Defence Forces Personnel Data

Questions (38)

Jack Chambers

Question:

38. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of members of the Defence Forces who are citizens of another EU country; and the service branch each is in. [22333/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

Citizenship of Defence Forces personnel is not recorded in a way that is readily accessed through the Personnel Management System. The collation of this data would require respective Formation Headquarters to conduct a manual review of all personnel files within their control and accordingly, such a voluminous task is not feasible.

Defence Forces Properties

Questions (39)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

39. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to upgrade the furniture and interior of the guard room at the magazine in the Curragh Camp, County Kildare. [22406/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

I have been advised that the magazine guardroom is situated in a modern, recently constructed building. There are no plans to upgrade the interior of the building as the guardroom is less than 5 years old. The only outstanding work is the replacement of two sockets which will take place in the coming days. Replacement furniture has been ordered and its delivery is expected within two weeks.

Defence Forces Properties

Questions (40)

Willie Penrose

Question:

40. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if funding is available in 2019 for the refurbishment works on block 7 in Plunkett Barracks; the length of time the refurbishment works will take to complete; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22701/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

I have been advised that it is planned to upgrade and refurbish Plunkett Block 7 with work starting on site in 2019. Provision has been made in the 2019 Defence Estimates to fund that portion of the refurbishment works scheduled for 2019. The scope of the work will include the complete refurbishment of the building. It will be upgraded, room layouts altered, the ablution areas totally renewed and all sanitary fittings replaced, finishes to floors, walls and ceilings upgraded and the mechanical and electrical services replaced entirely.

A multi-discipline Design Team was appointed for the project and they have developed detailed proposals, with a view to tenders for the work being sought and the work commencing on site as soon as a Contractor is procured and appointed.

Stage 2 of the tender has commenced with the shortlisted contractors invited to submit their tender proposals. The closing date for receipt of tenders is 30 May 2019. Following this an assessment of tenders will be conducted before proceeding to a contract award. The expected duration of the construction work is approximately 9 months from commencement.

Air Corps Strength

Questions (41)

Seán Haughey

Question:

41. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of pilots and air traffic controllers who are due to graduate in both 2019 and 2020, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22857/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The military authorities have provided the table below which displays the information sought by the Deputy.

Year

Pilots due to graduate/graduated

Air Traffic Controllers due to graduate/graduated

2019

10

3

2020

0*

2

*Pilots that were due to qualify in early 2020 will now graduate in Q4 of 2019.

The Government remains committed to maximising recruitment to increase the strength of the Air Corps and the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) overall and to retaining the capacity of the PDF to operate effectively across all roles.

Defence Forces Equipment

Questions (42)

Seán Haughey

Question:

42. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the position regarding the virtual desktop architecture project for the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22858/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

My priority as Minister of State with Responsibility for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Defence Forces is maintained to the greatest extent possible so as to enable the Defence Forces to carry out their roles as assigned by Government.

Maintenance and upgrading of military and technical equipment for the Defence Forces remains a clear focus for me. Future equipment priorities for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service are considered in the context of the White Paper on Defence as part of the capability development and equipment priorities planning process. The principal aim over the period of the White Paper will be to replace and upgrade, as required, existing capabilities in order to retain a flexible response for a wide range of operational requirements, including response to security risks and other emergencies, both at home and overseas.

In accordance with the National Development Plan (NDP), the capital allocation for Defence has been increased to €106 million for 2019, an increase of €29 million. The NDP provides for a total of €541 million over the period 2018 to 2022. This level of capital funding will allow the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructural development across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service as identified and prioritised in the Defence White Paper and builds on the significant investment programme over recent years.

The Government is currently investing €12.8 million in updating the Communications Information and Security Network System for the Defence Forces so as to enable the current system to migrate to a Virtual Desktop Architecture. This information technology modernisation project commenced in 2016 when a contract was awarded to Evros Technology, an Irish company, and is scheduled to run until 2021. The project is on track and within budget. It will enable the Defence Forces to securely evolve its networks and information systems and to increase interoperability between users and other government departments and external agencies.

