Public Sector Staff Retirements

Questions (199, 200)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

199. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to allow public servants who retired in 2018 aged 65 years of age who were allowed to work an extra year to continue to work until they are 70 years of age as in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19334/19]

View answer

Tom Neville

Question:

200. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the case of a person (details supplied) will be examined in light of the Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Act 2018; if an amendment will be considered to allow persons who were between 65 and 66 years of age when the Act was enacted to have the choice to continue to work until 70 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19372/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 199 and 200 together.

On 5 December 2017, the Government made the decision to increase the compulsory retirement age to 70, for public servants recruited prior to 1 April 2004. Primary legislation was necessary in order to bring that change into effect. It was made clear at the time that until such legislation was enacted, the compulsory retirement age of 65, which applied to the vast majority of this cohort, remained in effect and pre-2004 public servants reaching that age would be required to retire.

Interim arrangements were provided for the cohort of public servants who reached their compulsory retirement age of 65 after the Government Decision because, while they would be aware of the Government’s decision, they would be unable to avail of it. Those arrangements permitted these individuals to be rehired post-retirement for a period of 1 year until they reached the age of eligibility for the State Pension (Contributory). Without that specific arrangement, they would have been required to cease working on reaching the age of 65.

The Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Act 2018 was enacted on 26 December 2018. Under the Act, any relevant public servant who had not already reached their compulsory retirement age of 65 before that date has a new compulsory retirement age of 70. Enactment of the legislation had no effect on those public servants who retired at 65 prior to the 26 December 2018 and who availed of a one year contract under the interim arrangements. The terms of their contracts continue to apply and they will cease working when they reach the age of 66.

Section 3 of the 2018 Act also provides that I, as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, within three months of the passing of the Act, would prepare and lay before the Oireachtas a report on the public servants who were forced to retire between 6 December 2017 and the commencement of the Act, due to reaching the age of 65 years, and on potential remedies to assist this cohort of worker. This Report was laid before the Oireachtas on 26 March 2019 and is publicly available on the gov.ie website.

Having considered all of the issues outlined in the Report, I am satisfied that the interim arrangements were an appropriate temporary policy response at the time of the Government Decision pending enactment of the legislation. The terms of those arrangements were clear, unambiguous and made known to those who availed of them. Accordingly, for the reasons set out in the report, I do not propose to make any changes to those terms.

State Properties

Question No. 202 answered with Question No. 192.

Questions (201)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

201. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 143 of 26 February 2019, the position regarding the matter; the progress made since the reply issued; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19416/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I refer the Deputy to my responses to his previous questions on 3rd July 2018, 9th October 2018 and 26th February 2019 in relation to this matter. As you are aware the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform can, under Section 31 of the State Property Act 1954, waive his interest in the property of a dissolved company if he thinks it would be proper to do so in all the circumstances of the case.

At the time of your most recent question, the CSSO had just received material from the representatives of Sligo County Council. Having examined that material the CSSO raised a number of queries in a letter dated 29th March 2019. A response to those queries is awaited.

Question No. 202 answered with Question No. 192.

Office of Public Works Projects

Questions (203)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

203. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the OPW works at a location (details supplied). [19431/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The Office of Public Works is actively carrying out works on the Round Tower, Clondalkin. Due to the location on the busy street and the high level of footfall, it is necessary to have the hoarding in place so that these works can be done safely.

OPW is happy to remove the hoarding as requested and hopes that this can be done within the next two weeks.

Governmental Expenditure

Question No. 206 answered with Question No. 192.

Questions (204, 205)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

204. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the amount of unallocated expenditure in each of the years 2020 to 2024 or the latest date in tabular form; and if this unallocated expenditure is already included within the general government balance baseline for each of these years. [19645/19]

View answer

Pearse Doherty

Question:

205. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the approximately €300 million and €720 million of unallocated expenditure for 2020 and 2021, respectively, listed in the 2019 expenditure report is already factored into the general government baseline such that its removal would improve the general Government balance by the figures cited in each year. [19646/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 204 and 205 together.

Table 6 on page 42 of Expenditure Report 2019 sets out Ministerial Current Expenditure Ceilings out to 2021. Included within these ceilings are the estimated costs of meeting demographic pressures and the Public Service Stability Agreement. This Table shows an amount of unallocated resources of €0.61 billion for 2020 and €0.72 billion for 2021.

