whether or not it has a roof, whether or not it is so affected by dampness as to render it unsuitable for habitation, and whether or not it has sanitary facilities, including a water closet and water supply. A property that is not suitable for occupation should not be regarded as a residential property within the meaning of the Act.

The Act places the onus on an owner of a residential property to assess his or her liability to the household charge on the liability date (1 January) and, if liable, to declare that liability and to pay the charge in respect of that property by the due date.

Foreshore Licences

Timmy Dooley

Question:

335 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding an application for a foreshore licence in respect of a location (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2112/12]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 279 of 27 January 2010. The position remains unchanged. My Department is still awaiting confirmation that the valuation terms notified to the Council on 23 October 2009 are acceptable. Specific conditions for inclusion in the draft foreshore licence were also issued to the applicant for its agreement on 25 January 2010 and a response from the Council is awaited.

Departmental Expenditure

Brendan Smith

Question:

336 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the total allocated budget for his Department in 2011; and the actual outturns in each of his Department subheads at the end of 2011. [2133/12]

The information requested is set out in the following table:

Subhead

2011 REV Allocation €,000

2011 Provisional Outturn *€,000

Administration

A.1 Salaries, Wages and Allowances

51,574

51,074

A.2 Travel and Subsistence

1,613

1,274

A.3 Incidental Expenses

1,664

981

A.4 Postal and Telecommunications Services

1,311

1,175

A.5 Office Equipment and External IT Services

9,704

6,848

A.6 Office Premises Expenses

1,033

746

A.7 Consultancy Services and Value for Money and Policy Reviews

349

99

Housing

B.1 Social Housing Provision and Support

531,325

490,010

B.2 Local Authority Estate Regeneration and Remedial Works

203,700

182,177

B.3 Private Housing Adaptation — Grants and Other Supports

70,505

70,200

Water Services

C.1 Water Services Investment Programme

435,000

428,964

Environment

D.1 Environmental Protection Agency

19,796

19,353

D.2 Environmental Radiation Policy

3,323

3,398

D.3 Subscriptions to International Organisations

4,110

4,108

D.4 Carbon Fund

4,200

4,140

D.5 International Climate Change Commitments

0

10,000

Waste Management

E.1 Recycling Services

0

0

E.2 Landfill Remediation

1,000

1,001

Local Government

F.1 Local Government Fund

164,000

175,000

F.2 Fire and Emergency Services

12,130

13,130

F.3 Local Authority Library and Archive Service

7,600

7,582

F.4 Community & Social Inclusion

2,989

3,399

F.5 Disability Services

0

0

F.6 Economic & Social Disadvantage (Dormant Accounts Fund)

282

0

Supporting Communities

G.1 Supports for Community and Voluntary Sector

6,486

6,486

G.2 Local and Community Development Programmes

34,308

33,469

G.3 RAPID

2,458

1,563

G.4 Dormant Accounts Measures

1,943

1,639

Planning

H.1 An Bord Pleanála

12,829

13,724

H.2 Planning Tribunal

3,470

4,137

H.3 Tidy Towns Competition

1

1

H.4 Planning & Development etc.

150

180

H.5 Foreshore

1,400

416

Rural Development

I.1 Western Development Commission

660

563

I.2 National Rural Development Schemes

2,987

2,985

I.3 LEADER — Rural Economy Sub-Programme

53,072

38,610

Other Services

J.1 Irish Water Safety

512

512

J.2 Miscellaneous Services

14,212

17,818

Gross Total

1,661,696

1,596,762

K Appropriations-in-Aid

52,225

47,911

Net Total

1,609,471

1,548,851

*In cases of increased expenditure compared to the estimate, the amounts involved were approved by way of appropriate virement sanction by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, or by means of supplementary estimate.

Registration Fees