Residency Permits

Questions (206)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

206. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons assessed under the scheme to regularise the status of students who overstayed on visas in each of the years 2005 to 2010; the number regularised under the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53594/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Special Scheme for Non EEA nationals who held a Student Permission in the State during the period 01 January 2005 to 31 December 2010 was launched on 15 October 2018 and closed on 20 January 2019. Approximately 3,116 applications were received under this Scheme.

To date, a decision has been made on 3,106 cases of which 2,253 have been granted.   

The Deputy will appreciate that it is necessary to process these applications in full compliance with legal requirements and in accordance with the criteria of the Scheme.  The remaining applications are being  processed and decisions will be delivered as soon as possible.

Residency Permits

Questions (207)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

207. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the legal advice he received as to whether a large-scale regularisation of undocumented persons here would be possible under EU law in view of the approximately 40 such regularisations which have occurred in the EU in the past 15 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53595/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

While it would not be appropriate to comment on legal advice received, I can inform the Deputy that successive Governments have ruled out the possibility of amnesties or broad regularisation.  This is in line with our political commitments at EU level.  Ireland along with other Member States of the EU, has committed, under the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum (2008), to a case-by-case approach as opposed to mass regularisation. 

It is important to emphasise, that when it comes to people living here illegally, the only option for regularisation is on a case by case basis. Where people who have had an application for residence refused or who simply overstay their permission to reside in this country and do not apply for an extension to their permission, the State must be allowed to exercise its legal right to remove them from the State.   

It would be unwise to permit people to simply ignore our immigration laws and allow them and their families to remain here merely on the basis of the length of time that they have resided here without permission.   

In all cases, people must engage with the authorities if they wish to be permitted to remain here legally. I would encourage any person who is resident in the State without permission to contact my Department or their local immigration office and to take all appropriate steps to regularise their family's status.

Garda Resources

Questions (208)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

208. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the modernisation of the PULSE system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53602/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached record levels, with an allocation for 2019 of €1.76 billion and this is due to increase further to an unprecedented €1.88 billion for 2020. The capital budget for An Garda Síochána has also been significantly increased - a total of €92 million was provided this year, representing a 50% increase on capital investment in 2018. And capital investment will increase further to €116.5 million in 2020.

The capital investment being made in Garda ICT infrastructure is particularly significant and amounts to €342 million between 2016 and 2021. It is important to note that the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing An Garda Síochána. The allocation and efficient use of Garda resources is also a matter for the Commissioner, in light of identified operational demands.

An Garda Síochána has confirmed that ICT is an essential tool for supporting the day-to-day operations of the entire Garda workforce, currently including over 14,300 Garda members, over 2,900 Garda staff as well as Garda Reserves.

The Programme for a Partnership Government recognises that Gardaí must have the modern technology and resources necessary to detect and investigate crimes, and to prevent loss and harm to citizens and their property on a 24/7 basis. The key importance of technology was also clearly identified in the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.

In line with the implementation plan for that report, "A Policing Service for the Future", a new Garda Digital Strategy has been prepared. That Strategy "Connect" sets out a series of initiatives which will enable An Garda Síochána deploy the latest cutting edge technologies to better serve our communities and to assist in crime prevention and detection.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the modernisation of PULSE is an ongoing programme of work. A range of projects are being pursued in that regard. I am informed that some of the key ICT projects which are currently being advanced under the Garda Digital Strategy Connect are as follows:

- A new Property & Exhibits Management has been deployed and is being used to record all property and exhibits which come into Garda possession and to manage them throughout their lifecycle within the organisation from scene to court.

- A new Enterprise Content Management System has been introduced which provides An Garda Síochána with a single enterprise content repository for all documentation and certain multimedia content. A pilot of this system has been completed and rollout to all Divisions will be completed in early 2020.

- PULSE has been updated to include Individual Victim Assessment and Victim Engagement screens, to record information about the victim themselves and any Garda interaction or engagement with the victim. PULSE has also been enhanced with new incident management functionality which will enable Garda supervisors monitor the progress of incidents from initial data input right through to court outcome stage. This is an interim step pending the implementation of the new Crime Investigations Management System.

- A new Crime Investigations Management System will allow for the management of activities completed as part of an investigation, maintain a full history of the chain of events in an investigation, manage information gathered, and decisions/actions taken. It will also integrate closely with the new Document and Content Management System, the new Property and Exhibits Management System, and other Garda IT systems.

