Lease Agreements

Questions (300)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

300. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total amount of money that has been paid by his Department to a private organisation (details supplied); if he will specify the legal basis for these payments and, in the absence of such a legal basis, when he proposes to get repayment of the money that has been paid to the private organisation concerned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23300/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

There is a lease in place between the school and the GAA club referred to by the Deputy. My Department understands that the GAA club is also leased from Cork City Council. My Department is not a party to either lease and cannot comment on the legal basis for either lease.

My Department's records show that the initial agreement between the school and the GAA club was for annual rental of €16,507 (£13,000 punts) in 1999 with provision for an annual rental review. The current annual rent payable to the GAA club is €32,000 per annum which was agreed between the school and the GAA club in July 2004. The annual rent has remained unchanged since then. Leasing arrangements between Cork City Council and the GAA club are not a matter for my Department and I will therefore not comment on those.

A major building project to provide permanent accommodation for the school is at an advanced stage of architectural planning. My Department will continue to progress this project to provide a permanent building for the school which will allow the school to vacate the existing temporary accommodation thus removing the need for further rental payments.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (301)

David Stanton

Question:

301. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 109 of 25 February 2014, when the information regarding special classes and integration into mainstream schooling will be made available as promised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23311/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The information in question has now issued to the Deputy. I regret the delay in this regard and apologise for any inconvenience it may have caused.

Education Policy

Questions (302)

Noel Coonan

Question:

302. Deputy Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reasons section 28 of the 1998 Education Act 1998, which empowers his Department to put in place a nationally agreed complaints-grievance procedure for parents has not yet been implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23319/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Section 28 of the Education Act 1998 provides for grievance and appeal procedures in schools. It expresses a desirability of determining appeals and resolving grievances in the school concerned.

I am not satisfied with the current provisions of Section 28. I plan to revise it in order to provide in law for a Parent and Student Charter. I plan to consult with the Ombudsman for Children's Office on this matter. Changing how schools engage with, listen and respond to parent concerns will be an important part of a Charter. Providing parents with the rationale for any decision is important. If schools help parents to understand the basis for a decision parents are more likely to accept the fairness of decisions.

International Students

Questions (303)

Clare Daly

Question:

303. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will introduce legislation to protect students and staff in language colleges, in view of the fact that a number of these colleges collapsed in 2011 in similar circumstances to the current closures, which could have been avoided if changes had been brought in then. [23330/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012 makes provision for a new quality framework for education institutions targeting international students, centred around an International Education Mark and a related Code of Practice. Institutions applying for authorisation to use the Mark will have to both agree their overall procedures for quality assurance with Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) and demonstrate their compliance with the Code.

QQI are currently finalising development of the Mark and the Code. The agency has just published a White Paper outlining, for consultation purposes, the proposed policy to be adopted regarding authorisation to use the Mark. This is available on its website www.qqi.ie. The consultation process will be open until 25 July 2014. It is the intention that the first applications for the Mark will be taken by QQI in the last quarter of this year.

Regarding the immediate concerns raised by the closure of a number of private colleges, I and my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality have established a Task Force to urgently examine the issues involved. The Task Force is chaired by the two Departments and includes representatives from QQI, Enterprise Ireland and City of Dublin Education and Training Board as well as representatives of the private high-quality higher education and English language sectors and the Irish Council for International Students (ICOS).

The Group is charged with assessing the scale of the issue and, in particular, the number of genuine students who have not yet been accommodated. It will also determine what capacity is available in the sector to make accommodation for students and will oversee a system that seeks to make such accommodation.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (304)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

304. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress that has been made with the provision of a replacement school building for a school (details supplied) in County Galway; when this building will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23333/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to confirm that the accommodation brief for the school, referred to by the Deputy, has been finalised and agreement in principle for this brief has been reached with the school authority.

My Department will be in further contact with the school concerned in relation to the next stage of the architectural planning process shortly.

Education and Training Boards

Questions (305)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

305. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a complete list of CTCs in operation during 2012-13; and his plans to integrate these into ETBs. [23342/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

On the 1st January 2014 a number of former FÁS Training Centres were transferred to appropriate Education and Training Boards. As part of this process, responsibility for funding and contracting with Community Training Centres (CTCs) attached to those Training Centres was also transferred to the relevant Education and Training Board. It is expected that the remaining former FÁS Training Centres will transfer to the Education and Training Boards on 1 July 2014. The responsibility for the remaining Community Training Centres will be transferred to the appropriate Education and Training Boards on 1st July, 2014. The funding and contractual relationship with the CTCs attached to those centres will also transfer on that date.The list of CTCs in operation in 2012/2013 and their transfer date to an Education and Training Board is set out in the following table.

