Flood Prevention Measures

Questions (263)

Joe Carey

Question:

263. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 299 of 23 April 2013, the position in relation to a flood alleviation project (detailed supplied) in County Clare; the date on which it is expected that works will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5276/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

As stated, in reply to the Parliamentary Question to which the Deputy refers, the flood alleviation project for the St. Flannan's College and Ballybeg areas in Ennis is being progressed by Clare County Council with funding from the Office of Public Works (OPW). Following receipt by Clare County Council of planning permission from An Bord Pleanála for the project, the Council's consultants have been engaged in the detailed design process, including preparation of a cost benefit analysis. A draft cost/benefit report was recently reviewed by the OPW and its comments on aspects of the report are currently being considered by the Council's consultants. If the final cost benefit analysis indicates that the identified scheme option is economically viable, Clare County Council has indicated it would be in a position to commence the procurement process for the works contractor within a short time-frame. The OPW has made provision for the scheme in its multi-annual budget profiles.

Flood Relief Schemes Funding

Questions (264)

Michael McCarthy

Question:

264. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding the provision of a flood relief scheme in respect of an area (details supplied) in County Cork; the progress that has been made to date, particularly in light of recent flooding; if he will provide a prospective timeline on when he expects work on the flood relief scheme to get under way; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5283/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

A Flood Relief Scheme for the town of Skibbereen is being advanced by Cork County Council in partnership with the Office of Public Works (OPW), which is providing the funding. The development and progression of the scheme is being overseen by a Steering Committee with representatives of the Council, the OPW and RPS, the engineering consultants for the scheme.

A Public Exhibition of the preferred scheme proposals took place in April/May 2013 and lasted for four weeks. The main proposals of the scheme include the construction of new walls and embankments along the River Ilen and some of its tributaries in the Town, new pumping stations, localised channel re-grading and improvements to the local drainage system.

Approximately sixty submissions were received from members of the public on the proposed scheme during the Exhibition. Some of these submissions dealt with the levels of protection to be provided in certain areas, based on past experiences of local people. The consultants carried out further surveys and analyses to address the matters raised at the Exhibition.

These surveys have now been completed and some changes have been made to the proposed scheme. An Exhibition Report, which will deal in depth with all the issues raised by each submission is currently being finalised and responses to all parties who made submissions will be issued shortly. The recent flood events, although very unfortunate for the town, have provided data which should bring some additional certainty regarding the robustness of the proposed scheme.

The detailed design work is currently underway and it is hoped to complete it and the process of procuring a civil works contractor around mid-2014. This would allow construction to commence towards the end of 2014 subject to the scheme receiving the necessary statutory approval. The OPW has made provision for the scheme works in its multi-annual expenditure profiles but such funding will be subject to review depending on actual budget allocations.

Information and Communications Technology

Questions (265)

John Deasy

Question:

265. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the applications his Department or attached agencies have been involved in developing for smartphones and other multimedia devices in the past three years; and the cost and the software developer employed in each case. [5464/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The following sets out the information requested by the Deputy for the period 2011 to 2013: 

Department/Agency

Amount spent on apps

Developer

D/Public Expenditure and Reform

Nil

Not applicable

Valuation Office/Tribunal

€8,000

Polygon GIS

Institute of Public Administration 

Nil

Not applicable

Office of the Ombudsman, Office of the Information Commissioner, Commissioner for Environmental Information, Standards in Public Office Commission

Nil

Not applicable

Public Appointments Service

Nil

Not applicable

State Laboratory

Nil

Not applicable

Freedom of Information Legislation

Questions (266)

Patrick Nulty

Question:

266. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will consider bringing forward amendments to the Freedom of Information Bill 2013, in relation to plans to increase the price of FOI requests and in relation to the inclusion of a separate and distinct information clause, to ensure that the Bill will not limit public access to information and to avoid the creation of a culture of opaqueness around documents that should rightly be accessible to everyone at a fair and reasonable cost; if his attention has been drawn to concerns raised that any increased expense in seeking information will have a disproportionate effect on persons who are less well off; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5676/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I am currently developing proposals in  relation to the matters raised in the Deputy's question and following approval by Government will publish the proposed amendments to the Freedom of Information Bill, 2013 for consideration by Dáil Éireann in the context of Report Stage for the Bill.

