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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 19 Jul 2012

Vol. 773 No. 3

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 10, inclusive, answered orally.

Broadband Services

Niall Collins

Question:

11 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of additional resources that will be made available to fund the recommendations of the next generation broadband task force when it reports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35798/12]

There is a commitment in the Programme for Government to co-invest with the private sector and commercial Semi State sector to provide Next Generation Broadband customer access and associated fast speeds to every home and business in the State.

The Next Generation Broadband Taskforce (NGBT) report, which I launched on the second of May last, will have an important role to play in this regard.

The report proposes 51 measures which could enable broadband infrastructure providers to accelerate and maximise commercial investment in new next generation broadband infrastructure. The report also seeks to assist Government to identify regional gaps which may arise where the business case is insufficient to justify commercial investment.

In launching the NGBT report I also commenced a public consultation to allow all other interested parties to comment on the document and to offer any additional or alternative proposals. The public consultation closed in early June and more than 50 responses were received. My Department has been considering the responses received and related matters.

Building on the work of the Taskforce and the responses received, it is my intention to bring proposals for a National Broadband Plan to Government shortly with a view to agreeing a comprehensive set of policy actions to underpin the provision of high speed services on a national basis which will take due account of the NGBT report and the additional responses received.

The resources required to achieve the Government target cannot be quantified accurately at this time. The amount of funding required will depend on a number of high level factors, including the actual build rate of broadband infrastructure on a commercial basis and the level of funding the commercial sector will contribute to any market intervention to ensure high speed broadband is available in areas the market will not serve on a commercial basis.

Renewable Energy

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

12 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the outcomes of the electric vehicle grant scheme that was introduced in 2009; if the target of achieving 6,000 passenger vehicles in operation by 2012 will be achieved; the percentage of the national car fleet that is powered by electricity; the amount the scheme has cost since its introduction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35518/12]

The EU Renewable Energy Directive requires Member states to meet a target of 10% of renewable energy in transport by 2020. The Government intends to meet the obligation through progressively increasing biofuel penetration and an ambition that 10% of all vehicles will be powered by electricity by 2020.

Though very challenging, I believe that this target can be achieved. Uptake over the next decade will be dependent on a range of factors including economic recovery, the price and range of electric vehicles progressively brought to market by manufacturers, the price of diesel and petroleum and overall consumer confidence. In addition, take-up in the technology will critically depend on global development in electric vehicle technology. The pace of that development was demonstrably evident at the E-Motion Conference hosted by ESB and which I launched last week. The level of international participation and interest was very high and a clear sign of the world wide trend.

Electric vehicles are still at the early stages of development. Government alone cannot ensure the development of the sector. It requires a coalition of partners and stakeholders from Government, energy, automotive, ICT industry and academia.

As part of encouraging market development I launched the electric vehicle grant scheme in 2011. The scheme is designed to incentivise and support, through grants of up to €5,000, the early deployment of electric and other low emission vehicles. The aim is to develop critical mass of such vehicles early on and build a stable market.

Electric vehicles in Ireland also benefit from relief from vehicle registration tax, accelerated capital allowances and the lowest road tax rate.

The grant scheme has a funding allocation of €1.5 million this year. To date, 97 grants totalling €456,000 have been made by Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) under the scheme. This take up is broadly in line with experience in other EU Member States operating similar incentives.

SEAI expects that the take up will increase as car manufacturers steadily expand the range of electric vehicles available to the market, as prices come down and as confidence increases in the availability of infrastructure. There are approximately 300 electric vehicles in the country at this point.

Ireland's ambition to be an early mover in the electrification of transport has been endorsed by the International Energy Agency in its Review of Ireland's Energy Policy published on 11 July.

Energy Resources

Willie O'Dea

Question:

13 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when the independent assessment of the efficiency of the electricity and gas sectors here will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35814/12]

The International Energy Agency's (IEA) Review of Ireland's Energy Policy was launched and published on the 11th July 2012. The IEA reviews the energy policy of every member country every five years and last reviewed Ireland in 2007. The 2012 Review is a comprehensive analysis and critique of Ireland's energy policy directions. The Review incorporates the independent assessment of the electricity and gas sectors which was required under the EU-IMF-ECB memorandum of understanding in the programme of financial support for Ireland.

In the context of the progress already made to enhance the gas and electricity markets, it is helpful to have the IEA's general endorsement of work to date including market reform, price deregulation and competition. The Review underlines the need to enhance the powers of the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) as necessary and also advocates that the competitive landscape be kept under review. The Review reinforces the need to implement the third energy package and highlights the challenges for the island of Ireland associated with the integration of regional energy markets. The Review calls for cost-effective and efficient expenditure on Ireland's energy networks and other major energy infrastructure underpinned by comprehensive consultation.

In that context, I can advise the House that the Government has agreed a Policy Statement on the Strategic and Economic importance of Transmission and other Energy Infrastructure. The Statement is being disseminated at national and local level to all Stakeholders.

The Government Statement reaffirms the imperative need for development and renewal of our energy networks, in order to meet both economic and social policy goals. The planning process provides the necessary framework for ensuring that all necessary standards are met and that comprehensive statutory and non-statutory consultation is built into the process.

The Statement also acknowledges the need for social acceptance and the appropriateness of exploring ways of building community gain considerations into project planning and budgeting. Delivering long lasting benefits to communities is an important way of achieving public acceptability for infrastructure.

The State network companies are mandated to plan their developments in a safe efficient and economic manner. They are also required to address and mitigate human, environmental and landscape impacts, in delivering the best possible engineering solutions.

The major investment underway in the high voltage electricity transmission system under EirGrid's Grid 25 Programme is the most important such investment in Ireland's transmission system for several generations.

While the Government does not seek to direct infrastructure developers to particular sites or routes or technologies, the Government endorses, supports and promotes the strategic programmes of the strategic energy infrastructure providers, particularly EirGrid's Grid 25 key developments investment programme across the regions. It is Government policy and in the national interest, not least in the current economic circumstances, that these investment programmes are delivered in the most cost efficient and timely way possible, on the basis of the best available knowledge and informed engagement on the impacts and the costs of different engineering solutions.

Renewable Energy

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

14 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the extent to which alternative and-or indigenously generated electricity production has replaced fossil fuel energy imports in each of the past five years to date; the extent to which the achievement of EU alternative energy targets are likely to be met; if the possibility of exceeding such targets has been examined; if in the context of any review of EU targets he can anticipate further positive development in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35715/12]

The 2009 Renewable Energy Directive sets Ireland a legally binding target of ensuring that 16% of all energy consumption is to be from renewable sources by 2020. This target has to be achieved across the transport, heating and electricity sectors.

This target, like all targets assigned to other Member States is challenging and the Government's priority is to meet these 2020 targets in the most cost effective and economically sustainable manner possible.

To achieve this overall 16% target, Ireland, as set out in its National Renewable Energy Action Plan, intends to achieve 40% in the electricity sector, 10% in the transport sector and 12% in the heat sector, which together make up the requisite 16%.

According to the provisional figures from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), at the end of 2011, 6.5% of all energy consumed in Ireland was from renewable sources, up from 3.1% in 2005.

In terms of 2011, 17.6% of electricity consumed is provisionally estimated to be from renewable sources, with 40% required by 2020; 3.6% of transport energy was from renewables, with 10% required by 2020; and 5% of our heat energy was from renewables with 12% required by 2020.

While good progress has been made, the challenges in achieving the significant increase required in the next 8 years are not to be underestimated.

EirGrid's latest data indicates that at the end of 2011, Ireland had about 1900MW of renewable generation on the grid. The latest modelling undertaken by SEAI indicates that, provided we achieve our energy efficiency targets, capacity of around 4000MW of renewable generation will be required on the system to deliver the 40% renewable electricity target by 2020.

Through its DS3 programme, EirGrid is working to deliver the necessary operational changes to the grid to ensure that system security and stability are maintained while catering for significantly increased amounts of intermittent renewable generation.

In addition to meet the challenging domestic renewable energy targets, Ireland is exploring with the UK the possibility of renewable trade under the framework of the cooperation mechanisms provided for in the Renewable Energy Directive. This could lead to significant exports of wind electricity to the UK in the future. I recently met Minister Hendry as part of a series of bilateral meetings on developing a formal Memorandum of Understanding by the end of the year.

SEAI has estimated that the increase in electricity generation from renewable sources has displaced fossil fuel imports resulted in primary energy avoided by 6,613 Gigawatt hours in 2006 to 12,431 Gigawatt hours in 2011. SEAI has estimated that this has saved €968 million in avoided fossil fuels imports over the past five years.

Postal Services

Mick Wallace

Question:

15 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the possibility of making post offices more sustainable by allowing them to provide the facility of motor tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35736/12]

Denis Naughten

Question:

17 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to meet with the Irish Postmasters' Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35514/12]

Clare Daly

Question:

18 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on whether rural Ireland is being affected by the withdrawal of services in rural villages in particular by the closing of rural post offices; his plans to prevent the further decline of services for which he is responsible in rural Ireland. [35737/12]

Denis Naughten

Question:

19 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to support the maintenance of the rural post office network; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35515/12]

Mick Wallace

Question:

20 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the proposals put forward in the Grant Thornton report commissioned by the Irish Postmasters’ Union to make motor tax payable at post offices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35735/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 15 and 17 to 20, inclusive, together.

As the Deputies will appreciate An Post is a Commercial State body with its own Board and Management.

Operational matters and the sustainability of the post office network are a matter for the Management and Board of An Post. These are areas in which I have no statutory function.

Nonetheless, it is Government policy that An Post remains a strong and viable State company, providing high quality services on a nationwide basis. In this context, the Government supports the maintenance of the maximum number of economically viable post offices.

As shareholder I do have a strong concern in relation to the ongoing commercial position of the Company and I regularly liaise with the Company in this regard. The reality is that the core mail business has suffered a major fall and this has impacted seriously on the Company's revenue flow. In response the Company is proactively seeking to keep costs down and diversify its business.

An Post has many strengths and has the largest retail presence in the country. I have impressed on the Company the need to further exploit its unique position in this regard and have been supportive of its attempts to diversify its income streams and to win a wider range of commercial contracts offering higher margins.

This strategy is bearing fruit with the enhanced arrangement with AIB and I fully support the Company's strategy in this regard and its recent heads of agreement with Aviva.

I recently met with the Irish Postmasters Union who presented me with a copy of the Grant Thornton report, The future of the Post Office Network in Ireland, which focuses on growing the business to make the network more sustainable. I have read and considered this report and found it both positive and ambitious.

In the context of the public sector reform and service delivery agenda, I will continue to engage with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and other Ministers in relation to consideration, as appropriate, of the post office network for transactional elements of the business of Government Departments and Agencies. I have stressed to my Government colleagues that the network is ideally configured for over the counter transactions.

Broadband Services

Michael McGrath

Question:

16 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the average broadband speeds available to residential and business customers in towns of less than 10,000 persons and in the open countryside; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35830/12]

Statistics on broadband availability in Ireland, in the format requested by the Deputy, are not available.

Statutory authority to require statistical information from individual service providers, operating in the fully liberalised telecommunications market, is vested in the independent market regulator, the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg).

ComReg, publishes quarterly statistical reports which include information on market developments in contracted broadband speeds in an aggregated and anonymous form at the national level. I have no statutory basis to request the more detailed statistical returns submitted by individual service providers which could include commercially sensitive information. My Department can only access the information published by ComReg.

The ComReg published quarterly statistical reports, can be accessed on its website www.comreg.ie.

I can however advise the Deputy of the position as advised by industry in the Report of the Next Generation Broadband Taskforce Report. That report states that 35% of the population (600,000 households) already have access to speeds of 100Mbps via cable. From 2015 over 50% of the population (900,000 households) will have access to speeds of 70Mpbs and above, with 41% having access to speeds of 100Mpbs via cable. Fixed wireless services of 30Mbps are currently available to 500,000 homes, including approximately 80,000 outside of the cable footprint. In the areas not served by cable, consumers generally have access to headline speeds of between 3Mpbs and 24Mbps (depending on the area) through fixed line, mobile and satellite services, with fixed wireless providing higher speeds in some areas.

Larger commercial customers generally have access to the high speeds they require and the Taskforce did not identify this as an area of particular concern. Affordable access to higher speeds may however be problematic for smaller businesses and companies who wish to provide eWorking facilities for employees.

The most recent report published by ComReg is for the quarter to the end March 2012. It reports that the number of customers contracting for broadband service is continuing to increase year on year, increasing from 1.64 million in Q1 2011 to more than 1.66 million.

It also reports that customers are moving from lower to higher broadband speeds. The proportion of customers contracted at speeds of 2 Mbps or less has fallen to less than 6% from 14% in Q1 2010; the proportion of customers contracted in a range between 2 Mbps and 10 Mbps was 75% at end Q1 2012 and the proportion of customers contracted at speed exceeding 10 Mbps increased from 7% in Q1 2010 to 19% at the end of Q1 2012. In addition to its published statistical reports, ComReg also operates a customer Information service, accessible at www.callcosts.ie, which allows users to identify marketed broadband services by county and also allows users to compare the costs of home phone, broadband, mobile and combined packages. However, this facility identifies marketed broadband speeds at the county level only and would not facilitate the collection of data in the form requested.

Questions Nos. 17 to 20, inclusive, answered with Question No. 15.

Energy Prices

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

21 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the practice of energy switching or collective community energy bargaining as occurs in Belgium and potentially in Scotland to address the issue of fuel poverty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35519/12]

Collective energy bargaining is an innovative practice being looked at by a number of Governments and communities within Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Netherlands amongst others. The premise is that the community or group can purchase fuel at a more competitive rate than that available to individuals, thus reducing expenditure on fuel for participants.

The concept is particularly interesting in the context of the Affordable Energy Strategy and the work of the Inter-Departmental Group on Affordable Energy (IDGAE). One of the priority actions in the Strategy is to look at the role of energy suppliers and identify opportunities for relieving the fuel price burden on consumers. Three actions have been specifically identified for further consideration including energy brokering, oil stamps and pay as you go for oil. The IDGAE will keep developments in other jurisdictions under close review as the work of the group develops.

Passport Applications

Joe Higgins

Question:

22 Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the reason widows and widowers are required to provide a sworn affidavit to support their claims of sole guardianship when applying for new passports for their children when this is not the case for parents whose spouses are still alive. [36550/12]

The Passports Act 2008 states that the Minister shall, before issuing a passport to a child, be satisfied on reasonable grounds that each person who is a guardian of the child consents to the issue of a passport to the child. Section 6 of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 provides that married parents of a child are joint-guardians. Therefore if both are alive they are both required to give consent for the issuance of a passport to a minor. In the case where a guardian of the child is deceased it does not necessarily follow that the remaining guardian is now the sole guardian. For instance a guardian can also, in a will or deed, appoint someone else to be a testamentary guardian after he or she dies. For this reason the surviving parent must sign and complete an affidavit stating that no other person is a guardian by operation of law, that a person has not been appointed by any other way and that there are no other circumstances by which a guardian has been appointed.

Northern Ireland Issues

Micheál Martin

Question:

23 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his position in relation to the release of the Belfast oral history project materials from Boston College; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36871/12]

In March 2011 the British Government, acting on behalf of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, initiated proceedings with the US Department of Justice under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the two countries for the release of archived interviews held in Boston College. The archives are part of the Belfast Project, an oral history of Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries compiled by Mr. McIntyre and Mr. Moloney and deposited in the Burns Library at the College. Legal challenges were launched by Boston College, and separately by Mr. MacIntyre and Mr. Moloney, to prevent the release of the material. In December 2011, these challenges were dismissed by US District Court Judge William Young. Further legal efforts by Mr. MacIntyre and Mr. Moloney were made but on 6 July, the US Federal Court of Appeal turned down their appeal.

The court ruling means that the archived material must be handed over by Boston College to the US authorities for onward transmission to their British counterparts. However Mr. Moloney and Mr. McIntyre are considering a motion for a re-hearing of the case. They also continue to keep their legal options open in the Belfast Courts.

A number of factors inform the Government's views on this matter. The issue is subject to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the US and British governments. The issue also has a bearing on how we deal with the past generally. We need to find sensitive ways of dealing with the past that meet the needs of victims and the bereaved.

Clearly the case is a matter that the Courts in the United States have spoken on and may do so again, as may the Courts in Northern Ireland. Officials of my Department will continue to closely monitor any further developments.

Overseas Development Aid

Anthony Lawlor

Question:

24 Deputy Anthony Lawlor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if Irish Aid provide funding to Irish aid organisations which have supported programmes for population planning in countries where they operate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35958/12]

The Government's aid programme, managed by Irish Aid in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is strongly focused on the fight against poverty and hunger and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The fifth of these Goals focuses on reducing maternal mortality and achieving universal access to reproductive health, including ante-natal care and family planning services. Ireland has a strong track record of support for the provision of family planning services for women in developing countries, through our funding and policy work with global initiatives and our engagement at country level through government health sectors. Irish Aid also provides support for the complementary work of NGOs to increase access to family planning services.

We believe that investing in health, including sexual and reproductive health, and in education for women and girls is fundamental to managing the challenges posed by a rapidly expanding world population. Reflecting this priority, in 2010 Ireland provided a total of some €145 million in funding for the health and education sectors in our nine priority countries and through global level partnerships. Since 2006, Ireland has provided almost €30 million in support of the UN Population Fund's reproductive, maternal health and family planning programmes. Irish Aid provides funding for family planning services in a wide range of developing countries, including, Bolivia, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Liberia, Lesotho, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Ireland's aid programme is strongly focused on sub-Saharan Africa, where the challenge of population growth is acute. In Ethiopia, for instance, our support for the Health Extension Programme has seen impressive growth in the uptake of contraception in rural areas. In both Tanzania and Mozambique, Irish support for the health sector has contributed to better delivery of district level reproductive health care. In Lesotho, in partnership with the Clinton Health Access Initiative, we have contributed to improved access to family planning by women living in very remote mountain villages.

Irish Aid will continue to support organisations that are focused on reducing maternal mortality and promoting universal access to reproductive health, including ante-natal care and family planning services.

North South Ministerial Council

Brendan Smith

Question:

25 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will give further urgent consideration to the requests of Clones Town Council that the North-South joint secretariat arrange a meeting with the relevant statutory agencies both North and South to deal with anti-social driving practices on the N54/A3 road and other policing issues in that area adjacent to Clones; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36100/12]

The Deputy will recall that on 28 May 2012 I replied to a letter from him in regard to this matter. Following consultation with the relevant Departments and agencies, the Joint Secretariat of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) wrote to Clones Town Council in November 2011 to explain that it was not in a position to arrange a meeting as requested. The reason for this was that the Departments and agencies concerned — many of which were already aware of the issue — felt that they could not assist further in the matter which is essentially a policing issue.

The NSMC Joint Secretariat forwarded the correspondence to the relevant authorities in both jurisdictions, informed Clones Town Council of this, and advised Clones Town Council to continue to liaise with the police services in relation to its concerns.

EU Presidency

Terence Flanagan

Question:

26 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his priorities for the remainder of Ireland's presidency of the OSCE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36228/12]

The focus for the remainder of our OSCE Chairmanship will be on the preparations for the Dublin Ministerial Council, to take place from 6-7 December. We are taking forward the priorities which I have previously outlined to this House, ensuring balance and coherence across all three dimensions of the OSCE's work. Our aim for the Dublin Ministerial Council is to achieve concrete results, through a small and balanced package of decisions and declarations for adoption at the Council. We will be reflecting in the coming months on which areas may be appropriate for consideration by the Ministerial Council and we will be negotiating with partners in the run-up to the Council. As Chair-in-Office, we are continuing efforts to make progress towards lasting settlements of a number of conflicts in the OSCE area. Among these is the conflict in Moldova regarding the territory of Transdniestria; the conflict in Georgia regarding the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia; and the conflict which is the subject of the Minsk process. I am assisted in this task by Erwan Fouéré, who is my Special Representative for the Transdniestrian settlement process, and by Pádraig Murphy, my Special Representative for the Southern Caucasus. They are cooperating with international actors on the ground as well as maintaining close contact with the parties.

I am pleased that progress has recently been achieved in the so-called ‘5+2' Talks, chaired by Ireland, on the Transdniestria settlement process and as part of our support for this process, Moldovan and Transdniestrian negotiators visited Dublin and Belfast in May on a study visit to learn more about the Northern Ireland peace process. We remain committed to providing detailed briefings on aspects of the Northern Ireland peace process, should this be helpful to those engaged in conflict resolution efforts in the OSCE area. In mid-June it was my privilege to visit all three countries in the South Caucasus region. I had useful discussions in each of the three and was able, in talks with political leaders, to get a first hand impression of the situation in the region. I urged all concerned to engage constructively in discussions aimed at finding solutions to these conflicts.

The Irish Chairmanship is actively taking forward Mongolia's application to become an OSCE participating State and we have been active in work, at diplomatic level, on issues related to the legal status of the OSCE. As the fortieth anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act beckons in 2015, we launched the ‘Helsinki + 40 concept', in consultation with the OSCE Troika and the future Swiss and Serbian Chairmanships. This offers an important opportunity to adopt a more forward-looking and strategic approach for the OSCE, moving towards realisation of the common vision agreed at the Astana Summit in 2010, that is to say, a comprehensive, cooperative and indivisible security community throughout the OSCE area.

I will, of course, keep this House informed on developments relating to our OSCE Chairmanship.

Humanitarian Aid

Brendan Smith

Question:

27 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position on the provision of humanitarian aid to Syria; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36419/12]

The humanitarian situation in Syria has deteriorated rapidly in the past number of months. Estimates of those affected by the violence range from 1.5 to 3 million, with the lack of precise data indicative of the challenging situation on the ground for both humanitarian actors and the media. In the year since the current crisis began in March 2011, more than 11,000 deaths have been reported. Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, has registered and assisted more than 110,000 refugees in neighbouring countries. With the situation worsening in many areas, the refugee population has increased by 10,000 in the last two weeks alone. Moreover, pre-existing vulnerabilities amongst the 100,000 Iraqi and 500,000 Palestinian refugees living in Syria are being exacerbated as a result of the ongoing unrest. Food prices have tripled in some areas raising the risk of malnutrition, undermining livelihoods and increasing tensions between displaced and host communities.

Given the increasingly difficult situation on the ground, EU Member States, including Ireland have been mobilising substantial funding to help aid agencies respond to the crisis. In this regard, the Tánaiste approved €500,000 in emergency funding for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP). These funds are being used to provide both immediate relief within Syria and help to those forced to flee to neighbouring countries.

We remain particularly worried by the ongoing restrictions on humanitarian access and have therefore been insisting on the full implementation of Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan. Ireland continues to engage at an international level to help find a sustainable solution to the crisis, especially to find ways to assist those Syrians most affected by the unrest. Towards this end, we have participated at a high political level in the meetings of the ‘Friends of Syria' , with the Tánaiste attending the conference in Tunis in February as well as the follow-up meeting held earlier this month in Paris. Ireland has also been actively involved in both UN and EU discussions on humanitarian access and the needs on the ground, including in the context of the meetings of the ‘Humanitarian Forum on Syria' in Geneva.

Finally, we are also working closely with our humanitarian partners across the region in order to identify other potential areas of support. We will continue to explore suitable options which would help to meet the priority humanitarian needs of the Syrian population, both inside the country and at its borders.

Overseas Development Aid

Brendan Smith

Question:

28 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to regulate the corporate governance of the overseas development non-governmental organisation sector; if he has discussed the issue with Dochas on the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36420/12]

The Government's aid programme, which is managed by Irish Aid in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, channels a significant proportion of funding through development Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). This reflects the strong contribution which Irish NGOs are making to the fight against world poverty and hunger, and the broad support which they continue to receive from the Irish public.

Irish Aid places a strong emphasis on corporate governance and financial oversight in its relationships with the development NGOs. Its grant approval process is strongly focused on the achievement of key development results. The process encompasses an assessment of corporate governance and financial oversight issues, including the level of oversight by the Board of Directors of each organisation's strategic direction, financial sustainability, risk management, accountability and transparency. Corporate governance issues are monitored regularly and, where necessary, performance benchmarks are put in place to improve standards and ensure accountability and transparency.

