Public Private Partnerships

Questions (150)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

150. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the additional safeguards he will put in place following the collapse of a company (details supplied) with regard to PPP contracts to safeguard the public interest; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4931/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The Public Private Partnership (PPP) model is an internationally recognised model to design, build, finance, operate and maintain public infrastructure. In accordance with international best practice, PPP contracts already typically include detailed provisions that apply in the event of the liquidation of a consortium member of the PPP company, or an entity under the contract, to protect the public interest and ensure that the project proceeds to completion.

Under the terms of such PPP contracts, in the case of liquidation of a consortium member, or an entity under the contract, the PPP consortium’s funders and remaining shareholders are required to intervene and implement rectification measures to ensure that the project is completed to the satisfaction of the State.

This process is underway in the case of the Schools Bundle 5 PPP (as a consequence of the Carillion plc liquidation). Liquidation of a company involved in delivering a public infrastructure project, such as Carillion plc, is an unfortunate development but would impact on any project where a supplier became insolvent during the delivery process, regardless of whether the project was being procured by PPP or by traditional means. The issue, therefore, is not PPP-specific, but where it arises in a PPP project, the provisions of the PPP contract ensure that the public interest is protected.

The contractual mechanisms within a PPP project agreement are designed to limit the State’s financial exposure in such a scenario. An important feature of PPPs (which does not arise in traditional procurement) is that no payments are made until the facilities are handed over to the State and are operational. Once facilities are operational, payments to the PPP company are linked to service performance and availability of the facilities over the lifetime of the contract, with deductions applying when the facilities are not performing or are unavailable. The latter payment mechanism is not a feature of a traditional model which has regular milestone payments during construction.

As the Deputy may be aware I established an Inter-Departmental/Inter-Agency Group last year to review Ireland's experience of using PPP and to make recommendations on the future role of PPPs, in the context of the new 10 year capital plan.  I would expect the Group's deliberations to take account of any implications for future national PPP policy of the development referred to in the Deputy's question.  It is currently intended that the outcome of the review will be published alongside the new capital plan.

Public Private Partnerships Data

Questions (151)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

151. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the value of PPPs awarded in each of the past ten years; the number of Irish companies that contracts were awarded to in each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4932/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

My Department's role in relation to Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) is to maintain and develop the general policy framework (including, where necessary, the legal framework) within which PPPs operate. It also provides central guidance to other Departments and State Authorities in that context. My Department has no direct involvement in the procurement or delivery of individual PPP projects.

A summary update on PPP projects is available at the website www.ppp.gov.ie. A copy of the update table is set out in the following table for the Deputy's information. The table summarises information on PPP projects across the public sector indicating for each project, the value of the contract, the operational date of the project and the name of the company to which the contract was awarded.

The Deputy should note that the table is intended to provide indicative information in relation to PPP projects generally, based on information provided by Departments/Agencies. The Central PPP Policy Unit in my Department endeavours to ensure that the information is as accurate as possible but details on specific projects should be confirmed with the State authorities responsible for those projects.

Exchequer funded financial commitments under Public Private Partnerships and Concession Projects can be found in the following link:

Exchequer funded financial commitments under Public Private Partnerships and Concession Projects

Drainage Schemes Applications

Questions (152)

Peter Burke

Question:

152. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if a drain (details supplied) will be cleaned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4934/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The Office of Public Works (OPW) carries out a programme of Arterial Drainage Maintenance to a total of 11,500 km of river channel and approximately 730 km of embankments nationally. These maintenance works relate to arterial drainage schemes completed by the OPW under the Arterial Drainage Acts 1945 and 1995. The OPW has a statutory duty to maintain the completed schemes in proper repair and effective condition. The annual maintenance programme typically involves some clearance of vegetation and removal of silt build-up on an average five-yearly cycle. Each year, work is carried out to approximately 2,000 km of channel and about 200 structures around the country.

The OPW is responsible for the maintenance of the Boyne Drainage Scheme. Maintenance works on the channels in the area referred to by the Deputy are scheduled for Summer 2018, subject to ground conditions and access.

Teachers' Remuneration

Questions (153)

Tom Neville

Question:

153. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4673/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The public service agreements have allowed a programme of pay restoration for public servants to start. I negotiated a 15-22% pay increase for new teachers. The agreements to date have restored an estimated 75% of the difference in pay for more recently recruited teachers and deliver full equality at later points in the scale.

