Freedom of Information Data

Questions (358)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

358. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of freedom of information requests her Department has received in the past eight years; the number of which were accepted without further escalation and not accepted respectively; the number requested which were not accepted that were escalated to the Information Commissioner; the number of which the Information Commissioner ruled in favour of the person requesting the freedom of information; the number of which the Information Commissioner ruled against her Department; the number her Department appealed to the High Court; the number the High Court ruled against her Department in favour of the applicant; the number which were then brought to the Court of Appeal by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9286/18]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

The information requested by the Deputy relating to the freedom of information (FOI) requests received by my Department and its Offices over the period 2010 to 2017 is set out in the following tables.

None of the FOI request received in my Department during the period in question have been the subject of proceedings in the High Court.

  FOI Requests Received by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) over the Period 2010 - 2017

Year

Total Number of FOI Requests Received*

Total Number of FOI Requests Granted

Total Number of FOI Requests Part Granted

Total Number of FOI Requests Refused

Total Number of Requests for Internal Review Received

2010

130

31

49

13

3

2011

79

28

28

9

3

2012

86

26

36

12

4

2013

52

17

11

9

2

2014

72

19

18

8

3

2015

211

58

39

30

19

2016

218

61

50

28

11

2017

310

48

87

45

13

Total

1,158

288

318

154

58

* This includes FOI requests received which were subsequently transferred to other Departments and FOI Requests which were subsequently withdrawn.

FOI Requests Dealt with by DBEI which were appealed to Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) over the Period 2010 - 2017

Year  

Total Number of FOI Requests Dealt with by DBEI which were appealed to Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC)

Total Number of FOI Requests which were affirmed by OIC

Total Number of FOI Requests which were partly affirmed by OIC  

Total Number of FOI Requests in which appeal to OIC was not accepted or   application was withdrawn

2010

3

1

 

2

2011

2

 

 

2

2012

4

3

 

1

20133

3

 

2

1

2014

2

1

1

 

2015

3

2

1

 

2016

1

 

 

1

2017

0

 

 

 

Total

18

7

4

7

IDA Ireland Site Visits

Questions (359)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

359. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of site visits made to specific locations (details supplied) in County Cork in the past five years, in tabular form. [9326/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

IDA Ireland remains committed to increasing foreign direct investment (FDI) in every region of Ireland by 30% to 40% by the end of the Agency's current strategy in 2019.  Progress is being made towards that target, with half of all jobs created in the first three years of that strategy based outside of Dublin.

IDA Ireland continues to highlight the benefits of expanding or locating in County Cork to its client base and it makes every effort to ensure that FDI is spread as widely as possible across the county. It is important to remember, however, that the final decision as to where to invest always rests with the company concerned. It is also the case that site visit activity does not necessarily reflect investment potential, as at least 70% of all new FDI comes from existing IDA Ireland client companies.  

Site visits nevertheless do represent an important tool through which investors can be encouraged to invest in regional areas and the IDA always does its utmost to ensure that investors consider all potential locations when visiting Ireland.

IDA Ireland collates data for site visits at a county level only, so information is not available on visits to particular areas within a county. The table sets out the number of site visits to County Cork for the period from 2013 to 2017.

Site visits to Cork 2013 to 2017

Year

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Cork

31

30

48

49

51

Small and Medium Enterprises Supports

Questions (360)

Frank O'Rourke

Question:

360. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the specific actions that will be taken to assist the SME sector to prepare for Brexit, in particular food companies such as those based in County Kildare, following the publication of the national development plan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9389/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

The long-term response to Brexit is for companies across all sectors to become more competitive, more innovative and to diversify their export footprint into more international markets. The agencies under my Department have a wide range of supports available to enable companies to consolidate market share within the UK, and also to become more resilient by broadening their sales to other international markets.

Enterprise Ireland (EI) and the Local Enterprise Office’s (LEOs) are actively supporting their clients to achieve this. My Department provided additional monies in 2017 to enable EI and the LEOs to ramp up their supports in light of Brexit to drive improvements in:

- market consolidation and diversification,

- productivity,

- innovation,

- management capability and leadership skills.

At the centre of EI’s strategy, Build Scale, Expand Reach 2017 – 2020, are strategic targets focused on. Growing the annual exports of client companies by €5bn to €26bn per annum.

In support of this, EI is implementing extensive trade mission and event schedules focussed on global and sectoral opportunities, further developing in-market expertise and networks, placing greater focus on identifying new sectoral opportunities and stimulating demand for Irish products and services through international marketing campaigns. In 2017, EI launched a new Eurozone Strategy to increase exports to Eurozone countries by 50% by 2020.

