Public Procurement Contracts

Questions (240)

Damien English

Question:

240. Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to begin the process of reviewing the government form of contract which were introduced in 2007 to deal with cost and time overruns on large public sector projects the contracts which is now due to be reviewed by the GCCC under the aegis of his Department; if he will outline when the review will begin; if he will provide the name, title and Department of the individual members of the GCCC; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11195/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Fixed-price lump-sum public works contracts were introduced in February 2007 as part of the Construction Procurement Reform Initiative the objectives of which are to achieve greater cost certainty, better value for money and timely and more efficient delivery of projects. A commitment was given to the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) in 2006 by the Minister for Finance at that time that a review would be conducted by the Government Contracts Committee for Construction (GCCC) at an appropriate time when adequate experience had been obtained in the use of the new contracts by contracting authorities. Consideration was given to a review in 2010 but at the time it was agreed that insufficient numbers of contracts had reached final account stage to provide material for a review.

I am satisfied that sufficient projects have now reached agreed final account stage to conduct a review of the performance of the contracts. The CIF’s most recent request for a review is currently being considered and the arrangements about which the Deputy is enquiring will be decided shortly. The Government Construction Contracts Committee (GCCC) was set up under Section 11 of Circular 40/02 ‘Public Procurement Guidelines - revision of existing procedures for approval of certain contracts in the Central Government sector’, which reconfigured the existing arrangements for the Government Contracts Committee. The GCCC deals with public works procurement and related issues. The GCCC has key representatives from the main construction-related Departments and agencies including civil, building and administrative representation. Representatives on GCCC change from time to time, and the current list of members is set out in my reply to Parliamentary Question Ref. No. 7701/13 of 13 February 2013.

Departmental Properties

Questions (241)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

241. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will confirm whether a piece of land in Dublin 20 (details supplied) is currently under the control of the Department of Finance. [11208/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Commissioners of Public Works on behalf of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform are responsible for management of property under Sections 28,29,30 and 31 of the State Property Act; as a result of companies being dissolved either voluntarily or as a result of being struck off the Companies Register the assets of the company become vested in the Minister for Finance. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform can, if appropriate, waive his interest in property under Section 28 of the Act.

Under Section 28(2) of the State Property Act, 1954, personal property and land vested in or held in trust by a body corporate immediately prior to its dissolution, (other than personal property or land held by such body upon trust for another person) becomes property of the State in the person of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform until such time as the company is restored to the Register or the Minister waives (under Section 31 of the Act) the interest vested in him. This mechanism acts as a failsafe so that property is never ownerless. The Minister acquires an interest in property in the following circumstances:-

- the voluntary winding-up of companies;

- the involuntary liquidation of companies; and

- the striking off of companies from the Register of Companies.

The interest acquired by the Minister is described as a defeasible interest as it may be defeated by restoration of the company. Neither company nor property law require comprehensive and fully up-to-date asset records to be lodged with the Company Registration Office and the Property Registration Authority. Consequently, the only persons with a complete view of the assets held by a company at the time of its dissolution are the directors and officers of the company. As a result, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform only becomes aware that assets have vested in him by virtue of the State Property Act once an interested party has notified him.

In order to confirm that this land is vested in the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform a formal application should be forwarded to the Office of Public Works, in the first instance. This application will be referred to the Chief State Solicitor's Office who in order to assess the legal issues of the application will request all necessary information from the applicant/s. The Chief State Solicitor's Office will then advise the Minister. Finally, the Minister having regard to the legalities and merits of the application will then at his discretion decide whether to waive his interest or not.

Public Sector Pensions

Questions (242)

Clare Daly

Question:

242. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will reconsider the proposed pension cuts and if he will confirm the constitutionality of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2010 and the new legislation that will be required to implement the current proposed pension cut. [11221/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

To facilitate public service management in planning for staff departures in an orderly fashion, I have decided that public servants who retire before the end of August 2014 will have their pension and lump sum calculated by reference to current pay rates, that is, the rates before the pay reductions to higher pay which will apply from 1 July 2013. Separately I intend to bring forward proposals to reduce, with effect from 1 July 2013, pensions in payment above €32,500 through amendments to the Public Service Pension Reduction (PSPR). For serving staff, therefore, who will retire before end August 2014 on pensions of €32,500 or more, the effect of these measures will be to reduce their pension by the amount of the new Public Service Pension Reduction (PSPR) but their pension and lump sum will be unaffected by the pay reductions.

