Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions

Personal Injuries Commission

Robert Troy

Question:

39. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the timeline for implementation of each of the 14 recommendations made by the Personal Injuries Commission regarding personal injury awards. [50374/19]

This question is on the timeline for implementation of each of the 14 recommendations of the Personal Injuries Commission regarding personal injury awards.

I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. During its 18 month work programme, which concluded in July 2018, the Personal Injuries Commission, PIC, delivered two reports with 14 recommendations. The first report of PIC, published in December 2017, made four recommendations. The first recommendation was the adoption of a standardised approach to the examination of personal injuries. The Personal Injuries Assessment Board, PIAB, has rolled out a standardised template to its independent medical panel. I understand Insurance Ireland has distributed the medical reporting template to its members. The second recommendation was promotion of best practice training for medical professionals completing personal injury medical reports, and PIAB has engaged with relevant providers on this. The third recommendation relates to the book of quantum, which has been superseded by PIC's second report, which recommends that a judicial council, when established, be requested by the Minister for Justice and Equality to compile judicial guidelines for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury. The fourth recommendation was that relevant injury data be collated and published by appropriate bodies. PIAB has since published data in line with this recommendation.

The second and final report made a further ten recommendations. I expect that they should be implemented as soon as possible by the relevant bodies. Recommendations Nos. 1 and 2 relate to the judicial council described earlier. Recommendation No. 3 proposed that the Law Reform Commission bring forward legislation to cap damages that a court may award, and this work is under way. Recommendation No. 4 provides for the development and roll-out of best practice standard treatment plans for soft tissue injuries and is being worked on by the HSE. Recommendation No. 5 proposed that no offer of settlement or payment of a personal injury claim can be made unless and until a detailed medical report has been obtained. Insurance Ireland has advised that it is standard practice for insurers to base personal injury claims settlements on medical reports. Recommendation No. 6 requires claimants to give prompt notification, within one month, of any potential injury so that a proper investigation may be undertaken. This was addressed through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2019.

We all agree the 14 recommendations are very important, but will the Minister indicate whether the Government will take the issue seriously and commit to agreeing a timetable for implementation of all the recommendations with the various bodies, including the Garda Commissioner, Insurance Ireland, the Law Society and the Bar Council, to give certainty to Irish business and consumers? Last Sunday, someone from a small enterprise rang me. That person will be forced out of business. People are very concerned. People think we are doing nothing about this, quite honestly. We need to make people aware and let people know that we are serious about this, and we will try to help them and try to keep people in jobs.

I am, as I know the Deputy is, very aware of the serious impact of high insurance costs, particularly liability insurance, for businesses and consumers. We as a Government are using every lever at our disposal to bring down insurance costs. We have done a huge amount of work and I expect all of this work will pay dividends. The Judicial Council Act has passed, which means that once the new council is in place, it will establish a personal injuries guidelines committee comprising judges and mirroring the models in place in neighbouring jurisdictions. It will draw up the guidelines of the level of damages that should be awarded in personal injuries actions. This should promote consistency in the level of personal injuries damages awarded by the courts. These guidelines will replace the book of quantum.

I also note that comments made last month by the interim Insurance Ireland CEO, Mr. Gerry Hassett, that if award levels come down, so will premiums. This is the secret to success here. I believe the judicial council and the committee will make a huge difference to the price of insurance.

It is extremely important that the Minister and the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, engage with PIAB.

I remember when the PIAB was set up by the then Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Ms Mary Harney. It definitely made a difference at that time. There is no question but that insurance costs came down and that the cost of motor insurance for young people in particular fell. Unfortunately, the services of the PIAB are not being used as much as they should be and people are going to court, which is sad. This all goes back to the amounts being paid in respect of claims. The Minister referred to the judicial council. When will that be set up and when will it start its work? The quicker that is done, the quicker insurance claims will fall.

The Chief Justice is doing what he can to identify the steps that need to be taken to ensure that the judicial council and its relevant committees can hit the ground running once established. I expect that the council will be set up next year. As I understand it, it should be done very quickly because the law is passed and everything is in place.

