Tax Credits

Questions (149)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

149. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if a series of matters regarding a company (details supplied) regarding PAYE modernisation will be examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51928/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that there was a short delay in issuing employee Tax Credit Certificates (TCCs) to the business in question but this was not connected to the changes arising from PAYE Modernisation.

Revenue has also confirmed that of the eleven TCCs requested by the company, seven have already issued and a further three will issue in the coming days. Additional information is required in respect of the final person who was not previously registered with Revenue and direct contact has taken place with the employer in this regard.

Tax Rebates

Questions (150)

Tom Neville

Question:

150. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Finance the status of a tax rebate for persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51932/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that it has already contacted the persons in question and advised them of the steps required (by them) to advance their claims for a tax rebate on eligible medical expenditure.

The official also advised the persons on how to register for Revenue’s on-line services, including MyAccount (for PAYE taxpayers) and ROS (for self-assessed taxpayers), which are the most efficient methods for managing such issues.

NAMA Legal Cases

Questions (151)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

151. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the number of criminal cases arising from breaches of section 172 of the National Asset Management Agency Act 2009 since its introduction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52038/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Deputy will be aware that Section 172(3) of the NAMA Act 2009 is a legal provision preventing any interest in property held as security for loans acquired by NAMA from being sold back to defaulting debtors, or persons acting on behalf of defaulting debtors.

In order to ensure compliance with Section 172(3), I am advised that NAMA has a policy of obtaining written confirmation from purchasers of NAMA-secured assets which confirms that, among other things, the purchaser is not a party precluded from completing the purchase by virtue of Section 172(3) of the NAMA Act. I am advised that Section 172(3) confirmations are examined by NAMA during the later stages of a sales transaction.

I am advised by NAMA that, to date, so far as it is aware, there have been no criminal cases arising from breaches of Section 172(3) of the NAMA Act 2009.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (152, 153, 154)

John Lahart

Question:

152. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Finance the number of women and men, respectively employed in his Department and the agencies under the remit of his Department in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52055/18]

View answer

John Lahart

Question:

153. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Finance the various grades in which males and females are employed in his Department and the agencies under the remit of his Department in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52072/18]

View answer

John Lahart

Question:

154. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Finance the ratio of males to females employed in his Department and the agencies under the remit of his Department in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52089/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 152 to 154, inclusive, together.

I wish to inform the Deputy that the number of women and men employed in the Department of Finance, the various grades in which they are employed and the ratio of males to females employed in the Department, is outlined in the following table.

Grade

Male

%

Female

%

Total

Secretary General

1

100%

1

Assistant Secretary

6

100%

6

Principal Officer

19

67.86%

9

32.14%

28

Assistant Principal

43

57.33%

32

42.67%

75

Administrative Officer

46

63.89%

26

36.11%

72

Higher Executive Officer

15

60%

10

40%

25

Executive Officer

19

46.34%

22

53.66%

41

Clerical Officer

17

29.82%

40

70.18%

57

Service Officer

17

94.44%

1

5.56%

18

Total

183

56.66%

140

43.34%

323

In relation to the agencies under the remit of the Department of Finance - please see table below.

Body

Grade

No. of Males

No. of Females

Ratio M:F

The Office of the Comptroller and Audit General

Director of Audit (Assistant Secretary Equivalent): 1 Male, 2 Females;

Deputy Director of Audit (PO equivalent): 5 Males, 7 Females;

Senior Auditor (AP equivalent): 20 Males, 14 Females;

Auditor (HEO equivalent): 30 Males, 27 Females;

Trainee Auditor (EO equivalent): 24 Males, 31 Females;

Executive Officer (General Service Grade): 3 Males, 2 Females;

Clerical Officer: 3 Males, 1 Female

86

84

50.6% Male

49.4% Female

Central Bank*

**Senior Leadership Committee: 12 Males, 8 Females;

Head of Division: 21 Males, 16 Females;

Head of Function: 54 Males, 42 Females;

BP1: 73 Males, 48 Females;

