Cyberbullying Issues

Questions (171)

James Browne

Question:

171. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to revise harassment laws here in view of the impact of cyberbullying on the mental health of a person; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12895/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am aware that the Deputy asked a similar question in November 2018 (46670/18) and I would refer him to the answer provided at that time. I can assure the Deputy that work is continuing to progress legislation to reform the law in the area of harassment, with a particular focus on harmful communications online in light of growing concerns in relation to the impact of such behaviours.

The Deputy will be aware that Deputy Brendan Howlin published a Private Member’s Bill entitled the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017 which completed second stage in the Dáil in January 2018 and was not opposed by Government. The Cabinet agreed in May 2018 to support Deputy Howlin's Bill to ensure that legislation can be enacted as swiftly as possible.

Officials in my Department have met with Labour Party officials with the intention of identifying and bringing forward any necessary Government amendments to ensure the Bill can be as effective as possible. I have recently received legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General and I have asked my officials to consult the Labour Party on the proposed amendments to this Bill. I remain committed to enacting this legislation at the earliest possible opportunity.

Departmental Funding

Questions (172)

Denis Naughten

Question:

172. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the funding her Department or agencies under the remit of her Department have provided to projects in County Galway in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, respectively; if the funding has been allocated; if it has been drawn down in each case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12503/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

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. Galway has experienced significant gains in both employment and investment in recent years with a comprehensive range of supports provided to companies in the County by Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices.

In 2016 EI paid €4.4m to its client companies in Galway, with €4.7m and €5m paid in 2017 and 2018 respectively. In addition to these grants, under the first call of EI's Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF), the BIA Innovator Campus CLG in Galway received €2.5m in funding. As part of the second call of the REDF, EI approved funding of €2.5m to Galway City Innovation District CLG and €2m to Midc Páirc Na Mara. EI has also approved €3m to the GMIT Galway incubator, Innovation Hub (IHub), at Mervue. Under the Accelerator Development Scheme which ran between 2015 and 2017, EI approved up to €3m in funding to four Regional Accelerators including the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC) at PorterShed in Galway.

In 2016 EI awarded funding to Enterprise-Goal in Galway as part of its competitive LEO Fund and Community Enterprise Initiative Scheme, which distributed €5m to 48 projects across the country to support new business and job creation. This innovative project aims to develop a network to harness the GAA as a vehicle for enterprise development. In 2016, LEO Galway itself provided funding for 25 projects to the value of €393,686. In 2017 the LEO provided funding for 29 projects to the value of €433,596 and in 2018 it provided funding for 43 projects to the value of €671,061.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has approved €143.5m in funding to 121 projects in Galway between 2016 and 2018, and to-date in 2019 . Within this figure, €30.4m has been paid to-date with an outstanding balance of €113.2m due to be paid from 2019 onwards.

In 2016, IDA Ireland paid a total of €13.6m to its client companies in Galway with €7.7m paid in 2017. Information on grants paid to IDA client companies in 2018 will be made available once they have been audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Departmental Funding

Questions (173)

Denis Naughten

Question:

173. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the funding that her Department or agencies under the remit of her Department have provided to projects in County Roscommon in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, respectively; if the funding has been allocated; if it has been drawn down in each case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12520/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

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. Roscommon has experienced significant gains in both employment and investment in recent years, with a comprehensive range of supports provided to companies in the County by Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices.

Enterprise Ireland (EI) supports companies in urban and rural areas to start, innovate and remain competitive in international markets, now and into the future. In 2018, 1,764 people were employed across 45 EI supported companies in Roscommon. In the period 2016 -2018, EI paid approximately €2.5 million to client companies in Roscommon: €844,931 in 2016, €1,524,042 in 2017 and €121,099 in 2018.

The Local Enterprise Office (LEO) in Roscommon is the ‘first-stop-shop’ for providing advice and guidance, financial assistance and other supports to those wishing to start or grow their own business in the area.

In 2016 LEO Roscommon provided funding for 10 projects to the value of €125,498. In 2017 the LEO provided funding for 28 projects to the value of €263,112 and in 2018 it provided funding for 35 projects to the value of €335,937.