Public Sector Staff Redeployment

Questions (267)

Seán Kyne

Question:

267. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if a person working in a public sector body is eligible to transfer to a civil service Department; if a central system for facilitating transfers within the Civil Service, the public sector and between the Civil Service and public sector has been considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5679/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Public Service Agreements (PSAs) covering the period 2010-16 (the Croke Park and Haddington Road Agreements) provide for agreed redeployment arrangements to apply in the Civil Service and in other parts of the Public Service.  Under these Agreements, redeployment generally takes precedence over all other methods of filling a vacancy. It facilitates the movement of staff both within and across sectors as a result of the rationalisation, reconfiguration or restructuring of public service bodies or where activities have assumed lesser priority arising from changing business needs.  A "Redeployment Toolkit" setting out the background and the detailed processes involved has been agreed with the staff unions and is available at  http://hr.per.gov.ie/redeployment/ The agreed arrangements for the redeployment of staff within the Health, Education, and Local Government sectors are managed directly by those sectors.

Redeployment for the Civil Service and Non-Commercial Semi-State Bodies operates through a system of Resource Panels, operated by the Public Appointments Service, which also arranges for cross-sectoral assignments to be made, where necessary.  This is facilitated by the recently enacted Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) (Amendment) Act 2013, which removes the legislative barriers to mobility and redeployment across the various sectors in the Public Service and addresses other issues that arise on changing employer. 

Individual Departments vary in the approach they adopt in relation to the transfer of their staff and there are no centralised arrangements in place within the civil service to facilitate requests for transfers to other locations or civil service employments, except in the case of grades represented by the Civil & Public Services Union. Transfers for these (mostly Clerical and Staff Officers) are arranged in accordance with formal procedures agreed with the Staff Side at General Council under the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for the Civil Service. 

Transfers between all grades in the civil service can be arranged on an informal, head-to-head, basis. Such transfers are arranged between the officers seeking to move and the relevant Personnel Units and require the agreement of both Personnel Officers. The transfer of staff within the Health, Education, and Local Government sectors is  a matter for the Minister with responsibility for the sector involved. 

My Department is currently working to strengthen resourcing policy to ensure the right people are in the right place at the right time through effective workforce planning across the Civil Service. In that context it is proposed to roll-out an integrated resourcing policy in the Civil Service to address a number of areas, including staff mobility. The possibility of developing a centralised system to facilitate transfers between sectors will be examined in that context during 2014.

Public Sector Staff

Questions (268)

Seán Kyne

Question:

268. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the options open to a public sector employee who has been aggrieved, has reported the grievance to higher level management on several occasions but with no examination or successful hearing of the issues concerned but remains in a unsatisfactory, unproductive and unsafe work environment which is proving to be detrimental to the health of the public sector worker involved. [5680/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

As Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform I have overarching responsibility for the public service, however, each individual sector has responsibility for the operation of grievance procedures in their sector.

While it would be inappropriate for me to comment on any specific case, it should be noted that grievance procedures are governed by the general principles of natural justice and fair procedures which include:

- That employee grievances are fairly examined and processed;

- That details of any allegations or complaints are put to the parties concerned;

- That the parties concerned are given the opportunity to respond fully to any such allegations or complaints;

- That the parties concerned are given the opportunity to avail of the right to be represented during the procedure;

- That the parties concerned have the right to a fair and impartial determination of the issues concerned, taking into account any representations made by, or on behalf of, the parties and any other relevant or appropriate evidence, factors or circumstances.

My own Department is responsible for grievance procedures in the Civil Service which are available athttp://hr.per.gov.ie/files/2011/05/grievance-procedure.pdf.

Office of Public Works Properties

Questions (269, 284)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

269. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation further to Parliamentary Question No. 307 of 22 January 2013, the current status of the office space at a property (details supplied) in Dublin 4; if he will provide details of the total cost to the State of the vacant six floors of the property to date and the expected cost to 2034; if the only occupant of the building intends to relocate in 2015; if his attention has been drawn to any efforts that have been made to find other occupants for the property in view of the establishment of Irish Water and the rationalisation of other State agencies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5175/14]

View answer

Dara Calleary

Question:

284. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the position in relation to the lease held by Forfás on Carrisbrook House in Dublin; if the premises is currently occupied; the number of viewings of the premises in 2013 with a view to letting it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5362/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 269 and 284 together.