BP2: 238 Males, 238 Females;

BP3: 345 Males, 322 Females;

BEX: 147Males, 210 Females;

BO: 42 Males, 65 Females;

T&G: 100 Males, 38 Females

1032

987

51.1% Male

48.9% Female

Credit Review Office

Credit Reviewer: 1 Male;

Deputy Credit Reviewer (Level E – Assistant Principal Equivalent): 1 Female;

Executive Assistant (Level C – Clerical Officer Equivalent): 1 Female;

1

2

33% Male 66% Female

Credit Union Advisory Committee

N/A - The CUAC is a committee set up to advised the Minister on Credit Union matters and it consists of 6 committee members, (3 females and 3 males) all of which were appointed by the minister.

Credit Union Restructuring Board (ReBo)

N/A - ReBo has been operationally wound down since 31 July 2017 and no longer has any staff. A caretaker board comprising of two Department of Finance officials and an existing director nominated by the Central Bank was put in place and will remain in place until the dissolution of ReBo.

1

2

33% Male 66% Female

Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal

Chairperson: 1 Female;

Acting Chair: 1 Female;

Medical Doctor: 2 Males & 1 Female;

Administrator: 1 Female

2

4

33% Male 66% Female

Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman

Statutory Office Holder: 1 Male, 1 Female; Principal Officer: 2 Males, 2 Females;

Assistant Principal: 1 Male, 2 Females;

Higher Executive Officer: 2 Males, 7 Females;

Executive Officer: 12 Males, 15 Females;

Clerical Officer: 4 Females

18

31

36.7% Male

63.3% Female

Investor Compensation Company DAC

Director: 6 Males, 3 Females;

Head of Function: 1 Male;

Bank Professional 1: 1 Male;

Bank Professional 2: 1 Male;

Bank Professional 3: 1 Female;

Bank Executive: 2 Females;

Bank Officer: 1 Male, 1 Female

10

7

58.8% Male

41.2% Female

Irish Bank Resolution Corporation

N/A – IBRC do not use civil service grades

1

0

100% Male

Irish Financial Services Appeals Tribunal

N/A – IFSAT Do not have any employees

Irish Fiscal Advisory Council

Principal Officer: 1 Male;

Assistant Principal: 2 Males;

Higher Executive Officer: 1 Female;

Administrative Officer: 1 Male, 2 Females;

4

3

57.1% Male

42.9% Female

National Asset Management Agency

As the NAMA employees are employees of the NTMA assigned to NAMA, NAMA figures are captured in the figures for the NTMA

National Treasury Management Agency

N/A - The NTMA does not operate a Grade system for employees. Each contract is individually negotiated and therefore the breakdown by Grade is not provided.

398***

401****

49.8% Male

50.2% Female

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

Secretary General: 3 Males;

Assistant Secretary: 12 Males, 3 Females;

Principal Officer: 64 Males, 52 Females;

Assistant Principal: 254 Males, 232 Females; Administrative Officer/Higher Executive Officer: 541 Males, 616 Females;

Executive Officer: 777 Males, 1501 Females;

Clerical Officer: 691 Males, 1654 Females;

Service Officer: 83 Males, 9 Females

2,425

4,067

37.4% Male

62.6% Female

Social Finance Foundation

CEO: 1 Male;

Head of Credit: 1 Female;

Head of Finance: 1 Male;

Accountant: 1 Female

2

2

50% Male

50% Female

Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland

As the SBCI employees are employees of the NTMA assigned to the SBCI, SBCI figures are captured in the figures for the NTMA

Tax Appeals Commission

Appeal Commissioner (Assistant Secretary): (1 Male, 1 Female);

Temporary Appeal Commissioner (Assistant Secretary): 1 Male;

Assistant Principal (1 female staff member works 0.8FTE): 3 Male, 2 Female;

Higher Executive Officer (female staff member works 0.5 FTE): 1 Female;

Higher Executive Officer (Acting): 1 Male

Executive Officer: 1 Male, 1 Female;

Clerical Officer: 3 Female

7

8

46.7% Male

53.3% Female

*Central Bank grades differ from those in the Civil Service. The combination of Head of Division (HOD), Head of Function (HOF) and the SLC comprise the leadership group. Those at BP1 and BP2 are the main management layer. Some BP3 levels have staff reporting to them but most are specialists. T&G refers to technical and general staff working in areas such as facilities, security, and the Mint/Printworks in Sandyford.