In 2017, the IDA paid a total of €185,500 to its client companies in Roscommon. IDA Ireland paid no grants in Roscommon in 2016. Information on grants paid to IDA client companies in 2018 will be made available once they have been audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Small and Medium Enterprises Supports

Questions (174, 175)

Carol Nolan

Question:

174. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her plans to provide supports or incentives to employers in small hair salons throughout the State which have incurred a 4.5% VAT increase and an increase in respect of the national minimum wage. [12637/19]

View answer

Carol Nolan

Question:

175. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if grant aid will be provided to new hairdressing businesses as an incentive to promote business start-ups. [12638/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 174 and 175 together.

The Government, since 2011 has been firmly focused on restoring the economy to a more stable footing and sustaining existing jobs and growing employment in all sectors and in all parts of the country. The economy has recovered strongly and there are now more people at work than any time in the last decade. With the increase in employment and increase in earnings, there is now more spending in the economy and this is to the benefit of all businesses, including hairdressing and personal care sectors.

The supports of my Department to improve access to credit for businesses are available to businesses in the hairdressing and personal care sectors. These include loans of up to €25,000 available throughMicro Finance Ireland, the Credit Guarantee Scheme which is operated with the three pillar banks and also the Brexit Working Capital Loan Scheme. I am aware that many businesses may import products for the UK and Brexit may give rise to extra costs. I would also encourage businesses from all sectors to engage with their Local Enterprise Office (LEO), which offer a range of advisory and other supports in every county. In particular at this time of Brexit uncertainty I am encouraging businesses to consider participating in the LEO Customs Training programmes if appropriate so they can remain competitive in a post-Brexit environment. Skillnet Ireland and the Education and Training Boards are also engaged with the sector and again I would encourage business owners to engage directly with local providers on their changing skills requirements, in particular where there are requirements for reskilling and upskilling.

Stabilising the public finances and prudent fiscal management is an essential underpinning for a strong and growing economy and is essential to ensuring future growth prospects for all sectors. The Government’s ability to directly fund locally trading businesses is more constrained due to considerations of displacement, fairness and equity between businesses.

This Government has played its part in supporting the personal care sector when it most needed it with the introduction of the reduced VAT rate in 2011, which helped to sustain employment throughout the country in the sector.

As the Minister for Finance noted in introducing Budget 2019, while a Government’s decision to provide stimulus to the economy is often an easy one to make, judging when it is appropriate to withdraw stimulus measures is always more challenging. The Minister for Finance gave a commitment in the 2018 Finance Bill to undertake an economic analysis of the 9 per cent rate. The review found that the reduced rate has done its job. In the context of the new economic reality where the economy is strong, growth is broadly balanced and full employment is within sight, the Minister noted that it was appropriate to increase the rate of VAT and underlines the Government’s commitment to responsibly manage the public finances and maintain a broad tax base.

Legislative Reviews

Questions (176)

Willie Penrose

Question:

176. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her plans to update the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12691/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (No. 10 of 2005) came into effect on 1 September 2005. The only current proposal to amend the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 has arisen in the context of an ongoing review of Dangerous Substances legislation to overhaul the current licensing and regulatory regime for the retail petroleum and petroleum bulk storage sectors. My Department has identified the need to provide a legal basis to delegate certain powers to the Health and Safety Authority. These powers would allow the Health and Safety Authority to act on behalf of the Minister as a decision-making Body in respect of appeals of decisions made by Local Authorities on applications for licenses to store or sell petroleum products and other fuels. This is a relatively minor technical amendment to the 2005 Act.

The decision to delegate this power to the Health and Safety Authority has been taken following consultation with relevant stakeholders within the sector as part of the review of Dangerous Substances legislation and received Government approval in December 2018.

Local Enterprise Offices Data

Questions (177)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

177. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 155 and 156 of 16 January 2019, if the 2018 data have been collated. [12694/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

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

Details of the number of LEO supported clients and of the number of jobs in enterprises supported by the LEOs for 2018 are shown in the following table on a county basis, including the four LEOs in Dublin.

