Local Authority Staff

Questions (185)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

185. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he is concerned with absenteeism levels in local authorities, as per the Service Indicators in Local Authorities Report; the estimated annual cost of absenteeism in local authorities, if he has a breakdown by local authority area; the way he plans to tackle this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18084/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

Figures related to the cost of absenteeism are not available in my Department. The Local Government Sector has used Service Indicators to monitor sick leave for a number of years. Based on figures reported by local authorities, the total number of days lost in the sector to absenteeism rose slightly from 346,750 in 2010 to 350,224 in 2011. A significant quantum of the sick leave reported also includes unpaid sick leave where individuals are on long-term sick leave.

The nature of work carried out by front-line local authority staff also has an impact on absenteeism levels. Front-line services include fire and ambulance services, roads, environment, water and drainage services, parks and recreation and leisure services, housing services including homeless and welfare services. By their nature, these services can lead to occupational injury. The front-line nature of local authority service delivery differentiates it from office based activities of certain other areas of the public service. There is no specific Occupational Injury Scheme in place in the sector compared to other sectors (e.g. Gardaí, Health, Prison Service) and any occupational injuries arising are reckoned and reported as general sick leave.

Local authority managers are taking a proactive role in attendance management. Despite very challenging pressures in recent years, where the sector has reduced staffing levels by 8,900 WTE (24%), there has been an increased emphasis on improved reporting and better systems. An Attendance Management Policy and Procedure was issued to the sector in 2006 and revised and updated in 2011, including a resource pack for managers aimed at assisting local authorities in maintaining and / or improving attendance levels and ensuring consistency of practice throughout the sector.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Status

Questions (186)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

186. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the current position with the Burncourt Regional Water Treatment System in South Tipperary; if the residents of this area who are subjected to using bottled water due to the condition of the water will be exempt from water charges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18125/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Burncourt and Fethard Regional Water Supply Scheme Water Treatment Plants (Burncourt and Gortnapisha) Contract is included in my Department’s Water Services Investment Programme 2010 – 2013, as a contract to commence during the life of the Programme. In addition, further network elements of the scheme are included to advance through planning during the same period.

I approved the contract documents for the Water Treatment Plants DBO Contract for the Burncourt and Fethard Regional Water Supply Scheme in July 2012. I understand that South Tipperary is in the process of seeking tenders for the contract.

Building Regulations Application

Question No. 188 answered with Question No. 183

Questions (187)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

187. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will report on housing building standards and in particular the current insulation and energy standards applicable to new housing here; if he will advise as to the most modern and sustainable standards currently available; when the current standards were last reviewed; his plans to upgrade or recalibrate those standards to ensure new housing here is energy efficient or zero-energy efficient in the context of increasing energy bills for homeowners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18151/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to further improve the energy efficiency of new buildings with a view to moving towards carbon neutral homes in the longer term. In tandem with this commitment, Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings requires EU Member States, inter alia, to ensure that all new buildings will be nearly zero-energy by 31 December 2020 (or by 31 December 2018 in the case of new buildings owned and occupied by public authorities). The Directive broadly defines a ‘nearly zero-energy building’ as a building with a high energy performance where the very low amount of energy required should, to a very significant extent, be met by energy from renewable sources, including renewable energy produced onsite or nearby.

Against this background, Ireland has been making significant progress in terms of both improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon dioxide emissions within the built environment. The statutory minimum energy performance standards (including insulation requirements) for dwellings are addressed under Part L of the building Regulations and the accompanying Technical Guidance Document (TGD L Dwellings). Taking the energy efficiency requirements established in 2005 as the benchmark, the Building Regulations (Part L Amendment) Regulations 2007 set the requirements necessary to achieve a 40% improvement (over the 2005 standards) in the energy and carbon performance of new dwellings. These regulations came into effect on 1 July 2008 subject to certain transitional arrangements.Energy performance requirements were further upgraded under the Building Regulations (Part L Amendment) Regulations 2011, and the accompanying TGD L Dwellings 2011 sets out the current minimum energy performance and insulation requirements. These regulations came into effect on 1 December 2011 and build on the substantial improvements already introduced under the 2007 regulations by delivering a 60% aggregate improvement (relative to 2005 standards) in both the energy and carbon performance of new buildings. Part L 2011 marks an important step on the road to carbon neutrality and puts Ireland at the forefront of EU Member States in terms of energy efficiency standards for new dwellings. All the signs indicate that Irish builders and manufacturers continue to innovate and adapt their approaches and products to meet new standards as they continue to evolve progressively over time. This is important in terms of continuing the development of the market for energy efficient buildings and products domestically while also increasing the considerable potential that exists for high energy efficiency products in export markets. The on-going review of regulations is important in maintaining the momentum that has already been created in this regard.

