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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 11 Mar 2014

Vol. 834 No. 1

Written Questions Nos. 101 to 120

NAMA Operations

Kevin Humphreys


101. Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 82 of 19 February 2014 and 31 of 4 March 2014, if the land has already been sold by the receiver appointed by the National Asset Management Agency; the reason he cannot reveal the price achieved and underlying loan that was on the property as the overall costs associated with this NAMA transaction have been borne by the public; if he will reveal the price that the National Asset Management Agency realised for the site (details supplied) in Dublin 4 of five acres when it was sold in March 2012 by the receiver; the value of the underlying loan on the property at the time as the site is currently for sale again; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11977/14]

As advised, this land was sold in 2012 by the appointed Receiver.  This transaction is subject to normal commercial confidentiality between the Receiver, as the vendor, and the purchaser.  NAMA's role as a secured lender does not overreach this commercial confidentiality. In terms of the value of the underlying loan, I would remind the Deputy that NAMA is subject to similar legal requirements as other lenders that preclude it from disclosing financial details relating to its debtors.

Question No. 102 answered with Question No. 77.

Revenue Documents

Seán Ó Fearghaíl


103. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Finance if he will issue requested P60s to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12001/14]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that pay and tax details are contained in Forms P60, which are issued by employers to their employees at the end of each tax year. However, the Revenue Commissioners do also have access to the pay and tax details as submitted by the employer in the annual P35 return. In relation to the case referred to by the Deputy, I am advised that the pay and tax P35 details for 2002 to 2004 are readily available to Revenue and these have now been issued to the person concerned.  Regarding the years prior to 2002, these details have been archived. To facilitate the speedy retrieval of the details for the earlier archived years, Revenue have written to the person concerned requesting details of the person's employment(s) for each of these earlier years.

Question No. 104 answered with Question No. 61.

Tax Reliefs Availability

Brendan Ryan


105. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Finance if there is any tax relief available to parents in respect of creche fees; if not, if such a proposal will be considered as part of the budget process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12132/14]

Tax relief is not available to parents in respect of crèche fees or childcare costs. However, I can assure the Deputy that the Government acknowledges the continuing cost pressures on parents, particularly those with young children. In recognition of these cost pressures, a number of support measures are in place to ease the burden on working parents. These include the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme, which funds community childcare services to enable them to charge reduced childcare fees to qualifying parents, the Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme which provides free childcare places to qualifying FÁS and VEC trainees and the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme which provides for a free pre-school year for children in the year before commencing primary school. Generous entitlements to paid and unpaid maternity leave as well as child benefit payments are also provided.

The Department of Social Protection provides financial support to families on low pay by way of the Family Income Supplement (FIS) and to one-parent families through the one-parent family payment. In addition, a Single Person Child Carer tax credit of €1,650 is provided as well as an additional standard rate band of €4,000. This credit and band is payable to any single person with a child under 18 years of age or over 18 years of age if in full time education or permanently incapacitated. The primary claimant may relinquish this credit and increase in the rate band to a secondary claimant with whom the child resides for not less than 100 days in the year. To claim the Single Person Child Carer Credit a claimant must not be married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting.

The Universal Social Charge (USC) was introduced in Budget 2011 to replace the Income Levy and Health Levy. It was a necessary measure to widen the tax base, remove poverty traps and raise revenue to reduce the budget deficit.  It is a more sustainable charge than those it replaced and is applied at a low rate on a wide base with very few exemptions. In Budget 2012 I announced that those earning less than €10,036 would no longer be subject to the Universal Social Charge. This in itself has removed almost 330,000 individuals from the charge and is of particular benefit to the low paid.

I have no plans to introduce any further tax reliefs for childcare costs. As the Deputy will appreciate, I receive numerous requests for the introduction of new tax reliefs and the extension of existing ones. As the Deputy will also appreciate, I must be mindful of the public finances and the many demands on the Exchequer given the current budgetary constraints. Tax reliefs, no matter how worthwhile in themselves, reduce the tax base and make general reform of the tax system that much more difficult.

