Passport Controls

Questions (69)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

69. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if a person (details supplied) meets the criteria to receive a passport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26942/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

As only limited details have been supplied about the individual in question, it is not possible to provide specific guidance on this case. I can, however, provide some general advice in relation to establishing eligibility to hold an Irish passport.

All passport applications are subject to the provisions of the Passports Act 2008. The Act provides, among other things, that a person must be an Irish citizen before a passport can be issued to him or her. In order to meet this requirement, each person must demonstrate an entitlement to Irish citizenship by providing acceptable documentary evidence of this entitlement.

Entitlement to Irish citizenship is determined by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, under which Irish citizenship may be obtained by birth, by descent, or by naturalisation.

An individual born on the island of Ireland before 2005 is automatically an Irish citizen. For individuals born outside of Ireland, they may claim citizenship if they had at least one parent who was born in the island of Ireland before 2005.

The Passport Service would be happy to provide further information and guidance to the person in question. The Passport Service operates a Customer Service Centre which provides information via telephone and webchat. The telephone number for the Customer Service Centre is 01 671 1633 and webchat can be accessed through the passport service's website. Telephone lines operate from 9 till 5 Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays) and webchat is available from 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Brexit Preparations

Questions (70)

Micheál Martin

Question:

70. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he and his UK counterpart have spoken regarding the expert panel that was set up in the United Kingdom, including a panel of experts from Northern Ireland business and academia, to examine alternative arrangements to keep the Border open and to avoid introducing the Northern Ireland backstop after Brexit. [26856/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Brexit is a priority issue for this Government, and the Taoiseach, my cabinet colleagues and I take every opportunity to engage with EU partners and the UK to advance Ireland’s priorities.

For Ireland, and our EU partners, the backstop forms an essential part of the Withdrawal Agreement. It has always been our hope that the future relationship agreement between the EU and UK would resolve the border issue. However, should this not prove possible, a hard border would be avoided through the backstop mechanism set out in the Withdrawal Agreement. This insurance policy is vital for protecting the Good Friday Agreement and the gains of the peace process.

The EU has made clear its commitment to looking at alternative arrangements as part of the negotiations on the future relationship. These discussions can only begin once the Withdrawal Agreement enters into effect . This is clearly set out in the Political Declaration setting out the Framework for the Future Relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, as well as in the Instrument relating to the Agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU and Joint Statement supplementing the Political Declaration agreed between President Juncker and Prime Minister May in Strasbourg on 11 March.

In this context, the Government welcomes the UK Government's announcement that it is to establish working groups to examine alternative arrangements in order to prepare for that future negotiation. It is good that the UK is seeking to hear from a broad range of opinion, including from key stakeholders in Northern Ireland who have lived experiences of the invisible border on the island of Ireland.

It is important to acknowledge, however, that both the EU and the UK Government agree that no one has yet come up with arrangements which could replace those set out in the Withdrawal Agreement, which avoid a hard border, including any physical infrastructure or related checks and controls, protecting the all-island economy, North-South cooperation and the Good Friday Agreement.

Any future agreement must ensure the same outcome as the backstop. In accordance with the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, the EU and the UK must agree jointly if arrangements, whether technological or not, under any future agreement deliver this outcome so that the backstop can be avoided or is no longer required in whole or in part. As co-guarantors, the Irish and British Governments will continue to have our obligations under the Good Friday Agreement to ensure peace and stability in Northern Ireland and any proposal must reflect this.

Cycle to Work Scheme

Questions (71)

John Curran

Question:

71. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Finance his views on increasing the cap of €1,000 on the bike to work scheme in order to better assist for the purchase of e-bikes and cargo bikes that can carry children and heavy loads (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27163/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Cycle To Work scheme provides an exemption from tax on the first €1,000 of expenditure incurred by an employer in connection with the provision of a bicycle or safety equipment to an employee or director. The bicycle must be for the employee/director’s personal use in undertaking the whole or part of the journey to or from work. Safety equipment includes helmets, lights, bells, mirrors and locks but does not include child seats or trailers.