LEO

2018 Number of Firms

2018 All Jobs (Full time and Part Time)

2018 Gross Job Gains (FT&PT)

2018 Net Job Gains (FT & PT)

Carlow

219

1153

150

57

Cavan

202

1374

231

146

Clare

239

1270

248

104

Cork city

164

810

250

88

Cork South

274

1393

345

68

Cork West/North

208

957

212

120

Donegal

214

1294

360

203

Dublin City

394

1736

490

343

Dublin DLR

292

1695

260

145

Dublin Fingal

223

1031

179

125

Dublin South

303

1491

400

153

Galway County/City

263

1116

188

111

Kerry

263

1295

167

104

Kildare

199

1239

436

285

Kilkenny

210

1257

317

103

Laois

122

635

125

67

Leitrim

161

437

82

24

Limerick

301

1926

430

213

Longford

254

1195

133

70

Louth

250

982

210

98

Mayo

234

1224

340

130

Meath

255

1255

231

143

Monaghan

152

1164

252

134

Offaly

201

1063

224

68

Roscommon

172

857

219

80

Sligo

236

920

160

33

Tipperary

258

1295

366

168

Waterford

331

1447

306

100

Westmeath

225

1172

254

66

Wexford

227

1308

302

33

Wicklow

118

675

140

74

Total

7164

36666

8007

3656

Brexit Supports

Questions (178)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

178. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the uptake of all Brexit-related supports that fall under the remit of her Department, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12702/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

Brexit represents a significant challenge for businesses in Ireland, which cannot be underestimated. That is why my Department started developing supports for businesses from the time when Brexit first became a possibility. Government’s priority is to ensure that businesses around the country can manage risks and avail of any opportunities. This has informed the range of advisory and financial supports that are in place.

The €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme launched last year is open to eligible businesses of up to 499 employees which have been demonstrably impacted by Brexit, or which will be in the future. The Brexit Loan Scheme provides working capital funding to businesses to innovate, change or adapt in response to Brexit-related challenges. Loan amounts range from €25,000 up to €1.5 million, for terms of up to three years and at a maximum interest rate of 4%. Loans of up to €500,000 are available unsecured. This may be useful for businesses whose cashflow has already been impacted by Brexit.

Beyond this, my Department and its agencies are fully engaged in preparing Irish businesses for Brexit and have participated in the Government of Ireland’s series of Getting Ireland Brexit Ready events in Cork, Galway, Monaghan, Dublin, Limerick and Donegal. As part of awareness-raising activities, Enterprise Ireland continues to roll out regional Brexit Advisory clinics. To date, these clinics have been held in Letterkenny, Tralee, Portlaoise, Claremorris, Cootehill, Charleville, Dublin, Galway, Dundalk, Waterford and Limerick. Further events are planned in Galway, Cork, Letterkenny and Dublin ahead of the withdrawal date.

EI has also been running a PrepareforBrexit communications campaign, featuring the Brexit SME Scorecard and the PrepareforBrexit.ie website, which offers information on the likely impacts of Brexit on Irish businesses and how these impacts might be mitigated. The Brexit SME Scorecard is an interactive online platform that can be used by all Irish businesses to self-assess their exposure to Brexit.

Funding to the Local Enterprise Offices has been increased by 22% and they, along with InterTradeIreland, are offering a range of Brexit-focused supports to companies, including those engaged in cross-border trade with Northern Ireland. InterTradeIreland continues to offer its Brexit: Start to Plan voucher scheme, which makes available financial support of up to €2,250 towards professional advisory services to address Brexit-related challenges.

The LEOs offer Brexit supports to micro and small businesses through the 31 LEOs nationwide, including tailored mentoring to address Brexit-related business challenges, and targeted training on specific Brexit challenges.

The InterTradeIreland Brexit Advisory Service provides a focal point for SMEs working to navigate any changes in cross-border trading relationships arising as a result of Brexit. As part of the service, ITI has organised a series of awareness events focused on improving knowledge of customs processes and procedures and identifying actions that can be taken in areas such as logistics and supply chain management.

ITI also offers a Brexit Start to Plan voucher scheme, which enables businesses to get professional advice on how best to plan and prepare for the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. This support helps businesses obtain advice on specific areas such as tariffs, currency management, regulatory and customs issues and movement of labour, goods and services. ITI vouchers are worth up to €2,250 (inclusive of VAT) each. Companies are finding the vouchers very useful and there has been strong demand which can be attributed to the media campaign conducted by ITI across a range of platforms. ITI have just launched a further financial support - £5,000 in matched funding which will support companies in implementing a change identified in their Brexit action plan.

While I have seen a very positive uptake of the supports available, not everyone is engaging. With Brexit around the corner, I want businesses, particularly those around the Border counties to know my Department and agencies are here to help. My Department and its agencies are providing extensive supports, schemes and advice to ensure that businesses are prepared for Brexit.