The Deputy is right about the PIAB. We have increased its powers in order to ensure that there is greater compliance with its process. This is because the PIAB route is quicker and cheaper. I have said before that we need to change the culture because insurance claims should not be seen either as some type of windfall or as easy money. I am not taking away from genuine claims. There are genuine claims in respect of which compensation is deserved. I heard about a case - and I am sure the Deputy read about it as well - involving a woman who was asked at the checkout desk of a shop if she had paid for her shopping bag. She was so upset by the question that she decided to take a case and sought compensation of €75,000. That was outrageous but, thankfully, the judge dismissed that case, and rightly so.

IDA Ireland Jobs Data

Imelda Munster

Question:

40. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the steps she has taken to ensure that jobs created here by client companies of IDA Ireland are of decent quality and offer decent pay and conditions; if her Department maintains records regarding the pay scales relating to jobs offered by IDA Ireland companies; if not, whether she will consider same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50132/19]

I want to ask the Minister about the steps she has taken to ensure that jobs created here by client companies of IDA Ireland are of decent quality and offer decent pay and conditions. I also want to ask if her Department maintains records on pay scales relating to such jobs and, if not, whether she will consider ensuring that it does so in the future.

I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. Creating high-quality, well-paid and secure jobs, whether in indigenous or overseas firms, has been a top priority of mine ever since becoming Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

The multinational sector in Ireland continues to thrive, with new jobs being created in sectors including information and communications technologies, life sciences and financial and business services. Many of these positions involve sophisticated and knowledge-intensive activities, such as manufacturing, shared services activities and research and development.

The average salary of jobs created by the clients of IDA Ireland is €66,000 per annum. This is significantly higher than the national average wage of €46,000 per annum and reflects the high value nature of the roles in the firms concerned.

The strong salaries generally offered by multinational firms are only one of the benefits foreign direct investment, FDI, has for the Irish economy. Client companies of IDA Ireland also have a hugely positive effect on the local economy, with over eight jobs being created for every ten directly FDI-driven roles. Overseas firms also invest heavily in research and development and generate significant revenue for the Exchequer. It is also the case that many of the multinational firms in Ireland have been operating here for many decades. The jobs they provide, and the wider commercial activity they sustain across the economy, have therefore been vital in supporting families and communities for many years across our island.

The salaries offered by IDA Ireland client firms also reflect the capacity of our talented workforce. That has been internationally recognised again recently, with the International Institute for Management Development ranking Irish workers highly in terms of flexibility, adaptability and motivation. I know as well, from regularly meeting overseas firms that operate here, there is nothing they value higher than the quality of our people.

We have long been successful in attracting FDI, particularly through the work of IDA Ireland and by offering low corporation tax rates and other questionable tax incentives to foreign companies. In fact, we overly rely on FDI. Our economy is over-reliant on a small number of multinational corporations in the context of the tax take. Some 45% of the total corporation tax take for 2018 came from just ten companies, which shows how vulnerable the State would be if those companies were to jump ship.

I was interested to hear the Minister state that the average wage of a job created by IDA Ireland is €66,000 per annum because I found it hard to get that sort of information from IDA Ireland. I wrote to the latter seeking clarification seeking clarification on pay scales for employees in its client companies and was told that such information is not available. I was not seeking any personal or private details, I was looking for broad information on the pay scales to get an idea of the quality of the jobs being provided by IDA Ireland client companies. I do not see why this information would be denied to me. There is a difference between looking for the average wage and looking for the pay scales. Can the Minister explain why this difficulty is there and whether she stands over it? These companies are given funding by IDA Ireland so I do not see why they would not release information of that sort.

The average salary figure of €66,000 per annum I have given the Deputy is calculated using my Department's annual business survey of economic impact, which entails consulting with up to 4,200 companies across the country. However, neither my Department nor IDA Ireland has access to comprehensive information on the pay scales or salary levels within multinational companies in Ireland. As will be appreciated, details such as this are operational matters for firms themselves. There is no obligation, legal or otherwise, on companies to provide such information to my Department or to IDA Ireland. It is also the case companies are often reluctant, for reasons of commercial sensitivity, to making information widely available on the conditions or salaries they offer to their employees. What is clear, however, from the information available is the jobs being created by multinational firms are well paid on average and are well above the national average wage.

I know there is no legal obligation to provide that information but as companies in receipt of State funding, grants and questionable tax incentives, one would imagine that the Department or IDA Ireland would be delighted to give out the information on pay scales, even if only to prove they are providing quality jobs.

