IBRC Liquidation

Question No. 226 answered with Question No. 224.

Questions (225)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

225. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if he will outline what will happen to the mortgages of citizens in the now defunct Irish Bank Resolution Corporation and Irish nationwide; his views on whether these mortgage holders will have their loans transferred to another financial institution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10254/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised that the contractual terms and conditions of customer mortgages and other borrowings will not change as a result of the appointment of the Special Liquidators and all debts owing to IBRC will remain due and enforceable. It is important that, to avoid breaches of their obligations, customers continue to make payments on their loans and otherwise honour the contractual obligations of their borrowings. As part of the role of the liquidators, the assets of IBRC will be valued independently before being sold. Any assets not sold to third parties (including loan counterparties and other financial institutions) at or above the valuation price will be sold to NAMA at the independent valuation. The Special Liquidators are still in the process of devising and implementing a sales process in respect of IBRC’s assets including the mortgage portfolio.

Question No. 226 answered with Question No. 224.

State Banking Sector

Questions (227)

Michael McGrath

Question:

227. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of retired executives of AIB including EBS who have been written to by the bank asking that they consider voluntarily forgoing a portion of their pension; the number who responded positively, negatively, or not at all; the number of the retired executives who have since actually foregone some of their pension entitlement and the overall value of the pensions entitlements that have been foregone by retired executives of the bank. [10296/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Deputy will be aware that AIB has previously confirmed that it has written to former senior executives of both AIB and EBS Limited requesting a voluntary reduction in their pension levels.

The Bank has informed me that is not disclosing the names of these individuals on confidentiality grounds, but that it has to date issued in excess of thirty letters. AIB is not in a position to release information on former employees without the express consent of the individuals.

Given this is an on-going complicated process from a tax, legal and Revenue perspective the Bank is not in a position to confirm the levels of reductions achieved to date.

State Banking Sector

Questions (228)

Michael McGrath

Question:

228. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of retired executives of Bank of Ireland, if any that have been written to by the bank asking that they consider voluntarily foregoing a portion of their pension; the number that responded positively, negatively, or not at all; the number of the retired executives have since actually foregone some of their pension entitlement; and the overall value of the pensions entitlements that have been foregone by retired executives of the bank. [10297/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As the Deputy is aware, I have no role in the day-to-day commercial and operational decisions of Bank of Ireland. These decisions are taken by the board and management of the institution. Notwithstanding the fact that the State is a minority shareholder in Bank of Ireland, the Minister must ensure that the bank is run on a commercial, cost effective and independent basis to ensure the value of the banks as assets to the State, as per the Memorandum on Economic and Financial Policies agreed with the EU Commission, the ECB and the IMF. The Relationship Frameworks with the banks provide that the State will not intervene in the day-to-day operations of the banks or their management decisions.

These frameworks are published on the Department of Finance website at http://banking.finance.gov.ie/presentations-and-latest-documents/.

The Bank has advised me:-

"that it has commenced a process of engagement in connection with the deficits in defined benefit pension schemes to which the Bank is sponsor.

The Bank will not be commenting on aspects of this engagement unless it considers it necessary to do so as part of the wider engagement process or is considered appropriate as a market reporting obligation or a market update objective."

State Banking Sector

Questions (229)

Michael McGrath

Question:

229. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of retired executives of Permanent TSB, if any that have been written to by the bank asking that they consider voluntarily foregoing a portion of their pension;the number that responded positively, negatively, or not at all; the number of retired executives that have since actually foregone some of their pension entitlement and the overall value of the pensions entitlements that have been foregone by retired executives of the bank. [10298/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Permanent TSB that the bank has not to date written to retired executives asking them to consider forgoing a portion of their pensions. However the bank has also advised that it is currently undertaking a fundamental review of its staff pension schemes and will be consulting with the staff and the pension scheme trustees over the coming months on the level of benefits payable from the schemes.

IBRC Staff

Questions (230)

Michael McGrath

Question:

230. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of retired executives of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation in special liquidation, if any that had been written to by the bank prior to the appointment of a special liquidator asking that they consider voluntarily foregoing a portion of their pension; the number that responded positively, negatively, or not at all; the number of the retired executives that have since actually foregone some of their pension entitlement and the overall value of the pensions entitlements that have been foregone by retired executives of the bank. [10299/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I have been informed that as far as the Special Liquidators are aware, retired executives had not been written to by IBRC requesting that they consider voluntarily foregoing a portion of their pension.

Tax Code

Question No. 232 answered with Question No. 212.