For the Deputy’s information, I can confirm that, in the context of the preparation of PSPR legislation legal advice obtained from the Attorney General indicated that it is possible to apply proportionate reductions to a broad class of existing pensions. Such a measure would, of course, have to accrue sufficient funds and take account of the fact that pension benefits are generally regarded as vested property rights, which must be considered in the public interest when taking action. The Office of the Attorney General will be consulted in the context of the preparation of amending legislation to give effect to the revised PSPR arrangements.

Constitutional Amendment on Children

Questions (243)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

243. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 294 of 20 November 2012 and 691 of 6 November 2012, if he will provide the total number of persons employed in the following roles in the children's referendum, special presiding officers, presiding officers, supervisory presiding officers and area inspectors, poll clerks, count supervisors, count calculators and counters. [11342/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The information the Deputy has requested is not available at this time. The Children’s Referendum was held on the 10th November, 2012. Returning Officers are required to submit their accounts for the Children’s Referendum to the Minister for Finance not later than six months after the date on which any poll was conducted.

Pension Provisions

Questions (244)

Michael McGrath

Question:

244. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if employees who, subject to the existing legislation, are currently subject to the pension levy and who pay pension contributions have an option of withdrawing from the relevant pension scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11353/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Pensions Act 1990, as amended, provides that pensions are vested after two years' pensionable service. This applies for all pension scheme members, whether in the public or private sector. Those who leave service prior to completion of the vesting period receive a refund of contributions. The Report of the Commission on Public Service Pensions considered the issue some years ago and recommended retention of compulsory enrolment for public service pensions. The Government accepted that recommendation and considers the current arrangements to be the most satisfactory way of providing for occupational pension coverage in the public service.

Legislative Programme

Questions (245)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

245. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when he intends to publish his amendments to the Construction Contracts Bill. [11404/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to introduce new legislation to protect small building subcontractors that have been denied payments from bigger companies. In this regard, I am working with Senator Feargal Quinn to develop the Senator’s private member’s Construction Contracts Bill into a robust piece of legislation. The Bill has passed Second Stage in the Dáil.

During the Second Stage reading of the Bill, I signalled to the House my intention to bring proposals to Government on Committee Stage amendments dealing with issues that would include:

- Thresholds: In order to ensure that the legislation applies to the majority of Construction Contracts the scope of the legislation will be broadened by reducing or removing the current monetary thresholds contained in the Bill.

- Adjudication:  This issue of making adjudication awards binding for both the public and private sectors is a complex issue.  It is important to strike the right balance between giving this legislation the necessary enforcement provisions, whilst ensuring that the application of the legislation is equitable and the taxpayer is safeguarded.

 When these and a number of other issues have been examined, I will shortly bring proposals to Government in advance of Committee Stage. This is an important piece of legislation aimed at creating a more level playing field between contractor and subcontractor in the construction sector. Therefore it is essential that these complex issues are properly assessed so as to avoid imposing unnecessary regulatory or cost burdens on parties in dispute, the State or others.

Garda Stations Refurbishment

Questions (246)

Denis Naughten

Question:

246. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if approval has been received for a project (details supplied) in County Roscommon; if approved, when will the work commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11456/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Proceeding with the external maintenance of Keadue Garda Station, Co. Roscommon in 2013 is under active consideration and it is expected that a decision will be made shortly in the matter.

Appointments to State Boards

Questions (247)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

247. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of appointments he has made from March 2011 to January 2013 to State boards; in the case of each appointment, the number of appointments that were made to members of the general public who submitted a curriculum vitae for the appointment; the number of direct appointments he made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11480/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

In response to the Deputy’s question I can confirm the following.

An Post National Lottery Board

There have been four appointees to the National Lottery Company Board from March 2011 up to January 2013. Two of the appointees were nominated by An Post and, in light of the fact that the term of the National Lottery License being due to expire in late 2013, two directors were re-appointed. Consequently, no appointments were made of members of the public who submitted Curriculum Vitae. The result is that there were four direct appointments.