In addition, an estimated cost of €0.31 billion is set out in the Expenditure Report for carryover costs of certain Budget 2019 current expenditure measures in 2020. As these carryover estimates relate to measures being implemented in 2019, they will be impacted by the actual cost and timing of implementation during the year. Consequently, the estimated costs are to be reassessed during 2019 as the measures are implemented. As outlined in Expenditure Report 2019, in the absence of any re-prioritisation of expenditure identified during the Estimates process, these costs will need to be met from the remaining unallocated resources. Consequently, Table 9 of Expenditure Report 2019 includes these carryover costs in arriving at the resources to be allocated in 2020 of €0.3 billion.

The recently published Stability Programme Update (SPU) sets out the overall increases in gross voted expenditure out to 2023. The full amount of the expenditure increases, whether unallocated or allocated towards pre-commitments such as demographics are already factored into the General Government Balance for the period out to 2023. While Ministerial Current Expenditure Ceilings are not published beyond 2021 a proportion of the increase for both 2022 and 2023 relates to demographic costs, which are included in the relevant General Government expenditure categories of Table 10 of the SPU. Once demographics are accounted for, there are unallocated resources of approximately €1.1 billion for both 2022 and 2023. These figures are presented cumulatively in the SPU and are broken down in the table below for the period 2020 to 2023. These annual amounts of unallocated resources set out below cumulate to €3.57 billion by 2023.

2020

2021

2022

2023

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

Y-oY Increase in Gross Voted Current Expenditure

1.45

1.44

1.56

1.60

of which Demographics

0.45

0.46

0.46

0.46

PSSA

0.39

0.26

-

-

Resources to be Allocated before carryover costs*

0.61

0.72

1.10

1.14

*As outlined above, in the absence of reprioritisation, there is an estimated amount of €0.31 billion in carryover costs that would need to be met from the 2020 resources to be allocated. Including these carryover costs, the estimated current expenditure pre-commitments for 2020 are €1.15 billion.

Question No. 206 answered with Question No. 192.

Freedom of Information Legislation

Questions (207)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

207. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to reform freedom of information legislation following a recent High Court decision overturning a Data Commission decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18393/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

While the Deputy has referred to the "Data Commissioner", I assume that this question in fact relates to the recent judgment of the Court of Appeal in Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources v. Information Commissioner, and the subsequent High Court judgment in University College Cork v. Information Commissioner.

The core issue in these judgments relates to the procedures adopted by the Office of the Information Commissioner, in particular the interpretation of section 22(12)(b) of the Freedom of Information Act 2014, which places an onus on bodies to justify their decisions in the course of a review. My understanding is that the Commissioner intends to appeal the Court of Appeal judgment to the Supreme Court in order to seek further clarity in relation to this question.

In 2017, the last year for which statistics are available, 33,979 FOI requests were made to public bodies, 83% of the FOI requests decided on by public bodies were granted in full or in part, while only 3.5% of requesters sought an internal review by the body as provided for in the 2014 Act. In that same year, the Information Commissioner received 577 requests for review.

As previously outlined, the judgments are not expected at this time to have any significant bearing on FOI practice overall, other than potentially in relation to the Commissioner's review process. The Central Policy Unit for Freedom of Information in my Department will continue to engage closely with the Commissioner's Office, public bodies and the general public in order to gauge the substantive impact on the FOI system in reality.

Therefore, while there are no immediate plans to amend the Freedom of Information Act in response to the judgments, my Department will continue to carefully monitor this issue, pending determination of the Commissioner's appeal, as part of its ongoing role in supporting implementation of the 2014 Act and will take appropriate action according to the circumstances as they develop.

Departmental Correspondence

Questions (208)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

208. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the correspondence he has received from Cork City Council in respect of a funding proposal for an event centre. [18467/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has not received any correspondence from Cork City Council in respect of a funding proposal for an event centre. The Deputy will understand that while my Department sets the capital allocations for Departments and the delegated sanction arrangements under which Departments make their spending decisions, the actual roll-out of particular capital projects and programmes is, of course, managed by the individual line Departments and their agencies who are responsible for project and programme delivery.

