Insurance Compensation Fund

Questions (193)

Michael McGrath

Question:

193. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will set out in tabular form the loans that the State has made to the insurance compensation fund in each year since 2010; the expected date of recovery of these loans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24692/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Insurance Compensation Fund (ICF) allows administrators to apply to the High Court for funding where necessary in order to enable meet their financial obligations as they arise. The ICF is funded by industry through a levy. However, because it is not pre-funded, there is a provision in the 1964 Insurance Act which allows the Minister for Finance to provide the necessary monies in the form of a repayable loan where there are insufficient funds available. 

Since the appointment of Joint administrators to Quinn Insurance Limited (QIL) in 2010, a total of €933.3m has been advanced to the ICF.

Amounts drawn down by ICF from the Exchequer

Date of Payment

Loans from the State to the Fund

 

€m

Total 2010

0

Total 2011

280

Total 2012

455.5

Total 2013

197.8

Total Payment

933.3

It is difficult to know with certainty how long it will take to fully recover the money.  A major factor in the speed of recovery will be how much gross premiums relating to insured risk in the State increase during this time.  The higher the level of gross premiums to which the 2% levy is applied, the quicker the Exchequer will be repaid.

Under the current estimates it is expected however, that the ICF will be in a position to begin repaying the Exchequer in late 2015.  This will continue until the Exchequer advance has been repaid.  It should be noted that a commercial rate of interest of 250bp over the 6 month Euribor rate applies to the Exchequer advances.

National Debt

Questions (194)

Michael McGrath

Question:

194. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of interest expected to be paid in 2014 on the national debt; the amount of that interest which relates to the debt burden associated with rescuing the banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24709/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The recent Stability Programme Update 2014 projected general government interest payable in 2014 at just under €8 billion.

As I outlined in my response to PQ 23246/14 recently, it is not possible to quantify that part of the debt interest bill that relates to the recapitalisation of the banks. It can only be tentatively estimated.

Of the projected 2014 general government interest bill of just under €8 billion, my Department estimates that circa €1.6 billion relates to rescue operations in the context of the financial crisis, of which around €0.8 billion relates to interest payable on the floating rate Government bonds used to replace the promissory notes in 2013. The Deputy should note that the interest payments on the floating rate bonds contribute significantly to the surplus income of the Central Bank, up to 80% of which is paid to the Central Fund in the following year.

National Debt

Questions (195)

Michael McGrath

Question:

195. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the estimated national debt of Ireland at the present time; the amount of that national debt which is associated with rescuing the banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24710/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

End-2013 general government debt, which is a gross measure, is estimated by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) at €202.9 billion or 123.7 per cent of GDP.

The proceeds of all borrowing as well as revenues including tax and non-tax, and capital receipts are lodged to the Exchequer account to fund general expenditure. In general terms, no specific tranches of borrowing were undertaken solely for the purpose of recapitalising the banking sector. Therefore, that part of the debt that relates to the recapitalisation of the banks can only be tentatively estimated.

The Deputy will be aware however that the IBRC promissory notes were cancelled in 2013, and replaced with a portfolio of eight floating rate Government bonds for a total amount of €25 billion.

Furthermore, the €3.06 billion Promissory Note instalment due to IBRC at end-March 2012 was settled with a Government bond.

By the end of 2013, it is estimated that €10 billion (net of the sale of Bank of Ireland equity in 2011, the sale of Irish Life and the sale of contingent capital notes in 2013) has been paid through direct payments from the Exchequer account to the banking sector*. The payment of the 2011 promissory note instalment of €3.085 billion was also made from the Exchequer account.

My Department therefore estimates the amount of debt associated with rescue operations during the financial crisis to be of the order of €41 billion at end-2013.

*This figure excludes the benefit of fees paid to the Minister under the Credit Institutions Financial Support and Eligible Liabilities Guarantee schemes amounting to €4.4 billion from 2008 to 2014. The figure also excludes any estimation of ongoing interest costs relating to rescue operations.