My Department is also working on the development of a framework for achieving a nearly zero energy framework for dwellings in order to meet our obligations under Directive 2010/31/EU within the prescribed timeframe. It is anticipated that the nearly zero energy framework for dwellings will require further amendments to the building regulations over and above the recent Part L 2011 requirements.

Question No. 188 answered with Question No. 183.

Leader Programmes Applications

Questions (189)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

189. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of projects approved by Leader companies of more than €150,000 value that are awaiting approval; the date each was submitted to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18156/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

Funding of €314m is available under the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2007-2013 for allocation to qualifying projects up to the end of 2013. There are 35 Local Action Groups (LAGs) contracted, on my Department’s behalf, to deliver the RDP throughout the country and these groups are the principal decision-makers in relation to the allocation of project funding. Such decisions are made in the context of the local development strategy of the individual groups and in line with Departmental operating rules and EU regulations.

Projects that request funding of €150,000 or more are required to seek approval from my Department. The assessment of these higher value projects usually involves detailed consultations between my Department and the relevant local development company. It frequently necessitates the provision of further documentation or clarifications. It may also, in some instances, result in modifications to the project proposed to ensure best value for money and compliance with all the necessary regulations, both national and European, governing the activities funded under the programme. My Department currently has 52 projects at various stages of assessment and the LAGs that have projects currently undergoing assessment are listed below.

The policy in my Department is to work with the LAGs to ensure that the projects submitted are fully compliant and can be approved rather than to refuse approval for funding; it can therefore take some time to come to a final conclusion. My Department will continue to work with the relevant LAGs to make a full assessment of the eligibility of these projects and will advise the LAGs once all queries have been addressed satisfactorily.

