Foreign Conflicts

Questions (69)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

69. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in view of the recent national commemoration of the Irish Famine, and Ireland's experience with famine, if he will address the ongoing failure of the international community to deliver aid to those starving to death in Syria as caused by the Assad's regime policy of starve or surrender; if he will insist that aid is delivered across Syria's borders to hundreds of thousands of Syrians in need of food; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23193/14]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Our National Famine commemoration, as well as marking a very tragic and deeply important part of our history, also serves as an opportunity to remind ourselves that famine is still a contemporary issue in the world today, affecting the lives of hundreds of millions of people who live with food insecurity and hunger. One such example is Syria where the protracted and tragic conflict has resulted in unprecedented levels of humanitarian need. Access to food, water, electricity and medical supplies has been interrupted in areas witnessing armed activities. A growing number of family breadwinners have become unemployed and soaring food and fuel prices across the country have exacerbated the situation. As the number of fatalities surpasses an estimated 150,000 people, there are now over 9.3 million people within Syria who are in need of immediate life-saving support, with a further 2.8 million Syrian refugees requiring assistance in neighbouring countries. The conflict has been characterised by ongoing and persistent violations, by all parties to the conflict, of international humanitarian and human rights law, including the denial of humanitarian access to those in need. UN Security Council Resolution 2139, adopted in February 2014, expressly demands that all parties – and, in particular the Syrian authorities, promptly allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access, including across conflict lines and borders, to ensure humanitarian assistance reaches people in need. The Resolution further calls upon all parties to lift the sieges of populated areas and recalls the prohibition under international humanitarian law of the starvation of civilians as an instrument of combat.

The second Report of the UN Secretary General on the implementation of this Resolution, presented to the Security Council on 23 April, highlighted the ongoing issue of limited humanitarian access, despite the related demands made to both the Syrian Government and armed opposition groups and noted that none of the parties to the conflict have adhered to the demands of the Council. In her subsequent briefing to the Security Council, UN Under-Secretary General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, noted that, in the two months since the adoption of the Resolution, ‘far from getting better, the situation is getting worse’. USG Amos noted, in particular, the continued denial of humanitarian access to populations in need by all parties to the conflict.

Despite the immense constraints on their operations, humanitarian agencies continue to work to provide life-saving assistance to the beleaguered Syrian population. In a one month period between March and April, food assistance for 4.1 million people was dispatched by the World Food Programme, an increase of 11% on the previous month. However, obstacles to humanitarian access in besieged and hard-to-reach areas – home to almost 4 million of Syria’s citizens – only allowed for the delivery of food assistance to some 300,000 people.

For our part, Ireland has been to the fore in the international efforts to help alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people and we are one of the most generous contributors to the humanitarian response on a per capita basis. In view of the immense needs in Syria and neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees, I announced Ireland’s pledge of a further €12 million in humanitarian assistance at the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria and region in Kuwait on January 15th 2014, bringing Ireland’s overall funding commitment to Syria and the region over the period 2011 to 2014 amounts to over €26 million.

I have already approved the release of €9 million towards this pledge, bringing our contribution to date to over €23 million. Of this €9 million, almost €4 million is for operations within Syria, of which almost €3 million is specifically for food assistance.

Ireland has consistently matched our material humanitarian contribution with concrete support to international efforts to find a sustainable political solution to the crisis, and to advocate for safe and unimpeded humanitarian access. We have called for all parties to the conflict to fully respect international humanitarian law and to refrain from the targeting of civilians. On 22 May, Ireland joined with our EU partners, as well as a number of other UN Member States, in co-sponsoring a Security Council Resolution to refer the conflict in Syria to the International Criminal Court to investigate possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ireland will continue to advocate at all relevant international fora for increased support to the humanitarian relief, as well as for the full and immediate implementation by all parties to the conflict of UN Security Council Resolution 2139 on humanitarian assistance in Syria.

