Jobs Data

Questions (65)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

65. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach the number of new jobs created here in each of the past two years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17071/18]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

The exact information requested by the Deputy is not available.

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) is the official source of estimates of labour force (ILO) in the State. This survey replaced the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) from Q3 2017. The most recent figures available are for Q4 2017.

The LFS does not record whether a job is newly created. Instead the LFS records the overall stock of persons employed at given points in time. The annual changes which are calculated using these stock figures depend both on the number of jobs lost and jobs created over the period in question.

The data prior to Q3 2017 includes adjustments to the historic QNHS data series to take account of revisions to population estimates arising from the 2016 Census of Population. In addition, adjustments have been made to this historic data to enable comparability with the new LFS for key headline indicators – ILO employment status, NACE Rev2 Industrial classification, age and gender.

However as a result of changes to the questionnaire, the interview mode, the introduction of a new sample, data processing changes and other methodological enhancements there are changes in the levels of some series outside of these key indicators from Q3 2017 onwards. As a consequence, the series before and after the introduction of the new survey may not be directly comparable and this should be noted when examining annual and quarterly changes.

The table below shows the number of persons aged 15 years and over in employment in Q4 2015 - 2017 and the annual change in the years to Q4 2016 and Q4 2017.

Persons aged 15 years and over in employment (ILO) Q4 2015 - 2017 and annual changes to Q4 2016 and Q4 2017

'000

Q4 15

Q4 16

Q4 17

In employment

2,085.0

2,164.2

2,231.0

Annual change to Q4 2016 and Q4 2017

n/a

79.2

66.8

Source: Labour Force Survey (LFS), Central Statistics Office, Ireland.

n/a - Not applicable.

Data may be subject to future revision.

Data may be subject to sampling or other survey errors, which are greater in respect of smaller values or estimates of change.

Reference period: q4=Oct-Dec.

Note: A new Labour Force Survey (LFS) replaced the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) in Q3 2017 and, as a result, care should be taken when comparing data from before and after this period. Please see background notes of the LFS release for additional information.

Bioenergy Strategy

Questions (66)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

66. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Taoiseach the role of his Department in the preparation of the National Policy Statement on the Bioeconomy. [16666/18]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

The Government recognises the contribution that the bioeconomy can make in promoting the more efficient use of renewable resources and supporting sustainable economic development and employment in rural Ireland.

In order to fully realise this potential, an Interdepartmental Group, bringing together the departments involved in the bioeconomy and chaired by my Department, was established in November 2016.

The Interdepartmental Group carried out a detailed scoping exercise to identify current and potential activities in the area, as well as stakeholder workshops and a public consultation.

This analysis and stakeholder consultation informed the National Policy Statement on the Bioeconomy which was approved by Government and published on 12 March.

This National Policy Statement sets out a vision, common principles, strategic objectives, and a framework for implementation to deliver on this vision for the bioeconomy in Ireland.

An Implementation Group, jointly chaired by D/AFM and D/CCAE, has been established to progress the key actions identified in this Statement and the Group is to report back to Government by end 2018.

The Policy Statement and the relevant accompanying documentation are available on my Department’s website, www.taoiseach.gov.ie.

Strategic Communications Unit

Questions (67)

Niall Collins

Question:

67. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach his views on the report on matters relating to the Strategic Communications Unit and Project Ireland 2040 that was published on 27 March 2018 and its conclusions. [16896/18]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

On 1st March last, I requested that the Secretary General of my Department conduct a review into the operations of the SCU. The report from this review was accepted by Government on 27th March last and published on the same date. This is now being implemented.

In accordance with the report, there will be a managed reversion to the more traditional GIS model, with a transition period until July 2018.