**Senior Leadership Committee (including Directors, Deputy Governors, Director General, Chief Operations Officer and the Governor).

***This figure includes 126 staff who are assigned to NAMA and 9 staff who are assigned to the SBCI (Note: these are still regarded as employees of the NTMA).

****This figure includes 115 staff who are assigned to NAMA and 8 staff who are assigned to the SBCI (Note: these are still regarded as employees of the NTMA).

Company Liquidations

Questions (155, 156, 157)

Michael McGrath

Question:

155. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of outstanding claims here affected by the failure of a company (details supplied); if these claims will be paid out of the liquidation process; if the Danish state contingencies and guarantees apply to Irish claims; when claimants can expect to receive claims; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52135/18]

View answer

Michael McGrath

Question:

156. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if an insurance provider has the responsibility to inform customers that they are impacted by the failure of a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52136/18]

View answer

Michael McGrath

Question:

157. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of customers impacted by the failure of a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52137/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 155 to 157, inclusive, together.

On 28 November, the Central Bank announced that it had been informed that Qudos Insurance A/S had entered into solvent liquidation. Qudos is authorised and regulated by the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority, and therefore the Central Bank had no role in this decision. It is understood that Qudos operated in Ireland on a freedom of services basis and that its products in this country were sold through Patrona Underwriting Ltd.

On 4 December, Qudos published further information that it is no longer paying insurance claims. The Central Bank then issued a statement strongly recommending, based on the uncertainty around the payment of claims, that affected customers should contact their insurance broker to arrange alternative insurance cover. The Central Bank is actively monitoring developments and is liaising regularly with its Danish counterparts, the supervisory authorities of other affected member states and EIOPA.

It is understood that there are approximately 50,000 policyholders in Ireland that have been impacted by the developments with Qudos. Patrona Underwriting has issued a statement saying that policies remain valid and in force until their natural expiry date, however given the current Qudos position and in line with Central Bank recommendations they have provided brokers with options to replace all insurance covers with other providers at no extra cost to consumers.

Early indications suggest that there are in the region of 1,400 claims outstanding in relation to Irish policyholders, but this is subject to confirmation.

I understand that the Danish liquidators are currently continuing their review of the company with a view to determining its underlying financial position. Once this exercise is concluded they will be in a better position to determine whether the company can pay existing claims. It is expected that more information regarding this matter should be available within the next two weeks.

It should be noted that my officials have been in contact with the Danish Finance Ministry, who advise on the basis of information they have received from the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority, that as the company is in solvent liquidation, claims will be met. However, the Ministry also indicated that if ultimately Qudos is placed into bankruptcy, and this happens after 1 January 2019, that the Danish Insurance Guarantee Scheme will not be liable to meet these claims due to a legislative change in May 2018. In such a situation claimants may instead be eligible for cover from the Irish Insurance Compensation Fund (ICF), subject to its terms and conditions and the particular circumstances of the case.

Regarding informing customers who are impacted by the failure of an insurance undertaking, if winding-up proceedings are initiated, in accordance Article 281 with Solvency II Directive (2009/138/EC) “the competent authorities of the home Member State, the liquidator or any person appointed for that purpose by the competent authorities shall without delay individually inform by written notice each known creditor whose habitual residence, domicile or head office is situated in another Member State." I understand that this has happened and that the Central Bank has also instructed the Managing General Agent, Patrona underwriting to inform brokers and policyholders of the temporary stoppage in paying claims.

The Central Bank has advised my Department that all relevant brokers have been contacted and the process of contacting policyholders is ongoing. It has also published information for policyholders on its website and this will be updated as more information becomes available. Furthermore, I understand that brokers are absorbing the administrative costs in arranging the replacement policies.