EU Issues

Questions (70)

Seán Crowe

Question:

70. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade considering Armenia’s decision to turn away from the EU’s Eastern Partnership initiative and join the Russian-led Customs Union, the specific bilateral engagements his Department had with the Armenian Government; and if he discussed the issue of Armenian-EU relations with his European counterparts. [23212/14]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Officials from my Department met representatives from the Armenian Embassy last October, following the decision by President Sargsyan that Armenia would join the Eurasian Customs Union, and would not proceed with the initialling of an Association Agreement with the European Union. At that meeting, it was made clear to the Armenian side that, while we respected their sovereign choice, we and other EU member states were disappointed at the decision to end work on the Association Agreement after four years of negotiations. The Armenian side cited economic and security considerations in explanation of the decision, and emphasised that Armenia still wishes to pursue closer relations with the EU. At the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in November 2013, the EU and Armenia agreed a joint statement which affirms a shared commitment to further develop and strengthen cooperation in all areas of mutual interest within the Eastern Partnership. The EU’s relationship with Armenia continues to be pursued through the Eastern Partnership, and within the overall framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy which was the subject of Ministerial discussion at the most recent meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council.

UN Resolutions

Questions (71)

Seán Crowe

Question:

71. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the Argentine Government’s request for bilateral dialogue with the British Government on the question of the sovereignty of the Malvinas-Falklands islands; and if he has discussed the issue with representatives of either Government. [23213/14]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) has been the subject of resolutions adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, as well as its special committee on decolonisation. The committee adopted its most recent resolution in June 2013 and expressed its regret that, in spite of widespread international support for negotiation between the two Governments, implementation of General Assembly resolutions on the question had not started. The Governments were requested to consolidate the current process of dialogue and cooperation through the resumption of negotiations in order to find as soon as possible a peaceful solution to the dispute relating to the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), in accordance with resolutions 2065 (XX) and 3160 (XXVIII), among others. I would encourage the UK and Argentina, two countries with which Ireland has excellent bilateral relations, to pursue resolution of their differences on this matter, based on the relevant UN resolutions.

Mortgage Applications Approvals

Questions (72)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

72. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he has concerns that persons are being prevented from purchasing a family home and getting on the property ladder because of their inability to pay the substantial deposits that are a requirement of banks (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22278/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As Minister for Finance, it is not appropriate for me to become involved in individual cases.

The decision on the approval of a mortgage for a borrower is a commercial decision for the lending institution concerned.  It is important that each lending institution is allowed to properly and independently assess the risks that it is considering when deciding whether to approve a loan.

My Department is committed, under the 'Construction 2020' strategy, to examine the concept of a mortgage insurance scheme. The objective of any scheme would be to ensure adequate availability of mortgage finance on affordable terms for new completions, particularly for 'First Time Buyers'. In doing so I would aim to provide the certainty needed to support greater levels of investment in new housing, with the associated benefits for the construction sector and ultimately for the consumer. Once this examination has been completed and presented to me I will consider the next steps.

Tax Credits

Questions (73)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

73. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance the amount the changes to the one-parent family tax credit system will save in 2014; his views that the measure is forcing some parents into poverty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22720/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As you are aware the One-Parent Family Tax Credit (OPFTC) has been replaced with a new Single Person Child Carer Credit from 1 January 2014. The restructured credit is of the same value i.e. €1,650 per annum as the one-parent family tax credit and also includes the same entitlement to the additional €4,000 extended standard rate band, which increases it to €36,800 per annum, before liability to higher rate of income tax arises. However, the credit is more targeted in that it is, in the first instance, only available to the principal carer of the child. 

When first proposed in Budget 2014 it was initially estimated that the changes would yield around €18 million in 2014 and €25 million in a full year. However, as a result of an amendment which I brought forward at Committee Stage of the Finance Bill, which allowed a principal carer who is entitled to the credit and who does not wish to avail of it to surrender it to a secondary carer, the expected yield is now estimated at €16 million in 2014 and €23 million in a full year.

