National Broadband Plan Data

Questions (126, 127, 131)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

126. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the role of a company (details supplied) in the national broadband plan during periods; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23085/19]

View answer

Timmy Dooley

Question:

127. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason his Department indicated that a company (details supplied) was described as an ultimate investor in replies to parliamentary questions which were subsequently corrected; if the company was ever an ultimate investor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23086/19]

View answer

Timmy Dooley

Question:

131. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the timeline of the entities within a company (details supplied) within the bidding process as reported to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23090/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 126, 127 and 131 together.

The NBP procurement process set out a mechanism for the Department to assess and approve or reject changes to the membership of any of the bidders. In demonstrating financial and economic capacity, Granahan McCourt relied on the resources of Tetrad Corporation and McCourt Global LLC. who were approved by the Department as bidder members in September 2018.

The ability to rely on resources of another entity or entities and the requirements for doing so are set out in the Project Information Memorandum, including at section 10.2 and the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire. Tetrad Corporation and McCourt Global LLC both reiterated their support at Final Tender, and Tetrad Corporation also provided a commitment letter at Final Tender in relation to the equity required for the project.

In relation to a previous parliamentary question on the investors in National Broadband Ireland my Department provided a clarification where an earlier response had inadvertently conflated the roles of the Bidder Members with investors.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (128, 129)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

128. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the position regarding the potential sale of the holding company or a company (details supplied) in the context of the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23087/19]

View answer

Timmy Dooley

Question:

129. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the shareholders of the holding company of the national broadband plan; the shareholding of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23088/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 128 and 129 together.

National Broadband Ireland (NBI) is a new entity established by the bidder Granahan McCourt for the purposes of delivering the NBP. The equity of NBI will be invested via a holding company as would be typical for projects such as this.

The holding company will be wholly owned by Granahan McCourt Dublin (Ireland) Limited, subject to the Minister's special share in NBI. The Minister will hold one special share in National Broadband Ireland; the special share does not count as equity share capital.

The NBP Contract contains a suite of measures in relation to changes in ownership and control. For example, NBI is obliged to notify the Minister of any Change in Ownership that is restricted by the NBP Contract throughout the life of the Contract and there are provisions in the Contract in relation to clawback payments in the event of a sale of NBI prior to year 10 of the contract. If a Change in Ownership occurs, NBI (in new ownership) will continue to be bound by the NBP Contract.

NBI is obliged to seek the written consent of the Minister prior to the occurrence of a Change in Ownership of NBI that occurs at any time from the commencement of the contract up until one year after the completion of deployment. After the one year anniversary of the completion of deployment, the shares of NBI can (subject to certain exceptions) be sold without Ministerial consent but not to Unsuitable Third Parties. Unsuitable Third Parties include excluded parties specifically set out in EU procurement regulations, parties materially involved in the arms trade, parties who have been convicted of a criminal offence related to business, parties who have materially failed to comply with tax rules and parties whose activities pose a threat to national security.

The NBP Contract requires that the Minister’s consent is obtained for a Change of Control in respect of a Shareholder (i.e. Granahan McCourt Dublin (Ireland) Ltd) in National Broadband Ireland at any time until 12 months after the Deployment Completion Date. The Minister cannot unreasonably withhold his consent in this regard.

Also, if any shareholder has a contingent commitment to make a loan or equity or capital contribution to NBI, NBI is required, until that commitment has been delivered, to seek the written consent of the Minister to a Change in Ownership which results in the shareholder ceasing to have Control of NBI.

National Broadband Plan

Question No. 131 answered with Question No. 126.

Questions (130)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

130. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the national broadband plan contract; if it exists in a draft form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23089/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) agreement sets out the contractual framework for delivery of the project. The Agreement is a very detailed contract tailored specifically for the unique requirements of the NBP, running to over 1,500 pages.

The Agreement has been subject to detailed and extensive dialogue with bidders over the past 3 years, resulting in a number of revised versions being issued, including a last draft before Final Tender.

The recent Government decision to appoint a Preferred Bidder means work is progressing to close the contract, including the finalisation of financial and legal documents. A period of final due diligence on all elements of the contract is part of the normal conclusion of a procurement process.