LAG

Date Received

Grant aid requested

Stage

Ballyhoura Development Ltd

10/10/2012

€500,000.00

Under Assessment

Cill Dara Ar Aghaidh Teo

22/01/2013

€200,000.00

Under Assessment

Cill Dara Ar Aghaidh Teo

01/03/2013

€200,000.00

Under Assessment

Clare Leader

18/01/2013

€230,000.00

Under Assessment

Clare Leader

18/01/2013

€200,000.00

Awaiting Info

Donegal Local Development Co Ltd

21/12/2012

€200,000.00

Under Assessment

Fingal LEADER Partnership Co

30/10/2012

€493,385.02

Awaiting Info

Fingal LEADER Partnership Co

21/12/2012

€494,938.81

Under Assessment

Forum Connemara

23/08/2012

€431,887.50

Under Assessment

Forum Connemara

11/02/2013

€324,766.19

Under Assessment

Galway Rural Development

25/01/2013

€239,949.46

Under Assessment

Galway Rural Development

25/01/2013

€156,914.04

Under Assessment

Kilkenny LEADER Partnership

03/04/2013

€200,000.00

Awaiting Info

Kilkenny LEADER Partnership

03/04/2013

€205,867.43

Under Assessment

Kilkenny LEADER Partnership

05/11/2012

€428,868.75

Awaiting Info

Kilkenny LEADER Partnership

12/11/2012

€200,000.00

Awaiting Info

Kilkenny LEADER Partnership

04/12/2012

€300,000.00

Under Assessment

Kilkenny LEADER Partnership

16/01/2013

€268,125.00

Under Assessment

Kilkenny LEADER Partnership

16/01/2013

€497,212.87

Under Assessment

Kilkenny LEADER Partnership

16/01/2013

€225,000.00

Under Assessment

Kilkenny LEADER Partnership

16/01/2013

€255,384.18

Under Assessment

Leitrim Integrated Development Co Ltd

20/02/2013

€376,641.00

Under Assessment

Leitrim Integrated Development Co Ltd

25/02/2013

€318,130.01

Under Assessment

Mayo North East LEADER Partnership

03/10/2012

€194,725.50

Under Assessment

Mayo North East LEADER Partnership

03/11/2011

€196,386.75

Under Assessment

Mayo North East LEADER Partnership

11/03/2011

€180,000.00

Under Assessment

Meath Partnership

14/03/2013

€200,000.00

Under Assessment

Meath Partnership

19/03/2013

€200,000.00

Under Assessment

Meath Partnership

19/03/2013

€196,934.79

Under Assessment

North Tipperary LEADER Partnership

16/07/2012

€407,675.25

Awaiting Info

North Tipperary LEADER Partnership

18/01/2013

€199,993.63

Under Assessment

Roscommon Integrated Development Co

27/02/2013

€196,925.00

Under Assessment

Roscommon Integrated Development Co

05/03/2013

€155,880.00

Under Assessment

Roscommon Integrated Development Co

15/02/2013

€172,793.75

Under Assessment

SECAD

28/11/2012

€500,000.00

Awaiting Info

SECAD

13/03/2013

€330,000.00

Under Assessment

SECAD

13/03/2013

€500,000.00

Under Assessment

South Kerry Development Ltd.

21/12/2012

€500,000.00

Under Assessment

South Kerry Development Ltd.

25/01/2013

€168,392.50

Under Assessment

South Kerry Development Ltd.

25/02/2013

€194,538.96

Under Assessment

South West Mayo Development

21/12/2012

€500,000.00

Under Assessment

South West Mayo Development

21/12/2012

€200,000.00

Under Assessment

South West Mayo Development

24/01/2012

€196,911.00

Under Assessment

Waterford Leader Partnership Ltd

01/01/2013

€200,000.00

Under Assessment

Waterford Leader Partnership Ltd

01/03/2013

€183,310.00

Under Assessment

Waterford Leader Partnership Ltd

12/03/2013

€198,624.04

Under Assessment

Waterford Leader Partnership Ltd

14/03/2013

€154,927.50

Under Assessment

Waterford Leader Partnership Ltd

10/04/2013

€200,000.00

Under Assessment

West Cork Development Partnership Ltd.

11/03/2013

€194,400.00

Under Assessment

West Limerick Resources Ltd

21/12/2012

€196,313.77

Under Assessment

West Limerick Resources Ltd

26/02/2013

€200,000.00

Under Assessment

Westmeath Community Development Ltd

27/03/2013

€461,809.41

Under Assessment

Ministerial Advisers Remuneration

Questions (190, 191)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

190. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide details of all pay increases awarded to special advisers in his Department over the last two years. [18311/13]

View answer

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

191. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide in a tabular format a list of all his special advisers' pay and that of his Minister of State, to include each salary, name of employee above principal officer standard scale and salary rate; and if he will supply the total pay bill for all his special advisers for 2012. [18325/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 190 and 191 together.

The information requested is set out in the following table:

Office

Name

Current Salary

Minister Hogan

Sean McKeown

92,672

-

Claire Langton

86,604

Minister of State O’Sullivan

Aidan Culhane

83,337

-

Paul Daly

83,337

In line with the Instructions on ministerial Appointments for the 31st Dáil, Special Advisers are to be placed on the first point of the Principal Officer (standard) scale: €80,051 - €83,337 - €86,604 - €89,898 - €92,672, except where the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform sanctions a higher salary rate. In this regard, Ms. Langton, Mr. Culhane and Mr. Daly were all appointed on the first point i.e €80,051. Special Advisers placed on a salary point below the maximum of the scale may be paid annual increments until the maximum of that scale is reached. Ms. Langton is currently on the 3rd point while Mr. Culhane and Mr. Daly are both on the 2nd point. Mr. McKeown was appointed on the maximum point of the scale in light of his particular employment/salary circumstances at that time, he has received no salary increase since then.