The lease on Carrisbrook House has been held by IDA Ireland since September 2013 following the completion of the assignment of properties from Forfás to IDA Ireland. The Israeli Embassy is currently the only occupant of the premises, on a sub-lease which expires in 2025, with lease break provisions in 2015 and 2020. I understand from IDA Ireland that the Agency has no indication from the tenant that they intend to vacate the premises.

I have been informed by IDA Ireland that the on-going marketing of the building is being handled by a professional Estate Agent. I understand that, during 2013, there were a number of enquiries in relation to the vacant space, but none progressed to a letting. IDA Ireland is also assessing the potential of the property in relation to FDI clients and start-ups and has been in direct contact with a potential private tenant and state bodies regarding the availability of space in the building.

I am informed that in November 2013 Forfás submitted a report to the Public Accounts Committee which set out the total cost of the vacant space from 1994 to 2012 at €5.3 million. IDA Ireland has informed me that it is not possible to project forward the cost for future years for a number of reasons including the possibility of future lettings, rent reviews and potential disposals.

Patent Legislation

Questions (270, 295)

Seán Kyne

Question:

270. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his views, in the context of the reform of European patent law and the creation of a unified patent court, of the siting of a court in London which will have jurisdiction over Ireland and will create binding judgments that will affect all Irish businesses; and if his attention has been drawn to the concerns among the Irish legal community regarding the plans. [5681/14]

View answer

Seán Kyne

Question:

295. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in the context of the creation of the EU unified patent court by intergovernmental treaty, if his attention has been drawn to concerns that the siting of the local division of the UPC in London will have a number of negative consequences including the impact on foreign direct investment, the increased costs of litigation for Irish businesses, the loss of intellectual property expertise and capability among the Irish legal profession, the fact that a court based in London will make binding decisions for parties based in Ireland and the added uncertainty regarding the position of the United Kingdom in the European Union; if he shares these concerns; and the way he will address the concerns while simultaneously contributing to the reform of European intellectual property law. [5678/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 270 and 295 together.

The international Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC) was signed in February 2013 by twenty-five EU Member States. Under the Agreement, a number of options are open to Member States in terms of participation in the court, including conferring jurisdiction on the central division alone, setting up a local division of the Court or, participating in a regional division of the Court with one or more Member States.

My Department is currently examining the options for Ireland’s participation in the Unified Patent Court (UPC), and the implications of each policy option, including cost considerations arising. Key to this process is engagement with key stakeholders who are being consulted in order to better inform the policy choices to maximise Ireland’s participation in the patent court. This includes the enterprise agencies under my Department’s own remit, representative business organisations and interest groups, including those organisations representative of issues of interest to the legal community. This will ensure that the views of a very broad client base will inform Government’s consideration of this issue.

In addition, given that responsibility overall for the administration of the Courts in Ireland comes within the remit of the Minister for Justice and Equality, contact and active engagement between my Department and the Department of Justice and Equality and the Courts Service in relation to the policy options, including cost implications, for Irish participation in the patent court is ongoing.

The outcome of this process will ultimately inform a recommendation to Government in terms of the policy option to adopt in relation to the Court and I expect to be in a position to bring this issue to Government within the next few months. This process is running in parallel with intergovernmental level negotiations among the States that signed the Agreement in February 2013.

Under this intergovernmental framework, a number of working groups have been set up to establish the working methods and modalities of the Court including issues such as the legal Rules of Procedure of the Court, budget and financing of the Court, IT systems as well as the training and remuneration of Judges to be appointed to the Court. This involves a very significant agenda of work which will very likely extend into this year and possibly into the early part of 2015.

It is important to note that, when established, the Unified Patent Court will be an international court whose judgements will have application in the case of patent litigation on European patents brought before the Court. Thus, all instances of the Court i.e. the central Division, regional instances or local instances regardless of location, will be applying the provisions of the UPC Agreement, in a harmonised manner, in line with the Rules of Procedure to be adopted by the Court. This is quite at variance with the operation of Courts of law in Member States applying domestic law provisions within their own jurisdictional boundaries. I think it is useful to convey this important difference given the references in the questions to the possibility that a court situated in London would have jurisdiction over Ireland. The closest example of a cross-jurisdictional Court of this nature would be the Court of Justice of the EU.