List of CTCs in operation during 2012-13 and date of transfer to ETB

-

CTC

ETB

Date Changed

Dublin

Ballark CTC, Dublin 9

City of Dublin ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

Dublin

Ballymun CTC, Dublin 11

City of Dublin ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

Dublin

Blanchardstown CTC, Dublin 15

Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

Dublin

Discovery Centre CTC, Dublin 17

City of Dublin ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

Dublin

Finglas CTC, Dublin 11

City of Dublin ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

Dublin

Liberties CTC, Dublin 8

City of Dublin ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

Dublin

Lourdes Youth and Community Services Ltd., Dublin 1

City of Dublin ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

Dublin

North Centre City Community Action Project, Dublin 1

City of Dublin ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

Dublin

North Wall CTC, Dublin 1

City of Dublin ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

Dublin

Dublin South East CTC, Dublin 2

City of Dublin ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

Dublin

St. Vincent's Trust CTC, Dublin 1

City of Dublin ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

Dublin

Stoneybatter CTC, Dublin 7

City of Dublin ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

Dublin

Tolka Valley CTC, Dublin 11

City of Dublin ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

Dublin

Dun Laoghaire CTC, Co Dublin

Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

Dublin

Kylemore CTC, Dublin 10

City of Dublin ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

Dublin

Ronanstown CTC, Co Dublin

Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

Dublin

Cherry Orchard CTC, Dublin 10

City of Dublin ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

Mid West

Clare Youth Service, Co Clare

Limerick & Clare ETB

To transfer to ETB on 30 June 2014

Mid West

Limerick Youth Service, Limerick

Limerick & Clare ETB

To transfer to ETB on 30 June 2014

Mid West

Thurles Youth Development Project, Co Tipperary

Tipperary ETB

To transfer to ETB on 30 June 2014

Mid West

Nenagh CTC, Co Tipperary

Tipperary ETB

To transfer to ETB on 30 June 2014

Midlands

Athlone Youth Enterprises, Co Westmeath

Longford & Westmeath ETB

To transfer to ETB on 30 June 2014

Midlands

Mullingar CTC, Co Westmeath

Longford & Westmeath ETB

To transfer to ETB on 30 June 2014

Midlands

Tullamore CTC, Co Offaly

Laois & Offaly ETB

To transfer to ETB on 30 June 2014

Midlands

Newbridge CTC, Co Kildare

Kildare & Wicklow ETB

To transfer to ETB on 30 June 2014

North East

Dundalk CTC, Co Louth

Louth & Meath ETB

To transfer to ETB on 30 June 2014

North East

Drogheda CTC, Co Louth

Louth & Meath ETB

To transfer to ETB on 30 June 2014

North West

Sligo CTC, Co Sligo

Mayo, Sligo & Leitrim ETB

To transfer to ETB on 30 June 2014

South East

Carlow Youth Employment Centre, Co Carlow

Kilkenny & Carlow ETB

To transfer to ETB on 30 June 2014

South East

Clonmel Youth Employment Centre, Co Tipperary

Tipperary ETB

To transfer to ETB on 30 June 2014

South East

Kilkenny Employment for Youth, Co Kilkenny

Kilkenny & Carlow ETB

To transfer to ETB on 30 June 2014

South East

Waterford Youth Training Centre, Waterford

Waterford & Wexford ETB

To transfer to ETB on 30 June 2014

South East

Youth Training. Wexford, Co Wexford

Waterford & Wexford ETB

To transfer to ETB on 30 June 2014

South West

Blackpool Youth Training Centre, Co Cork

Cork ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

South West

Gurranabraher & Knocknaheeny Community Training Centre, Cork

Cork ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

South West

Mayfield Youth Training Centre, Co Cork

Cork ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

South West

Tralee CTC, Co Kerry

Kerry ETB

Transferred on 31/12/2013

West

Galway CTC, Galway City

Galway & Roscommon ETB

To transfer to ETB on 30 June 2014

Education and Training Boards

Questions (306)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

306. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that SIPTU has tried to engage with IACTO, SOLAS and his Department on the issue of CTCs; and that his Department have refused to meet on the issue; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that IACTO are not disseminating the information. [23343/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Through a series of decisions the Government decided to replace 33 vocational education committees (VECs) with 16 new entities, to be known as education and training boards (ETBs), and to establish SOLAS to replace FÁS.

