Departmental Staff Data

Questions (87)

Seán Fleming

Question:

87. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Taoiseach the number of persons employed on an agency basis in his Department and in each agency under his aegis. [50812/19]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

My Department currently avails of a contract cleaning service as a temporary measure to ensure that service levels in my Department are maintained while a recruitment process for additional cleaning staff is undertaken. In this regard, there is currently one contract cleaner employed on an agency basis in my Department. There are no agency staff currently employed by the National Economic & Social Development Office (NESDO) which is the only body under the aegis of my Department.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (88)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

88. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach the budget and number of staff working in his Department in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form. [51080/19]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

The information requested in respect of the years 2014 - 2018 is detailed in the following table.

There are currently 221.65 whole time equivalent staff employed in my Department. The administration pay budget for 2019 is €16.046 million. The increase in staff numbers reflects the additional responsibilities assigned to my Department in respect of climate action, national security, policing reform and Brexit.

My Department funds a number of inquiries including the Moriarty Tribunal (Est. 1997), the Cregan Commission (Est. 2015) and the Cooke Commission (Est. 2017). The average cost of inquiries to my Department for the period 2014 - 2018 was €5.246 million per year. In 2017 the cost of inquiries to my Department was €8.955 million. Commissions of Investigation and Tribunals of Inquiry are independent in their operation.

Year

Total Outturn

Administration Pay Budget

Staff Numbers

2014

€19.900 million

€11.422 million

185

2015

€22.379 million

€12.336 million

199

2016

€22.585 million

€12.886 million

188

2017

€27.588 million

€13.926 million

203.5

2018

€26.513 million

€15.101 million

211.5

National Economic and Social Council

Questions (89)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

89. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach the status of the work of the National Economic and Social Council; and the reports and submissions made in 2018 and to date in 2019. [51081/19]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

The National Economic and Social Council is an independent statutory agency operating under the aegis of my Department. The Council analyses and reports on strategic policy matters relevant to Ireland's economic, social, environmental and sustainable development.

The NESC is a valuable forum where economic, social and environmental issues can be discussed between a variety of actors and Government Departments.

I appoint members to the Council under the National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) Act 2006 and the NESC (Alteration of Composition) Order 2010 - SI 603/ 2010.

Each of the following sectors nominates three representatives to the Council: business and employer interests, ICTU, farming and agricultural interests, community and voluntary sector, environmental sector.

A further six members are public servants, mainly Secretaries General, and must include a representative of my Department and the Department of Finance. The Secretary General of my Department is the Chair of the Council and an Assistant Secretary of my Department is the Deputy Chair.

There are also seven independent members on the Council.

The Council's work focuses on the strategic and longer-term view and its current work programme comprises four themes: Ireland’s Transition to a Low-Carbon and Digital Future; Reforms to the Irish Social Welfare System; Land-use, Land value and Urban development; and Climate Change.

Council Reports published in 2018 include "Urban Development Land, Housing and Infrastructure: Fixing Ireland’s Broken System" and "Moving from Welfare to Work: Low Work Intensity Households and the Quality of Supportive Services".

Council Reports published in 2019 include "Transport-Orientated Development: Assessing the Opportunity for Ireland" and "Climate Change Policy: Getting the Process Right".

Departmental Advertising Campaigns

Questions (90)

Niall Collins

Question:

90. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach the advertising campaigns, promotional events and launches planned by his Department for the first six months of 2020; and the budgeted costs of these campaigns. [51417/19]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

There are no advertising campaigns, promotional events and launches currently planned for the first six months of 2020. However my Department will participate in all appropriate advertising campaigns, events and launches as required, and in light of events such as, for example, developments on Brexit.

Data Sharing Arrangements

Questions (91)

Jack Chambers

Question:

91. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach the data sharing agreements his Department has in place with organisations that are not other Departments or State agencies; and the purpose of these data sharing agreements. [51434/19]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

The Department of the Taoiseach does not have any data sharing agreements in place with organisations other than Government Departments or state agencies.

Departmental Agencies Data

Questions (92)

James Browne

Question:

92. Deputy James Browne asked the Taoiseach the agencies or organisations under the remit of his Department; the number that have boards; the number of positions on each board; the number of vacant positions; and the agencies or organisations that have boards whose members have an obligation to appear before committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas. [51502/19]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

National Statistics Board

The National Statistics Board (NSB), with the agreement of the Taoiseach, has the general function of guiding the strategic direction of the Central Statistics Office. The Statistics Act 1993 provides for an eight-member NSB. Two are senior representatives of the Department of Finance and Department of the Taoiseach. Five persons are nominated, two by the Taoiseach and three by organisations representative of the users of official statistics and providers of information under the Act. The Director General of the CSO is an ex officio member of the Board.

There are currently no vacant positions on the Board.

