135. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the steps being taken to regulate food securities trading on the stock market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31477/13]View answer
Written Answers Nos. 135-154
135. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the steps being taken to regulate food securities trading on the stock market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31477/13]View answer
On June 13 2013, the Irish Presidency reached a breakthrough in talks at Council level on the MiFID II and MiFIR proposals which aim to make financial markets more efficient, resilient and transparent, and to strengthen the protection of investors.
The achievement of a Council General Approach, which was endorsed at Ecofin on 21 June 2013, signals a significant step forward by the EU towards protecting against excessive financial speculation in the food and other commodity derivative markets.
The regulation of derivative trading in the EU has been part of Council discussions within the EU since September 2010 when the Commission published its proposal for the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) to regulate this market in the context of over-the-counter (OTC) trades. This EU Regulation, which is directly applicable in all Member States, entered into force on 16 August 2012.
In particular, the Council text of MiFID II contains important provisions relating to position management, position limits and product intervention. These provisions are in respect of all financial instruments, including commodity derivatives, and have the purpose of providing regulators with tools to avoid excessive speculation in financial instruments, including commodity derivatives. Competent authorities will be obligated to establish and apply position limits on the size of a position in a commodity derivative which a person can have over a specified period of time.
Furthermore, competent authorities will have product intervention powers whereby they may prohibit or restrict trading of financial instruments or prohibit or restrict investment activities when there is a threat to the orderly functioning and integrity of financial markets or commodity markets. The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) will have contingency and coordination powers in position management and product intervention to ensure consistent application across all Member States. In the exercise of its powers, ESMA will also have to consult public bodies competent for the oversight, administration and regulation of physical agricultural markets.
EMIR and MiFID II combined are expected to result in a tighter regime for all derivatives, including food securities, whether traded OTC or through exchanges. The measures are intended to keep pace with trends in derivatives trading, in line with G20 commitments made at the 2009 Pittsburgh summit.
Council General Approach will be progressed further by the Lithuanian Presidency when they begin negotiations with the European Parliament at Trilogues.
We will continue to monitor developments on this file throughout the legislative process.
136. Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Finance if he supports the fact that tax crimes be made a predicate offence of money laundering and that this be agreed as part of the revision of the third anti-money laundering directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31782/13]View answer
The Commission published its proposals for a 4th Money Laundering Directive on 5 February 2013. Those proposals are currently being examined by an Expert Working Party of the European Council. The Draft Directive proposes that tax crimes be included as a predicate offence for money laundering. This is already the case under Irish Law where all crimes, including tax crimes, are predicate offences for money laundering.
137. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Finance if he intends to sell his shares in AIB and Bank of Ireland in the next 12 months; and if he will outline his strategy in disposing of his shares in the pillar banks. [31870/13]View answer
I have previously indicated that the State does not want to be an investor in banks and will seek to exit its various holdings at the appropriate time and when market conditions permit. At its results briefing last March, Bank of Ireland indicated that it was considering a range of options relating to its preference shares. I can confirm to the Deputy that officials in the Department of Finance, as part of their regular interaction with Bank of Ireland management, have discussed options regarding the State’s current holding of €1.8bn of preference shares. Should an opportunity arise to sell the shares or have them redeemed, the transaction will be considered having assessed the best interests of the State.
As regards AIB, I remain very supportive of the bank’s efforts to return itself to profitability and ultimately generate an exit for the taxpayer. Getting the bank back to profitability as quickly as possible is the best way to achieve this goal and indeed support our economic recovery.
138. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied that there was enough progress on banking debt during the Irish Presidency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31474/13]View answer
As you are aware the Euro-area Heads of State and Government agreed on 29th June 2012 to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns, and that when a Single Supervisory Mechanism is in place involving the ECB, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) could recapitalise banks directly. The Euro-area Heads of State and Government confirmed this position and mandated EU Finance Ministers to prepare an operational framework by mid-2013. A considerable amount of work has been undertaken at technical, senior official and Ministerial level on the ESM’s Direct Bank Recapitalisation (DBR) Instrument during the Irish Presidency. This work culminated in agreement on the operational framework for the ESM’s Direct Bank Recapitalisation Instrument at the June 20th Eurogroup of Euro-area Finance Ministers meeting in Luxembourg.