Mortgage Arrears Proposals

Questions (196)

Finian McGrath

Question:

196. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied) regarding distressed mortgage holders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24714/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I have advised the Deputy recently that as statutory regulator of credit institutions, the Central Bank has the power, from both a prudential and consumer protection perspective, to require banks to meaningfully and sustainably address mortgage arrears cases on their books.  The Central Bank's Mortgage Arrears Resolution Targets (MART) process, as announced in March 2013, sets time bound and measurable targets for the main banks requiring them to systematically address their arrears book.  Under this rolling process, quarterly performance targets have been set to require the banks to propose and put in place durable long term solutions to address individual cases of mortgages in difficulty where the mortgage is more than 90 days in arrears.  In that context, the Deputy will be aware that the Central Bank has now indicated that it expects that 'proposed' solutions be made in respect of 85% of principal dwelling houses (PDH) and buy-to-let (BTL) arrears cases and that 'concluded' solutions be made with 45% of arrears cases by the end of 2014.  The Deputy will also be aware that the Central Bank has concluded its audit and assessment of a sample of the banks' end 2013 target returns.  Based on the information submitted, the Central Bank has advised that the banks have indicated they have met the targets of proposing solutions to 50% and concluding solutions for 15% of those in arrears greater than 90 days.

The consumer protection provisions of the Central Bank are contained within the Consumer Protection Code and the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA).  The CCMA sets out requirements for mortgage lenders dealing with borrowers facing or in mortgage arrears on their PDH mortgage and it applies to all regulated mortgage lenders. The CCMA is issued under Section 117 of the Central Bank Act 1989 and lenders covered by the Code are required to comply with it as a matter of law.  The Central Bank has the power to administer sanctions for a contravention of this Code.    In relation to buy to let mortgages, the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, which falls within the remit of the Minister for Housing and Planning, provides the main regulatory framework for the private rental sector and prescribes the statutory rights and obligations of landlords and tenants.

The Central Bank published the revised CCMA in June 2013.  As part of the financial institutions' delivery of full implementation of the revised CCMA, the boards of directors of all mortgage lenders were required by the Central Bank to sign off that all of the provisions of the revised CCMA had been fully implemented and tested and that staff training had been completed.   Compliance with the CCMA will continue to be central to the Central Bank's work programme throughout 2014 and an inspection of mortgage lenders to test compliance with the revised CCMA will be conducted later this year. 

The CCMA provides a strong consumer protection framework to ensure that borrowers struggling to keep up mortgage repayments are treated in a fair and transparent manner by their lender, and that long term resolution is sought by lenders with each of their borrowers in difficulty. If a borrower is not happy with the way that their lender is dealing with them or if they think the lender is not complying with the CCMA, the borrower can make a complaint to their lender. Under the CCMA, borrowers have the right to appeal to the lender's Appeals Board if they are not happy with the alternative repayment arrangement offered or where a lender declines to offer an alternative repayment arrangement or if they believe they have been wrongly classified as not co-operating.   If the borrower is not happy with the outcome of the appeal/complaint made to the lender they can refer the matter to the Financial Services Ombudsman.

The monthly mortgage restructures and arrears data published by my Department also provides an impetus for those MART banks to increase the pace of provision of mortgage restructures.  The latest publication, in respect of the end of March, shows that some progress has been made in putting permanent mortgage restructures in place.  For example, the total number of permanent restructures of principal dwelling houses mortgages has risen from around 51,000 in December to around 62,000 in March 2014.  In addition, the latest Central Bank quarterly mortgage arrears and restructures publication (http://www.centralbank.ie/polstats/stats/mortgagearrears/Documents/2014q1_ie_mortgage_arrears_statistics.pdf)  shows that lenders now have over 92,000 PDH mortgage accounts categorised as restructured at the end of March.  The data published by my Department, as well as the Central Bank data, would appear to demonstrate some success by the lenders in addressing the accounts in arrears as well as measures to prevent borrowers from going into arrears.  However, increased engagement in this area by the financial institutions will be necessary to address the situation of those remaining householders facing difficulties in meeting their mortgage commitments.

