EU Funding

Questions (108)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

108. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will meet with and engage with the Northern and Western Regional Assembly on plans to change the way in which the European Regional Development Fund is managed in view of the downgrading of the region by the European Commission and in further view of the unique challenges the region faces as a region in transition and the urgent need to take advantage of the status while EU co-funding will be at 60%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26152/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

A decision will be made shortly regarding the role of Managing Authorities for the 2021 - 2027 European Regional Development Funds (ERDF) Operational Programmes. In the meantime, the three Regional Assemblies, including the Northern Western Regional Assembly, are playing a very active role in the process of programming for the next round of ERDF, in conjunction and cooperation with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The Northern Western Regional Assembly, along with the other two Regional Assemblies, are also represented on the Partnership Process Steering Group, which guides and advises on the programming of all of the European Structural Investment Fund (ESIF) programmes, through the development process of the Partnership Agreement for the period 2021 – 2027.

The Steering Group oversaw the development of a Needs Analysis by Indecon Economic Consultants, which specifically looked at regional development needs. This report has a chapter focused on the needs in the Northern Western region. This chapter was included in the report in recognition of the change in the region's status under the European Commission's methodology to a region in transition, and the unique challenges faced in the region.

The Northern and Western Regional Assembly and the other two Regional Assemblies are also part of a working group which launched a consultation process to inform the selection of priorities for the use of EU cohesion funding for the next period. As part of this consultation a webinar was held on 28 July, breakout sessions were organised on a regional basis, and this included a focus on the main priorities of the individual Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies. The working group is currently preparing a report, the primary purpose of which is to present the findings and analysis from the public consultation submissions, including the qualitative messages from the national workshop event conducted 28 July. This report, along with the Needs Analysis, adopted by the PPSG in July, will inform the ERDF programming for 2021 – 2027.

Garda Stations

Questions (109)

Brendan Smith

Question:

109. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the timescale for the refurbishment or upgrading of a Garda station (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26215/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

Emyvale Garda Station was badly damaged by an arson attack in October 2019 and the existing station was demolished.

The Office of Public Works, working with Án Garda Siochána, identified that the former Married Quarters in Emyvale may meet the operational accommodation requirements as an interim measure. The planning process to facilitate this was commenced earlier this year and the consultation process raised a number of issues.

Following a review of the consultation process the Office of Public Works has provided a report to Án Garda Siochána, detailing a number of options and is awaiting their formal instructions on how to proceed.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (110)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

110. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht the reason all senior amateur adult club championship GAA games can continue but not senior amateur adult soccer games under level 3 Covid-19 guidelines. [26197/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Media)

At its meeting on Thursday 17 September, the Expert Group on Return to Sport, which is chaired by my Department, considered a range of questions from the sporting bodies on the Government’s Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with Covid-19, including a request for clarification as to the interpretation of ‘Club Championship’.

The Expert Group advised the sporting bodies that in the Plan, Club Championship refers to ongoing senior national competition or equivalent. Senior in this context means adult competition. The Expert Group were clear that no exemption would apply in the case of underage competition at any level. Sport Ireland has communicated this clarification to the sporting bodies.

The Sports Bodies are applying this guidance as it relates to their own competitions, however, in recognition of the need for everyone to reduce their social contacts in the capital, the Expert Group has asked the sporting bodies to consider what fixtures and events scheduled in Dublin in the coming weeks can be postponed without unfairly impacting on athletes and teams competing in national championships. All of these measures are aimed at reversing the deeply concerning trend of the virus in Dublin, by encouraging the adherence to public health advice, in particular, to reduce congregation.

Gaeltacht Policy

Questions (111)

Mairéad Farrell

Question:

111. Deputy Mairéad Farrell asked the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht the identity of the purchaser for each of the public lands and properties listed in the response to Parliamentary Question No. 347 of 8 September 2020 relating to the number and location of all sales of lands and property owned by Údarás na Gaeltachta in County Galway in the past ten years. [26037/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Media)

As is the case with other public bodies, Údarás na Gaeltachta disposes of property and other assets from time to time in accordance with State policies and guidelines. Such disposals are reported and appropriately disclosed in the organisation’s annual financial statements.

The table below outlines the properties located in County Galway that have been disposed of by Údarás na Gaeltachta in the last ten years. I am informed by Údarás na Gaeltachta that its board approved all of the disposals listed below as per the appropriate procedure. While details of individual purchasers and sales are not disclosed due to the confidential, personal and commercial sensitivity of such information, Údarás na Gaeltachta has confirmed details as to the procedure followed and purchaser profile in each case.