Civil Service Arbitration Board

In the same period there have been five appointees to the Civil Service Arbitration Board. Appointments were made by Government following agreement with the staff side in accordance with the terms of the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme and will expire on 30 June 2014.

Public Appointments Service Board

In the same timeframe there have been eleven appointees to the Public Appointments Service Board who were all direct appointments. The Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act, 2004 states that the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (in consultation with Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, the Minister for Health and the Minister for Justice and Equality) should appoint members of the Board of the Public Appointments Service.

The Board is meant to be representative of our client base. The majority of the board is therefore civil or public servants, nominated by the relevant Minister. There is also a union representative nominated by ICTU. I reappointed the outgoing Chairman and the two external members were appointed because of their expertise in strategic change and public service recruitment respectively.

Public Sector Staff Redundancies

Question No. 249 answered with Question No. 233.

Questions (248)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

248. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans in respect of offering voluntary redundancies in the public sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11517/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Government has decided that voluntary redundancy will be introduced in certain targeted sections of the public service where staff surpluses are identified by management and where redeployment is not suitable. The purpose of the scheme is to aid Government in implementing restructuring and reform in a strategic and targeted manner. It is not proposed to introduce a general scheme open to all public servants to apply. As announced recently, voluntary redundancy is shortly being introduced in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and certain parts of the Health and Education Sectors where staff surpluses are identified by management. These Departments estimate that there will be scope to effect about 2,000 exits from their areas over time and are currently drafting plans detailing the locations and surplus posts to be targeted and the timing of exits.

There will be no automatic right to redundancy and all applications will be considered in the context of ongoing business needs and service provision priorities. Obviously, as voluntary redundancy is being targeted at areas with identified staff surpluses, there will not be replacement of the departing staff. The terms of any voluntary redundancy are as agreed between my Department and the Public Services Committee of ICTU in June 2012, a copy of which is available at http://per.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/Collective-Agreement-June-2012.pdf.

Question No. 249 answered with Question No. 233.

Garda Remuneration

Questions (250)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

250. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to invoke the inability to pay clause 1.28 of the Croke Park agreement for members of An Garda Síochána in view of the fact that they are not affiliated to the ICTU and not bound by any agreement between ICTU and the Government; the future role of the conciliation and arbitration scheme should legislation be implemented to cut Garda pay; and, with regard to allowances previously agreed under the conciliation and arbitration scheme, if he now intends not to abide by those decisions. [11522/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

In recent weeks, extremely difficult and complex discussions have taken place between public service management and public service staff representatives seeking agreement on a series of measures that will secure an additional €1 billion saving from the public service pay and pensions bill by 2015. These discussions concluded on Monday February 25th, with proposals being put forward by the Labour Relations Commission on a draft Agreement.

The convention has been that in tandem with discussions between the Government as employer and the Public Services Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) as representing public service staff on national agreements, a parallel process of discussions takes place with the staff representative associations in the defence sector and in An Garda Síochána respectively. Regrettably, the Garda associations chose to leave the discussions on this occasion.

The draft proposals from the Labour Relations Commission are now being considered by public service trade unions affiliated to the ICTU and other staff associations. It is only fair that trade unions and associations and their members have time to consider the proposals. The outcome of that process will emerge in due course. The draft proposals reaffirm paragraphs 1.23 to 1.27 of the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 (the Croke Park Agreement) and I have no current plans regarding paragraph 1.28.

The Conciliation and Arbitration schemes remain in place. Following the Review of Public Service Allowances and Premium Payments, a decision was taken by Government to make a number of changes to the public service allowance regime, including changes to certain Garda Síochána allowances. The follow up to the Review of Public Service Allowances and Premium Payments is, as set out in the new Agreement, to continue.

Tribunals of Inquiry Recommendations

Questions (251)

Patrick Nulty

Question:

251. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the steps that he has taken to implement the recommendations of the Moriarty tribunal since its publication nearly two years ago; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11039/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Moriarty Tribunal made two recommendations for changes to company law, as follows:

- That a provision similar to section 172 of the UK Companies Act, 2006 be adopted, together with the adoption of additional implementation or enforcement measures.