The proposals in relation to SOLAS, as agreed by the Government, envisage a key role for the ETBs in relation to the future delivery of further education and training in an integrated manner. Significant developments have already taken place with the establishment of ETBs on 1 July 2013, and the establishment of SOLAS on 27 October 2013. Seven SOLAS training centres and their staff transferred to 4 ETBs on 1 January 2014. Responsibility for the Community Training Centres attached to these training centres also transferred to an appropriate ETB. The second phase of transfer of 12 SOLAS training centres to a further 7 ETBs will take place on 1 July 2014. SOLAS and the ETBs have established a Transfer Implementation Group to ensure that there is a smooth transfer process.

Community Training Centres (CTCs) are independent community-based organisations, each with its own board and governance structure. CTCs are managed locally and funded directly from SOLAS or ETBs. SOLAS has regular meetings with the employer representative body (IACTO) for the 38 independent community boards governing the CTCs and has kept it informed of changes in the Further Education and Training sector.

In particular, this has included information on the transfer of all SOLAS training functions, including responsibilities for CTCs, to ETBs. My Department has no plans at present to alter existing arrangements in relation to CTCs and their work in meeting the training and employment needs of early school leavers, primarily aged between 16 and 21, in the community will continue. The Department recently met with representatives from CTCs to brief them on the Programme of Reform for the sector.

It would be a matter for SOLAS and IACTO to respond to any request from SIPTU in their own right but I am not aware of any approach by SIPTU to meet my Department on the issue. I am aware that SIPTU have referred a matter related to the payment of enhanced redundancy to staff in one CTC which has closed to the Labour Relations Commission. Guidance has been sought by SOLAS on the matter of the payment of enhanced redundancy to CTC staff and staff in other bodies from my Department and the issue is currently being reviewed.

Education and Training Boards

Questions (307)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

307. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that CTC workers have agreements in place with IACTO-SOLAS on collective issues such as redundancies and annual leave but they have been informed that his Department will not honour these agreements as was the experience in an organisation (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will commit to ensuring that negotiated agreements are honoured. [23344/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Community Training Centres (CTCs) are funded through SOLAS and the Education and Training Boards. They are managed and operated by independent local Boards of Management. The staff are employed by these groups and my Department does not have a direct role in staffing and employment issues relating to these bodies.

Guidance has been sought by SOLAS on the payment of enhanced redundancy to employees of CTCs and the matter is being reviewed in the Department. I understand from the Cork Education and Training Board that the decision to close the Community Training Centre referred to by the Deputy was taken by the CTC Board of Management and that statutory redundancy was paid to the former employees.

Teaching Council of Ireland

Questions (308)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

308. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will examine the current situation relating to the probation of teachers for primary schools where teachers who complete their probation in special classes are not eligible for panel placement in mainstream classes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23397/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Teaching Council is responsible for procedures and criteria for the probation of teachers. In accordance with the Council's current arrangements, where a primary teacher is employed and probated in a restricted setting such as a special class, the probationary process is considered to be partially carried out and the teacher's registration will remain subject to the condition of probation. It is open to such teachers who complete the probationary process in a restricted setting, and who wish to complete the probationary process in full, to do so when they are teaching in a mainstream setting. There are standard redeployment arrangements in operation to deal with the redeployment of any surplus permanent and CID holding teachers and these are published on my Department's website. Teachers who complete probation in a restricted setting are not subject to any time limit to complete probation in mainstream settings. The arrangements at primary level for panel access for fixed term (temporary/substitute) and part-time teachers for the 2014-2015 school year are set out in Department Circular 0057/2013 which is also available on the Department website. The supplementary panel set up in accordance with the arrangements set out in this circular will be used for appointments to full-time permanent posts in primary schools but only where those posts are not otherwise required to facilitate the redeployment of surplus permanent and CID holding teachers.