Scheme

Uptake (end Feb)

Brexit Loan Scheme

479 applications received, 430 approved by SBCI, 82 Loans progressed to sanction at bank level to a value of €17.35 million (this figure as at 1st March)

Enterprise Ireland Brexit Scorecard - online platform for Irish companies to self-assess their exposure to Brexit

4,435 Brexit Scorecards have been completed. 722 LEO clients have completed the scorecard.

Enterprise Ireland Be Prepared Grant

168 Be Prepared Grants have been approved

Enterprise Ireland Market Discovery Fund - A support to EI clients to research new markets

251 projects have been approved under this initiative

Enterprise Ireland Agile Innovation Fund - Gives rapid fast-track access to innovation funding

43 Agile Innovation projects have been approved

Enterprise Ireland Brexit Advisory Clinics

13 Brexit Advisory Clinics have been run with over 1,000 in attendance

Enterprise Ireland Brexit “Act On Programme” – A support funding the engagement of a consultant to devise report with recommendations to help clients address weaknesses and improve resilience

190 “Act on” Plans have been completed

Enterprise Ireland Strategic Consultancy Grant – A grant to assist EI clients to hire a strategic consultant for a set period

1,057 Strategic Consultancy Grants have been approved

Local Enterprise Office LEAN for Micro – The LEO Lean4Micro offer was developed in collaboration between the EI Lean department and the LEOs to tailor the EI lean offer for LEO micro enterprise clients.

419 clients were approved assistance under the Technical Assistance Grant (end January 2019)

Local Enterprise Office LEAN for Micro - The LEO Lean4Micro offer was developed in collaboration between the EI Lean department and the LEOs to tailor the EI Lean offer for LEO micro enterprise clients

221 LEO clients have participated in the programme

Local Enterprise Office Mentoring

471 mentoring participants solely focused on Brexit

Local Enterprise Office Brexit Seminars/Events

3,996 Participants at the Brexit Information events

InterTradeIreland Brexit Advisory Service

1,092 SMEs have directly engaged with the Brexit Advisory Service in 2019. This is in addition to the 4,175 engagements in 2018.

InterTradeIreland Brexit Start to Plan Vouchers

There have been 1,172 applications, with 840 approved and 7 still pending assessment.

Pilot Online Retail Scheme administered by Enterprise Ireland

The first 11 successful applicants were announced by Minister Humphreys on 1 March 2019. There will also be a second call in 2019.

Mental Health Services

Questions (179)

Mick Wallace

Question:

179. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the increase in recent years in the number of antidepressants being prescribed and the dosages consumed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12394/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Mental Health is a complex matter requiring a broad range of treatments depending on individual patient need. In many cases, medication plays an important part in helping the patient to deal with mental health issues. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure that alternatives, such as talk therapies, are available where needed.

The HSE provides a comprehensive range of community-based mental health services. It is committed to the provision of a person-centred approach to the care for each patient. It provides evidence-based psychological interventions that are delivered through Primary Care and where necessary through specialist mental health services. The recruitment of 20 Psychologists and 114 Assistant Psychologists to Primary Care services last year is expected to alleviate capacity issues within mental health specialist services.

Interventions are tailored to each patient’s individual needs and can include a broad range of interventions that may include psychopharmacological treatments and various forms of psychotherapy including those which have their roots in cognitive behavioural therapies, systemic therapies and psychodynamic therapies.

The Department of Health is working with the HSE to explore the increased use of digital technologies and early intervention services are being introduced. These include tele-psych facilities, which will provide increased talk therapies to patients within the primary care setting and directly to their digital device as is proven to be the preference of many teens and adolescents.

In recognition of the importance of mental health, the Government increased the mental health allocation for 2019 to nearly €1 billion. The overall HSE Mental Health Budget has been increased by €276 million, or 39%, since 2012. Budget 2019 allocated an additional €55 million to progress new developments in mental health this year. €3 million of the new development funding is being used to develop resilience and early intervention programmes. The HSE will work with sports, community and voluntary groups to ensure that services are delivered at community level, where required.

In addition, the HSE Medicines Management Programme has Prescribing Tips and Tools information cards for a number of anti-depressants and are available on their website for all prescribers to access.

In conclusion, I am satisfied that the HSE is exploring different types of treatments while employing the most appropriate for each individual patient.

Health Services Provision

Questions (180)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

180. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Health his views on the number of children and adolescents awaiting assessment for eye care. [7042/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for reply to the Deputy.