As a result of these changes and taking into account the new pay measures under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, the current starting salary of a new teacher is €35,958 and from 1 October 2020 onwards will be €37,692. If full equalisation was achieved the starting salary for a post-primary teacher from 1 October 2020 would be €43,879 and for a primary teacher would be €41,511.

Differential pay scales for public servants were introduced by the then Government in 2010. It must be borne in mind that the pay reduction for post-2011 entrants to the public service applied to all public servants and not just teachers, and that any restoration of these measures in respect of teachers would be expected to be applied elsewhere across the public service. While I am not in a position to provide an estimate of the total cost of restoring all post-1 January 2011 entrants in all of the public service to the pre-2011 pay scale arrangements, I can say that in the case of education and training sector employees, including teachers, the estimated current full year cost would be in the order of €130 million. The cost across the entire public service is estimated to be over €200 million.

To have gone further than the pay increases that have been negotiated for 2018 would mean I would have had less money available to hire over 1,000 extra SNAs in 2018, and over 1,000 extra teachers in 2018.

Any further negotiation on new entrant pay is a cross sectoral issue, not just an issue for the education sector. The Government also supports the gradual, negotiated repeal of the FEMPI legislation, having due regard to the priority to improve public services and in recognition of the essential role played by public servants.

A commitment is included in the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 to consider the issue of newly qualified pay within 12 months of the commencement of the Agreement. That process has now commenced with a first meeting on 12 October 2017.  The three teacher unions attended that first meeting.

In addition, the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017 provides that within 3 months of the passing of the Act, my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform will prepare and lay before the Oireachtas a report on the cost of and a plan in dealing with pay equalisation for new entrants to the public service.

Emergency Works Scheme Applications

Questions (154)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

154. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application for emergency works by a school (details supplied); when it will be granted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4690/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that a grant has been approved for the school to which he refers and the school authority has been informed of my Department's decision. 

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (155)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

155. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the admissions policy as adopted by his Department for special needs children wishing to access secondary education; if a universal admissions policy exists within his Department; if discretion lies with the local schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4712/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The enrolment of a child in a school is a matter, in the first instance, for the parents of the child and the Board of Management of a school.

It is the policy of my Department that all children with special educational needs can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network.

Such placements facilitate access to individualised education programmes which may draw from a range of appropriate educational interventions, delivered by fully qualified professional teachers, with the support of Special Needs Assistants and the appropriate school curriculum.

Decisions about placement should be based on individual needs and take into account a number of factors including parental wishes, availability of evidence-based treatments and well-trained staff and individual factors such as targets for intervention and management of behaviours.

Some students, although academically able to access the curriculum in mainstream, may find it too difficult to manage full-time placement there. This can be due to significant difficulties in areas such as behaviour or sensory needs which have not been ameliorated, even with appropriate intervention, in mainstream. Others may have such complex needs that they are best placed in a special school.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), co-ordinates special needs education provision at local level and arranges for the delivery of special educational supports to schools. It is also the role of the NCSE to make appropriate arrangements to establish special classes in schools in communities where the need for such classes has been identified.

As the Deputy will be aware the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2016 was published in July 2016. The Bill which passed Committee Stage on 28 June 2017 and will shortly proceed to Report Stage is an important piece of legislation which strives to create a new more parent-friendly, equitable and consistent approach to how school admissions policy operates for the almost 4,000 primary and post-primary schools in this country.

The Bill provides an over-arching framework for greater transparency and consistency in school enrolment generally and thereby gives greater confidence to parents that the admission criteria laid down by schools and the procedures used by them are legitimate, reasonable and fair.

The Bill provides that where a school has places available it must admit all applicants. The Bill also contains a provision for the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to designate a school for a child who has no school place for reasons related to the child’s special educational needs.

At Committee Stage of the Bill last June I indicated that I intend, at Report Stage, to include in this Bill a provision that will provide, based on reports and advice from the NCSE, the Minister with the power to require a school to open a special class or to increase the number of special classes in schools. 

My Department officials are currently engaging with the Office of the Attorney General on the development of legislative proposals on this matter which I hope to bring forward to Government for approval shortly.   