Emergency Planning

Questions (309)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

309. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the protocols that are in place in his Department in the event of a status red - severe weather warning for schools in the interest of child safety. [23398/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The lead agencies in relation to determining the appropriate emergency response in any region where there is an extreme weather event or other critical incident are the Local Authorities and blue light services. In that context my Department has brought to the attention of all schools, via departmental circular PBU 04/04 – Contingency Planning in the context of a national emergency. In particular this circular requires schools to ensure that up-to-date contact details are provided to the local authority.

The particular issue raised by the Deputy in the event of a status red - severe weather warning code is a matter of wider application as it could be equally be applicable to those travelling for any reason. The Government Task Force on Emergency Planning, in which my Department participates, co-ordinates the overall response to such events. My officials are currently engaging with the task force on this specific issue with a view to informing future practice.

Flood Prevention Measures

Questions (310)

Dan Neville

Question:

310. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on correspondence (details supplied) in County Limerick regarding flood defences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22389/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

Many properties within the town of Adare, including the development mentioned by the Deputy, lie within the “Benefiting Area” or floodplain of the River Maigue Catchment Drainage Scheme (CDS) which is under the statutory care of the Commissioners of Public Works. The embankments protecting the Maigue Catchment floodplain were constructed to a standard to protect agricultural land from flooding and, as such, do not confer the level of protection usually associated with residential developments.

Considerable work has been done by the OPW in the last ten years to strengthen the embankments, and the Maigue CDS will continue to be maintained by the OPW to a standard above that for which it was originally designed.

Adare has been designated an Area for Further Assessment (AFA) under the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) study for the Shannon River Basin District. Under the CFRAM Study, work on draft flood maps for this location will be finalised, following public consultation, during 2014 and, following an examination of all options to reduce flood risk, Flood Risk Management Plans, which will include recommendations on both structural and non-structural flood mitigation measures, are due to be completed in 2015. Further information and updates on the Study are available via the project website www.shannoncframstudy.ie.

Valuation Office

Questions (311)

Barry Cowen

Question:

311. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide details of the proposed programme of revaluation by the Valuation Office of commercial properties; the dates by which complete revaluation of each local authority area will be revalued; the number of staff employed to carry out this task; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22470/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Valuation Office is currently undertaking a systematic programme of revaluing, for rates purposes, all industrial and commercial properties in the State. The immediate objective of the national revaluation programme is to ensure that the first revaluation of all rating authority areas is conducted as soon as possible. Revaluation is conducted across all relevant properties in one or more rating authority areas at the same time. However, implementation of the national programme cannot occur across the entire country simultaneously and the programme must, accordingly, be operated on a phased basis. Following the first revaluation, subsequent revaluations of each rating authority area will then be carried out on a cyclical basis no sooner than five years and no later than ten years after the first revaluation (Section 25 of the Valuation Act 2001).

It was originally envisaged that the first revaluation of all commercial properties on a nationwide basis would be completed by 2018. However, while commendable progress has been made, the achievement of this target will require an acceleration of the programme and enactment of the Valuation (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2012.  This Bill had its Second Stage reading in Seanad Éireann on 11th October, 2012 and is currently awaiting Committee Stage. It provides for a number of initiatives to advance the roll out of the revaluation  programme, such as the piloting of an "occupier assisted valuation" option which will be available to allow ratepayers in appropriate circumstances to assist in the revaluation of their local authority area, which if it proves successful could be extended to other areas. There is also provision in the Bill to allow for the assessment of valuations by contract valuers under an external delivery scheme which is also being initiated as a pilot project. The Bill also contains provisions to streamline the overall process of revaluation and the appeal mechanisms available to ratepayers subsequent to the revaluation.

Steady progress is being made on the National Revaluation Programme. Between 2007 and 2010 the three Rating Authority areas of South Dublin, Fingal and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown were revalued comprising c.17,700 commercial properties which represents approximately 22% of the national rateable valuation base. Additionally, there are currently six revaluation projects in progress which include the Rating Authority areas of Dublin City, Waterford City and County and Dungarvan Town together with Limerick City and County comprising c. 38,000 commercial properties or 32.6% of the valuation base. The Dublin City and Waterford projects are now largely complete, except for the appeal phase which is currently under way, while the first phase of the Limerick revaluation will be completed in June, 2014 with the issue of approximately 6,700 proposed valuation certificates to ratepayers in the newly merged City and County council area.