Strategic Communications Unit

Questions (68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73)

Niall Collins

Question:

68. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach if he will report on matters relating to the Strategic Communications Unit and Project Ireland 2040, which outlines that the estimated cost of the media spend on the campaign was estimated to be €1,427,608 excluding VAT; if there are a number of planned media arrangements on hold; if these are still on hold; his plans to lift the hold on spending additional funds; and the amount outstanding. [16897/18]

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Niall Collins

Question:

69. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach the alternative campaigns' funds that were on hold from the media campaign on Project Ireland 2040 as outlined in the report of 26 March 2018 on the Strategic Communications Unit. [16898/18]

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Niall Collins

Question:

70. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach if he has received communication from a company (details supplied) regarding the discrepancy referred to on page ten of the report in relation to the Strategic Communications Unit. [16899/18]

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Niall Collins

Question:

71. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach if the GIS has been re-established in his Department. [16902/18]

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Niall Collins

Question:

72. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach his plans to develop and deliver major cross Government communications campaigns; and the way in which they will be coordinated. [16903/18]

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Niall Collins

Question:

73. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach when he will publish the research that was undertaken by the Strategic Communications Unit and his Department. [16904/18]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 68 to 73, inclusive, together.

A number of the planned media arrangements for Project Ireland 2040 had been paused pending the outcome of the review into the operation of the Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) by the Secretary General of my Department. This included additional media content partnership arrangements and national and regional radio campaigns. As articulated in the Secretary General's report, where expenditure has been committed but not yet spent by the SCU (e.g. pre booked local radio slots), it will be redirected to other campaigns, such as Healthy Ireland or Brexit preparation.

The newly structured Government Information Service (GIS) will continue to have a co-ordinating and supporting role for national, cross-Government communications, as has always been the case, but such campaigns will be led and funded by the relevant line Department - in that context, the communication of Project Ireland 2040 will be the responsibility of the new Project Ireland 2040 Delivery Board which will be led by the Departments of Public Expenditure and Reform and Housing, Planning and Local Government.

As the Deputy will be aware, the matter in relation to Mediaforce was raised at the Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach on the 29th of March last. At that point it was confirmed that communication had been received from the company involved following completion of and submission of the Report to Government on the 27th of March. Correspondence from the company provided after that date included clarification in respect of the matters raised by the Report. It was indicated to the Select Committee that the response would be made available to it when it had been considered by the Department.

The correspondence clarifies the matter in respect of two separate emails but makes no material difference to the Report provided by the Secretary General or to the Government’s decisions in respect of this matter. I intend to provide the documentation to the Select Committee and publish it in the coming days.

The Research referred to has not yet commenced. It is intended to run a Citizen survey to assess public awareness and understanding of Government services. The opposition parties will be given an opportunity to review the proposed material for the survey prior to it being issued. Once the survey has been run and results collected and analysed, it is intended to publish it.

On 1st March last, I requested that the Secretary General of my Department conduct a review into the operations of the SCU. The report from this review was accepted by Government on 27th March last and published on the same date. This is now being implemented.

In accordance with the report, there will be a managed reversion to the more traditional GIS model, with a transition period until July 2018.

Army Barracks

Questions (74)

Robert Troy

Question:

74. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of civilian positions which have become vacant in 2017 at Custume Barracks, Athlone; if these positions will be filled; if so, the timeframe for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16987/18]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

Two civilian posts became vacant at Custume Barracks, Athlone in 2017. Following the lifting of the embargo on recruitment to the Public Service, the military authorities have been identifying posts to be filled at various locations throughout the country on a prioritised basis. Competitions to fill posts identified by the military authorities are initiated following assessment of the business requirement for the posts. Posts in Custume Barracks, Athlone, as is the case with posts at other military installations, are currently the subject of this ongoing assessment process.

Foreign Conflicts

Questions (75)

Niall Collins

Question:

75. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on the ongoing violence in the Central African Republic; the steps that have been taken to address this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16876/18]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Government is deeply concerned by the ongoing reports of violence in the Central African Republic (CAR). CAR is the world’s third most fragile state, with very significant humanitarian needs. The United Nations estimates that 2.5 million people - more than half the population - require humanitarian assistance, 1.1 million people are moderately or severely food insecure. More than 690,000 people are internally displaced, and over 546,000 people are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. In line with our long standing support to neglected and forgotten crises, Ireland has consistently contributed to the humanitarian response in CAR and has provided over €25 million in humanitarian assistance since 2012, including over €5.2m in 2017.