NBI will be supported by a number of experienced subcontractors and is currently tasked with finalising negotiations on contracts with approximately 40 subcontractors to assist in the delivery of the NBP. In order to support deployment it is anticipated that a subset of approximately 15 to 20 of these subcontracts will be required prior to contract close.

It is anticipated these elements will require a number of months, with contract close expected later this year and deployment commencing shortly after that.

Question No. 131 answered with Question No. 126.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (132)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

132. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the position regarding contractual links which exist with the ultimate investors for the national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23091/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) agreement sets out the contractual framework for delivery of the project. The Agreement is a comprehensive contract tailored specifically for the unique requirements of the NBP, running to over 1,500 pages.

The Government decision on 7 May 2019, means that it is intended to award the NBP State intervention contract to National Broadband Ireland, subject to conclusion of the contract close process, including the finalisation of financial and legal documents. A period of final due diligence on all elements of the contract is part of the normal conclusion of a procurement process.

National Broadband Ireland (NBI) is a new entity established by Granahan McCourt for the purposes of delivering the NBP. The equity of NBI will be introduced by the investors via a holding company (or holding companies) as would be typical for projects such as this.

The precise manner in which National Broadband Ireland will be capitalised by its investors will be contractualised prior to contract close. Those contracts will be reviewed by the Department and its advisers to ensure they are in an acceptable form and content for agreements of that nature and reflect the investors commitments in respect of NBI’s capitalisation. The Minister will have the right through those contracts to enforce any outstanding funding commitments on behalf of the project if necessary. The finalisation and review of those contractual arrangements are an important part of the due diligence process that my Department is carrying out with the Bidder in advance of Contract Award.

National Broadband Plan Data

Questions (133, 134)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

133. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the meetings which have taken place between his Department and representatives of companies (details supplied) since December 2015; the dates on which these meetings took place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23092/19]

View answer

Timmy Dooley

Question:

134. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he or his predecessor met with a person (details supplied) since December 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23093/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 133 and 134 together.

The National Broadband Plan procurement process, by its nature, has required a significant level of interaction with each of the bidders that participated in that process. This includes meetings between the National Broadband Plan Procurement Team and representatives of the final bidder, Granahan McCourt, since the Competitive Dialogue process commenced in July 2016. I have not been involved in any of those meetings.

It is a matter of public record that my predecessor attended a meeting which took place in New York in July 2018. A minute of this meeting together with a record of the attendees was published last year.

To date, my Department has held over 800 hours of dialogue with bidders in the procurement process, including Granahan McCourt. No meetings were held with Tetrad Corporation or McCourt Global LLC.

Mobile Telephony Services

Questions (135)

Dara Calleary

Question:

135. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the progress to date for each of the 41 action points made in the mobile phone and broadband taskforce report published in December 2016 in which his Department has lead or joint responsibility for implementing; if each such action point has been completed, not completed or is ongoing, respectively; and the revised deadlines for action points not delivered by the original timeframes in tabular form. [23061/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

My Department participates in the Mobile Phone and Broadband Task Force Implementation Group. This Group meets quarterly and publishes progress reports each quarter. The Quarter 1 Report for 2019 has just recently been published and can be found under 'Progress Reports of The Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce' on Gov.ie. The Reports are available on the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment website and also on the website of the Department of Rural and Community Development. In addition, a 2018 Implementation Review was published in February of this year.

These reports detail progress with the actions outlined in the original Mobile Phone and Broadband Task Force in addition to new actions outlined in the 2019 Work Programme. A number of the actions for which my Department has lead responsibility have already been delivered while significant progress has been made with others.

Road Projects

Questions (136)

Joe Carey

Question:

136. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will respond to a query (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23081/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning and design, including the feasibility of bringing a national road project through to construction phase, is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Noting the above position, I have referred the question to TII for a direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Ferry Services

Questions (137)

Michael McGrath

Question:

137. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the domestic and EU wide obligations placed on ferry companies in the event of a cancellation; if there is an obligation to pay compensation to passengers similar to airlines; if so, the level of compensation that is required; if there is an obligation to provide viable alternatives for passengers; the responsible State organisation responsible for monitoring the compliance with these obligations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23140/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Regulation (EU) No 1177/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 concerning the rights of passenger when travelling by sea and inland waterway entered into force on the 18 December 2012.