In regard to the Cork Event Centre project, overall responsibility for the management and delivery of the project rests with Cork City Council, with Exchequer grant funding being administered through the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Office of Public Works Projects

Questions (209)

Seán Crowe

Question:

209. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the reason for the clearing of a large amount of trees and hedgerows along Whitechurch stream in St. Enda’s Park and the Pearse Museum, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16, in late March 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18490/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The works referred to by the deputy were undertaken on March 12th and 13th, 2019. Section 40 of the WILDLIFE ACT 1976 as amended by the WILDLIFE (AMENDMENT) ACT 2000 and the HERITAGE ACT 2018, allows for the reasonable removal of vegetation during the restricted season (1st March to 31st August) for works necessitated by reason of public health or safety.

A large (non-native) willow tree fell across the Whitechurch stream thereby creating a health and safety hazard to the public. In removing the tree it was apparent that two adjacent trees ran the same risk of failure and these were therefore removed at the same time. Amongst these trees a scrub layer of overgrown privet hedging was cleared as part of the process, since felling procedures always require a safe area for operations to take place. The privet was growing in shade, had not been clipped in over 20 years and was not a nesting habitat.

In line with OPW's commitment to safeguard and protect the flora and fauna at the State's heritage sites, St. Enda’s Museum and Park has a very strong biodiversity and wildlife ethic. There is a nature room as part of the Pearse Museum and committed staff in the park give guided talks on wildlife conservation and tend an apiary on site. Maintenance of the lake, stream and abundant ‘wild’ vegetation is always undertaken with wildlife in mind.

Office of Public Works Expenditure

Questions (210, 211)

Jack Chambers

Question:

210. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the cost of the recently published Phoenix Park visitor experience strategic review carried out by the OPW and other bodies; the cost of the previous traffic study of the Phoenix Park by a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18500/19]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

211. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the person or agency that commissioned the Phoenix Park visitor experience strategic review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18501/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 210 and 211 together.

The Strategic Review of visitor Experience in the Phoenix Park was commissioned by the Office of Public Works with funding from Fáilte Ireland. This initiative was taken as part of a wider programme of work which has been agreed under a Strategic Partnership between Fáilte Ireland/OPW/Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The programme includes projects such as the redevelopment of the visitor centre at Brú na Bóinne and development of the Record Tower at Dublin Castle as a new element of the visitor experience at the Castle.

It is expected that the Strategic Review of the visitor experience at the Phoenix Park will cost in the region of €400,000. This is provided for through grant funding of €300,000 from Fáilte Ireland (accounting for 75% of the cost of the project) and OPW is providing the match funding of €100,000. To date €286,176 has been expended on the project.

The cost of the traffic study conducted by Faber Maunsell in 2006 was €88,253.83. This covered the costs of undertaking traffic counts throughout the Park, development of modelling and forecasting studies, presentations and stakeholder engagement in addition to the production of the final report.

Office of Public Works Projects

Questions (212)

Jack Chambers

Question:

212. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the public consultation period as part of the Phoenix Park visitor experience strategic review will be extended to give more time for persons to examine the report and make observations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18502/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The exhibition in respect of the Draft Phoenix Park Visitor Experience Strategic Review, which has been on display at the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre since the 19th March, will remain on public display until Wednesday 29th May. The period for making observations has been extended until Friday 31st May.

Office of Public Works Projects

Questions (213)

Jack Chambers

Question:

213. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will fully publish the Phoenix Park visitor experience strategic review to make it available to those who do not have access to same online; his plans to better inform the public about the proposed changes and recommendations of the review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18503/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

For those who cannot access materials online, the full document of the 'Draft Phoenix Park Visitor Experience Strategic Review' is available to the public at the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre along with a detailed exhibition and an executive summary of the draft report.

The materials will remain on display until 29th May, 2019 and the period for observations will conclude on 30th May.

Thereafter, the OPW will give due consideration to the observations submitted and this will inform the final content and recommendations in the report. Any developments arising from the recommendations of this report will be subject to the statutory planning permissions process and will be subject to the availability of funding.