I want to give the Minister another example. National Pen in County Louth received €2.9 million in funding from IDA Ireland last year. So far, it has ignored a Labour Court recommendation to recognise a trade union for the purposes of collective bargaining. That recommendation was made two months ago and the company has continued to ignore attempts to even begin negotiations on that. The company received substantial funding from IDA Ireland, the workers are taxpayers and the Labour Court has made its recommendations. What does the Minister intend to do about this? Does she intend to do anything? I presume she does not just represent big business and that she also represents ordinary workers. What happens if the Labour Court makes a recommendation and a company in receipt of substantial State funding continues to ignore that recommendation and fails to engage in negotiations?

I am not familiar with the particular case the Deputy mentioned so I do not want to comment on it. However, FDI companies make a huge contribution. I only visited WuXi Biologics outside Dundalk three weeks ago. That company announced 200 new jobs in addition to the 400 jobs already announced. There will be 600 high-quality jobs in the biopharma space right on the Border in Dundalk. There will be 2,000 people employed next year during the construction phase.

The question related to a Labour Court recommendation.

I just want to tell the Deputy how important FDI is, especially in the Border region. She should go and look at that site. The development taking place there is amazing. Some 2,000 people will be employed on the site come January in light of the work due to be carried out.

They will be 600 high quality jobs and staff from throughout the region - Cavan, Monaghan, Meath and Louth - will work on construction and at the company. It represents investment of €500 million, which is a massive vote of confidence in the Border region.

Those jobs are welcome, but the Minister has not answered my question-----

The supplementary questions have been asked. The next question, Question No. 41, in the name of Deputy Troy, will be taken by Deputy Scanlon.

Small and Medium Enterprises

Robert Troy

Question:

41. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the timeline for the implementation of the recommendations emanating from the OECD review of SME and entrepreneurship policy in Ireland and the accompanying roadmap; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50375/19]

What is the timeline for the implementation of the recommendations emanating from the OECD review of SMEs and entrepreneurship policy in Ireland and the accompanying roadmap? Will the Minister make a statement on the matter? The OECD report on SME sales policy initiatives needs to be addressed in respect of finance issues; low productivity, start-up rates and uptake in management; training; and research and design incentives, as well as the adoption of digital technologies.

I launched the OECD review of SME and entrepreneurship policy in Ireland with the Minister of State, Deputy Breen, and the Deputy Secretary General of the OECD, Ulrik Vestergaard Knudsen, on 31 October 2019. The report is pivotal research on the current environment for SMEs and entrepreneurship in Ireland, the scale of which has not previously been undertaken. I am working with my Department officials on how best to progress implementation of the main recommendations in the OECD report and intend to bring forward a national strategic document for SME and entrepreneurship policy outlining planned policy interventions in the near future. The strategy will set out the policy vision, objectives, targets, lines of action and performance indicators specific to SMEs and entrepreneurship. It will cover all areas of policy intervention and all SME and entrepreneurship populations. The new SME and entrepreneurship strategy will be a living document that will continually evolve in line with enterprise needs.

My Department officials will drive forward with the policy formulation through the innovative new SME and entrepreneurship consultative group, chaired by my colleague, the Minister of State with responsibility for trade, employment, business, the EU digital Single Market and data protection, Deputy Breen. The new stakeholder group provides a platform for high-level, structured engagement among the Government, agencies, representative bodies and small businesses. The establishment of the SME and entrepreneurship consultation group is an important recommendation from the OECD review, which I have implemented.

The inaugural meeting of the SME and entrepreneurship consultation group took place on Wednesday, 27 March 2019 at the Royal College of Surgeons and it subsumes the functions of the former advisory group on small business. More than 40 stakeholders attended the inaugural meeting of the consultative group, and together with my officials, they will oversee the effective and efficient implementation of the OECD's recommendations.

What is the timeline for the implementation of the 11 specific actions the OECD outlined in its roadmap for SME and entrepreneurship policy in Ireland?

The OECD laid out a number of recommendations and we will develop the strategy. For example, only 6% of our SMEs export but we want to double the number as quickly as possible. We will scale up the training online voucher programme for SMEs, expand the exporter development department of Enterprise Ireland, EI, which assists companies, and beef up InterTradeIreland's grant support and funding advisory services. We will broaden the remit of the local enterprise offices, LEOs. The Deputy will be familiar with the LEO in his county of Sligo. I want to empower the LEOs to do more to help our indigenous sector. We want to increase management skills among SMEs because we have found that SME managers who have completed management skills courses are more focused on increasing productivity and embracing lean programmes across their businesses. We will also step up the financial skills and the knowledge among SMEs. The measures I have outlined are all part of Future Jobs Ireland, our whole-of-government strategy to prepare businesses and workers for the world of tomorrow.

