Skills Shortages

Questions (291, 292, 293, 294)

Micheál Martin

Question:

291. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the skills shortages in the construction area; her further views in relation to the labour market needs test taking longer than it should causing further delays for construction companies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16113/19]

View answer

Micheál Martin

Question:

292. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she or her officials have met the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government in relation to shortages in the construction area, particularly in housing; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16114/19]

View answer

Micheál Martin

Question:

293. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if modifications to the labour market needs test for vacancies are being considered in the construction area, particularly in housing, and for those that earn more than €60,000 per annum; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16116/19]

View answer

Micheál Martin

Question:

294. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she has received correspondence from companies in relation to skill shortages in the construction industry; the way in which she is addressing same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16117/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 291 to 294, inclusive, together.

I am very well aware of the skills shortages currently being experienced in the construction sector. The issue is all the more pressing given the strong economic growth being experienced and the high demand being placed on the sector to respond to a range of construction needs across the economy. I have also met with Construction Industry Federation representatives to discuss the labour and skills challenges in the sector.

Where specific skills prove difficult to source within the State and wider EEA, an employment permit may be sought by an employer to hire a non-EEA national subject to the Employment Permits Acts and Regulations. The employment permits system is managed through the operation of the Critical Skills Occupations List and the Ineligible Occupations List for the purposes of granting an employment permit

The occupation lists for employment permit purposes are reviewed twice yearly to ensure that the employment permit system is supportive of the economy by maximising the benefits of economic migration and minimising any disruption to the domestic/EEA labour market. Changes to access to the Irish labour market for specific occupations via the employment permits system are made on the basis of research undertaken by the Expert Group of Future Skills Needs, the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (Solas), the National Skills Council, input from relevant Government Departments and a public consultation process. Account is also taken of education outputs, sectoral upskilling and training initiatives and known contextual factors such as Project 2040 and Brexit.

A review of the occupation lists for employment permit purposes has just concluded. A number of submissions were received from the construction industry. Officials from my Department met bilaterally with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to discuss the Construction Sector in particular. In addition, all submissions and evidence were considered by the Economic Migration Interdepartmental Group, chaired by my Department, and on which the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government is also represented. Consequently, I announced the following changes in relation to jobs in the construction sector,

The Critical Skills Occupations List will now include:

- Civil Engineers,

- Quantity Surveyors,

- Construction Project Managers

- Mechanical and Electrical Engineers with BIM expertise.

The following occupations will be removed from the Ineligible Occupations List and will be eligible for a General Employment Permit:

- Sheet metal workers

- Welding trades

- Pipefitters

- Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Engineers

- Shuttering Carpenters

- Glaziers, window fabricators & fitters

- Scaffolders, stagers & riggers

- Crane drivers

- Plasterers subject to a quota of 250

- Bricklayers subject to a quota of 250

The next review is planned for April 2019, and a call for further submissions from the construction sector will be made at that time.

Ireland operates a managed employment permits system which maximises the benefits of economic migration while minimising the risk of disrupting Ireland’s labour market. Current Government policy is to issue employment permits for the employment of non-EEA nationals for specific vacancies and where the positions on offer cannot be reasonably filled from within Ireland, Switzerland and the EEA. An examination of the operation of the Labour Market Needs Test (LMNT) was included in the Review of Economic Migration Policy which was published in September 2018. From engagement with stakeholders and the public consultation there is widespread support for retention of the LMNT, however the report recommended a modernisation and extension.

My Department will be implementing the following specific LMNT recommendations as part of the ongoing action plan to deliver on all the reviews recommendations.

- The duration of the LMNT will be extended from two weeks to four weeks to ensure a meaningful engagement with the EURES portal.

- The LMNT process will be amended to reflect modern advertising methods. This will be addressed in new Employment Permit Act following consultation with stakeholders.

- My Department in co-operation with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, will develop and deliver a communications strategy to raise awareness of the components of the LMNT process which need to be undertaken prior to the submission of an employment permit application.

Currently, in order to assist with the application process, the Department has produced a suite of information including details on how to carry out the Labour Market Needs Test and various employer checklist documents which, if followed, should result in the granting of an employment permit. This information can be found in the Employment Permit section of my Department’s website at www.dbei.gov.ie. It should be noted that the majority of non-EEA nationals earning over €60,000 applying for work permits apply in respect of Critical Skills Employment Permits for which there is no LMNT requirement.