Appointments to State Boards

Questions (158)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

158. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance the public bodies and entities under the aegis of his Department for which he is responsible for making all or some appointments not subject to the guidelines on appointments to State boards, in that the recruitment and selection process is undertaken by his Department and not through the Public Appointments Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52181/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Of the seventeen bodies under the aegis of my Department, seven are State Boards and, as such, are subject to the guidelines on appointments to State Boards. These are Central Bank, the Credit Union Restructuring Board, the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman, the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, the National Asset Management Agency, the National Treasury Management Agency and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland. In relation to the Central Bank, employees are recruited by the Central Bank Commission Board.

Of the remaining 11 bodies, my involvement in making appointments to each is detailed in the table.

Body

Is the Minister for Finance responsible for making all or some appointments (in that the recruitment and selection process is undertaken by his Department and not through the Public Appointments Service)?

Details

Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General

No

The Minister has no involvement in appointments to the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Credit Review Office

Some

The Credit Review Office is not a State Board. Credit Reviewer appointed by the Minister, remaining (2) staff are on secondment from Enterprise Ireland.

Credit Union Advisory Committee

Yes

CUAC is a committee which advises the Minister on credit union related matters. Committee members are appointed by the Minister for Finance. Vacancies on the committee are advertised through the Public Appointments Service looking for expressions of interest, however, the recruitment and selection process is undertaken by the Department.

Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal

Yes

Board members are appointed by the Minister for Finance from a body of interested registered medical practitioners, on the nomination of the Minister for Health.

Investor Compensation Company DAC

Yes

The Minister nominates members to the Board except the Chair and Deputy Chair who are nominated by the Governor of the Central Bank.

The Minister can also nominate industry and consumer representative bodies to appoint members to the Board on his behalf.

Appointments are not made directly through the Public Appointments Service (PAS). However the appointment process for the Minister’s direct nominees to the Board have been developed in conjunction with PAS to ensure it adheres to best practice.

The members to the Board are nominated as follows:

Chair & Deputy Chair – nominated by the Governor of the Central Bank. Total 2.

Industry – 5 nominations by industry representative bodies on behalf of the Minister.

Consumer – 2 nominations by consumer interest groups on behalf of the Minister, 3 direct Ministerial nominations.

Irish Bank Resolution Corporation

No

In liquidation, there is no Board in place.

Irish Financial Services Appeals Tribunal

No

The Government nominates members for appointment by the President. (As the Minister for Finance is responsible for IFSAT legislation, the Minister/Department run the selection process following the State Board guidelines with advice from PAS, and suggest the eligible candidates to Cabinet for their approval/agreement to nominate to the President for appointment).

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

No

Revenue Commissioners are appointed by the Taoiseach following TLAC competition.

Social Finance Foundation

Yes

The SFF is not a State Board and receives no exchequer funding. The SFF identifies appointees through such channels as Boardmatch, Institute of Directors and Active link. The Minister for Finance nominates the Chairperson and approves the appointment of Directors.

Tax Appeals Commission

Yes

The recruitment and selection of Tax Appeal Commissioners has been carried out to date by the Public Appointments Service outside of the State Boards process. The Tax Appeal Commissioners are appointed under Section 850 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 by the Minister for Finance.

Departmental Communications

Questions (159)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

159. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will report on the different plain language policies in use across Departments; and his plans to introduce and implement a standardised policy. [51501/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

One of the twelve Guiding Principles of Quality Customer Service in the Civil Service is that Departments and Offices "take a proactive approach in providing information that is clear, timely and accurate" and "continue the drive for simplification of rules, regulations, forms, information leaflets and procedures."

The use of plain language facilitates more effective communication with our customers, makes services more accessible to users and reduces the need for repeated contact with public bodies.

Our Public Service 2020 Development and Innovation Framework (OPS2020), which I published in December 2017, includes a commitment to make services more accessible to all (Action 3) and outlines the commitment to "(U)se plain language, as set out in Plain English Style Guide for the Public Service, prepared by the RDO in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, to improve customer experience and reduce the need for repeated contact." Implementation of OPS2020, including Action 3, is the responsibility of each public service organisation.