Seoladh/Location

Cur síos/Description

Modh díolacháin - próifíl an cheannaitheora

Sale procedure - purchaser profile

Lochán Beag, Indreabhán

Talamh / Land

Fógraíodh ar an margadh oscailte – díolta ar chonradh príobháideach le duine aonair

Advertised on open market – sold by private treaty to private individual

Baile an tSléibhe, Ros an Mhíl

Teach / House

Fógraíodh ar an margadh oscailte – díolta ar chonradh príobháideach le duine aonair

Advertised on open market – sold by private treaty to private individual

An Cheathrú Rua

Teach / House

Fógraíodh ar an margadh oscailte - díolta ag ceant le duine aonair

Advertised on open market – sold by auction to private individual

An Cheathrú Rua

Teach / House

Fógraíodh ar an margadh oscailte – díolta ar chonradh príobháideach le duine aonair

Advertised on open market – sold by private treaty to private individual

Cill Chiaráin

Aonad Gnó / Business Unit

2 Luacháil neamhspleách - díolta ar chonradh príobháideach le cliaintchomhlacht

2 independent valuations – sold by private treaty to clientcompany

Inis Mór

Aonad Gnó / Monarcha / Business Unit / Factory

2 Luacháil neamhspleách - díolta ar léas fad téarmach le cliaintchomhlacht

2 independent valuations – sold by longterm lease to clientcompany

Inis Mór

Aonad Gnó / Monarcha / Business Unit /Factory

Fógraíodh ar an margadh oscailte - níor tháinig aon tairiscint. Luacháil neamhspleách déanta, tairiscint ó eagraíocht pobail glactha do thionscnamh fiontar sóisialta - díolachán ar chonradh príobháideach

Advertised on open market – no offers received. Independent valuation completed, offer by community organisation accepted for social enterprise project – sale by private treaty

An Cheathrú Rua

Aonad Gnó / Business Unit

2 Luacháil neamhspleách – díolta ar léas fad téarmach le cliaint chomhlacht

2 independent valuations – sold by longterm lease to clientcompany

Ros an Mhíl

Talamh / Land

2 Luacháil neamhspleách – díolta ar léas fadtéarmach le cliaint chomhlacht

2 independent valuations – sold by longterm lease to clientcompany

An Fhairche

Talamh / Land

Spéis léirithe ag eagraíocht charthanachta idirnáisiúnta - luacháil neamhspleách faighte, socrú speisialta déanta leo chun togra carthanachta a ligeann chun cinn – díolachán ar léas fadtéarmach

Expression of interest by international charitable organisation – independent valuation completed, specific arrangement made to allow charitable project to progress – sale by longterm lease

An Spidéal

Teach / House

Fógraíodh ar an margadh oscailte - díolta ar chonradh príobháideach le duine aonair

Advertised on open market – sold by private treaty to private citizen

An Cheathrú Rua

Aonad Gnó / Business Unit

2 Luacháil neamhspleách - díolta ar léas fadtéarmach le heagraíocht pobail

2 independent valuations – sold by longterm lease to community organisation

Údarás na Gaeltachta

Questions (112)

Mairéad Farrell

Question:

112. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Mairéad Farrell den Aire Meán, Turasóireachta, Ealaíon, Cultúir, Spóirt agus Gaeltachta ainneoin nach féidir mionsonraí faoi dhíolcháin ar leith a thabhairt, an ndearnadh luacháil neamhspleách, gairmiúil de réir an ghnáth-chleachtais ar ocht bhfoirgneamh agus ceithre phíosa talún a dhíol Údarás na Gaeltachta i gcondae na Gaillimhe le deich mbliana anuas, de réir mar a nochtadh i gCeist Pharlaiminte Uimhir 347 ar an 8ú Meán Fómhair 2020; ar fógróidh na díolacháin áirithe seo go poiblí; an bhfuil sí den tuairim gur cheart d'Údarás na Gaeltachta bheith i dteagmháil le coistí pobail áitiúla nó leis an chomhairle contae ábhartha maidir le riachtanais tithíochta sa cheantar agus talamh nó foirgnimh á ndíol acu; agus an bhfuil cead Bhord an Údaráis ag teastáil le talamh nó foirgnimh a dhíol agus ar tugadh cead maidir leis na sócmhainní luaite anseo. [26038/20]

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Written answers (Question to Media)

Macasamhail comhlachtaí poiblí eile, díolann Údarás na Gaeltachta maoin agus sócmhainní eile ó am go ham de réir polasaithe agus treoirlínte Stáit. Déantar díolacháin dá leithéid a thuairisciú agus a nochtadh go cuí i ráitis airgeadais bhliantúil na heagraíochta.