- A new e-Vetting system is operational which provides online processing of applications for Garda vetting for persons working with children and vulnerable persons. This system won the national eGovernment Award for 2017

- A new Anti-Money Laundering application (GoAML) which supports Financial Intelligence Units to counter Organised Crime and Terrorist Financing and Money Laundering was implemented in June 2017

- A new Intelligence Management System has been deployed and is operational to provide a single secure repository of sensitive intelligence gathered by operational members

- A Rosters and Duty Management System is currently being deployed on a phased basis across An Garda Síochána.

Further and as the Deputy is aware, the Mobility project is ongoing and involves the provision of modern technical facilities to permit Garda members to access PULSE-held data using smartphones. I am informed that the roll-out of such mobile access will expand in 2020 and beyond.

In addition, I understand that work to facilitate collaboration and integration with external agencies including as part of the Criminal Justice Hub initiative is also underway.

Garda Training

Questions (209)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

209. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí who have received specialist training to interview minors who have been victims of sexual abuse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53605/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Garda Commissioner is responsible under Section 26 (b) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 to carry on and manage and control generally the administration and business of the Garda Síochána, including by arranging for the recruitment, training and appointment of its members and civilian staff.

I have requested a report from the Commissioner in relation to the matter referred to by the Deputy and I will write to him directly when I receive it.

Departmental Staff Recruitment

Questions (210)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

210. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of new staff recruited to his Department from January 2019 to date; the title of each employment position; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53647/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the table below, which includes new staff recruited up to 16/12/2019. These totals list permanent and non-permanent staff including officers rehired from other departments due to transfers, mobility and promotions.

Grade

Number

Assistant Secretary

1

Principal Officer

8

Assistant Principal

19

Administrative Officer

7

Higher Executive Officer

11

Executive Officer

63

Clerical Officer

204

Service Officer

3

Grand Total

316

Garda Investigations

Questions (211)

Brendan Smith

Question:

211. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 350 of 11 November 2019, if there has been further progress in achieving a full and comprehensive investigation here and in Northern Ireland into the bombing in Belturbet, County Cavan in December 1972 which caused the death of two young persons and injuries to many others; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53683/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The bombing of Belturbet in December 1972 was an appalling act of violence, which claimed the lives of two innocent victims and injured others. I am very familiar with the facts of this case and I have the utmost sympathy for the families of the young people murdered on that day as well as for those injured in the bombing. Like the many other callous acts of violence committed during the Troubles, the bombing at Belturbet has inflicted untold suffering on the families of those who died and, indeed, all those affected.

The Garda Authorities have informed me that the bombing and the murders were comprehensively investigated by An Garda Síochána at the time. The Defence Forces provided expert assistance and the investigation involved close liaison with the authorities in Northern Ireland. Despite every avenue of enquiry being pursued at the time there was no evidence to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice. It remains a source of disappointment and frustration - most particularly to the families involved - that no one has been brought to account for these murders.

As I have previously said, with the passage of 47 years and in the absence of new evidence being forthcoming, I regret that we have to be pragmatic about the prospects for a successful prosecution in this case. Nonetheless, the investigation into the bombing and the two murders has not been closed and An Garda Síochána will pursue any new evidence or information that is made available. They would, of course, work in close co-operation with the PSNI where that could advance the investigation.

I would call on anybody with any information that may be relevant to this case, even at this remove, to bring it to the attention of the Garda Authorities.

Asylum Seekers Accommodation

Questions (212)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

212. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the questions raised regarding a centre (details supplied) for asylum seekers; the action he will take in response to the concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53705/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am aware of a report regarding the experience of residents within the accommodation centre referred to by the Deputy. 

I met with the NGO that commissioned the report and I discussed its findings with it.  The report is also being considered by my officials. 

All complaints regarding the operation of an accommodation centre are fully examined.  I am pleased to say that the vast majority of centres are working very well.   

In August, Minister Flanagan and I published new National Standards for accommodation centres. These Standards were developed by an Advisory Group including representatives from UNHCR Ireland and the NGO sector. They provide a framework for the continued development of person-centred, high-quality, safe and effective services and supports for residents living in our accommodation centres. Their purpose is to improve the quality of care and ensure consistency across all accommodation centres. They are being implemented through a tender process that has been running in all regions this year.  Tender specifications include “independent living”, where people and families can cook their own meals, as one of the main criteria for awarding contracts to accommodation providers.  The tender process will affect all contracted accommodation centres in 2021.

There is currently a comprehensive system in place for the inspection of all accommodation centres.  As part of this process unannounced inspections are carried out.  The accommodation centre referred to has been inspected 4 times to date in 2019 and 3 times in 2018. No major health and safety matters have been brought to my attention based on these inspections.