It is essential to regularly review all tax reliefs, credits and incentives in order to ensure that they are properly targeted and if necessary re-focused in order that they can achieve the socio-economic objectives that are set for them. 

The new credit is designed to be an activation measure, which was the original intention behind the OPFTC. It is designed to be an in-work benefit to support the primary carer to take up, or remain in, employment. It should not be considered as a supplementary source of income, on which the financial support of a parent depends. 

The Commission on Taxation acknowledged that the OPFTC played a role in supporting and incentivising the labour market participation of single and widowed parents. However, in its recommendations it concluded that the credit should be retained but that it should be allocated to the principal carer only. The restructuring of the credit will achieve such an outcome.

It is important to note that there is no tax credit available to assist married couples with the costs associated with raising their children. The changes that were introduced for single person child carers in Budget 2014, ensure that the benefit of the tax credit goes, in the first instance, only to the person who has the care of the child for the majority of the tax year.

While I understand the difficulties being experienced by those that have lost the OPFTC and who have not qualified for the new SPCCC, I am satisfied that the new credit targets limited Exchequer resources to where they are needed most.

Carbon Tax Collection

Questions (74)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

74. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm where the money collected through the carbon tax is spent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22802/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Deputy will be aware that, in general, I am opposed to the hypothecation of revenue funds as it reduces the flexibility of the Government to prioritise and allocate funds as deemed necessary at a particular time. However the Deputy will be aware that Exchequer funding has been used, among other things, to boost energy efficiency (for example the Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme), support rural transport and alleviate fuel poverty (through the National Fuel Scheme).

NAMA Operations

Questions (75, 76)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

75. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Finance if he or his Department has had any contact with the National Asset Management Agency and its employees, including the NAMA chairman, Mr Frank Daly, in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22856/14]

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Stephen Donnelly

Question:

76. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Finance if he or his Department has at any time sought changes to specific personnel at the National Asset Management Agency, and-or to have named NAMA individuals reassigned so that they were not dealing with specific borrowers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22857/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 75 and 76 together.

As has been published in the Secretary General's diary on the Department of Finance's website http://www.finance.gov.ie/sites/default/files/December%202013.pdf, the Secretary General along with other senior officials met with Mr Crosbie on December 13th of last year. The meeting was not related to Mr Crosbie's dealings with NAMA.

Neither myself nor my Officials have made any attempt to influence NAMA in the manner suggested. As the Deputy is aware any attempt to influence NAMA in this way would contravene Section 221 of the NAMA Act, which makes it an offence to communicate with NAMA with the intention of influencing the making of a decision in relation to the performance of its functions.

Tax Code

Questions (77)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

77. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the reason increases in taxes and VAT were introduced for 4 x 4 vehicles in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23152/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that there have been no changes to the taxation of '4 x 4' vehicles other than the general VRT increases from 1 January 2013 and the increase in the standard rate of VAT on 1 January 2012.  The VRT changes extended the number of CO2 categories from seven to eleven for passenger cars while the rates on commercial vehicles were left unchanged. In this regard, '4 x 4' vehicles were not subject to any special increases.

Pension Provisions

Questions (78)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

78. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance if he will allow persons in private pensions to cash in their pensions without a tax liability if they invest in a start-up business; if he sees a merit in such a move; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22127/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The tax treatment of pension savings in the State is one that is common across most other EU Member States and involves the broad exemption from tax on pension contributions paid into a pension scheme or fund and the exemption from tax of any investment growth in the pension fund, all on the understanding that the pension benefits will be subject to tax when paid out at retirement (with the exception of retirement lump sums which may be taken tax-free to a lifetime limit of €200,000).

The tax regime (and indeed the regulatory regime) governing the activities of supplementary or private pension provision are aimed at encouraging and also protecting the pension savings of individuals in order to allow them the opportunity to provide for an adequate income in retirement.