As the international agreement on the Unified Patent Court entails a transfer of jurisdiction from the Irish courts to an international court, an amendment to the Constitution, requiring the carrying of a referendum, is necessary before Ireland can ratify the Agreement. The timing of this referendum will be a matter for Government to decide.

Consultancy Contracts

Questions (271)

Dara Calleary

Question:

271. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide in tabular form the amounts paid out by Microfinance Ireland to consultants since its inception, showing a breakdown of the expenditure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4866/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Microfinance Ireland (MFI) was established to manage and control the Microenterprise Loan Fund Scheme under the Microenterprise Loan Fund Act 2012 and opened for business in October 2012. MFI was established under this legislation to be an independent private company, a subsidiary of Social Finance Foundation, with its own Board of Directors. Therefore, I am not involved in the day to day operational or decision making activities within MFI. The directors are responsible for preparing the annual report and the financial statements and for keeping proper books of account. The Annual Report and Accounts for MFI for 2012 were published in June 2013 and were laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. They are available on MFI’s website www.microfinanceireland.ie and on my Department’s website www.enterprise.gov.ie.

My Department publishes all quarterly and annual progress reports on the Microenterprise Loan Fund on my Department’s website www.enterprise.gov.ie. Microfinance Ireland will publish its annual report and accounts (audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General) 2013 during 2014 in accordance with its statutory obligations.

Consultancy Contracts

Questions (272)

Dara Calleary

Question:

272. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide in tabular form the consultancy fees spent on the credit guarantee scheme, showing a breakdown of the expenditure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4867/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS) was established under the Credit Guarantee Act 2012. The Scheme launched in October 2012, in response to numerous calls from business interests. It is a novel Scheme in an Irish context which is currently developing a position in the Irish financial arena.

Consultancy fees have been spent on the development and design, and the establishment and ongoing management and operation of the Scheme. In addition the Scheme was externally reviewed in 2013.

As requested I have provided a breakdown of the expenditure on the CGS;

Organisation

Purpose

Cost

(Including VAT)

Capital for Enterprise Ltd.

Design of Credit Guarantee Scheme

€66,650

Capita Asset Services Ireland

Operation of the Credit Guarantee Scheme

€483,559

First Choice Financial Services Ltd and AJS Financial Advice Ltd

Review of the Credit Guarantee Scheme

€24,600

Trade Data

Questions (273)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

273. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the total value of cross-Border trade to the economy for the most recent consecutive five years for which data is available. [4899/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) views the United Kingdom as a whole for services trade data. Therefore, it is not possible to provide separate Great Britain and Northern Ireland figures for services trade.

Merchandise trade figures are however available from the CSO for Northern Ireland and are as follows:

Year

Exports (€m)

% Change on

Previous Year

Imports (€m)

% Change on

Previous Year

Trade Balance (€m)

2008

1,565

1,261

304

2009

1,286

-18%

941

-25%

345

2010

1,326

3%

990

5%

336

2011

1,422

7%

1,047

6%

375

2012

1,436

1%

1,026

-2%

410

Jan-Nov 2012

1,325

950

375

Jan-Nov 2013

1,352

2%

931

-2%

421

Legislative Programme

Questions (274)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

274. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the total expenditure to date relating to the merger of the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority; if he will provide details of the workforce planning which has been undertaken to determine the optimal level of staffing for the new agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4917/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Legislation to enable the amalgamation of the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency is currently being drafted and is due to be published shortly. Since the proposal to amalgamate the two agencies was announced, both of the agencies have been working together to plan for the merger. In that regard a number of working groups drawn from staff of both agencies have been looking at potential synergies between the two agencies and looking at the practical issues that will need to be addressed in preparation for the amalgamation. A project group from within the staff of the agencies has been appointed to manage the amalgamation. Apart from costs associated with staff time in relation to those working groups, the only expenditure to date by the two agencies on the amalgamation is €14,230.74. This comprised of two separate payments. One was in respect of a consultative process that sought to determine how to deliver the mandate for the new organisation in an efficient and effective manner. That expenditure, which was borne equally between the two agencies, includes the costs of an external facilitator selected following a competitive tendering process and the hire of meeting room facilities. The other expenditure related to the purchase of seven IT software licences which amounted to €5,562.46. Of this amount, €4,510.13 was paid for the licences, €1,037.33 was paid in VAT to the Revenue Commissioners and €15.00 was paid in bank charges.