In accordance with the Guidelines for Appointments to State Boards (2014), persons being proposed by the Taoiseach for appointment as Chairperson of the NSB may be required to make themselves available to the appropriate Oireachtas select committee to discuss the approach which they will take to their role as Chairperson and their views about the future contribution of the Board in question.

National Economic and Social Council

The National Economic and Social Council (NESC) is an independent statutory agency operating under the aegis of my Department. There are 28 members of the Council as currently constituted and there are no vacancies on the Council.

Section 32 of the NESDO Act 2006 provides that the Chief Officer of NESDO/Director of NESC shall give evidence to the Public Accounts Committee on the expenditure of the Office/NESC respectively and they shall also account for the performance of the functions of the Office/NESC to a Committee of one or both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Departmental Strategy Statements

Questions (93)

Micheál Martin

Question:

93. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the progress on reform measures outlined in appendix 1 of the Strategy Statement 2017-2020 of his Department. [51602/19]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

The details requested by the Deputy on the progress of reform measures outlined in Appendix 1 of my Department’s Strategy Statement are set out in the 2019 Annual Report on the Programme for a Partnership Government. This report is available on the Gov.ie website.

Departmental Advertising Campaigns

Questions (94)

Niall Collins

Question:

94. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the advertising campaigns, promotional events and launches planned by his Department for the first six months of 2020; the budgeted costs of these campaigns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51407/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The following table sets out the advertising campaigns that are currently planned for my Department for the first six months of 2020, together with the budgeted cost for each.

Campaign

Budgeted Cost

Newspaper Advertisement- Public notice for the Easter Sunday Commemoration Ceremony.

€5,000

Newspaper Advertisements- Public Safety Notices relating to Military Firing Ranges.

€28,945.71

Data Sharing Arrangements

Questions (95)

Jack Chambers

Question:

95. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the data sharing agreements his Department has in place with organisations that are not other Departments or State agencies; the purpose of these data sharing agreements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51424/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

I can confirm that my Department does not have any data sharing agreements in place with commercial operators or service providers.

My Department, as a data controller, does have contracts in place with a number of commercial operators to process data on behalf of the Department. Current ongoing arrangements in this regard relate to ICT support services and staff training. Processing by a data processor is carried out in line with Article 28 of the General Data Protection Regulation under a contract (or other legal act) between the data controller and data processor.

Freedom of Information Data

Questions (96)

Jack Chambers

Question:

96. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of freedom of information requests in which his Department made a decision to deny; and the number in which the Information Commissioner overturned the decision of his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019. [51458/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

My Department deals with requests for information in accordance with the Freedom of Information legislation. The table below sets out the information requested by the Deputy.

In 2016, the Department had one decision in relation to a request which was part-granted annulled by the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) and returned to the Department to undertake a fresh decision process. This decision was then referred to the OIC by the requestor and the decision of the Department was upheld by that Office.

-

2016

2017

2018

2019

Number of FOI Requests Refused

19

30

47

40

Number of FOI requests Part-Granted

29

37

34

42

Number of decisions overturned by the OIC.

1

0

0

0

In addition, one case is currently under consideration by the Office of the Information Commissioner.

Departmental Agencies Data

Questions (97)

James Browne

Question:

97. Deputy James Browne asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the agencies or organisations under the remit of his Department; the number that have boards; the number of positions on each board; the number of vacant positions; and the agencies or organisations that have boards whose members have an obligation to appear before committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas. [51492/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The only State body under the aegis of my Department is the Army Pensions Board. The Army Pensions Board is an independent statutory body established under the Army Pensions Act 1927 to provide for the payment of pensions, allowances and gratuities in certain circumstances to members of the Defence Forces. The 1927 Act specifies that the Board shall consist of a chairman and two ordinary members. The two ordinary members must be qualified medical practitioners, of whom one must be an officer of the Army Medical Corps. The chairman and the non-military ordinary member are appointed by the Minister for Defence with the concurrence of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. The Army Medical Corps ordinary member is appointed by the Minister for Defence on the recommendation of the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces.

There is no provision in the 1927 Act that requires members of the Board to appear before committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (98)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

98. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the budget and number of staff working in his Department in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51563/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The following table provides details of expenditure by my Department in respect of payroll for civil servants in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to 30 November 2019. The table also provides details of the number of civil servants employed by my Department in each of the years covered by the Deputy's question and at 30 November 2019. To reflect the fact that a number of civil servants are availing of schemes which permit reduced patterns of attendance, I have also included details of the whole time equivalent posts in my Department for each of the years in question. The expenditure includes provision for pay adjustments in accordance with the Public Service Stability Agreement.