The total wage bill for special advisers in my Department in 2012, before application of the Pension Related Deduction, is €360,524, inclusive of employer’s PRSI.

State Bodies Establishment

Questions (192)

Niall Collins

Question:

192. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of new State bodies that have been established under the aegis of his Department since February 2011; the number of such bodies subject to a sunset clause; the number of new public bodies currently being planned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18339/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The State Bodies established under the aegis of my Department since March 2011 are as follows:

- The Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency

- The Local Government Management Agency

These bodies were established under the Local Government Services (Corporate Bodies) Acts 1971 to 2012. Section 5 of the Act provides that the Minister may by order at any time revoke an establishment order.

The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2012, enacted in June 2012, provided the legal framework for further implementation of the Department’s Agency rationalisation programme with the overall number of Agencies reduced from 21 to 10. The Local Government Management Services Board and the Local Government Computer Services Board were merged with the establishment of the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) in August 2012. An Chomhairle Leabharlanna was dissolved on 1 November 2012 and its key residual functions were subsumed into the Local Government Management Agency. The Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency (HSCA), also established in 2012, rationalises the functions of the National Building Agency (NBA), the Affordable Homes Partnership (AHP) and the Centre for Housing Research (CHR).

The operations of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) will be wound up by the end of 2013; the intervening transitional period will allow the Authority to progress elements of on-going work and to make the necessary preparations for the migration to new arrangements, to be decided by Government. Critical Reviews of possible mergers between some of the Department’s Agencies and other Public Bodies were conducted in 2012 and resulted in a decision to merge the Environmental Protection Agency and the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland by mid-2014.

The Government decided in December 2011, based on the recommendations of an independent assessment and in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government, to establish a public water utility company, Irish Water, to take over the operational and capital delivery functions of local authorities in the water services area. Following further analysis by my Department together with NewERA, the Government decided that Irish Water should be established as an independent State owned subsidiary within the Bord Gáis Éireann Group.

Liquor Licensing Laws

Questions (193)

Seán Fleming

Question:

193. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he intends to provide statutory effect to section 9 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18026/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The position is that the Report of the Steering Group on a National Substance Misuse Strategy, which was published last year, contains a broad range of recommendations which seek to address the negative consequences of alcohol misuse and alcohol-related harm in this country. The Department of Health is currently developing an Action Plan for submission to the Government in response to the Report's recommendations. Future arrangements for the display and sale of alcohol in mixed trading outlets such as supermarkets and convenience stores will be considered by the Government in the context of that Action Plan.

Ground Rents Abolition

Questions (194)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

194. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he intends to introduce legislation to abolish ground rents during the 31st Dáil; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18033/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The position is that section 2 of the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) Act 1978 introduced a prohibition on the creation of new leases reserving ground rents on dwellings. As regards existing ground rents, Part III of the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) (No.2) Act 1978 contains a statutory scheme whereby a person may, at reasonable cost, acquire the fee simple in their dwelling. To date, over 80,000 applicants have acquired freehold title to their property under this scheme. In the case of property other than dwellings, the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) Act 1967 contains provisions which facilitate acquisition of the fee simple in certain cases subject to agreed terms or on terms set out in an arbitration carried out by the County Registrar.

The position regarding ground rents was considered by the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution in their 2004 Report 'Private Property'. The Committee took the view that a ground landlord's ground rent is a form of property right which is constitutionally protected and that abolition of such rents would be unconstitutional in the absence of adequate monetary compensation. The Committee also noted that where leases were approaching expiry, any legislation providing for the abolition of ground rents would have to provide for the payment of enhanced compensation by the ground tenant. In light of the foregoing, I have no immediate plans to introduce further legislation in this area. Operation of the existing law will, however, be kept under review by my Department.