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

Questions (214)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

214. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the process established in 2015 to examine the 2008 Labour Court recommendation on pension rights for community employment scheme supervisors and assistant supervisors; when he will meet with the relevant trade unions in order to resolve the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18550/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

This issue relates to a claim by community employment supervisors and assistant supervisors who have been seeking, through their union representatives, the allocation of Exchequer funding to implement a 2008 Labour Court recommendation relating to the provision of a pension scheme.

The matter was the subject of extensive discussion at the Community Sector High Level Forum which was reconvened to examine certain issues pertaining to the Community Employment sector and in particular to ensure that the matter was fully examined having regard to both costs and precedent. The implications arising from this claim extend beyond the CE Supervisors and Assistant Supervisors cadre and impact across the entire Community and Voluntary sector.

A detailed scoping exercise was carried out by my Department in 2017 in order to comprehensively examine and assess the full potential implications of the issues under consideration.

The scoping exercise clearly illustrated that this matter presents very significant issues for the Exchequer, with a potential cost exposure for the State of between €188 million per annum and €347m depending on the size of the sector which is difficult to ascertain, were consequential demands to be made to fund employer pension contributions for all similar State funded Community and Voluntary organisations. This excludes any provision for immediate ex-gratia lump sum payment of pension for those imminently retiring, as sought, which could, depending on the size of the sector, give rise to a further Exchequer cost exposure of up to €318 million.

The Forum met in the period subsequent to the conduct of the scoping exercise where relevant matters in respect of this issue were discussed in comprehensive detail with the members of the Forum. These discussions provided a clear understanding to each of the parties of their respective positions in relation to this matter and in this context the formal engagement process between the parties was accordingly concluded on this basis.

It continues to be the position that state organisations are not the employer of the particular employees concerned and accordingly it is not for the State to provide funding for occupational pension scheme provision.

Ministerial Invitations

Questions (215)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

215. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he, his Departmental or political staff were recipients of tickets and-or hospitality from an organisation (details supplied) during the term of office of a person; the details of each occasion tickets and or hospitality was provided by the organisation during this period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18781/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I am routinely offered tickets from the organisation since my time as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and on occasion a member of staff has accompanied me to such events. As a matter of course, my diary is published on my Department’s website www.gov.ie/finance and www.gov.ie/per and contains details of all of my engagements, including any events attended.

Brexit Preparations

Questions (216)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

216. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the measures undertaken by his Department to counteract the potential impact of Brexit; the level of engagement he has had with officials in agencies under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18782/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

Since the result of the UK referendum on EU membership in 2016, a number of steps have been taken to build up the resilience of the economy so that we have the capacity to deal with adverse economic shocks. These steps include building up our fiscal buffers by balancing our books, reducing our debt burden and establishing the Rainy Day Fund. The steady increase in public spending implemented in recent years, with a particular focus on public capital investment, plays an important role in supporting resilience in the face of Brexit, and dedicated measures to prepare for Brexit have been announced in successive Budgets.

Most recently Budget 2019 set out a number of specific measures aimed at making Ireland Brexit ready, based on a central case scenario. These included the introduction the €300 million Future Growth Loan Scheme to support strategic capital investment for a post-Brexit environment by business at competitive rates; a €71 million package for the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine and its agencies, Teagasc and Bord Bia, to further strengthen the agriculture sector’s resilience; an increase of €14 million to the current allocation for the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation to enable it to continue to plan for the impact of Brexit on the business sector; and €5 million for the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade to enable it to continue to address the challenges posed by Brexit across a range of headings.

As part of a whole of government response to Brexit, extensive preparedness and contingency planning has been underway across all Departments and agencies since the UK referendum. Within my own Department a dedicated Brexit Unit supports me in my work on Brexit, leads work across the Department, and represents the Department on the various groups that coordinate's the Government's response to Brexit. My officials work closely with relevant colleagues in agencies under the Department’s remit to ensure we are prepared to the greatest extent possible for all Brexit outcomes.

Departmental Projects

Questions (217, 218)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

217. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of projects supported by his Department in County Galway in each of the past five years; the value and status of each project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18783/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

218. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of projects that were refused funding by his Department in County Galway in each of the past five years; the reason for the refusal; the status of each project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18784/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 217 and 218 together.