Following publication of the draft legislation, the agencies will commence work on a Corporate Structure for the new organisation that will include an assessment of the initial level of staffing required to enable it to carry out the functions assigned to it in the legislation. It is anticipated that all the existing functions of each agency will be incorporated into the work of the new body as well as additional functions to be assigned under the legislation. Both the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency have Employment Control Frameworks in place agreed by my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and it is expected that the new body will have to plan its workforce within the limits of their authorised staff numbers.

Redundancy Payments Waiting Times

Questions (275)

Jerry Buttimer

Question:

275. Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the minimum statutory obligations of companies when making employees redundant; if it is possible for contractual arrangements to provide for terms which are more favourable to employees than the minimum statutory obligations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4969/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Under the Protection of Employment Act 1977, companies proposing collective redundancies must enter into consultation with the employee representatives at least 30 days before anyone receives notice of redundancy. They must also notify the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation of the proposed redundancies at least 30 days before any employee receives notice of redundancy. The consultation with the employee representatives and the notification period for the Minister can run concurrently.

In addition, companies who find themselves in this position are obliged to provide certain information to employee representatives regarding the proposed collective redundancy.

As the Deputy will be aware, responsibility for the Redundancy Payments Acts is now within the remit of my colleague the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton TD who has supplied the following details in respect of redundancy entitlements. The purpose of the redundancy payments scheme is to compensate workers, under the Redundancy Payments Acts 1967 to 2013, for the loss of their jobs by reason of redundancy. In order to qualify for a statutory redundancy payment, an employee must have at least two years continuous service; be in employment which is insurable under the Social Welfare Acts; be over the age of 16 and; have been made redundant as a result of a genuine redundancy situation meaning that the job no longer exists and he/she is not replaced.

Statutory redundancy pay is calculated at 2 weeks’ pay per year of service plus a bonus week, subject to a cap of €600 per week.

It is the responsibility of the employer to pay statutory redundancy to all eligible employees. Where an employer can prove to the satisfaction of the Department of Social Protection that it is unable to pay the statutory redundancy to its eligible employees that Department will make lump sum payments directly to those employees. That will raise a debt against the employer which the Department will seek to recover.

Any arrangement outside the Statutory Redundancy is a matter for negotiation and agreement between the parties; oftentimes assisted by the industrial relations institutions of the State, viz, the Labour Relations Commission or the Labour Court.

I would encourage parties who are in dispute with regard to redundancy terms, and where it is not possible to resolve the matter locally, to avail fully of the services of these institutions.

Appointments to State Boards

Questions (276, 277)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

276. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will itemise in tabular form the occasions on which his Department has engaged the services of external professional advice such as a company (details supplied) on the appointment of persons to State boards; if he will list the fees paid in respect of such services; the persons who were ultimately appointed on foot of advice received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4990/14]

View answer

Catherine Murphy

Question:

277. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will identify any instances where a person appointed to a State board after recruitment advice was received from professional external consultants was subsequently deemed to be unqualified for the duties and responsibilities attached to the role; the costs incurred in obtaining advice in respect of each such instance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5006/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 276 and 277 together.

I can confirm that neither my Department nor I have engaged the services of any external professional consultants in connection with the appointment of persons to State Boards.

International Agreements

Questions (278)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

278. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the timeframe, including a target date, for the ratification of the ILO Convention on domestic workers; and if consideration has been given to applying these protections to the unregulated au pair sector. [5080/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

At an informal meeting of Ministers of Labour and Social Affairs on the subject of domestic workers, which I chaired in Geneva last June at the time of the 102nd International Labour Conference, I announced that Ireland would ratify the ILO Convention No. 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.

I intend to ratify the Convention as soon as the European Council Decision which confirms that there are no impediments at EU level to Member States ratifying the Convention enters into force. This is expected to take place shortly.