In addition to these inspections, regular clinics are held on site at all international protection accommodation centres by officials in my Department  at which residents can raise any concerns regarding their accommodation.  There is also a clearly defined complaints mechanism for residents as well as recourse to the Ombudsman’s Office.

Officials in my Department have and will continue to take into consideration all information brought to our attention and will, through the inspection process, ensure that all contractors are operating their centres in accordance with contractual obligations.

I should also like to inform the Deputy that the provision of services and supports for residents is kept under review. In that regard, a high level interdepartmental Group, established in my Department, is currently reviewing the implementation of the State's legal obligations under the EU Directive (2013/33/EU) including access to work and the services offered to applicants while their applications are being considered. In addition, an Advisory group, chaired by the former Secretary General of the European Commission, Dr. Catherine Day will advise on the development of a long-term approach to the provision of support including accommodation for people in the international protection process.  

Finally, I would also say that the instances of racially aggravated attacks, mentioned in the report as occurring outside the centre, are abhorrent and are not representative of the views of the vast majority of Irish people.  Indeed, any such incidents should be brought to the attention of An Garda Síochána.

Road Traffic Offences Data

Questions (213)

Catherine Martin

Question:

213. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to ensure the Courts Service provides a detailed breakdown of road traffic offences in an open format that would allow for the analysis of trends over date and by region in view of the fact that the absence of such data may be inhibiting evidence-based policy formation in achieving road safety goals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53712/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions and this includes the provision of information on the courts system.

I am informed by the Courts Service that, as part of its modernisation programme, it is prioritising investment in ICT infrastructure that will enhance the service provided to the public. I am further informed that it is expected that one of the results of this investment will be an enhanced statistical and data function that should facilitate the regular publication of data in respect of business before the Courts.

This is a welcome development and one which I hope will enhance the possibility for additional analysis and as a valuable input to evidence-based policy formation. I am informed that in the interim, the Courts Service is examining the feasibility of preparing useful data, on a periodic basis, using existing systems.

The Deputy may also be interested to know that the Courts Service already publishes some data in relation to road traffic at the following addresses.

Data relating to road traffic for the Circuit Criminal Court: http://courts.ie/Courts.ie/Library3.nsf/pagecurrent/1F3CEE207A7A353F802580290053EDBB?opendocument

Data relating to road traffic for the District Criminal Court:

http://www.courts.ie/Courts.ie/Library3.nsf/pagecurrent/45FC467C4F5C9F598025802500373869?opendocument

As the Deputy may be aware, the RSA also publishes a certain amount of data relating to road safety at the following address https://www.rsa.ie/en/RSA/Road-Safety/RSA-Statistics/.

Prison Service Data

Questions (214)

Catherine Martin

Question:

214. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans for the future of Arbour Hill Prison, Dublin 7 and the possible rehousing of long-stay prisoners; and the details of the prison population by years served in Arbour Hill. [53713/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Irish Prison Service that under the Irish Prison Service National Flow Plan, Arbour Hill is designated for use as a prison for sex offenders. The Prison Estate operates in a dynamic operational environment and I understand that the National Flow Plan is subject to ongoing review and amendment, in line with operational needs.

However, I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that there are currently no plans to alter the current use of the prison.

The following table, as conveyed to me by the Irish Prison Service, is a breakdown of the prison population in Arbour Hill by years served, correct as at 16/12/19:

Years Served to Date

Total

< 1 Yr

5

1 to < 2 Yrs

13

2 to < 3 Yrs

23

3 to < 4 Yrs

24

4 to < 5 Yrs

14

5 to < 6 Yrs

11

6 to < 7 Yrs

5

7 to < 8 Yrs

1

8 to < 9 Yrs

3

9 to < 10 Yrs

4

10 to < 15 Yrs

10

15 + Yrs

20

TOTAL

133

Migrant Integration

Questions (215)

Catherine Martin

Question:

215. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if funding is provided for integration projects undertaken with primary or secondary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53716/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

My Department operates a number of funding schemes in the area of Integration, which includes the integration of refugees.  A small grants scheme provides for grants of up to €5,000 from the Communities Integration Fund and a national funding programme to promote the integration of migrants provides for larger grants paid over a period of 3 years.   

While there is currently no integration funding directly aimed at primary and secondary schools, my Department’s Community Integration Fund was open to community groups, including schools, to apply.

Several family resource centres, community resource centres, sports clubs and arts/drama groups were also successful in their application for funding under the Community Integration Fund.  Many of these projects benefited children.