Questions (231)

Seamus Healy

Question:

231. Deputy Seamus Healy asked the Minister for Finance if he will outline the details of the legislation underpinning the importation of motor homes here; the details of changes made in recent years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10320/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the provisions in primary legislation relating to the importation of motor homes and the charging of Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) are contained in the Finance Act 1992. Statutory Instrument No. 318 of 1992 (as amended by S.I. 400 of 2010) requires that a person, who is not an authorised person, and who imports a vehicle, must have the vehicle examined not later than 7 days after its arrival in the State. The vehicle must be registered not later than 30 days after its arrival in the State. An appointment to have the vehicle examined should be made at a National Car Testing Centre, details of which are contained on the Revenue website at http://www.revenue.ie/en/tax/vrt/faqs-vrt.html#section3.

Section 130 of the Finance Act 1992 (as amended by Section 102 of the Finance Act 2010) provided for the introduction, from 1 January 2011, of a revised classification system for the assessment of VRT. This system uses the EU classification system for motor vehicles. Under this system, motor homes with an EU vehicle classification of M (“motor vehicles designed and constructed primarily for the carriage of persons and their luggage”) and EU body type SA (“Special Purpose Vehicles, motor caravans”) are charged VRT at 13.3% of the open market selling price of the vehicle in the State.

Prior to the adoption of the EU vehicle classification system in 2011, motor homes were charged VRT on the basis of a combination of factors including unladen weight and height. Depending on its specifications, a motor home could have been classified as a Category A (higher rate of VRT), Category B (lower rate of VRT) or Category C (fixed amount of VRT) vehicle.

Question No. 232 answered with Question No. 212.

Property Taxation Application

Questions (233)

Seán Kyne

Question:

233. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Finance if he will, in the interests of impartial information provision and clarity, request that Revenue ensure that the letters to be distributed to property owners outlining their estimated local property tax liability will also contain the exact band into which their property falls which has been used to calculate the liability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10420/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 sets out how the tax is to be administered, how a residential property is to be valued for LPT purposes and provides for the making of a Revenue Estimate. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that LPT is a self-assessment tax, so in the first instance, it is a matter for the property owner to calculate the tax due based on his or her assessment of the chargeable value of the property. I would like to clarify that the Revenue Commissioners will not be involved, as a matter of routine, in valuing individual properties. As part of the general issue of Returns, beginning in March 2013, property owners will also receive an information booklet and a Revenue Estimate of LPT. The Revenue Estimate is not based on a valuation of each owner’s individual property, nor should it be regarded as an accurate calculation of the amount of LPT that they should pay. Once the property owner meets his or her obligations by valuing the property, submitting the Return and advising Revenue of his or her payment method within the relevant time limits, the Revenue Estimate of LPT notified to the owner is no longer relevant. However, if the property owner considers that the amount shown on the Notice of Estimate accurately reflects his or her self-assessment, he or she should complete the Return on that basis, select a payment option and submit the Return.

The Commissioners are actively preparing valuation guidance which, taken together with the owner’s own knowledge of the property, will assist him or her in assessing its value. The guidance will include an on-line guide that will provide indicative property valuation bands depending on the property type, age and location, and it will be available on the Revenue website prior to the issue of Returns to property owners. The guidance will also draw property owners’ attention to the publicly available property price register produced by the Property Services Regulatory Authority which provides an actual sales price for all properties sold in the State since January 2010. As I have previously advised the House, where the Revenue guidance is used in an honest manner, the property valuation made by a property owner will not be challenged by Revenue in accordance with its normal Customer Service Charter.

Broadband Services Provision

Questions (234)

Derek Nolan

Question:

234. Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the time frame within which schools in County Galway will be connected to high speed broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9776/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

All recognised post primary schools in Galway have been connected to the Schools High Speed 100 Mbit/s Broadband Network, with the exception of Gairmscoil Fheichin Naofa, Corr na Mona, which is due to be installed by early March 2013.

Under the Schools Broadband Access Programme the Department provides for the supply of internet connectivity for all recognised primary schools in Galway. All contracts under the Schools Broadband Access Programme were recently re-tendered under a public procurement competition. As a result of this the number of service providers has been expanded from 6 to 13 with the aim of ensuring that where available that a preferred solution would be awarded to a school. These contracts were signed in the summer and the migration of schools onto the new services is currently under way.

The Department is aware of the difficulty that some schools have with their broadband service. Through the public procurement process the Department has sought as far as possible to reduce the reliance on slower services and the number of schools reliant on a satellite connection has fallen from approximately 1,800 in 2005 to approximately 250 at present. Satellite connections and some other slower connections have only been awarded where no other solution was proposed and contracts for these connections have only been awarded for one year. In the case of Galway there are 4 schools connected by satellite. These schools will be re-tendered next summer and in the interim the Department will liaise with service providers to try and ensure that where possible improved connections will be made available.