EI has introduced a number of Brexit specific programmes to help Irish companies remain resilient in the face of uncertainty. One of these measures is an online “Brexit SME Scorecard” to help all Irish businesses self-assess their exposure to Brexit. The Scorecard generates a report on weak areas and suggests some initial next steps. 1,909 companies had used the Scorecard by mid-December of 2017. In addition, a €5k “Be Prepared Grant” is available for SMEs to help support the costs involved in preparing a plan to mitigate risks and optimise opportunities arising from Brexit.

The Local Enterprise Offices are supporting their clients by providing information, training and mentoring on Brexit related issues as well as advice on other sources of support.

The Irish Food Sector is one of the most important sectors of the Irish Economy and remains Ireland’s biggest exporter.  Despite the uncertainty arising from UK’s decision to exit the European Union, we believe that the UK market will continue to be a natural priority market for Irish food exporters due to its geographical proximity, a common language and similar food consumption culture in food and trade.  We are encouraging and supporting our food client companies to sustain its existing business in the UK, to look for new UK business opportunities, as well as looking at business growth opportunities through diversifying into new food products and markets.

In the immediate term, the key impact on Irish exporters is likely to be around exchange rate volatility and that companies as a first step should seek financial advice relating to hedging and managing associated risks.  We will also be intensifying our efforts to support companies respond to the new situation and implement medium term market diversification plans.

My Department recently announced a €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme to provide affordable working capital financing to Irish businesses that are either currently impacted by Brexit, or will be in the future. The Scheme, which is due to open at the end of March, will be delivered by SBCI through commercial lenders to get much needed working capital into Irish businesses. The scheme will be open to both State Agency clients and those businesses that do not have any relationship with State Agencies.

To support the potential of each region to start and grow new enterprises, and as part of the Government’s strategic response to Brexit, additional funding of up to €60m is being rolled out by EI over the next 4 years. The Regional Enterprise Development Fund will support the development and implementation of collaborative and innovative projects that can sustain and add to employment at a national, regional and county level.  Twenty-one successful applicants representing all regions of the country have secured up to €30.5m for their projects in the first competitive call.  County Kildare Community Network Company was one entity that received funding under the scheme. I intend to launch the second call at the end of March.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (361)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

361. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her Department's capital allocation in each of the years 2018 to 2022; and the areas to which funds will be allocated in each of those years. [9512/18]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

The 2018 Revised Estimates Volume published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform provided for capital expenditure funding of €555 million for use by my Department in 2018. My Department’s definitive capital allocations for the other years referred to by the Deputy i.e. 2019 out to 2022 will be determined as part of the relevant annual Estimates processes.

The Deputy will be aware that the recently published National Development Plan (NDP) sets out a high-level financial and budgetary framework, which includes indicative Exchequer allocations, for each Ministerial Vote Group, over a five-year period from 2018 to 2022. The indicative allocations for my Department are set out in the following table:

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

€555 million

€620 million

€630 million

€640 million

€715 million

At this stage it is too early to state definitively the specific funding that will be provided to support the different capital projects in my Department. The Deputy will be aware, however, that the allocations set out in the NDP are intended to enable Departments to implement the Strategic Investment Priorities to deliver on the National Strategic Outcomes identified in the National Planning Framework (NPF).

Insofar as my Department is concerned, the NDP sets out a number of specific Strategic Investment Priorities to deliver on the “Strong Economy, supported by Enterprise, Innovation and Skills” National Strategic Outcome identified in the NPF. These priorities include:

Business Enterprise

Innovation

Expansion of Advanced Manufacturing Supports, linking centres and capacity in the regions

New Cycles of the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions, benefitting Higher Education in all regions

New regional "Technology & Innovation Poles"

Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund

New Regional Sectoral Clusters to scale and internationalise enterprise in the regions

Strengthened Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres and Enterprise Ireland Technology Centres

Brexit Business Transformation through firm level supports

Participation in EU High Performance Computing (HPC) Programme

Expanding Enterprise Ireland budget for research and development

Upgrading the Tyndall National Institute in Cork

Expanding IDA Regional Property Programme, to attract investment to regions

New Space Technologies Programme, to the benefit of firms in the regions

A National Design Centre

Membership of CERN

Seed and Venture Capital Funding to support regional start-ups and growth

eHubs for entrepreneurship

Following the publication of the Plan, my focus along with the focus of my Ministerial colleagues is to ensure that the Investment Priorities of the Plan are implemented and delivered upon. For my part, the “Strong Economy, supported by Enterprise and Innovation” National Strategic Outcome is a key cornerstone to ensuring that the vision set out in the NDP is delivered. My Department’s Strategic Investment Priorities will ensure that the requirement for an additional 660,00 jobs envisaged in the NPF will be met and I am determined that these Priorities will be implemented over the lifetime of the Plan.

