Undocumented Irish in the USA

Questions (48)

Brendan Smith

Question:

48. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the progress made on the possibility of immigration reform legislation being passed by the United States Congress in 2014; the proposals, if any, he has to have further discussions with members of Congress and members of the US Administration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18456/14]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

This is an issue to which I accord very high priority and I have maintained contact, both directly and through our Embassy in Washington, with many key players in Congress who are influential in steering the process of US immigration reform.

The Taoiseach discussed immigration reform and the plight of our undocumented in many of the meetings and public engagements during the recent St Patrick’s Day visit to Washington DC. In addition to substantive discussion of the issues with President Obama and Vice President Biden, the Taoiseach also discussed the prospects for progress with a range of other members of Congress including Speaker John Boehner; Congressman Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee which has responsibility for immigration legislation in the House; Congressman Paul Ryan; the Congressional Friends of Ireland; and Senator Patrick Leahy, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversaw the passage of the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill last June. Without in any way under-estimating the political complexities that persist around the immigration reform discussion in the United States, we were encouraged to hear views from both Democrats and Republicans that there is now a growing consensus in favour of reform. The Government has instructed Ambassador Anderson and her team, working with the Irish American lobby groups who have already put in such a great effort, to continue their efforts to persuade members of Congress to seize every opportunity to make immigration reform a reality. The Embassy has actively pursued this since the St Patrick’s Day period and this will continue in the period ahead.

Foreign Conflicts

Question No. 51 answered with Question No. 40.

Question No. 52 answered with Question No. 39.

Questions (49, 50)

Brendan Smith

Question:

49. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has held discussions recently with the Ukrainian ambassador regarding the escalating crisis in Ukraine; if he is satisfied with the actions being taken at an EU level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18510/14]

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Brendan Smith

Question:

50. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has held discussions recently with the Russian ambassador regarding the escalating crisis in Ukraine; if he is satisfied with the actions being taken at an EU level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18511/14]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 49 and 50 together.

While I have not had recent discussions with the Ukrainian or the Russian Ambassador, my officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have been in regular communication with them. As regards the action being taken by the EU, I believe that throughout this crisis the Union’s messages have been strong and they have been consistent and clear. All Member States have been, and are, united in their views that what has happened in Ukraine is completely unacceptable and that it will have consequences for our relations with Russia. From the outset, the EU has played an active role in trying to facilitate a resolution to the crisis in Ukraine. In addition to its scheduled meetings, the Foreign Affairs Council has met twice in extraordinary session to discuss the situation in Ukraine and the Heads of State and Government also have discussed Ukraine in extraordinary session as well as during the regular meetings of the European Council.

The Heads of State and Government on 6 March set out a three-phase roadmap in relation to targeted measures against the Russian Federation in the absence of steps to de-escalate the situation. They also endorsed the decision of Foreign Ministers to suspend talks with Russia on visa matters and on a New Agreement, both stated priorities of the Russian Government. Following the holding of the referendum in Crimea, the Foreign Affairs Council implemented the second phase of measures involving the imposition of travel restrictions and an asset freeze against 21 Russian and Ukrainian officials involved in undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

On Monday of this week, I participated in the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, where there was a detailed discussion of the crisis in Ukraine. Ministers decided to expand the list of those to whom visa bans and asset freezes will apply. Preparatory work continues on so-called Phase Three measures so that further steps can be taken should they be required. Ministers also agreed to send an expert mission to Ukraine to prepare possible EU assistance in support of police and rule-of-law.

The Foreign Affairs Council also adopted a Decision on macro-financial assistance for Ukraine, which brings the total amount of funding being made available by the EU to €1.6 billion. The support is part of a broader package of international support put together by the IMF and conditioned on Ukraine's implementation of wide-ranging reforms

The EU will also continue its engagement in international facilitation initiatives involving the UN, the OSCE and others. Ireland is participating fully in these efforts: we sent one officer to the initial interim and another to the subsequent Polish-led second interim OSCE missions. One Irish person has been seconded to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission agreed upon on 21 March and others are available should the mission be expanded as planned.