- That consideration be given by the Oireachtas, and/or by the Company Law Review Group, to enacting provisions similar to those contained in Part 14 of the UK Companies Act, 2006, governing the control of political donations and expenditure.

The Government considered that provisions in the Companies Bill 2012, which will consolidate and give a statutory footing to the duties of directors, meet the objectives of the first recommendation above. This Bill was published on 21 December 2012. With regard to the second recommendation above, provisions restricting corporate donations are contained in the Electoral Amendment (Political Funding) Act 2012, which comes within the remit of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.

Departmental Agencies Funding

Questions (252)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

252. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he is satisfied that adequate resources are being provided to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement to allow it to fully carry out its duties; if he will detail the budget for 2013 and the way this compares with the past ten years; if his attention has been drawn to any difficulties that may have arisen since March 2011 regarding the performance its duties as a result of funding constraints; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11523/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

My attention has not been drawn to any difficulties arising since March 2011 in relation to the performance of his functions by the Director of Corporate Enforcement, as a result of funding constraints. I am aware that the Office of the Director, in common with the other Divisions and Offices of my Department, participated in a Departmental Workforce Planning exercise in 2012. Notwithstanding the merits of the various submissions received, the moratorium on recruitment and the need to observe Employment Control Framework targets severely limit the capacity of my Department to respond, as requested. Staff assignments are made by reference to the priority needs of the Department and its offices as a whole. The following table shows the allocation to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement from 2003 to 2013.

Exchequer Grant

€000s

2003

3,828

2004

4,250

2005

4,538

2006

4,713

2007

4,823

2008

4,957

2009

5,535

2010

6,086

2011

5,967

2012

5,660

2013

5,355

Action Plan for Jobs

Questions (253)

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

253. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation when he expects action point 175 from the action plan 2013 to be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10950/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Within the Action Plan for Jobs 2013, I have committed to publish a National Entrepreneurship Policy Statement. As set out in the Table of Actions that was launched on 22 February 2013 with the Action Plan, the Policy Statement will be published in quarter 4 of 2013. To deliver on this commitment, the work programme will involve research and consultation with interested parties and relevant stakeholders. I will shortly be launching a public consultation as part of an assessment of the current environment for entrepreneurship activity.

This focus on entrepreneurship is particularly timely given the work currently being undertaken to restructure the County Enterprise Boards and establish Local Enterprise Offices in Local Authorities to reform the system for delivery of support to start-ups and micro enterprises. A National Entrepreneurship Policy Statement will complement this major reform programme, to ensure that the operating environment is more coherent, responsive and conducive to entrepreneurship. Several Government Departments have a role to play in enhancing the entrepreneurial dynamic. Given the whole of Government approach to the Action Plan for Jobs, this is an ideal opportunity for a National Entrepreneurship Policy Statement to underpin the importance of entrepreneurship as an explicit policy priority for fresh job creation.

IDA Portfolio

Questions (254)

Gerald Nash

Question:

254. Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the locations of all new Industrial Development Agency-led advance unit developments in 2011 and 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11130/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I am informed by IDA that the Agency did not deliver any advance units in 2011 or in 2012.

IDA’s property strategy has evolved and changed over the years. In the 1970s it was the prevailing view that to facilitate widely dispersed job creation and regional development it would be beneficial to have IDA-built advance factories available throughout the country. That view changed and throughout the 1980s partnership arrangements between public and private organisations were put in place to provide additional advance factory buildings. From the 2000s on, IDA has been disposing of its landlord interests in selected legacy buildings and its ownership of lands throughout the country. To fully align with IDA’s strategic objectives for the period 2010 to 2014, as outlined in its strategy document “Horizon 2020” the Agency is now primarily focussed on maintaining its Gateway Business and Technology Parks and strategic sites while simultaneously, disposing of its non-core property assets located in hub and other legacy locations around the country.

However, IDA has identified a marketing requirement for advanced technology building designs to assist with current and future project opportunities. Based on market feedback and experience, the type of building which offers the best solution is an approximately 2,300m² technology building, capable of expansion. This building type can serve the needs of both manufacturing and serviced based projects. Accordingly, IDA has lodged planning application for one such unit to be located in the IDA Business and Technology Park in Waterford and is in the process of making a submission to Westmeath County Council in respect of IDA Business and Technology Park in Athlone.