The scheme applies to a pedal cycle, tricycle and a pedelec. A pedelec means a bicycle or tricycle which is equipped with an electric motor (with a maximum continuous rated power of 0.25 kilowatts) which cuts out when a speed of 25 kilometres per hour is reached, or sooner if the cyclist stops pedalling the bicycle or tricycle.

It is assumed that the reference to “cargo bikes” by the Deputy means a bicycle specifically designed to carry a load. Such a bicycle would qualify under the cycle to work scheme, assuming all of the required conditions are satisfied.

It should be noted that the cost of a bicycle purchased under the scheme may indeed be more than €1,000, however the exemption from tax does not apply above this limit.

While schemes of this nature are reviewed in the context of the annual Budget and Finance Bill process I have no plans at present for any increase.

Central Bank of Ireland

Questions (72)

Noel Grealish

Question:

72. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Finance his views on plans by the Central Bank to increase the charges it levies on credit unions (details supplied); his further views on the cost increases; his views on whether the regulation in this manner is cost effective for members of credit unions, who will ultimately pick up the expense; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26935/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

As the Deputy is aware, credit unions are regulated and supervised by the Registrar of Credit Unions at the Central Bank who is the independent regulator for credit unions. Within his independent regulatory discretion, the Registrar acts to support the prudential soundness of individual credit unions, to maintain sector stability, and to protect the savings of credit union members.

Since 2004 the amount of the Industry Funding Levy payable by each credit union has been capped at a rate of 0.01% of total assets.

Consultation Paper 95 ‘Joint Public Consultation Paper - Department of Finance and the Central Bank of Ireland - Funding the Cost of Financial Regulation’ (CP95) was published in 2015 and set out proposals to move from partial industry funding of financial regulation towards full industry funding, noting the proposal set out in an earlier consultation conducted by the Central Bank (CP61 ‘Consultation on Impact Based Levies and Other Levy Related Matters’) to move credit unions to fund 50% of the cost of regulating the credit union sector.

The Central Bank indicated, in its Funding Strategy and 2018 Guide to the Industry Funding Levy, that it intended to seek my approval to increase the proportion of financial regulation costs to be recovered from credit unions on a phased basis setting out an initial target of 50% to be reached by 2021.

In response to the Central Bank's request I recommended that credit union contributions should not increase beyond the 50% target until:

1. The levy trajectory has reached the planned 50% rate, at which time the impact on the viability of the sector will be better understood; and

2. A public consultation regarding increasing the levy rate for credit unions beyond 50% is undertaken, which would include a regulatory impact assessment of such a change on the sector.

In contrast to this, recovery rates in 2018 for all other industry categories ranged from 65% to 100%, and the Central Bank intends to increase all to 100% funding over the next number of years.

The Deputy might also wish to note that the Department of Finance, in collaboration with the Central Bank, has prepared a public consultation paper on potential changes to the Credit Institutions Resolution Fund Levy, which is expected to reduce materially from 2020. This consultation, which has now been published on the Department of Finance website, is open to all persons and I would strongly encourage all stakeholders to submit feedback.

It is also important to note that as Minister for Finance I have reduced the Stabilisation Scheme Levy materially and that since 2017 no further levies have been charged by the Credit Union Restructuring Board (ReBo).

Small and Medium Enterprises Supports

Questions (73)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

73. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Finance the number of companies that availed of the key employee engagement programme to date; the estimated cost of the scheme to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27002/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that 10 companies granted qualifying share options under the Key Employee Engagement Programme (KEEP) to employees during 2018 (the first year of the scheme).

In relation to the cost of the scheme to date, as no exercises of options have taken place to date, there has been no cost to the Exchequer in this regard. The KEEP legislation provides for an exemption from income tax, USC and PRSI on any gain realised on the exercise of a qualifying share option. Where share options are exercised, and the shares subsequently sold, the taxpayers involved will be subject to Capital Gains Tax on the disposal. It is not certain when the first exercises will occur. Generally, a key employee must hold the option for 12 months prior to exercise and therefore 2019 will be the earliest date that individuals are likely exercise their options to acquire shares in the qualifying companies. Returns for 2019 will not be filed with Revenue until 2020. In addition options may be exercised for up to 10 years from the date of grant.