The Charities Act 2009 governs the regulation and oversight of charities in Ireland. It provides for the establishment of a register of charities and the creation of a new Charities Regulatory Authority to ensure greater accountability and increased transparency in the charity sector.

While a number of sections of the Act have been commenced, the Charities Regulatory Authority has not yet been established. However, in relation to the development sector, Irish Aid has provided funding to the association of Irish non-governmental development organisations, Dóchas, to develop a Code of Corporate Governance, in partnership with the Corporate Governance Association of Ireland.

This Code sets out best practice principles, drawing from established codes in other countries. They include standards in relation to board responsibilities, leadership, accountability, integrity and transparency. I attach great importance to work to improve standards of corporate governance and strengthen NGO accountability. Irish Aid is continuing to work with, and fund, Dóchas to support ongoing work on enhancing professional standards for NGOs and to encourage and monitor compliance with the Code of Corporate Governance.

Northern Ireland Issues

Brendan Smith

Question:

29 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the discussions he has had in relation to the republican activists against drugs vigilante group operating in Derry and the spill over of violence into the Republic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36421/12]

The peace process and the Good Friday Agreement have resulted in a transformation of society in Northern Ireland, perhaps most visibly in the normalisation of daily life and the dramatic decrease in terrorist-related incidents and violence. There remains, however, a threat from paramilitary groups who continue to assert their determination to impose a return to conflict on the people of Ireland. RAAD has claimed responsibility for the murder of one young man in Buncrana earlier this year and for a grim series of shootings and mutilations of young people in Derry. It is clear that these people enjoy no popular support within the community, as evidenced by the unequivocal response by the people of Derry who have publically protested against those who seek to impose their will on the community through violence.

Strong deep cooperation between the Garda Síochána and the Police Service of Northern Ireland is doing much to counter such individuals and groups. The number of arrests in connection with paramilitary activity made in both jurisdictions continues to be significant. The Gardaí and the PSNI will continue to cooperate very closely to combat such activity on both sides of the border.

Justice and security matters are not among the six Areas of Co-Operation on which common policies and approaches are discussed and agreed in the North South Ministerial Council. It is however, a matter of close ongoing cooperation between the Government, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the British authorities. The Joint Statement by the Taoiseach and Prime Minister Cameron on British Irish relations in March this year underlined the determination of both governments to support reconciliation and prosperity in Northern Ireland.

I regularly review progress in this area with Secretary of State Owen Patterson and did so most recently yesterday.

Middle East Peace Process

Thomas Pringle

Question:

30 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans, if any, to exert pressure on Israel to remove its illegal settlements and end its military occupation of Palestinian territories. [36486/12]

Thomas Pringle

Question:

32 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he intends to intervene in the continued Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territories. [36518/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 30 and 32 together.

Ireland, along with our EU partners, have consistently asserted that the long term solution to the Middle East conflict, and the only way to secure the needs and interests of Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region is a solution based on two states, including a sovereign Palestinian state, and thus the ending of the Israeli occupation. Successive Irish Governments have also consistently stated that settlements are illegal under international law and are an obstacle to peace. The relentless construction of settlements in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) is undermining the viability of a future Palestinian state. This is unambiguous EU policy, and a message that Ireland and our EU partners relay to the Israeli authorities in every meeting. The settlement project is incompatible with a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, and with the end of the occupation.

Recognising that developments on the ground are threatening to make a two-state solution impossible, the Foreign Affairs Council in May adopted Conclusions that restated, and in many respects advanced, EU positions on issues such as the Palestinian depopulation of Area C and evictions and demolitions in East Jerusalem. The Conclusions set out the remedial action which we wish to see, primarily from Israel. Clearly the Council will have to continue to press on these issues.

The occupation will only come to an end as a result of a negotiated settlement between the two sides. It is in the interests of Israel, Palestinians, and the wider region, that a political compromise is found on the basis of a two-state solution. I would strongly encourage Israel to recognise that the window of opportunity for the two-state solution is rapidly closing, and that its own interests are best served by engaging meaningfully and genuinely in peace talks.

Passport Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

31 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will outline the position regarding an application for a passport in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36492/12]

The Passports Act 2008 provides, among other things, that only Irish citizens are entitled to be issued with Irish passports. Each application received by the Passport Service must, therefore, demonstrate that person's entitlement to Irish citizenship before a passport can issue. The Passport Service received an application from the person in question in April, 2011. At that stage, it could not be finalised until her entitlement to Irish citizenship was demonstrated.

As the applicant was born in Kilkenny on 26 December, 2010, her entitlement to Irish citizenship is subject to section 6A of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended (the Act). This provides that a person, born in the State on or after 1 January 2005, where neither parent is an Irish or British citizen or otherwise entitled to reside in the State or Northern Ireland without restriction at the time of that person's birth, may claim citizenship by birth in the State (and thereby establish eligibility for an Irish passport) only where a parent has been lawfully resident in the State for three of the four years immediately preceding that person's birth.

In line with guidelines provided by Department of Justice and Equality, which is the Department responsible for immigration and citizenship, the proofs of lawful residence, which are accepted and considered by this Department for passport applications, are immigration stamps in passports and/or the registration cards/books. These are issued to persons registering their lawful presence in the State with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB). In addition, the Department will accept letters from GNIB that state the various permission details which have been issued to a person. All of these are official documents/permits, which can be objectively verified by the Passport Service, if required.

The initial evidence provided in the submitted application related to the mother's residence in the State. This included an immigration stamp and a registration card, both of which were issued by GNIB. In addition to this, a letter from GNIB dated 11 April, 2011, stated the full record of the mother's lawfully registered presence in the State. This showed that she first registered with GNIB on 15 February, 2008. The period from that date to 25 December, 2010 was reckonable for the purposes of the Act. However, it is less than the statutory requirement of three years. The child's entitlement to Irish citizenship was, therefore, not demonstrated and as such her application for a passport could not be approved for passport issue. The child's parents were advised of this by the Passport Service on 25 May, 2011.

There has been further contact with the parents in the intervening period. Last February, the child's mother provided additional information, in particular, a letter from the Department of Justice, dated 3 December, 2007 which granted permission to her to remain in the State. This letter is important and may be relevant to the child's entitlement to Irish citizenship. However, as it is outside the standard items of evidence of lawful residence in the State, as advised by the Department of Justice and Equality, the Passport Service has been in contact with that Department for direction on the acceptability of this letter as evidence of lawful residence. Their clarification on this is pending. In the meantime, this application will remain open.

In the meantime, the parents have the option of pursuing directly the matter of their daughter's entitlement to Irish citizenship with the Department of Justice and Equality. In the event that they receive written confirmation that she is an Irish citizen under the Act, the Passport Service will be in a position to issue a passport.

Question No. 32 answered with Question No. 30.

Departmental Agencies

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

33 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide details on moneys provided under any funding scheme by any section of his Department or any State agency under his Department’s aegis to any group, scheme or project in County Meath in the years 2011, and up to July 2012 under the following headings, address, amount, purpose and the funding scheme under which it was granted or awarded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36540/12]

My Department has not funded any organisation or scheme in County Meath in 2011 or to date in 2012. There are no State agencies under the aegis of my Department.

Ministerial Advisers

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

34 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide a list of all special advisers appointed by him or his Ministers of State since March 2011 whose salary exceeds the first pay point of the principal officer standard scale; the special advisers names and salaries; and salary increases awarded the aforementioned special advisers since March 2011. [36605/12]

The following are details of the Special Advisers appointed by me since I took up duty as Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade on 9 March 2011 whose salaries exceed the first point of the Principal Officer standard scale. The salaries attaching to the first two listed posts are commensurate with the responsibilities the post holders carry in the Office of the Tánaiste. The salary of the third officer includes a scale increment awarded on 10 March 2012 in line with Department of Public Expenditure and Reform guidelines relating to the appointment of special advisers. No other pay increases have been sought or awarded since the original appointments.

Name

Position held

Annual Salary

Mark Garrett

Chief Adviser — Office of the Tánaiste

€168,000

Colm O’Reardon

Economic Adviser — Office of the Tánaiste

€155,000

Jean O’Mahony

Special Adviser — Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade

€83,337

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

35 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the annual saving to the Exchequer if all board members fees paid to agencies under his aegis were cut by 25%, 35% and 50%. [36621/12]

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

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

36 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the annual saving to the Exchequer if the pay of all CEOs of State agencies under his aegis were capped at €100,000. [36637/12]

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

Departmental Expenditure

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

37 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide in a tabular form, a list of all professional fees including but not limited to legal, consultancy, IT related, advisory, advertising and accountancy; the company name; and the amount invoiced since March 2011 to the end of June 2012. [36653/12]

The Department engages professional services in a number of areas where the required skills are not available in-house and it is more cost-effective to source them externally. Details of payments in the period in question are included in the tables below in respect of Vote 27 (International Cooperation) and Vote 28 (Foreign Affairs and Trade).

Vote 27 International Cooperation

Description

Amount

Supplier

TRAVEL CONTRACT MANAGEMENT FEE AND INSURANCE

25,880

CLUB TRAVEL LTD

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING (INC. PHOTOS)

494

Misc Supplier

TRAINER FEES

1,500

DTALK KIMMAGE MANOR

1,675

International Human Rights Network

TRANSLATION SERVICES

676

ANA BELA

665

PAULA NI SHLATARRA

148

SDL GLOBAL SOLUTIONS (IRELAND) LIMITED

SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE (I.T.)

160,366

CORE FINANCIAL SYSTEMS

36,252

EQUINITI ICS LIMITED

CONSULTANCY COSTS — FEES

21,811

ACTRA ADVISERS LIMITED

1,500

AISLING SWAINE CONSULTANCY LTD

3,643

BERNARD MCLOUGHLIN

6,642

BERNARD WOOD + ASSOCIATES LTD

3,000

CAROLINE BURKE

15,706

CATHY GAYNOR

5,528

DR MARGARET FITZGERALD

4,815

EMMA WARWICK

14,414

FITZPATRICK ASSOCIATES

4,015

GERALD CAWLEY

6,859

HUNTER MCGILL

107,726

INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATION DEV

4,282

ITAD LTD

3,300

JIM KINSELLA

18,730

KEVIN FARRELL

53,660

MARCEL GROGAN

1,500

MARIE T FANNING

25,643

MARY BRADY

40,492

MARY CORBETT

20,328

MIKE WILLIAMS

124,690

MOKORO LTD

8,800

NOGUGU MAFU

15,730

NUI GALWAY

12,099

NUI Maynooth

7,650

PAT MCMULLIN

5,079

PHILIP REGAN

2,000

PIETERNELLA PIETERSE

1,650

PROF HELEN O’NEILL

7,500

RODNEY RICE

11,895

RONAN TIERNEY

8,621

SAMIA SAAD

8,621

STEFANIE MEREDITH

10,400

TONY TAAFFE

Vote 28 Foreign Affairs and Trade

Account Code Description

Amount €

Supplier Name

TRAVEL CONTRACT MANAGEMENT FEE AND INSURANCE

19,723

Club Travel

LEGAL EXPENSES (excl. SETTLEMENT COSTS)

2,804

GWEN MALONE STENOGRAPHY SERVICES

20,181

STATE CLAIMS AGENCY

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING (INC. PHOTOS)

35,553

BRINDLEY ADVERTISING

946

IRIS OIFIGIUIL

310

MAXWELL PHOTOGRAPHY

520

MONGEY COMMUNICATIONS

120

NATIONAL LIBRARY

916

RED DOG

545

TORANN NA DTONN

7,079

TRUVO

TRAINER FEES AND TRAINING MATERIALS AND EQUIP

625

AVONDALE MEDIA SERVICES

4,100

BCT COMMUNICATIONS LTD

4,200

BEARING POINT

2,111

BRIDGE INTERPRETING

6,500

CENAD T

14,666

CENTRE FOR OSCE RESEARCH CORE/IFSH

1,613

CIPFA FINANCE DEPARTMENT

1,900

CORE FINANCIAL SYSTEMS LTD

1,537

CORE INTERNATIONAL LTD.(IRL)

1,694

CW SYSTEMS INTEGRATION

990

EMERGENCY CARE PRODUCTS

6,360

HIGH PERFORMANCE

13,250

ICS SKILLS TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION

3,000

INSTITUTEOFPUBLICADMINISTRATION

874

JACINTA KITT

2,075

KATE KAVANAGH

4,899

P L AND ASSOCIATES

9,608

PATRICK SUTTON T/A COMMUNICATE

2,400

PAUL LOFTUS AND ASSOCIATES INC

2,000

PEAK CONNEXXION LTD

900

PITMAN TRAINING CENTRE

3,314

PKA TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

4,250

ROYAL COLLEGE OF SURGEONS

39,647

SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL AND AFRICAN STUDIES

210

SECOND LANGUAGE TESTING FOUNDATION INC

16,600

SURESKILLS

3,120

TETRA IRELAND COMMUNICATIONS LTD

5,400

THE COMMUNICATIONS CLINIC

17,300

TIGER CONSULTING

200

TRISH MURPHY

13,090

WRIGHT CONSULTANCY

TRANSLATION SERVICES

276

CASTLEKNOCK HOTEL AND COUNTRY CLUB

666

DCULS LTD

864

EUROPUS TEO

400

EUROTEXT TRANSLATIONS LTD

2,490

KL COMMUNICATIONS T

5,495

LIONBRIDGE INTERNATIONAL

30

MARIE THERESE SAFFRE

2,377

SEAN DE FREINE

200

SIOBHAN UI BHRAOIN

681

WORD PERFECT TRANSLATION SERVICES LTD

3,684

THE SIMULTANEOUS TRANSLATION COMPANY

135

ABRIS TRANSLATIONS

ICT OUTSOURCING

350

CLUB TRAVEL

1,264,099

B T IRELAND

5,048

BARTON ENGINEERING AND EXPORT LTD

60,798

BEARING POINT

4,696

BLUEWAVE TECHNOLOGY

6,050

COMMERICAL WIRELESS LTD

81,137

CORE FINANCIAL SYSTEMS LTD

14,399

CORE INTERNATIONAL LTD.(IRL)

23,152

DELL COMPUTER

142,926

FUJITSU IRELAND

22,261

IAI INDUSTRIAL SYSTEMS B.V.

1,956

INTEGRITY SOLUTIONS LTD

323,947

ISAS (Formerly trading as RITS)

475,348

JK NETWORK ARCHITECTURE DESIGN LTD

117,993

RITS

22,902

SABEO CONTRACTING SERVICES LTD

8,470

SURESKILLS

3,847

VERSION 1 SOFTWARE

10,459

WARD SOLUTIONS

171,701

ZERO DOWNTIME LTD

SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE (I.T.)

2,862

1E Ltd

2,293

A&O SYSTEMS AND SERVICES IRL

2,044

AMS LTD

3,042,139

BEARING POINT

454

BLUEWAVE TECHNOLOGY

2,344

BRYAN S RYAN

28,480

CENTRAL SOLUTIONS LTD

155,427

CORE FINANCIAL SYSTEMS LTD

105,249

CORE INTERNATIONAL LTD.(IRL)

54,298

DELL COMPUTER

100,278

Eircom Ltd

90,984

INTEGRITY SOLUTIONS LTD

26,687

MAXIMA MANAGED SERVICES IRELAND

78,408

MICROSOFT

133,399

ORACLE EMEA LTD

1,324

QUEST SOFTWARE INTERNATIONAL LTD

5,972

REPLIWEB INC

485,919

SAGEM IDENTIFICATION

37,911

SOFTWORKS COMPUTING Ltd

74,104

SYSTEM VIDEO

35,400

VERSION 1 SOFTWARE

52,362

WARD SOLUTIONS

83,953

WORLDREACH SOFTWARE CORPORATION

ARCHITECT AND ENGINEER FEES

5,614

DELAP AND WALLER

PREMISES PROFESSIONAL FEES

5,651

DELAP AND WALLER

4,175

OLIVE SAFETY SERVICES

OTHER PROFESSIONAL FEES

2,886

B CONNECTED LTD

4,898

ISAS (Formerly T/A RITS)

15,959

RITS

3,850

TONY TAAFFE

3,985

RED DOG

Departmental Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

38 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the cost to the Exchequer for the provision of agency staff in his Department or State agencies under his aegis. [36669/12]

My Department does not employ agency staff with the exception of a small number of locally recruited clerical staff engaged by some Irish missions abroad through agencies, rather than directly. There are no additional costs involved. There are no State agencies under the aegis of my Department.

Public Private Partnerships

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

39 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide in tabular format a list of his Departments public private partnership projects in payment; the name of the project; the capital cost of the project; and the total projected amount of PPP repayments by his Department for each project. [36685/12]

My Department is not participating in any capital project on a public private partnership basis.

Departmental Contracts

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

40 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide, in tabular form, details of public service provision responsibilities of his Department outsourced to the private sector; and the cost of each service outsourced over the past 12 months. [36701/12]

My Department is committed to providing high-level services to the public both at home and abroad. These services include passports, consular assistance and a range of other citizenship and consular functions. My Department also provides non-consular services to Irish communities abroad including the Certificate of Irish Heritage project which is outsourced. The Certificate of Irish Heritage is operated by Fexco, one of Ireland's largest indigenous outsourcing providers, under licence from my Department. The service is funded solely by the fee paid by applicants and the Department has no ongoing funding commitment.

Service Outsourced

Expenditure July 2011-July 2012

Certificate of Irish Heritage

€2,714

Departmental Expenditure

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

41 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide a list of all current time-related savings-delayed spending of budget 2012 allocations on staff and or resources in his Department. [36717/12]

Excluding the exceptional costs associated with Ireland's Chairmanship-in-Office of the OSCE and preparations for our Presidency of the EU, the resources available to my Department for staff and other administrative costs are €3.175 million less than the corresponding allocation for 2011. While not all spending is evenly spread over the year, I anticipate at this stage that administrative outgoings will be in line with the annual budget provision.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

42 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide a list of State agencies under his aegis; and the annual cost of each agency to the Exchequer. [36733/12]

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

Departmental Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

43 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of retired civil or public servants who have been rehired by his Department since March 2012; and their positions and accompanying salaries. [36749/12]

One official who retired from my Department on 29 February 2012 has been temporarily re-engaged in order to assist with the Department's activities in the lead-up to and during Ireland's Presidency of the EU from January to June 2013. The contract of employment in this case provides for attendance on a part-time basis from 1 May until 31 July 2012 and on a fulltime basis from 1 September 2012 until 30 June 2013 when it will be terminated. This officer was re-engaged on a pension abatement basis which means in effect that he continues to receive his pension and is paid a correspondingly reduced salary by the Department. This temporary recruitment arrangement is in line with a Government Decision of 16 December 2011 relating to Presidency matters, including staffing arrangements. The policy of my Department regarding the re-hiring of retired officials is to do so to the minimum extent possible. However, for certain once-off or short-duration projects it is more productive and cost-effective to re-hire retired staff who already have the relevant expertise and experience than to go through a time-consuming and relatively expensive recruitment, induction and training process.

Departmental Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

44 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of retired civil or public servants who have been retained by his Department since March 2012 on a short-term contract or on a consultancy basis where normal abatement rules do not apply. [36765/12]

No such appointments were made by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the period in question.

Departmental Expenditure

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

45 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide details of his telecommunications services in 2012 budget. [36781/12]

The telecommunications services allocation for my Department is €6.207 million for 2012.

Departmental Staff

Niall Collins

Question:

46 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of sick days taken by staff in his Department in 2009, 2010 and 2011; the average number of sick days per staff in total across his Department and broken down by Department section in 2009, 2010 and 2011; and the median number of sick days per staff in total across his Department and broken down by Department section in 2009, 2010 and 2011 in tabular form. [36844/12]

Details of the sick leave recorded as taken by staff of my Department in 2009, 2010 and 2011 are set out in the following table:

Year

Total number of sick days

Number of which were certified by a Doctor

Number of which were uncertified

Average no. of sick days per employee

2009

10,160.3

9042.3

1118

8.1

2010

9,533.1

8512.6

1020.5

7.8

2011

8,832

7,984

848

7.6

It would be extremely time-consuming to compile such information on a section by section basis.

Trade Missions

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

47 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number and destination of trade missions on which he has embarked since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36868/12]

As the Deputy will be aware, following the transfer of certain trade promotion functions to my Department last year, Enterprise Ireland proposals for trade missions are submitted simultaneously to both myself 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, also considers the overall programme of trade missions in the context of our priority markets. Trade missions are a valuable support to Irish business in developing markets abroad and are particularly important in the context of the export-led growth which is crucial to our economic recovery. As Chairman of the Export Trade Council I am working to ensure that we maximise the promotional opportunities generated by all Ministerial travel abroad whether on specific trade missions, such as those organised by Enterprise Ireland, or for other purposes. For my own part, since becoming Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I have sought to promote our economic and trading objectives whenever possible whether at targeted events organised by Enterprise Ireland or in the course of broader working visits abroad. My colleagues Ministers Jan O'Sullivan and Joe Costello have done the same in their role as Trade Ministers since March 2011.

In June of this year I travelled to London for Enterprise Ireland trade events, including a Green Economy dinner and a business breakfast hosted in our Embassy. In March, I had travelled to Canada for St. Patrick's Day where my visit provided the opportunity to meet with political and business leaders and take part in a range of trade and investment promotion events organised in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland and the IDA.

I visited Russia in November 2011 where I co-chaired a meeting of the Joint Economic Commission with Russia and signed an agreement on a programme for trade and economic cooperation between Ireland and Russia. I visited Japan and Korea in October 2011 and there was a strong economic dimension to my working programmes there, including through my participation in the Asia Pacific Ireland Business Forum in Seoul.

As the Deputy will be aware, I am undertaking a programme of travel related to Ireland's Chairmanship of the OSCE and, whenever possible, I have used these overseas visits to enhance Ireland's reputation and promote our economic interests. I also hope to visit China later this year with a strong focus on economic and trading issues.

My colleague, the Minister of State for Trade and Development, Joe Costello TD, has led Enterprise Ireland trade missions to Turkey and Russia in March and June of this year respectively. He also intends to lead Enterprise Ireland's trade missions to Brazil in October and to South Africa in November and to also host an Enterprise Ireland trade event in Rome in the autumn. Prior to Minister Costello's appointment, his predecessor, Jan O'Sullivan TD, led a trade mission to Saudi Arabia and Qatar in October 2011 and to South Africa in November 2011. All of these trade missions featured very close co-operation between my Department, our Embassies and Enterprise Ireland.

Credit Review Office

Michael McGrath

Question:

48 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he has plans to review the effectiveness of the Credit Review Office; if he will provide details of any such review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36170/12]

The independent Credit Review Office (CRO) was set up under statute (SI 127 of 2010) and reviews decisions of the pillar banks to refuse credit facilities as well as undertaking other activities to assist SMEs obtain credit. The Action Plan for Jobs 2012 contains a commitment, to be completed this year, to "assess the Credit Review Office to ensure SMEs are getting the support on bank lending they require." The SME Credit Consultation Committee, chaired by the Secretary General of my Department, provides a forum where stakeholders can communicate and interact regarding difficulties in relation to SME credit with a view to proactively solving them. The next meeting of the Committee is due to take place on 24 July and one of the items on the agenda is the terms of reference for the assessment of the CRO. It is anticipated that when the terms of reference are finalised, my Department will engage consultants to carry out the task and produce a report which will be circulated to the Committee for discussion.

Tax Reliefs

Michael McGrath

Question:

49 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if approval given by Fáilte Ireland to a company (details supplied) of development and marketing plan under section 495(6) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 for the purpose of applying for relief under the scheme of relief for investment in corporate trades business expansion scheme can be converted to approval under the employment and investment incentive scheme for tourism; and if not, the options available to the company. [36432/12]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the company in question applied for outline approval to raise investments under the Business Expansion Scheme (BES) on 30 November 2006. As required, a certificate from Fáilte Ireland, dated 23 November 2006, approving the company's three year Development and Marketing Plan was submitted with the application. A letter from the Revenue Commissioners granting outline approval was issued on 14 December 2006. The company did not subsequently make a claim under the BES.