Ireland also provides support to underfunded and forgotten crises through the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), a large UN fund that is used for immediate humanitarian response at the onset of emergencies, in rapidly deteriorating situations, and in protracted crises that fail to attract sufficient resources. Ireland is the eighth largest donor to the CERF.

Ireland allocates an additional €1 million per year to Concern for their work in CAR. Concern is one of the few organisations still present in these communities offering multi-sectoral support to internally displaced people, returnees and vulnerable people.

Ireland supports the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) which has been operational since 2014. Ireland also supports the EU Military Training Mission (EUTM) CAR to implement security sector reform with the Central African Armed Forces (FACA). The goal is to support the build-up of a modernised, effective, ethnically balanced and civilian controlled FACA.

In March this year, Ireland’s representative to the Political and Security Committee of the European Union (EU PSC), Ambassador Noel White, travelled with other EU PSC Ambassadors for a joint field visit to CAR with the Ambassadors’ Peace and Security Council of the African Union (PSC AU). The EU and AU Ambassadors conveyed common messages on continued engagement and support to the efforts for reconciliation, state building, justice and peace and solidarity with the people of CAR. The mission reconfirmed the need for close EU-AU-UN cooperation in the country.

The EU and AU Ambassadors met with the President and the cabinet of ministers of CAR: they also met with the National Assembly, with the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General in CAR, as well as with the Force Commander of the UN mission - MINUSCA. In addition, they also met with the panel of facilitators of the African Union’s initiative for peace and reconciliation in CAR and had an informal meeting with representatives of civil society.

Ireland will continue to monitor the situation and will ensure, with our EU and multilateral partners, to maintain the focus on preventing violence and addressing the humanitarian crisis.

Overseas Development Aid

Questions (76)

Niall Collins

Question:

76. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to develop a roadmap to reach the 0.7% ODA/GNI target; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16877/18]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Government is strongly committed to Ireland’s overseas development cooperation programme and to its place at the heart of our foreign policy. For 2018, we have allocated just over €707 million for Official Development Assistance (ODA), representing a significant investment on behalf of the Irish tax payer and a clear demonstration of our continued strong commitment to Ireland’s aid programme. 2018 is also the third consecutive year we have increased allocations to the aid budget. Based on estimates in Budget 2018, it is anticipated this level of allocation will see ODA amount to approximately 0.3% of GNI in 2018.

The current Programme for Government sets out our ambition to meet the UN target of providing 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) to ODA, as resources permit. Our goal is to reach the target by 2030, within the timeframe for delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Progress towards the 0.7% target will need to be made through sustained, managed increments, building on Ireland's recognised role as a reliable and effective partner in combatting global poverty and hunger, and providing humanitarian assistance to those most in need. In order to prepare for the managed progression towards the UN target, a new White Paper on Irish overseas development assistance will be produced and published later this year. Reaching the 0.7% target will involve significant increases to the ODA budget over the next decade and more. These increases will focus on delivering real and sustainable results, be managed prudentially and effectively, and will require careful planning and consultation across a wide spectrum of stakeholders, including Government Departments, Irish Development NGOs and the public. The White Paper process will give direction in this regard, as will the recent report by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence on Irish Aid.

The table sets out an indicative stepped scenario for meeting the UN target of spending 0.7% of GNI on ODA by 2030, with interim targets of 0.4% in 2022, 0.5% in 2026 and 0.6% in 2028 and delivering on the UN Target by 2030.