My Department also funds the Irish Traveller Movement’s (ITM) Yellow Flag programme, which is an integration project operating in both Primary and Secondary Schools. The ITM Yellow Flag programme received funding under the call for proposals for the 2016 - 2019 Asylum Migration Integration Fund (AMIF)  to the amount of €150,410 (75% of total budget of €200,547).  They were also successful in 2019 for funding for a further 3 years to September 2022 to the amount of €156,750 (75% of total budget of €209,000).

Garda Retirements

Questions (216)

Martin Heydon

Question:

216. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of retirements from An Garda Síochána in each year of the past decade and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53724/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, retirement of members of An Garda Síochána is governed by law, which sets the mandatory retirement age for all members at 60 years of age. Members of An Garda Síochána who joined prior to 1 April 2004 may retire on full pension at 50 years of age once they have served at least 30 years and those who joined on or after 1 April 2004 may retire on full pension at 55 years of age with 30 years service. Gardaí have the option of continuing to serve until they reach 60, subject to the Garda Commissioner being satisfied that they are fully competent and available to undertake their duties.

I have set out below the number of retirements in each of the years 2009-2018 and to date in 2019, as provided to me by the Garda authorities. The Deputy will note that these figures include compulsory and voluntary retirements, as well as cost neutral early retirements.

Year

Total Retirements

2019* as of 13 December

223

2018

218

2017

226

2016

228

2015

238

2014

249

2013

296

2012

424

2011

438

2010

363

2009

722

I am advised by the Garda authorities that projected departures are kept under continuous review and that the level of recruitment is adjusted as necessary in order to maintain the desired strength.

As the Deputy will appreciate, in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, as amended, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for carrying on and managing and controlling generally the administration and business of An Garda Síochána, including by arranging for the recruitment and training of the members of An Garda Síochána.

Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, approximately 3,000 probationers have attested and been assigned to frontline policing duties nationwide, including the 197 new probationers that attested on 29 November. We now have over 14,300 Garda members nationwide and we are on track to reach the Government's target of a total of 15,000 Garda members, as part of an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 by 2021.

In the same period, Garda staff numbers have increased significantly through the ongoing process of civilianisation. Garda staff numbers have increased from 2,055 at the end of 2014 to over 2,900 today. The accelerated recruitment of Garda staff is facilitating the redeployment of Gardaí from administrative to mainstream policing duties where their training and expertise can be used to best effect.

Taken together, this increase in Garda and civilian staff numbers means a significant increase in operational policing hours nationwide in recent years.

The unprecedented funding of €1.882 billion provided to An Garda Síochána in Budget 2020 will also allow for the recruitment of up to 700 new Gardaí and additional Garda staff next year. The appropriate balance between Gardaí and Garda staff will be for the Garda Commissioner to determine, on the basis of operational need. The ongoing recruitment will provide the Commissioner with the resources needed to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí to deliver a visible, effective and responsive policing service nationwide.

Departmental Advertising Data

Questions (217)

Robert Troy

Question:

217. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount spent on advertising in 2018 and to date in 2019 on Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53748/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has primary responsibility for public information campaigns in respect of Brexit and I understand that this Department will respond to the Deputy directly. The Department of Justice and Equality did not incur any expenditure in respect of advertising for Brexit.

Ministerial Meetings

Questions (218)

Robert Troy

Question:

218. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the meetings he has held with Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport regarding extending the eligibility criteria for asylum seekers to apply for a driver licence. [53755/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The issuing of driving licences is primarily a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and the relevant agencies under his remit. I understand that the issue is currently being examined by his Department.

I understand that the issue is not straightforward and requires careful consideration of both EU and national driver licensing law. In order to assist in the matter, my Department sought background information from the European Migration Network as to the interpretation and implementation of the relevant EU law, Article 12 of Directive 2006/126/EC on driving licences (recast), in other member states. This information has been provided to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Officials in our Departments will be meeting shortly to seek to advance this matter.

Where there are any changes to the application system as it may pertain to international protection applicants, this will be communicated by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport accordingly, and by the relevant authorities who have oversight and responsibility for the issuance of driving licenses in the State.

Judicial Council

Questions (219)

Robert Troy

Question:

219. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will publish the membership of the Judicial Council; and if the chairperson has given a timeline as to when the guidelines for general damages will be published [53778/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Judicial Council was established with effect from 17 December 2019.  As outlined in section 8 of the Judicial Council Act 2019, all members of the judiciary are members of the Judicial Council.

Committees of the Judicial Council will be established by the Council having regard to the timelines set out in the Judicial Council Act 2019. The Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee is to be established no later than 3 months after the first meeting of the Judicial Council itself, and that Committee is to meet no later than one month after its establishment. The Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee will be responsible for drawing up personal injuries guidelines for adoption by the Council.  Section 18(4) of the Judicial Council Act 2019 provides that the “Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee shall submit the first draft of personal injuries guidelines to the Board not later than 6 months after the date on which the Committee stands established.”