I welcome what the Minister outlined. Given that the OECD has indicated that enterprises may fall between the cracks of eligibility for LEO or EI services, it is important that we support increasing the remit of the current LEO network to support firms of between ten and 249 employees that have limited or no export potential. We must secure such jobs as well as we can.

I am a great supporter of the LEOs, as is my colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Breen. They have done great work. We increased their budget by €5 million in budget 2019 and have introduced a number of new funds. In July, I announced two funds for the LEOs, one of which was a €2.5 million competitive fund, for which there were 16 successful projects. It was up to the LEOs to bid for the funds to support projects in their regions, many of which were collaborative. The LEOs have become good at working with one another. We do not want to see county boundaries but rather them working together.

The productivity challenge fund is worth €500,000. The LEOs work with a broader base of companies, such as those employing more than ten people and those in freight, transport and retail. I welcome the Deputy's comments on the LEOs.

IDA Ireland Jobs Data

Michael Collins

Question:

42. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number and location of jobs secured by the IDA in the past three years in south-west County Cork, in particular the three peninsulas and eight islands in west County Cork. [50344/19]

Will the Minister outline the number and locations of jobs the IDA has secured in Cork South-West in the past three years? I refer in particular to jobs on the three peninsulas and eight islands in west Cork.

No enterprise policy is more important than strengthening regional development, including through the growth of foreign direct investment, FDI. The Department is doing everything it can to increase and deepen FDI throughout the country. The energy and resources we have invested into that objective is, as the evidence illustrates, producing results. In 2018, for example, the IDA delivered 113 regional investments, with 56% of net new jobs created outside Dublin, while in the past four years, 44,500 new FDI-driven jobs have been created outside the capital. We will do our utmost to encourage further such job growth in all parts of Ireland in 2020 and beyond. 

Cork, which the Deputy mentioned, has traditionally been a strong performer in respect of FDI. The trend continues, with a steady and positive increase in employment numbers in IDA client companies in the county in recent years. Currently, there are 169 IDA client companies in Cork, employing approximately 39,000 people, while almost 2,100 net new jobs were added by multinational companies in 2018. There are many reasons companies choose to invest in Cork.  It is known for its high-quality technical workforce, its adaptability and its commitment to innovation. In the past 12 months, there have been some high-profile announcements from Cork-based IDA clients, including plans to create 100 new jobs at Forcepoint and 200 new jobs at Janssen Sciences in Ringaskiddy. There have also been a number of significant research and development announcements, including plans by Stryker to invest €200 million in a number of projects at three of its Cork facilities. These high-calibre investments are a great vote of confidence in Cork's workforce and a testament to the pro-enterprise environment fostered in the county.

As for the Cork peninsulas and islands, I assure the Deputy that the IDA, with the support of the Department, actively draws the attention of its clients to every region of Ireland through its network of offices in Ireland and overseas. The agency has a number of incentives in place to encourage companies to invest throughout Cork, including the provision of investment advice and expertise, hosting site visits and providing financial supports in the form of IDA grants.

I will focus on Cork South-West, the constituency I represent. It was an area where farming, fishing and the construction industry experienced something of a boom when times were good, but unfortunately all of these industries are going through a very difficult time.

Employment is scarce on the ground in Mizen Head, the Beara Peninsula, the Sheepshead Peninsula, Bantry, Skibbereen, Clonakilty and Bandon. I am interested in hearing what efforts the IDA has made in south-west Cork. People are travelling 60 or 70 miles to get work in the city. I would like employment to be brought back into towns and villages in west Cork. Has an effort been made in that regard by the IDA in the past number of years?

Deputy Collins also referred to the islands. As he knows, in the past month the Tánaiste and the Minister of State, Deputy Kyne, formally launched a consultative process which will formulate a new national policy for the future development of the islands. This will lead to the development of a national policy which will ensure our island communities are supported in a sustainable way for generations to come.