A major difficulty with the Deputy's proposal is that it carries the very significant risk that, if things go badly wrong, individuals will not only lose their investment in a new business but will also lose the pension savings which would otherwise have helped provide for their old age. The State, for its part, would not only lose the tax revenues it should otherwise receive on the pension benefits foregone but would also come under pressure to provide some form of safety net for affected individuals if it encouraged this type of business investment with individual pension savings through the tax system. I have no plans to introduce the measure being suggested.

Banking Sector

Questions (79)

Michael McGrath

Question:

79. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 46 of 1 May 2014, if he will separately disclose the proportion of AIB's non recourse lending which relates to mortgage and personal borrowing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22134/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As previously advised, I have been informed by AIB that the bank's underwriting criteria are based on the repayment capacity of the borrower. As a general rule, personal loans to individuals are not made on a non-recourse basis. Where non-recourse lending occurs (typically on higher value transactions) an appropriate alternative repayment source must be identified. AIB does not categorise loans on a recourse or non-recourse basis.

Further information in relation to AIB s loan portfolios are contained on pages 71 to 153 of AIB's 2013 Annual Financial Report.

Insurance Industry

Questions (80)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

80. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he or the Financial Regulator ever investigated any potential conflict of interest at Setanta Insurance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22161/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Setanta Insurance Company Limited (Setanta) is a Maltese incorporated company which was both authorised and prudentially supervised by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA). While its financial position is not supervised by the Central Bank of Ireland, the firm is supervised by the Central Bank for conduct of business rules, i.e. consumer protection obligations. 

The Central Bank is in contact with the MFSA in relation to Setanta since November 2013 when it identified issues during a consumer protection themed inspection.  As the issues at Setanta were prudential in nature and as the firm was prudentially supervised by the MFSA, the Central Bank referred matters to that Authority for further investigation. 

A widely reported press release was issued by Setanta Insurance on January 27th 2014 which stated that the insurer had resolved to cease carrying on the business of insurance, including further renewals of existing business, with effect from close of business of 24 January 2014. Setanta then appointed Heritage Insurance Management (Malta) Limited to undertake the run-off process and the insurer advised the MFSA accordingly. The details and operation of this run off process is a prudential matter overseen by the home regulator, the MFSA.   

On 16 April, 2014, Setanta determined that the company was insolvent. This means that Setanta does not have sufficient funds to be able to honour its full obligations towards claimants, policyholders and other creditors. Setanta was formally placed into liquidation by the MFSA following a meeting of the creditors which took place on the 30 April, 2014 where a liquidator, Mr Paul Mercieca, was appointed.

In my role as the Minister for Finance, I have responsibility for the development of national policy and the legal framework governing insurance regulation. I have no role with regard to the investigation of possible conflict of interest issues. 

The Central Bank has advised me that it has not investigated conflicts of interest in Setanta and is working to ensure that Setanta policyholders are being communicated with by the liquidator and that consumers are aware of the need to get alternative cover. 

Civil Service Code of Conduct

Questions (81)

Seamus Healy

Question:

81. Deputy Seamus Healy asked the Minister for Finance if he will ensure that the current Secretary General of his Department will not take up a position with a private sector entity until the standard Civil Service time interval has elapsed; if bodies such as the Central Bank of Ireland, National Treasury Management Agency and the National Asset Management Agency and similar agencies have adopted the Civil Service protocol as previously promised by him (details supplied). [22162/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The current Secretary General of my Department is subject to Section 20 of the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour which relates to the acceptance of outside appointments and of consultancy engagement following resignation or retirement. He is also subject to the provisions of the Official Secrets Act. As Minister for Finance, I have no role in the employment or departure of staff in the Central Bank. Under the Central Bank Act, 1942, the Central Bank Commission is responsible for administrating the staff of the Central Bank with a view to enabling the Central Bank to perform and exercise its functions and powers.