Teachers' Remuneration

Questions (235)

Dara Calleary

Question:

235. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that PRSI contributions in respect of accrued holiday pay, covering actual school holiday weeks, is not appearing on substitute teachers' P60s at the end of the financial year; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Department of Social Protection is counting such holiday weeks in the case of substitute teachers therefore denying such teachers the opportunity of receiving credits (details supplied); if he will acknowledge that this situation is leaving such teachers in a precarious position in respect of their future pensions and or social welfare claims; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9542/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In the case of teachers who obtain part-time hours in a casual /non-casual capacity in post primary schools, the rate of pay is based on the annual rates of pay divided by 735 hours (maximum teaching contact hours per annum) to get an hourly rate, as opposed to the annual rate of pay divided by 365 and multiplied by the hours worked plus 8% holiday pay. This ensures that qualified part-time teachers are paid the equivalent of the full time rate of pay over the shorter period of time. The rate was agreed in negotiations with the teacher unions.

PRSI contributions are deducted for periods of employment. Part time casual and non-casual teachers are not employed during school holiday periods and therefore PRSI contributions are not paid for these periods.

Student Grant Scheme Design

Questions (236)

Michael McGrath

Question:

236. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 317 of 5 February 2013, and in the context of whether an applicant can be considered appropriate for assessment as an independent mature candidate, if the year of first entry to an approved course means the year of entry to a postgraduate course if that is the course the applicant is now pursuing following completion of an undergraduate course or if it always refers to the year of entry to the undergraduate course. [9558/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

In the absence of all of the details that would be contained in an individual's application form, it is not possible for me to say how a student should be assessed.

However, from the scenario presented by the Deputy, it would appear that the student is progressing from an undergraduate to a postgraduate course. In such circumstances, the year of entry for student grant purposes means the year of entry at undergraduate level.

School Enrolments

Questions (237)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

237. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding school places in an area (details supplied) in Dublin 3; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9571/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The question of enrolment in individual schools is the responsibility of the managerial authority of those schools. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking places. In that regard, during the past two years my Department has provided funding towards additional accommodation and refurbishment works to both of the schools referred to by the Deputy. These projects have now been completed.

It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of schools that are not in a position to admit all pupils seeking entry to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act 1998. In this regard a board of management may deem it necessary to restrict enrolment to children from a particular age group or to children living in a particular area or on the basis of some other criterion. Some schools use parish or other boundaries for this purpose.

The selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based is matter for the individual school authority. In formulating an enrolment policy a school must, however, ensure it is lawful and applied fairly to all applicants.

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

Section 29 of the Education Act 1998, provides parents with an appeal process where a board of management of a school or a person acting on behalf of the Board refuses enrolment to a student. Where a school refuses to enrol a pupil, the school is obliged to inform parents of their right under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 to appeal that decision to either the relevant Vocational Educational Committee or to the Secretary General of my Department.

The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The Board can be contacted at National Educational Welfare Board, National Headquarters, 16-22 Green Street, Dublin 7 or by telephone at 01-8738700.

Teacher Training Provision

Questions (238)

Joe Carey

Question:

238. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reasons for the change in procedure whereby B.Ed students of a college (details supplied) in County Limerick now pay for two weeks attendance at Irish College during first and second year when this cost was included in colleges fees heretofore; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9626/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As part of the Government's budgetary considerations and the Comprehensive Expenditure Review carried out in 2011, a decision was made to abolish the payments by this Department towards the cost of attendance at Gaeltacht courses by students commencing their programme of primary initial teacher education. The decision came into effect for the 2012/13 academic year. As the Deputy will be aware, priority is being given to protecting resources for front line services in the coming years.

To assist with the costs of the Gaeltacht placement, primary initial teacher education students who are in receipt of a student grant which includes a 100% fee grant, or who would have qualified for a full fee grant but for the Free Fees Schemes, can apply for funding towards travel and accommodation costs under the field trip element of a fee grant, subject to the normal terms and conditions of the student grant scheme.

Apart from the student grant system, in circumstances of particular need students may apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund which assists students in third-level institutions in exceptional financial need. Information on the fund is available through the Access Officer in the third level institution attended.