The Deputy may also wish to be aware that my Department recently carried out a public consultation process in relation to KEEP (along with other tax incentives which can support to SMEs). The purpose of the consultation process was to provide an opportunity for interested parties to participate in a discussion which is intended to help ensure that KEEP fulfils its role in an efficient and effective manner.

Tax Rebates

Questions (74)

James Browne

Question:

74. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Finance when a rebate will issue to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27027/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the tax rebate to which the Deputy is referring was recently approved and issued to the person’s nominated bank account.

It was not possible for Revenue to issue the repayment prior to this time as there were other outstanding issues that required attention by the person.

Brexit Staff

Questions (75)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

75. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Finance if the Revenue Commissioners have hired additional staff in order to deal with work associated with preparing for Brexit; if additional staff will be hired; the number that will be hired in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27028/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am informed by Revenue that since the start of 2019, Revenue has appointed over 550 staff from open recruitment and interdepartmental competitions, the majority of these have been assigned to customs roles or to backfill positions from which existing Revenue staff have been assigned to customs duties. As serving staff take up their new Brexit-related roles, Revenue is back-filling the vacancies created, from panels established in its general recruitment activity. Additional staff recruited in preparation for Brexit are deployed across a number of functions with approximately half on import and export trade facilitation activities. To date, Revenue has trained over 450 staff in preparation for Brexit.

The impact of the time extension for the UK's withdrawal from the EU will be assessed by Revenue having regard to the resources, infrastructure and trade engagement including additional recruitment and training requirements. This will include consideration of any additional resources that might be required in Donegal. Revenue is an integrated tax and customs administration and their deployment of staff is agile and responsive to business demands and risk.

Economic and Social Research Institute

Questions (76)

Micheál Martin

Question:

76. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he and his officials have discussed the most recent ESRI report published on 20 June 2019. [26859/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

As part of ongoing engagement between my Department and external institutions, officials within my Department engaged in discussions with officials from the ESRI in relation to the publication of its Quarterly Economic Commentary on Thursday 20th June. My officials have briefed me on the findings and recommendations that are set out by the ESRI in its report.

In terms of the overall macroeconomic growth, I note the ESRI are now forecasting that GDP will expand by 4.0 per cent this year, and by 3.2 per cent next year. These figures are broadly in line with my Department’s forecast as set out in the Stability Programme Update (SPU) 2019.

Similar to the ESRI’s assessment, I also acknowledge that since the publication of the SPU 2019 in April, risks to the economy have intensified, most obviously the increasing possibility of a disorderly Brexit in October. As such, the Summer Economic Statement (SES) is being prepared on a two-track basis; one scenario based on an orderly exit, and one on a disorderly exit.

On the public finances, I also note the ESRI’s recommendations. In the SES I will set out the key elements of the Government’s economic and fiscal strategy for Budget 2020.

Vehicle Registration

Questions (77)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

77. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance the way in which a person (details supplied) can register a vehicle here that was bought in the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27095/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that where a vehicle is moved from one Member State of the EU to another a registration certificate from the first Member State is a requirement when re-registering the vehicle. This requirement is set out in the VRT section on the Revenue website at General information on registration.

I am also advised that since earlier this year some importers of used vehicles have experienced difficulties in getting replacement registration certificates where they failed to get the original certificate. Revenue is dealing with such cases on a case by case basis and the importer should contact VRT Branch, Dublin Castle (IndTax-VRTAdminmail@revenue.ie) with full details of the case.

Carbon Tax Collection

Questions (78)

Michael McGrath

Question:

78. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost of €20 carbon tax to the consumer per item (details supplied); the estimated cost for an increase in carbon tax by amounts in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27097/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the estimated cost to the consumer of Carbon Tax (including VAT) on each of the requested units and commodity types is provided in the table below.

Carbon Tax

(tonne of CO2)

Coal 40kg

Briquettes (12.5kg)

Petrol (L)

Diesel (L)

Kerosene (L)

Natural gas (Gross KwH)

€5

€0.60

€0.13

€0.01

€0.02

€0.01

€0.01

€10

€1.20

€0.26

€0.03

€0.03

€0.03

€0.02

€20*

€2.39

€0.52

€0.06

€0.07

€0.06

€0.04

€30

€3.59

€0.78

€0.08

€0.10

€0.09

€0.06

€40

€4.78

€1.04

€0.11

€0.13

€0.12

€0.08

€50

€5.98

€1.30

€0.14

€0.16

€0.14

€0.10

€60

€7.17

€1.56

€0.17

€0.20

€0.17

€0.13

€70

€8.37

€1.82

€0.20

€0.23

€0.20

€0.15

*Current rate of Carbon Tax.