The approximate change in rates liability for commercial ratepayers that has resulted from revaluation in the rating authorities which have been completed to date or are now near completion indicates that generally in or around 55% have a reduced liability, while in or around 45% would have an increased liability.

Section 9(10) of the Valuation Act 2001 provides that the Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the performance of his functions. Section 19(1) of the said Act empowers the Commissioner to make a Valuation Order specifying a rating authority area over which a revaluation is to be conducted, after consultation with the Minister for the Environment and Local Government and the rating authority concerned. 

The statutory consultation process, required before a valuation order can be made,  is under way with a further three rating authorities - Galway City Council, Kilkenny County Council and Carlow County Council. Decisions in relation to a further set of rating authorities for revaluation are currently under consideration by the Valuation Office.

The number of staff which it is proposed to commit to future revaluation projects cannot be precise at this stage due to a number of variable factors which are expected to impact on the available resources. The staff projections will depend on the numbers required for other statutory and other work such as the ongoing revision of valuation programme and the requirement for staff to handle appeals to the Commissioner of Valuation. Currently, the valuer complement is 69, the majority of whom will be employed on future revaluation projects. As was the case with previous projects, the staff will be organised in discrete project teams, the membership of which may vary in number from approximately six to twelve according to the projected workload and complexity of each project.

The current position as regards projects in train or pending is set out in the following table:

Rating Authority Area

Date Valuation Order Signed

Publication Date for the

New Valuation List

Number [1] of Items

% of Valuation Base

[Pre - Revaluation]

Dublin City

5/05/2011

31/12/2013 *

20845

26.62

Waterford City

12/12/2011

31/12/2013 *

2129

1.44

Waterford County

12/12/2011

31/12/2013 *

1231

0.39

Dungarvan Town

12/12/2011

31/12/2013 *

572

0.24

Limerick City

29/03/2012

31/12/2014

3100

1.94

Limerick County

29/03/2012

31/12/2014

3700

1.98

Galway City

Valuation Order pending

-

3702

2.30

Kilkenny County

Valuation Order pending

-

2967

1.40

Carlow County

Valuation Order pending

-

1888

0.78

Totals

-

-

40134

37.09

* Appeal decisions pending.

[1] 2009 baseline data.

Flood Prevention Measures

Questions (312)

Michael P. Kitt

Question:

312. Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will consider a temporary barrier at a location (details supplied) in County Galway, to deal with the threat of flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22610/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The Office of Public Works has no responsibility for the maintenance of any channel at these locations. The investigation of localised flooding problems of this nature is a matter for Galway County Council in the first instance. More generally, flooding problems in Portumna are being assessed under the Shannon Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Study. Good progress is being made on this Study by the Office of Public Works working with its technical consultants, local authorities and other stakeholders. The national CFRAM Programme is taking a strategic approach that recognises the need, in line with international best practice, to move to a more sustainable, planned and risk-based approach to dealing with flooding problems. Under the CFRAM Programme, work on draft flood maps will be finalised, following public consultation, during 2014 and, following examination of all options to reduce flood risk, Flood Risk Management Plans, including recommendations on both structural and non-structural mitigation measures, are due to be completed in 2015. Further information and updates on the Study are available via the project website www.shannoncframstudy.ie.

Pending the completion of the CFRAM study, it is open to Galway County Council to submit an application for funding for mitigation measures under the OPW's Minor Flood Mitigation Works & Coastal Protection Scheme. Any application received will be assessed under the eligibility criteria, which include a requirement that any measures are cost beneficial, and having regard to the overall availability of funding. It is open to Galway County Council also to undertake mitigation works at this location using its own resources.

Heritage Sites

Questions (313)

Regina Doherty

Question:

313. Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the Office of Public Works is in a position to provide all existing plans and or technical drawings of the historic landmark of Skryne Tower, County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22625/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The Office of Public Works retains no plans or drawings of Skryne Tower, County Meath.

Legislative Measures

Questions (314)

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

314. Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when the emergency legislation, Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts, will no longer be needed and be allowed to lapse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22640/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

Under section 12 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2013, I must review the  Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts 2009-2013 annually and cause a written report of my findings to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas. As part of that review I am required to consider whether the measures continue to be necessary having regard to the purposes of the legislation, the revenues of the State and State commitments in respect of public service pay and pensions. My next such report will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas by 30 June 2014.