Tax Code

Róisín Shortall


106. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the procedure in respect of a person who, on a once-off basis, marginally exceeds the €3,174 low-income threshold that is generally applied by the Revenue Commissioner, where that income arises from interest on savings and investment and who wishes to ascertain whether or not there is a liability for PRSI and if so, to make arrangements to settle this liability. [12193/14]

€3,174 is the amount of other income which a taxpayer, whose main source of income is taxable through the PAYE system, can earn, in certain circumstances, before becoming a chargeable person. In this regard, the Deputy's question appears to relate to an individual aged under 66 whose main source of income is from employment that is taxable through the PAYE system, who does not have income from a trade or profession and who is not, therefore, in the self-assessment system, but who is going to exceed the threshold of €3,174 in relation to income from investments for the first time and on a once-off basis.   

In this situation, there is no liability to PRSI if the income from investments was earned in the tax year 2013.  As regards 2014, the individual will be liable to PRSI on this income and he or she must, therefore, pay and file for 2014 and 2015 under the self-assessment system even if the income earned from investments falls back below the threshold in 2015 because it was earned on a once-off basis.  However, he or she will not have to pay and file as a self-assessed individual for 2016 if the income from investments remains below €3,174 for 2016 and the individual's original income status is resumed.  

In order to pay and file for 2014 and 2015, the individual must register as a self-assessed taxpayer and meet the various payment obligations associated with being a self-assessed taxpayer.  These obligations are set out on the Revenue website at It should be noted however, that if the individual is aged 66 or over, he or she is not insurable, and therefore has no liability to PRSI.

Appointments to State Boards

Terence Flanagan


107. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the action he is taking to encourage more Irish executives to serve on State boards under the remit of his Department; his views on the recent Merc Partners survey. [12461/14]

All appointments made to boards of bodies under the aegis of my Department are made on the basis of qualifications and suitability to carry out the tasks required  as a sitting board member. The Merc Partners survey gives an insight into some of the reasons =some private sector executives would not be interested in applying for positions on State Boards. It is the Government's task to change these negative views and to highlight the benefits that come from having suitably qualified people serving on State Boards. It is also the Government's policy to encourage people from all backgrounds to apply for positions on State Boards.

SOLAS Training and Education Programmes Certification

Dara Calleary


108. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a €500 levy is being placed on approved training organisations, ATOs, to register themselves and their trainers with SOLAS-FÁS for one year; that it costs €200 to register each supplementary tutor; his views on whether this is a harsh fee and is restrictive for ATOs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12067/14]

This is an operational matter for SOLAS, which is responsible for the management of the scheme in question. I have referred this query to SOLAS for direct reply to the Deputy.

School Accommodation

Willie O'Dea


109. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding funding for a second level school in the Raheen/Dooradoyle area of Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11520/14]

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department met the school's representatives in January to discuss the issues associated with the school's accommodation. Arising from the meeting, the school undertook to prepare a report relating to the matters of concern and to furnish this to my Department for consideration. My officials will continue to work closely with the school authorities in this regard.

School Staffing

Niall Collins


110. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of retired teachers now working as substitutes or as temporary/casual replacements in national schools; his plans to provide jobs for new qualified teachers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11528/14]

The policy of my Department is to ensure, as far as possible, that the Managerial Authorities of schools give priority to unemployed registered teachers who are fully qualified when filling vacant teaching posts. It is important to note that schools themselves employ teachers and not the Department of Education and Skills.

However my Department has issued a number of circulars addressing this issue in recent years. Under these circulars school principals must maintain a list of unemployed registered teachers who are available for substitute work at short notice and report to the Board of Management on any exceptional occasion where they have to engage a registered teacher who is retired. Circular 31/2011 details a cascade of measures for recruitment of teachers, prioritising registered teachers over retired registered teachers and unregistered people.

A retired teacher who returns to teaching on or after 1 February 2012 will commence at the first point of the incremental salary scale. Incremental credit for service prior to 1 February 2012, qualification allowances and certain job role allowances are also not payable. This measure represents a significant financial disincentive for teachers who retired at the top of their salary scale, often with a post of responsibility allowance, to return to teaching. The first point of the teacher's salary scale represents the lowest point or starting salary for teachers. Thus it was decided that retired teachers would be placed at that point of the scale. I will arrange to compile the information regarding the numbers currently working and forward directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Michael McGrath


111. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps that have been taken thus far to secure a permanent site for a new school (details supplied) in County Cork; the progress that has been made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11551/14]