This framework builds upon the agreement secured on the 29th of June 2012, and is an important step in the Eurozone’s efforts to restore market confidence in the single currency and its banking system.
It is expected that the earliest date that the ESM DBR can come into effect will be towards the end of the first half of 2014, given the need to satisfy national procedures, and also the requirement to have the Single Supervisory Mechanism in place beforehand.
We have succeeded in having provision for retrospective recapitalisation included in the framework. Although there is still a lot of negotiation to be done on this aspect of the facility I am satisfied with the progress made during the Irish Presidency as the agreement now in place keeps open the possibility for us to apply to the ESM for a retrospective direct recapitalisation of the Irish banks, should we wish to avail of it.
139. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied that there has been enough progress on strengthening banking regulation during the Irish Presidency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31475/13]View answer
When Ireland assumed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in January the highest priority was afforded to the completion of the Banking Union, with the aim of breaking the link between banks and sovereigns which had been unanimously agreed by European leaders on 29 June 2012. Real progress was made during the Irish Presidency in setting down the first real steps to a European Banking union with the agreement on the creation of a Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) - a very significant step forward towards ensuring financial stability and thus facilitating growth.
We have also achieved agreement on the Capital Requirements Directive IV, (CRDIV) which aims to strengthen the capital requirements for banks and the overall effectiveness of regulation for the sector and enhance financial stability.
On 26 June 2013 EU finance Ministers agreed a common position on the proposal for a harmonized bank recovery and resolution regime. This agreement will now allow negotiations to start with the European Parliament on the file and also on the related Deposit Guarantee Scheme Directive. Furthermore, the Eurogroup has agreed on the main features of the operational framework for direct bank recapitalisation by the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
These achievements represent significant milestones towards Banking Union. The June 2013 European Council meeting concluded that the completion of the Banking Union is key to ensuring financial stability, reducing financial fragmentation and restoring normal lending to the economy.
To complete the Banking Union, the Commission will bring forward a proposal in the summer for a Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) for banks covered by the SSM. We look forward to further progress under the incoming Lithuanian Presidency to reach agreement in the Council by the end of the year so that all elements of the banking union can be agreed by the end of the current parliamentary term of the European Parliament, as called for by the European Council.
140. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Taoiseach the number of staff in his Department who availed of term time in 2012; the average duration of such in 2012; the number that will do so in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31452/13]View answer
141. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Taoiseach the number of staff in organisations or agencies under the aegis of his Department who availed of term time in 2012; the average duration of such in 2012; the number that will do so in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31453/13]View answer
I propose to take Questions Nos. 140 and 141 together.
Three staff availed of the Shorter Working Year (formerly known as term time) in my Department in 2012 and the average duration was 6.66 weeks. To date, 5 members of staff have indicated that they wish to avail of the scheme in 2013.
The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO), incorporating the National Economic and Social Council (NESC), is the only agency under the aegis of my Department. No staff in NESDO availed of the Shorter Working Year scheme in 2012 and no applications have been received to date in 2013.
142. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Taoiseach the number of staff in his Department who availed of study or training leave in 2012; the average duration of such leave; if all staff availing of this leave received full pay and benefits during the time; the number that will do so in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31454/13]View answer
143. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Taoiseach the number of staff in organisations or agencies under the aegis of his Department who availed of study or training leave in 2012; the average duration of such leave; if all staff availing of this leave received full pay and benefits during the time; the number that will do so in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31455/13]View answer
I propose to take Questions Nos. 142 and 143 together.
Some 11 staff from my Department availed of study leave in 2012. The average duration of leave taken was 4.05 days. To date in 2013, 6 staff have availed of study leave. The average duration of leave taken is 4.58 days.
Staff have yet to apply for courses for the 2013 - 2014 academic year. Therefore it is not possible to anticipate the amount of study leave that will be taken later this year.
The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) is the only agency under the aegis of my Department. One member of staff in NESDO availed of 5 days study leave in 2012. There have been no applications for study leave to date in NESDO in 2013.
Staff apply for study leave under the terms of Circular 23/2007. Under the terms of the circular, study leave is paid leave. No benefits have been paid to staff beyond the terms of the circular.
Training takes place during normal working hours and the question of leave does not arise.
144. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Taoiseach if he will outline gross value added for the most recent five years for which data is available; and the way gross value added compares with Northern Ireland and Britain over this time period. [29746/13]View answer
The following table provides details on GVA at basic prices for the years 2006-2012.