The IDA made 55 site visits to Cork this year. Due to commercial sensitivities, we do not have information on specific locations where site visits have taken place. Last year there were 61. We also need to realise how important indigenous industry is to west Cork. Deputy Collins mentioned tourism. The marine and maritime sector is extremely important.

Part of the regional enterprise plan launched by the Minister, Deputy Humphreys, last March is focused on the delivery of regional enterprise hubs, business clustering to ensure skills and talent are available and, as I said, supporting the maritime and marine industry which is synonymous with west Cork and provides a lot of industry. Tourism is an important industry in west Cork.

The unemployment figure for the area is currently 5.1%, a decrease from a high of 10.5% a few years ago. Cork has done really well and the future is positive for Cork. There are 24,500 more people working in south-west Cork than there were a number of years ago.

I thank the Minister of State. We discussed the islands, and their focus is very much on tourism. I attended the launch of the national policy on the islands, at which the Tánaiste and the Minister of State, Deputy Kyne, were in attendance. They were most welcome to Sherkin Island recently. Any focus on the islands is very welcome. Sherkin, Cape Clear, Bere, Whiddy and Dursey make superhuman efforts but they need extra resources from the Government, as do towns and villages in west Cork.

When I left earlier today it was alarming to see the lines of traffic from west Cork heading towards Cork city. It appears that the focus is on cities, which I have no issue with, but areas like Bandon, Skibbereen and Bantry need a greater focus to ensure that good jobs are created for people. People have to travel and are left with very little in their wage packets at the end of the week after travelling 60 or 70 miles every day.

The regional enterprise development fund is extremely important for the regions in Ireland and was initiated by our Department. The Minister, Deputy Humphreys, and I recently visited the Ludgate Hub and saw what Skibbereen can do. It is a very innovative project and a lot of micro enterprises are working out of it.

The regional enterprise development fund has benefited west Cork, together with other centres such as those in Macroom and elsewhere. There is a good news story to be told. We are of course working to ensure that balanced regional development continues, which is important and very much part of Project Ireland 2040. Regional enterprise plans have worked in the past and I believe they will continue to work in the future. It is about collaboration and working together with institutions. The Ludgate Hub and faster broadband are a template for more companies to work out of the area. West Cork is a beautiful area. As the Deputy said, tourism and the marine industry are important and contribute a lot to local industry.

Climate Change Policy

Eamon Ryan

Question:

43. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if her Department has had engagement with the task force on climate-related financial disclosures; and if she is considering promoting new auditing structures for businesses with regard to carbon emissions. [50376/19]

The task force on climate-related financial disclosure is one of the key initiatives to try to steer the enterprise sector towards supporting climate action. It was founded in 2015 and the first status report was released in 2017, with a further update this year. It is critical for Irish business to be at the head of this and leading rather than following, which is what is currently happening. I am keen to hear the view of the Minister and Department on this initiative, what they are doing to promote such disclosures and what we can do to try to make this happen in Ireland.

I thank the Deputy for raising this issue. While I am aware of the work of the task force on climate-related financial disclosures, TFCD, set up on the recommendation of the Financial Stability Board of the G20, I have not had any direct engagement with this group. My understanding is that the group has developed voluntary climate-related financial disclosures, recommended to complement the financial reporting and auditing process of large publicly-listed companies. They are to provide useful climate-related information to lenders, insurers and investors and so the Deputy may wish to look for further information from the Department of Finance or the Central Bank in that regard.

In 2017, I signed regulations transposing into Irish law directive 2014/95/EU on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups. The directive, referred to as the non-financial reporting directive, amended the EU accounting directive and placed new requirements for large companies or groups with more than 500 employees, including banks, insurance companies and large listed companies, to report annually on their policies in regard to environmental matters, social and employee matters, respect for human rights and bribery and corruption. These new rules took effect in Ireland for financial years starting on or after 1 August 2017.

I am aware that the EU Commission has further advised that the TFCD recommendations, while voluntary, are widely recognised as authoritative guidance on the reporting of financially material climate-related information and the Commission has encouraged financial regulators to implement them. It has provided guidance to companies on climate-related reporting that is consistent with the non-financial reporting directive and the recommendations of the TFCD. These are to assist companies in regard to their disclosures, including guidelines on climate related disclosures, in order that they can provide relevant, useful and concise reports. I understand that the Commission may consider a review of the directive with a view to addressing issues such as the availability and comparability of the non-financial information being disclosed.