On 28 November the Chief Justice announced the membership of the Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee which is to be chaired by Ms Justice Mary Irvine.  While the Committee cannot be formally established until the first meeting of the Judicial Council, a “committee designate”  held its first meeting during the course of the week beginning 1 December to embark upon appropriate planning and preliminary work.

Personal Injury Claims

Questions (220)

Robert Troy

Question:

220. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the personal injuries payouts will be published for properties under the ownership of his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form. [53796/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Treasury Management Agency is designated as the State Claims Agency and provides claims and risk management functions in respect of the General Indemnity Scheme applying to Government Departments and other State bodies.

Details of individual personal injury pay-outs are not published as they contain information that is of a sensitive and confidential nature. However, the table below, provided by the State Claims Agency, contains aggregate amounts in respect of the claims that have been finalised against my Department and its agencies, including personal injury claims.

The material provided covers the amounts paid during the period 2016 to 2018, and are in respect of all payments made over the lifecycle of the claims. As figures are compiled retrospectively, information with respect to 2019 is not yet available.

Year

Number of Claims

Paid Total

2016

9

€20,496

2017

6

€195,355

2018

7

€4,466

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (221)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

221. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the capital expenditure by his Department in County Louth and east County Meath by location and facility provided or commenced in each of the past four years; the location and purpose of each such expenditure; the new and improved services provided as a result; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53847/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the information that he has requested is not generally held on a per-locality basis and it is not possible to provide a comprehensive answer across the activities of my Department for the time period specified.

However, I wish to note that €10.1m was made available in 2017 in respect of the construction of a state of the art courthouse in Drogheda comprising of two courtrooms, which facilitate Circuit and District Court business. This was one of a number of courthouse projects delivered as part of the Courts Public Private Partnership Bundle project.

I can further inform the Deputy that Drogheda Garda station is among the stations undergoing major works under the Building and Refurbishment Programme, which is progressed by the Garda authorities working in close cooperation with the Office of Public Works (OPW), which is responsible for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation. Additional maintenance spending is undertaken by the OPW and An Garda Síochána on the upkeep of the stations across County Louth and east County Meath under this programme.

The resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached record levels, with an allocation for 2019 of €1.76 billion and this is due to increase further to an unprecedented €1.88 billion for 2020. The capital budget for An Garda Síochána has also been significantly increased - a total of €92 million was provided this year, representing a 50% increase on capital investment in 2018. And capital investment will increase further to €116.5 million in 2020. Capital funding between 2016 and 2021 includes investment of €342 million in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021; and investment of €46 million in the Garda Fleet over the same period.

Brexit Supports

Questions (222)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

222. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the uptake of Brexit-related supports under the remit of her Department, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53462/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

Since the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, my Department and its agencies have worked to put in place a wide range of Brexit supports for businesses. My Department's focus is on helping firms to improve their competitiveness and innovation, and to diversify markets.

The suite of enterprise and finance supports now in place covers the spectrum of potential Brexit impacts and aims to assist businesses in identifying key risk areas and the practical preparatory actions to be taken over the coming months.  

Since 2016, my Department and its agencies have worked to prepare Irish businesses for the potential challenges posed by Brexit by helping them to assess their preparedness and helping them to implement practical action plans in areas such as customs, supply chain and sourcing, and financial management. While we cannot yet know the form that Brexit will take, these measures aim to assist businesses in identifying and managing key risk areas and develop practical preparatory actions regardless of the circumstances of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.  

The Government’s suite of Brexit supports includes preparedness vouchers, consultancy and mentoring supports, tariff advisory services, research on new markets and innovation supports through Enterprise Ireland, the Local Enterprise Offices and InterTradeIreland. Supports and advice are also available from the National Standards Authority of Ireland, the Health and Safety Authority, IDA Ireland, Revenue, Skillnet Ireland, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, Bord Bia and Fáilte Ireland.

The most immediate consequences of a hard Brexit are likely to be currency movements, supply chain constraints, delays, duties and tariffs. In the first instance, there will be a strain on the working capital position of businesses.

Of my Department's suite of supports, the €300m Brexit Loan Scheme is designed to address working capital challenges brought about by Brexit. Under the Scheme, loans of up to €1.5 million are available at a rate of 4% or less, with loans of up to €500,000 available on an unsecured basis. By contrast, the €300m Future Growth Loan Scheme is designed to support strategic long-term investment in a post-Brexit environment.