If the company now intends to raise funding under the Employment and Investment Incentive (EII), which has replaced the BES from 25 November 2011, it must submit a new certificate from Fáilte Ireland approving the company's current Development and Marketing Plan to the Revenue Commissioners, together with an application under the EII. EII is a new incentive, different from BES. Certification by Fáilte Ireland is the sole external certification requirement retained in EII. The requirement under EII for a new certificate is appropriate more than five years after the original certificate was issued by reference to a three-year marketing plan and five-year financial projections, each of which now relates to past years.

Tax Code

Patrick Deering

Question:

50 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Finance if he intends continuing the land leasing tax exemption as this improves land mobility and efficiency of land use. [36830/12]

Relief for certain income from long-term leasing of agricultural land is currently provided for under section 664 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. The exemptions are available to all landowners over 40, or those who are permanently incapacitated from carrying on farming, who lease agricultural land. Under the current provisions there is an exemption from income tax in respect of:

The first €12,000 of annual leasing income where the leasing is for a period of not less than 5 years;

The first €15,000 where the leasing is for a period of not less than 7 years, and

The first €20,000 where the leasing is for 10 years or more.

The aim of the scheme is to provide the lessee with a greater degree of security thus encouraging the proper maintenance and development of the land. Longer term leases enable those who rent the land to make better long term investment and planning decisions. The measure is intended to facilitate the more productive use of the land. As the Deputy states it assists in improving land mobility and addressing the shortage of land available for young progressive farmers. Like all tax or expenditure measures the land leasing exemption will fall to be considered in the context of the ongoing development of budgetary and economic policy. It should be noted that, in common with other such schemes, any changes to the land leasing exemption would be subject to EU State aid approval.

State Agencies

Martin Ferris

Question:

51 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding plans to establish NewERA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36895/12]

In September 2011 the Government announced the establishment of the New Economy and Recovery Authority (NewERA) within the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA). NewERA will centralise the management of Government holdings in the commercial semi-state sector (initially the companies within NewERA's remit are ESB, EirGrid, Bord Gáis, Bord na Móna and Coillte) from a shareholder perspective. This role, based on the Shareholder Executive model already established in a number of developed economies, will involve oversight of activities such as capital expenditure plans, corporate strategy, acquisitions and disposals. NewERA is already working closely with the relevant Government departments and companies in this regard. The Shareholder Executive approach is designed to provide the Government with a portfolio view of investment returns from the sector and with a means of assessing the likely impact of commercial developments in the sector on long-term Government investment plans.

NewERA is also charged with assisting the development and implementation of Government plans for investment inenergy, water and next-generationtelecommunications with the long-term objective of employment creation and has commenced work with the relevant Government departments in these areas. NewERA is an important element in the Government’s strategy to promote economic growth and create jobs. Officials of my Department are liaising with the National Treasury Management Agency in preparing proposals for legislation to put NewERA on a statutory footing and I expect to bring forward those proposals as soon as possible once that work is completed.

EU-IMF Agreement

Pearse Doherty

Question:

52 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the rate of interest on Ireland’s repayments to the EFSF; and the way this compares with the rate of interest being offered to Spain. [35937/12]

The interest rates on the loans from the EFSF drawn down to date are shown in the following table:

Lender

Nominal Loan Amount

Date of Draw Down

Maturity Date

Term from Date of Drawdown

Interest Rate

European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF)

€4.19 billion1

01-Feb-11

18-Jul-16

5.5 yrs

2.75%

€3.00 billion

14-Nov-11

04-Feb-22

10.2yrs

3.60%

€1.27 billion

12-Jan-12

04-Feb-15

3.1yrs

1.73%

€0.48 billion2

19-Jul-12

19-Jul-41

29 yrs

Pooled Floating Interest rate3

€1.00 billion

15-Mar-12

23-Aug-12

0.4yrs

0.29%

€2.80 billion

03-Apr-12

03-Apr-37

25yrs

Pooled Floating Interest rate3

EFSF Total

€12.74 billion

11.1yr weighted average life

1. A prepaid margin of €0.53 billion was deducted from the loan of €4.19 billion drawdown on 1 February 2011 giving a net liability of €3.66 billion. This margin prepayment will be refunded to Ireland in 2016.

2. The loan of €0.48 billion was rolled today (19/07/12) and has a maturity date of 19-Jul-41. It has a pooled floating interest rate.

3. Short Term EFSF Funding of €1.0 billion maturing in 2012 is due to be replaced by longer term funding at a pooled floating interest rate which will be calculated under the EFSF's diversified funding strategy. The EFSF funding provided to Ireland under pooled issuance comes from a variety of fundings. The EFSF rate for June was 1.63%. The EFSF loan of €1.27bn maturing in 2015 is also subject to rollover at a floating rate.

A final decision on the process of Spain's bank recapitalisation funding has yet to be taken. However, as this funding is being provided in the first instance by the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), the relevant pricing policies will apply. Spain, in common with other countries in receipt of EFSF funding, will pay the rate determined by the EFSF's cost of funding, which is defined in the EFSF Master Financial Assistance Facility Agreement as follows:

“...the effective (after hedging) average cost of funding incurred by EFSF in funding such Financial Assistance as determined by EFSF and allocated to the relevant Financial Assistance pursuant to the Diversified Funding Strategy. The EFSF Cost of Funding shall be calculated by EFSF by adding (i) EFSF’s (after hedging) average cost of funding the relevant Financial Assistance, expressed as a rate per annum; for the avoidance of doubt, in the case of discount Funding Instruments (e.g. zero-coupon notes), cost of funding shall be calculated with reference to the nominal value of the relevant discount Funding Instrument, (ii) the annual Service Fee (with effect from the first anniversary of the Disbursement Date of the relevant Financial Assistance), (iii) the Commitment Fee (iv) any Guarantee Commission Fee accrued during the relevant period and (v) any other financing costs, margin, negative carry, losses, hedging costs or other costs, fees or expenses.”

Subject to the final decision on the price of Spain's EFSF funding, there is no reason to believe that the cost of EFSF funds for Spain will be any more favourable than that now available for Ireland.

Personal Insolvency Bill

Stephen S. Donnelly

Question:

53 Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Finance if, further to Parliamentary Question No. 114 of 5 July 2012, if it is the case that the Personal Insolvency Bill was discussed with representatives of the banks in the period between it being approved by Cabinet and the briefing of Members of the Oireachtas on 29 June; the names of the representatives of the banks present; the banks represented; the nature and length of the discussion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35945/12]

Following the publication of the Personal Insolvency Bill and the associated media briefing on 29 June, officials from the Department of Justice and Equality (which has primary functional responsibility for policy on insolvency), together with officials from my Department, provided a briefing session on the Bill to a number organisations that have a significant interest in this policy area. Among the organisations that attended this session, which was held prior to the briefing provided by officials to members of the Oireachtas also on 29 June, was a representative of the Irish Banking Federation. As many of the people that attended this briefing session were present in a representative capacity, it would not be appropriate for me to name individuals. In addition, the Government's Economic Management Council met with the main banks on 26 June 2012 to brief them on the Government's mortgage arrears strategy and to discuss with them their approach to help resolve this significant problem.

National Asset Management Agency

Pearse Doherty

Question:

54 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the budgeted costs for the National Asset Management Agency advisory board in 2012 and 2013; the broad headings of expenditure under which these costs will be incurred; if there is support being provided to the board by his Department or other Departments which is not included in the board’s budget; and if he will provide the detail of any such support. [35959/12]

My department has budgeted costs in the region of €40,000 to cover the hotel, travel and subsistence costs of the advisory group for 2012 and the cost budget for 2013 has not yet been completed. As previously advised, the members of the group operate on a pro bono basis. There is no other support provided or costs incurred by my department to, or on behalf of, the group. I have agreed that the group will meet and report to me at least four times a year. I have met with the group on two occasions since it was established. It is also open to the Chair to contact me as issues arise. I expect the advisory group to play a valuable role and I can confirm that I am satisfied with the operation and progress of the group to date.

National Asset Management Agency

Pearse Doherty

Question:

55 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the qualifications and experience of the National Asset Management Agency advisory board with respect to the Irish property markets. [35960/12]

I may remind the Deputy that the NAMA Advisory Group has been set up to advise me in the following areas:

The strategy of NAMA.

The appointment of directors to NAMA.

The remuneration of senior executives in NAMA.

Any further advice I may seek of them.

The Advisory Group was established under a Direction Order issued by me under Section 14 of the NAMA Act. The group operates on an informal basis and reports directly to me. Each of the members of the group have specific and significant private sector experience. The responsibility for the running of NAMA lies with the NAMA Board, as laid out in the NAMA Act 2009. There is no role for the Advisory Group in dealings with the stakeholders of NAMA other than through discussions with me in my position as Minister.

National Asset Management Agency

Pearse Doherty

Question:

56 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance in view of his recent statements regarding ongoing negotiations of the State’s bank debt with the EU, the consideration that has been given to seeking to limit the cost of any potential overall loss at the National Asset Management Agency; and if he will confirm that the State’s exposure to NAMA forms part of the ongoing negotiations. [35961/12]

NAMA has been tasked with maximising its return on behalf of the Irish taxpayer. NAMA recently reaffirmed its expectation that the Agency will recoup for the taxpayer the Senior Bonds in issue as well as recovery of its carrying costs and the working and development capital advanced to debtors in the course of its business. NAMA's Annual Report for 2011, which will be published this month, will make extensive information available on the Agency's operations and will chart the substantial progress that NAMA has made towards achieving its core financial objective. NAMA has also, as the Deputy is aware, announced a significant programme of asset development and enhancement in Ireland over the period to 2016 and the availability of €2 billion in vendor finance for prospective purchasers of commercial properties controlled by its debtors and receivers. A number of other initiatives are being progressed by the Agency. These activities provide strong evidence of the measures being adopted by NAMA to ensure that it will meet its objectives under section 10 of the NAMA Act. NAMA's position is not under discussion in the context of the State's current discussions on bank debt.

Bank Debt Restructuring

Pearse Doherty

Question:

57 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the current quantum of non-central bank interbank lending to Irish Life & Permanent; when it falls due for repayment; and in relation to ILP’s debt securities in issue, if he will advise the month or months when the 2013 debt of €2,775 million falls due to repayment. [35963/12]

As at 31 December 2011, and as outlined in Note 22 to the 2011 annual report and accounts of Irish Life and Permanent, there was €2.7 billion of lending from banks and institutions outstanding. This lending was by way of a collateralised repurchase agreement secured on €5 billion of notes issued by SPVs which hold residential mortgages. During 2013 there are a variety of debt securities which comprise the €2,775 million stated in Note 24 to the 2011 annual report and accounts, the largest of which are a €1.4 billion guaranteed maturity in January 2013 and a €1.2 billion guaranteed maturity in April 2013. As stated in 33791/12 PTSB expects to meet maturity needs from the €1.3 billion of liquidity received from the sale of Irish Life, deposit growth and the benefits of restructuring the balance sheet.

Bank Debt Restructuring

Pearse Doherty

Question:

58 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a schedule of assets or portfolios of assets presently being offered for sale by Allied Irish Banks, Educational Building Society, Irish Bank Resolution Corporation and Irish Life & Permanent, where the book value of the asset or portfolio of assets is greater than €10,000,000; and in relation to each sale offering, if he will provide a summary of the sales and marketing activity being undertaken so as to maximise the returns from the sales. [35964/12]

As you will be aware as part of the Central Bank's Financial Measures Programme the three PLAR banks are required to deleverage €70bn of assets by 31 December 2013. Of this they are required to actively dispose of €34bn of assets. IBRC is subject to an EC Restructuring Plan which requires it to work out its balance sheet over time, including where possible via disposal of loan books. To this end, Non-core teams have been established by each of the banks to focus on managing sales processes. In most instances the Banks have also employed expert professional sales advisors to assist in ensuring that the sales process undertaken maximises sales proceeds. Deleveraging committees are also in place at each bank. These are attended by executive and non-executive Directors, with representatives from the Central Bank and the Department of Finance, who attend as observers.

To date significant progress has been made. Total deleveraging achieved across government supported banks was €46bn as at 31 December 2011. Deleveraging has been achieved within planned assumed discounts. From a capital perspective, the loss incurred on the divestment of these assets is broadly offset by a reduction in the level of risk weighted assets.

It is normal course of practice that sales processes are conducted under appropriate confidentiality constraints, including for example non-disclosure agreements to protect price sensitive information, the disclosure of which could prevent the banks from maximising proceeds on sale. In this regard, it would not be advantageous to disclose the exact details of the remaining non-core books that are targeted for disposal or details of the sales and marketing activities given the dissipation in value that could occur. At certain points the banks will publish deleveraging plan updates as part of their investor and stakeholder relations activities.

Tax Code

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

59 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35975/12]

Firstly, I would like to apologise to the Deputy for the delay in replying to previous correspondence requesting that consideration be given to introducing some type of tax allowance to alleviate the cost for parents who are sending children to study in Dublin. The Government acknowledges the continuing financial pressures on parents and students and is therefore continuing to make significant investment in third level education.

In general, there are no tuition fees payable at undergraduate level apart from the student contribution. There is also a system of means-tested maintenance supports for students of limited incomes, with higher rates of support applying for those attending courses in colleges which are more than 45 kilometers from their normal residence. Where tuition fees are payable in respect of certain full-time and part-time undergraduate and postgraduate courses in approved colleges, tax relief is available in respect of qualifying fees paid by an individual. The current maximum amount of fees that can be tax relieved is €7,000 per course per academic year, subject to certain conditions. The introduction of further tax reliefs along the lines sought by the Deputy could not be justified given the current budgetary position.

Tax Yield

Question:

60 Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Finance the VAT revenue realised, in the past three years, from off-licence and off-sales; the VAT revenue realised from the public house and on-trade sales; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36028/12]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that Revenue does not keep statistics on quantities of alcohol sold and there is no information available regarding on or off premises sales, as tax receipts are not distinguished between alcohol subsequently sold in licensed pubs and sold in off-licences. Based on the yields from the alcohol products tax, the available information on VAT raised on alcohol products for the years 2008 to 2010 is as follows:

VAT

Beer

Spirits

Wine

Cider

Total

Estimated

€ m

€ m

€ m

€ m

€ m

2008

535.7

258.7

183.5

110.8

1,088.70

2009

538.0

239.0

188.7

108.8

1,074.50

2010

488.7

220.2

201.2

100.3

1,010.50

Corresponding figures for 2011 are not yet available.

Please note that VAT receipts are estimated, as VAT returns do not require the yield from a particular sector or sub-sector to be identified.

Tax Code

Question:

61 Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Finance if he has considered a levy on the purchase of slabs of drink from off-sales outlets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36031/12]

As the Deputy will be aware, a National Substance Misuse Strategy was established in 2009. Its report in 2012 made recommendations in relation to the development of policy to deal with a wide range of key issues relating to the supply, pricing, availability and marketing of alcohol — including the question of a minimum price for alcohol — along with measures for the policy areas of prevention strategies, treatment, rehabilitation and substance dependency, research and information. Those issues are being dealt with by the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Ms Roisin Shortall. The Deputy may be aware that Ireland's alcohol tax levels are already high in relation to other EU Member States. At July 2012, we had the highest excise duty within the EU 27 for sparkling wine, the third-highest for still wine and spirits and the fourth-highest for beer.

Bank Branch Closures

Michael McGrath

Question:

62 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he or the Central Bank of Ireland has received proposals for branch closures from the covered institutions; if he will provide a breakdown of the number of closures proposed for each covered institution; his views on these proposals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36070/12]

As I have stated previously, the Deputy will appreciate that it is an inevitable, but unfortunate, consequence of the necessary restructuring of the banking system that job losses will arise [and branches will be closed]. Essentially the banks will be smaller operations than previously. The Central Bank of Ireland cannot disclose this type of confidential information under Section 33ak (1)(b)(i) of the Central Bank Act 2003.

As you know, operational decisions remain the responsibility of the boards and managements of the institutions. Notwithstanding the fact that the State is a significant shareholder in the covered institutions, I must ensure that the banks are run on a commercial, cost effective and independent basis to ensure the value of the banks as an asset to the State, as per the Memorandum on Economic and Financial Policies agreed with the EU Commission, the ECB and the IMF and the Relationship Frameworks which define the nature of the relationship between the Minister for Finance and each bank. These Frameworks were published on 30 March 2012 and can be found at; http://banking.finance.gov.ie/presentations-and-latest-documents/.

However, the individual banks have supplied me with the following:

PTSB:

As part of the restructuring plan and in order to achieve viability PTSB will announce a restructuring, including branch closures, shortly. The Department of Finance will review the plans with PTSB in the immediate future. Furthermore, it would be inappropriate to comment further in advance of staff consultation on the matter.

BOI:

The Minister has not received proposals for branch closures from Bank of Ireland.

AIB:

As part of a strategic plan to improve viability, AIB is currently in the process of repositioning its physical branch network. This will inevitably involve a reduction in the number of branches across the country as the Bank targets cost savings. AIB is expected to form a closer relationship with An Post, to compensate for the loss of customer access to branches. I am informed that AIB is working to finalise its branch closure plans, with an announcement likely in the near term.

IBRC:

IBRC has actively reduced the number of properties being used by the Bank for its day to day operations. The Bank closed offices in Newcastle (UK) and Chicago (USA) in 2010, in Banbury (UK), Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Jersey, Leeds and Vienna in 2011 and Wigmore Street, London and New York in 2012. The offices of the former Anglo Irish Bank and the former INBS in the Isle of Man were also disposed of in 2011 as part of the Banks' deposit transfers which took place on 25 February 2011. In addition, IBRC also put the entire former INBS branch network up for sale in October 2011. This portfolio, comprising a total of 49 branches is in the process of being sold and good progress is being made. As IBRC is a Bank in work out, the ongoing premises requirements of the organisation will continue to decrease over time.

Liquor Licences

Michael McGrath

Question:

63 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the number of validly renewed alcohol licences in the off-trade and on-trade for each of the years 2009, 2010, 2011 and to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36071/12]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the number of licences, for the sale of alcohol for consumption both "on" and "off" premises, for each of the calendar years 2009 through 2012 to date, are set out below. For clarity please note the following:

The numbers quoted relate to licences issued. There is no distinction made between "renewed" licences or other categories of issued licence such as "new", "revived""transferred", etc.

The licensing year runs from the 1st October to the 30th September. Therefore as the figures quoted below relate to the calendar year, it is occasionally possible for an individual licence to be reflected twice.

Off licences are issued either singularly such as "Wine Retailer's Off Licence" or in combinations such as Spirits and/or beer, and/or wine. Off licences can also be issued in combination with Wholesale Dealer licences. Therefore, the figures below reflect the actual number of each category of licence issued and cannot be taken to reflect either numbers of licensees or premises.

2009

2010

2011

2012 to date

Numbers Issued

Numbers Issued

Numbers Issued

Numbers Issued

CLASS A — LIQUOR LICENCES

RETAILERS

Retailers of Spirits:

1. Publicians viz.;-

Full

9,067

8,393

8,509

1,548

Six-Day

13

10

11

1

Early-Closing

Six-Day and Early-Closing

2

2

3

Additional Duty — number of Licences issued

TOTAL PUBLICANS

9,082

8,405

8,523

1,549

2. Off-Licences

1,770

1,537

1,722

169

3. Special Restaurant Renewal

453

373

380

70

4. Restricted Licence Conversion

TOTAL SPIRIT RETAILERS

2,223

1,910

2,102

239

Retailers of Beer:

5. On Licence viz.:- Full

6. Off-Licences

1,779

1,541

1,732

179

TOTAL BEER RETAILERS

1,779

1,541

1,732

179

Retailers of Cider and Perry:

7. Off-Licences

15

14

9

TOTAL CIDER AND PERRY RETAILERS

15

14

9

Retailers of Wine:

8. On-Licences viz.:- Full

2,287

1,906

1,773

452

9. Off-Licences

3,705

3,206

3,405

457

TOTAL WINE RETAILERS

5,992

5,112

5,178

909

Retailers of Sweets:

10. On-Licences

11. Off-Licences

TOTAL SWEETS RETAILERS

12. Passenger Vessels — Annual

36

25

23

6

13. Passenger Aircraft

492

372

385

21

14. Railway Restaurant Cars

52

50

51

15. Special Restaurant Fee

38

32

32

18

16. Pre 1960 Hotel Licence Conversion

2

1

TOTAL

620

480

491

45

The Revenue Commissioners wish to advise that statistical annual data of this nature is available on their website www.revenue.ie and the link to specific data in relation to excise is at http://www.revenue.ie/en/about/publications/statistical/2010/index.html.

Financial Services Regulation

Michael McGrath

Question:

64 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the Central Bank of Ireland investigations into possible mis-selling of payment protection insurance by regulated entities; if he will confirm the scale of the problem; and when the investigation is due to be completed. [36072/12]

I have been advised by the Central Bank that, arising from their latest inspection into the sale of Payment Protection Insurance, the Bank has identified a number of concerns. The inspection was carried out in order to determine compliance with the provisions of the 2006 Consumer Protection Code, now revised since 1 January 2012. As a result of the inspection, the Central Bank is requiring the seven firms inspected to conduct a comprehensive review of all of their PPI sales from August 2007 to date. The firms are requested to respond to the Central Bank by 17 August 2012. Copy of the Press Release dated 2 July 2012 and a copy of the letter issued to the firms concerned are available on the Central Bank's website: www.centralbank.ie. As I have indicated in a replies to recent Parliamentary Questions on this subject, the Financial Services Ombudsman has advised me that, since 1 January 2007, his Office has received the following number of complaints from consumers in relation to mortgage protection insurance policies:

Year

Total number of complaints received

2007

91

2008

80

2009

129

2010

182

2011

200

2012 (to date)

88

As the Deputy is aware, the Ombudsman is independent in the carrying out of investigations of complaints from consumers and in his determinations thereon. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on any findings which he has or will issue in regard to this matter.

Tax Yield

Michael McGrath

Question:

65 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money received in 2012 from the levy imposed on private pension funds; and if he will provide a breakdown of the way that revenue is to be spent in 2012. [36073/12]

The latest date by which payment of the temporary levy on funded pension schemes and personal pension plans introduced in 2011 to fund the Jobs Initiative must be made is 25 September each year. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the yield from the levy to date in 2012 is €6.5 million. As in 2011 I anticipate that the majority of payments will be made in the run-up to the payment date. The Government introduced the temporary levy on funded pension schemes and personal pension plans in order to fund the measures introduced in the Jobs Initiative. 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, as well as 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.

National Asset Management Agency

Michael McGrath

Question:

66 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the number of court cases that the National Asset Management Agency has taken or plans to take to secure reversal of asset transfers by NAMA debtors which the agency believes were designed to put assets beyond the reach of the agency; if he will provide a breakdown of the type of assets which been returned to the agency thus far including cash, property and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36075/12]

I am advised that NAMA is currently pursuing a number of cases in the Courts to effect the reversal of asset transfers by NAMA debtors that appear to have been designed to put the assets beyond the reach of the Agency, including in the following cases:

High Court proceedings for the reversal of an asset transfer of shares

High Court proceedings for reversal of a family home transfer

High Court orders sought in aid of execution to reverse the transfer of a family home and holiday home

English High Court proceedings for the reversal of a property disposal

US proceedings to set aside various property transactions and full accounting of all assets wrongfully transferred

NAMA advises that proceedings are being considered in a number of other cases. NAMA has to date agreed with certain debtors that the transfer of assets to connected parties be reversed. This has involved 31 debtors with assets worth €160 million. Additional detail on the breakdown of these assets will be provided in NAMA's Annual Report, which will be published before the end of the month.

National Asset Management Agency

Michael McGrath

Question:

67 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the number of inquiries and formal applications made to the National Asset Management Agency by debtors and tenants for a rent reduction since the issuing by NAMA of the guidance note on upward only commercial leases on 6 December 2011; the number of such applications which ultimately resulted in NAMA approving a rent reduction; the number which were refused by NAMA; and the number still under consideration by the agency. [36076/12]

I am advised by NAMA that to the end of May 2012 it had received 194 eligible applications from its debtors for rent abatement. 145 applications had been approved, four were refused and the remaining 45 applications were under review. This included 80 which had been received since the issue of the aforementioned guidance note, of which 32 were approved, three were refused and the remaining 45 are under review.