With regards to provisions for the NTMA and NAMA, in early 2013 the Chief Executive of the NTMA committed to a review of policy in respect of notice periods and post-termination restrictions on employment. The review included staff assigned to National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) who are employees of NTMA.  It was proposed by Matheson, the law firm that was engaged to carry out this review, that any required changes resulting from these recommendations would be introduced for new employees and for existing employees upon promotion. 

The NTMA has accepted and is implementing the Matheson recommendations.

Tax Reliefs Cost

Questions (82)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

82. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the cost to the Exchequer of increasing the standard tax rate band from €32,800 for a single person, €41,800 for a married couple one earner, €65,600 married couple two earners, €36,800 one parent family, by €260, €520, €1,040, €1,560, €2,080 and €2,600 respectively per annum or €5, €10, €20, €30, €40, €50 per week; and if he will state in each category the number of persons that would benefit from these annual increases. [22163/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the full year cost to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to 2014 incomes, of increasing the standard income tax band in the order of €260, €520, €1,040, €1,560, €2,080 and €2,600, while also maintaining the current monetary differences between the single persons standard band and the various other classes of tax band, is set out in the following table. The proposed extensions to the standard income tax band are assumed to also apply to civil partnerships.

-

Single person

Married - one earner

Married - two earners

One parent family

Proposed increase in standard income tax band

Estimated cost €m

Estimated cost €m

Estimated cost €m

Estimated cost €m

€260

15.5

6.2

18.2

1.1

€520

30.7

12.3

36.1

2.2

€1,040

60.4

24.4

71.1

4.3

€1,560

89.3

36.3

105.3

6.3

€2,080

117.2

47.9

138.5

8.3

€2,600

144.4

59.4

170.7

10.2

I am further advised by the Commissioners that the number of single persons, married couples - one earner, married couples - two earners and one parent families, who would benefit from these extensions of the standard income tax band would be approximately 285,000, 114,000, 215,000 and 20,600 tax units respectively.

These figures are estimates from the Revenue tax forecasting model using the latest actual data for the year 2011, adjusted as necessary for income, employment and self-employment trends in the interim. They are, therefore, provisional and may be revised. It should be noted that the figures do not include numbers or costings for 'widowed' individuals.

Insurance Industry

Questions (83, 103, 135, 152, 153, 170)

John Browne

Question:

83. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Finance his plans to restore trust in the financial services market following the liquidation of Setanta Insurance; if at national or EU level, there are any proposals to introduce measures to allow for the return of premiums paid, the writing off of phased premiums which are not yet paid, and the handling process for claims without the lengthy delays inherent in a liquidation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22184/14]

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Charlie McConalogue

Question:

103. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Finance his plans to waive the Government levy for those Setanta policy holders who will have to take out another insurance policy in view of the fact that they have already paid a Government levy on the initial policy with Setanta which now is no longer valid in view of the fact that Setanta has gone into liquidation; his plans to ensure that all Setanta customers are given their proof of no claims bonus as a matter of course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22420/14]

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Joe McHugh

Question:

135. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance the protection or regulation currently in place for Irish persons who take out policies with foreign financial companies who set up here but are licenced by foreign financial services authorities; if or when these institutions become insolvent; if there are any solutions provided by the Central Bank of Ireland available to those persons who find themselves in this predicament due to recent events (details supplied); his views on foreign financial services being provided in Ireland but not falling under the regulator's or Central Bank of Ireland's remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22867/14]

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Ciara Conway

Question:

152. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Finance if he will request the liquidator of Setanta Insurance to make a statement on the position of third party claimants regarding high court cases next month; if he will request the Central Bank of Ireland to also provide an update or statement in respect of the same in view of the fact that they are in regular contact with the Maltese financial authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23108/14]

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Ciara Conway

Question:

153. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to reports that MIBI has not been instructed to deal with third party claims under Setanta Insurance; his views on the position of having third party claims dealt with; if he will offer advice and clarify the position; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23109/14]

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Brian Walsh

Question:

170. Deputy Brian Walsh asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding motor insurance companies and their policy holders who were involved in pending court cases in which Setanta Insurance was a defendant when the company recently collapsed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23317/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 83, 103, 135, 152, 153 and 170 together.