In relation to au pairs, Ireland’s body of employment rights legislation protects all employees legally employed on an employer-employee basis in Ireland, regardless of what title is given to them. Therefore, once it is clear that a person is working under a contract of employment, on a full-time or part-time basis, that person has the same protection under employment law as other employees.

Where the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) receives a complaint involving somebody described as an au pair, NERA will investigate with a view to establishing the person’s statutory entitlements under employment law (including whether the term “au pair” is being used to avoid statutory obligations). NERA has encountered individuals, described by their employers as au pairs, who have been found to be domestic employees. My policy is to ensure that those people found to be domestic employees, regardless of what title is given to them, can enforce their rights as provided for in employment rights legislation.

In 2007, my Department published a “Code of Practice for Protecting Persons employed in Other People’s Homes”, which is useful as it outlines the duties and responsibilities of such employers.

Science and Technology Groups

Questions (279)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

279. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if Ireland will apply for full membership of CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research; if not, the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5087/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Government’s priority in the area of science, technology and innovation is to implement the recommendations of the National Research Prioritisation Exercise which will see the majority of public research funding aligned with priority areas where we are most likely to get economic and social returns, particularly in the form of jobs.

Ireland's membership of international research organisations must be predicated on whether the benefit of membership, in terms of support to Irish researchers, companies and jobs, justifies the cost involved. I am conscious of the calls by some researchers for Ireland to apply for CERN membership. The last time a review of the benefits of Ireland joining CERN was undertaken, the conclusion was that it was not the best use of resources. Since then, resources have become even scarcer, but it is timely to have a fresh look at the opportunities and the costs associated with membership. Any decision about joining CERN must take into consideration the opportunity costs involved, as payment of any fees would have to come from existing funding, meaning that less funding would be available for our existing research priorities. I have an open mind on the matter and it will come down to what represents best value for taxpayers’ money. I have asked my Department to consult with CERN, the relevant research and enterprise agencies and with the academic/research community and to bring forward an assessment within the coming months.

Regional Aid

Questions (280)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

280. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation further to Parliamentary Question No. 98 of 17 October 2013, if the report referred to in the reply is now to hand. [5133/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

With regard to Question No. 98 of 17 October 2013, the Deputy will recall that, at the time, I responded that due to the significant volume of information to be gathered and collated, that it was not possible to collate the information required in the timeframe given. I am now in a position to reply to the Question and I extend my apologies for the delay in doing so.

Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland are legally precluded from supplying the number of applications or approval figures. Therefore, the data provided by the Agencies is based on payments made.

Tables 1 and 2 accompanying this reply provide the payment amounts, the number of companies paid by year, together with the breakdown by region in respect of payments made by Enterprise Ireland. Table 3 provides information in respect of payments made to companies by IDA Ireland on a county basis. The payments referred to in these three tables cover the period 2010 to 2012 inclusive. Figures for 2013 will be available later this year.

For the Deputy’s information, I have also included in Table 4, the Regional Aid Rates as defined under the Regional Aid Guidelines, by size of company and location.

Table 1: Enterprise Ireland

Regional Aid Investments / Payments to Regions

Payment €

Investment

2010

2011

2012

Grand Total

Capital

29,701,291

20,890,261

26,560,400

77,151,952

BMW

14,678,980

9,114,809

5,907,975

29,701,764

South & East

15,022,311

11,775,452

20,652,425

47,450,188

Employment

6,748,666

5,199,789

9,630,522

21,578,977

BMW

2,280,039

1,965,422

3,823,516

8,068,977

South & East

4,468,627

3,234,367

5,807,006

13,510,000

Grand Total

36,449,957

26,090,050

36,190,922

98,730,929

Table 2: No of Companies in Receipt of Payments from Enterprise Ireland

-

2010

2011

2012

Grand Total

Capital

164

118

67

349

BMW

72

57

31

160

South & East

92

61

36

189

Employment

216

141

107

464

BMW

61

49

40

150

South & East

155

92

67

314

Grand Total

380

259

174

813

Table 3: Payments Made by IDA Ireland to Companies by County

County

2010

2011

2012

Total

Carlow

0

0

9,503,141

(2 companies)

9,503,141

Cavan

772,345

(2 companies)

129,778

(1 company)

0

902,123

Clare

762,100

(4 companies)

