Water Charges Exemptions

Questions (165)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

165. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if there will be any exception to water charges for persons living with illness or disability where increased water usage is necessary due to medical conditions, such as frequent washing or toileting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15501/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

With effect from 1 January 2014, Irish Water is responsible for public water services. The Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 provides that Irish Water can collect charges from its customers in receipt of water services provided by it.  The Act also provides that responsibility for the independent economic regulation of the water sector is assigned to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) and the CER has been given statutory responsibility for protecting the interests of customers.

The approach to charging will be outlined by Irish Water in a water charges plan to be submitted by it to the CER in line with the provisions of the Act. The CER will be responsible for approving the water charges plan which will set the approaches to charging domestic and non-domestic customers.

An inter-departmental working group has been established to advise the Government on the appropriate method for addressing affordability issues which may arise with the introduction of domestic water charges. This includes the examination of issues arising for those with specific medical conditions, which require high water usage. The group comprises officials from my Department and from the Departments of the Taoiseach, Social Protection, Public Expenditure and Reform and Finance. A report will be submitted for consideration by Government based on the group’s examination of the issues involved and the Government will decide on the proposed approaches to be taken in relation to affordability, medical needs and the free allowance.

The CER will announce its decision on the approved water charges plan in August 2014. In making its decision on the approval or otherwise of the first water charges plan, the CER will take into account the decisions made by Government on the funding model for Irish Water, including the funding available for a free allowance and any proposed affordability measures.

Water Services Funding

Questions (166)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

166. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding funding for water leaks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15570/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Programme for Government sets out a commitment to the introduction of water charges based on usage above a free allowance. The Government considers that charging based on usage is the fairest way to charge for water and it has, therefore, decided that water meters should be installed in households connected to public water supplies. The Water Services Act 2013 provide for the establishment of Irish Water as an independent subsidiary within the Bord Gáis Éireann Group and assigned the necessary powers to allow Irish Water to undertake this metering programme.

As part of the metering programme, my Department, in conjunction with Irish Water, is currently working on a proposal regarding customer-side leakage, the implementation arrangements for which will have to be worked out with Irish Water.

Departmental Staff Remuneration

Questions (167)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

167. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of staff by grade within his Department who received performance-related bonuses in the years 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and to date in 2014; and the reasons for the payment of these bonuses. [15581/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

No staff member in my Department has received performance related bonuses in the years 2010 to date.

Immigrant Investor Programme Eligibility

Questions (168)

Seán Fleming

Question:

168. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the rules and conditions whereby persons from abroad can invest here and apply and be approved for an Irish passport for investment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15607/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I would emphasise to the Deputy that Ireland does not offer citizenship in return for investment. The Immigrant Investor Programme facilitates residency in Ireland for those foreign nationals who wish to invest here.

The Immigrant Investor Programme was approved by Government in early 2012 and has been accepting applications since April 2012. The Programme offers residency in Ireland to foreign national investors who commit to approved investment options. The Immigrant Investor Programme was reviewed and revised in July 2013 in order to further enhance the attractiveness of the programme to foreign investors and to build upon the positive initial phase of the Programme. Full details of the Immigrant Investor Programme are available from the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service web pages - www.inis.gov.ie.

The naturalisation process is outlined in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts 1956 to 2014 and applies to all foreign nationals who wish to become Irish citizens. Persons whose applications are successful under the Immigrant Investor Programme can apply for Irish citizenship and any such application will be considered under the same rules which apply to any other foreign national.

For the Deputy's information, to date twenty one applications for the Immigrant Investor Programme have been approved and there are currently two applications under consideration.

Proposed Legislation

Questions (169)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

169. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if it is intended to change the law to ensure that properties being sold due to financial problems cannot be advertised for sale without the bank's agreement and-or valuation to ensure subsequently a purchaser is not left waiting months before the sale falls through due to a bank objecting to the sale price or because consent from the bank has taken so long; and has consideration been given to having pre-approved consent to sale certificates introduced. [15457/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The position is that the sale of property which is subject to a mortgage normally requires the consent of the lending institution concerned. Where the proceeds of such a sale exceed the outstanding balance of the mortgage, consent is normally given by the lending institution concerned without undue delay. In such cases, it is usual for the vendor to obtain the required consent prior to the contract stage. The mortgage is usually discharged before completion and evidence of release must be provided on closing the sale.

Where, on the other hand, it is clear that the proceeds of sale will not cover the outstanding balance of the mortgage, or may not do so, an intending vendor should make contact with the lending institution in advance of sale. In the case of certain commercial properties, the agreement of the National Asset Management Agency may be required. Such contact will provide the parties with an opportunity to discuss sale of the property and arrangements for discharging the mortgage, and thereby avoid the undesirable delays which frequently arise where no such advance contact has been made between them. While I am in principle well disposed to the introduction of improved arrangements to facilitate vendor sales of mortgaged property, such as the possible introduction of pre-approved consent to sale certificates as suggested by the Deputy, this is a matter which would, in the first instance, benefit from discussions between the Law Society and the lending institutions. I have therefore asked my Department to draw the attention of both the Law Society and the lending institutions to the Deputy's suggestion.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

Questions (170)

Finian McGrath

Question:

170. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will clarify the position of Garda vetting process in respect of a person (details supplied) as there seems to be significant delay in the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15460/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that a vetting application in respect of the person referred to has been received by the Garda Central Vetting Unit. However, further enquiries are being made. Once completed the application will be returned to the registered organisation concerned.

Garda Transport Provision

Questions (171)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

171. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda cars based in Connemara at present; the stations they are based in; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15518/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

Decisions in relation to the provision and allocation of Garda vehicles are a matter for the Garda Commissioner in the light of his identified operational demands and the availability of resources.

Responsibility for the efficient deployment of Garda vehicles in each Division is assigned to the Divisional Officer, who may allocate vehicles between stations, as required by operational circumstances. The Deputy will appreciate that a degree of flexibility in allocating and re-allocating vehicles among stations, so as to best match the allocation of resources with policing priorities, is essential to the efficient management of the Garda fleet. As a consequence it is not fully practicable to provide a breakdown of Garda vehicles by individual area.

However, I am advised by the Garda authorities that there are currently 11 Garda vehicles allocated to stations covering Connemara.