Job Creation

Questions (362)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

362. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the level of expenditure by Enterprise Ireland and the local enterprise office in counties Offaly, Laois, Longford and Westmeath to promote job creation and the establishment of new businesses and enterprises; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9641/18]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

On an annual basis, Enterprise Ireland (EI) works with approximately 5,000 companies through a network of market and sector advisers based across 10 national offices and 33 international offices. These manufacturing and internationally traded services companies are a critical source of existing employment and job creation in every county in Ireland. EI’s focus for 2018 is to help clients build on the strength of their 2017 performance by supporting them to innovate, be competitive and to diversify their global footprint - key attributes required to be resilient to economic shocks, such as those emerging from any kind of Brexit.

Enterprise Ireland is committed to job growth throughout the country. This was reflected in its end of year statement for 2017, which saw job growth in every county. Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath all saw net job increases in EI supported client companies of 5% or greater.

Table 1 presents payment made to companies by Enterprise Ireland in Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath in 2017.

Table 1: Enterprise Ireland’s Payment to Companies in 2017

EI Payments to Companies

2017

Laois

€345,759

Longford

€1,076,148

Offaly

€1,408,973

Westmeath

€1,163,469

The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are the ‘first-stop-shops’ in Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath for providing advice and guidance, financial assistance and other supports to those wishing to start or grow their own business in the area.

Total expenditure by the four LEOs in these counties for 2017 was €3,322,225 (current and capital). The expenditure includes a financial contribution by the Local Authorities for each of the LEOs towards the administrative (current) costs associated with the provision of the LEO services. Details of the number of jobs created in 2017 by companies who received financial support from the four LEOs will be published shortly.

Table 2: Local Enterprise Office Expenditure in Laois. Longford, Offaly and Westmeath for 2017

County

Capital

Current

Total

Laois

510,020

254,268

764,288

Longford

402,973

303,493

706,466

Offaly

553,347

282,905

836,252

Westmeath

701,029

314,190

1,015,219

My Department, through EI and the LEOs, will continue to support indigenous companies as they start, scale and endeavour to create quality jobs throughout the country.

Company Closures

Questions (363)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

363. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the measures being undertaken by her Department to address business closures in Sligo town; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9725/18]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

I acknowledge your concerns regarding business closures in Sligo town. Addressing town centre renewal is an important factor in sustaining the attractiveness of urban centres as places not only to live in, but to work in, do business in and invest in.

My Department is supporting retail and town centre renewal through the Retail Consultation Forum. The ‘Framework for Town Centre Renewal’ was developed in 2017 by a Working Group of this Forum, setting out a practical step by step action plan for stakeholders to work collaboratively to enhance their local town or village, and encouraging towns and villages to establish a digital platform in response to the changing retail environment. It has also served as a support document for towns and villages applying for funding under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.

I expect to shortly publish the Action Plan for Jobs 2018, following an intensive consultation process. This is the eighth such Plan at the national level since its commencement in 2012, which has over that time maintained a strong emphasis on stimulating regional growth.

It is important to acknowledge that while jobs are growing right across the country some regions are growing faster than others. That is why to complement actions at the national level, the Government launched the Regional Action Plan for Jobs in 2015. The Regional Action Plan for Jobs initiative is a central pillar of the Government’s national ambition to create 200,000 new jobs by 2020, 135,000 of which are outside of Dublin. A key objective of each of the plans is to have a further 10 to 15 percent at work in each region by 2020, with the unemployment rate of each region not exceeding one percentage point above the national average.

Sligo town is part of the North East/North West Regional Action Plan for Jobs. This Plan is the key policy response for supporting employment growth in the Border region, with public and private stakeholders actively engaged. Sectors targeted as part of the plan include traditionally strong sectors for the region like agri-food, manufacturing/engineering and tourism. The core objective of the Plan is to see a further 28,000 at work in the region by 2020 and to reduce the unemployment rate to within 1 percentage point of the State average.

There has been a substantial improvement in the North East/North West region since the launch of the Regional Action Plan initiative with 12,000 more people in work in the region sinice the Regional Action Plan initiative commenced in early 2015, representing good progress towards the 28,000 target by 2020. Moreover, the unemployment rate in the region has fallen from 10.8% in Q1 2015 to 7.3% in Q2 2017, compared to the national rate of 6.9%.

The latest CSO figures show that there were 2,822 people on the Live Register in Sligo town in February 2018. This figure represents a decrease of 36%, or 1,583 individuals, since February 2012. This reduction is to be welcomed and demonstrates that while there are still challenges to surmount in bringing down this figure further, the overall trend for Sligo is one of steady improvement.

This Government is conscious that ambitious regional targets must be properly resourced under the Regional Action Plans. To this end, additional funds to support regional employment are being made available through the enterprise agencies on a rolling basis out to 2020.

In June 2016 an initial allocation of €5m for 48 local and regional initiatives under two of these calls was announced: the LEO Competitive Fund and the Community Enterprise Initiative.  All regions benefited under this initiative.