My officials have been in discussions with the Central Bank of Ireland, with the Setanta Liquidator and with the insurance industry representative bodies and I have asked them to convey my wish that every effort is made to facilitate Setanta policyholders in obtaining new motor insurance policies and in understanding their overall position. We are endeavouring to obtain legal certainty on a number of matters relating to policyholders' claims for compensation and this will be made publicly available in due course. At this time, I propose to set out the position as it currently stands.

Setanta is a Maltese incorporated company which was both authorised and prudentially supervised by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA). While its financial position is not supervised by the Central Bank of Ireland, the firm is supervised by the Central Bank for conduct of business rules, i.e. consumer protection obligations.  The Central Bank is in contact with the MFSA in relation to Setanta Insurance Company Limited, the impact on policyholders and the provision for relevant and appropriate information.

Setanta was regulated at EU regulatory level in accordance with a directive known as Solvency I which currently places requirements on the amount of regulatory capital European insurance companies must hold against unforeseen events. I understand that Setanta met its EU regulatory obligations and under EU law is, therefore, entitled to trade across EU borders. Following negotiations that were completed at European level in November, 2013, a new regime known as Solvency II will commence on 1 January 2016, which will further strengthen the EU regulatory framework. The Solvency II EU Directive sets out new, stronger EU-wide requirements on capital adequacy and risk management for insurers with the key aim of increasing policyholder protection. The new regime will also ensure greater cooperation between supervisors. 

My Department and the Central Bank will be reviewing the circumstances relating to Setanta and will be reporting to me on what lessons can be learnt and how the framework can be strengthened. The European Commission has indicated that it will review whether any issues raised relating to the regulatory framework require action.

On 16 April 2014, Setanta determined that the company was insolvent. This means that Setanta does not have sufficient funds to be able to honour its full obligations towards claimants, policyholders and other creditors. Setanta was formally placed into liquidation by the MFSA on the 30 April 2014 and Mr Paul Mercieca was appointed as Liquidator. Officials from my Department together with officials from the Central Bank met with the Liquidator and his representatives in Ireland on 7 May 2014 and the Central Bank is in ongoing contact with him regarding the position of Setanta policyholders. The Liquidator confirmed that all policyholders who have not already done so should arrange alternative cover without delay as claims are unlikely to be paid in full and he has commenced issuing letters to policyholders informing them that their insurance cover will be cancelled within 7 to 10 days, in accordance with their policy documents.

In the circumstances, I would strongly advise policyholders that it is no longer in their best interest to maintain policies with Setanta as the company is not in a position to meet claims in full.  This is in order to avoid prolonging a situation where policyholders would continue to drive vehicles insured by Setanta in circumstances where their potential claims are unlikely to be paid in full. The Central Bank also strongly recommends that Setanta Policyholders should make alternative insurance arrangements without delay to avoid this situation and they have advised that they should contact their insurance broker or an insurer directly without delay to seek alternative cover.

The provision of motor insurance cover is a commercial matter for insurance companies, which is based on a proper assessment of the risks they are accepting and the making of adequate provisioning to meet these risks. In my role as the Minister for Finance I have responsibility for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation.

The Liquidator has advised that arrangements are in hand for policyholders to obtain their "no claims bonuses" certificates from Setanta. Insurance Ireland have informed me that these certificates will be honoured by other insurers and we are aware that many insurers are being flexible surrounding requirements for documents.

In addition, the Insurance Ireland 'Declined Cases Agreement' is available to policyholders of Setanta.  The current Declined Cases Agreement was drawn up in 1981 and is adhered to by all motor insurers in Ireland. I am informed that under the agreement, the insurance market will not refuse to provide insurance to an individual seeking insurance, if he/she has approached at least three insurers and has not been able to obtain cover from them.  I understand that Insurance Ireland is also making information available to those who have queries, complaints or difficulties in relation to this matter through their service at (01) 676 1914 or by email at info@insuranceireland.eu.