Information on the different Carbon tax rates is available on the Revenue website at the following link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/companies-and-charities/excise-and-licences/excise-duty-rates/mineral-oil-tax.aspx while Revenue also provides a VAT database for a range of different products and services at the following link https://www.revenue.ie/en/vat/vat-rates/search-vat-rates/VAT-rates-database.aspx

The following revised table was received from the Department on 16 July 2019

Carbon Tax (tonne of CO2)

Coal 40kg

Briquettes (12.5kg)

Petrol (L)

Diesel (L)

Kerosene (L)

Natural gas (Gross KwH)

€5

€0.60

€0.13

€0.01

€0.02

€0.01

€0.001

€10

€1.20

€0.26

€0.03

€0.03

€0.03

€0.002

€20*

€2.39

€0.52

€0.06

€0.07

€0.06

€0. 0 04

€30

€3.59

€0.78

€0.08

€0.10

€0.09

€0.006

€40

€4.78

€1.04

€0.11

€0.13

€0.12

€0.008

€50

€5.98

€1.30

€0.14

€0.16

€0.14

€0.01

€60

€7.17

€1.56

€0.17

€0.20

€0.17

€0.013

€70

€8.37

€1.82

€0.20

€0.23

€0.20

€0.015

*Current rate of Carbon Tax.

Insurance Costs

Questions (79)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

79. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the steps he is taking to reduce insurance costs; if particular attention will be addressed to ensuring that insurance companies will reduce premiums when reforms are eventually implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27131/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

At the outset, the Deputy should note that I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation. Neither I, nor the Central Bank of Ireland, can interfere in the provision or pricing of insurance products, as these matters are of a commercial nature, and are determined by insurance companies based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept. This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance which expressly prohibits Member States from adopting rules which require insurance companies to obtain prior approval of the pricing or terms and conditions of insurance products. Consequently, I am not in a position to direct insurance companies as to the price or the level of cover to be provided either to consumers or businesses.

However, I acknowledge the general problems faced by many consumers, businesses, community and voluntary groups, in relation to the cost and availability of insurance. I also appreciate that there is some frustration about the perceived pace of reform. Unfortunately, there is no single policy or legislative “silver bullet” to immediately stem or reverse premium price rises. This is because there are many constraints faced by the Government in trying to address this issue in particular the fact that for constitutional reasons, it cannot direct the courts as to the award levels that should be applied and for legal reasons it cannot direct insurance companies as to the pricing level which they should apply in respect of businesses seeking insurance.

However, I wish to re-emphasise how important this issue is for the Government. As the Deputy is aware, the Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG) was established in July 2016 and undertook an examination of the factors contributing to the increasing cost of insurance in order to identify what short, medium and long-term measures could be introduced to help reduce the cost of insurance for consumers and businesses. The Deputy will recall that the CIWG has produced two reports since its inception and has been working to implement the 33 recommendations of the Cost of Motor Insurance Report published in 2017, as well as the 15 Recommendations of the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance Report, published in 2018. Achievements to date include the following:

- the establishment of the Personal Injuries Commission, and its subsequent recommendations relating to addressing award levels for soft tissue injuries – this has provided the objective evidence we need to be able to address award levels;

- the establishment of the National Claims Information Database in the Central Bank to increase transparency around the future cost of private motor insurance;

- reforms to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2019;

- amendments to Sections 8 and 14 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 to make it easier for businesses and insurers to challenge cases where fraud or exaggeration is suspected;

- the commencement by the Law Reform Commission of its work to undertake a detailed analysis of the possibility of developing constitutionally sound legislation to delimit or cap the amounts of damages which a court may award in respect of some or all categories of personal injuries, as part of its Fifth Programme of Law Reform;

- the reform of the Insurance Compensation Fund to provide certainty to policyholders and insurers; and,

- various reforms of how fraud is reported to and dealt with by An Garda Síochána, including increased co-ordination with the insurance industry, as well as the recent decision by the Garda Commissioner to develop a divisional focus on insurance fraud which will be guided by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) which will also train Gardaí all over the country on investigating insurance fraud, and the recent success under Operation Coatee, which targets insurance-related criminality.