On 11 December last, I announced the results of the first call under Enterprise Ireland’s €60 million Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF). This Fund is supporting the ambition, goals and implementation of the Regional Action Plans for Jobs through enabling the development and implementation of collaborative and innovative projects that can sustain and add to employment at a national, regional and county level. Twenty-one successful applicants representing all regions of the country have secured up to €30.5m for their projects in the first call. Over €5m has been approved for the Northern and Western region, subject to grant conditions. The second call under this Scheme will fund projects from the remaining balance of the €60m budget available and will be announced in Q1 this year.  In order to ensure a balanced regional spread, Enterprise Ireland has targeted a minimum of €2m to be allocated for the best ranked project/s from each region across the entirety of the €60 million fund.

An additional €150m is also being made available to the IDA to support its Regional Property Programme and drive job creation in the multi-national sector. This programme includes include the construction of nine new advance facilities around the country. The agency has received over €90 million of this to date. This programme includes include the construction of nine new advance facilities around the country which will help draw more multinational companies to regional areas. So far, IDA has successfully secured tenants for the first buildings completed under its Regional property investment programme, one of which is in Sligo.

The enterprise agencies are working very hard towards the Government’s ambitious job creation targets at national and regional level.

Under IDA Ireland’s strategy “Winning - Foreign Direct Investment 2015, the Agency is targeting the creation of 80,000 new jobs and 900 new investments over this period. The Agency is also aiming to increase the level of investment by between 30% and 40% in each region.  Since the launch of the Strategy, half of all jobs created by IDA client Companies have been based outside of Dublin. County Sligo currently has 21 IDA client companies supporting almost 2,200 jobs.

The Agency continues to actively market Sligo where the Agency has 8 hectares of available lands on the Finisklin Business & Technology Park and a new 31 hectares green-field land bank in Oakfield which will be accessed by Western Distributor Road.  I understand that work on the Western Distributor Road will commence shortly.

Enterprise Ireland recognises the need for the development of sustainable, quality jobs throughout the country – especially in areas that have had historically low job creation. Progress is being made in this regard. I was pleased to see that when Enterprise Ireland announced its End of Year Statement for 2017 in January, all counties had experienced growth. Sligo performed particularly well in 2017, with Enterprise Ireland supported client companies registering an employment increase of 11%. This made Sligo the second best performing county in the country, coming second only to Leitrim at 12%. Sligo’s performance in 2017 is also higher than the North-West regional average of 7%.

Enterprise Ireland is committed to developing employment growth – this is reflected in the fact that 65% of jobs created by the agency in 2017 were outside Dublin. Enterprise Ireland will continue to work with its client companies to further support and develop employment throughout Ireland during 2018.

I would also refer the Deputy to the work of the Sligo Local Enterprise Office, which offers a wide range of business supports to entrepreneurs, early stage promoters, start-ups and small businesses in the Sligo area.  In the three years from 2014 to 2016, a total of 487 jobs were created by companies supported by LEO Sligo. Feasibility, priming and business expansion grants totalling €1.1m were approved for 77 projects during this period, while 80 grants were issued to micro-enterprises in the County under the Trading Online Voucher Scheme.

It is the cumulative effect of all of these these activities - and the collaboration which they will bring about in their delivery - which will make a real and lasting impact on the jobs potential of Sligo and the wider North-West. 

I am very conscious of the challenges as a result of Brexit faced by companies operating in close proximity to the Border, many of which trade freely on both sides of the border.

Since the UK referendum, the State agencies under my remit have been active in supporting companies in assessing and addressing their exposure to Brexit.

EI’s current “Prepare for Brexit” campaign includes a Brexit Scoreboard available to all companies to self-assess their preparedness for Brexit and generates a report suggesting appropriate responses.

For exporting companies, new resources were secured, including extra staffing, for EI and the LEOs in Budget 2017 to assist businesses to maintain and grow export markets.

Based on significant analysis and stakeholder consultation, my Department is currently working on further measures targeted at the needs of companies in the wider economy around working capital and business development.

Small and Medium Enterprises Supports

Questions (364)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

364. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the contingencies and supports in place to safeguard small and medium enterprises, SMEs, and export businesses from a hard Brexit scenario including revision of state aid rules; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9796/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

The long-term response to Brexit is for companies to become more competitive, more innovative and to diversify their export footprint into more markets. The agencies under my Department have a wide range of supports available to enable companies to consolidate market share within the UK, and also to become more resilient by broadening their sales to other international markets.

Enterprise Ireland (EI) and the LEOs are actively supporting their clients to achieve this. My Department provided for additional monies in 2017 to enable EI and the LEOs to ramp up their supports in light of Brexit to drive improvements in:

- productivity,

- innovation,

- management capability and leadership skills, and really driving the ambition of managers to look to other markets around the world.

At the centre of EI’s strategy, Build Scale, Expand Reach 2017 – 2020, are strategic targets focused on:

- Assisting clients to create 60,000 new jobs by 2020 while sustaining the existing record level of jobs;

- Growing the annual exports of client companies by €5bn to €26bn per annum;

- Increasing the level of spend made by client companies in the Irish economy by €4bn to €27bn per annum by 2020; and

- Inspiring more Irish owned companies to have global ambition.