InterTradeIreland also plays a major role as part of Ireland’s Brexit response and offers Brexit-related advisory services to eligible businesses. So far this year, more than 5,000 SMEs have directly engaged with the Brexit Advisory Service.

ITI offers Brexit Planning Voucher and Brexit Implementation Voucher schemes, which enable businesses to get professional advice on how best to plan, prepare and implement for the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. These supports help businesses obtain advice on specific areas such as tariffs, currency management, regulatory and customs issues and movement of labour, goods and services.

ITI Brexit Planning Vouchers are worth up to €2,250 (inclusive of VAT) each. ITI’s Brexit Implementation Voucher provides financial support up to £5,000/€5,625 (inclusive of VAT), with InterTradeIreland paying 50%. This allows businesses to implement critical changes making them better prepared to deal with a new trading relationship.  

In August, ITI launched a new advertising campaign and a new online resource to encourage and assist firms in preparing for Brexit. The online “Bitesize Brexit” resource is a one-stop-shop for cross-border traders, presenting information in easily digestible segments and includes specific actions businesses should take in preparing for Brexit.  

Enterprise Ireland also recently launched 12 ‘Brexit Essential’ questions aimed at helping exporting businesses further prepare and take action ahead of the UK’s impending withdrawal from the EU.

My Department, in association with the Department of Education and Skills and key industry partners, has also launched a new support measure to help customs agents, intermediaries and affected Irish businesses develop the capacity to deal with the additional customs requirements due to the UK’s departure from the EU. The new initiative, called Clear Customs, comprises a training programme and a customs financial support to assist with the costs of recruiting and assigning new staff to customs roles.  

In addition, the Government has held over 100 Brexit information seminars and events since last September. I also have been convening regular roundtable discussions with the main retail grocery and distribution players since December of last year to better understand contingency planning within the sector on food supply. Revenue, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Dublin Port and relevant Government Departments also attend these meetings.  

With the deadline for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU having now shifted to 31 January, and with the general election now behind us, Brexit continues to represent a significant challenge for businesses in Ireland. I want businesses, particularly those most impacted by Brexit, to know my Department and its agencies are here to help.

Scheme  

Uptake at 6 December 2019 unless otherwise specified  

Brexit Loan Scheme

919 applications for eligibility received, 828 approved by SBCI, 219 loans progressed to sanction at bank level to a value of €47.5 million.

Of the approved applications to date, 160 were reapplications as eligibility expires after six months.

Data as of the 12th December 2019

Future Growth Loan Scheme

2,506 applications for eligibility received, 2,350 approved by SBCI, 650 loans progressed to sanction at bank level. Total value of loans sanctioned was €124 million.

Data as of the 12th December 2019

Enterprise Ireland Brexit Scorecard - online platform for Irish companies to self-assess their exposure to Brexit

6,975 Brexit Scorecards have been completed. 1,768 LEO clients have completed the scorecard.

Enterprise Ireland Be Prepared Grant

236 Be Prepared Grants have been approved

Enterprise Ireland Market Discovery Fund - A support to EI clients to research new markets

215 companies have been approved under this initiative

Enterprise Ireland Prepare to Export Scorecard   

5,833 Prepare to Export Scorecards have been completed

Enterprise Ireland Customs Insights Online Course

1,937 Customs Insights Course participants

Enterprise Ireland Agile Innovation Fund - Gives rapid fast-track access to innovation funding

75 Agile Innovation projects have been approved

Enterprise Ireland Brexit Advisory Clinics

16 Brexit Advisory Clinics have been run with over 1,200 in attendance

Enterprise Ireland Brexit “Act On Programme” – A support funding the engagement of a consultant to devise report with recommendations to help clients address weaknesses and improve resilience

334 “Act on” Plans have been completed

Enterprise Ireland Strategic Consultancy Grant – A grant to assist EI clients to hire   a strategic consultant for a set period

1,095 Strategic Consultancy Grants have been approved

Enterprise Ireland Clear Customs Grant

219 applications have been made to access financial support through the scheme

Local Enterprise Office Technical Assistance Grant for Micro Export - an incentive for LEO clients to explore and develop new market opportunities

828 clients were approved assistance under the Technical Assistance Grant

Local Enterprise Office LEAN for Micro - The LEO Lean4Micro offer was developed in collaboration between the EI Lean department and the LEOs to tailor the EI Lean offer for LEO micro enterprise clients

499 LEO clients have participated in the programme

Local Enterprise Office Mentoring

1,271 mentoring participants solely focused on Brexit

Local Enterprise Office Brexit Seminars/Events

6,763 participants at the Brexit Information events  

Customs Training Participants

1,573 participants attended Customs Training

InterTradeIreland Brexit Advisory Service

5,402 SMEs have directly engaged with the Brexit Advisory Service in 2019. This is in addition to the 4,175   engagements in 2018.