The Deputy may be aware that I signed a Memorandum of Understanding between my Department and the County and City Managers' Association (CCMA) in 2012. This Memorandum of Understanding fosters increased levels of cooperation and formalises the Local Authorities' part in identifying and securing sites for educational use. In that context, my Department is working in conjunction with Cork County Council towards securing a permanent site to meet the needs of the school to which the Deputy refers. Whilst I can advise the Deputy that options are under consideration, due to the sensitivities associated with land acquisitions generally I am not in a position to provide further information at this time. Once the acquisition of a site is finalised, it is envisaged that a design team will be appointed and the project will be progressed towards tender and construction stage.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Éamon Ó Cuív


112. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills the qualifying criteria in respect of grant aid under the student grant scheme 2013 for a non-EU citizen who is over 18 years of age and has been living legally in the State for over five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11560/14]

Under the terms of the student grant scheme, grant assistance is awarded to students who meet the prescribed conditions of funding including those which relate to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment and means. The nationality requirements for the student grant scheme are set out in section 14 of the Student Support Act 2011 and regulation 5 of the Student Support Regulations 2013. In all cases, to qualify for a student grant, it is the grant applicant, and not his/her parents, that must meet the nationality or prescribed immigration status requirements in their own right. The onus is on the grant applicant to provide the necessary documentary evidence as proof of their nationality or immigration status to the relevant grant awarding authority.

Article 32 of the Student Grant Scheme 2013 provides for the review of eligibility for the award of a grant in the event of changes of circumstances in the academic year, including a change in relation to a student's nationality or immigration status. This means that where a student acquires Irish citizenship by naturalisation, or is granted permission to remain provided for in the Act or Regulations during the course of their studies, he/she may apply to SUSI to have his/her application re-assessed.

School Enrolments

Clare Daly


113. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills in view of the need for school places highlighted in the North Area Development Plan of 2007, if he will address the lack of adequate primary school accommodation to deal with the needs of the community in Malahide. [11563/14]

Clare Daly


179. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills in view of the serious overcrowding and large numbers of children in Swords and Malahide in particular who are being left without a school placement this September, the steps he is taking in order to address this crisis. [12198/14]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 113 and 179 together.

My Department is currently analysing demographic data across the county, including that for the Malahide and Swords feeder areas, to ensure that any additional future demand for places can be met in a timely manner. In the meantime, my Department is addressing the short-terms needs of the areas with the relevant Patrons.

Gaelscoileanna Issues

Mary Lou McDonald


114. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for increasing the number of places at the Gaelsoileanna in Lucan and Palmerstown to meet the growing demand for these places from local families. [11580/14]

Mary Lou McDonald


116. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total number of Gaelscoil places available in Lucan and Palmerstown in 2011 to 2013, inclusive, and to date in 2014; and if he will provide an estimate of the current level of demand for places in these schools. [11582/14]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 114 and 116 together.

There are two Gaelscoileanna in the Lucan feeder area. While Palmerstown does not currently have a Gaelscoil, it is open to pupils from Palmerstown to apply for places in the Lucan gaelscoileanna. The total enrolment in the schools was 787 in 2011-12 and 882 in 2012-13. The number of pupils enrolled in individual schools is provided in the National School Annual Census. Results from the Census for the current school year, 2013-14, are being finalised at present. Publication of all data at primary level and a final list of schools and their enrolments will be on my Department's website by the end of the school year.

My Department is currently analysing demographic data across the country, including that for the Lucan and Palmerstown feeder areas, to ensure any additional demand for places can be met in a timely manner. In the intervening period, it is, of course, open to schools themselves to apply for funding for additional accommodation where they consider this is warranted. Earlier this year, one of the schools was approved funding for an extra classroom. I understand that there are no further applications on hands for capital funding from the schools.

Gaelscoileanna Issues

Mary Lou McDonald


115. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for improving the facilities at the Gaelscoileanna in Lucan and Palmerstown by providing funding for schools to provide classrooms for their pupils in place of the existing prefabs. [11581/14]

I wish to advise the Deputy, that while there are no Gaelscoileanna in Palmerstown, my Department provided a new 16-classroom school for a Gaelscoil in Lucan in 2012. This is in addition to the existing 16-classroom Gaelscoil in Lucan.