With regard to Setanta premiums and claims, the position on each policy is for the liquidator to decide in due course. The officials and the Central Bank will remain in close contact with the Liquidator and I have asked that public statements are provided to clarify matters for policyholders and claimants.

The Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) is a non-profit-making organisation which was established by Agreement between the Government and those companies underwriting motor insurance in Ireland. The principal role of MIBI is to compensate innocent victims of accidents caused by uninsured and unidentified vehicles. We are endeavouring to clarify the position on a number of matters relating to policyholders' claims for compensation, including the role of MIBI in this regard. The question of issuing an instruction to MIBI does not arise. However, if, for legal reasons, MIBI is not in a position to accept a claim, these third party claims will be eligible to proceed for consideration by the High Court for compensation from the Insurance Compensation Fund (ICF).

Claims on personal insurance policies will be payable from the ICF. All ICF payments are subject to the limit of 65% of the amount due or €825,000, whichever is the lesser. Under Section 3.6 of the Insurance Amendment Act 1964 (as amended) first party claims by a body corporate or unincorporated body are not covered by the ICF.

The refund of premiums for either commercial or personal insurance policies is not covered by the ICF or MIBI. However, unpaid premium would fall to be claimed from the Setanta Liquidator in due course.  I do not, at this time, have plans to waive the insurance levy.

Tax Credits

Questions (84)

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

84. Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance when a person (details supplied) will receive the tax refund they are due. [22185/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that correspondence was received from the taxpayer by Revenue in March 2013, requesting issue of a Tax Credit Certificate to the taxpayer's then employer. When the certificate issued the taxpayer's employment had ceased. In May 2013 further correspondence was received by Revenue from the taxpayer requesting a transfer of details relating to the ceased employment to the current employer. This request was processed in June 2013. Revenue has no record of any subsequent contact from the taxpayer.

To determine if any refund is due, a review of the taxpayer's 2013 PAYE taxes is required. Revenue have now written directly to the taxpayer, requesting the information necessary to update Revenue records and carry out that review.  A review of 2013 liability will issue promptly on receipt of reply.

Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme

Questions (85, 86)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

85. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the reason disabled drivers and disabled passengers tax concession scheme those who would otherwise qualify are disqualified because they do not buy their car from an authorised person. [22221/14]

View answer

Pearse Doherty

Question:

86. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if an applicant under the disabled drivers and disabled passengers tax concession scheme can qualify for the scheme on presentation of documentation even if they have not bought from an authorised person; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22222/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 85 and 86 together.

An "authorised person" for the purposes of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme is defined in section 136 of the Finance Act, 1992 as a person authorised by the Revenue Commissioners to manufacture, distribute, deal in, deliver, store, repair or modify unregistered vehicles and to convert registered vehicles.

The tax concession provisions for disabled drivers, passengers and organisations are contained in The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994 (Statutory Instrument No. 353 of 1994).  In relation to tax concessions, these provisions cover situations where a claimant may be due a repayment of tax or may be entitled to a remission of tax.

In the case of repayment, the tax has already been paid either on a vehicle first registered in the State or on a vehicle previously registered in another State and imported into and registered in the State (and the tax paid at the time of registration). Where the vehicle is subsequently adapted the person is entitled to a repayment of the residual tax trapped in the vehicle provided that it was purchased from an authorised person (Regulations 8(1), 10(1) and 12(1)). Where a person has not purchased from an authorised person they cannot qualify for a repayment, irrespective of the documentation that they present.

In the case of remission, the tax due can be remitted at the time of registration (either for new vehicles being registered in the State or imported vehicles being registered) where the vehicle and the applicant fulfil certain criteria. In order to qualify for remission of the tax it is not necessary to have purchased from an authorised person.

I have asked my officials to examine the Regulations with a view to streamlining and modernising the scheme and addressing any anomalies. I expect this examination to be concluded very shortly.