S.I. 394 of 2012 designated the National Transport Authority (NTA) as the independent national enforcement body for these Regulations. The NTA provide details of the EU Regulations and passenger rights under it on their website at the following link: https://www.nationaltransport.ie/public-transport-services/maritime-passengers-rights-2/.

Ferry Services

Questions (138)

Michael McGrath

Question:

138. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the value of compensation paid out in 2018 and to date in 2019 to passengers for the cancellation of ferry services to other countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23141/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Ferry Services in and out of the country are provided by private commercial companies and my Department provide no funding for such services. Compensation for the cancellation of ferry services is a matter for the service provider.

Child Abuse

Questions (139)

Michael McGrath

Question:

139. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the steps she will take further to the report investigating the abuse of a number of children in a foster home in the west of Ireland; the way in which persons within Tusla involved in this case will be held accountable; the steps she plans to take to ensure this will not occur again; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23094/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I take it that the Deputy is referring to a National Review Panel report that was published on 28 May 2019, the summary report entitled "Review of a serious incident: abuse of children in the care of the health board/HSE (2003 – 2011)". I am currently considering the recommendations in the light of the ongoing changes being implemented by Tusla in terms of their workforce and social work practice. It is important to note that a person has been convicted in this case, and was sentenced in April last year.

I would like to reiterate my sincere acknowledgement of the pain and distress suffered by the three women at the centre of this report.

The period in question relates primarily to 2003 to 2011, when the child protection and welfare services were part of the HSE. However. these services are now with Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, which was established in 2014. By way of context the report notes that the decisions in the case were made in good faith and that the social work department were very committed to the children in their care. It presents a clear analysis of the failures that occurred in managing the case.

The HR and performance management functions were, at the time, within the structures of the HSE. I have been advised that the Child Care Manager at the time did not have line management of the staff involved, and staff supervision policy and caseload weighting was not as developed as it is now. Currently, Tusla's processes for managing staff include the following: all staff working with Tusla are required to practice in line with agreed policies and procedures; a management team is in place to actively manage individual and team performance; staff are supervised in line with the guidance set out in Tusla’s Supervision Policy; and, since 2011, all social workers are registered with CORU which regulates the profession.

The report published on 28 May last includes four recommendations for Tusla. In summary the recommendations refer to a) reviewing the role of the link social worker; b) developing a service the brings the relevant agencies together to minimise the re-traumatisation of re-interviewing and this recommendation appears to refer to the One House/Barnahus model which will be piloted in Galway this year; c) greater co-operation between agencies in managing complex cases which may take the form of a steering/management style group, in particular with An Garda Síochána and the HSE; and d) the inclusion of child sexual abuse risk assessment and knowledge/skills as a core element of the Signs of Safety approach. The Report acknowledges that the findings may have been addressed through existing reforms.

The detail of the recommendations need consideration but much of the work needed to address the findings is addressed in the five year Child Protection and Welfare Strategy launched in 2017. I am determined that the reforms underway and the roll out of the Child Protection and Welfare Strategy will be completed to ensure that the risks of this happening again are being fully mitigated.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (140)

Dara Calleary

Question:

140. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the capital spend to date in 2019 including the capital carry-over from 2018, by subhead; the provision under each subhead including the capital carry-over from 2018 provided for in the Revised Estimates Volume for 2019; the details of the significant overspends or underspends under each subhead; the action to be taken to deal with same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23059/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Further Revised Estimates for 2019 in respect of the Department of Rural and Community Development provides for gross capital expenditure of €138 million. There was no capital funding carried forward from 2018.

€22.2 million of my Department's capital allocation has been spent to date which represents 96% of profiled expenditure. I have set out expenditure to date in the following table against the total capital provision for 2019.