It appears that Ireland is not connected to this at all. As far as I can see, only two companies are involved in any way in this process, AIB and the Euronext Dublin Stock Exchange. What are some of the large publicly quoted companies in this country? They all have significant climate risks. They include Glanbia, the Kerry Group, CRH and Ryanair, and have exposure because they are in high emissions businesses. It is in their interests to be up first, if they are not to face into a world where they will have difficulties in terms of their ability to raise finance, attract customers and avoid some of the costs that come with non-compliance with proper reporting. We should be ahead of the game rather than waiting for the Commission to make this sort of reporting mandatory.

I am not sure exactly what the Department can do in that regard. To be honest, I would be nervous about trying to involve the Department of Finance because I am looking at this from an enterprise strategy rather than a financial regulatory strategy point of view. It is important that Irish businesses wake up and realise that carrying an Origin Green band with no real disclosure on what they are actually doing from the field to a customer's fork and plate is no longer credible. The Kerry Group can sell a lot of baby powder, but if it is not disclosing where it is coming from and how it is working it is exposed as a company, just as are all large Irish companies. I encourage the Minister, on an enterprise strategy basis, to get active about this.

The enterprise sector has been tasked with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 10% to 15% by 2030.

The climate action plan identified that the largest reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can be realised in the cement and food and beverage industries. An uptake of 80% in the cement industry in using alternative fuels, such as waste, combined with an 80% uptake in a switch from oil to biomass and electricity in the food industry by 2030, would adequately reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet the industry target of a reduction of 10% to 15%. Enterprise will also contribute to the ambitious targets for buildings, that is a reduction of 20% to 25% by 2030, as well as a reduction in transport emissions of some 45% to 50% by 2030. That will be done via actions such as improving building energy performance and the replacement, over time, of commercial fleets with electric vehicles.

We are working closely with Enterprise Ireland and it is putting greater emphasis on environmental aid to help businesses to reduce their carbon footprint. Where we are providing finance and support to businesses, through Enterprise Ireland, we can ensure that those companies are making an improvement in their carbon footprint, such as via the use of combined heat and power equipment. It is good for businesses to improve and reduce their energy costs and to explore more initiatives to enable them be more environmentally-friendly. That makes sense.

That is important for enterprise and also for the finance community. If we look down the road just a little, AIB has stated that it is going green. Its neighbour, Barclays Bank, was cited recently by Mr. Bill McKibben, a famous climate campaigner, as one of the top ten worst banks and financial institutions for lending to the fossil fuel sector. That sector will increasingly be at risk as those assets risk becoming stranded assets. It was also interesting recently that a survey showed Dublin at the bottom of the table in the context of the green Irish Financial Services Centre, IFSC, and being ahead of the curve in low-carbon financing and lending. That survey found London and Amsterdam as the European bourses seeking to promote this idea the most.

The advantage of initiating the TFCD is that it would bring other expertise or pressure to bear on the funds, treasury management and derivatives sector of the financial services and lending industry in Ireland to ensure that they report their financial and risk exposure if they are still lending and-or trading in high-carbon assets. The IFSC is important to Dublin. Some 30,000 people work there and it needs to be at the top of the league in the context of agenda rather than playing catch-up or being Paddy last which I fear is the case now.

The enterprise agencies are focused on the transition to a green economy. Future Jobs Ireland is one of the ways we can help businesses transition to a low-carbon economy. If we examine some of the supports that enterprise agencies are rolling out, whether it is IDA Ireland or Enterprise Ireland, we can see programmes and initiatives such as lean-green, which encourages businesses to implement lean business principles, paired with good environmental management practices. There is also Enterprise Ireland's GreenPlus scheme , as well as the GreenStart programme targeted at SMEs to aid them with regulatory compliance. There are opportunities in the low-carbon environment for companies to find work and there are some fantastic indigenous companies exploring many energy-saving mechanisms. There is much investment in that research through the disruptive technologies innovation fund and many projects we have supported include climate energy and sustainability aspects.

Ireland, however, has many small enterprises. I do not want to put further burdens on those companies. Instead, I want to reduce it and particularly in the area of administration. We can encourage and support such enterprises to transition to the low-carbon economy because it is most certainly in their interests to make that change and we will get good results by working with them.