I am satisfied that the Defence Forces have the necessary modern and effective range of equipment and technology available to them which is line with best international standards in order to fulfil all roles assigned to them by Government.

Ministerial Meetings

Questions (43)

Seán Fleming

Question:

43. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade when he last spoke with his Canadian counterpart; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22314/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Government engages frequently with the Canadian Government and Canadian elected representatives on all aspects of the Canada-Ireland relationship and on other issues of mutual concern.

There have been strong and sustained Canadian-Irish bilateral contacts in recent years, including most recently a meeting last week between the Taoiseach and Prime Minister Trudeau, which took place en marge of a conference in Paris. I understand that the Taoiseach updated Prime Minister Trudeau on current Brexit and Northern Ireland developments and they spoke on other important issues, including the ratification of CETA.

Otherwise, Prime Minister Trudeau visited Ireland in July 2017 and there was a follow up visit by the Taoiseach to Canada not long after. 2018 saw several high level visits of Government Ministers to Canada and this has been maintained into 2019. St. Patrick’s Day 2019 saw the Minister Bruton visit Toronto and Minister of State Cannon visit Calgary and Vancouver, where we have opened a new Consulate General in recent months. The Ministers launched the Government’s new strategy for Canada, which sets a high level of ambition on all aspects of the relationship, and a further expansion of our footprint, with a new Consulate in Toronto before 2025.

I have previously spoken by phone with my Canadian counterpart, Minister Freeland, in October 2017. I was also fortunate to visit Ottawa and Toronto earlier in that year in my previous Ministerial role, and saw first-hand the thriving Irish communities that exist there. I was warmly received by Minister McKenna, who has responsibility for Environment and Climate change, and we discussed the excellent and close relationship that our two countries share.

I was also delighted to address the Ireland Canada Business Association conference last November to speak to the historic and continuing strong and collaborative relations we enjoy with Canada, and the potential of our bilateral relationship in the coming years. I look forward to travelling to Canada and engaging with the Canadian Government, as well as visiting Ireland’s Embassy in Ottawa and our new Consulate General in Vancouver, in the near future.

Brexit Preparations

Questions (44)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

44. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps he will take to prepare for a no-deal Brexit in view of the collapse of talks between the British Labour Party and the Conservative Party; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22514/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

My Department and I continue to monitor closely the ongoing political developments in the United Kingdom.

The decision of the April European Council to extend the Article 50 process until 31 October 2019, at the request of Prime Minister May, reduced the risk of an immediate no-deal Brexit. However, the ongoing and deepening political impasse in the UK, to which the Deputy refers, and the failure to date of the UK Parliament to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement mean that the risk of a no-deal Brexit is a significant and serious concern and we continue to prepare accordingly.

The Cabinet had a further discussion on Brexit last week and has agreed that work on preparations for a no-deal Brexit should continue to be taken forward as a matter of priority across Government Departments and Agencies.

The immediate focus since December 2018 has been on ensuring the necessary contingency measures are in place to limit the potential negative effects of a no deal Brexit. Much of this work, details of which were published in the Government's December 2018 Brexit Contingency Action Plan and subsequent updates, will continue to be relevant in any Brexit scenario.

The period afforded by the agreed extension is being used to further deepen our no-deal responses and to add to or refine completed measures to maximise readiness for a no-deal scenario. Many of the preparatory measures undertaken by businesses should also be of benefit in any scenario but it is important that businesses and other affected sectors continue to do their own preparations also.

The Deputy will be aware that legislative provisions have been passed by the Oireachtas in the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Act 2019 and remain ready to be deployed if and when required.

Brexit, in whatever form it takes, will have a significant impact on Ireland. Government, businesses and citizens must make the necessary preparations to minimise its impact on our trade and our economy. We are determined to be as ready as we can be, whatever the outcome of the Brexit process.

Brexit Negotiations

Questions (45)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

45. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on recent discussions he has had with Mr. Michel Barnier about the Brexit impasse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22515/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Throughout the Article 50 process I, as well as officials from my Department, have had frequent and ongoing contact with representatives from other EU27 Member States, the Commission and the Article 50 Task Force headed by Michel Barnier, as well as the UK.