Due to the nature of its role, my Department has neither provided nor refused funding to projects in County Galway in the last five years. The main purpose of projects and associated investment undertaken by my Department is to deliver greater effectiveness and efficiency across the Civil and Public Service. While all counties ultimately benefit from my Department’s reform plans by delivering a more effective Civil and Public Service, any project expenditure is primarily invested in the Department's own ICT systems.

Office of Public Works Expenditure

Questions (219)

Alan Kelly

Question:

219. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the amount spent on restoration and maintenance of the Rock of Cashel in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the detail of such works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18859/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The Office of Public Works recognises the importance of the Rock of Cashel as a major site in terms of the tourism industry and as a unique piece of our cultural heritage. Expenditure at Cashel falls under three general headings:

- Light Maintenance; (eg: whitewashing, weed and grass clearance, fencing, small masonry repairs etc)

- Visitor experience; (eg: Interpretation material, light and heat, general infrastructure maintenance and cleaning,, security etc)

- Elective conservation and emergency works (eg: planned conservation, retrieval and correction of structurally-unstable buildings and structures)

These works are generally undertaken by the OPW's directly-employed skilled labour force, except in cases where specialist Contractors or external service providers are employed. A significant amount of monies spent at the Rock of Cashel therefore relates to pay of OPW staff and other associated costs.

Over the last number of years, a number of significant projects have been undertaken at the site including the successful project to conserve the structure of Cormacs Chapel, one of the most significant early Romanesque buildings in the country, and to eliminate water ingress thereby saving the remaining fragments of an immensely important scheme of wall paintings which it contains. These works were substantially completed in 2017 and have been followed with regular ongoing monitoring to ensure that the internal environment of the structure remains stable for the future.

For future planning purposes, new LV and ELV ducting has been installed at the site in 2017/2018. Additionally, a new LED floodlighting system was provided in 2018 to replace the earlier outdated installation.

The attached Table gives the information required by the Deputy and relates to those monies expended from the OPW National Monuments Budget allocation.

Monuments budget table

Office of Public Works Expenditure

Questions (220)

Alan Kelly

Question:

220. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the amount spent on the maintenance of the Farmleigh Estate in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the detail of such works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18860/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The following sets out the amounts spent on maintenance at Farmleigh Estate and the details of the types of maintenance works which were carried out from 2016 to 2019 (to date).

2016 €160,919.31

Maintenance works included repair of water main, excavation of drainage swales, pointing of walls and repairing stone, works to road surfaces, works to Courtyard, insulation and dry lining to walls, repair of brickwork at Steward’s lodge, line marking and safety works on roadways and general landscaping and tree works.

2017 €210,564.07

Works included repair of Farmer’s Gate, repairs to sunken garden, works to White’s Road including drainage, removal of sculpture from lake, works to car park ducting, works to car park entrance, removal of fencing and water troughs, repairs to water main connection, repairs of manhole at Boathouse, cleaning of lake, general maintenance works at Farmleigh Gallery and installation of lighting banner.

2018 €69,137.88

Works included resurfacing of gravel paths, works to car park entrance, works to lake outfall, removal of wisteria on the house, general repair of site due to snow and extreme weather, cleaning works to fountain, repair of Magnolia Walk, landscaping the surround of the main house, general maintenance at the main house and maintenance at the Boathouse restaurant.

2019 €42,569.10

Works to date have included repairs to gravel path by the lake, repairs to main drive from the Phoenix Park entrance and site maintenance to main car park.

Office of Public Works Expenditure

Questions (221)

Alan Kelly

Question:

221. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the amount spent on the upkeep and use of the Stewards Lodge in Farmleigh in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the dates and purpose for which it has been used in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18861/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The cost of maintenance and upkeep of Steward's Lodge is included in the overall operational costs of Farmleigh estate and therefore it is not possible to directly apportion specific upkeep costs to Steward's Lodge.