In support of this, EI is implementing extensive trade mission and event schedules focused on global and sectoral opportunities, further developing in-market expertise and networks, placing greater focus on identifying new sectoral opportunities and stimulating demand for Irish products and services through international marketing campaigns. In 2017, EI launched a new Eurozone Strategy to increase exports to Eurozone countries by 50% by 2020.

The first year of the Strategy was a very strong year for job creation among EI clients with over 19,300 new jobs created in 2017, resulting in a net gain of 10,309 jobs across the country. In 2017 EI supported companies employed 209,338 people. 65 % of client employment is outside of Dublin.

EI has introduced a number of Brexit specific programmes to help Irish companies remain resilient in the face of uncertainty. One of these measures is an online “Brexit SME Scorecard” to help all Irish businesses self-assess their exposure to Brexit. The Scorecard generates a report on weak areas and suggests some initial next steps. 1,909 companies had used the Scorecard by mid-December of 2017. In addition, a €5k “Be Prepared Grant” is available for SMEs to help support the costs involved in preparing a plan to mitigate risks and optimise opportunities arising from Brexit.

We are seeing growth in traditional industry sectors such as construction and manufacturing as well as in the Digital technology and Life Sciences sectors.

The Local Enterprise Offices are supporting their clients by providing information, training and mentoring on Brexit related issues as well as advice on other sources of support. LEO’s 2017 results are expected to be available in early March.

To support the eight Regional Action Plans, and as part of the Government’s strategic response to Brexit, additional funding of up to €60m is being rolled out by EI over the next 4 years. The Regional Enterprise Development Fund will support the development and implementation of collaborative and innovative projects that can sustain and add to employment at a national, regional and county level. Twenty-one successful applicants representing all regions of the country have secured up to €30.5m for their projects in the first competitive call. I intend to launch the second call towards the end of March.

My Department recently launched a €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme to provide affordable working capital financing to Irish businesses that are either currently impacted by Brexit, or will be in the future. The Scheme will be delivered by SBCI through commercial lenders to get much needed working capital into Irish businesses, and will be open to both State Agency clients and those businesses that do not have any relationship with State Agencies.

On the State Aid aspects, In November 2017, the then Tánaiste met with Commissioner Vestager (who has responsibility for EU State aid policy). An outcome from this meeting was the establishment of a Working Group comprising representatives from DG Competition, the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation, Enterprise Ireland and Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The objective of the Group is to scope and design schemes to support enterprises impacted by Brexit in line with State Aid rules. The Working Group has met three times and in between these meetings, there has been engagement on specific issues in order to continue to progress matters. Should issues arise that require an approach that does not fit within the existing State Aid rules, this will be raised as part of the Working Group discussions.

As one part of a suite of measures to mitigate against the effects of Brexit, a Rescue and Restructuring (R&R) Scheme notified to the Commission was approved in late November 2017. This scheme has been put in place as it is considered prudent to have contingency measures in place so that we can respond swiftly to changing circumstances as necessary.

A key priority of mine is to ensure that this Government remains true to our export led growth policies. We will continue to support start-ups and ambitious companies across the country and help them scale faster through the work of the Local Enterprise Offices and Enterprise Ireland. I will keep a focus on regional initiatives, on building strength and resilience among existing exporting companies and also on broadening the exporting base by doing all we can to get Irish companies the supports they need to get exporting and thereby create sustainable quality jobs.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (365)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

365. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the cost to her Department of attending the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2018; the costs incurred by travel, accommodation, attendance fees and other items; the names of those that attended paid for by her Department; the individual costs attached to each and all other sundry costs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9806/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

My Department did not pay for anyone to attend the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos.

Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement Legal Cases

Questions (366)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

366. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of persons brought to court by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement in each of the years 2012 to 2017 and to date in 2018. [9815/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

Court proceedings initiated by the ODCE in the years 2012 to 2018 are set out in the following table:

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018 to date

No. of persons (individuals and companies) subject to Court Proceedings Initiated by ODCE

31

37

28

6

10

4

0

The table above reflects the total number of persons (both individuals and companies) against whom the ODCE has initiated Court proceedings since 2012. This includes cases

- where prosecutions were taken before the Circuit Criminal Court by the DPP on foot of files submitted by the ODCE;

- summary prosecutions taken directly by the ODCE in the District Court;

- disqualification applications made by the ODCE in the High Court;

-other Court actions taken by the ODCE or which the ODCE was otherwise a party to.

In addition to these Court actions initiated by the ODCE, the Office also responded to several other Court actions initiated by other parties. For example, the Office has responded to a number of applications for relief from Restriction Orders previously made by the Courts.