Mortgage Arrears

Michael McGrath

Question:

68 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a progress report on the implementation of the Keane report on mortgage arrears. [36077/12]

Last October the Government published the Report of the Inter-Departmental Working Group on Mortgage Arrears ("Keane Report") and the implementation of its recommendations is now a significant part of the Government's overall efforts to tackle mortgage difficulty. As announced recently, a number of significant milestones have now been achieved in the implementation of the report's recommendations. These are:

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defense has published the Personal Insolvency Bill which is now before the Oireachtas;

The Minister for Housing and Planning has formally launched the "mortgage to rent" scheme on a nationwide basis;

Finally, a specific website — keepingyourhome.ie — has been put in place by the Citizens Information Board, which will very shortly be enhanced by a telephone helpline, to provide information to mortgage holders.

The further development and roll out of these measures will considerably enhance the supports available to distressed mortgage holders. It is the Government's intention to continue to work intensively on all these areas to further advance the various measures during the second half of this year.

Sovereign Debt

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

69 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the amount of Irish sovereign debt purchased in the secondary markets that is held by the European Central Bank; if Ireland has requested a write-down of these bonds to cost paid by the ECB; the estimated savings to Ireland if this was to occur; his views on whether any profits the ECB makes from holding Irish sovereign bonds should be redirected to the central banks of other euro countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36082/12]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

70 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the analysis within his Department, the National Treasury Management Agency or Central Bank that has been carried out on European Central Bank holdings of Irish sovereign bonds purchased under the securities markets programme; the savings that would accrue to our national debt, if any, if Ireland was to receive the same deal on these holdings as Greece received; the analysis that has been carried by the NTMA, him or the Central Bank on the agreement between Greece and the ECB when Greece's debt was restructured; the way it might apply to Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36083/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 69 and 70 together.

There has been speculation for some time now about the extent of the European Central Bank's (ECB) purchases of sovereign debt on the secondary markets. The Central Bank of Ireland maintains the register of holders of Irish Government bonds. As I outlined to the Deputy in response to a similar question back in February, I am informed by the Central Bank that the ECB does not disclose its holdings of sovereign debt and therefore it is not possible to supply the information requested by the Deputy. As regards the income the ECB earns from securities purchased under the Securities Market Programme (SMP) the ECB distributes profits from securities purchased under the SMP to National Central Banks in the form of an interim distribution of profit. The Governing Council of the ECB may decide to retain all or part of that income, in certain circumstances.

Of course, and as the Deputy will be aware, preliminary discussions which could have a positive effect on the Irish debt situation are underway. This follows on from the end-June euro area summit where it was agreed that the situation of the Irish financial sector would be examined with the view of further improving the sustainability of the well-performing adjustment Programme. This is a positive development for Ireland. However, it is important not to prejudice the outcome of these negotiations by commenting on the likely contents of any agreement at this time. I can assure the Deputy that we will seek to be ambitious in the negotiations and will seek to agree the best deal possible for the Irish taxpayer.

Banking Sector Regulation

Michael McGrath

Question:

71 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the reports completed by a company (details supplied) into certain corporate governance matters at the former Irish Nationwide Building Society; if the reports have been referred to the Garda and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement; and the action being taken on foot of the content of the reports. [36099/12]

I have been advised that confidential and legally privileged reports in relation to Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) have been provided to the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) as the relevant regulatory authority for a building society. This information was relayed to the Gardaí. The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement regulates and enforces the Companies Acts and therefore, given that the reports relate to a building society which was not subject to the Companies Acts, the reports were not furnished to the ODCE. I have also been advised that the CBI is continuing their ongoing investigation into INBS and IBRC is cooperating fully with that investigation and has put significant resources in place to do so.

National Treasury Management Agency

Michael McGrath

Question:

72 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the number of persons employed by the National Treasury Management Agency, showing the details for National Asset Management Agency staff separately, who received bonus payments in respect of 2011; the overall amount that was paid; the highest amount paid to any person; and the average payment to the employees in question. [36103/12]

I have been informed by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) that the members of the NTMA senior management team waived any consideration for performance-related pay in respect of 2011 (as they did previously in respect of 2010). The NTMA made performance-related payments to five key staff in respect of 2011. These payments in aggregate totalled €62,610. This compares with payments totalling €1,981,760 to 258 staff members in respect of 2010.

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Michael McGrath

Question:

73 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will show separately for each covered institution the amount of senior bonds, presenting figures separately for secured and unsecured, repaid since the original bank guarantee of September 2008 to date in 2012; the amount that remain unpaid at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36107/12]

The amount of senior bonds, secured and unsecured, repaid since the original bank guarantee of September 2008 to date in 2012 and the amount that remain unpaid at present are shown in the table below:

Maturities since 30 Sept 2008 (€bn)

Outstanding Balance (€bn)

Secured Senior Bonds

Unsecured Senior Bonds

Secured Senior Bonds

Unsecured Senior Bonds

AIB

4.8

24.4

5.0

7.3

BOI*

6.1(a)

29.6

9.8(b)

6.7

IBRC(c)

1.4

28.3

1.4

PTSB

0.4

10.7

1.8

5.3

Note: Within the Total Outstanding Balance for Unsecured Senior Bonds €15.5bn was government guaranteed as of 13th July 2012.

*Figures are at 13 April 2012.

(a)This includes securitisation payment of €2.9bn.

(b) This includes securitisation outstanding of €3.7bn.

(c) This includes former INBS.

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Michael McGrath

Question:

74 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of losses that have been imposed to date on subordinated bondholders at the covered institutions since the introduction of the original bank guarantee in September 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36108/12]

In aggregate, the losses imposed to date on subordinated bondholders at the covered institutions since the introduction of the original bank guarantee in September 2008 is €13.9bn. The total gains from all Liability Management Exercises (LMEs) if one includes debt for equity swaps etc. in the same period is €15.5bn. A breakdown of the losses by institution was given in reply to Parliamentary Question No. 4103/12 on January 24th, 2012. There has been no change in the figure since that date.

Exchequer Deficit

Michael McGrath

Question:

75 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his estimate, based on all currently available information, including the projected deficits for 2013, 2014 and 2015 set out in the recent stability programme update and the maturity of Government bonds on the amount of additional funds Ireland will need to raise beyond the funds currently available in the EU-IMF programme of assistance in 2014 and 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36109/12]

The most recent Exchequer deficit estimates for the years 2013-2015 were presented in the April 2012 Stability Programme Update. They are also set out in the table below. The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) advises me that a list of outstanding Irish Government bonds can be accessed on its website. Outstanding Irish Government bonds due to mature over the period 2013-2015, as well as the dates on which those bonds are due to mature are set out in the table below. This data reflects the position as at 30th June 2012.

€ billion

Projected Exchequer Deficit

Irish Government Bond Maturities (maturity date)

IMF/EU and Bilateral Facilities

Total Funding Requirement

2013

14.5

6.0 (18/04/2013)

20.5

2014

10.4

8.2 (15/01/2014)

18.6

2015

6.8

3.6 (18/02/2015) and (18/08/2015)

6.7

17.1

As of end-June 2012, some €49½ billion of the €67½ billion in external funding available under the EU/IMF Programme had been drawn down, leaving a further €18 billion to be drawn down over the remainder of this year and next. At end-June 2012, the Exchequer also maintained healthy Exchequer cash balances of €14½ billion. These cash balances as well as the remaining EU/IMF Programme funding are also available to finance the Exchequer over the remainder of 2012.

Tax Code

Michael McGrath

Question:

76 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the cost to the Exchequer of each of a 5 cent, 10 cent and 20 cent reduction in tax excise and VAT included on consumer liquid motor fuels. [36119/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the annual cost to the exchequer of the changes mentioned in the question are estimated as follows:

Reduction

Petrol €m

Diesel €m

5c

80

98

10c

162

197

20c (18.33c diesel)

327

365

It should be noted that maximum decrease permissable for diesel is 18.33 cent. Accordingly the yield figure of €365m shown for diesel represents a decrease of 18.33 cent not 20 cent.

Tax Reliefs

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

77 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the estimated saving that would accrue to the Exchequer in a full year if tax relief on charitable donations as restricted to the standard rate instead of the marginal rate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36124/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the full year saving to the Exchequer from standard rating the income tax relief for donations to charities and other approved bodies would be of the order of €20 million.

Tax Reliefs

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

78 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the estimated savings that would accrue to the Exchequer if educational institutions or bodies including primary, second level or third level, were no longer eligible for the scheme of tax relief for donations to eligible charities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36127/12]

Section 848A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for a scheme of tax relief for donations to eligible charities and other approved bodies. The precise arrangements for allowing tax relief on donations varies depending on whether the donor is a PAYE taxpayer, a person subject to self-assessment or a company. For PAYE-only taxpayers, the relief is given on a "grossed-up" basis to the approved body rather than by way of a separate claim to tax relief by the donor. The claim is therefore made to the Revenue Commissioners by the approved body. In the case of a donation made by an individual who pays tax on a self-assessment basis, the individual claims the relief and there is no grossing up arrangement. In the case of a company, it will claim a deduction for the donation as if it were a trading expense and there is no grossing up arrangement.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that, because of the different arrangements, as outlined above, for claiming the tax relief and the fact that the records maintained by them do not readily differentiate between the different types of charities and approved bodies availing of the relief, the information requested by the deputy is not readily available and either could not be identified or could not be identified without conducting an extensive investigation of the Revenue Commissioners' records.

Tax Reliefs

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

79 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a breakdown, by amount, of the registered eligible charitable institutions that claimed back tax relief on donations in 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36128/12]

Section 848A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides a scheme for tax relief on donations to eligible charities and other approved bodies. The administration of the scheme is the responsibility of the Revenue Commissioners. The precise arrangements for allowing tax relief on donations vary depending on whether the donor is a PAYE taxpayer only, a chargeable person subject to self-assessment or a company. For a PAYE only donor, the relief is given on a "grossed up" basis to the eligible charity or approved body, as the case may be, rather than by way of a separate claim to tax relief by the donor.

Revenue have advised me that for reasons of taxpayer confidentiality they are not in a position to disclose the amounts claimed by individual charities or approved bodies under the donations scheme. However, they have provided details of the total amounts refunded under the scheme to charities and approved bodies during 2010 and 2011 and these are shown in the following table:

Year

Amount

2010

€30.2m

2011

€26.3m

Tax Reliefs

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

80 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the annual cost from 2006 to 2011 of providing tax relief on charitable donations by PAYE workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36129/12]

Section 848A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (TCA 1997) provides for a scheme for tax relief on donations to approved bodies. The list of approved bodies for the purposes of section 848A, which includes eligible charities, bodies approved for education in the arts and eligible primary, secondary and third level institutions, is included in Schedule 26A of TCA 1997. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners who administer the scheme of tax relief that their records do not differentiate between refunds to eligible charities and those to other bodies approved under Schedule 26A of the TCA 1997. The following table sets out the figures for refunds of tax made by Revenue to charities and other approved bodies in respect of donations by PAYE donors for the years in question.

Year Ended 31st December as specified

Estimated Cost of Tax Relief €m

31/12/2006

28.5

31/12/2007

25.3

31/12/2008

29.5

31/12/2009

31.6

31/12/2010

30.2

31/12/2011

26.3

Tax Collection

Joe Carey

Question:

81 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the re-opening of a business subject to historical debt owing to the Revenue Commissioners (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36138/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that by virtue of their obligation to observe taxpayer confidentiality they are not in a position to provide information on this matter. The Commissioners have informed me that when Deputies make representations or ask Parliamentary Questions on behalf of individual taxpayers there must be, and generally there is, sufficient evidence to reasonably support Revenue in a presumption of consent on the part of the taxpayer about whose affairs the representations or question is being raised. It cannot be presumed from the details supplied that the consent of the taxpayer about whose affairs the question is being raised has been given. If the Deputy was in a position to provide clarity in this regard, further enquiries can be made on his behalf.

National Pensions Reserve Fund

Michael McGrath

Question:

82 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of funding left in the discretionary portfolio of the National Pensions Reserve Fund; if he will confirm his plans for this funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36158/12]

I am informed by the National Treasury Management Agency, as Manager of the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF), that the total value of the Fund at 31 March 2012 was €15.1 billion and that the value of the Discretionary Portfolio was €5.8 billion. In announcing the Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) initiative in September 2011, the Government indicated a refocusing of the investments of the National Pensions Reserve Fund from global towards Ireland. Commercial investment will be channelled from the NPRF towards productive investment in sectors of strategic importance to the Irish economy.

A key principle of the Strategic Investment Fund is that the NPRF investment, which is to be solely on a commercial basis, will seek matching investment from third-party investors. In this way the Fund's assets can be used as a catalyst to attract additional capital for investment in the Irish economy. In addition, the Fund has been working closely with NewERA in respect of investment opportunities relating to the commercial semi-state sector.

The NPRF Commission announced in November 2011 a commitment of €250 million to a new Irish infrastructure investment fund which is seeking up to €1 billion from institutional investors in Ireland and overseas and which will invest in infrastructure assets in Ireland, including assets designated for disposal by the Government and commercial State enterprises and also new infrastructure projects. The NPRF has also committed, subject to certain pre-conditions, €450 million to finance the national roll-out of domestic water meters.

Banks Recapitalisation

Michael McGrath

Question:

83 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if the issue of burden sharing with senior bondholders was raised by the ECB, in the context of the recapitalisation of the Spanish banking system, at the meeting of eurozone finance Ministers on 9 July 2012; the position he took on this matter at the meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36159/12]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Euro Area Summit Statement of 29th June affirmed that it is imperative that the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns be broken. In addition, the Eurogroup Statement of 9th July stated that in order to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns, technical discussions on the future ESM direct recapitalisation instrument will start in September. The statements represent a major shift in European policy in terms of breaking the vicious circle between the banks and the sovereign. This is something that the Irish Government has been saying is needed at a European level to help tackle the crisis. However, these statements represent an agreement in principle only. The policy statements provide a basis for a Euro-area solution to what is essentially a Euro-area problem but the details, structures and arrangements concerning how the solution will be achieved have yet to be finalised.

While detailed work is now underway it would not be appropriate to prejudge the outcome of the meeting of Eurogroup Finance Ministers of 9th July or any further discussions to take place between Eurogroup Finance Ministers in the coming months by making further statements beyond the principle that we are in favour of the separation of banking debt from sovereign debt and that we welcome the developments reflected in both the Euro Area Summit Statement of 29th June and the subsequent Eurogroup Statement of 9th July stating that it is imperative that the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns be broken.

Revenue Commissioners Investigations

Michael McGrath

Question:

84 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the Revenue Commissioners’ investigation under way into a syndicate of almost 200 individuals using an intricate offshore tax avoidance scheme; if he will provide an indication of the amount of money involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36160/12]

For reasons of taxpayer confidentiality the Revenue Commissioners do not comment on or provide information in relation to the tax affairs of any particular individual or group of individuals. However, I assume the Deputy's question is based on a newspaper report of 8 July 2012. I am informed that enquiries in relation to this matter are ongoing at present and the Revenue Commissioners are not currently in a position to indicate the tax at risk.

Revenue's Anti-Avoidance Unit specifically deals with the identification and challenging of aggressive tax avoidance schemes and unintended use of legislation that threatens tax yields and the perceived fairness of the tax system. Where Revenue becomes aware of tax avoidance schemes, it investigates such schemes. In general tax avoidance is tackled in two ways, by challenging the individual cases as they arise or through the use of the general anti-avoidance provisions in Section 811 Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. In addition, where Revenue identifies any artificial tax avoidance arrangements that require specific anti-avoidance rules, it will recommend appropriate legislative amendments to my Department for consideration in the context of the annual Finance Bill.

In addition the Mandatory Disclosure regime introduced in the 2010 Finance Act came into effect on 17 January 2011 (first disclosures were required by 15 April 2011). This legislation requires promoters of certain tax-based schemes to disclose them to Revenue shortly after they are first marketed or made available for implementation. This regime is designed to act as an "early warning" system in tackling tax avoidance schemes. The objectives of this regime are:

To obtain early information about certain tax schemes and how they work,

To obtain information about who has availed of them, and

To close down by legislative action, or use of anti-avoidance provisions, any such schemes that are viewed as aggressive.

I can assure the Deputy that I strongly support the Revenue Commissioners in tackling aggressive anti-avoidance schemes and the unintended use of legislation that threatens tax yield and the perceived fairness of the tax system.

National Asset Management Agency

Michael McGrath

Question:

85 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of fees incurred by the National Asset Management Agency in respect of the appointment of receivers to the National Asset Management Agency debtors in each of the years 2010, 2011 and to date in 2012; if he will confirm the number of receivers that have been appointed by the National Asset Management Agency for each of these years; and the number of different professional first that have been appointed as receivers by the agency. [36161/12]

I am advised by NAMA that fees are not paid to receivers directly by banks or NAMA rather they are paid out of the proceeds of assets under receivership or the management thereof pending realisation. NAMA also advises that the costs incurred through the appointment of receivers to NAMA-managed debtor connection assets are as follows:

Year

€m

2010

2

2011

10.3

The figure for 2012 relates to costs incurred after the NAMA loan acquisition dates. Costs incurred through receiver appointments by participating institutions (PI) are currently being collated by the institutions but are expected to be materially less.

NAMA advises that to the end of June 2012, 235 Receiver appointments had been made to 176 separate debtor connections. There are a number of connections to which more than one receiver firm is engaged, which explains the difference between Receiver appointments (235) and debtor connections (176). NAMA advises that this predominantly occurs in situations where debtors have assets in two or more jurisdictions giving rise to at least two separate appointments or in instances where a combination of corporate and fixed charge receivers are used depending on the asset type and legal security.

The number of receiver appointments by NAMA and PI are detailed below:

NAMA

Year

No. of Receiver Appointments

2010

58

2011

35

2012

19

Total

112

PI

Year

No. of Receiver Appointments

2010

79

2011

38

2012

6

Total

123

NAMA advises that receiver appointments for 2010 include those made prior to the acquisition of the loans by NAMA. Receiver appointments by the PIs include appointments made since acquisition of the loans by NAMA which continued to be managed by the PIs. I am advised that NAMA has selected 30 separate firms in respect of its 112 appointments since 2010. The PIs have engaged 29 separate firms in respect of their 123 appointments.

Banks Recapitalisation

Michael McGrath

Question:

86 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the values he or the National Pensions Reserve Fund place on the State’s share holding in any of the covered institutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36162/12]

I am informed by the National Treasury Management Agency, as Manager of the NPRF, that the total value of the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) at 30 June 2012 was €13.9 billion, made up as follows:

the Discretionary Portfolio, the investment of which remains the Commission's responsibility, was valued at €5.8 billion (41.7% of total);

the Directed Portfolio, investments in Irish financial institutions made for public policy reasons at the direction of the Minister for Finance, was valued at €8.1 billion (58.3% of the total).

The Directed Portfolio consists of investments in Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland that were undertaken on foot of directions from the Minister for Finance. Since 2009 the Fund has invested €20.7 billion in preference shares and ordinary shares in the two banks, comprising €4.7 billion in Bank of Ireland (where the Fund's shareholding is 15.1 per cent) and €16.0 billion in Allied Irish Banks (where the Fund's shareholding is 99.8 per cent). The Fund has received a total of €2.0 billion in cash from its Bank of Ireland investment — comprising preference share dividends, the repurchase of warrants by the Bank and the sale of ordinary shares to a consortium of private investors. The net proceeds from the sale of Bank of Ireland ordinary shares to private investors in 2011 were remitted to the Exchequer as directed by the Minister.

The Directed Portfolio was valued, following the completion of an independent valuation review, at €8.1 billion at 30 June 2012. The Directed Portfolio's holdings in Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland comprise ordinary shares (valued at €0.0076 or 0.76 cent per share and at market price respectively) and preference shares (valued at 63.5% of par and 80.2% of par respectively). As the preference share investments in both banks are unlisted and the Fund holds 99.8% of the ordinary share holding in Allied Irish Banks, these investments are held at fair value as at 31 December 2011 in line with generally-accepted accounting principles.

Bond Markets

Michael McGrath

Question:

87 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when Ireland will return to the international bond markets in view of the IMF requirement that there must be certainty concerning the funding of a programme country at least 12 months in advance of when that country is due to exit the programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36163/12]

I am informed by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) that it is the stated intention of the Agency to return to the capital markets as soon as circumstances permit. The conditions to allow for a successful return to the markets include the continued implementation of the programme agreed with the EU-IMF and progress in resolving the sovereign debt and banking crises in Europe. Our continued successful implementation of the EU-IMF Programme of Support, as repeatedly confirmed by the EU/ECB/IMF reviews, along with our firm commitment to achieve the programme targets combined with the measures agreed by EU Heads of State or Government on 29 June, have reinforced the confidence which investors have in Ireland. This is evidenced by the decline in our bond yields and the successful Treasury Bill auction carried out by the NTMA on 5 July. Between now and the end of the year, the NTMA plans to hold three to four auctions of short-term Treasury Bills similar to the one successfully concluded on 5 July. The Agency is planning to diversify its sources of funding through the first Irish sovereign issuance of amortising bonds and inflation-linked bonds specifically tailored to the needs of the domestic pensions industry. Market conditions permitting, the aim is also to issue a conventional medium to long-term bond.

I am confident that the IMF will remain fully satisfied with the NTMA's plans for a phased return to the markets, which has already commenced with the recent Treasury Bill auction.

Bank Debt Restructuring

Michael McGrath

Question:

88 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he has set a target level down to which to bring Ireland’s debt to GDP ratio, as an outcome of the negotiations currently under way in respect of Ireland’s banking debt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36164/12]

As I have stated on several occasions since the end-June euro area summit, including in responses to parliamentary questions and during last week's press conference at the end of the latest EU/IMF quarterly review mission, the amount of banking debt which could be considered as part of the discussions around breaking the link between recapitalising the banks and the sovereign will be identified during the detailed discussions. Early negotiations on Ireland's bank debt are underway, with a view to concluding an agreement in October. However, I would not want Ireland to be constrained by setting a target figure and it is important not to prejudice the outcome of these negotiations by commenting on the likely contents of any agreement at this time.

While the discussions around breaking the link between recapitalising the banks and the sovereign are undoubtedly a positive development for Ireland, we cannot lose sight of the fact that there remains a large gap between day to day spending and revenues. This needs to be closed so as to enhance further the long-term sustainability of our public finances.

I can assure the House that we will seek to be ambitious in the negotiations and will seek to agree the best deal possible for the Irish taxpayer. As and when further measures are agreed, I will inform the Houses as appropriate.

Departmental Correspondence

Michael McGrath

Question:

89 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he has any plans to publish correspondence between his Department and the ECB in the autumn of 2010 dealing with the question of the then Irish Government’s efforts to impose losses on senior bondholders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36166/12]

I have no plans to publish records of the type mentioned in the Deputy's question. It is normal practice for states to protect the confidentiality of deliberations with international bodies particularly where sensitive issues are involved. Reflecting this principle the Freedom of Information Act provides for exemptions from release of records relating to, for example, negotiations with international bodies, information received in confidence, commercially sensitive information and the financial and economic interests of the state in sections 24, 26 and 31. These exemptions enable public bodies to protect the integrity and viability of the negotiation and decision-making processes and our relationships with international bodies.

Central Bank Investigations

Michael McGrath

Question:

90 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a detailed update on the ongoing investigation by the Central Bank into certain matters at the former Anglo Irish Bank and the former Irish Nationwide Building Society; if he will confirm the level of staffing resources currently being deployed by the Central Bank in these investigations; if he will confirm the stage the Central Bank investigation is at; and if there are plans to initiate any proceedings against individuals arising from the investigation. [36167/12]

The Central Bank has informed me as follows:

Irish Nationwide Building Society Limited

An investigation is being conducted under the Central Bank's Administrative Sanctions Procedure into historic lending practices at INBS. For legal reasons, including the Bank's confidentiality obligations pursuant to section 33AK of the Central Bank Act 1942, no further details can presently be disclosed.