Year

Total ODA - In € millions

ODA as a % of Projected GNI

2018

707.10

0.30%

2022

1,109.29

0.40%

2026

1,560.65

0.50%

2028

1,986.83

0.60%

2030

2,459.13

0.70%

Ministerial Meetings

Questions (77)

Niall Collins

Question:

77. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on his meeting with the Foreign Minister of Germany; his plans to improve German-Irish relations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16878/18]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I was delighted to welcome Heiko Maas, the new German Minister for Foreign Affairs to Dublin on 12 April, less than a month after his appointment as foreign minister. We had a warm and constructive meeting. Germany is a hugely influential EU member state. It is Ireland’s fourth largest goods trading partner and our third most important tourism market. Having excellent working relations with Germany is a priority for us. Germany has been a consistent supporter of Ireland in the Brexit negotiations, something we greatly appreciate. Minister Maas and I discussed Brexit at some length and we had a very useful exchange on a number of international issues, including the Middle East Peace Process and EU relations with Africa, priority areas for both our countries.

To coincide with the visit I published a Comprehensive Review of our bilateral relations with Germany. I commissioned the review last year. The review process included our Embassy in Berlin, a number of Government Departments and State agencies, as well as the German authorities themselves, and the report, “Ireland in Germany: A Wider and Deeper Footprint” , makes 23 recommendations, including a proposal to open a new Consulate next year in Frankfurt.

The overarching message of the review is that notwithstanding the strength of our bilateral relationship, there is still scope to develop it further. I have, therefore, asked officials to start work immediately on the implementation of the recommendations.

Minister Maas and I agreed that formal consultations at State Secretary and Secretary General level should be held on a regular basis. While highly desirable in themselves, I see this formalised engagement as part of a wider, ongoing process of strengthening existing alliances in the European Union and building new ones.

Brexit Issues

Questions (78)

Niall Collins

Question:

78. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to establish new formal structures for dialogue between the UK and Ireland in view of the impact that Brexit will have; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16879/18]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

While the UK’s decision to leave the EU has serious implications for Ireland, we maintain a strong and constructive bilateral relationship with the UK. We are fully committed to developing and enhancing this relationship over the coming years. Additionally, we will work to secure the closest possible positive relationship between the UK and the European Union. There are already a number of channels for ongoing dialogue and cooperation between the Irish and British Governments, which will continue after the UK leaves the European Union. In this regard, the Good Friday Agreement provides for important institutional cooperation on an east-west basis through the British-Irish Inter-Governmental Conference (BIIGC) and the British Irish Council (BIC). In addition, the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA) brings together elected representatives from the Oireachtas, Westminster, the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the Scottish and Welsh devolved assemblies. Additionally, in 2012, a process was established involving summits between the Taoiseach and the UK Prime Minister, supported by a Joint Work Programme managed at official level by the heads of all government departments in both London and Dublin.

These structures have shown their value and will continue to evolve in response to the changing circumstances. In addition, we will also explore other avenues to maintain the “habit of cooperation” that currently exists where Ministers regularly meet their counterparts and work together in Brussels. This deeper working relationship should allow for cooperation across a broad range of issues of shared interest.

The Embassy of Ireland in London remains our largest bilateral Embassy globally, and, in 2017, two additional diplomatic officers have been assigned to the Embassy. The Consulate General in Edinburgh was also assigned an additional diplomat in 2015. ‘Team Ireland’ also enjoys a significant footprint in Britain with our trade, tourism, and investment agencies continuing to make a positive impact.

Banking Sector

Questions (79)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

79. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter regarding a bank (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17004/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

AIB has provided me with the following response:

" One of AIB’s core objectives in restructuring customers in financial difficulty has been keeping viable businesses operating and supporting associated employment. Once a customer is meeting its commitments under a restructure agreement including fully cooperating with the Bank, assessment of advancing additional money would be subject to the Bank’s credit approval process and commercial terms. As is the case with all of our customers, AIB would be happy to engage directly with any customer in this regard."