InterTradeIreland Brexit Planning Vouchers

There have been 2,083 applications, with 1,799 approved and 8 still pending assessment.

InterTradeIreland Brexit Implementation Vouchers

There have been 58 applications, with 44 approved.

Pilot Online Retail Scheme administered by Enterprise Ireland

11 retailers were awarded funding in March 2019 under Call1. A second call of the Scheme closed on the 31 July 2019. 29 retailers were awarded funding under Call 2. The Pilot Online Retail Scheme has now concluded.

Departmental Staff Recruitment

Questions (223)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

223. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of new staff recruited to her Department from January 2019 to date; the title of each employment position; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53636/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

Staffing resources are an ongoing priority to ensure my Department’s continued ability to facilitate the wide mission and volume of work in a range of challenging policy areas. This will continue with ongoing day-to-day review of the appropriate staffing mix across the Department in response to known and probable priority areas.

The number of new staff recruited to my Department from January 2019 to date and the title of each employment position is set in tabular form below.

Grade

Number

Director of the Workplace Relations Commission

1

Registrar of the Work Place Relations Commission

1

Principal Officer

3

Assistant Principal Officer

13

Statistician

1

Higher Executive Officer

8

Legal Adviser

1

Administrative Officer

13

Executive Officer

20

Clerical Officer

33

Temporary Clerical Officer

19

Service Officer

0

Service Attendant

3

Total

116

Ministerial Meetings

Questions (224)

Robert Troy

Question:

224. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the meetings she has had with her EU counterparts since her appointment, in tabular form. [53658/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

The EU agenda has always been important for Ireland and continues to be a priority. Since taking up office on 30 November 2017, my Ministerial colleagues, Ministers of State Pat Breen and John Halligan, and I have worked closely with a range of EU partners.

The tables below list the various meetings of the Council of Ministers in both Trade and Competitiveness configurations, as well as the various bilateral meetings that we have attended. Over the same period, we have engaged with EU like-minded counterparts on an informal basis, usually on the margins of Council meetings.

My Ministerial colleagues and I will continue to engage with our EU counterparts on an ongoing basis at numerous EU related events. 

Minister Heather Humphreys

Date of Meeting

Name & Title EU Counterpart

2018

 

25/01/2018

House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee chaired by Hilary Benn MP

27/02/2018

Informal Trade Council, Sofia

27/02/2018

Didier Reynders, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs & European Affairs

27/02/2018

Greg Hands, Minister of State in the Department for International Trade, UK

15 & 16/05/2018

Ann Linde, Minister for EU Affairs and Trade, Sweden

22/05/2018

Formal Trade Council, Brussels

22/05/2018

Cecilia Malmstrom, European Commissioner for Trade

22/05/2018

Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture

24/05/2018

Charles Michel, Belgian Prime Minister

13/06/2018

Claire Perry, Minister of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, UK

13/06/2018

Greg Hands, Minister of State in the Department for International Trade, UK

13/06/2018

Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade and Minister of State in Department for International Trade, UK

4 & 5/10/2018

Informal Trade Council, Innsbruck

05/10/2018

George Hollingbery, Minister of State for Trade Policy, UK

05/10/2018

Ann Linde, Minister for EU Affairs and Trade, Sweden

29/11/2018

Formal Competitiveness (Internal Market and Industry) Council

29/11/2018

Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture

2019

 

24/1/2019

Margarethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition

12/07/2019

Claudia Dorr-Voss, State Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, Germany

01/10/2019

Informal Trade Council, Brussels

01/10/2019

Phil Hogan, EU Trade Commissioner-Elect

 

Minister Pat Breen

Date of Meeting

Name & Title EU Counterpart

2017

 

30/11/2017

Lord Henley, Minister for Business, UK

11/12/2017

Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade and Minister of State in Department for International Trade, UK

10 – 13/12/2017

Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Netherlands

10 - 13/12/2017

Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Secretary of State to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, France

2018

 

12/03/2018

Formal Competitiveness (Internal Market and Industry) Council, Brussels

12/03/2018

Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society

12/03/ & 28/05/2018

Lord Henley, UK Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

14/03/2018

Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, Scotland

10/04/2018

Margot James, Minister of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, UK

15/05/2018

Mona Keijzer, State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Netherlands