At this stage of the year gross capital expenditure is in line with the expected spend profile. However, as is usual for capital programmes, the majority of claims for payment will be made in the final quarter of the year as projects progress to completion and capital grant approvals are drawn down. Therefore, continued close monitoring of expenditure is a matter of significant priority so as to ensure full use of our allocated resources, and that value for money is delivered in respect of our funding.

I intend to ensure that the resources made available to my Department this year are fully utilised, delivering benefits for all communities and for rural Ireland.

Capital Expenditure to date

-

REV 2019

YTD - Actual

V42 – GROSS (€’000s)

138,000

22,216

A - REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT & REGIONAL AFFAIRS

122,882

21,391

A.2 - ADMINISTRATION - NON PAY

182

69

A.4 - NATIONAL RURAL DEVELOPMENT SCHEMES

15,000

4,190

A.5 - LEADER - RURAL ECONOMY SUB PROGRAMME

30,000

13,062

A.7 - TOWN AND VILLAGE REGENERATION

15,000

2,261

A.8 – REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

700

4

A.9. - LOCAL IMPROVEMENT SCHEMES

10,000

1,805

A10 - RURAL REGENERATION & DEVELOPMENT FUND

52,000

-

B - COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

15,118

826

B.2 - ADMINISTRATION - NON PAY

151

49

B.3 - SUPPORTS FOR COMMUNITY & VOLUNTARY SECTOR

1

-

B.6- SUPPORTS FOR DISADVANTAGED COMMUNITIES

1,767

9

B.7- DORMANT ACCOUNT MEASURES

2,500

140

B.8- PROGRAMME FOR PEACE AND RE-CONCILLIATION

650

-

B.10 - LIBRARY DEVELOPMENT AND ARCHIVE SERVICE

6,049

628

B.11 - COMMUNITY ENHANCEMENT PROGRAMME

4,000

-

Mobile Telephony Services

Questions (141)

Dara Calleary

Question:

141. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the progress to date for each of the 41 action points made in the mobile phone and broadband taskforce report published in December 2016 in which his Department has lead or joint responsibility for implementing; if each such action point has been completed, not completed or is ongoing, respectively; and the revised deadlines for action points not delivered by the original timeframes in tabular form. [23060/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Report of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce was published in December 2016 and included 40 actions to alleviate barriers to mobile phone reception and broadband access. A Taskforce Implementation Group was established in early 2017 to oversee the delivery of the actions in the report.

A Review of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce report was published on 21 February 2017, and provides a comprehensive progress report on all 40 of the actions included in the original report. In addition, the Review presented the 2018 Work Programme of the Implementation Group, composed of 34 new actions to be progressed during 2018.

The Implementation Review for 2018 was published in January 2019 and provides a progress report on the 2018 Work Programme, as well as setting out 35 new actions for the Implementation Group's 2019 Work Programme, which is currently being progressed.

Now in its third year of operation, the Taskforce continues to identify solutions to barriers to the roll out of telecommunications infrastructure and aims to improve mobile phone and broadband coverage nationwide. The Implementation Reviews and quarterly progress reports highlighting the status of each action can be found on the Gov.ie website at: https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/215136-mobile-phone-and-broadband-taskforce/. The most recent progress report, for Quarter 1 2019, was published on 23rd. May.

Mobile Telephony Services

Questions (142)

Dara Calleary

Question:

142. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the local authorities supported in applications for WiFi4EU funding; the local authorities that have and have not been successful in their applications to date; and the amount of funding to each local authority that has been successfully approved in tabular form. [23063/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

WiFi4EU is a European initiative aimed at providing free public WiFi throughout Europe by allocating monetary vouchers, worth €15,000 each, through a competitive process. Decisions on the allocation of vouchers are made by the European Commission.

Each Local Authority in Ireland can apply for up to 4 vouchers throughout the lifetime of the scheme which runs to 2020. My Department will provide matched funding for the initiative of up to €15,000 for each voucher successfully secured.

My Department has been assisting all 31 Local Authorities throughout the process of registration for, and application to, the scheme. The first call for applications from the European Commission took place in November 2018. Arising form this call, Ireland secured 62 vouchers, worth €930,000, which placed the country as one of the most successful throughout Europe under that call.