The Foreign Affairs Council on Monday expressed strong support for the holding of free and fair presidential elections on 25 May. Ireland is sending a team of observers to Ukraine to help achieve that objective, one which will allow the Ukrainian people to determine their own future and help build trust across the country. It is in the interest of the entire region that a sovereign, prosperous, stable, democratic and inclusive Ukraine emerges from the current crisis.

Question No. 51 answered with Question No. 40.
Question No. 52 answered with Question No. 39.

Banking Sector Regulation

Questions (53)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

53. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance with regard to the appointment of a person (details supplied) as an independent agent by the special liquidators to examine whether KPMG should be sued for its role in auditing INBS's books, if this person has been in receipt of any employ or fees from Irish Bank Resolution Corporation since the bank's liquidation; if his attention has been drawn to any work done previously or ongoing by this person for KPMG; if he is satisfied with the independence of the special liquidator's appointment; if he provided any direction as to who should be appointed; and his views as to whether a person from outside the State should have been appointed. [18257/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Due to commercial confidentiality and sensitivities, and also client/solicitor confidentiality, the Special Liquidators do not propose to provide details of whether there was/are amounts payable by IBRC (in Special Liquidation) to the firm concerned. The Special Liquidators have given significant consideration to which firm should be appointed to carry out an independent review of the legal advice provided to IBRC, INBS and to them by McCann FitzGerald Solicitors concerning these legal proceedings. The firm appointed have confirmed that they have no conflict in relation to the matters being reviewed. The firm will be entirely independent in their review and advice and will not be subject to the direction of the Special Liquidators. I am satisfied that the matter is being dealt with appropriately by the Special Liquidators.

IBRC Liquidation

Questions (54)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

54. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if at any time the special liquidator of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation considered issuing proceedings against former director of INBS, Mr. Cornelius P. Power; and, if it did, but dropped these proceedings, the reason it considered that course and the reason for not pursuing it. [18258/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As the Deputy is aware Dr. Power had been a party to the proceedings against the former Directors of INBS. However, following further review and legal advice, it was decided by the then board of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, in consultation with me, to discontinue the action against Dr Power. I am advised by the Special Liquidators that in light of that decision they have not re-visited this issue. As the proceedings in question are before the High Court it would not be appropriate for me to comment futher on this matter.

Tax Code

Questions (55)

Michael McGrath

Question:

55. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the tax expenditure associated with the capital gains tax exemption for property introduced in budget 2013 and extended in budget 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18259/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners, that the capital gains tax relief contained in Section 604A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (enacted in Finance Act 2012 and extended by Finance (No 2)Act 2013 will have  no cost, in terms of capital gains tax forgone,  for a period of seven years from the time any properties to which the relief applies were acquired.    Any such properties sold within seven years of being acquired will not qualify for the relief.  Disposals made after the seven year period of ownership will be subject to capital gains tax on any gain but effectively at a reduced rate by reference to the fraction that 7 years bears to the overall period of ownership.  It is not possible at this time to estimate when such properties will be disposed of in the future or the amount of chargeable capital gain, if any, that may arise on such disposals.  Accordingly, it is not possible to estimate what the cost will be in the future in terms of capital gains tax forgone.

Living City Initiative

Questions (56)

Michael McGrath

Question:

56. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when he expects a response from the EU on the application under EU state aid rules for permission to proceed with the Living City initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18260/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

An application for EU State Aid approval in respect of the Living City Initiative was submitted on 27th March and we look forward to hearing from the European Commission. It is difficult to be certain how long this approval process might take, but in other cases it has been up to a year. The Initiative will also be subject to a commencement order and the exact areas to be included will be decided upon by the Minister for Finance.

Financial Irregularities

Questions (57)

Michael McGrath

Question:

57. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of complaints against financial institutions in each of the past five years in respect of the sale of unsuitable investments; the number that were upheld; the compensation awarded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18261/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Firstly, I must point out that the Financial Services Ombudsman is independent in the carrying out of his duties.  I have no role in the day to day workings of the office. However, the Financial Services Ombudsman has informed me that the information requested by the Deputy is as follows:  

 Year

Total Number of

Investment Complaints

Mis-selling of Investments

Mis-selling Findings Upheld

Compensation Awarded

2009

1309

330

9

€43,000

2010

1119

323

46

€374,286

2011

1024

463

17

€385,109

2012

840

422

14

€188,400

2013

770

437

7

€264,004