844,145

(3 companies)

0

1,606,245

Cork

20,119,751

(42 companies)

15,092,610

(29 companies)

14,308,619

(27 companies)

49,520,980

Donegal

2,353,385

(6 companies)

354,746

(2 companies)

6,221,246

(3 companies)

8,929,377

Dublin

46,420,938

(54 companies)

43,043,936

(44 companies)

22,105,337

(42 companies)

111,570,211

Galway

9,448,677

(17 companies)

14,107,397

(15 companies)

12,252,609

(16 companies)

35,808,683

Kerry

216,450

(3 companies)

152,671

(2 companies)

2,145,004

(4 companies)

2,514,125

Kildare

4,981,549

(5 companies)

4,281,933

(4 companies)

1,767,566

(3 companies)

11,031,048

Kilkenny

0

0

0

0

Laois

274,324

(3 companies)

21,182

(1 company)

0

295,506

Leitrim

566,500

(1 company)

297,622

(1 company)

347,378

(1 company)

1,211,500

Limerick

5,104,862

(11 companies)

7,801,591

(9 companies)

11,209,462

(11 companies)

24,115,915

Longford

357,000

(1 company)

124,852

(1 company)

0

481,852

Louth

347,207

(4 companies)

489,051

(2 companies)

2,809,400

(7 companies)

3,645,658

Mayo

4,693,343

(5 companies)

1,198,963

(3 companies)

1,254,475

(3 companies)

7,146,781

Meath

524,671

(3 companies)

386,670

(2 companies)

152,240

(2 companies)

1,063,581

Monaghan

260,000

(2 companies)

70,335

(1 company)

0

330,335

Offaly

211,870

(2 companies)

338,200

(4 companies)

8,000

(1 company)

558,070

Roscommon

283,503

(3 companies)

361,000

(1 company)

13,098

(1 company)

657,601

Sligo

925,555

(4 companies)

852,618

(4 companies)

0

1,778,173

Tipperary

17,755,098

(6 companies)

1,875,356

(2 companies)

0

19,650,454

Waterford

1,414,402

(8 companies)

115,819

(2 companies)

1,722,808

(5 companies)

3,253,029

Westmeath

1,564,401

(10 companies)

1,443,232

(5 companies)

1,552,832

(7 companies)

4,560,465

Wexford

569,253

(4 companies)

3,373,513

(2 companies)

1,853,970

(1 company)

5,796,736

Wicklow

513,000

(4 companies)

0

48,328

(1 company)

561,328

Table 4: Regional Aid Rates applicable by Location and Company Size

Regional Aid Rates

BMW

South East

Midwest

Kerry & Cork Urban Regeneration

Cork

Dublin

Mid East

Small

35%

30%

30%

20%

Medium

25%

20%

20%

10%

Large

15%

10%

0%

0%

Microenterprise Loan Fund Applications

Questions (281)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

281. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of applications made to the microfinance scheme to date, in total, and broken down by county where applicants are based; if he will provide the number of businesses which have been accepted, processed and drawn down funds to date; and if will also provide in total and broken down by county where the business is based. [5203/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Microenterprise Loan Fund Scheme facility was introduced in October 2012 following demands from business interest for the introduction of supports for microenterprises in a difficult economic environment. It has now developed a presence in the Irish financial market. As of 27 January 2014 MFI, has approved 153 applications to the value of €2.37m supporting 338 jobs. The latest progress report detailing the analysis and performance for the quarterly period ending 30 September 2013 is available on my Department’s website. I intend to publish the next progress report for the period to end December 2013, once the report has been finalised.

Work Permit Applications

Questions (282)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

282. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation when a decision will issue in relation to a work permit application in respect of a person (details supplied). [5315/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

An Employment Permit application was refused in respect of the person named by the Deputy on 30 January 2014 in light of the level of remuneration offered in respect of the stated employment. Levels of remuneration are a key indicator of the skills and experience required for a job and assist in determining the necessity for employing a foreign national. Therefore, in order to ensure that the granting of an Employment Permit would be in the public interest and in line with the current economic policy of the Government, new Employment Permit applications are normally only considered where it is established that a minimum salary of €30,000 per annum is on offer based on a 39 hour week. It appeared from the documentation submitted in support of the application that the employee would not receive the minimum remuneration of €30,000 per annum required and the permit application was refused on that ground.