To assist the Deputy the CSO has included data on Northern Ireland and the UK using data from Eurostat and the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in the UK.
GVA at basic prices
Northern Ireland (£ millions)
Northern Ireland (€ millions) converted to Euros
United Kingdom (€ millions)
Ireland (€ millions)
Source: UK Office For National Statistics
Converted from Sterling to Euro using yearly average Exchange Rates
Source: CSO Ireland
Source: Central Bank Of Ireland
Ireland's GVA in basic prices is available on the CSO website in the Quarterly or Annual National Accounts.
145. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Taoiseach the number of temporary clerical officers that have been employed by his Department over each of the past three years; the number of those who have been retired public-civil servants; his views on whether his Department should employ retired staff in these positions in view of the level of youth unemployment here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31580/13]View answer
Five Temporary Clerical Officers were employed by my Department over the last 3 years, none of whom were retired public/civil servants.
Recruitment to the Civil Service is governed by the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act, 2004 and by the Civil Service Regulation Acts, 1956-2005. The 2004 Act established the Commission for Public Service Appointments (CPSA) and the Public Appointments Service (PAS). The CPSA is the regulator of public service recruitment in Ireland and the PAS provides a centralised recruitment, assessment and selection body for the Civil Service.
The CPSA has developed Codes of Practice to apply to open recruitment and internal promotion competitions. The Codes cover the areas of probity, selection on the basis of merit, equity and fairness, protection of the public interest, implementation of best practice and good governance. Selection processes must focus on the competencies required for a post and there is no provision under the Codes to focus recruitment for posts in the Civil Service on the basis of age. All eligible candidates must be considered on an equal basis.
146. Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his visit to Boston; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31783/13]View answer
I visited Boston from 18 to 20 May following an invitation from Fr. William Leahy, President of Boston College to receive an honorary degree in Law and to deliver the Commencement Address at the Boston College 2013 Graduation ceremony. I was pleased to accept the honorary degree and deliver the Commencement Address on behalf of the Irish people on Monday May 20.
On the Monday morning, I addressed a business breakfast organised by the IDA and Enterprise Ireland and attended by senior executives from a range of companies with business interests in Ireland and in the US. I highlighted the strengths of Ireland as a location in which to do business and for companies looking to internationalise or expand their existing geographical footprint.
I also addressed the annual Commencement Eve Dinner at the college on Sunday May 19, along with a number of other guests who were also receiving honorary degrees.
I was invited as the guest of honour at a dinner on Saturday May 18 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library to mark the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s visit to Ireland in 1963.
I also visited the memorial site of the Boston Marathon Bombings at Copley Square along with Commissioner of Police Edward Davis, where I placed a floral tribute as a gesture of respect to the dead and injured.
147. Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Taoiseach the number of times the various Cabinet sub-committees have met since the last recess. [31784/13]View answer
Since the Easter recess: the Cabinet Committee on Mortgage Arrears and Credit Availability has met twice, the Cabinet Committee on Public Service Reform has met once, the Cabinet Committee on Health has met three times, the Economic Management Council (EMC) has met five times, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Infrastructure has met twice, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Recovery and Jobs has met on two occasions; a sub-committee of this Committee, dealing specifically with Pathways to Work, has also met twice in this time, the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy has met twice, and the Cabinet Committee on European Affairs has met twice.
148. Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his meetings with other Heads of State during the last EU Council. [31785/13]View answer
I attended the European Council in Brussels on 27-28 June. While I had no formal bilaterals with other Heads of State or Government, I did of course see them all at the meeting.
On the morning of the 27th June, I had a meeting with European Commission President Barroso and European Parliament President Schulz at which we reached political agreement on the MFF.
I also had a formal bilateral meeting with President Van Rompuy immediately in advance of the European Council meeting, as is customary for the Head of State or Government from the Member State currently holding the Presidency.
149. Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the cost to his Department of the G8 Summit in County Fermanagh. [31786/13]View answer
The G8 Summit in County Fermanagh on 18/19 June was hosted and paid for by the British Government.
There may be some minor travel costs accruing to my Department, in respect of a small number of officials who were involved in work related to my participation at the Summit. These costs have yet to be established.
150. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Taoiseach the number of senior staff in his Department that were in the Department at the time of the banking guarantee in 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31965/13]View answer
151. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Taoiseach the number of senior staff in his Department, who were there at the time of the banking guarantee that are in the same positions they held at the time. [31967/13]View answer
152. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Taoiseach in view of his statements regarding the banking guarantee, in which he stated that there were no files of any import held in his Department regarding events at that time, if he has asked officials in his Department for oral or written recollections of what happened at that time. [31968/13]View answer
I propose to take Questions Nos. 150 to 152, inclusive, together.
There were 28 senior members of staff in my Department at the time in question. This includes civil servants at the grade of Principal Officer and above and Special Advisers to the then Taoiseach.
Of those, 7 are still serving in the Department, one of whom is in the same position.
I have previously informed the House that I asked senior officials in my Department about the papers held in the Department relating to the night of the bank guarantee. I have also previously expressed in the House my concerns at the paucity of relevant documentation in the Department.
My Department will co-operate fully with any inquiry established into these matters.
153. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding a second business passport application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; the reason for the delay in issuing a decision in this case; when a decision will issue in this case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31563/13]View answer
The Passport Service may in limited circumstances issue an additional passport in accordance with the terms of the Passports Act, 2008 to a citizen where business, frequent travel or particular visa requirements make it necessary to hold a second travel document. A passport application for such business purposes was lodged with the Passport Service 2nd January 2013 by the person in question. The documentation submitted did not meet the criteria for a business passport. In order to verify the basis of applicant’s need for a business passport, the Passport Service has been in contact with his employer and requested under section 7(2) of the Act additional information in order to finalise the application. Unfortunately, no response has been received by the Passport Service in this matter. In light of this, the Passport Service will be writing to the applicant to inform him of this shortcoming in his application.
154. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the reporting mechanism that exists to provide reports to the Irish and British Governments on the implementation of the Good Friday and St. Andrew's Agreements; if the Governments receive a written report from the devolved institutions on progress; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31480/13]View answer
158. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide a list of the provisions of the Good Friday and St. Andrew's Agreements which have not been implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31495/13]View answer
I propose to take Questions Nos. 154 and 158 together.
There is no formal requirement on the devolved institutions to report to the Irish and British Governments on the implementation of the Good Friday and St. Andrews Agreements.
Some provisions of the Good Friday and St. Andrews agreements such as a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, an Irish Language Act and an examination of the future of North South economic cooperation have not yet been implemented but nevertheless there has been good progress on the implementation of the Agreements in recent years.
The North South Inter-Parliamentary Association – as provided for in the Agreement - met for the second time in Plenary at Stormont last month. The Association provides a forum for regular and formal discussions between Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Members of both Houses of the Oireachtas on issues of mutual interest and concern. The Association will meet twice yearly on a rotational basis.
Another important commitment under the Good Friday Agreement was realised in October 2012 with Digital Switchover on the island of Ireland on 24 October 2012, when TG4 and Radio na Gaeltachta became available in Northern Ireland.
A Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland which takes account of the separate and specific context of Northern Ireland is an important outstanding provision of the Good Friday Agreement. I believe that all parties in the Oireachtas share my frustration at the lack of progress on a Bill of Rights and I continue to engage actively with the British government and the Northern Ireland Executive on this issue. Some of the contentious issues around parades, flags and identities have at their heart rights issues and a Bill of Rights is the key to dissolving the obstacles to progress on these issues.
Recent events have recalled the positive role that civil society continues to play in Northern Ireland and points to the valuable role that could be played by the Civic Forum envisaged by the Agreement and I will continue to encourage its development.
The first Term of Reference of the St Andrews Agreement Review which called for an examination of the efficiency and value for money of Implementation Bodies has essentially been completed. The Second and Third Terms of Reference of the Review look to the future of North South co-operation. This has not progressed as rapidly as I would have wished and was a subject of discussion when I met with the First and Deputy First Minister on 29 April. I hope that we will be in a position to make substantial progress at the next North South Ministerial (NSMC) Plenary meeting on 5 July.
While the North South Consultative Forum is still outstanding, it continues to be raised at NSMC Plenary meetings and will be considered further with our Northern colleagues.
The Government will continue to encourage progress on the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and the St Andrews Agreement, particularly during my ongoing schedule of close contact with the Secretary of State, and with the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.