As the Deputy is aware, my Department's over-riding objective is to ensure that every child has access to a physical school place and that our school system is in a position to cope with increasing pupil numbers. This must remain our priority. However, my Department will continue to provide improved accommodation in our schools within the funding available. In the case of schools with purchased prefab accommodation, which is in urgent need of repair, it is open to such schools to utilise their capitation grants or minor works grant in the case of primary schools to undertake such repairs. Where prefabs have significant structural issues, it is open to the schools to submit an application to my Department for the replacement of such prefabs and each application will be considered on a case by case basis within the funding available. My Department would request that a technical report and supporting evidence relating to the condition of the prefabs and outlining the works required should accompany any submission.

Due to constraints on available funding imposed by the need to provide additional accommodation to meet demographic growth, my Department will deal with applications from schools for devolved funding for the replacement of purchased prefabs on a case by case basis in the context of available funding and the immediate accommodation needs of the school.

Question No. 116 answered with Question No. 114.

Gaelscoileanna Issues

Mary Lou McDonald


117. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of prefabs being used by Gaelscoileanna in Lucan and Palmerstown. [11583/14]

My Department does not hold information in the sub-county format as requested. Schools that are included on my Department's Five-Year Capital Programme and Prefab Replacement Initiatives are highlighted, as these will have their temporary accommodation replaced with permanent buildings. Please note that a prefab unit may consist of one or more classrooms and/or ancillary accommodation. The following table lists the Gaelscoileanna in Dublin that have rented prefabricated buildings in March 2014:

Roll No

School Name


Desc. of rental


Gaelscoil Mológa




Gaelscoil Chnoc Liamhna




Gaelscoil Bharra




Gaelscoil Bharra




Gaelscoil Ros Eo




Gaelscoil Ros Eo




Gaelscoil Ros Eo



*Included in Prefab Replacement Programme.

**Included in 5 Year Programme.

Broadband Service Provision

Jim Daly


118. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding a broadband connection to a school in west Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11590/14]

Digital Forge were awarded the connection for Multrahane National School under a public procurement competition. Some technical difficulties were encountered in relation to the beaming of broadband signal to the school but I understand these have now been resolved. The company has informed the Department that the connection should be installed in the next three to four weeks. Digital Forge are contractually obliged to provide the Services in accordance with industry standards and comply with all applicable laws with particular but not exclusive regard to the requirements of the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, the Waste Management Act 1996, the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003 and employment legislation.

Student Grants Data

Dara Calleary


119. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide in tabular form, on a county basis, the total number of applicants to Student Universal Support Ireland for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years; the number of applicants who were awarded a payment; the number who were not; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11592/14]

The following table, provided by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), gives a breakdown on a county basis of the student grant applications, awarded and not awarded by SUSI for the academic year 2012/13, as on the 28th February 2014. The data requested by the Deputy in respect of the 2013/14 academic year will be made available to the Department by SUSI after the end of the current academic year.













































































































Outside Ireland








*Refused/cancelled includes all applications not awarded.

Student Grants Data

Dara Calleary


120. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fall of 10% in Student Universal Support Ireland grant awards in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11593/14]

With regard to the information referred to by the Deputy, that student grants awarded in the 2012-13 academic year in Mayo have declined by over 9%, the Department would caution that any conclusions drawn from such analysis may be limited, as any comprehensive analysis will need to reflect the wide variety of factors which impact on the number of student grant awards in any academic year. The factors include, but would not be limited to, the number of applications, the number of students directly transitioning from second level to third level, the number of mature students entering the system for the first time or re-entering after a break in study, the increases in population in a particular age–cohort, or area be it rural or urban, the economic circumstances and developments in a particular area, the financial circumstances of individuals and their parents and the increases in attendance at third level generally.

In the 2012-13 academic year new applicants applied to Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) and renewal applicants remained with their previous grant awarding authorities (Mayo County Council and Co. Mayo VEC in this instance). The table details the number of awards (new and renewal) in Mayo for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic year.




% Change













The above shows that while there was an overall decrease of some 9.5% in total awards in Mayo in 2012-13, the number of new awards made by SUSI actually represents an increase from 2011-12 of some 4%. The creation of SUSI, a single grant awarding agency, and the electronic compilation of data will enable greater visibility and analysis of trends in this area in coming years.