The lower numbers in more recent years are attributable to two principal factors.

Firstly, as has been detailed in previous responses, the ODCE’s enforcement strategy in recent years has been to concentrate its resources on investigating more serious indications of wrongdoing the result of which is, typically, the submission of a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for consideration. By definition, these investigations, when compared with District Court prosecutions (which make up the bulk of the earlier years’ numbers):

- are substantially larger in scale;

- are far more complex;

- are substantially more labour intensive, particularly as regards Garda and professional resources;

- typically involve the issuing of multiple Production Orders to multiple parties;

- typically involve multiple possible offences over multiple years;

- are prone to give rise to novel issues of law, for example, the interaction between criminal investigation and individuals’ privacy rights;

- typically involve substantial volumes of documents (often into thousands of documents from multiple sources in both hard copy and electronic form) and significant numbers of witnesses.

As such, investigations of this nature, for obvious reasons, take considerably longer to bring to a conclusion than is the case with District Court prosecutions. In that context, it is also important to bear in mind that, as has also been detailed in previous responses, in the case of files referred to the DPP, it is the DPP and not the ODCE that takes the decision as to whether to direct charges. Therefore, the matter of direction of charges on indictment is entirely outside the control of the ODCE.

Secondly, on legal advice received from Senior Counsel following two High Court judgements in disqualification applications brought by the ODCE in 2014, the ODCE suspended that programme of activity pending an appeal by the ODCE to the Court of Appeal. In 2016, the Court of Appeal overturned the decision made by the High Court in one of these cases. Based on the decision in the Court of Appeal, the Office has recently recommenced its programme of seeking the disqualification of directors in appropriate cases. However, many of these are now being dealt with by way of undertakings rather than Court applications and, as such, the effect of the undertakings regime introduced by the Oireachtas in the Companies Act 2014 will be to reduce the number of people having to appear before the Courts, thereby freeing up Court time for other matters and reducing the associated costs to the individuals concerned.

In addition to the Court actions initiated by the ODCE, nearly 1,000 company directors have been restricted or disqualified on foot of Court applications made by liquidators over the same period. In every one of these cases, the ODCE has first reviewed the circumstances of the case and, having examined the liquidator’s report, has determined that the liquidator should not be relieved of the obligation to make such applications.

Finally, I would note that not all enforcement actions taken by the ODCE result in Court applications. Rather, the ODCE operates a graduated approach towards enforcement, i.e., where deemed an appropriate response, indications of non-compliance are dealt with, inter alia, by way of warning, statutory direction (i.e., directing compliance) etc.

Industrial Development

Questions (367)

Seán Fleming

Question:

367. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the projects the IDA has in 2018 (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9821/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

This Government is committed to increasing regional development in 2018. My Department and its agencies are working towards ambitious targets to ensure that employment and investment are distributed as evenly as possible across the country. This includes County Carlow, which is marketed by the IDA as part of the South-East region. IDA Ireland client companies in the South-East created 1,200 new jobs last year, bringing total employment in overseas companies in the region to 14,785 people.

A key IDA client company in Carlow is MSD. Last year the firm announced the creation of 330 new jobs and an investment of €280m over the next three years at two of its manufacturing sites in Carlow and Cork. As part of this investment the company will create a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Carlow along with 120 new roles. This facility will be the company’s first stand-alone vaccine and biologics facility outside the US. This significant investment in the County will also help the Agency’s efforts to attract even further investment there.

IDA Ireland continues to work with its existing client base to identify new opportunities for expansion in the South-East. In addition, the Agency is itself investing in property solutions to drive the growth of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the region. The IDA’s €150m regional property programme includes the construction of nine new advance facilities around the country, one of which will be located in Carlow. This building is currently at design stage and I am advised by the IDA that it expects to begin construction this year, with the aim of completing the facility by 2019. Once in place, that should also help to bring more FDI to the area.

Enterprise Ireland Investments

Questions (368, 372)

Dara Calleary

Question:

368. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the steps being taken by Enterprise Ireland to foster the development of the augmented reality and virtual reality industries here; the companies that are supported; her plans to address the expansion in the sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10045/18]

View answer

Dara Calleary

Question:

372. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the conferences and events focused on augmented reality and virtual reality Enterprise Ireland has been involved in; the plans for participation by Enterprise Ireland in these events; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10049/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 368 and 372 together.

From an Enterprise Ireland perspective, the technology that underpins the augmented reality and virtual reality industries is currently niche and developmental. Enterprise Ireland has approved funding for a number of research and innovation projects in this area and has seen some client activity in this space, particularly in the areas of education, entertainment and marketing. Going forward, Enterprise Ireland would expect a greater number of companies to be involved in augmented reality and virtual reality industries, particularly in the above areas. To support these companies, Enterprise Ireland offers an array of supports and I am satisfied that these supports will assist entrepreneurs and companies in the augmented and virtual reality sectors to realise their ambitions.