The second call for applications was announced earlier this month and Ireland secured a further 22 vouchers, worth €330,000 in total.

These vouchers will have a significant impact on rural communities throughout Ireland, in terms of providing free access to WiFi for members of the public and improving connectivity and access to mobile services.

The details of the successful Local Authorities and the number of vouchers secured are provided on the following table.

Local Authority

Vouchers secured in 1st Call

Vouchers secured in 2nd call*

Carlow County

4 (€60,000)

-

Cavan County

4 (€60,000)

-

Clare County

2 (€30,000)

-

Cork City

1 (€15,000)

-

Cork County

-

-

Donegal County

4 (€60,000)

-

Dublin City Council

4 (€60,000)

-

Dun Laoghaire County

-

-

Fingal County

4 (€60,000)

-

Galway City

4 (€60,000)

-

Galway County

1 (€15,000)

3 (€45,000)

Kerry County

4 (€60,000)

-

Kildare County

1 (€15,000)

-

Kilkenny County

-

3 (€45,000)

Laois County

-

-

Leitrim County

3 (€45,000)

1 (€15,000)

Limerick County

4 (€60,000)

-

Longford County

1 (€15,000)

-

Louth County

-

-

Mayo County

4 (€60,000)

-

Meath County

1 (€15,000)

3 (€45,000)

Monaghan County

-

2 (€30,000)

Offaly County

2 (€30,000)

-

Roscommon County

1 (€15,000)

3 (€45,000)

Sligo County

1 (€15,000)

1 (€15,000)

South Dublin County

1 (€15,000)

1 (€15,000)

Tipperary County

4 (€60,000)

-

Waterford County

4 (€60,000)

-

Westmeath County

-

4 (€60,000)

Wexford County

-

-

Wicklow County

3 (€45,000)

1 (€15,000)

* Second call vouchers are pending until each Grant Agreement is signed by the Local Authority and returned to the EU Commission within the requisite timeframe.

Invalidity Pension Applications

Questions (143)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

143. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an invalidity pension application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23074/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Invalidity pension (IP) is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions.

The department received a claim for IP for the gentleman concerned on 05 April 2019. This claim was disallowed on the grounds that the medical conditions for the scheme were not satisfied. He was notified on 27 May 2019 of this decision, the reasons for it and of his right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Household Benefits Scheme

Questions (144)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

144. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the reintroduction of the household benefits package for carers who do not live with the person they care for which ceased in 2012 will be considered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23075/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The household benefits package (HHB) comprises the electricity or gas allowance, and the free television licence. My Department will spend approximately €248 million this year on HHB for over 446,000 customers. The package is generally available to people living in the State aged 66 years or over who are in receipt of a social welfare type payment or who satisfy a means test. The package is also available to some people under the age of 66 who are in receipt of certain welfare type payments.

Since 1 April 2012, new applicants in receipt of Carers Allowance who are not living with the person for whom they provide care do not have an automatic entitlement to the household benefits package. Carers who live with the person they are caring for still have an entitlement of their own to the household benefits package and do not have to satisfy the household composition criteria.

The Government values the role of carers very much and it is for this reason that they receive significant income supports from the Department. In addition to carer’s allowance carers receive additional support in the form of free travel and household benefits (for those who live with the person for whom they care) and the annual carers support grant (€1,700) in respect of each person for whom they care. Where a person is in receipt of certain qualifying social welfare payments, and also providing full time care and attention to another person, they can keep their primary social welfare payment and also get the half-rate carer's allowance.

It should be noted that Carer's payments are made at a higher level than other working age income-maintenance payments made by my Department. The weekly rate for Carer's Allowance is €219 where one person is being cared for, and €328.50 where it is two or more, compared to €203 for most other income-maintenance payments to those below pension age. The means test for Carer's Allowance is also significantly more generous than those applying to other schemes.

Any decision to change the qualifying criteria for HHB would have budgetary consequences and would have to be considered in the context of budget negotiations.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.