Economic Competitiveness

Questions (295)

Micheál Martin

Question:

295. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views in relation to the competitiveness of Ireland; the actions she is taking to address same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16157/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

Ireland’s overall competitiveness performance remains positive. Our improved fiscal position and favourable cost competitiveness have contributed to Ireland’s overall international competitiveness. This improvement is reflected in a range of metrics, notably economic growth, increased employment, falling unemployment and a strong trade performance. Ireland’s inflation figures are particularly encouraging. In 2018, the inflation rate in Ireland was 0.7%, which was the lowest in the euro area, and the joint lowest in the EU.

Notwithstanding this strong position, addressing Ireland’s competitiveness remains a key economic priority for Government. We continue to monitor Ireland's cost base and to analyse the factors that are crucial to improving our competitiveness.

A range of initiatives are in train across Departments to: enhance our cost competitiveness and productivity; improve the ease of doing business; reduce the administrative burden businesses face; and, drive greater efficiencies across the enterprise base.

Significantly, my Department and the Department of the Taoiseach have recently published Future Jobs Ireland, a cross-government initiative with a strong focus on improving productivity.

This initiative has proposed concrete and ambitious actions to enhance our productivity and competitiveness and will ensure that we are well positioned to adapt to transformational changes the economy will face in the years ahead.

Increasing productivity is the only long-term sustainable way of increasing the standard of living for our people, and there are a range of specific initiatives in train across Government to enhance our competitiveness performance, including:

The review of SME policy designed to assess the SME business ecosystem and the range of supports offered to SMEs being undertaken by my Department in conjunction with the OECD;

The development of an Industry 4.0 strategy to respond to the challenges and opportunities arising from the impact of digital technologies; and

The Future Growth Loan Scheme that will allow businesses to borrow for up to 10 years to support capital investment and enhance their competitiveness.

Regional Development

Questions (296)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

296. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she will address a matter regarding relocating to digital hubs (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16182/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

My Department and its agencies are actively engaged in the development of regional digital hubs/ehubs which provide the opportunity for relocation and for full-time or part-time remote working. A number of projects which have been offered funding under, for example, the Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF), are already prototype ehubs and should develop over time into more sustainable ehubs in their own right.  

Indeed, Sneem Innovation & Tech Services received funding of €250,000 under Call 1 of the REDF which will see the re-purposing of an old dance hall in Sneem village to an ehub, facilitating home and hub working as well as supporting start-ups and microenterprises in the area.

In the context of the further development of ehubs, as envisaged in Project Ireland 2040, in support of efforts to expand entrepreneurship and start-ups in every region, Enterprise Ireland is addressing the need to expand and further develop co-working initiatives including through existing community enterprise centres.

The relevant projects funded as part of the first and second Calls of the REDF that I launched in December 2017 and December 2018 are set out in the tables below. I hope to be in a position to announce a further Regional Fund this year.    