- Start-Ups: Enterprise Ireland’s provides support to start-up companies to assist with business planning, mentoring and development advice, feasibility funding and finance, often in the form of equity investment, as appropriate to the founder’s ambitions and the company’s potential and stage of growth.

- Competitiveness: Enterprise Ireland recognises that Irish companies must be competitive in order to succeed in international markets. Enterprise Ireland’s Lean Business Offer encourages client companies to adopt lean principles and to build the capability and capacity of their people to identify problems and improve operations.

- Capability & Management Development: In addition to providing tailored support in creating and implementing business growth plans, Enterprise Ireland’s Capability and Mentoring Department has developed a number of programmes focused on supporting leadership and management and building international sales and marketing capabilities in Irish companies.

- Supporting Internationalisation, including market diversification: For Irish owned companies internationalisation is vital for growth. To support this, Enterprise Ireland has a presence in 33 overseas locations worldwide to give client companies access to foreign markets. Enterprise Ireland assists companies to build the knowledge and capability required for success in international markets by providing financial and non-financial supports. In addition, Enterprise Ireland runs Trade Missions to support clients win new export business and build international networks and partnerships.

- Access to Finance: Enterprise Ireland offers a range of financial supports to assist clients through all stages of the business development cycle. The nature and level of support offered to clients will depend on the individual company’s development needs and is assessed in consultation with their development adviser. In addition, the State, through Enterprise Ireland, has invested heavily in stimulating and facilitating the availability of Seed and Venture Capital to provide access to finance for SMEs.

- Innovation: Enterprise Ireland recognises that innovation is critical to the continued success of client companies in order to gain competitive advantage and create the next generation of winning products and services. Enterprise Ireland provides financial and non-financial support to companies to further improve their innovative capability and capacity.

- Research Collaboration: In order to promote business innovation with the ultimate aim of creating jobs, Enterprise Ireland works with the broader enterprise base in Ireland including foreign-owned MNCs and with the research community. The Technology Centre programme which Enterprise Ireland runs jointly with IDA Ireland brings consortia of indigenous firms and multinational companies together with academia to tackle problems that are prevalent in specific sectors or technology areas.

Innovation continues to be a priority for Enterprise Ireland. In 2017 it had 1,065 collaborative innovations between industry and Higher Education Institutes, 436 Technology Gateway projects for industry, and helped client companies secure €475 million in Horizon 2020 funding. I am confident that the work of my Department, through Enterprise Ireland, will result in exciting developments in all technologies, including virtual and augmented reality technology.

IDA Ireland Data

Questions (369, 371, 373)

Dara Calleary

Question:

369. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the steps being taken by the IDA to attract companies operating in the augmented reality and virtual reality sectors to invest here; the investment that has been successfully secured in the sector; her plans to attract future investment opportunities in view of the expansion of the sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10046/18]

View answer

Dara Calleary

Question:

371. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the interaction the IDA has had with an annual conference (details supplied); the support it has provided to this event which attracts significant interest throughout the national and international augmented reality and virtual reality sectors; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that Invest NI was among the supporters of this event; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10048/18]

View answer

Dara Calleary

Question:

373. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the conferences and events focused on augmented reality and virtual reality the IDA has been involved in; the plans for participation by the IDA in these events; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10050/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 369, 371 and 373 together.

IDA Ireland is committed to diversifying the type of investment attracted to Ireland. The Agency has, with that goal in mind, established a specialist Division to examine new forms of investment, including opportunities in sectors such as Robotics, Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR), Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics.

Ireland now has a growing base of investment by technology companies in this area. IDA Ireland client companies who are part of an AR/VR cluster in Ireland include DAQRI, Intel, Valeo Vision Systems, Microsoft, Accenture, Google, Facebook and SAP. The Agency has also identified and engaged with a number of other AR/VR companies overseas with a view to bringing more such investment to Ireland.

As part of its work to attract investment by companies in emerging technologies to Ireland, the Agency participates in a number of global AR/VR conferences each year. The IDA, for example, supported the AR/VR Innovate conference in Dublin in 2015, including through a client dinner in the margins of the event. The Agency’s staff will continue to participate in future events that have the potential to attract investment from overseas AR/VR firms, with the aim of both attracting new employment to the country and developing the sector further here.

Enterprise Ireland Data

Question No. 371 answered with Question No. 369.

Question No. 372 answered with Question No. 368.

Question No. 373 answered with Question No. 369.

Questions (370)

Dara Calleary

Question:

370. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the interaction Enterprise Ireland has had with an event (details supplied); the support it has provided to this event which attracts significant interest throughout the national and international augmented reality and virtual reality sectors; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that Invest NI was among the supporters of this event; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10047/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

Enterprise Ireland, an Agency of my Department, will be presenting at this year’s Augmented Reality Virtual Reality (ARVR) Conference. Enterprise Ireland is currently in discussions with the event organisers on this matter. Enterprise Ireland was not involved with this event last year.