Garda Stations

Questions (80)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

80. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the Garda stations in the Donegal division that underwent refurbishments in 2017 and to date in 2018; and the works carried out at each station. [16867/18]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I can confirm that the Office of Public Works (OPW) has managed and progressed works to the value of €775,276 on maintenance and refurbishment of Garda Stations in the Donegal Divisional area in 2017 and 2018 to date. The table lists the Garda Stations concerned together with a brief description of works.

Building

Description

Buncrana GS

Refurbishment of Cells

Milford GS

Refurbishment of Cells (currently on site)

Ballyshannon GS

Refurbishment of Cells

Bunbeg GS

Exterior Painting

Convoy GS

Interior & Exterior Painting

Cresslough GS

Interior & Exterior Painting

Moville GS

Interior & Exterior Painting

Newtowncunningham GS

Interior & Exterior Painting

Mountcharles GS

Drainage maintenance

Carrick GS

Fencing works

Dunfanaghy GS

New public counter

Letterkenny GS

New toilet in gym lobby

Carndonagh GS

Refit of kitchen

Letterkenny GS

Works to Letterkenny IT to provide Garda continuous professional development facilities

Ballyshannon GS

Works to traffic office

Falcarragh GS

Conversion of a room to a file store & provision of a security screen in public office

Letterkenny GS

Provision of 4 No. storage facilities with shelving

In addition, OPW is progressing a project to deliver a full upgrade and refurbishment of the Garda Station in Donegal Town. This project is currently at tender stage.

Freedom of Information Legislation

Questions (81)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

81. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to include the Dublin Airport Authority, Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus under the freedom of information legislation in view of the fact Irish Rail is included under the legislation. [16869/18]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Freedom of Information Act 2014 provides a very broad definition of public bodies at Section 6(1) and further provides that all new public bodies comprehended by this definition will automatically come under freedom of information (FOI) legislation, unless specifically exempted by order. This reversed the system under previous legislation whereby new bodies would have to be brought into the scope of the legislation by order. The 2014 Act extended the remit of the legislation, bringing the overall total to some 600 bodies comprehended by the Act.

Government policy has been that commercial state bodies should not, in general, be subject to Freedom of Information requirements, in view of their commercial role, mandate and responsibilities. There is a serious concern that an uneven competitive playing field would be created in circumstances that commercial state bodies operating in a competitive market were subject to Freedom of Information but their privately-owned market competitors were not. This could lead to a situation where FOI requests could be used to access information to disadvantage and erode the competitive position of the commercial State Body in the marketplace. Such a move would be expected to have an adverse impact on the commercial position of the State Body in question, which would not be in the public interest or consistent with the need to safeguard the State’s economic and financial interests.

However, during the progression of the FOI Bill 2014 through the Oireachtas the Government decided that certain State Companies which operate in a monopoly market should be no longer exempt from Freedom of information. The relevant State Companies which were subsequently comprehended by the Freedom of Information Act 2014 were:

- Irish Rail,

- ESB Networks,

- Gas Networks Ireland,

- EirGrid.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (82)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

82. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress made to date towards securing a permanent location for a school (details supplied); the expected timeframe for this to be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16860/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that a site to accommodate a permanent school building for the school to which he refers has been acquired.

Officials from my Department will be in contact with the school shortly regarding the progression of the project.

School Accommodation

Questions (83)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

83. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) has not received confirmation that it will have the necessary space to hold all new students for the coming school term; the contingency plans in place if this occurs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16861/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Patron has advised my Department that the school in question has recently corresponded with parents offering junior infant enrolment places in September 2018. I understand that the Patron has also provided update directly to the Deputy during a meeting last week.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Questions (84)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

84. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a short review of the process through which the land for the new site of a school (details supplied) was selected will be conducted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16862/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The site for the school to which the Deputy refers was purchased by my Department in accordance with its standard site acquisition procedures with a view to achieving optimum value for money while ensuring the provision of suitable accommodation. 

The Department has the support of the patron and management of the school in respect of the building project being provided on the site.  There are no grounds for reviewing the site acquisition process and no proposals to do so at this time.