Year

Payroll Expenditure

No. of Staff

2014

€17.053m

365 (343.04 WTE)

2015

€17.236m

354 (331.41 WTE)

2016

€17.107m

362 (339.12 WTE)

2017

€17.161m

351 (328.47 WTE)

2018

€17.651m

357 (338.71 WTE)

2019 (30 November)

€17.041m

371 (353.61 WTE)

Army Equitation School

Questions (99)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

99. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of horses attached to the Defence Forces equitation school in each of the past four years to date in 2019; if funding is being provided in 2020 for the provision of extra horses in the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51649/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The mission of the Army Equitation School is to promote the Irish horse through participation in international competition at the highest level. The Equitation School has discharged this task with considerable distinction down through the years and, through its participation and numerous successes in equitation events at home and abroad, it has successfully promoted the qualities of the Irish horse.

The Army Equitation School continues to source suitable Irish bred horses that meet the required standard as judged by the School's Horse Purchase Board. Horses are acquired through either purchase or lease agreement.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the purchase price of any horse varies depending on a number of factors including age, ability, temperament etc. The School’s budget allocation in 2020 for horse acquisitions is €350,000. The Deputy might note that in 2019, the School has acquired two new horses with plans for further acquisitions before the end of the year.

The number of horses attached to the Equitation School in 2019 and the previous four years are listed below:

Year

Number of Horses

2015

33

2016

37

2017

34

2018

39

2019

39

I am satisfied that the current arrangements allow the School to maintain its competitiveness at national and international events.

Naval Service Vessels

Questions (100)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

100. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of additional berths for Naval Service vessels at Haulbowline provided in each of the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; if funding has been secured in 2020 for the construction of extra berths at Haulbowline; if so, when the works will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51657/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

No additional berths were provided for Naval Service vessels at Haulbowline for the period in question.

Planning for the construction of extra berths is under consideration in the context of the Defence Forces Infrastructure Plan which is currently being developed between my Department and the Defence Forces.

In addition, I am pleased to advise the Deputy that my Department, together with the Defence Forces, have engaged Consultants to identity the extent of structural remedial works required to allow for the upgrade of Spencer Jetty. This investigative work is ongoing.

Defence Forces Allowances

Questions (101)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

101. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the estimated full-year cost if the patrol duty allowance increased by 15% based on 2018 figures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51658/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The estimated full year cost of Patrol Duty Allowance based on a 15% increase of 2018 costs would be some €2.7m. This figure also takes into account the restoration, with effect from 4 July 2019, of the 10% reduction in the allowance in question (under the Haddington Road Agreement).

Defence Forces Equipment

Questions (102)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

102. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if funding will be secured in 2020 for a new electric target range at the Defence Forces training centre; if so, when work will commence; and the estimated time for completion. [51698/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the procurement process for the acquisition of the target range and the associated civil works is now underway. I am advised that it is expected that the works will commence in Q3 2020, with an estimated time for completion of 12 months.

Human Rights

Questions (103)

Micheál Martin

Question:

103. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will contribute or speak at the next Foreign Affairs Council, FAC, meeting regarding the reports of one million persons being detained in centres in China. [51603/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The situation in the Xinjiang region in China was not on the agenda at the most recent meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, which took place yesterday, on 9 December.

However, as I have stated on a number of occasions in this House in recent weeks, most recently on 5 December, Ireland and our EU partners remain deeply concerned about the credible reports of the treatment of ethnic Uighurs and other minorities in the Xinjiang region, including arbitrary detentions, widespread surveillance and restrictions on freedom of religious belief.

We have raised our concerns with our Chinese counterparts in both bilateral and multilateral contexts, and, along with other EU partners, will continue to do so in the appropriate fora.

Good Friday Agreement

Questions (104)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

104. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade further to statements in Dáil Éireann on a case (details supplied), if he has made progress on the matter. [49994/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Citizenship and Identity provisions are central to the Good Friday Agreement and it is vital that they are upheld. The Government has consistently engaged with the British Government in support of this, and we will continue to do so.

It is important to say that Ms. Emma De Souza is an Irish citizen, and this is provided for and protected under the Good Friday Agreement.

I am meeting with the De Souzas and political representatives next week to discuss the case and the concerns it raises for the Citizenship and Identity provisions of the Agreement. I have recently written to Ms. De Souza to assure her that, consistent with our responsibilities as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, the Government will remain engaged on the issues raised by her case, and others of a similar nature, until a satisfactory resolution is found.

The Taoiseach has raised the De Souza case with the British Prime Minister and has confirmed that he will do so again following the UK general election.

I have myself discussed the matter with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on a number of occasions, most recently at our meeting on 14 November.

In February, then Prime Minister Theresa May acknowledged the serious concerns in this area and pledged to “review the issues around citizenship urgently to deliver a long term solution consistent with the letter and spirit” of the Agreement.

In this context, the decision of the Tribunal in the De Souza case on 14 October does not define the extent of the British Government’s obligations under the Good Friday Agreement.