VAT Rate Reductions

Questions (197)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

197. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 181 of 18 February 2014, the reason a reduced rate of 9% VAT could apply to the construction of residential properties and not all construction activity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24739/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As you will be aware, Irish VAT law must comply with EU VAT law and in this context, the application of VAT rates in general is determined by the EU VAT Directive. Member States must apply a standard VAT rate of 15% or greater and have the option of applying one or two reduced VAT rates of 5% or more to the goods and services listed in Annex III of the EU VAT Directive. Ireland operates a standard VAT rate of 23% and two reduced VAT rates of 9% and 13.5%.

Annex III allows Member States to apply a reduced VAT rate of 5% or more to the construction, repair and renovation of housing, but not to non-residential construction. While most Member States apply the higher standard VAT rate to construction services, Ireland applies the 13.5% reduced rate of VAT to all construction services, including non-residential construction, under a derogation in Article 118 of the EU VAT Directive.  This provides that Ireland can maintain our reduced VAT rate on non-residential construction services because we applied a reduced rate to non-residential construction services on and from 1 January 1991.  However, this derogation is only permissible where the VAT rate applying is 12% or greater.  In this case, while Annex III would allow Ireland to operate a 9% reduced VAT rate on the construction of residential housing, there is no provision in the VAT Directive that would allow Ireland to apply a 9% VAT rate to non-residential construction services.

Revenue Commissioners Court Hearings

Question No. 199 answered with Question No. 152.

Questions (198)

Michael McGrath

Question:

198. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 190 of 13 May 2014, if there is any update on the case in question being re-heard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24776/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they are awaiting a date and venue to have the case re-heard in the Dublin Circuit Court. On receipt of a reply from the County Registrar, Revenue will contact the person concerned with these details.

Question No. 199 answered with Question No. 152.

Child Abuse

Questions (200)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

200. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in a case (details supplied), if he will outline the State's response to this and other cases which are in process relating to persons who were abused as children in State-funded day schools; whether he will outline recent actions by the Chief State Solicitor's office in this regard and the steps now open to such persons in order to obtain justice and redress; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24718/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

With the assistance of the Attorney General, I have sought further legal advice on the implications of the European Court of Human Rights judgment for outstanding school child abuse cases. The State Claims Agency is reviewing its day school abuse cases to identify those that come within the parameters of the judgement. Following the completion of this review and receipt of the legal advice sought I will be reporting back to Government on this matter and any decisions to be taken will be made in that context. Specifically in relation to Ms O'Keeffe, the damages and costs awarded by the European Court of Human Rights have been paid.

School Transport Eligibility

Questions (201)

Dara Calleary

Question:

201. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills his view on whether changes to the school transport scheme, introduced in 2012-13, are causing undue hardship to students in the Castlehackett and Corrandrum areas of County Galway; his view on whether it makes no sense that concessions previously given are now being withdrawn; his view on whether it makes no sense that these rules now mean that Bus Éireann will pick up one child from a house and not another; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24777/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Changes to the Post Primary School Transport Scheme mean that from the 2012/13 school year, eligibility for all children newly entering a post primary school is determined by reference to the distance they reside from their nearest Post-Primary Education Centre having regard, as heretofore, to ethos and language. In general, existing eligible and catchment boundary children including those who are not attending their nearest post primary centre retain their transport eligibility for the duration of their post primary education cycle provided there is no change to their current circumstances. Siblings of these children and other children who are not eligible for school transport, including children in the Castlehackett area, may apply for transport on a concessionary basis in accordance with the terms of the Post Primary School Transport Scheme. The opening of a new post primary school in Claregalway means that some children who reside in the Corrandrum area of Galway are now eligible for school transport to this school. The terms of the Post Primary School Transport Scheme are being applied equitably on a national basis.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (202)

Gerald Nash

Question:

202. Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the construction of a project (details supplied) in County Louth; when the land will be transferred to allow the development to progress; the proposed start date for construction; the date on which the project will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24085/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The provision of a new building for the school referred to by the Deputy has been devolved to Louth County Council under a Service Level Agreement. A suitable site has been identified and negotiations are ongoing. Once the site acquisition is completed, and a Design Team appointed which I understand is currently underway, the project will progress to architectural design and planning and then to tender and construction.