An appropriate number of enforcement staff, commensurate with the investigation's complexity, are dedicated to it. Investigation resources are kept continuously under review.

The investigation is ongoing. For the reasons already explained, no further details can be disclosed. Until the investigation has concluded, no decisions may be made as regards any future potential action.

Anglo Irish Bank Corporation Limited

On 3 June 2011 the Central Bank issued a press statement relating to its investigation into Anglo Irish Bank and persons concerned in its management (Anglo). It was noted that, at an early stage in its investigation, the Central Bank notified the Gardaí and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) of certain suspected offences. Regular liaison with these agencies continues. As part of that liaison process, the Central Bank advised the Gardaí of the Bank's intention in 2011 to examine specific issues arising from its investigation. At that stage, the Gardaí informed the Central Bank, following consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), that, if the Central Bank proceeded with its investigation, it may prejudice any future criminal prosecutions. Accordingly, the Central Bank decided to defer its investigation and undertook to keep this decision under review.

In circumstances where, after liaison with the Gardaí and the DPP, the Central Bank commences an investigation, such an investigation will have available an appropriate level of resources.

Economic Growth

Michael McGrath

Question:

91 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when he will officially review the growth forecast for 2012 and 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36168/12]

The next official growth forecasts will be contained in the Department's regular Autumn update and will set out the Government's medium-term budgetary strategy. It is the first stage in a sequence of budget-related announcements that will lead in to Budget Day and is scheduled to be released in the late Autumn.

Revenue Commissioners Investigations

Michael McGrath

Question:

92 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the number and overall value of civil court judgments secured by the Revenue Commissioners in respect of taxation liabilities in each of the years 2009, 2010, 2011 and to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36169/12]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the number and overall value of civil court judgments secured by the Revenue Commissioners in respect of tax liabilities is set out in the table below:

Judgements obtained by Revenue

Year

Number

Amount

2009

1,419

€66,811,874

2010

1,996

€85,143,841

2011

1,968

€94,932,474

2012 (1 Jan-23 Jun*)

889

€54,653,863

*latest available data.

Fiscal Policy

Michael McGrath

Question:

93 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his views on the overall composition of the fiscal adjustment in budget 2013, with a breakdown between capital and current spending and taxation measures, in view of the commitments in the memorandum of understanding with the EU-ECB-IMF; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36171/12]

The overall level and composition between revenue and current and capital expenditure measures of the Budget 2013 fiscal adjustment was set out in last November's Medium-Term Fiscal Statement and again in April's Stability Programme Update (SPU). The EU/IMF Programme Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) also refers to a similar level of adjustment and similar split between revenue and current and capital expenditure measures as being necessary to reduce the General Government deficit to 7.5% of GDP next year, in line with our commitments. The MOU is an evolving document. Certain adjustments can be made to it following consultation with the Troika while at the same maintaining respect for the overall budgetary targets.

The Government will, over the coming months in the lead-up to Budget 2013, and on the basis of updated economic and budgetary data, finalise the precise details of the measures that will be implemented as part of Budget 2013. The Government will seek, insofar as it is possible, to implement the measures in a fair and equitable manner and in a way that will not unduly impact on the economy.

Mortgage Arrears

Michael McGrath

Question:

94 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the percentage of banks' mortgage books, including both owner-occupier and buy-to-let mortgages, in arrears of 90 days or more; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36172/12]

The percentage of the banks' mortgage books, including both owner occupier and buy-to-let mortgages, that are in arrears for 90 days or more and impaired has been included in the table below. The figures are those that were current at the end of December 2011, which is the last published set of accounts for the requested institutions.

Figures at 31.12.11 as per published accounts

Bank

Mortgage Book €m

Arrears 90+/ Impaired* €m

%

Mortgage Book €m

Arrears 90+/ Impaired* €m

%

Mortgage Book€m

Arrears 90+/ Impaired* €m

%

Type

Owner Occupier

Owner Occupier

Owner Occupier

Buy-to-Let

Buy-to-Let

Buy-to-Let

Total

Total

Total

AIB

18,660

1,234

6.6%

7,654

2,196

28.7%

26,314

3,430

13.0%

EBS

13,492

2,238

16.6%

1,861

785

42.2%

15,353

3,023

19.7%

BOI

20,863

1,538

7.4%

6,991

1,171

16.8%

27,854

2,709

9.7%

ILP

18,740

2,710

14.5%

6,679

1,668

25.0%

25,419

4,378

17.2%

Total

71,755

7,720

10.8%

23,185

5,820

25.1%

94,940

13,540

14.3%

*Figures include 90 days or more in arrears and impaired.

Credit Unions

Michael McGrath

Question:

95 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the recapitalisation of credit unions to date; if he is satisfied that the recapitalisation fund will be sufficient to withstand losses that the sector is facing; the position regarding the plans for consolidation of the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36173/12]

There is currently no mechanism for the State to inject capital into credit unions, outside of the context of resolution. The Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) operates on an all-island basis a savings protection scheme (SPS) for credit unions. The SPS is funded by the sector and operates by providing financial support to credit unions that get into difficulty. As this is a privately owned and managed fund it is not possible to provide the Deputy with the information requested.

The Commission on Credit Unions Report recommended the establishment of a statutory stabilisation mechanism whereby financial assistance could be given to credit unions on an individual basis, in certain limited circumstances, with certain conditions attached to the provision of such assistance. This would be facilitated by the establishment of a stabilisation fund to be managed by the Central Bank. The General Scheme of the Credit Union Bill 2012 which was published on 28 June 2012 sets out the legislative proposals on this statutory stabilisation mechanism.

The restructuring of the credit union sector on a voluntary, incentivised and time-bound basis formed a core recommendation of the Report of the Commission. The Report set out a timescale for the completion of the restructuring process by end 2015. The General Scheme of the Credit Union Bill 2012 also makes provision for the establishment of the Credit Union Restructuring Board (the ReBo) to oversee and facilitate the restructuring of credit unions. The ReBo will engage with credit unions over the coming months and will assist credit unions with restructuring proposals and due diligence. These proposals, which may include proposals for transfer or amalgamations of credit unions, will then be presented to the Board of the ReBo to consider. If funding is required, the first call will be on the excess capital within the merging credit unions. The affordability of sector wide contributions will also be assessed. If further funding is required, Exchequer funding may be provided on a recoupable basis.

Tax Code

Michael McGrath

Question:

96 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he remains committed to honouring the programme for Government commitment not to increase income tax rates or to adjust bands or credits for the remainder of the lifetime of this Government. [36174/12]

The position is as stated in the Programme for Government that as part of the Government's fiscal strategy we will maintain the current rates of income tax together with bands and credits.

Tax Code

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

97 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance if he is concerned at the residence and issuance principles contained within the European Commission proposal for a financial transaction tax which are not considered in the Central Bank-ESRI assessment; if it will affect financial transactions carried out in Ireland on securities that are issued in another EU country that decides to participate in an FTT through enhanced co-operation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36181/12]

The EU Commission's proposed Financial Transactions Tax (FTT) is a residence based tax — that is, a transaction would be subject to the tax if one of the parties was a financial institution which is resident in one of the Member States. Sections 2 and 3 of the ESRI/Central Bank report discuss the residence basis of the tax. The Commission's proposal did not envisage that the FTT would be charged on an issuance basis — that is, by reference to whether the company whose shares were being transferred, or whose shares were subject to a derivative transaction, was resident or registered in an EU Member State. The European Parliament has proposed that the FTT should operate on both a residence basis and an issuance basis, so that a transaction would be liable to an FTT it was carried out by a financial institution in an EU Member State or if it involved a transfer of shares or a derivative transaction related to shares in a company registered in an EU Member State. While the Council (comprising representatives of the EU member state Governments) is obliged to consult with the European Parliament before adopting a final position on Commission proposals, the European Parliament specifically does not have co-legislator status for proposals in the taxation area, as it would for example with co-decision proposals in other areas. In other words, while the European Parliament must be consulted, they have no decision making powers on tax matters.

Although the Commission's proposed FTT would be on a residence basis, the new French FTT is charged on an issuance basis — it applies if the shares are issued in France, and the company has market capitalization in excess of €1 billion. Our Stamp Duty on share transactions is also charged on an issuance basis — it applies to instruments and deemed instruments which transfer shares in Irish incorporated companies — as is the UK Stamp Duty Reserve Tax.

It is not clear as yet what form the "enhanced co-operation" FTT will take but if it was introduced on a residence basis, it is possible that a transaction could be subject both to an FTT and Irish Stamp Duty — for example, a purchase of shares in an Irish registered company by a financial institution in one of the "enhanced co-operation" Member States. As I stated in reply to Parliamentary Question No. 31431/12 on 28 June 2012, we will continue to monitor discussions on the FTT to ensure the compatibility of any proposed measure with the internal market and with existing taxes on financial transactions, including our Stamp Duty.

Programme for Government

Terence Flanagan

Question:

98 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance his priorities for the year ahead and the achievements from the programme for Government to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36203/12]

As the Deputy may be aware, my Department recently published its revised Statement of Strategy for 2012-2014. This document, which is available at on the Department's website www.finance.gov.ie, sets out the Department’s five key goals for the period:

1. A resilient Irish economy founded on sustainable and balanced growth and leading to significant increases in employment numbers.

2. A sustainable macroeconomic environment and sound public finances.

3. An improvement in the living standards of our citizens.

4. Return by Ireland to international debt markets so as to achieve an exit from the EU/IMF funding programme at the earliest possible date.

5. Completion of the restructuring of the banking system and a vibrant, secure and well regulated financial sector. The Statement of Strategy also outlines the Department's mission "to manage Government finances and play a central role in the achievement of the Government's economic and social goals having regard to the Programme for Government." The Department has made significant progress in implementing the relevant aspects of the Programme for Government: 28 commitments have been implemented, 21 are on-going or underway while 5 are under review or cannot be introduced in the manner in which they are stated in the Programme for Government. More detail on the all the Programme for Government commitments are available in the Programme for Government Annual Report 2012 available at www.taoiseach.gov.ie. Since the publication of that report there has been further progress in a number of areas including the publication of the Personal Insolvency Bill, the publication of a report of the regional meetings on credit supply, the on-going move toward decreasing Government support to the banks, the publication of the Commission on Credit Unions’ final report, the publication of the Fiscal Responsibility Bill, the on-going work to implement a property tax, and continuing augmentation of the skill set of the Department, including the position of Chief Economist which was advertised externally.

Tax Code

Robert Troy

Question:

99 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance if he has any plans to equalise the duty rates between agricultural fuels and motor fuels and to introduce a reclaim system for agricultural fuel users; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36212/12]

It is assumed that the Deputy's question envisages a movement away from the current system of marking of oil to which a reduced rate of tax applies to one in which certain users would be given refunds of part of the mineral oil tax paid by them in respect of fuel used for non-auto purposes. A change of this kind would, however, involve the establishment of an extensive repayments system, which would give rise to a significant administrative burden and costs for oil traders, users and the Revenue Commissioners, as well as posing significant cash-flow costs for those who currently use marked oil. Moreover, repayment systems are vulnerable to abuse and would be likely to be targeted by criminal elements such as those currently involved in oil laundering.

For those reasons, it is not clear that a repayment system would offer greater security against fraud than the current arrangements There are no plans, therefore to move to a reclaim system as suggested by the Deputy. The intention is to ensure that controls relating to the sale and distribution of oils, and enforcement action for combating laundering, are as effective as possible, and significant steps are being taken to enhance the supervision of the oils supply chain.

Departmental Banking

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

100 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Finance the reason Government Departments including the Department of Health continue to have their banking business with UK banks when banks bailed out and supported by the tax payer such as AIB and Bank of Ireland are not used by these Departments to conduct their banking business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36242/12]

The only role my Department has in this matter is that the Department of Health sends instructions to my Department requesting the transfer of funds to its EFT/Public Bank Accounts for the purposes of making (1) payments to suppliers and (2) salary payments to its staff. My Department transfers the funds to these accounts via the Central Bank. My Department does not operate commercial bank accounts on behalf of the Department of Health.

Bank Codes of Conduct

Michael McGrath

Question:

101 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will outline, for each covered institution, the bank's policy in regard to the acceptance of gifts or hospitality by its senior management from the bank’s debtors; the policy of the Central Bank and his Department in relation to same; if his Department or the Central Bank has been advised by any of the covered institutions of the acceptance of gifts or hospitality from significant debtors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36270/12]

It is my Department's policy to comply with the provisions of the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001. These acts apply to Public Servants who hold positions whose maximum salary is not less than the maximum salary of a principal officer (general service grade class B PRSI) and to other positions in the Public service that have been prescribed by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform as "designated positions" for the purposes of the Ethics Acts. Typically these are positions that interface with the commercial sector and are listed in Appendix 2 of the "Guidelines on Compliance with the Provisions of the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2011. The latest edition of these Guidelines was issued in November 2011. Section 4.2 of the Central Bank of Ireland's Staff Code of Ethics and Behaviour (Code) (revised and issued in July 2011) provides that management and staff should avoid any situation that would result in a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict in their official dealings, particularly in the context of the receipt of gifts or business hospitality. Failure to adhere to the organisation's rules on the acceptance of gifts and business hospitality may result in disciplinary action.

The covered banks policies are as follows:

AIB:

AIB has a Code of Conduct for all staff which covers, inter alia, the receipt of gifts. AIB Management and Staff may accept or provide entertainment or gifts only if they are not intended to compromise independent decision making, are small in value and comply with applicable laws and regulations and are in accordance with internal thresholds. Internal requirements are in place for declaration and approval of gifts received.

BOI:

Bank of Ireland's Code of Conduct prohibits all staff from accepting any gifts that might influence the decisions that they or others make in business transactions involving the Bank, or that others might reasonably believe would influence their decisions, or compromise the integrity or ability of the staff member to exercise independent judgement. If in doubt regarding the appropriateness of a gift, invitation or other benefit, staff are advised to discuss the matter with their manager.

IBRC:

As part of IBRC's wider ‘Conflicts of Interest Policy', the Bank's policy with regards to gifts, hospitality and other benefits states that in general, directors and employees must not accept gifts or the conveyance of anything of value (including entertainment) from current or prospective Bank customers or suppliers. Similarly, directors and employees may not accept or allow a close family member to accept gifts, services, loans or preferential treatment from anyone (including customers, suppliers or others) in exchange for or in connection with a past, current or future business relationship with the Bank.

Permanent TSB:

Permanent TSB's Code of Ethics states that "No gifts, sponsorships, hospitality, services or inducements should ever be offered or given by you (other than arising in approved business development activity), or be solicited or accepted by you, which would compromise, or give the appearance of compromising, your position, your duties or any business decision taken by you on behalf of the Group. If you are in any doubt as to the propriety of accepting any gift, sponsorship, hospitality or services, you should refer the matter to your Line Manager and/or the Compliance Officer for your division. All gifts, sponsorship, hospitality or services offered to you in excess of €300 must be approved in advance by your Line Manager."

Bank Debt Restructuring

Michael McGrath

Question:

102 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he is reassured that IBRC is using every possible opportunity, with particular regard to the review and renewal of loan agreements, to ensure the maximum security is put in place in respect of the debts of the bank’s largest personal debtors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36271/12]

IBRC has advised me that there is a rigorous credit review and approval process in place for personal debtors of IBRC. This process covers establishing the true financial position of a borrower via a sworn net worth statement and a formal request for a repayment plan to repay the debt as quickly as possible with the maximum recovery. This process also examines whether any unencumbered assets could be pledged to IBRC to enhance existing security and to provide additional repayment sources. IBRC endeavours to capture any surplus income from Debtors to aid overall recovery. IBRC also advised me that it is committed to the maximum recovery under each loan facility as agreed under the commitments letter between IBRC and the EU in accordance with normal commercial practice and fiduciary duties.

Mortgage Interest Rates

John Lyons

Question:

103 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Finance if he will raise with the EBS the need to pass on the recent interest rate cuts to EBS mortgage policy holders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36334/12]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Bank's policy in relation to lending rates is a matter for the management and board of the institution. I have no role in the day-to-day commercial and operational decisions of the banks, which include these matters. These decisions are taken by the board and management of the institution. Notwithstanding the fact that the State is a significant shareholder in the institution, I must ensure that the bank is run on a commercial, cost effective and independent basis to ensure the value of the bank as an asset to the State, as per the Memorandum on Economic and Financial Policies agreed with the EU Commission, the ECB and the IMF. However, the bank has informed me that it continues to keep rates at EBS under review.

Mortgage Interest Rates

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

104 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if any action is being taken to ensure that a financial institution (details supplied) has passed on all recent ECB interest rate cuts to hard-pressed mortgage holders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36335/12]

The lending institutions in Ireland 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 the variable mortgage interest rate charged by the financial institutions. I have no powers to compel the institutions to reduce their rates. I have been advised that the institution mentioned by the Deputy has taken no decision with regard to the recently announced ECB rate reduction.

Credit Unions

Dara Calleary

Question:

105 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance the supports available to the credit union sector to compensate for loan losses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36415/12]

It is the responsibility of each credit union to make sure that it makes adequate provision in its accounts for bad or doubtful debts to ensure that it is sufficiently funded to cover loan losses. Credit unions must also maintain reserves of 10% of assets as a buffer against unexpected losses. The Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) has operated on an all-island basis a savings protection scheme (SPS) for credit unions since 1989. The SPS operates by providing financial support to credit unions that get into difficulty. This is a privately owned and managed fund.

The Commission on Credit Unions recommended the establishment of a statutory stabilisation mechanism whereby financial assistance could be given to credit unions on an individual basis, in certain limited circumstances, with certain conditions attached to the provision of such assistance. This would be facilitated by the establishment of a stabilisation fund to be managed by the Central Bank. The General Scheme of the Credit Union Bill 2012, which was published on 28 June 2012, sets out the legislative proposals for this statutory stabilisation mechanism.

Tax Code

Robert Troy

Question:

106 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance his views on the introduction of a financial transactions tax. [36460/12]

At the most recent ECOFIN meeting on Friday 22 June, it became clear that EU-wide agreement would not be reached on the Commission's proposed Financial Transactions Tax (FTT). Those countries that want to enact an FTT will now request the Commission to put forward a proposal that it be introduced via "enhanced co-operation". This mechanism would require at least nine Member States to participate and would require agreement by Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) comprising 72% of the overall votes and states representing 65% of the total EU population. Ireland is not going to be among the "enhanced co-operation" countries but we will not stand in the way of those who want to introduce an FTT under this mechanism. I have stated clearly in the past that, if an FTT cannot be introduced on a global basis, it would be better if it were introduced on an EU-wide basis. This would prevent any distortion of activity within the Union. I have also indicated our principled opposition to dealing with tax measures under "enhanced co-operation". So our non-participation in the new "enhanced co-operation" initiative is consistent with the position we have taken to date on the FTT.

It is also not clear what shape the FTT will finally take. The draft Directive had only received one initial reading and the current proposal could be modified.

A significant concern is that an FTT could affect transactions in Irish Government bonds, particularly in the secondary market, and may also affect the ECB's ability to give effect to its own monetary policy via the repurchase ("repo") market. A number of countries such as Sweden and the UK have also raised this point in respect of their own debt management. Given the difficulties faced by countries like Ireland, disruption of the Government paper market in the coming years would not be helpful.

An FTT could also affect the financial services industry, especially in the IFSC, and lead to some activities and jobs moving abroad. The UK is strongly opposed to an FTT and when other countries introduced similar taxes in the past, certain financial activities moved to London.

We are also concerned that the Commission's own projections are that an FTT could reduce EU growth and raise the cost to ordinary, non-financial companies for their use of financial products. Both these aspects would be harmful to EU recovery.

We will continue to monitor discussions on whatever proposal emerges from the "enhanced co-operation" process to ensure it does not interfere with the single market and takes account of the positions of other Member States. For example, any FTT on share transactions would have to take account of our existing Stamp Duty on Irish shares.

Tax Reliefs

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

107 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance if there are any bands of income that avoid paying the minimum rate of tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36475/12]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to the restriction on the use of reliefs by high income individuals which was introduced with effect from 2007. As indicated in my reply of 17 November 2011, to which the Deputy refers, the objective of the restriction for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009 was to ensure that individuals with adjusted income of €500,000 or more paid an effective rate of tax of approximately 20% on that income. Following a tightening of the restriction in Finance Act 2010, the objective from 2010 has been to ensure that individuals with adjusted income of €400,000 or more pay an effective income tax rate of approximately 30% on that income. For the years 2007, 2008 and 2009, where adjusted income was between €250,000 and €500,000, a graduated application of the restriction meant that the effective rate of tax increased towards 20% as adjusted income increased towards €500,000. For 2010 and later years, the graduated application of the restriction is designed to ensure that the effective rate of tax increases towards 30% as adjusted income increases towards €400,000. Details of the number of individuals who were subject to the restriction and to whom the tapering system applied for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009 are available on individual reports headed "Analysis of High Income Individuals' Restriction" on my Department's website at: http://taxpolicy.gov.ie/restriction-of-reliefs/. Statistics are given in each report in relation to a number of bands of income under €500,000 and include the average effective rate of tax that applied to individuals within each band both before and after the application of the restriction.

Details of the number of individuals who were subject to the restriction in 2010 and to whom the tapering approach applied in that year will be included in a further report on the application of the restriction for 2010. This report is currently being finalised and will be made available on my Department's website in the coming weeks.

The particular circumstances of each taxpayer will determine the effective income tax rate in any year.

Tax Collection

Michael McGrath

Question:

108 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the approximate number of income tax cases for which no income tax liability will arise in 2012; the proportion of all income tax cases this represents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36482/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the information requested by the Deputy is as follows, in respect of the income tax year 2012:

Projected Distribution of Income Earners for 2012

Tax Year

Exempt (Standard rate liability fully covered by credits or age exemption limits)

Standard rate (including those whose liability at the higher rate is fully offset by credits)

Higher rate (liability not fully off set by credits)

All cases

Numbers

%

Numbers

%

Numbers

%

Post Budget 2012

817,100

37.7

946,200

43.7

401,800

18.6

2,165,100

Numbers are rounded to nearest hundred.

The figures are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2009 adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends for the year 2012.

They are, therefore, provisional and likely to be revised.

It should be noted that a married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

Tax Collection

Michael McGrath

Question:

109 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the persons registered for payment of the domicile levy; his views on the operation of the tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36483/12]

The Domicile Levy was introduced in Finance Act 2010. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the first returns and payments for tax year 2010 were due to be filed by 31 October 2011 or 15 November 2011 for persons who pay income tax and file returns using the Revenue Online Service (ROS). Eleven persons registered to pay the Domicile Levy in 2011 for tax year 2010.

The Domicile Levy returns for tax year 2011 are due to be filed on 31 October 2012 or 15 November 2012 for persons using ROS. The figures for 2011 are not therefore yet available.

My Department has announced a public consultation under which interested parties are invited to make submissions on possible revisions to the current residence rules for the taxation of individuals. In particular I would welcome views on the following matters:

Whether or not, and how, the current day counting rules should be amended;

Whether or not, and how, the day counting rules should be supplemented with other rules;

The appropriateness of citizenship as a basis for taxation;

Whether or not, and how, the conditions for and/or the range of application of the Domicile Levy should be changed;

Whether or not the Domicile Levy should continue in place if the rules for determining residence were modified.

I have asked that any proposals should have due regard to:

The need to ensure that Exchequer tax yields are not undermined;

The continued promotion of Ireland as a location for inward investment;

Their ease of administration;

Their implications for arrangements in place under double taxation agreements with other jurisdictions. Submissions should be made, at the latest, by 1 August 2012 andmay be e-mailed to residence.consultation@finance.gov.ie or posted to:

Residence Consultation,Capital and Savings Taxation Policy Unit,Fiscal Division,Department of Finance,Government Buildings,Upper Merrion Street,Dublin 2.