I last met with Mr Barnier on 8 April during his visit to Dublin in advance of the European Council. On that occasion we discussed preparations for the European Council meeting, and the question of an extension to Article 50. On that occasion, Mr Barnier also held meetings with the Taoiseach and Minister Donohoe. I also met him again briefly on the margins of the General Affairs Council (Article 50) in Luxemborg on 9 April.

Since the European Council (Article 50) meeting of 10 April, and the decision to extend the date of the UK's departure from the European Union until 31 October, my officials have been, and will continue to be, in regular contact with both the Article 50 Taskforce and the Commission's Brexit Preparedness Group to discuss and review ongoing developments.

There is complete agreement that responsibility for avoiding a no-deal Brexit firmly lies with the UK. At the same time, there is deep concern about the ongoing political impasse in the UK and real disappointment that the cross-party talks between the Government and the Labour Party ended without agreement. Unfortunately, it is our assessment that the risk of a no-deal Brexit is very real and therefore we continue to work urgently on no-deal preparedness.

My most recent discussions with Mr. Barnier and my colleagues throughout the EU once again underlined the strong solidarity with Ireland and the EU's absolute committment, notwithstanding the ongoing political impasse in the UK, to protect the Good Friday Agreement. As the European Council made clear again on 10 April, the Withdrawal Agreement, including the backstop, cannot be renegotiated, and any unilateral commitments by the UK Government should be compatible with the letter and the spirit of the Withdrawal Agreement. However, should the position of the UK evolve, such as in the area of customs, then the EU would be prepared to reconsider the Political Declaration on the future relationship.

The European Council will review the current situation at its meeting on 20-21 June. This discussion will be prepared at the General Affairs Council (Article 50) on 18 June, at which I will have another opportunity to meet Mr. Barnier.

Registration of Births

Questions (46)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

46. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade when a foreign birth registration application by a person (details supplied) will be processed and original supporting documentation returned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22557/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Foreign Births Registration, by its nature, can be a detailed and complex process, often involving official documentation related to three generations and issued by several jurisdictions. Due to the complex nature of Foreign Births Registration, it takes on average between 6 to 12 months to process an application.

With regard to the specific application the Deputy has enquired about, I can confirm that the application in question has been received. A member of the Foreign Births Registration Team will contact the applicant directly if any further documents or clarifications are required to process the application.

Foreign Conflicts

Questions (47)

Micheál Martin

Question:

47. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if war crimes and genocide against the Rohingya were discussed at recent EU meetings he attended in view of the recent UN comments on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22626/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

In January this year, I attended the EU-ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Brussels, during which the crisis in Rakhine State was raised with our ASEAN counterparts, which includes Myanmar. Furthermore, during the EU Foreign Affairs Committee in December 2018, Council Conclusions were adopted calling on Myanmar to hold to account those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide and to take meaningful action towards the creation of conditions conducive to a safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return of those displaced from Rakhine State to their places of origin.

Two weeks ago, following a 10-day visit to Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, the UN Independent International Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar (IIFFM) urged the international community to cut off all financial and other support to Myanmar’s military, owing to the Myanmar Government’s lack of resolve in addressing the nation’s conflicts and protecting human rights. The IIFFM also cited the need for the commanders of Myanmar’s military to be isolated and brought before a credible court to answer charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Ireland, together with our EU and UN partners, has consistently called for the accountability of those who are responsible for such crimes and supports actions at international level in this regard. The EU has also put in place targeted restrictive measures, which Ireland continues to support, against senior military officers of the Myanmar Security Forces responsible for these acts.

Ireland has strongly, directly and repeatedly stated that the best long-term framework for a sustainable solution that addresses the concerns of the Rohingya, including the key issue of securing citizenship rights and the protection that accrues, remains the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State which was led by the late Kofi Annan.

Ireland continues to call for the full implementation of the Advisory Commission’s findings and will continue to do so. Officials in my Department, including in the Embassy of Ireland in Thailand, which is also accredited to Myanmar, will continue to monitor the situation.