My Department has published a number of user guides that promote the use of plain English. In cooperation with NALA, my Department developed and circulated a guide for public servants on the use of plain language- Using Plain English to Improve Effectiveness in the Public Service.

A Customer Communications Toolkit for the Public Service was published July 2017. The toolkit is specifically designed for public servants as a guide to developing content (written, verbal and digital), keeping Plain English and access guidelines to the fore in order to communicate effectively with citizens.

I consider these supports delivered by my Department to be very important and they have proven to be very helpful in supporting a wide range of customer service officers to deliver better services.

Flood Prevention Measures

Questions (160, 164)

Barry Cowen

Question:

160. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if local authorities are obliged to record the number of flooding incidents on a monthly or annual basis, or otherwise; if his Department collates these data to analyse them at national level; if so, the number of serious flooding incidents nationwide in each month since the start of 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51614/18]

View answer

Barry Cowen

Question:

164. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the OPW measures the number of flooding instances nationwide; if not, if this is a matter for each individual local authority; the number of serious flooding incidents nationwide in each month since the start of 2015, if such data are available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51613/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 160 and 164 together.

Following approval by Government of the Report of the Flood Policy Review Group in September 2004, the Office of Public Works (OPW) commenced a project to collate from various sources, process and publish available information on past floods in Ireland. The data collated were published on the website www.floodmaps.ie in October 2006. Since then, the OPW has continued to collate information on floods that have occurred. This data collection has been undertaken directly or by consultants on behalf of the OPW, or via the local authorities and other sources.

In May 2018, a new web-portal, www.floodinfo.ie, was launched to publish the Flood Risk Management Plans and the flood maps prepared through the National Catchment-based Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Studies. The past flood data up to 2014 have been migrated from the old "floodmaps" website to the new web-portal, where information on the past floods is available, including reports and photographs.

The flood data that are collated and published is limited to that which is reported to the OPW from a variety of sources (government, private and individuals) for inclusion as it becomes available. Some flood events may have occurred where data has not been collated and / or reported to the OPW, and hence would not be available. Similarly, only the data providing details on the floods can be published, which does not always include the degree of impact, such as the number of properties affected or the damages incurred.

The OPW is currently processing data on past floods that have occurred in recent years and these data will be uploaded to www.floodinfo.ie.

National Monuments

Questions (161)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

161. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of persons who have visited a location (details supplied) in County Meath in each of the years 2015 to 2017 and to date in 2018. [51824/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

Please see the table, which summarises the position at Loughcrew for each of the years requested.

Since 2017, the Office of Public Works has installed a footfall counter which measures the number of visitors at the site in general. Separately, the number of visitors who have specifically requested a key to visit the interior of the Monument itself is also recorded. It can be assumed therefore that visitors to the Monument are included in the overall total.

Year

Visitors to monument

Total visitors on ground (footfall counter)

2018 (to 30/08/18)

17,401

43,238

(Site closed for works)

2017 (footfall counter

17,078

44,922

introduced in 2017)

2016

16,337

-

2015

14,416

-

Garda Station Refurbishment

Questions (162)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

162. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 158 of 25 September 2018, the status of the refurbishment of a Garda station (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51517/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

Following resolution of the encroachment issues at this property, the Office of Public Works continues to review all options to provide the best possible solution for An Garda Síochána’s operational and policing needs. Maintenance of the existing Garda Station premises continues with painting works recently completed.

Coastal Erosion

Question No. 164 answered with Question No. 160.

Questions (163)

Tom Neville

Question:

163. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if a matter will be addressed regarding coastal erosion works at a club (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51559/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I am advised by my Department that it is a matter for Local Authorities, in the first instance, to assess and address problems of coastal erosion in their areas. Where necessary, Local Authorities may put forward proposals to relevant central Government Departments, including the OPW, for funding of appropriate measures depending on the infrastructure or assets under threat.