Fuel Laundering

Michael McGrath

Question:

110 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the progress made to date in relation to tackling the illegal sale of diesel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36484/12]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners, who have responsibility for the collection of mineral oil tax and for tackling the illicit trade in mineral oil products, that they are acutely aware of the threat to the Exchequer posed by laundered fuel. The predominant illicit activity in the mineral oil area in this State and in Northern Ireland is the laundering of marked diesel and its sale through illegal outlets. In both jurisdictions the respective difference in excise rates between marked (rebated) and normal diesel offers a considerable incentive for oil laundering and this illicit activity poses a serious threat to the Exchequer and to the economy on both sides of the border. 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. The DPP has issued directions to prosecute on indictment in two of these cases. A further 48,184 litres of illicit mineral oil was seized from retail outlets or in the course of delivery to such outlets 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 five of these cases and on summary disposal in a further case. Three other cases are en route to the DPP's Office seeking directions. 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.

To date in 2012 six oil laundries and 135,050 litres of fuel has been seized together with one oil tanker and nine other vehicles. Two people were arrested in the course of these operations. In addition to this a further 317,725 litres of illicit mineral oil has been seized, the majority from retail outlets or in the course of delivery to such outlets. To date in 2012 there have been two court convictions for laundered oil offences with a fine of €2,500 imposed in one case and a two-year suspended sentence in the other.

Revenue is also engaged in an ongoing and vigorous campaign targeting specific locations nationwide, with the intention of immediate closure of unlicensed outlets and challenging of instances of non-compliance. In 2011 thirty-two filling stations were shut down by Revenue because they did not have a licence or were in breach of licensing conditions. To date in 2012, twenty such outlets have been closed.

While there has been considerable success in detecting and closing oil laundries, it is recognised that this approach, in isolation, will not solve the problem. Oil launderers need to be denied access to marked oil for the purposes of laundering and they need to be denied access to the market for their laundered product. Since July last year the licensing regime for road fuels has been tightened up to make it more difficult for launderers to get their product on to the market.

New legislation was enacted in this year's Finance Act which significantly strengthens the provisions for the control and supervision of the fuel supply chain and restricts the scope for illegal activity. The previous licence for persons dealing in road fuels has been replaced by a new auto-fuel trader's licence, as and from 1 July. In addition, anyone dealing in marked diesel or marked kerosene will now, for the first time, have to be licensed for the purpose. The requirement to have a marked fuel trader's licence comes into operation with effect from 1 October 2012.

The Revenue Commissioners are the licensing authority and will have power to refuse a licence where the applicant does not show to their satisfaction that relevant conditions that they may attach to the licence can be satisfied. Revenue are empowered also to revoke a licence, if the holder contravenes or fails to comply with the terms of the licence, or any provision of excise law relating to fuel.

In parallel with the introduction of the new licensing system, the Regulations that lay down the detailed rules and requirements on mineral oil matters have been reviewed and new Regulations, containing additional and reinforced provisions, were recently made. The requirements with regard to record keeping have been strengthened, and a new requirement for persons dealing in fuel to make periodic returns to Revenue has been introduced. All traders, including traders in marked fuels, will have to make monthly returns, electronically, detailing their fuel transactions. This system of returns, which will come into operation from the start of next year, will be an important new source of information for Revenue in relation to the supply chain. It will, for example, assist in the identification of unusual or anomalous patterns of activity.

In addition, Revenue and HM Revenue and Customs in the UK have been working in partnership to identify a new, more effective marker. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the two authorities. A joint "Invitation to Make Submissions" (IMS) seeking proposals was published in June. Both authorities are committed to seeking the widest possible range of proposals, so that the most effective marker for the future can be identified. The closing date for receipt of submissions is 30 November.

Revenue has committed to applying ten per cent of its compliance resources to combating the illicit trade in mineral oil. The legislative steps that have been taken, together with the work on the development of a more effective fuel marker, will provide important new support and enhance the effectiveness of compliance action.

Tobacco Smuggling

Michael McGrath

Question:

111 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied that the Revenue Commissioners have sufficient resources to combat tobacco smuggling; the progress made to date in tackling the problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36485/12]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners who are responsible for the collection of tobacco products tax, and for tackling the illicit trade in cigarettes and tobacco products, that the tackling of this illicit trade is a key objective. The Revenue Commissioners are subject to the Employment Control Framework staffing reductions in line with Government targets to reduce public service numbers. However, I recognise the need to replace the loss of key skills and experience in Revenue while meeting the existing Employment Control Framework allocations. In that context, I have asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to consider reducing Revenue's target staff numbers over a longer time period, whilst at the same time allowing Revenue to replace critical skills and experience.

In 2010 Revenue established a high-level internal group, chaired at Commissioner level, to examine the risks related to tobacco products tax evasion 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. This 3-year (2011-2013) strategy, which is published on Revenue's website, includes a number of programmes which are designed to complement each other in targeting the supply and demand sides of the market for contraband tobacco in Ireland.

In 2011 a total of six national tobacco blitzes were carried out resulting in the seizure of more than 19m cigarettes and 1,345 Kgs of Tobacco. A total of €30,000 in cash and 49 vehicles used as conveyances were also seized. Six arrests were made and 103 cases have been identified as possible prosecution cases. To date in 2012 two national tobacco blitzes have been held resulting in the seizure of 1.3m cigarettes and 654 kgs tobacco. Two people were arrested and 12 vehicles used as conveyances were also seized. Twenty-nine cases have been identified as possible prosecution cases.

In 2011, a total of 109.08m cigarettes with a retail value of €45.95m and 11,158 kgs of tobacco with a retail value of €4m were seized by Revenue. In addition to this Revenue has obtained one hundred and one convictions relating to cigarette smuggling, with fines of €136,300 imposed, and thirty custodial sentences of which twenty were suspended. There were a further fifty-seven convictions relating to the sale of unstamped tobacco products with fines of €115,850 imposed, and thirteen custodial sentences of which seven were suspended.

In 2012 to date a total of 66.1m cigarettes with a retail value of €29.9m and 2,555kgs of tobacco with a retail value of €0.94m have been seized by Revenue. In addition to this Revenue has obtained thirty-three convictions relating to cigarette smuggling, with fines of €56,250 imposed, and thirteen custodial sentences of which four weresuspended. There were a further forty-six convictions relating to the sale of unstamped tobacco products with fines of €84,200 imposed, and ten custodial sentences of which seven were suspended.

Equality Issues

Mick Wallace

Question:

112 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Finance if he has considered undertaking an equality audit of budget 2012, with a particular emphasis on gender, in order to assess the ways in which the budget has impacted upon different sections of Irish society; if such an audit will be made available to the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36525/12]

Mick Wallace

Question:

113 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Finance if he intends to follow international best practice by undertaking gender impact assessments during the development of budget 2013; if gender impact assessments of budget 2012 will inform budget 2013; if such assessments will be made available to the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36526/12]

Mick Wallace

Question:

114 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Finance the reason the tax increases and public expenditure cuts which made up budget 2012, impacted differently on men and women; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36527/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 112 to 114, inclusive, together.

With regard to budgetary matters, when focusing on the primary objectives of reducing the deficit and returning the public finances to a sustainable level, it has been of vital importance to the Government to ensure that the adjustments made are spread in as fair and equitable a manner as possible, while also seeking to minimise their negative impact on economic growth.

The Deputy should be aware that the Programme for Government does contain a clear commitment requiring all public bodies to take due note of equality and human rights in carrying out their functions. I would also remind the Deputy that the State and its bodies take the provisions of equality legislation into account in the development and delivery of their policies and services.

Furthermore, the Cabinet handbook requires that Government memoranda indicate clearly, as appropriate, the impact of a proposal for, amongst other things, gender equality, persons experiencing or at risk of poverty or social exclusion and people with disabilities.

With regard to the impact of tax increases in Budget 2012, I am not aware of the analysis that the Deputy is relying on for his assertion that tax increases impacted differently on men and women. Issues related to public expenditure are a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

Departmental Expenditure

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

115 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details on moneys provided under any funding scheme by any section of his Department or any State agency under his Department’s aegis to any group, scheme or project in County Meath in the years 2011, and up to July 2012 under the following headings, address, amount, purpose and the funding scheme under which it was granted or awarded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36539/12]

In the period in question no moneys were provided by my Department or bodies under the aegis of my Department to any group, scheme or project in County Meath.

Ministerial Advisers

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

116 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a list of all special advisers appointed by him or his Ministers of State since March 2011 whose salary exceeds the first pay point of the principal officer standard scale; the special advisers names and salaries; salary increases awarded the aforementioned special advisers since March 2011. [36604/12]

In my Department, I have appointed Mary Kenny and Eoin Dorgan as special advisors. The salary for both special advisors has been €83,337 per annum since their appointment. No salary increases have been approved in respect of either appointment.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

117 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance the annual saving to the Exchequer if all board members fees paid to agencies under his aegis were cut by 25%, 35% and 50%. [36620/12]

In response to the Deputy's question the following table gives of the savings to be achieved if fees to board members were cut:

Savings resulting from cuts in fees

Body

Saving if 25% cut in Fees

Saving if 35% cut in Fees

Saving if 50% cut in Fees

Fiscal Council

€17,400

€23,940

€34,200

Central Bank

€14,963

€20,948

€29,926

Credit Union Advisory Committee

€4,631

€6,484

€9,263

In relation to National Treasury Management Agency and associated bodies I have been provided with the following information in relation to fees paid to board members.

Board/Body Name

No of board members

Remuneration details in respect of board members and board chairpersons

National Treasury Management Agency Advisory Committee

Up to 7 Board members.Currently 1 vacancy

Chair €50,000.Agreed to make a gift of 10% of 2009 remuneration to the Minister for Finance under s483 of the Taxes Consolidation Act.Ordinary Members €25,000.Agreed to make a gift of 10% of remuneration to the Minister for Finance under Section 483 of the Taxes Consolidation Act from 1 January 2009.Secretary General Department of Finance receives no fee in respect of his membership.

National Development Finance Agency (NDFA)

Up to 8 Board members.

Chairman, as an ex-officio member, receives no fee.Ordinary Members €12,600 p.a.2 members (Chief Executive of the NTMA and the Chief Executive Officer of the NDFA) receive no fees in respect of their membership.

National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission

Up to 7 Board members

Chair €51,424.Ordinary members €34,283.One member (Chief Executive of the NTMA) receives no fee in respect of his membership.

National Asset Management Agency

Up to 9 board members.Currently 2 vacancies

The Chairman receives a fee of €150,000, six members receive fees of €60,000 each per annum while one member (also Chairman of the Credit Committee) receives a fee of €75,000 per annum. Each member of the NAMA Board also chairs or is a member of various NAMA Board committees. Their fees associated with these committees are included in the above.2ex-officio members (Chief Executive of the NTMA and the Chief Executive Officer of NAMA), receive no fees in respect of their membership.

State Claims Agency Policy Committee

Up to 7 Board members.Currently 2 vacancies

Chair €13,713 p.a.Ordinary members €9,142 p.a.2 members (serving civil servants) do not receive fees in respect of their membership.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

118 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance the annual saving to the Exchequer if the pay of all CEOs of State agencies under his aegis were capped at €100,000. [36636/12]

In response to the Deputy's question the following table gives details requested by the deputy:

Savings on Pay of CEO's

Body

CEO salaries in the NTMA group (after taking into account the 15% reduction)

National Treasury Management Agency

€416,500

National Asset Management Agency

€365,500

National Development Finance Agency

€280,500

Departmental Expenditure

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

119 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide in a tabular form, a list of all professional fees including but not limited to legal, consultancy, IT related, advisory, advertising, and accountancy; the company name and the amount invoiced since March 2011 to the end of June 2012. [36652/12]

The information requested by the Deputy could not unfortunately be collated in the time available. My Department will respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Departmental Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

120 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance the cost to the Exchequer for the provision of agency staff in his Department or State agencies under his aegis. [36668/12]

My Department has not engaged agency staff. In respect of bodies under the aegis of my Department I have been informed by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) that it has employed agency staff in the current year. In the year to date the costs to the NTMA of employing temporary agency staff are €200,000. The NTMA employs agency staff generally for administration roles, primarily to replace staff on maternity leave or to fill a break between an employee leaving a permanent role and a new permanent staff member being recruited.

Public Private Partnerships

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

121 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide, in tabular form, a list of his Department's public private partnership projects in payment; the name of the project; the capital cost of the project and the total projected amount of PPP repayments by Government for each project. [36684/12]

My Department does not have any public private partnership projects in payment.

Departmental Contracts

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

122 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide, in tabular form, details of public service provision responsibilities of his Department outsourced to the private sector; and the cost of each service outsourced over the past 12 months. [36700/12]

In the period in question my Department has not outsourced any service to the private sector.

Departmental Expenditure

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

123 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a list of all current time-related savings-delayed spending of budget 2012 allocations on staff and or resources in his Department. [36716/12]

The table below details the current time related savings and/or delayed spending of the Budget 2012 allocation in relation to my Department as at 30 June 2012:

Subhead

Actual Exp€000

Profile€000

Variance€000

(i)

Salaries, Wages and Allowances

8,237

9,596

-1,359

(ii)

Travel and Subsistence

179

195

-16

(iii)

Training and development including Incidental Expenses

238

279

-41

(iv)

Postal and Telecommunications Services

348

259

89

(v)

Office Machinery and Other Office Supplies

360

375

-15

(vi)

Office Premises Expenses

275

379

-104

(viii)

EU Presidency

2

686

-684

A5

Fiscal Advisory Council

120

326

-206

A4 and B4 and C3

Consultancy Services

690

2,641

-1,951

E1 and E2

Appropriations-In-Aid

678

670

8

Legislative Programme

Terence Flanagan

Question:

124 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the legislative changes made after the banking crisis here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36724/12]

The table sets out the main legislative provisions related to the banking crisis enacted since August 2008 together with descriptions of their purposes:

Legislative provision

Purpose

1. Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Act 2008S.I 411 of 2008 — Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme 2008

To provide, in the public interest, for maintaining the stability of the financial system in the State and for that purpose to provide for financial support by the Minister for Finance in respect of certain credit institutions, to amend the competition Act 2002 and other enactments, and to provide for connected matters.This Scheme, made under Section 6(4) of the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Act 2008, provided a State guarantee to credit institutions covered under the Act in respect of liabilities defined to include retail and corporate deposits (to the extent not covered by existing deposit protection schemes), interbank deposits, senior unsecured debt, asset covered securities and dated subordinated debt as qualified. The Scheme was in operation from 30 September,2008, to 29 September, 2010, inclusive and on which latter date it ceased.

2. Credit Institutions (Eligible Liabilities Guarantee) Scheme:S.I. 490 of 2009 — Credit Institutions (Eligible Liabilities Guarantee ) Scheme 2009

This Scheme, also made under Section 6(4) of the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Act 2008, provides a State guarantee for deposits (excluding deposits covered by the Deposit Guarantee Scheme); senior unsecured certificates of deposit; senior unsecured commercial paper; other senior unsecured bonds and notes; and other forms of senior debt specified by the Minister for Finance consistent with State Aid rules. The Scheme came into effect on 9 December, 2009, and has subsequently been amended by S.I. on a periodic basis to permit its prolongation, subject to EU Commission approval on a six-monthly basis. The current period of prolongation runs until 31 December, 2012.

3. Financial Services (Deposit Guarantee Scheme) Act 2009 (No. 13 of 2009)

To give legal effect to the Government announcement of 20 September 2008 to increase the level of deposit protection to €100,000.

4. Amendments to the Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DGS):Directive 2009/14/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2009

To give effect to amendments to Directives 94/19/EC on DGS as regards the coverage level and the payout delay was transposed by the European Communities (Deposit Guarantee Schemes) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 (S.I. 228 of 2009).

5. Anglo Irish Bank Corporation Act 2009

To provide for the transfer of all of the shares in Anglo Irish Bank to the Minister for Finance or the Minister’s nominee, to provide for the removal and appointment of persons from certain offices or employment with Anglo Irish Bank, to extinguish certain rights in Anglo Irish Bank, to disapply provisions of the Companies Acts and other enactments to Anglo Irish Bank, to provide for the appointment of an assessor to assess whether compensation should be paid to persons who were affected by the transfer of shares and rights to the Minister For Finance.

6. National Asset Management Act 2009S.I. No. 127/2010

To establish the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) for the purposes of acquiring, holding, managing and realising certain assets from certain persons to be designated by the Minister for Finance. To effect expeditious transfers of such assets, taking the necessary steps to protect, enhance and better realise the value of assets transferred to the body, to facilitate the performance of the Agency of other functions related to the management or realization of those assets. To facilitate the restructuring of credit institutions of systematic importance to the economy. To give NAMA powers in respect of land and interests in land, to provide for the issuing of debt securities by the Minister for Finance.The Act also provided for an amendment to the Building Societies Act 1989 to allow the Minister for Finance to subscribe for special investment shares in a building society.Guidelines Issued Under Section 210(1) of the National Asset Management Agency Act 2009 Regarding Lending Practices and Procedures and Relating to the Review of Decisions of Participating Institutions to Refuse Credit Facilities.

7. Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010

To make provision, in the context of the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 and the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland, in relation to the stabilisation, and the preservation or restoration of the financial position of certain credit institutions

8. The European Communities (Credit Rating Agencies) Regulation S.I. No. 247 of 2010

To amend the original Credit Rating Agencies (CRA) I Regulation 1060/2009 and fulfil Ireland’s obligation to appoint a competent authority for CRAs and to impose sanctions for breaches of the Regulation.

9. Central Bank Reform Act 2010

To abolish the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority and create a unitary Central Bank of Ireland. The Act also introduced a fitness and probity regime for the Irish financial services sector.

10. Transposition of Capital Requirements Directive II:S.I. No. 627 of 2010 transposing Directive 2009/111/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September

To give effect to amendments to Directives 2006/48/EC, 2006/49/EC and 2007/64/EC as regards banks affiliated to central institutions, certain own funds items, large exposures, supervisory arrangements, and crisis management.

11. Transposition of Capital Requirements Directive III:S.I. No. 625 of 2010 transposing Directive 2010/76/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council

To give effect to amendments to Directives 2006/48/EC and 2006/49/EC as regards capital requirements for the trading book and for re-securitisations, and the supervisory review of remuneration policies

12. Euro Area Loan Facility Act 2010

To facilitate the granting of financial assistance to Greece through allowing Ireland’s participation in the Greek Loan Facility.

13. European Financial Stability Facility Act 2010

To provide for the State’s participation in the European Financial Stability Facility.

14. European Financial Stability Facility and Euro Area LoanFacility (Amendment) Act 2011

To enable effect to be given to an amendment to the European Financial Stability Facility Framework Agreement and to facilitate amendment of the Greek Loan Facility so facilitating the granting of further EU financial assistance to Greece.

15. Central Bank and Credit Institutions (Resolution) Act 2011

To provide an effective and efficient resolution regime for credit institutions that are failing or likely to fail ensuring protection of the Exchequer and stability of the financial system and of the economy. To safeguard the interests of depositors and secure the continuity of banking services generally.

16. Finance Act 2011

Finance Act 2011 provided for a special high rate of Universal Social Charge which would apply to bonuses paid to all relevant employees of specified institutions.Specified institutions are those that have received financial support under either or both the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Act 2008 and the National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000.The charge is applied to the bonus at 45% and it does not exempt Income Tax and PRSI — this will leave an aggregate charge of 90% (USC 45%, Income Tax 41%, PRSI 4%).

17. Insurance (Amendment) Act 2011

Amended the 1964 Insurance Act in order to change the scope of the Insurance Compensation Fund from one which covered the risks of policyholders of Irish authorised companies to one which covered all insured risk in the State, except for specific excluded risks.

18. General Government Secured Borrowings Order 2011 (S.I. No. 40 of 2011)

To prescribe the persons and bodies subject to the provisions of Section 67 of the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010, which provides that secured borrowing by the prescribed persons and bodies requires the consent of the Minister for Finance.

19. Euro Area Loan Facility (Amendment) Act 2012

To facilitate amendment of the Greek Loan Facility so facilitating the granting of further EU financial assistance to Greece.

20. European Stability Mechanism Act 2012

To facilitate the establishment of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and to allow for the State’s participation in it.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

125 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a list of State agencies under his aegis; and the annual cost of each agency to the Exchequer. [36732/12]

The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the table:

Bodies funded by the exchequer

Name of Body

Cost in 2011

Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal

€330,000*

Irish Fiscal Advisory Council

€222,000

National Treasury Management Agency (including the State Claims Agency, the National Development Finance Agency, management of the National Pensions Reserve Fund and NewERA

€41,100,000

National Pensions Reserve Fund

€17,192,000

*Estimated cost in respect of 2012.

Departmental Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

126 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance the number of retired civil or public servants who have been rehired by his Department since March 2012; their positions and accompanying salaries. [36748/12]

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

127 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance the number of retired civil or public servants who have been retained by his Department since March 2012 on a short term contract or on a consultancy basis where normal abatement rules to not apply. [36764/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 126 and 127 together.

Since March 2012 to date, no civil or public servant has been rehired by my Department.

Departmental Expenditure

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

128 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of his telecommunications services budget in 2012. [36780/12]

In response to the Deputy's question my Department provides telecommunications services to both my own Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. In 2012 €322,000 has been allocated towards the provision of telecommunications services to both Departments. The allocation covers the provision of fixed lines, mobile phones, telephonists, phone maintenance. In addition a budget of 48k has been allocated in the Department of Finance towards the maintenance of data links between department buildings and to Government Networks.

Banks Recapitalisation

Michael McGrath

Question:

129 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide Allied Irish Banks' outstanding maturity schedule of bonds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36789/12]

I refer the Deputy to the tables below that set out AIB's schedule for Secured and Unsecured Senior Bonds. I am informed by AIB that the Bank has a planned term issuance schedule that will refinance maturing wholesale debt maturities, including a combination of Secured Funding and Government Guaranteed bond issues with unguaranteed issuances restarting from 2014 onwards. The extent of AIB's wholesale funding refinancing requirements will be influenced by the level of customer deposit funding and deleveraging activity.

Secured Senior Bonds

Report Date: 13/07/2012

Product

Isin

Short Name

Ccy

Maturity Date

Current Outstanding EUR equiv.

Notes

Covered Bond

XS0467861653

EBS

EUR

23-Nov-12

1,000,000,000

Covered Bond

XS0250267647

AIBMB

EUR

30-Apr-13

953,000,000

excluding cross holding of €47m

Covered Bond

XS0470919696

EBS

EUR

01-Dec-14

50,000,000

Covered Bond

XS0308936037

AIBMB

EUR

29-Jun-17

1,675,000,000

Covered Bond

Unlisted

AIBMB

EUR

23-Sep-19

15,000,000

Covered Bond

Unlisted

AIBMB

EUR

30-Sep-19

50,000,000

Covered Bond

XS0504676510

AIBMB

EUR

28-Apr-28

5,000,000

Covered Bond

XS0486207870

AIBMB

EUR

12-Feb-30

10,000,000

Covered Bond

XS0489775535

AIBMB

EUR

01-Mar-30

10,000,000

Securitisation

XS0778328079

AIBUK

GBP

21-Mar-44

390,580,170

Securitisation

XS0260593727

EBS

EUR

15-Jul-48

852,355,412

excluding cross holding of €16.6m

5,010,935,582

Senior Bonds exclude CD/CP and Subordinated Debt and any internally retained debt all conversion to euro is as at FX rates of 13 July 2012

Cross Holdings

XS0260593727

16,626,838

Held by AIB

XS0250267647

47,000,000

Held by EBS

Unsecured Senior Bonds

Report Date: 13/07/2012

Product

Isin

Short Name

Ccy

Maturity Date

Current Outstanding EUR equiv.