EDF funding for eHubs/Enterprise Spaces/Incubation/Food-Hubs/Co-Working

Call 1

Name  

Region  

County/Counties  

Funding Amount  

RDI Hub CLG      

South-West

Kerry

€3,614,669

Dublin Enterprise & Technology Centre

Dublin

Dublin

€3,226,776

BIA Innovator Campus CLG

West

Galway

€2,466,148

Ghala DAC

Dublin

Dublin

€2,488,528

Donegal Digital Innovation CLG

North-West

Donegal

€1,119,640

Leitrim County Enterprise Fund

North-West

Leitrim, Longford, Cavan

€1,284,000

Insurtech Network Centre DAC

South-East

Carlow, Wexford

€1,439,832

Cork Urban Enterprises

West

Cork

€669,064

County Kildare Community   Network               

Mid-East

Kildare

€1,917,200

Monaghan County Enterprise Fund

North-East

Monaghan

€202,800

Sneem Innovation & Tech Services

South-West

Kerry

€250,000

Mol Teic CLG

South-West

Kerry

€189,144

Social & Local Enterprise Alliance DAC

Dublin

Dublin

€1,135,195

Call 2

Name  

Region  

County/Counties  

Funding Amount  

Galway City Innovation District CLG

West

Galway

€2,487,400

Midc Páirc Na Mara

West

Galway

€2,000,000

Ludgate Operations   CLG                 

South-West

Cork

€1,990,392

Vista Agri 4.0 Hub CLG

South-West

Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Tipperary

€1,865,215

National Design Innovation Hub   DAC               

South-East

Kilkenny, Carlow

€1,843,320

Boyne Valley Food Innovation District

Mid-East

Meath, Cavan, Monaghan, Louth

€1,580,640

Mountmellick Development   Association        

Midlands

Laois

€218,200

Offaly Innovation & Design Centre   CLG        

Midlands

Offaly

€458,600

Innovate Limerick T/A Hospital Food Units DAC

Mid-West

Limerick, Clare, Tipperary

€2,279,073

Innovate Dublin Communities   CLG           

Dublin

Dublin

€249,955

SPADE CLG

Dublin

Dublin

€2,094,000

Leitrim Food Enterprise Zone CLG

North-West

Leitrim, Cavan, Sligo, Donegal

€953,640

Sligo County Enterprise Fund CLG

North-West

Sligo, Mayo, Leitrim

€1,906,640

Skills Development

Questions (297, 298)

Jack Chambers

Question:

297. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the work she has undertaken to prepare for the impact of artificial intelligence on employment and the workforce in the services industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16323/19]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

298. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the work she has undertaken with regard to the way in which Ireland plans to change secondary and tertiary education in order to prepare for the impact of artificial intelligence on the services industry job market in the future in view of the fact changes will only show impacts in the medium to long term; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16324/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 297 and 298 together.

In December 2018, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) published ‘Digital Transformation: Assessing the Impact of Digitalisation on Ireland’s Workforce’. Whilst this report assesses the impact that the adoption of digital technologies has on Ireland’s workforce, the focus was broader than just the impact of artificial intelligence on employment in the services industry. ‘Digital Transformation’ focusses on the impact of the adoption of a number of new technologies (including artificial intelligence) on all sectors, occupations and regions of the economy over the years 2018-2023.

The report projects strong overall growth for the economy over the next five years. Whilst the report predicts that the number of jobs lost to the adoption of digital technologies will increase steadily over the next decade, it expects that the vast majority of sectors will employ more people in 2023 than they did in 2018.

The report highlighted how Ireland has the opportunity to place itself at the forefront of digital technologies through ensuring adequate skills provision and capitalising on Ireland’s significant ICT sector. It finds that existing Government policies and initiatives provide a solid foundation for the response to the expected changes arising from the increased adoption of digital technologies. Table 1 (below) provides the current policies and initiatives in place that align with the key policy implications arising from the report. It demonstrates the various ways in which Government are acting to embrace the benefits arising from digital transformation and also to mitigate the potential negative impacts on the workforce.

The report also highlights how increased career changes and workforce transitions will be a feature of the future. To ensure that these transitions are smooth, the continuous engagement of the workforce in education will be vital. In particular, it will be crucial that the workforce is equipped with the right transversal skills to manage changing job roles and career transitions. This underlines the importance of lifelong learning amongst the workforce. The concept of lifelong learning where each individual has an education and training programme they follow throughout their career will become more of an imperative.

The Department of Education and Skills has a number of policies and initiatives in this area which are aimed at increasing lifelong learning rates and the development of transversal skills at all stages of the education system. The National Skills Strategy 2025 acknowledges that transversal skills are becoming ever more important to an individuals’ successful and sustainable employment. Over the course of the Strategy, it aims to teach students at all stages of education and training a strong mix of transversal skills and subject knowledge. Particular emphasis is being placed on ICT skills, language proficiency and entrepreneurship in light of their importance to employability, personal development and civic participation.

Another policy with a major focus on upskilling and reskilling the working age population is Solas’ ‘Skills to Advance’ employee development policy framework. Launched in 2018, this is aimed at developing the skills of people in employment. This new policy framework provides key guidance, direction and targets for Education and Training Boards (ETBs) in supporting the upskilling of those in employment, working both directly with learners, and through their employers.