In this regard, the OPW Minor Flood Mitigation Works & Coastal Protection Scheme provides funding to Local Authorities to undertake minor flood mitigation or coastal protection works or studies, costing less than €0.75 million each, to address localised flooding and coastal protection problems within their administrative areas.

I would point out that the Minor Flood Mitigation Works & Coastal Protection Scheme is not a grant scheme for individual property or home owners and all proposals for works and funding must come from the local authority. The applications must also demonstrate that specific economic, social and environmental criteria, including a cost benefit ratio, are met.

In mid-2016, the OPW received an application from Limerick City and County Council for funding for this area under the Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme. The OPW requested further information from the Council, who subsequently submitted a revised application earlier this year.

The OPW has since requested certain confirmations in respect of planning consents and project implementation details, and will complete the assessment of the application on receipt of same.

Question No. 164 answered with Question No. 160.

National Monuments

Questions (165)

Seán Haughey

Question:

165. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 194 of 27 November 2018, if he will provide additional information regarding the planning process to be used by the Office of Public Works to obtain planning permission for a development at the Casino at Marino national monument; the specific organisation which will be making this planning application; when the planning application is expected to be made; if a Part VIII planning procedure will be invoked; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51751/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The Office of Public Works will submit a standard planning application to Dublin City Council subject to the receipt of consent from the Minister of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, to proceed with the proposed development at the Casino at Marino, a designated National Monument.

The timescale for the planning application is subject to discussions between the OPW and Dublin City Council. The planning application will comply with both the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) and S.I. No 600/2001 - Planning and Development Regulations, 2001 (as amended).

Brexit Issues

Questions (166)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

166. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he has formally met his UK counterpart to discuss Brexit and its impact on east-west trade reciprocal arrangements and all other Brexit-related matters that fall within the remit of his Department; the number of times they have formally met to discuss Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51892/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

In the wake of the UK referendum on EU membership, Government Ministers have taken every opportunity to engage with the Article 50 Task Force, our EU partners and the UK to advance Ireland’s Brexit priorities.

As Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform I have responsibility for the three EU-funded cross-border programmes in which Ireland and the UK are partners, namely the PEACE Programme, the Ireland/Northern Ireland/Scotland INTERREG Programme, and the Ireland/Wales INTERREG Programme.

Ministerial discussions relating to the PEACE Programme and the INTERREG Programme with Northern Ireland and Scotland normally take place under the auspices of the North South Ministerial Council, in which context I had a number of meetings and discussions with the Northern Ireland Finance Minister, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir. The Council has not met for two years, however. Nevertheless, Minister Patrick O'Donovan and Minister Helen McEntee have each met the UK Minister with responsibility for Cohesion policy, Lord Henley, in the margins of the April and November meetings of the General Affairs Council devoted to Cohesion policy, where they took the opportunity to underscore the Irish Government's continuing commitment to the successful implementation of the current PEACE and INTERREG programmes and the proposed new PEACE PLUS programme.

In addition, I have met the Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Mark Drakeford, on two occasions since the referendum to discuss the Ireland/Wales INTERREG Programme.

Public Procurement Regulations

Questions (167)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

167. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if a company (details supplied) in County Kerry will be permitted to register on the 2018 Government procurement list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51955/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

Public procurement represents an important market for Irish businesses. Significant work has been undertaken by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) to ensure that public procurement is accessible to all businesses, including SMEs. Specific measures to support SME participation include dividing larger tendering competitions into lots and setting proportionate eligibility requirements, for example in relation to turnover and insurance. Specific supports are provided by InterTrade Ireland and Enterprise Ireland to assist SMEs in preparing for public tenders.

Public bodies are also required to advertise all contracts for goods and services valued above €25,000 on the national eTenders portal (etenders.gov.ie). The OGP recommends that suppliers register on etenders and avail of its facilities including automatic alerts in relation to future tendering opportunities. Any supplier can respond to Requests for Tender (RFT) once they meet the criteria set out in the tender documentation.