Notes

MTNs

XS0372296011

EBS

EUR

17-Aug-12

5,927,000

MTNs

XS0455308923

AIB

EUR

01-Oct-12

1,000,000,000

MTNs

XS0279186976

EBS

GBP

17-Dec-12

26,955,206

MTNs

XS0291322088

EBS

GBP

17-Dec-12

5,085,888

MTNs

XS0296914442

EBS

GBP

17-Dec-12

2,542,944

MTNs GG

XS0484576813

AIB

EUR

04-Feb-13

1,733,300,000

excluding cross holding of €66.7m

MTNs

XS0287983935

EBS

GBP

02-Mar-13

19,072,080

MTNs

XS0296913550

EBS

GBP

02-Mar-13

2,542,944

MTNs

XS0312295610

EBS

GBP

02-Mar-13

10,171,776

MTNs

XS0321100454

EBS

GBP

02-Mar-13

10,163,028

MTNs GG

XS0494617631

AIB

USD

15-Mar-13

612,619,971

MTNs GG

XS0499510609

AIB

EUR

08-Apr-13

20,000,000

MTNs

XS0235051181

EBS

EUR

28-Oct-13

4,000,000

Schuldschein

SSD 01

EBS

EUR

28-Jan-14

9,000,000

MTNs

XS0244872882

EBS

EUR

20-Feb-14

20,000,000

Schuldschein

SSD 02

EBS

EUR

25-Feb-14

15,000,000

MTNs

XS0187074546

EBS

EUR

25-Feb-14

20,000,000

MTNs

XS0195980551

EBS

EUR

14-Jul-14

25,000,000

MTNs

XS0465876349

AIB

EUR

12-Nov-14

750,000,000

MTNs GG

XS0490069266

EBS

EUR

25-Feb-15

970,000,000

excluding cross holding of €30m

MTNs GG

XS0496459610

EBS

EUR

19-Mar-15

25,000,000

MTNs GG

XS0496222877

AIB

EUR

19-Mar-15

1,918,400,000

excluding cross holding of €81.6m

MTNs

XS0228549506

EBS

EUR

24-Aug-15

19,000,000

Callable at 26th Jan each year

MTNs GG

XS0545957432

AIB

EUR

30-Sep-15

23,700,000

Callable at each coupon date (Quarterly)

MTNs

XS0268806709

EBS

EUR

27-Sep-16

55,000,000

Schuldschein

SSD 03

EBS

EUR

26-Jan-17

25,000,000

7,327,480,837

Senior Bonds exclude CD/CP and Subordinated Debt and any internally retained debt all conversion to euro is as at FX rates of 13 July 2012

Cross Holdings

XS0490069266

30,000,000

Held by AIB

XS0484576813

66,700,000

Held by EBS

XS0496222877

81,600,000

Held by EBS

Economic Growth

Michael McGrath

Question:

130 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the reason the Central Statistics Office in 2012 has revised the GDP projections for 2009 and 2010; if he will outline the impact of the revisions published by the CSO on the end of year General Government Balance and debt to GDP ratios for 2009, 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36790/12]

Revisions to historical GDP outturns are standard practice, particularly for the more recent years' figures. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has informed me that the main reason for the revision to 2009 and 2010 estimates is the availability of more up to date information, specifically the results of the 2009/2010 Household Budget Survey, first estimates of corporate profits and income from self-employment in respect of 2010 from Revenue Commissioner data and more definitive information from some of the large cases. The April Maastricht Returns set out details of the estimated General Government Balance (GGB) and General Government Debt (GGD) outturns for the period 2008-2011. The figures for the years 2009-2011 are set out in table 1 below:

Table 1

% of GDP

2009

2010

2011

GGB — Headline

-14.0

-31.2

-13.1

GGB — Underlying

-11.5

-10.9

-9.4

GGD

65.1

92.5

108.2

On the basis of revised GDP figures released recently by the CSO, the GGB and GGD to GDP ratios for the years 2009-2011 would, all else being equal, be as set out in table 2 below:

Table 2

% of GDP

2009

2010

2011

GGB — Headline

-14.0

-31.1

-12.9

GGB — Underlying

-11.5

-10.9

-9.3

GGD

64.9

92.2

106.5

It should be noted that historical GGB and GGD figures are also subject to possible further revision by the CSO.

Pension Provisions

Michael McGrath

Question:

131 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will hold discussions with the pension industry with a view to securing a reduction in the fees charged or management and administration of pension funds as a means of offsetting the negative effects on pension values of the pension fund levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36792/12]

A working group was established last year to examine charges in the pensions industry. The group is chaired by the Department of Social Protection with representatives of the Central Bank and the Pensions Board. This study will provide an initial benchmark on the level of charges for different forms of funded supplementary pension arrangements and will provide information in relation to the disclosure of charges. These data have not been available to date so the study will provide valuable information to inform policy. I understand that it is intended to present the group's report to my colleague, Ms Joan Burton TD, the Minister for Social Protection, by end-August, following which appropriate decisions will be made on its contents and recommendations, and among other things, on the scope for productive interaction with the pensions industry in relation to offsetting the impact of the pension fund levy through reductions in fees or charges.

Mortgage Applications

Michael McGrath

Question:

132 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons who have applied for residential mortgages to the banks each year for the past five years; the number of approvals; the corresponding numbers to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36793/12]

Unfortunately, it has not been possible to get the information from the covered institutions in the timeframe allowed by the Question. I will write to the Deputy in the near future with information provided by the institutions.

Mortgage Applications

Michael McGrath

Question:

133 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the current duration for which mortgage approval is valid once granted for each of the covered banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36794/12]

The covered Banks have supplied me with the following information regarding mortgage approval durations. In the case of IBRC residential mortgages are no longer offered. For AIB, the current mortgage approval duration is six months from the date of sanction subject to review after 3 months if approval continues to outstand.

In practise, the Bank of Ireland mortgage letter of offer is considered valid for a period of six months from date of issue.

Permanent TSB, in its discretion, may permit drawdown of the loan within a period of up to 6 months from the date of the initial Loan Offer. Once the 6 month period has elapsed and the loan remains undrawn, the Loan Offer will expire.

European Stability Mechanism

Michael McGrath

Question:

134 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when Ireland will make its first capital contribution to the European Stability Mechanism; the size of the contribution; the way it will be funded; the dates on which future contributions are due to be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36795/12]

The capital structure of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) is set out in the ESM Treaty which was signed by Euro Area Member States on 2 February 2012. To obtain the highest possible credit rating, the capital structure of the ESM will have a total subscribed capital of €700bn. Of this amount, €80bn will be in the form of paid-in capital by the Euro Area Member States, paid in five equal instalments. The balance of €620bn will be callable capital. Ireland's share of the €80bn in paid-in capital, based on our contribution key set out in Annex 1 of the ESM Treaty, will be just above €1.27bn paid in five equal instalments of €254m. This will be paid out of the Central Fund. The ESM is being established as an International Financial Institution and on that basis Ireland's contribution will be treated as a financial transaction. This means that while it will impact on Ireland's Exchequer Borrowing Requirement, it will not impact on its General Government Deficit. Ireland's share of the €620bn callable capital is based on the same key, i.e. 1.592% of €620bn making the callable capital €9.87bn.

Article 41 of the ESM Treaty provides that the first instalment shall be paid by each ESM member within fifteen days of the date of entry into force of the ESM Treaty. However, as the Deputy will be aware, due to on-going legal challenges to the ESM Treaty in a number of Euro Area Member States, including Ireland, the date of the ESM coming into force is not yet certain but it is hoped that the Treaty will come into force sometime in early Autumn. The first instalment of paid-in capital will become payable within fifteen days of that date.

In terms of future contributions, that is, the four remaining instalments to be paid to the ESM, the Eurogroup decided on 30 March 2012 that the paid-in capital would be made available more quickly than initially foreseen in the original ESM Treaty with two tranches to be paid in 2012, one in July and one in October 2012, two tranches to be paid in 2013 and a final tranche to be paid in the first half of 2014. The contribution planned for July will not proceed as the ESM has not yet come into force and also as Ireland has yet to ratify the Treaty. As already indicated, the first instalment will be payable by Ireland within 15 days of the date of entry into force of the ESM Treaty provided Ireland has ratified the Treaty by that date.

Economic Growth

Michael McGrath

Question:

135 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he is concerned by the contraction in GNP over the past three quarters; the implications of this trend for employment and future taxation revenue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36796/12]

I note the Deputy's concerns regarding the recent contraction in GNP. As has been well documented, Ireland's economic recovery will be export led. This is how growth in a small open economy such as Ireland's should be driven and we are once again seeing evidence of that, with exports growing by over 5 per cent in 2011 and by 6.1 per cent in the first three months of 2012. Indeed, recently the CSO released a revised growth forecast for 2011 which saw real GDP expand by 1.4 per cent. While the economy is growing again, it will take time for export growth to feed through to the labour market and the domestic economy. Moreover, it will take households and firms time to work through the imbalances which had built up during the boom. The Government is acutely aware of the headwinds which the domestic economy faces in this regard. We have therefore taken a number of steps to support domestic activity and job creation, including the introduction of the Jobs Initiative shortly after coming into office and the structuring of Budget 2012 in such a way as to be as growth-friendly as possible. Indeed, there is some evidence of stabilisation in the labour market with the number of private sector jobs increasing by 13,500 year-on-year in Q1 2012.

Furthermore, the stimulus announced on the 17th of July will help to sustain jobs in the construction sector which has been very badly hit during the recession. The investment in this Phase 1 package is expected to generate significant numbers of jobs: previous analysis of each sector indicates that the investment will generate around 13,000 jobs. It will also create much needed social and economic infrastructure and aid economic recovery.

In relation to taxation, the latest Exchequer Returns for the period to end-June show that tax revenues are performing well, increasing significantly year-on-year and over €½ billion or 3.1 per cent ahead of target. This is an encouraging performance in the circumstances and while it must be acknowledged that there are large tax revenues targets to meet in the second half of the year, I am confident at this point that our overall tax revenue target for the year will be achieved.

Departmental Staff

Niall Collins

Question:

136 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the number of sick days taken by staff in his Department in 2009, 2010 and 2011; the average number of sick days per staff in total across his Department and broken down by Department section in 2009, 2010 and 2011; the median number of sick days per staff in total across his Department and broken down by Department section in 2009, 2010 and 2011 in tabular form. [36843/12]

The absenteeism rate for the Department of Finance from January to end June 2009 was 3.09%. The absenteeism rate for July to end December 2009 was 2.99%. These figures are inclusive of those on long term absences (i.e. absences of over 20 consecutive days). In the period 1 January to 31 December 2010, the average number of sick days per employee was 8 with an absenteeism rate of 3.6%. In the period 1 January to 30 June 2011 the average number of sick day per employee was 3 with an absenteeism rate of 2.43%. In the period 1 July to 31 December 2011, the average number of sick days per employee was 2 with an absenteeism rate of 1.57%.

Apprenticeship Programmes

Robert Troy

Question:

137 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will make some provision available so that trades people will complete their apprenticeships and receive their trade qualifications by implementing longer grants or by making provisions available for employers to take on apprentices in order to guarantee people will receive their qualifications and give them a better chance of making a living out of their trade. [36474/12]

To assist redundant apprentices to complete their apprenticeships, FÁS has put the following interim measures in place:

The temporary Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme (RAPS) provides supports for redundant apprentices to be placed with an employer to complete the minimum duration necessary to complete the on-the-job phases at Phase 3/5/7. Employers can apply to FÁS to participate in RAPS subject to meeting the eligibility criteria. FÁS has also introduced a Competency Determination Mechanism (CDM). This mechanism will provide redundant apprentices who have a time deficit in their apprenticeship with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and knowledge against the occupational standard for the specified trade over a number of days in a FÁS Training Centre.

I can confirm to the Deputy that FÁS has no plans at present to provide grants to employers to recruit individuals as apprentices.

School Funding

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

138 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost to the Exchequer of the State subsidy to private schools for the 2011/2012 school year. [36587/12]

The information requested by the Deputy is outlined in the documents below.

Further to the details included in the documents an additional €28,183.62 of Assistive Technology grants issued to Fee Charging Schools in the 2011/12 school year.

All fee paying schools Gross Salary Costs 2011/2012 School Year

Figures are up to 9 July 2012

School No.

School Address

Total Gross Teachers

Total Gross Clerical Officers

Total Gross SNAs

60030V

Blackrock College, Blackrock, Co. Dublin

3,045,751.00

39,453.36

49,513.55

60040B

Willow Park School, Rock Road, Blackrock

861,415.00

60090Q

Rathdown School, Glenageary, Co. Dublin

1,150,765.00

60100Q

Castleknock College, Castleknock, Dublin 15

1,646,405.00

82,150.84

60120W

Mount Sackville Secondary School, Chapelizod, Dublin 20

1,742,855.00

73,881.22

60130C

Loreto Abbey Secondary School, Dalkey, Co. Dublin

2,022,685.00

60140F

Mount Anville Secondary School, Mount Anville Rd., Dublin 14

1,938,629.00

44,473.75

60160L

Notre Dame Secondary School, Upper Churchtown Road, Dublin 14

755,624.00

22,284.54

60180R

Christian Brothers College, Monkstown Park, Dun Laoghaire

1,630,167.00

46,319.1

60240J

Loreto College Foxrock, Foxrock, Dublin 18

1,851,601.00

34,299.54

52,535.26

60250M

Holy Child Secondary School, Military Road, Killiney

1,025,268.00

60260P

St Joseph Of Cluny, Bellevue Park, Ballinclea Rd.

1,265,373.00

75,874.28

60272W

The Kings Hospital, Palmerstown, Dublin 20

2,251,521.00

39,453.36

45,281.71

60320H

St. Columba’s College, Whitechurch, Dublin 16

970,099.00

139,076.67

60321J

Rockbrook Park School, Edmondstown Road, Rathfarnham

381,210.00

25,174.35

60340N

Loreto High School, Beaufort, Grange Rd.

1,870,303.00

30,506.94

60381E

Sutton Park School, St. Fintans Road, Sutton

1,241,663.00

22,584.3

60520P

Belvedere College S.J., 6 Great Denmark Street, Dublin 1

2,990,420.00

39,453.36

66,331.67

60530S

Gonzaga College, Sandford Road, Ranelagh

1,810,663.00

60540V

Catholic University School, 89 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2

1,301,431.00

60560E

St. Marys College, Rathmines, Dublin 6

1,360,311.00

60561G

St. Michaels College, Ailesbury Road, Dublin 4

2,041,780.00

25,287.87

60570H

Terenure College, Templeogue Road, Terenure

2,206,757.00

29,964.47

60590N

St. Conleths College, 28 Clyde Road, Ballsbridge

873,181.00

60630W

St. Killians Deutsche School, Roebuck Road Clonskeagh, Dublin 14

1,500,694.00

60640C

Sandford Park School Ltd, Sandford Road, Ranelagh

856,251.00

25,287.87

60650F

St. Andrews College, Booterstown Ave, Blackrock

3,374,442.00

120,659.21

60660I

St. Patricks Cathedral G.S, St. Patricks Close, Dublin 8

617,884.00

60670L

The High School, Zion Road, Rathgar

2,343,978.00

77,722.5

60820E

Loreto College, 53 St. Stephens Green, Dublin 2

1,690,023.00

26,285.32

60892G

The Teresian School, 12 Stillorgan Road, Donnybrook

647,625.00

60910F

Alexandra College, Milltown, Dublin 6

1,761,763.00

34,347.84

27,989.71

60930L

Rosemont School, Temple Road, Blackrock

313,236.00

61010U

Wesley College, Ballinteer, Dublin 16

2,788,463.00

108,830.82

61020A

Stratford College, 1 Zion Road Rathgar, Dublin 6

714,364.00

27,258.96

61080S

Royal School Cavan, College Street, Cavan

940,926.00

101,662.33

61570M

Kilkenny College, Castlecomer Road, Kilkenny

2,601,469.00

39,335.94

31,739.87

61680T

Newbridge College, Newbridge, Co. Kildare

2,558,611.00

58,117.41

61720F

Clongowes Wood College, Naas, Co. Kildare

1,395,432.00

61811I

St. Gerard’s School, Thornhill Road, Bray

1,506,569.00

62060R

Bandon Grammar School, Bandon, Co. Cork

1,958,094.00

99,615.09

62370J

Midleton College, Midleton, Co. Cork

1,288,256.00

22,284.54

62520C

Christian Brothers College, Sidney Hill, Wellington Road

2,472,867.00

7,530.47

62570R

Presentation Brothers College, The Mardyke, Cork

2,408,810.00

62690E

Scoil Mhuire, 2 Sidney Place, Wellington Road

1,317,368.00

10,157.26

63300Q

Wilson’s Hospital School, Multyfarnham, Co. Westmeath

1,442,775.00

22,183.17

63870L

Drogheda Grammar School, Mornington Rd., Drogheda

992,044.00

51,155.22

63920A

Dundalk Grammar School, Dundalk, Co. Louth

1,834,224.00

18,283.20

64150F

Glenstal Abbey School, Murroe, Co. Limerick

608,089.00

64310B

Villiers Secondary School, North Circular Road, Limerick

2,160,091.00

20,205.32

64420I

Franciscan College, Gormanstown, Co. Meath

1,206,731.00

64830E

Monaghan Collegiate School, Corlatt, Monaghan

956,973.00

67,785.23

65010R

Newtown School, Waterford, Co. Waterford

1,151,461.00

65190W

Sligo Grammar School, The Mall, Sligo

1,499,382.00

56,338.52

65410K

Cistercian College, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary

869,346.00

34,347.84

68071G

St. John Scottus Secondary School, 74/76 Morehampton Road Donnybrook, Dublin 4

566,785.00

38,597.94

Total

86,580,903.00

260,691.24

1,850,930.48

Fee paying schools Capital Expenditure 2011-12

2012

Sept-Dec 2011

Total

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€4,389.12

€10,241.26

€14,630.38

€0.00

€65.98

€65.98

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€67,571.25

€67,571.25

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€27,551.90

€27,551.90

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€72,300.00

€72,300.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€103,300.64

€0.00

€103,300.64

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€5,006.44

€5,006.44

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€17,455.88

€187,543.79

€204,999.67

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€293,750.12

€27,467.00

€321,217.12

€0.00

€62,414.82

€62,414.82

€1,709,636.94

€748,629.36

€2,458,266.30

€1,192,121.97

€14,049.42

€1,206,171.39

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€45,083.88

€45,083.88

€196,002.24

€146,624.59

€342,626.83

€13,500.00

€4,263.00

€17,763.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€3,530,156.91

€1,418,812.69

€4,948,969.60

Cross-Border Training Initiatives

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

139 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the potential savings that can be made through the implementation of joint training courses for the unemployed in Border areas which are tailored to specific sectorial needs and potential growth areas. [36824/12]

FÁS continues to co-operate with the training authorities in Northern Ireland to pursue possible potential savings through the implementation of joint training courses for the unemployed in border areas.

An example of one such programme would be the Wider Horizons Programme. The programme aims to enhance employment opportunities by providing vocational training, work experience and personal development training both at home and overseas to disadvantaged people aged between 18 and 28 years. The Wider Horizons Programme is delivered on behalf of The International Fund for Ireland (IFI) by its joint managing agents, the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) in Northern Ireland and FÁS in the Republic of Ireland. IFI funds the programme costs with FÁS and DEL contributing to the training allowance and travel and accommodation costs of participants.

School Transport

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

140 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied that the necessary school transport provisions will remain in place in the coming year to meet the requirements of children attending a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35948/12]

Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Scheme on behalf of my Department, has advised that there were nine school transport services operating into the school in question during the 2011/12 school year.

There are no plans to withdraw services for the 2012/13 school year; the number of services will depend on the number of eligible children who apply for school transport.

School Funding

Michael McNamara

Question:

141 Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Education and Skills the investment that was made in schools in County Clare from May 2007 to 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35951/12]

The capital investment in schools in County Clare made by my Department for the period requested May 2007 to end 2011 amounted to €40.292m. In addition each primary school with full recognition received the Minor Works Grant in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The Minor Works Grant comprises a basic grant of €5,500 plus €18.50 per mainstream pupil and €74 per special needs pupil. The €40.292m investment was issued by individual years as follows: 2011 —€4.769m (includes Minor Works Grant); 2010 —€9.183m (includes Minor Works Grant); 2009 —€9.726m; 2008 —€10.720m May to December 2007 —€5.894m

Site Acquisitions

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

142 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a suitable site has been identified for a development (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35991/12]

I can confirm to the Deputy that Donegal VEC has informed my Department that submissions have been sought for possible suitable sites for the development to which he refers.

I understand that the submissions have been received and are currently being assessed by Donegal VEC.

Vocational Education Committees

Dara Calleary

Question:

143 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills the mechanisms used by vocational education committees in determining the distance from a candidate’s home to place of education with regard to the awarding of the adjacent or non-adjacent rate of grant; if he is satisfied that this method of measuring the distance is accurate and transparent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36096/12]

The guidance given to the 66 awarding authorities, the local authorities and VECs, in relation to the application of the distance criterion, for determining whether the adjacent or non-adjacent rate of grant applied, provided for the measurement of the shortest most direct route to the institution from the normal residence. The awarding authorities were best positioned to interpret the application of the distance criterion in the context of local circumstances.

The Student Grant Scheme and the Student Support Regulations for the 2012/13 academic year were published by my Department on the 11th of June 2012 to coincide with the introduction of the single grant awarding authority, Student Universal Support Ireland or SUSI, and the new central online application system going live. Article 27(3)(a) of the 2012 Scheme provides that the distance criterion will be measured in line with agreed guidelines. My Department is liaising with SUSI in regard to these guidelines.

Special Educational Needs

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

144 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason he considers it appropriate to discriminate against only those girls who attend an all girls primary school here in terms of learning support allocation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36115/12]

I understand the Deputy is referring to the General Allocation Model (GAM) of additional teaching supports which are allocated to all Primary schools to cater for children with high incidence special educational needs.

As I have previously advised the Deputy, differing pupil teacher ratios are applied under the GAM in relation to boys, girls and mixed schools in order to account for differentials of prevalence of learning difficulty between boys and girls.

The rationale for the differing ratios is based on international literature on the incidence of disability as well as international and national surveys of literacy and numeracy which indicate that there is a greater incidence of disability/learning difficulty in boys than girls.

The NCSE Report on the Implementation of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act, of 2006, also examined a range of sources to establish prevalence rates, including national databases, local and international studies and expert estimates, which indicated significantly higher rates of Mild General Learning Difficulty and Specific Learning Disability prevailing in boys, in comparison to girls.

Revised arrangements which will update schools' GAM allocations with effect from September 2012, based on the number of class teaching posts in schools for the previous year, reflect the existing arrangements for the allocation of supports under the GAM. The pupil teacher ratios which had previously applied are set out in my Departments Circular SP ED 02/05, which is available on www.education.ie.

Schools Building Projects

Brendan Smith

Question:

145 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the stage at which the proposed building project is at for a school (details supplied) in County Cavan; when this project will proceed to the next stage; when this project is likely to proceed to construction stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36121/12]

The major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is at an early stage of architectural planning. Following completion of Stage 2a (Developed Sketch Design) and assuming no issues arise, the project will then proceed to stage 2(b) which includes planning permission and the preparation of tender documents.

Due to competing demands on the Departments capital budget imposed by the need to prioritise the limited funding available for the provision of additional school accommodation to meet increasing demographic requirements it was not possible to include the project referred to by the Deputy in the 5 year construction programme announced in March.

School building projects, including the project referred to by the Deputy, which have not been included in the five year construction programme, but which were announced for initial inclusion in the building programme will continue to be progressed to final planning stages in anticipation of the possibility of further funds being available to the Department in future years.

Schools Building Projects

Brendan Smith

Question:

146 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the stage at which the proposed building project is at for a school (details supplied) in County Cavan; when this project will proceed to the next stage; when this project is likely to proceed to construction stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36122/12]

The building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at an early stage of architectural planning. The Design Team are currently working on the Stage 1 Submission (Preliminary Sketch Design) and, when complete, the school will forward this submission to my Department for review. Due to competing demands on the Departments capital budget imposed by the need to prioritise the limited funding available for the provision of additional school accommodation to meet increasing demographic requirements it was not possible to include the project referred to by the Deputy in the 5 year construction programme announced in March.

School building projects, including the project referred to by the Deputy, which have not been included in the five year construction programme, but which were announced for initial inclusion in the building programme will continue to be progressed to final planning stages in anticipation of the possibility of further funds being available to the Department in future years.