I believe that these reforms are having a significant impact with regard to private motor insurance (CSO figures from May 2019 show that the price of motor insurance is now 24.5% lower than the July 2016 peak). The Government is determined to continue working to ensure that these positive pricing trends can be extended to other forms of insurance, including those relevant to businesses.

While the Working Group will continue to focus on implementing all of its recommendations, I consider that bringing the levels of damages awarded in this country more in line with those awarded in other jurisdictions is undoubtedly the single most essential challenge which must be overcome if there is to be a sustainable reduction in insurance costs. The Deputy will recall that the Personal Injuries Commission has highlighted the significant differential between award levels in Ireland and other jurisdictions, and has made a number of recommendations to address this issue, in particular the establishment of a Judicial Council to compile guidelines for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury. In this regard, relevant amendments were agreed to the Judicial Council Bill at Report Stage in the Seanad last week and I am pleased that the Bill subsequently completed its consideration by the Seanad. This is a significant step and both I and Minister of State D’Arcy are hopeful that the Bill can now complete its consideration by Dáil Éireann in the coming weeks and be enacted before the summer recess.

Finally, as I have stated previously, if there is a recalibration of award levels downwards, I would expect the insurance industry to take account of such reductions in their pricing. As you will recall, Justice Nicholas Kearns, the Chairperson of the Personal Injuries Commission (PIC), noted in the foreword of its second report that insurance industry representatives on the PIC repeatedly stated that, as award levels and associated costs account for the bulk of the cost of insurance, if claims costs come down and are maintained at a consistent and predictable level, then premiums will also reduce accordingly. I would also add that I believe this is not just an issue of lowering the price of insurance, but of increasing cover to areas that the insurers are not providing cover too, thereby broadening their risk horizon. Minister of State D’Arcy has met with Insurance Ireland on the issue. He will also meet with representatives from individual insurance companies on the issue in the coming weeks to reiterate this expectation and to seek commitments. While this is something the Government will continue to pursue, the Oireachtas also can play an important role and in that regard I am happy that the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach intends to invite insurance companies to speak to it and seek a commitment in relation to pricing should award levels be reduced.

Flood Relief Schemes Status

Questions (80)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

80. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of flood defence works at King's Island, County Limerick; the estimated amount they will cost; when the work will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26928/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The King’s Island Flood Relief Scheme forms an advanced part of the overall Limerick City & Environs Flood Relief Scheme. Following severe flooding in Limerick City in February 2014, a commitment to funding both temporary and permanent flood defence works was given by the Office of Public Works (OPW) to Limerick City and County Council (LCCC). Funding was provided by the Office of Public Works to Limerick City and County Council for the construction of sheet piling behind an embankment, completed in 2014, and for advance works on Verdant Place, which consisted of repointing the existing stone wall and construction of reinforced concrete wall to the rear. These works were completed in 2017.

Consultants were appointed in 2015 to develop the permanent flood relief scheme for King’s Island and it is estimated that the full scheme, including those public realm elements to be funded by Limerick City and County Council, will cost in the region of €26m and will protect approximately 450 residential and 23 commercial properties (This is a pre-tender estimate that may change following the detailed design and procurement process, and will be subject to market conditions at the time of tender). Limerick City and County Council is scheduled to lodge planning with An Bord Pleanála in Q3 of 2019 with a construction completion date of Q4 2021.

Flood Relief Schemes Status

Questions (81)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

81. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the flood defence works at Corbally, County Limerick; the estimated amount they will cost; the estimated start and completion date of the works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26929/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The Catchment-based Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) programme, the largest ever flood risk study carried out in the State, culminated with the launch of 29 Flood Risk Management Plans on 3 May 2018. These Plans proposed 118 new outline flood relief projects on top of the 42 major projects already completed and the 33 major schemes within the existing capital works programme of the Office of Public Works (OPW). They included a recommendation to progress the project-level development and planning of a Flood Relief Scheme for Limerick City & Environs, which includes the Corbally area.