28/05/2018

Formal Competitiveness (Internal Market and Industry) Council

28/05/2018

Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Germany

28/05/2018

Tomas Huner, Minister for Industry and Trade, Czech Republic

11/06/2018

Jerzy Kwiecinski, Minister of Development and Investment, Poland

11/06/2018     

Jadwiga Emilewicz, Minister of Enterprise and Technology, Poland

12/06/2018     

Marcin Ociepa, Minister of Entrepreneurship and Technology, Poland

12/06/2018     

Tomáš Hüner, Minister for Industry and Trade, Czech Republic

13/06/2018     

Vladamir Bartl, Czech Republic Deputy Minister for Foreign Trade and European Union,

14/06/2018     

Ales Chmelar, State Secretary for EU Affairs, Czech Republic

27/06/2018

Margarete Schrambock, Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs, Austria

16/07/2018

Informal Competitiveness (Internal Market and Industry) Council

22/08/2018

Ivan McKee, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, Scotland

09/11/2018

Formal Trade Council, Brussels

09/11/2018

George Hollingbery, Minister of State for Trade Policy, UK

2019

 

15/04/2019

Anna Linde, Minister for Foreign Trade, Sweden

27/05/2019

Formal Competitiveness (Internal Market and Industry) Council, Brussels

12/06/2019

Tanil Kiik, Minister of Social Affairs, Estonia

12/06/2019

Kazimierz Kuberski, Deputy Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy, Republic of Poland

05/07/2019

Informal Competitiveness (Internal Market and Industry) Council, Helsinki

05/07/2019

Simon Kollerup, Minister for Business, Denmark

05/07/2019

Karel Havlícek, Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade

16/07/2019

 Dr. Eurico Brilhante Dias, Portuguese Secretary for Internationalisation

26/09/2019

Formal Competitiveness (Internal Market and Industry) Council, Brussels

26/09/2019

Darko Horvat, Minister for Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts, Croatia

26/09/2019

Mona Keijzer, State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, Netherlands

26/09/2019

 Ibrahim Baylan, Minister for Enterprise, Sweden

02/11/2019

Xiana Margarida Méndez Bértolo, Secretary of State for Business, Spain

10/12/2019

Marcin Ociepa, Minister for Entrepreneurship and Technology, Poland

 

Minister John Halligan

Date of Meeting

Name & Title EU Counterpart

2018

 

02/02/2018

Informal Competitiveness (Research) Council

02/02/2018 & 10/05/2018     

Minister Sam Gyimah, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, UK

02/02/2018     

Minister Mika Lintilä, Minister of Economic Affairs, Finland

02/02/2018     

Minister Costas Fotakis, Minister for Research and Innovation, Greece

17/07/2018

Informal Competitiveness (Research) Council

17/07/2018

Piotr Dardzinski, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Poland

17/07/2018

Nicolae Burnete, Minister of Research and Innovation, Romania

28/09/2018

Formal Competitiveness (Research) Council, Brussels

30/11/2018

Formal Competitiveness (Research) Council, Brussels

30/11/2018

Ingrid van Engelshoven, Minister of Education and Science, Netherlands

2019

 

13/02/2019

Chris Skidmore, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, UK

19/02/2019

Formal Competitiveness (Research) Council, Brussels

14/03/2019

Minister Claude Meisch, Minister for Education, Childhood & Youth (LUX)

03/04/2019

Informal Competitiveness (Research) Council, Bucharest 

27/06/2019

Commissioner Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science & Innovation

04/07/2019

Informal Competitiveness (Research) Council, Helsinki

04/07/2019

Minister Chris Skidmore, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research & Innovation (UK)

26/09/2019

Minister Blazenka Divjak, Minister of Science & Education Croatia

27/09/2019

Formal Competitiveness (Research) Council, Brussels

 

Health and Safety Authority Data

Questions (225)

Robert Troy

Question:

225. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the full complement of staff at the Health and Safety Authority; and the areas in which vacancies exist. [53668/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

The Health and Safety Authority was established in 1989 under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 1989.

The Authority has a broad remit which includes the regulation and promotion of the safety, health and welfare of people at work and those affected by work activities; the regulation and promotion of the safe manufacture, use, placing on the market, trade and transport of chemicals; acting as a surveillance authority in relation to relevant single European market legislation; and acting as the National Accreditation Body for Ireland.

The Authority currently employs 180 staff which equates to 172.3 whole time equivalent staff.

In addition, the Authority is carrying a number of vacancies in sanctioned posts which include inspectorate posts, administrative posts and accreditation officer posts. The Authority has experienced some delays in 2019 in filling sanctioned posts due to a competitive recruitment market. The Authority is, however, continuing to meet the main objectives of its annual Programme of Work.