Education and Training Boards Staff

Questions (203)

Colm Keaveney

Question:

203. Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Education and Skills concerning the recent appointment of several staff to positions within Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board, including manager of the Roscommon sub-office, head of buildings, head of corporate services, human resources manager and head of IT, if he will confirm that these positions were advertised; when interviews took place for each of the five positions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24139/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Chief Executive of Galway and Roscommon Education Training Board has informed my Department that he has not made the appointments referred to in the Deputy's question but, rather, he has reassigned duties amongst the existing staff of the ETB.

Education and Training Boards Staff

Questions (204, 205)

Colm Keaveney

Question:

204. Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will confirm that a person (details supplied) has now been appointed director of schools at Galway and Roscommon Education Training Board on a permanent rather than an interim basis; the date on which position was made permanent; if this position was advertised; when interviews were held; the difference in the remuneration package attached to the new position of director of schools at GRETB compared with the position of acting CEO of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24140/14]

View answer

Colm Keaveney

Question:

205. Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Education and Skills following the formation of the Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board, headquartered in Athenry, County Galway, and given the understanding that his Department issued a circular stating all acting CEOs in the old VECs would return to their positions as school principals, if he will confirm that this has not happened in the case of the City of Galway VEC, and that the acting CEO was appointed director of schools in the new GRETB; if this was a newly created position; if it was sanctioned by his Department, and if so, the date of same; if the position was advertised; when the selection process took place; the salary scale of the new position; whether it is for a fixed term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24141/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 204 and 205 together. The Chief Executive of an Education and Training Board (ETB) has discretion in relation to the allocation of teaching posts and for the re-assignment of personnel for specific purposes, on a short-term basis, provided this does not exceed the overall allocation to the ETB. In the case of Galway and Roscommon ETB, the position of Director of Schools was established by the Chief Executive from within the allocation of teaching posts provided by the Department to the ETB. The Chief Executive has advised the Department that it is an interim arrangement and of the context in which it was made.

The substantive position of the person concerned is school Principal and he continues to receive the salary appropriate to the post of Principal in accordance with the standard national pay scales. He is not in receipt of any additional allowance for the performance of the duties assigned by the Chief Executive.

Legislative Measures

Questions (206)

Seán Fleming

Question:

206. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the legislative provisions in respect of his Department that have been passed by the Oireachtas since 2011 but have not come into effect to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24148/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Of the legislative provisions in respect of my Department that have been passed by the Oireachtas since 2011, Section 43 of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act 2012 and Subsections 8(3) and 16(5) of the Student Support Act 2011 have not yet come into effect.

Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board

Questions (207)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

207. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of persons employed by Caranua; the salaries of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24158/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

There are currently 10 staff employed by Caranua, the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board, comprising:

- the Chief Executive Officer at Principal Officer level,

- 1 Assistant Principal Officer level Post, - 2 Higher Executive Officer level posts, - 4 Executive Officer level posts and- 2 administrative support posts, one at ETB Grade III the other at Clerical Officer level.