Redundancy Payments

Questions (239)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

239. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost of redundancy payments to special needs assistants in primary schools for the past five years; if he will provide a numerical breakdown of the number of SNAs made redundant in each of those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9632/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Details on the cost of redundancy payments and the number of SNAs who received a redundancy payment annually for the years 2008-2012 is contained in the attached document. These figures include both full redundancy payments and compensation for loss of hours ('partial redundancies').

It is not possible to give an exact breakdown of the redundancy payments between the Primary and Post Primary levels but, on average, 87% of all redundancy payments are issued to those in Primary schools with the remaining 13% issued to those in Post Primary schools.

The attached figures do not include redundancy payments issued to SNAs in VEC schools. This information would have to be obtained by the Deputy from the individual VECs.

SNA Redundancy Payments

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

Number of Payments

261

304

419

620

1,252

Amount Paid in Redundancy Payments

€1,806,920

€2,477,805

€2,908,684

€4,926,326

€10,116,505

Disadvantaged Status

Questions (240)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

240. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) in County Donegal is not currently designated for DEIS; if the school has applied in recent times for DEIS in order to be designated for DEIS status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9690/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Following an independent identification process in 2005, 875 schools were selected for inclusion in DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools).

The school to which the Deputy refers was among a number of schools that was judged not to have a sufficient level of disadvantage to warrant inclusion in DEIS. Furthermore, an appeal by this school to the independent review body confirmed that the level of disadvantage did not warrant the school's inclusion in the DEIS process.

My Department has not received an application for inclusion in DEIS since the appeal was made in 2006.

A key priority for my Department is to continue to prioritise and target resources in schools with the most concentrated levels of educational disadvantage. That challenge is significant given the current economic climate and the target to reduce public expenditure. This limits the capacity for any additionality, or inclusion of further schools, in the DEIS programme.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

Questions (241)

John McGuinness

Question:

241. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a full maintenance grant will be approved by Student Universal Support Ireland in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow. [9719/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland that the student referred to by the Deputy has had his application reviewed and a revised award letter issued on 20th February 2013.

School Accommodation

Questions (242)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

242. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding additional classrooms for a school (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9739/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The school referred to by the Deputy has recently been approved devolved funding to build a 2 classroom extension under my Department's Additional Accommodation Scheme 2013.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

Questions (243)

Tom Fleming

Question:

243. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will expedite a student grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9777/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland, that on 12th February 2013, a request for further documentation was issued to the student referred to by the Deputy. When the requested documentation is returned the student will be notified directly of the outcome.

Teacher Recruitment

Questions (244)

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

244. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to make sure graduate teachers are offered substitution positions in preference to retired teachers when there is availability of graduate teachers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9813/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Circular 31/2011 details a cascade of measures for recruitment of teachers, prioritising unemployed registered teachers over retired registered teachers and registered teachers over unregistered persons. It is important to note that schools themselves employ teachers and not the Department of Education and Skills. Ultimately, the decision lies with the principal or board of management of the school.

Under the current Circulars, 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.

From January 2011 teachers who are in receipt of a pension and who return to teaching are remunerated at the first point of the relevant salary scales applicable to new entrants. This 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.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (245)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

245. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a higher education grant was not awarded to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11; if he will address the points raised by this applicant that this student is totally independent of their parent but fail to qualify for higher education grant assistance based on their means; if the regulations governing the grant assessment and payment are wholly unfair in this case; if there are exceptions to the provision; and if a grant will be awarded to this person. [9846/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will appreciate that in the absence of all of the relevant details that would be contained in an individual's application it would not be possible for me to say whether or not a student should qualify for a grant.

However, to be assessed independently of their parents, students under the age of 23 must present compelling independent evidence of estrangement to the grant awarding authority. The type of independent evidence includes a letter from a social worker or other appropriate officer of the Health Service Executive explaining the circumstances of the estrangement. Confirmation that a candidate is living separately from his/her parents/guardians is not sufficient.

If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to the appeals officer in SUSI.

Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by SUSI, and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grant Appeals Board.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (246)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

246. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has identified a site or has plans to relocate a school (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9853/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The school, referred to by the Deputy, has applied to my Department for large scale capital funding. The current status of all projects on the school building programme, including the school in question, may be viewed on my Department's website at www.education.ie and this is being updated regularly throughout the year.

As outlined in the Five Year Plan that I announced on 9 March 2012 last, the delivery of major school projects required to meet demographic demand will be the main focus for capital investment in the coming years. Due to the financial constraints imposed by the need to prioritise available funding to meet future demographic demands, it has not been possible to advance all applications for capital funding concurrently. The Deputy will appreciate that the primary aim at the core of the Five Year Plan, is to ensure that every child will have access to a physical school place.