There is a project steering group in place for the Limerick City and Environs Flood Relief Scheme, comprising of OPW personnel and representatives from Limerick City and County Council. This group first met in September 2018 and is currently progressing the preparation of a Project Brief for the procurement of Engineering and Environmental Consultants. It is scheduled to go to the Office of Public Works’ Engineering and Environmental Consultants framework in Q3 of 2019.

Once consultants are appointed to progress this Flood Relief Scheme, consultation with statutory and non-statutory bodies, as well as the public, will take place at the appropriate stages to ensure that all parties have the opportunity to input into the development of these schemes.

The preferred option identified under the CFRAM programme for Limerick City and Environs (including King’s Island) has a preliminary project cost estimate of €56m. Full information on the proposed scheme can be found at www.floodinfo.ie.

Flood Relief Schemes Status

Questions (82)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

82. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the flood defence works at Castleconnell, County Limerick; the estimated amount they will cost; the estimated start and completion date of the works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26930/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

Castleconnell, Co. Limerick, was one of 300 areas believed to be at significant flood risk nationally, and hence assessed as part of the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme, the largest ever flood risk study carried out in the State. The CFRAM Programme culminated with the launch of 29 Flood Risk Management Plans on 3 May 2018, and proposed 118 new outline flood relief projects on top of the 42 major projects already completed and the 33 major schemes within the existing capital works programme of the Office of Public Works (OPW).

All of these projects are to be funded under the Government's 10 year flood risk investment programme of almost €1 billion under the National Development Plan 2018 – 2027.

As it is not possible to progress all 118 proposed new schemes at once, funding of €257 million was also announced for an initial phase of 50 flood relief projects throughout the country, to be progressed to detailed design and construction; including the five largest schemes identified in the Plans and 31 small, or minor projects (with an estimated preliminary project budget of under €1 million), which will be progressed directly by Local Authorities. The proposed flood relief scheme in Castleconnell is included in the 31 small projects under €1 million, and is being progressed directly by Limerick City and County Council with full funding from the OPW.

Potentially viable flood relief works for Castleconnell (to be implemented subject to project-level assessment) are likely to include construction of a new flood defence wall, embankment and floodgates, and raising roads in key locations, along with maintaining the existing flood forecasting and public awareness campaign operated by the ESB. The flood protection measures identified under the CFRAM programme are to an outline design, and are not at this point ready for construction. Further detailed design, including a review of costs and benefits, environmental assessment, and consultation will be required for such works before implementation. Therefore, the exact location in Castleconnell at which the defences will be built will be determined through detailed design and project level assessment.

Accordingly, Limerick City and County Council invited tenders for Engineering and Environmental Consultants for this project in January 2019. A preferred tenderer was identified and has now been appointed to progress this scheme. The preferred option identified under the CFRAM programme has an estimated preliminary project cost of €720,000. This is a pre-tender estimate and may change following the design and procurement processes, and will be subject to market conditions at the time of tender.

Home Tuition Scheme

Questions (83)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

83. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children availing of home tuition grants by county in each of the years 2015 to 2018. [26941/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I understand that the Deputy is requesting information on the number of children availing of home tuition grants by county in each of the years 2015 to 2018, and who were awaiting a school placement.

The information requested by the Deputy for the years 2015 to 2018 is not readily available. My Department will reply directly to the Deputy as soon as this information has been compiled.

The purpose of the Special Education Home Tuition Scheme is to provide a compensatory educational service for children with special educational needs seeking an educational placement and provision is also made for early educational intervention for children with autism. The scheme also provides a compensatory educational service for children who, for a number of reasons such as chronic illness, are unable to attend school.

My Department also operates a Home Tuition Grant Scheme for children, other than those with special education needs, who do not have a school place, are without the offer of a school place and for whom a school place is being actively sought. The purpose of this Grant Scheme is to provide funding towards provision of a compensatory educational service for children who do not have a school place.

The Home Tuition Grant Schemes are an interim measure to provide for education until an educational placement becomes available. When a school placement becomes available the Home Tuition Grant will be discontinued.