Ministerial Communications

Questions (48)

Willie Penrose

Question:

48. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has spoken recently with the US Secretary of State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22703/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Government engages frequently with the US Administration and US elected representatives on all aspects of the Ireland-US relationship and on other issues of mutual concern.

I last visited the US in February, where I met with senior Congressional leaders and launched the Government’s new US and Canada strategy. During this visit, I also met with Secretary of State Pompeo at a Defeat-ISIS Coalition conference. We discussed issues of mutual concern related to the conference, but also bilateral and broader international issues.

My engagements were followed in March with visits by the largest ever delegation of Government Ministers to the US for St. Patrick’s Day. In total, eight Ministers, the Attorney General and the Taoiseach visited fifteen cities and had a range of high level engagements, including in the White House with President Trump.

The Government has since had the opportunity to engage with a high level Congressional delegation, representing the Friends of Ireland Caucus in Congress and led by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. I met personally with this delegation in April, as did the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance. The Government also hosted a State Dinner for the delegation at which other Government Ministers and senior officials were present. We took these opportunities to fully brief the delegation on a range of issues, including Brexit and Northern Ireland developments, record two-way trade and investment, as well as Irish emigration to the US and the undocumented Irish.

As the Deputy will be aware, President Trump is scheduled to visit Ireland in early June and is expected to meet with the Taoiseach. This meeting, and other upcoming engagements with the US Administration and Congressional leaders, provide excellent opportunities for open and fruitful discussions.

Diplomatic Representation

Questions (49)

Seán Haughey

Question:

49. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if each Irish honorary or consulate general is contactable to deal with emergency incidents on a 24-7 basis; if all emergency incidents, especially during the out-of-hours period, are dealt with at the nearest Irish embassy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22856/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland's Honorary Consuls are not asked to provide a 24-hour, seven-day service. Our Embassies and career Consulates abroad do not have staff permanently on duty round-the-clock, but do operate an out-of-hours contact service. If required, officers can be called in to deal with emergencies and do so on a regular basis.

A citizen in difficulty abroad who is unable to contact the nearest Irish mission can telephone the Department's Consular Assistance Unit in Dublin on +3531 408 2000. A Duty Officer is available at the same number outside of office hours.

Tax Exemptions

Questions (50)

Clare Daly

Question:

50. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Finance if he will liaise with the Revenue Commissioners to address the anomaly that exists regarding non-habitual residents' tax exemptions under Article 19, which excludes civil servants, gardaí and members of the Defence Forces from availing of such exemptions in Portugal, in view of the fact that holders of other occupations, including semi-State employees, can avail of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22589/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Article 19 (Government Service) of the Ireland-Portugal Double Taxation Convention follows the standard provisions of double tax conventions internationally concerning the allocation of taxing rights in relation to pensions on foot of central and local government employments. Paragraph 2 of that Article provides that a pension, paid to an individual in respect of services rendered to the State, is taxable only in Ireland - unless the individual is both a resident of, and a national of, Portugal.

The non-habitual resident tax exemption to which the Deputy’s question refers is an exemption provided by Portuguese law: It is not provided under Article 19 or any other provision of the Ireland-Portugal Double Taxation Convention. The terms and scope of, and any perceived anomaly regarding, the exemption are a matter for Portuguese law. Consequently, it is unclear how Revenue or I could have any role in that regard and I am advised by Revenue that it is not its practice to comment on the application of the provisions of the national law of other countries.

Tax Compliance

Questions (51)

Joan Collins

Question:

51. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Finance if an inspection by the Revenue Commissioners has taken place to ascertain whether a company (details supplied) paid taxes on service charges collected and credit card tips collected since it opened in 2018; and if so, the outcome of same. [22740/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Section 851A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for taxpayer confidentiality and prohibits Revenue from disclosing information in respect of any taxpayer. On that basis, it is not possible for Revenue to provide the information requested by the Deputy.