‘Skills to Advance’ will enable targeted support for vulnerable groups in the Irish workforce, with a particular focus on employees who have lower skills levels and who need more opportunities to advance in their working lives and careers, to sustain their employment and to avoid displacement or to avail of emerging job opportunities.  The policy sets a target of having over 40,000 workers, whose skills level is below Level 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ), engaged in state supported skills development by 2021.

The policy also supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who need assistance to invest in and develop their workforce. While employers continue to be primarily responsible for the skills development of their employees, and employees also have responsibility for their own development, this policy will complement employer-based and State initiatives underway through targeted support and investment by Government. This year, ETBs are being allocated an additional €11million in funding for implementation of ‘Skills to Advance’.

In addition to these measures, Future Jobs Ireland, the Government's new medium-term policy framework published recently, aims to drive Ireland’s development as a resilient and innovative economy, capable of coping with the transformational changes ahead posed by automation, artificial intelligence and other forms of technological innovation. Embracing innovation and technological change is one of Future Jobs Ireland’s key pillars. There are a number of ambitions and deliverables outlined in this respect including to assist this, including, the establishment of Top Teams to realise opportunities presented by artificial intelligence, the delivery of a national artificial intelligence strategy and the development of transition teams to assist workers and sectors likely to be most challenged by our changing economy. Each of these deliverables are expected to be completed by the end of Q4 2019.

Table 1 Current Policies and Initiatives in Place Addressing Five Key Areas of Focus

Key Areas

Policies and Initiatives Addressing Areas

Vision

National Digital Strategy

Collaboration

R&D Technology Centres/Gateways

Innovation Partnerships

SFI Industry Fellowships

Data

National Data Infrastructure

Technology

Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund

Industry 4.0 Strategy

 

Skills

National Skills Strategy 2025

ICT Action Plan

National Digital Strategy for Schools

Skills for Growth Initiative

Spotlight on Skills

Skillnet Ireland

Springboard+

EXPLORE

Industrial Development

Questions (299)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

299. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her plans to explore the potential of the wool industry; her plans to commission and publish a report into creative ways of exploiting this natural resource to ensure maximum added value for the producer and to the economy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16377/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

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 ever before. 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.

The supports of my Department to improve access to credit for businesses include loans of up to €25,000 available through Micro Finance Ireland, the Credit Guarantee Scheme which is operated with the three pillar banks and also the Brexit Working Capital Loan Scheme.

I would also encourage businesses from all sectors to engage with their Local Enterprise Office (LEO), which are a ‘first-stop-shop’ for providing advice and guidance, financial assistance and other supports to those wishing to start or grow their own businesses.

Responsibility for matters specifically related to the wool industry, including the marketing of wool, lies with my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Brexit Preparations

Questions (300)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

300. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the amount she expects to spend on making Ireland Brexit ready for each of the next ten years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16391/19]

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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.

My Department’s total exchequer allocation increased by 9.1% year on year, up from €871m to €950.2m. This is made up of a record €620m in capital and €330.2m in current funding, which includes an increase of €65m in capital – up 11.7% on last year’s allocation of €555m; and, an increase of €14.2m in current – almost 4.5% more than our 2018 allocation of €316m.

These developments have taken place in the context of the wider, whole-of-Government response to Brexit. This has included the “Getting Ireland Brexit Ready” public information events around Ireland and campaign to inform and advise about Brexit preparedness and the range of support measures and resources that the Government has put in place.

These events have brought together over a dozen Agencies and their parent Departments, including my Department, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport - under one roof to inform and advise both citizens and businesses.

Further Brexit-preparedness events have been organised by the network of Local Enterprise Offices, InterTrade Ireland, the NSAI and the HSA. Enterprise Ireland has also rolled out a series of Brexit Advisory Clinics to help businesses to prepare for Brexit.

Given the ongoing uncertainty around the terms and final date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the funding allocation to the current advisory and financial supports for Brexit preparation will be kept under review to ensure businesses around the country can manage risks and avail of any opportunities which may arise.

Consumer Protection

Questions (301)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

301. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if assistance will be provided to chambers of commerce (details supplied) that operate a local gift voucher scheme which will be impacted by the Consumer Protection (Gift Vouchers) Bill 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16462/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

The Chamber of Commerce referred to in the details supplied by the Deputy issues a gift card that expires after 12 months, though this can be extended for a further ninety days on payment of €9.95 by the gift card holder. The costs of operating the scheme in partnership with a UK-based gift card provider are met from monies on gift cards not fully redeemed during the 12-month expiry period. The Chamber’s concern is that the proposed five-year term for gift vouchers will require it to change the business and revenue model on which its scheme is based and that the alternative revenue models open to it will reduce the attractiveness of the scheme to businesses and consumers and have a negative impact on the local economy. 