Invest Northern Ireland is the Business Development Agency for Northern Ireland and reports to the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on their involvement in any specific business events or conferences.

Question No. 371 answered with Question No. 369.
Question No. 372 answered with Question No. 368.
Question No. 373 answered with Question No. 369.

Brexit Issues

Questions (374)

Micheál Martin

Question:

374. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she will report on the role her Department's officials have in coordinating the response from businesses, particularly in the Border area, to prepare for Brexit. [9656/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

Enterprise Ireland (EI) and the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are the primary providers of supports to assist enterprises within the indigenous sector that are facing challenges arising from Brexit. They are working vigorously to enable companies to consolidate market share within the UK and also to become more resilient by broadening their sales to other international markets.

The six LEOs in the Border region are also working together with their Northern Ireland counterparts under the EU Co-Innovate Programme.

I am conscious that further efforts are needed to ensure that companies in the Border Region are resilient to economic shocks, such as Brexit. To this end, I am committed to ensuring that Enterprise Ireland and the LEOs will continue to work with companies from the region to drive their innovation, competitiveness, internationalisation and Brexit preparedness.

My Department provided additional capital funding in 2017 to enable EI and the LEOs to ramp up its supports in light of Brexit to drive improvements in:

- productivity,

- innovation,

- management capability and leadership skills,

and really driving the ambition of managers to look to other markets around the world.

My Department has been working with the Department of Finance, Enterprise Ireland (EI) and Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and others to develop potential supports to respond to the needs of businesses impacted by Brexit. The Brexit Loan Scheme, announced during Budget 2018, will provide affordable working capital financing to eligible Irish businesses that are either currently impacted by Brexit, or which will be in the future. The Scheme will be delivered by the SBCI through commercial lenders to get much needed working capital into Irish businesses.

In 2017 my Department provided for an increased current expenditure pay provision of €1.7m to enable EI recruit 39 Brexit specific posts to work at home and across the globe in EI’s 33 offices abroad. My Department provided EI with a further €1.3 million in Budget 2018 to recruit approximately 18 additional staff.

Specific programmes introduced during 2017 have included;

- A ‘Prepare for Brexit’ online portal and communications campaign.

- An enhanced programme of trade and investment missions and other trade promotional events.

- An online ‘Brexit SME Scorecard’ to help all Irish businesses self-assess their exposure to Brexit. The Scorecard generates a report on weak areas and suggests some initial next steps. 1,909 companies had used the Scorecard by mid-December of 2017.

- A new Eurozone Strategy to increase exports to Eurozone countries by 50% by 2020. This strategy aims to support companies to broaden their export footprint beyond the UK, and thereby improve economic resilience.

- A new €5k “Be Prepared Grant” that supports the costs of SME clients in preparing a plan to mitigate risks and optimise opportunities arising from Brexit.

- EI is hosting “Prepare for Brexit” breakfast roadshows nationally to engage with companies.

- Three new strategic communications campaigns launched to target separate elements of Brexit preparedness. ‘Global Ambition’ is aimed at encouraging companies to export; ‘PrepareforBrexit’ highlights actions required by companies to improve resilience; and a new ‘Irish Advantage’ campaign will target Eurozone buyers to buy Irish innovation in key Brexit impacted sectors.

This Brexit focus has continued into the 2018 plan. In recent weeks, EI launched its new Market Discovery Fund to help more Irish companies accelerate their market diversification efforts.

InterTrade Ireland also has a programme of initiatives to increase the awareness and capacity of companies to deal with the practical consequences of Brexit for cross-border trade. The north east/north west Regional Action Plan will also boost enterprise and job creation across the border regions.

In summary, I am committed to support the agencies under my remit to continue to respond to the needs of companies affected by Brexit to protect jobs and build resilience across the country.

IDA Ireland

Questions (375)

Joan Burton

Question:

375. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the status of the identification of a replacement industry for a site (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10136/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

As I have previously noted, the property in question was placed on the open market last summer. The IDA continues to engage with the owner about its potential sale and is actively drawing the attention of the Agency's clients to the property.

Speech and Language Therapy Provision

Questions (376)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

376. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health the action being taken by his Department to assist a school (details supplied) which has had the number of HSE provided speech therapy hours reduced by a third; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9742/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Patient Safety

Questions (377)

Seán Fleming

Question:

377. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health when section 4 of the Civil Liability Amendment Act 2014 will be commenced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9947/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Part 4 of the Civil Liability (Amendment ) Act 2017 which provides for the voluntary open disclosure of patient safety incidents was signed into law in November  2017. 

Work has commenced on the drafting of Regulations to accompany Part 4 of the Act.  Consultation with the various stakeholders including the Health Service Executive, HIQA and the the Regulators is underway. It is intended to commence Part 4 in the near future.