Revenue has however assured me that it operates a very comprehensive risk-based compliance programme, which is supported by a broad range of data, intelligence and analytical technologies. The nature and potential severity of the intervention undertaken by Revenue in any non-compliant case is determined by the risks identified and the behaviour of the taxpayer.

I am informed that Revenue carried out almost 581,000 compliance interventions in 2018 that yielded €572m for the Exchequer and I commend it for its commitment to ensuring continued high tax compliance rates in Ireland and a ‘level playing field’ for all businesses and taxpayers.

Revenue Commissioners

Questions (52)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

52. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Finance if the attention of the Revenue Commissioners has been drawn to the delays experienced by customers using the contact number it has provided in order to access appointments; his plans to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22323/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the service to which the Deputy is referring suffered a temporary technical fault, which resulted in customer calls not being correctly routed to call agents for follow up action. The service has since been restored and is available at telephone number 056-7783700, which is a single contact number to manage appointment requests across the South East geographic area.

Revenue has also advised me that it contacted customers who tried to use the service during the breakdown period, where contact details were left on the system, to assist them with their queries and arrange appointments as required. If the Deputy is aware of any person that encountered difficulties with the service and has not yet received a call-back, he can notify Revenue at telephone number 01-8655401. Revenue has assured me that it will make immediate contact with any such cases.

Tax Credits

Questions (53)

Brian Stanley

Question:

53. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Finance the policy regarding personal tax credits (details supplied). [22339/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that it does not have a policy of withdrawing tax credits based on a taxpayer’s age.

In fact, Revenue seeks to apply certain credits automatically in situations where it has the relevant information available already on the taxpayer record. For example, the Age Tax Credit, as provided for by section 464 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, is granted automatically in the year in which the taxpayer reaches 65 years of age. For jointly assessed couples, the credit is granted automatically when the older spouse or civil partner reaches 65 years of age.

Revenue also reserves the right to withdraw tax credits where there is no longer entitlement to them. For example, Revenue will withdraw credits based on flat rate employment-related expenses where a taxpayer is no longer in employment.

Revenue has confirmed that if the Deputy can provide the details of the cases to which he is referring, including the specific credit(s) involved, it will investigate the matter(s) and revert directly to him.

Amusement Machine Licences

Questions (54, 55, 56)

Jack Chambers

Question:

54. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Finance the outcome of the national compliance project on the gaming and amusement sector conducted by the Revenue Commissioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22417/19]

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Jack Chambers

Question:

55. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that industry sources estimate that around 30,000 unlicensed gaming machines are in operation across the State and that the Revenue Commissioners is missing out on €15 million in gaming machine licence fees annually; if he or officials from his Department have met or discussed this issue with the chair of the Revenue Commissioners; the explanation provided by the Revenue Commissioners for not meeting its statutory responsibilities to collect these moneys; the reason the Revenue Commissioners have only recently, since late 2017, commenced a compliance campaign against unlicensed and illegal gambling operations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22418/19]

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Jack Chambers

Question:

56. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 67 of 27 February 2019 and 69 of 22 February 2019, if the Revenue Commissioners have contacted local authorities to resolve the information gaps in their operational records regarding the fact that they did not maintain a list of the areas in which Part III of the 1956 Act is in operation; if the Comptroller and Auditor General has examined the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22419/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 54 to 56, inclusive, together.

I am advised that Revenue commenced a nationwide compliance project in 2017 in relation to the gaming and amusement sector, including compliance with licensing laws. Revenue’s enforcement of the law in relation to gaming and amusement machine licensing is based on detecting machines that are unlicensed and in particular, detecting gaming machines that have been licensed improperly as amusement machines. As of 11 April 2019, the total yield under the project was €2.68 million. In addition, a total of 325 gaming machines have been seized to date for failure to comply with excise licensing requirements. Revenue has confirmed that the project is ongoing and it continues to be a priority.