While I am aware of the concerns expressed by the Chamber concerned and am a strong supporter of the shop local gift card schemes that operate in a number of towns throughout the country, I do not  propose to make any changes to the provision for a five-year minimum term for gift vouchers. In its submission to the Department’s consultation on gift voucher fees and expiry dates, Chambers Ireland which represents 43 affiliated Chambers, including the Chamber referred to in the details supplied by the Deputy, indicated that five years was a reasonable minimum term for gift vouchers. Though some eighteen Chambers currently operate local gift card schemes, the Chamber in question is the only Chamber to have expressed concern about the expiry date provision. There was broad support for the provision from all parties, including from the Deputy, during the recent debates on the Consumer Protection (Gift Vouchers) Bill in Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann. Other considerations apart, it would be anomalous, confusing and unfair to have a different mandatory minimum term apply to gift vouchers supplied under local gift voucher schemes than to the vouchers issued by the individual retailers and service providers who participate in such schemes. 

While it is not for me to advise the Chamber in question on the type of gift card scheme it should operate, I am aware that a number of other Chambers issue local gift vouchers in partnership with a provider of electronic money gift vouchers.  These Chambers clearly take the view that this type of voucher offers a viable business and revenue model for their schemes. Gift cards issued by an electronic money provider benefit also from the requirements of the Electronic Money Directive on the safeguarding of the funds held in electronic money instruments.  

While the Consumer Protection (Gift Vouchers) Bill provides that gift vouchers must be valid for a term of at least five years, it does not regulate the point at which, and the conditions under which, businesses can treat unredeemed balances on gift vouchers as revenues and not as liabilities. I understand that the guidance prepared by a number of accountancy firms on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS 15 Revenue from Contracts with Customers) suggests that where businesses have historical data on patterns of gift voucher redemption, they might not necessarily have to wait until a mandatory five-year or other expiry period has fully elapsed before they can claim unredeemed vouchers as revenue. This is a matter however for the issuers of gift cards and their accountants and is not one on which I can provide guidance.

Consumer Protection

Questions (302)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

302. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she has considered the impact the Consumer Protection (Gift Vouchers) Bill 2018 will have on vouchers for experiences or defined services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16463/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

A number of businesses that issue gift vouchers for a specified activity or experience submitted responses to my Department's consultation of July 2018 on gift voucher fees and expiry dates in which they outlined the issues that the proposed five-year minimum term for gift vouchers would present for this type of gift voucher.  While I have considered the concerns expressed in these submissions, I do not propose to make an exception to the proposed five-year minimum term for this type of gift voucher.  Having no mandatory expiry period, or a period shorter than five years, for experience-type vouchers would give rise to confusion for consumers and might give businesses issuing this type of voucher a competitive advantage over businesses issuing vouchers for a specified monetary value.

IDA Ireland Jobs Data

Questions (303)

Carol Nolan

Question:

303. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of IDA jobs created by county since 2016, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16533/19]

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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. Significant progress is being made with, for example, 58% of all IDA-supported employment now outside of Dublin. This represents the highest number of people employed by IDA clients outside of the capital in the Agency's history.  The last year has also seen more IDA jobs added in the regions than at any time over the past 17 years. I am determined, together with the IDA, to see this trend continue and we will be doing everything possible in 2019 to encourage more firms to invest further in the regions.

The table below shows the number of IDA supported jobs by county from 2016 to 2018.