Departmental Legal Cases

Questions (156, 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 162, 163, 164)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

156. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all seven persons who received settlements from the State Claims Agency as part of the redress scheme set up following a judgment (details supplied) in 2014 met the criteria of having a prior complaint of sexual abuse. [4727/18]

View answer

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

157. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the seven settlements made as part of the redress scheme set up following a judgment (details supplied) in 2014 were as a result of physical abuse only. [4728/18]

View answer

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

158. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the type of abuse involved whether sexual, physical or both for each of the seven persons who received settlements in 2014 as part of the redress scheme set up following a judgment (details supplied). [4729/18]

View answer

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

159. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if written evidence of a prior complaint of sexual abuse exists pertaining to each of the seven persons who received settlements from the redress scheme set up as part of the execution of a judgment (details supplied). [4730/18]

View answer

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

160. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way in which a prior complaint was established for each of the seven persons who qualified under the redress scheme set up following a judgment in 2014 (details supplied). [4731/18]

View answer

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

161. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all seven persons who received settlements from the State Claims Agency as part of the redress scheme set up following a judgment in 2014 (details supplied) were victims of one abuser. [4732/18]

View answer

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

162. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the name of each school in which the abuse occurred which was attended by the seven persons who received settlements from the State Claims Agency as part of the redress scheme set up following a judgment (details supplied) in 2014. [4733/18]

View answer

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

163. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a burden of proof of a prior complaint is required by persons applying to the scheme without there being a full and proper investigation into the circumstances of the abuse in each case, as happened in cases investigated by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. [4734/18]

View answer

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

164. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the rationale for excluding other persons who could prove a prior complaint from the State’s redress scheme set up as part of the execution of a judgment (details supplied). [4735/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 156 to 164, inclusive, together.

Following the ECtHR judgement in the Louise O’Keefe case, the SCA made settlement offers in 7 of the 35 extant High Court cases and 6 were accepted while in the remaining case, the settlement offer was withdrawn as the Plaintiff died in August 2015. In these cases, the prior complaints were made to a school authority, not a State authority, and the prior complaints arose in relation to abuse in different schools, not the schools in which the 6 Plaintiffs were abused.

In these cases, the State’s liability was settled but the 6 plaintiffs are pursuing their High Court claims against the congregation and the State is pursuing its claim against the congregation. The settlement offers are not part of any redress scheme.

It is not appropriate to comment on the type of abuse suffered by the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs were in 3 different schools - the schools involved were Our Lady Queen of Angels/Ballyfermot National School, Naomh Mhuire/Walsh Island National School and Presentation Convent National School, Castlecomer. All were victims of the one abuser.

The source of information on prior complaints in these 6 cases is Chapter 14 of the Report from the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, the Ryan report.

I would like to explain to the Deputy what actions were taken to implement the recommendations of the ECtHR judgement referred to.

The State Claims Agency (SCA) manages school child sexual abuse litigation being taken against the State. In December 2014, the Government authorised the SCA to offer “out of court” settlements to persons taking High Court cases of school child sexual abuse against the State where their cases come within the terms of the ECHR judgment in the O’Keeffe case and are not statute barred.

Separately and in addition, in July 2015, the Government agreed that it would respond to those who instituted legal proceedings against the State in relation to school child sexual abuse but had discontinued their cases by offering ex gratia payments. It was decided that such payments would be offered to those persons whose cases were not statute barred prior to their proceedings being discontinued and where the person can demonstrate that their circumstances involved sexual abuse of a school child by a primary or post-primary school employee in respect of whom there was a prior complaint of sexual abuse to a school authority (including an authority of a school in which the employee had previously worked) prior to the issue of the Department of Education guidelines to primary and post-primary schools in 1991 and 1992 respectively.

For the purposes of the settlement of litigation and the Government’s ex gratia scheme, there is no strict interpretation as to what constitutes a “prior complaint.” The State must be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that there was a prior complaint but the State does not insist on a strict evidential standard in assessing the material put forward by an applicant. A holistic analysis of the case is undertaken and a flexible approach is adopted.

In assessing whether a settlement will be offered or whether an applicant comes within the ex gratia scheme, the State will consider instances of abuse which occurred in both primary and post-primary schools.

In assessing a case or application, the State works on the basis that a prior complaint includes not only complaints made to teachers but also complaints made to any person(s) in authority in a school. There are no time limits to the submitting of an application and if new evidence subsequently comes to light, even where an application had been declined, a further application can be submitted at any stage.

Following all of the above steps and consideration of all relevant materials, the SCA makes its decision on the ex-gratia scheme application.

There has been consistent legal advice to the effect that the approach being taken by the State is legally sound.

While the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse has completed its work, allegations of abuse should always be referred to the appropriate authority for a full and proper investigation.