Steward’s Lodge at Farmleigh Estate was used on the following dates:

2016

1st - 4th January

16th and 17th, 28th March

30th June

12th September

23rd October

1st, 18th, 30th November

16th - 19th December

2017

2nd March

11th, 13th - 22nd April

19th, 23rd and 27th May

10th and 11th June

13th November

10th December

2018

11th February

7th and 30th April

20th May

9th and 27th June

3rd, 23rd and 24th August

28th Sept

20th and 28th December

2019 to date

4th and 6th April

Use of Steward's Lodge is at the sole discretion of Department of an Taoiseach and OPW is not privy to the purpose of use.

Voluntary Homeowners Relocation Scheme

Questions (222)

Alan Kelly

Question:

222. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of applications he has accepted for the voluntary homeowners relocation scheme; the amount of funding set aside for the scheme; the progress that has been made in delivering the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18862/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

On April 11th 2017, the Government agreed the administrative arrangements for a once-off Voluntary Homeowners Relocation Scheme for those primary residential properties that flooded between 4th December, 2015 and 13th January, 2016. This is a national scheme of humanitarian assistance, targeting aid at those worst affected properties, for which there are no alternative feasible measures.

The Government decision confirmed that a homeowner had to meet a number of conditions to be eligible for assistance under this scheme, including:

- That floodwater entered and damaged the building during or as a result of flooding during relevant dates such as to render it uninhabitable.

- That the property was the homeowner’s primary residence at the time of the floods.

- That the affected property must have a significant probability of the recurrence of the flood depth, duration or frequency on a scale that could cause further serious and similar damage to the home.

- That the property is not due to or may not benefit from a planned or possible future major, minor or individual flood defence scheme.

- That the property may not be protected adequately from being flooded in the future, at an economically feasible cost, through other flood mitigation works including minor works, individual property protection or other possible measures that can be considered at this time.

- That the homeowner is unable to obtain flood risk insurance.

A total of 169 properties were identified by the local authorities and the direct Expressions of Interest as being potentially eligible for consideration under the scheme. Following an initial assessment of these that included meetings with individual families

- 12 properties are being protected with engineering solutions, funded by the Minor Works Scheme and/or the Remedial Works Scheme funded by the Voluntary Homeowners Relocation Scheme.

- 28 properties are being considered for an engineering solution including Remedial Works under this scheme. If no engineering solution is identified these homeowners will revert to individual consideration under the scheme,

- 38 were invited to apply for the scheme, of which the OPW has received 29 completed applications.

The balance are properties that are being or will be protected by major flood defence schemes or in a small number of cases people who did not engage with the voluntary scheme.

The Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland are expected to make a decision in respect of a number of applications under the scheme in the coming weeks. The OPW has set aside €3m this year for this scheme.

Public Appointments Service

Questions (223)

Jack Chambers

Question:

223. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the supports or mechanisms to assist persons with disabilities to acquire a job in the civil or wider public service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18892/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

As the Deputy will be aware, I am responsible for recruitment to the civil service. Other Ministers are responsible for recruitment to the wider public service.

The Public Appointments Services (PAS) is an independent statutory body which provides professional recruitment and selection services when requested to the civil service under licence from the Commission for Public Service Appointments (CPSA). As a public body established under the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act, 2004, PAS is also obliged, under section 34(1)(b) of that Act, to ensure that "standards of probity, merit, equity and fairness" apply to all of its recruitment and selection processes.

Competitions advertised by PAS are open to all applicants including people with disabilities who fulfil the eligibility requirements set out at that time. PAS carefully considers all requests for reasonable accommodation. In considering such requests, PAS is conscious of the rights of people with disabilities and of the obligations on PAS to observe those rights and to act in accordance with the provisions of the relevant equality legislation.

To assist PAS in considering request for reasonable accommodations in a fair and balanced way, candidates are asked to submit evidence in support of their request. PAS will consider letters or reports from relevant professionals which clearly indicate the severity and the type of accommodation(s) that may be relevant to the person. For example, candidates may be afforded extra time and/or alternative formats if assessment tests are part of the selection process

For further information on the supports and mechanisms PAS provide to assist persons with disabilities please click on the following link: https://www.publicjobs.ie/en/people-with-disabilities

One of the commitments in the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for Employing People with Disabilities is a commitment to develop a pilot Civil Service internship scheme for people with disabilities that could lead to permanent positions. Work on this commitment continues at the Comprehensive Employment Strategy Implementation Group (CESIG).