Should the applicant wish to have this decision reviewed they may do so in accordance with Section 13 the Employment Permits Act, 2006, within twenty-one (21) days from the date of this letter. Any such submission, (addressed to the Appeals Officer, Employment Permits Section, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Davitt House, Adelaide Road, Dublin 2) will be considered on the basis of the evidence available to my Department and any further information of relevance which the applicant may wish to submit.

Employment Rights

Question No. 284 answered with Question No. 269.

Questions (283)

Brian Walsh

Question:

283. Deputy Brian Walsh asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the position regarding entitlement to pay for part-time, casual workers in respect of public holidays or annual leave; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5346/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Workers' entitlement to public holidays are determined by the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. The benefit is decided by the employer in advance of the public holiday and can be one of the following: a paid day off on the day; a paid day off within a month; an additional day of annual leave; an additional days pay.

Under the Protection of Employees (Part-time Work) Act 2001, part-time workers have entitlement to benefit for public holidays once they have worked forty hours in the previous five weeks ending on the day before the public holiday. Casual workers are defined in the same Act as part-time workers who have worked for the employer for less than 13 weeks and where any pervious employment with that employer to date could not reasonably be regarded as regular or seasonal.

While not specifically defined in legislation, ‘paid annual leave’ is commonly held to be a period of rest and relaxation during which a worker is paid his or her normal wages. In this regard an employee is entitled to one of the following:

- Four working weeks in a year in which he or she works at least 1,365 hours (unless it is a leave year in which he or she changes employment;

- One-third of a working week for each month in the leave year in which he or she works at least 117 hours;

- Eight per-cent of the hours he or she works in a leave year (subject to a maximum of four working weeks).

If more than one method applies then the most favourable calculation is the one that pertains but subject to the statutory maximum of four working weeks. Annual leave is accrued on all hours worked and is earned from day one of the employment for all employees which includes part-time or casual employees.

Employees have entitlement to pay in respect of their annual leave. Pay for a week of annual leave where the salary is based on a time rate or fixed rate is equal to the amount paid to him or her in respect of the last normal week worked before the leave starts. This amount is to include any regular payment or allowance that does not vary in relation to the work done but does not include overtime.

Where pay has a productivity or commission based element the pay for a week of annual leave is calculated as an average of the weekly pay over the last 13 weeks worked.

Question No. 284 answered with Question No. 269.

Public Procurement Contracts

Questions (285)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

285. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the policy in relation to support and training of small and medium enterprises in relation to Government tenders mentoring; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5368/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Action Plan for Jobs includes a number of measures to support SMEs to access public procurement opportunities. These measures are being delivered by various bodies, including Enterprise Ireland, InterTradeIreland, the newly-formed Office of Government Procurement (OGP) and my own Department. Enterprise Ireland and the OPG work on an on-going basis to encourage SMEs to register on the Government’s eTenders website, to enable forthcoming procurement opportunities to be brought to their attention.

The OGP, in collaboration with InterTrade Ireland, hosted a number of “Meet the Buyer” events in 2013. These events provide SMEs with an overview of the all-island public procurement market and the opportunities that are available. They also facilitate businesses networking, and opportunities for companies to form joint ventures and identify sub-contracting opportunities. The OGP will continue to hold such events in 2014.

Enterprise Ireland participated in the “Meet the Buyer” events in 2013 and also ran two collaborative projects with the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA), focussing on the Schools Bundles projects. The two agencies hosted a further “Meet the Buyer” event for the construction sector on 31st January in Portlaoise, highlighting supply chain opportunities for SMEs and microbusinesses in the Schools Public Private Partnership programme.

The OGP has established a High Level Group on SME Access to Public Procurement which is chaired by the Chief Procurement Officer. The group includes officials from my Department, Enterprise Ireland and Intertrade Ireland. The focus of this High Level Group is to develop strategies to improve SMEs’ access to public procurement opportunities and to monitor the delivery of the public procurement actions under the Action Plan for Jobs.

I am currently finalising the 2014 Action Plan for Jobs on behalf of the Government and I anticipate that it will include a number of further measures to support SMEs in accessing public procurement opportunities.