Table A: IDA jobs by County 2016-2018

County     

     2016  

     2017  

     2018  

Cavan

1,203

1,155

1,096

Donegal

3,039

3,392

3,564

Leitrim

803

884

909

Louth

3,603

3,764

3,903

Monaghan

137

150

162

Sligo

2,341

2,238

2,251

Dublin

83,381

90,529

96,760

Kildare

9,740

8,452

8,838

Meath

1,661

1,565

1,632

Wicklow

2,234

2,230

2,618

Laois

131

134

122

Longford

783

745

900

Offaly

1,107

1,167

1,232

Westmeath

2,749

2,973

3,466

Clare

6,746

7,006

6,948

Limerick

9,827

10,607

11,796

Tipperary North Riding

328

335

204

Carlow

802

875

1,150

Kilkenny

762

716

711

Tipperary South Riding

3,040

3,330

3,516

Waterford

6,253

6,690

7,064

Wexford

2,740

2,987

3,139

Cork

35,335

36,780

38,867

Kerry

2,097

2,187

2,241

Galway

17,041

18,503

19,969

Mayo

4,214

4,484

4,828

Roscommon

985

1,139

1,171

Total

203,082

215,017

229,057

Industrial Disputes

Questions (304)

Micheál Martin

Question:

304. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health the status of the nurses dispute; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16152/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Since the Labour Court issued its original recommendation on 11th February, intensive engagement between Health Service Management and Unions took place to agree the new contract for the new Enhanced Nurse/Midwife role.  While progress was made, there remained sections of the new contract where agreement was not possible.  The INMO referred those disputed sections of the proposed new contract to the Labour Court on 11th March.   The Court held further hearings with INMO, SIPTU and Health Service Management.  On the 3rd of April, the Court issued a further recommendation on the new contract, covering the outstanding issues of: location of work; work duties; hours of work; and the qualifying criteria.

The Government welcomes and accepts this recommendation.

I welcome the fact that the INMO has recommended that their members accept this Labour Court ruling. They commenced a ballot of their members on the 8th April and it is ongoing.  I also am aware that SIPTU are discussing this ruling with their Executive.   

From the Government’s perspective, this latest Labour Court ruling has given clarity around a range of contentious issues and offers both sides a way forward.  It should result in a new contract for a new Enhanced Practice Nurse who will be working in different, more flexible ways which should assist in realising transformative change in the nursing profession.

Female Genital Mutilation

Questions (305)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

305. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Health the status of plans to establish an interagency committee to develop a national action plan on female genital mutilation. [16554/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The practice of Female Genital Mutilation has been an offence in Ireland since 2012, when the Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Act 2012 provided for the creation of an offence of female genital mutilation and other offences relating to female genital mutilation.

The HSE is responsible for addressing the health implications arising from FGM. Girls and women who have undergone FGM are at risk of suffering from health complications throughout their lives. The HSE is committed to progressing health-related elements of FGM with specific reference to awareness-raising among communities, staff information, training of healthcare providers and other relevant frontline professionals, and support for survivors of FGM and those at risk, in addition to data collection. 

The HSE has funded and disseminated an FGM resource pack for health professionals and relevant staff in maternity and associated settings. The HSE funds a specialist clinic operated by the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) for girls and women who have undergone FGM. Furthermore, the HSE funds AkiDwA to work closely with at-risk communities to raise awareness and provide information on the detrimental effects of FGM, and that it is a criminal offence in Ireland. 

In January this year, my colleague the Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton and I launched the new HSE Intercultural Health Strategy. It contains two actions on FGM:

- Continue to develop and implement education and public awareness campaigns, among all health professionals and communities affected by female genital mutilation (FGM), to raise awareness that it is a criminal offence under the Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Act (2012) to perform FGM, or to remove a girl from the State for the purpose of FGM.

- Provide training to increase the knowledge and competence of healthcare providers, and other relevant frontline professionals, in relation to appropriate care and protection for FGM survivors and women and girls at risk nationwide.

I acknowledge and support this important work and discussions regarding further actions on FGM are ongoing.

Healthcare Infrastructure Provision

Questions (306)

Martin Heydon

Question:

306. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Health the status of the upgrade of the HSE day care centre building on Drogheda Street, Monasterevin, County Kildare. [16028/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Health Service Executive is responsible for the delivery of healthcare infrastructure projects, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly in relation to this matter.

Healthcare Infrastructure Provision

Questions (307)

Martin Heydon

Question:

307. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Health the progress made on the appointment of a design team for a project (detailed supplied). [16029/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Medicinal Products Availability

Questions (308)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

308. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health the reason access to Versatis patches was removed from a person (details supplied). [16035/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the particular issue raised relates to an individual case, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.