Employment Rights

Questions (255)

Colm Keaveney

Question:

255. Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide in tabular form a breakdown of the referrals to the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court under the Employees (Information and Consultation) Act 2006 and detail the information by year referred; the section of the act under which the referrals were made; the number of hearings scheduled; the number of hearings cancelled or withdrawn; the number of hearings adjourned or on hold; the number of determinations or recommendations issued; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11136/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I have supplied the details as requested in tabular form from 2006 to end of 2012 in relation to the Labour Court. The Labour Relations Commission (LRC) is not in a position to compile the requested information within the above timeframe; however, it has undertaken to provide this information and I will revert to you shortly when I have received this information from the LRC.

Year

No of Referrals

Section

Hearings Scheduled

Hearings

Cancelled/Withdrawn

Hearings Adjourned/On Hold

Determinations Issued

2006

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

2007

1

15(1)

1

Nil

Nil

1

2008

1

15(1)

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

2009

1

15(1)

1

Nil

Nil

1

2010

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

2011

1

15(1)

1

Nil

Nil

1

2012

5

15(5)

5

Nil

Nil

Nil

IDA Site Visits

Questions (256)

John Halligan

Question:

256. Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of Industrial Development Authority site visits made to Waterford in 2011 and 2012; if he will clarify the number of those visits that were to Waterford city and the number to Dungarvan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11289/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I am informed by IDA Ireland that in the two year period from the beginning of 2011 to the end of 2012, the Agency sponsored a total of 37 site visits by potential investors to Waterford city and county. There were 26 such visits during 2012 and 11 during 2011. This compares with a total of 19 visits in the previous two year period (11 in 2010 and 8 in 2009). These site visits were from new companies visiting the location for the first time and also from senior executives of existing client companies. For reasons of client confidentiality and commercial sensitivity IDA does not comment on site visits by individual companies or on site visits to specific locations.

As Ireland competes for high quality investments, the concept of scale is crucial. Leading global corporations require a significant population pool, access to qualified talent, world standard physical and digital infrastructure coupled with the availability of sophisticated professional and business support services. I am, however, mindful of the concerns that have been expressed by Deputies on all sides of the House about the relatively low level of site visits to certain regional locations and I have raised this matter with the CEO of IDA Ireland with a view to exploring what further initiatives can be taken to influence potential investors to invest in such locations.

I am mindful, also, that in order to ensure that Ireland can continue to compete globally for FDI, it will be necessary to undertake an in depth analysis of our FDI strategy with a view to informing the formulation of an appropriate strategy for the period post 2014. This analysis, which will be undertaken later this year, will take account of factors such as key trends emerging in FDI best practice internationally, Ireland’s strengths in attracting FDI, any changes to the EU’s State Aid rules that may be introduced in the near future and our agreed approach to regional development. In the meantime, IDA Ireland has assured me that it will in 2013, in accordance with the Government’s recently announced 2013 Action Plan for Jobs, seek to target more than 130 new investments, secure €500 million of R&D expenditure and create 13,000 new jobs in its client companies.

IDA Portfolio

Questions (257)

John Halligan

Question:

257. Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of vacant properties currently being leased by the Industrial Development Agency in Waterford city; the number being leased in County Waterford; if he will identify the location of each of those properties; if he will further state the timeframe each property has been lying idle; if he will provide details of the outstanding balance payable on each of those leases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11290/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Under legislation the management of IDA’s property function is a day to day operational matter for the Agency and not one in which I have a function. I am informed by IDA that at present the Agency has seven leased properties in Co Waterford, all of which are located in the Johnstown Industrial Estate. Of these seven properties only one is occupied. Of the remaining six unoccupied units, one unit has been vacant since 1998, two have been vacant since 1999, two have been vacant since 2000, and one has been vacant since 2001. The total outstanding balance payable on these leases to the end of their terms is approximately €1m. The Agency has assured me that it continually promotes and markets these properties to overseas clients wishing to invest in Co. Waterford.