I note the Deputy’s reference to industry estimates of the number of unlicensed gaming machines in operation and the possible excise receipts that would be involved. Revenue has advised that it is not aware of the methodology used for these estimates and, in general, considers that there are inherent difficulties in measuring the scale of such illegal activity. In the case of the national compliance project on gaming and amusements, Revenue is making use of internal taxpayer records across all tax headings, information on gaming and amusement licences granted previously and sharing of intelligence from Revenue offices across the country in its efforts to target compliance and enforcement activity under the project. This allows for resources to be deployed based on assessment of compliance risk and ensures the best use of resources.

Neither I nor officials from my Department have met or had discussions with the Revenue Chairman in relation to this project. However, both Revenue and my Department participated in the discussions of the recent interdepartmental working group on the future licensing and regulation of gambling. I understand that Revenue did provide information to the interdepartmental working group during its discussions on the progress of the national compliance project and this is reflected in the report of the group which was published by the Department of Justice and Equality on 20 March 2019. Revenue has also advised that it must always plan for the deployment of its resources across all tax headings and that sector-specific projects such as the national compliance project on gaming and amusement machines are undertaken as part of its normal role in serving the community by fairly and efficiently collecting taxes and duties and implementing customs controls. Similar projects have been undertaken in the past in other areas, industry sectors and professions.

I note the Deputy’s query in relation to the identification of local authority areas where Part III of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 is in operation. Under this Part of the 1956 Act, local authorities may decide by resolution if gaming is to be permitted in respect of the whole or a specified part of its administrative area. If gaming is permitted in the area concerned, a trader must first apply to the local District Court for what is called a ‘certificate for a gaming licence’. The relevant local authority and An Garda Síochána must be given 28 days’ notice of this court application. Revenue does not have any statutory role under this court process. If the District Court grants this certificate, this allows the trader to apply to Revenue for a Gaming Licence, which is required for each premises where gaming machines are made available to play. If the trader concerned presents the District Court certificate to Revenue and has paid the relevant licence fee, Revenue is under a statutory obligation under section 19 of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 to grant a Gaming Licence. In addition to a Gaming Licence, a trader must also apply to Revenue for a Gaming Machine Licence under section 43 of the Finance Act 1975 in respect of each gaming machine made available to play. Gaming Machine Licences may only be granted by Revenue to traders who have already been granted a Gaming Licence.

I am advised that the sole focus of Revenue is on whether the trader concerned has appropriate Gaming Licences and Gaming Machine Licences. Irrespective of whether a local authority has adopted a resolution under Part III of the 1956 Act, Revenue carries out a standard procedure when engaging with traders who have been identified as making gaming machines available for play in the public place. Such traders are issued with a 21-day warning letter warning that it is an offence under section 43 of the Finance Act 1975 to make a gaming machine available for play without the required gaming machine licence and this includes a warning that failure to comply with licensing requirements may lead to seizure of the unlicensed gaming machines. This is followed up by similar 14-day and 7-day warning letters where necessary. If the trader concerned has not complied with the licensing requirements by this point, the machines are subject to seizure by Revenue. This approach places the onus entirely on the trader concerned to establish if he or she is in a position to obtain a gaming machine licence.

I understand that at the outset of the compliance project, Revenue did make enquiries to confirm the position of all local authorities in relation to whether they had adopted a resolution under Part III of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956. In a number of cases, the resolutions concerned were adopted over previous decades and there were difficulties in establishing the position in relation to a number of local authority areas. In addition, the widespread reorganisation of local authorities in 2014 resulted in a lack of clarity as to previous resolutions that may have been made. Ultimately, Revenue determined that it was for the individual traders concerned to clarify their position with regard to the 1956 Act. The trader must apply to a District Court for a certificate for a Gaming Licence and the relevant local authority is placed on notice of the District Court application. If a certificate for a gaming licence is granted by the District Court, the trader can apply to Revenue for a Gaming Licence. If the trader is unable to obtain a certificate for a Gaming Licence, he or she is not in a position to apply to Revenue for a Gaming Licence and Revenue will, following reasonable warning, be able to take enforcement action. I am advised that this approach allows Revenue to deploy its resources in the most efficient manner possible under the project. Revenue has not been in contact with the Comptroller and Auditor General in relation to this issue.