Schools Building Projects

Brendan Smith

Question:

147 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the stage at which the proposed building project is at for a school (details supplied) in County Cavan; when this project will proceed to the next stage; when this project is likely to proceed to construction stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36123/12]

The major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is at an early stage of architectural planning. The Design Team have just recently completed the Stage 2a Submission (Developed Sketch Design), which has been forwarded by the school to my Department for review. Following completion of this review and assuming no issues arise, the project will then proceed to stage 2(b) which includes planning permission and the preparation of tender documents.

Due to competing demands on the Department's capital budget imposed by the need to prioritise the limited funding available for the provision of additional school accommodation to meet increasing demographic requirements it was not possible to include the project referred to by the Deputy in the 5 year construction programme announced in March.

School building projects, including the project referred to by the Deputy, which have not been included in the five year construction programme, but which were announced for initial inclusion in the building programme will continue to be progressed to final planning stages in anticipation of the possibility of further funds being available to the Department in future years.

Cross-Border Education Initiatives

Thomas Pringle

Question:

148 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress that has been made on the cross-Border education survey; and if he can provide a timescale for completion of same. [36137/12]

At the NSMC Education meeting held at Farmleigh House, Dublin on Friday 15 June 2012, the Ministerial Council considered the progress made towards the development of a questionnaire and mechanisms for a joint attitudinal survey to inform cross-border pupil movement and school planning; agreed the planned next steps for the conduct of the survey including finalisation of survey questions, piloting a survey questionnaire and roll out of the main survey in 2012; and agreed that a final report on the results from the survey and proposals on the way forward will be available for consideration no later than the first NSMC Education meeting of 2013.

Special Educational Needs

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

149 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will allocate to an all-girls disdvantaged school (details supplied) in County Donegal five hours learning support; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36157/12]

I wish to advise the Deputy that in primary schools, including schools in the DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) programme, teaching supports for pupils with special education needs are provided though two channels. Under the terms of the General Allocation Model (GAM) of teaching supports, schools are resourced to cater for pupils whose educational psychological assessment places them in the high incidence or less complex, disability category. Separately, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) allocates additional resource teaching hours to schools for children who have been assessed within the low incidence or more complex category of special need, as defined by my Department's Circular Sp Ed 02/05.

All mainstream Primary schools have been allocated additional teaching resources under the GAM to cater for children with high incidence special educational needs.

Schools had been advised to apply to the NCSE for resource teaching support for the 2012/13 school year by 16th March, 2012 and schools are currently being notified by SENOs of their resource teaching allocation for 2012/13, based on the number of valid applications received.

It is a matter for schools to monitor and utilise their allocation of resource teaching support, including supports allocated under the GAM, to best support the needs of qualifying pupils, in accordance with my Department's guidance. All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

Vocational Education Committees

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

150 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of funding made available by him to each of the 33 vocational education committees in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36197/12]

Details of the current funding allocated to each Vocational Educational Committee in 2011 are listed in the attached table. These allocations enabled the VECs to provide a broad range of educational services. In addition to providing post-primary education and further and adult education, VECs also have responsibilities in areas such as community education, training for early school leavers, basic literacy courses, and the provision of a range of youth services. My Department provides the majority of the funding required by VECs for the delivery of these programmes.

Accordingly, the figures in the table include funding for pay to VEC staff (including teachers), funding for the day-to-day running of schools, specific grants (e.g. book grant, transition year programme), targeted expenditure (e.g. DEIS funding), funding for further and adult education (e.g. Youthreach and VTOS) and funding for student grants.

Current Funding allocated to each VEC in 2011

(Ref PQ 36197 19-7-12)

VEC

Current Expenditure 2011 (€m)

City of Cork

43,101,010

City of Dublin

129,025,707

City of Limerick

25,133,402

City of Waterford

17,278,993

Dún Laoghaire

17,540,609

City of Galway

21,621,420

Co. Carlow

19,514,564

Co. Cavan

25,460,752

Co. Clare

29,204,914

Co. Cork

85,755,168

Co. Donegal

48,034,089

Co. Dublin

100,563,761

Co. Galway

33,079,414

Co. Kerry

34,833,609

Co. Kildare

37,908,683

Co. Kilkenny

24,239,828

Co. Laois

16,212,993

Co. Leitrim

10,282,698

Co. Limerick

37,223,064

Co. Longford

12,303,688

Co. Louth

29,918,365

Co. Mayo

27,970,846

Co. Meath

40,182,724

Co. Monaghan

21,511,270

Co. Offaly

19,146,418

Co. Roscommon

12,840,461

Co. Sligo

14,876,613

Co. Tipperary (NR)

21,921,531

Co. Tipperary (SR)

21,077,334

Co. Waterford

13,981,843

Co. Westmeath

19,156,091

Co. Wexford

33,171,424

Co. Wicklow

44,089,086

Total

1,088,162,371

Adult Education

Terence Flanagan

Question:

151 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will ensure that adult learners have a seat on education and training boards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36210/12]

In October 2011 the General Scheme of an Education and Training Boards Bill was referred to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education. The General Scheme was also published at that time. Following discussions with this Department and relevant stakeholders, the Committee prepared a report which I responded to at a meeting of the Committee on 25 January 2012. The General Scheme was then referred to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to the Government for formal drafting. It is hoped that the Bill will be published before the end of the summer.

I have received representations seeking to provide a place for adult learners on the Education and Training Boards. Consideration will be given to those representations in the course of the drafting of the legislation.

School Accommodation

Joe McHugh

Question:

152 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will comparatively account for his Department’s expenditure on extensions for two primary schools (details supplied) in County Donegal; the reason the costs differed by €150,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36263/12]

Responsibility for the management and delivery of the two projects referred to by the Deputy was devolved to the school management authorities.

I understand the difference in costs arose as one of the schools was allocated funding under my Department's 2007 Small School Scheme to extended and refurbish its existing school building which had difficult site conditions while the other school was allocated funding under my Department's 2010 Additional Accommodation Scheme to provide a new 253m2 school building on a Greenfield site provided by the patron.

School Transport

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

153 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department calculates distances between schools and collection points using roads that buses will not use as part of the route to the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36266/12]

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

154 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if, when deciding on eligibility criteria for bus routes, Bus Éireann measures distances between collection points and a school using the route that the bus will ultimately take; if the distance is calculated using routes that would be unnavigable by a bus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36267/12]

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

155 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a map of the route used by Bus Éireann to calculate the distance between areas (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36268/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 153 to 155, inclusive, together.

Bus Éireann operates the School Transport Scheme on behalf of my Department.

Under the terms of the Post Primary School Transport Scheme children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kms from and are attending their nearest education centre as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

Distance eligibility is determined by Bus Éireann by measuring the shortest traversable route from the child's home to the relevant education centre. In cases where the distance eligibility is marginal or in dispute, vehicles fitted with calibrated measuring devices which measure the distance down to the nearest metre may be used to establish the exact distance.

Bus Éireann endeavours, within available resources, to ensure that each eligible child has a reasonable level of school transport service in the context of the Scheme nationally.

Third Level Fees

Robert Troy

Question:

156 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost of third level registration fees for first and subsequent children; and if he plans to introduce a payment plan to alleviate the pressure on parents. [36281/12]

As the Deputy will be aware 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 Charge is due to increase to €2,250 for the next academic year. The Finance Bill 2012, provides for tax relief at the standard rate of tax for full-time fees in excess of €2,250. Therefore, based on current rates of relief, the effective cost of the student contribution charge, net of tax relief, for second and subsequent siblings will be €1,800 each.

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) has written to higher education institutions requesting that they show flexibility and consideration to students awaiting a decision on their grant application and/or payment of grants for the current academic year. At my Department's request the HEA has recently sent a reminder to institutions again requesting that flexibility be shown to students for the next academic year and to request that students be allowed pay the charge in two instalments if required.

The charge is paid by the Exchequer in respect of students who qualify under my Department's student grant scheme.

Special Educational Needs

Pearse Doherty

Question:

157 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total number of places in primary schools and secondary schools in Clondalkin, Lucan and Palmerstown for children diagnosed with autism for the school year commencing in 2012; if the number of available places meets the needs for children diagnosed with autism in these areas; if he has any plans to increase the availability of funding to ensure an adequate provision of school places in these areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36285/12]

The Deputy will be aware of the Government's ongoing commitment to ensuring that all children with special educational needs, including those with autism, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs. Many children with autism are fully integrated into mainstream classes. The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) provides additional resource teaching hours and special needs assistant support to schools in respect of fully integrated enrolled students with autism.

Some students with autism require further support in school. The establishment of a network of autism-specific special classes in schools across the country to cater for these children with autism has been a key educational priority in recent years. My Department supports provision in mainstream schools, some 540 special classes for autism attached to mainstream and special schools and 18 special schools for children with autism throughout the State which cater for the educational needs of over 5,000 children with autism. These figures include 101 classes for autism in Co. Dublin. The NCSE will continue to establish more classes as required.

The Deputy will be aware that the NCSE is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for processing applications from primary, special and post primary schools for special needs supports on the basis of applications in respect of individual pupils. The SENOs operate within the policy outlined in my Department's circulars for allocating such support.

Each SENO works in an assigned local area with parents, schools, teachers, psychologists, health professionals and other staff who are involved in the provision of services in that area for children with special educational needs. All schools have contact details of their local SENO. It is also open to parents to contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs.

I have arranged for the issues raised by the Deputy to be forwarded to the NCSE for its direct attention and reply.

Third Level Staff

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

158 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is confident that no unauthorised payments were made to university staff in 2011 and 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36287/12]

The recent report from the Comptroller and Auditor General confirms that over €8 million in unauthorised payments were made to senior university staff over the period June 2005 to February 2011. This is completely unacceptable behaviour and represents a failure in governance in our universities and is a serious breach of public pay policy. Since the formation of the current Government these unauthorised payments, which were presided over by previous administrations, have ceased in all cases.

While these overpayments happened on the previous Government's watch, we are determined to ensure they cannot happen again. It is my intention, as part of the National Strategy implementation process, to strengthen legislation and put more robust accountability processes in place for the sector.

The HEA, acting in consultation with my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, is making arrangements with each university covering the use of an amount of its funding equivalent in each case to the amount of overpayments. These arrangements will be directed towards improving student services and specific new innovations in front line services. It is an imperative that any action taken does not impact on students, especially at a time when resources are particularly limited.

It is also important to note that my Department has sought and received unequivocal commitments from each university that in future it will adhere to the provisions of the Universities Act. In the context of annual reporting arrangements provided for in the Code of Governance of Irish Universities each University is required to submit a statement to the HEA affirming that Government policy on pay is being complied with.

Higher Education Grants

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

159 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the work of the capital asset test implementation group regarding higher education grants; when he expects to receive these proposals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36288/12]

I understand that a draft report is currently under consideration by the Implementation Group and that I should receive the report in the coming weeks.

Third Level Grants

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

160 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of third level students from a farming background who qualified for a student maintenance grant in each year for the past five years. [36289/12]

The table shows the estimated percentage of new awards made to students from farming backgrounds. These indicative data are subject to considerable qualification for interpretation purposes in relation to their reliability due to, inter alia, the level of undeclared status amongst the returns from the awarding authorities and the provision of accurate and or/adequate information in respect of occupation by the principal earner to enable the awarding authorities to classify them by socio-economic background.

The information contained in the table has been supplied to my Department by the awarding authorities which submitted a return:

Indicative Socio Economic Category of new grantholders

Date

Farmers

2010/11

6.34%

2009/10

8.53%

2008/09

7.21%

2007/08

9.07%

2006/07

8.71%

Third Level Grants

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

161 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of third level students who qualified for a student maintenance grant in each year for the past five years. [36290/12]

The number of third level students who qualified for a student grant in each year for the past five years is detailed in the table below:

Number of third level students who qualified for a student maintenance grant

2011/12

65,889*

2010/11

62,366

2009/10

57,233

2008/09

47,751

2007/08

46,632

*Provisional figure.

Third Level Funding

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

162 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount that was spent on the provision of counselling services at third level in each year for the past five years; the amount that has been allocated for the year 2012/2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36291/12]

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

163 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a breakdown of the number of full time counsellors that are available in each third level institution; the ratio of counsellors to students in each institution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36292/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 162 and 163 together.

The internal budget allocation between various headings within higher education institutions is a matter for each institution. My Department has no role in this matter and therefore the information sought by the Deputy is not available to the Department.

The Higher Education Authority has put in place an agreed framework with the higher education institutions regarding student services. This framework provides for reporting on expenditure on student services including welfare and guidance (including counselling services) extra-curricular activities, accommodation, childcare etc. It is intended that the report on expenditure on student services will be published annually from 2013 after final audited figures are available.

School Staffing

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

164 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total number of retired teachers working in primary and post-primary schools at end of June 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36293/12]

The information requested by the Deputy is being compiled and I will arrange for it to be forwarded to him.

Public Sector Pay

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

165 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the review of public services allowances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36294/12]

As the Deputy will be aware, the review of allowances in the public service which is ongoing at the moment is being conducted by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and I understand that the Minister intends to bring proposals to Government shortly.

Teachers’ Remuneration

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

166 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on cuts to teachers' allowances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36295/12]

As a result of Budget 2012, Circular 70/2011 provides that teachers who had been engaged in a public sector teaching post on or before 4 December 2011 are eligible to retain the qualification allowances they were entitled to be in receipt of on that date. Such teachers will not be paid any additional allowance where they acquire any further qualification on or after 5 December 2011. The position of teachers who, on 5 December 2011, were undertaking courses will be considered in the context of the public service-wide review of allowances being led by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Teachers who were appointed to teaching for the first time on or after 5 December 2011 but before 1 February 2012 are eligible for allowances on the basis of their qualifications at entry to the profession up to a maximum of the allowance which had been applicable to an honours primary degree.

Pending the outcome of the review of allowances, they are not payable to new beneficiaries from 1 February 2012. The only exceptions to this prohibition are principal and deputy principal allowances and, for a limited period of time, the assistant principal allowance. These decisions were taken due to the upward pressure on the cost of teacher allowances. These provisions are outlined in Circular 70/2011 and Circular 3/2012.

These measures are concerned with the sustainability of the public service pay bill and in particular the need to find payroll savings in the education vote. Without immediate action, this upward pressure would have cancelled out the savings made elsewhere in the education system and would bring about even harsher adjustments to schools and services. I am not in a position to comment further until the outcome of the review is known.

Technological Universities

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

167 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress to date in relation to the establishment of technological universities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36296/12]

A clear four stage process and criteria for designation as Technological University were published by the HEA in February of this year. Institutions proposing to merge and apply for designation as technological universities will need to submit a formal expression of interest within a six month period and will be advised within a further six months whether they can proceed to the second stage for designation. The drafting of legislative proposals to provide for the amalgamation of Institutes of Technology and the establishment of Technological universities will be advanced in tandem with the designation process as part of the work which is underway on implementing the higher education strategy.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

168 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the ratio of students to teaching staff in each year for the past five years at third level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36297/12]

I am informed by the Higher Education Authority that the ratio of students to teaching staff at third level in the past five years was as follows: 2007/08 ratio 16.2:1. 2008/09 ratio 16:1 2009/10 ratio 17.6:1 2010/11 ratio 18.4:1 2011/12 ratio 18.6:1. The increase in the ratio since 2008/09 reflects increased enrolments across the sector and the reduction in numbers employed in line with the Government policy on reducing public sector numbers generally.

Schools Building Projects

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

169 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount given for minor works grants in schools in each year for the past five years. [36298/12]

All Primary schools with full recognition received the Minor Works Grant for the five school years from 2007/2008 to 2011/2012. Each school received a basic grant of €5,500 plus €18.50 per mainstream pupil and €74 per special needs pupil in respect of each school year. The amounts that issued to schools on a calendar year basis are as follows:

Year

€m

2011

28.232

2010

28.169

2009

29.161

2008

26.696

2007

27.583

Departmental Programmes

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

170 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of places that have been made available under the springboard programme to date; the total number of students who have completed courses under the springboard programme to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36299/12]

Over 5,000 people took up places in Springboard 2011 of whom 3,500 are now graduating with qualifications relevant to employment in areas such as ICT, medical devices, biopharma, green economy and financial services. A further 6,000 places on 220 programmes ranging from certificate to masters degree level opened for applications in May 2012.

Further information on Springboard courses is available at the dedicated information and applications website: www.springboardcourses.ie. Information and advice is also available to prospective students at the Springboard freephone guidance service on 1800 303 523.

Apprenticeship Programmes

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

171 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total number of redundant apprentices who have completed their apprenticeship as part of the redundant apprentice replacement scheme since the scheme’s establishment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36300/12]

I understand that the FÁS Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme was introduced in 2010 to provide support to redundant apprentices to complete their on-the-job training with assessments at Phases 3, 5 and 7 of their 4 year apprenticeship programme with a FÁS approved employer.

The minimum duration for each on-the-job phase is 26 weeks for Phase 3 and Phase 5 with 12 weeks for Phase 7.

The number of redundant apprentices who have progressed in their apprenticeships and have successfully completed all Phases 1 to 7 (and have been awarded the FETAC Level 6 Advanced Certificate Craft) is 812 at 17th July, 2012.

The number of redundant apprentices who have successfully completed all Phases and who are to be submitted to FETAC in the next certification period is 48, at 17th July, 2012.

Third Level Funding

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

172 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress to date on carrying out a study into the sustainability of funding at third level; when this will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36301/12]

At my request the Higher Education Authority (HEA) completed an initial study late last year on sustainability of the current funding system for higher education. The report outlines the scale of recent reductions in funding and growth in student numbers, and provides some evidence on the possible impacts of this on quality of provision. However, the HEA has emphasised that the report is preliminary only and that substantial additional work now needs to be undertaken before comprehensive proposals as to how we can sustainably fund higher education into the future can be developed. The HEA is continuing its work in this area and further advice is expected later this year.

School Curriculum

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

173 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress to date in carrying out junior certificate reform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36302/12]

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment provided its advice to me on Junior Cycle Reform in late 2011. Since then, consideration has been ongoing in relation to the implementation of reform.

Reform will be introduced on a phased basis. There will be a combination of curriculum components including subjects and short courses. Schools will also have the option of providing locally developed short courses of 100 hours, supported by exemplars developed by the NCCA. The NCCA is also preparing some short courses.

School Curriculum

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

174 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress to date in carrying out Leaving Certificate reform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36303/12]

My key priority in second level education is the reform of the Junior Cycle. I am aware that reform is also required in senior cycle. In this context, curriculum and assessment reform is well advanced in a number of senior cycle subject areas. Project Maths has been introduced to all schools now and the first examination incorporating Project Maths for the Leaving Certificate took place in June of this year. The roll out will continue to be reviewed and adjusted over the next few years, as necessary. As part of this process, a joint NCCA/HEA conference on Mathematics education in Ireland will bring together Irish and international experts in the field. This conference will take place in the Autumn. June 2012 also saw the first examinations in Leaving Certificate Gaeilge under the new assessment arrangements, where 40% of the marks awarded are allocated to oral language skills.

Work is also progressing in relation to the development of key skills across the curriculum as well as in the following subjects — biology, chemistry and physics. A review of the four modern languages, French, German, Italian and Spanish is well underway and will be the subject of consultation this coming Autumn.

As well as the work on senior cycle curriculum and assessment reform, a number of other areas are being progressed that relate directly to the transition from second to third level education. These areas of work arose from the very successful joint HEA/NCCA conference last September and include:

a review of predictability in the Leaving Certificate examination,

consideration of the current 14 point grading system for Leaving Certificate subjects, with a view to changing to an 8 point grading system,

research into the viability, and potential benefits and consequences, of including Mathematics and/or English in the prepared in calculation of points for all courses.

Educational Disadvantage

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

175 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the new national literacy and numeracy strategy will be fully rolled out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36304/12]

I published the National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy among Children and Young People 2011 to 2020 in July 2011. The Strategy contains 41 actions and almost 180 sub-actions across 6 key areas. A high level implementation Advisory Group has been established to monitor the implementation of the Strategy over its lifespan up until 2020.

There has been significant progress in implementing the early actions of the Strategy and work is ongoing on medium and longer term actions. Some of the key developments to date are set out below:

A team of literacy and numeracy advisors has been appointed to support teachers and schools in implementing the Strategy and a national programme of professional development for primary and second level teachers is under way.

Programmes in literacy (including Irish) and mathematics accounted for almost half of all attendance at summer courses in 2011. Further summer courses for teachers in this area are being provided this summer.

Proposals on revised entry standards for initial teacher education have been incorporated into the Teaching Council's Initial Teacher Education: Criteria and Guidelines for Programme Providers in relation to mathematics. There will be a consultation process on this. The criteria also provide for an expansion of the primary Bachelor of Education from 3 to 4 years, and for an expansion of the Professional Diploma in Education to 2 years.

Units on literacy and numeracy are in place within the National Teacher Induction Programme for the 2011/12 school year.

Circular 56/2011 issued to all primary schools asking them to:

Increase the time spent on mathematics by 70 minutes per week,

Increase the time spent on literacy by one hour per week,

Introduce a third point of standardised testing in English reading and Mathematics, so that pupils are tested at the end of 2nd, 4th and 6th class. Irish medium schools are asked to also test students in Irish reading. Additional funding has been provided to schools to support this.

Report the results of the tests to parents as part of an overall standardised report on their children's learning,

Report the results, in terms of the numbers scoring at particular percentile bands, to the Department and the school board of management,

Provide data on 6th class pupils' progress to their second level school, once enrolment has been accepted.

One of the aims of my Junior Cycle reform programme is to develop an approach to promote the integrated development of literacy and numeracy skills across the curriculum.

The National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy Among Children and Young People contains initiatives and actions across a broad range of areas and across the time span up to 2020. The Strategy focuses on achieving better literacy and numeracy outcomes for our children and young people through the best use of the resources at our disposal. Many of the approaches set out in the Strategy have no cost implications.

There will be additional costs for teacher education measures (both initial teacher education and teacher upskilling), curricular change and new assessment measures. Costs relating to lengthening of initial teacher education will be met from within the Higher Education Budget. Part of the other costs will be met within existing resources from other areas of continuous professional development. Some additional curricular and assessment costs from 2014 will be found within other areas of the Department's Budget.

The full version of the strategy is available to download from www.education.ie.

School Staffing

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

176 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied that only qualified registered teachers will be employed in approved teaching posts in schools from September 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36305/12]

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

177 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied that no retired teacher will be employed in approved teaching posts in schools from September 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36306/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 176 and 177 together.

The recruitment and appointment of teachers to fill teaching posts is a matter for the individual school authority, subject to procedures published under Section 24(3) of the Education Act 1998.

Circular 31/2011, published in May 2011, details a cascade of measures for recruitment of teachers, prioritising unemployed registered teachers over retired registered teachers and registered teachers over unregistered persons.

Schools at primary and post-primary level are required to maintain a list of appropriately qualified registered teachers who notify the school that they are available for substitute teaching at short notice. Where a substitute teacher is needed at short notice and advertising for the position is not feasible, the school must contact a person on the list established by the school or use a national service such as SubSearch or TextaSub.

Where these procedures are adhered to, an unregistered person should only be engaged for a limited period of time in exceptional circumstances. The school remains under an obligation to source an appropriately qualified and registered teacher at all times.

Each principal must report to his or her board of management on a regular basis on the fact that a list of unemployed registered teachers is being maintained, and the circumstances in which he or she has had to engage a registered teacher in receipt of a pension under a public service pension scheme or an unregistered person.

Special Educational Needs

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

178 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide further details on the recently announced review of special needs education; what this review will look at; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36307/12]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has a formal role under the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act 2004 to advise me as Minister in relation to any matter relating to the education of children and others with disabilities.

It is my intention that the significant resources to support children with Special Educational Needs are deployed to ensure the best possible outcomes for students.

I have therefore asked the NCSE to provide me with comprehensive advice on how the educational system currently places and supports children with special educational needs in schools. This advice will include:

the identification and assessment of children with special needs

the nature of supports provided for children

the way in which supports are allocated to schools and