In addition, Caranua is utilising the services of an agency to provide additional administrative support with one person currently engaged on that basis. The salary scales applicable to the 10 approved posts are as follows:

Scale: Principal Officer (Civil Service) (PPC) €79,401 €82,587 €85,750 €88,936 €91,624 €94,410¹ €97,194²

Scale: Assistant Principal Officer (Civil Service) (PPC) €65,000 €65,000 €66,040 €68,262 €70,479 €71,758 €73,995¹ €76,224²

Scale: Higher Executive Officer (Civil Service) Non PPC €43,816 €45,125 €46,426 €47,730 €49,035 €50,347 €51,653 €53,532¹ €55,415²

Scale: Higher Executive Officer (Civil Service) PPC €46,081 €47,458 €48,831 €50,204 €51,581 €52,955 €54,329 €56,314¹ €58,294²

Scale: Executive Officer (Civil Service) PPC €27,464 €29,418 €30,516 €32,687 €34,360 €35,977 €37,588 €39,166 €40,760 €42,311 €43,909 €44,967 €46,473¹ €47,975²

Scale: Education and Training Board Grade III €23,188 €24,277 €25,362 €26,452 €27,542 €28,626 €29,683 €30,738 €31,800 €32,857 €33,919 €35,919 €35,919 €35,919 €37,339

Scale: Clerical Officer (Civil Service) PPC €21,345 €22,805 €23,177 €24,255 €25,339 €26,420 €27,502 €28,583 €29,635 €30,688 €31,743 €32,975 €33,840 €35,471 €36,753¹ €37,341²

¹ After 3 years satisfactory service at the maximum.

² After 6 years satisfactory service at the maximum.

Note: If an appointee is not an existing civil/public servant the relevant scale is the PPC scale. If an appointee is an existing civil servant appointed post 1995, the PPC scale applies and if the appointee is an existing civil servant before 1995 the Non PCC scale applies.

Education and Training Provision

Questions (208)

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

208. Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will clarify a situation regarding the teaching of a course (detail supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24162/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I understand the programme in question is funded by the relevant Education and Training Board on the basis that the staff appointed by the centre running the programme are properly equipped to deliver all elements of the curriculum. It is a matter for the centre concerned to ensure that this is the case and their staff must be capable of teaching the programme to the standard required to assist learners to successfully complete the programme and achieve certification.

Third Level Funding

Questions (209, 213, 242)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

209. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has considered providing assistance to a college (details supplied) in order that it can remain open; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24166/14]

View answer

Róisín Shortall

Question:

213. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills in view of the closure of its current provider, if he will ensure that an ALBA course remains available to mature students in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24183/14]

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Catherine Murphy

Question:

242. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has engaged with the management of a college (details supplied) in Dublin 9 with a view to salvaging the institution in a new form; if he has been assured that students who have partially completed their studies will retain credits for work completed; the discussions that have taken place between his Department and management at the institution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24574/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 209, 213 and 242 together.

The College to which the Deputies refer is a private college and is not an approved institution under the Higher Education Authority (HEA). It does not receive core funding; however, my Department provides grant in lieu of tuition fee funding to the College in respect of three approved undergraduate courses. Funding of some €436,000 for the 2013/14 academic year was allocated to the College in respect of this funding.

The ALBA programme referred to is a part-time course and is therefore not an approved course for fee fees funding.

My Department does not have a role in the placement of students in any third level institution; however, I welcome the fact that the college has stated that it intends to wind down in a phased basis in order to facilitate as much as possible the completion of students' studies.

School Textbooks

Questions (210)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

210. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the schools in Dublin North-East and Dublin North-Central that are availing of the book rental scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24167/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The information requested by the Deputy is not readily available on a constituency by constituency basis.In Budget 2013 funding of €5million for three years was provided to support the establishment of book rental schemes in primary schools that did not operate such schemes. DEIS schools will receive €150 per child and non-DEIS schools will receive €100 per child in seed capital over the next two years to establish book rental schemes. This will cost approximately €6.7m. I indicated that following allocation of the initial round of funding, I would re-examine the scheme to see if I could allocate funding to primary schools that already had such schemes. I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the balance of the funding, some €8.3m, will be divided among all primary schools that currently operate book rental schemes in 2015 and 2016. These schools are expected to receive €18 per pupil or €20 per pupil in DEIS schools over those two years.

Every primary school will now benefit from the School Book Rental Scheme.