In the Good Friday Agreement, the Governments “recognise the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both” and “confirm that their right to hold both British and Irish citizenship is accepted by both Governments” . The Good Friday Agreement therefore includes an explicit right to both Irish and British citizenship, and an explicit right of people to identify and be accepted as Irish or British or both.

It is imperative that people in Northern Ireland have confidence in these provisions of the Agreement, in letter and in spirit. To provide for that, a positive outcome to the review mandated by the British Government is now urgently needed.

I have also written to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the British Home Secretary to formally ask that the review that was mandated be urgently concluded to provide an outcome that is consistent with the letter and spirit of the Good Friday Agreement.

Sensitive and generous approaches by the British Government are needed to ensure that the right of people in Northern Ireland to identify as Irish, or British, or both is meaningfully provided for in all relevant policy areas.

The Government will continue to strongly pursue this with the British Government, as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement.

Good Friday Agreement

Questions (105)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

105. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on a matter (details supplied) on the choice of nationality; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51154/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Citizenship and Identity provisions are central to the Good Friday Agreement and it is vital that they are upheld. The Government has consistently engaged with the British Government in support of this, and we will continue to do so.

It is important to say that Ms. Emma De Souza is an Irish citizen, and this is provided for and protected under the Good Friday Agreement.

I am meeting with the De Souzas and political representatives next week to discuss the case and the concerns it raises for the Citizenship and Identity provisions of the Agreement. I have recently written to Ms. De Souza to assure her that, consistent with our responsibilities as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, the Government will remain engaged on the issues raised by her case, and others of a similar nature, until a satisfactory resolution is found.

The Taoiseach has raised the De Souza case with the British Prime Minister and has confirmed that he will do so again following the UK general election.

I have myself discussed the matter with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on a number of occasions, most recently at our meeting on 14 November.

In February, then Prime Minister Theresa May acknowledged the serious concerns in this area and pledged to “review the issues around citizenship urgently to deliver a long term solution consistent with the letter and spirit” of the Agreement.

In this context, the decision of the Tribunal in the De Souza case on 14 October last does not define the extent of the British Government’s obligations under the Good Friday Agreement.

In the Good Friday Agreement, the Governments “recognise the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both” and “confirm that their right to hold both British and Irish citizenship is accepted by both Governments” . The Good Friday Agreement therefore includes an explicit right to both Irish and British citizenship, and an explicit right of people to identify and be accepted as Irish, or British, or both.

It is imperative that people in Northern Ireland have confidence in these provisions of the Agreement, in letter and in spirit. To provide for that, a positive outcome to the review mandated by the British Government is now urgently needed.

I have also written to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the British Home Secretary to formally ask that the review that was mandated be urgently concluded to provide an outcome that is consistent with the letter and spirit of the Good Friday Agreement.

Sensitive and generous approaches by the British Government are needed to ensure that the right of people in Northern Ireland to identify as Irish, or British, or both, is meaningfully provided for in all relevant policy areas.

The Government will continue to strongly pursue this with the British Government, as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement.

Election Monitoring Missions

Questions (106, 124)

Paul Murphy

Question:

106. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the reason Ireland has scaled back by a third the number of observers it sent to the recent elections in Belarus compared to previous elections in 2015 and 2016; the names of the two observers sent; the basis on which they were selected; if his attention has been drawn to concerns that no open call issued to the official election roster for the mission; his plans to ensure future opportunities are advertised and filled on a transparent basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51163/19]

View answer

Seán Haughey

Question:

124. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the names of the observers appointed to the most recent election observer roster; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51763/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 106 and 124 together.

The EU and the OSCE-ODHIR regularly issue calls for the nomination of observers to participate in the election missions organised under their auspices. Member States of the EU and the OSCE respond to these calls according to their own practice and priorities and, where relevant, security considerations. It is not the case that every country sends observers to every mission. In the Irish case, each call is reviewed and responded to accordingly on a case-by-case basis, including with regard to the annual budget available for participation in election observation missions, the resources available to manage the process, the overall balance between EU and OSCE missions to which Ireland contributes, as well as other priorities.

The names of members of the volunteers on the election observation roster will be provided to the Chairperson of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence (JCFATD) once the Department has verified that the security vetting process is complete for all roster members.

On this occasion the call for expressions of interest for Belarus was not circulated to observers on the election observation roster As is regular practice across EU and OSCE Member States, it was decided to nominate two officials of the Department: the election observation Focal Point and the relevant desk officer. Officials do not receive the €600 pre-departure expense which is paid once in a twelve month period to roster members who participate in a mission.

Members of the roster are aware that the roster is voluntary; that the volunteers do not hold an entitlement to be selected for missions; and that the Department may decide not to circulate a particular mission for budgetary, resource or other reasons.