Leagann an tábla thíos amach an mhaoin lonnaithe i gContae na Gaillimhe a dhíol Údarás na Gaeltachta le deich mbliana anuas. Tuigtear dom ó Údarás na Gaeltachta gur cheadaigh bord na heagraíochta gach díolachán liostáilte thíos de réir an nós imeachta cuí. Cé nach bhfuil sonraí na gceannaitheoirí aonaracha agus na díolacháin nochtaithe de bharr íogaireacht rúndachta, pearsanta agus tráchtála an eolais, tá sonraí dearbhaithe ag Údarás na Gaeltachta maidir le sonraí an nós imeachta a leanadh agus próifíl an cheannaitheora i ngach cás.

Tá ceantair Ghaeltachta lonnaithe i gcuid de na háiteacha is áille ar domhan, ceantracha tuaithe agus scoite amach don chuid is mó. Ní sholáthraíonn an earnáil phríobháideach áiseanna cuí gnó sna ceantair tuaithe seo áit a bhfuil an margadh maoine tráchtála lag i gcomparáid le margaí tráchtála i gceantair uirbeacha ar fud na tíre. Tá an múnla gnó atá ag Údarás na Gaeltachta do na ceantair seo le 40 bliain anuas ag déileáil le agus ag freagairt don gcliseadh margadh shoiléir seo sa gcomhthéacs seo. Tá an talamh agus maoin atá in úinéireacht Údarás na Gaeltachta riachtanach do chruthú poist sna ceantair seo agus chun pobail teanga inbhuanaitheach agus inmharthanach a chinntiú. Dá bhrí sin leanann sé go bhfuil punann maoine Údarás na Gaeltachta riachtanach i gcónaí d’inbhuanaitheacht na Gaeltachta agus tá úsáid an phunainn dírithe ar chruthú poist sa chéad áit.

Seoladh

Cur síos

Modh díolacháin - próifíl an cheannaitheora

Lochán Beag, Indreabhán

Talamh

Fógraíodh ar an margadh oscailte – díolta ar chonradh príobháideach le duine aonair

Baile an tSléibhe, Ros an Mhíl

Teach

Fógraíodh ar an margadh oscailte – díolta ar chonradh príobháideach le duine aonair

An Cheathrú Rua

Teach

Fógraíodh ar an margadh oscailte - díolta ag ceant le duine aonair

An Cheathrú Rua

Teach

Fógraíodh ar an margadh oscailte – díolta ar chonradh príobháideach le duine aonair

Cill Chiaráin

Aonad Gnó

2 Luacháil neamhspleách - díolta ar chonradh príobháideach le cliaintchomhlacht

Inis Mór

Aonad Gnó / Monarcha

2 Luacháil neamhspleách - díolta ar léas fad téarmach le cliaintchomhlacht

Inis Mór

Aonad Gnó / Monarcha

Fógraíodh ar an margadh oscailte - níor tháinig aon tairiscint. Luacháil neamhspleách déanta, tairiscint ó eagraíocht pobail glactha do thionscnamh fiontar sóisialta - díolachán ar chonradh príobháideach

An Cheathrú Rua

Aonad Gnó

2 Luacháil neamhspleách – díolta ar léas fad téarmach le cliaint chomhlacht

Ros an Mhíl

Talamh

2 Luacháil neamhspleách – díolta ar léas fadtéarmach le cliaint chomhlacht

An Fhairche

Talamh

Spéis léirithe ag eagraíocht charthanachta idirnáisiúnta - luacháil neamhspleách faighte, socrú speisialta déanta leo chun togra carthanachta a ligeann chun cinn – díolachán ar léas fadtéarmach

An Spidéal

Teach

Fógraíodh ar an margadh oscailte - díolta ar chonradh príobháideach le duine aonair

An Cheathrú Rua

Aonad Gnó

2 Luacháil neamhspleách - díolta ar léas fadtéarmach le heagraíocht pobail

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (113)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

113. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht the steps being taken to protect the event management industry from the devastation caused by Covid-19 restrictions; and if she will meet with representatives of the industry. [26100/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Media)

I recently met with the Events Industry Alliance (EIA) which is composed of the Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland, the Event Production Industry COVID19 working group (EPIC), the Association of Irish Festival Events, the Association of Irish Stage Technicians, the Event Industry Association of Ireland as well as the Event Industry Ireland (EII), Irish Showman’s Guild (ISG), Entertainer’s Ireland Stand Together (EIST) and Irish Inflatables Hirers Federation (IIHF) groupings.

At this meeting, I heard first hand the concerns of the events industry which includes the commercial live music performance sector. I am eager to get our musicians, our performers and all their behind-the-scenes technical support people back to earning a living and doing what they do so well.

In announcing members of the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce, I have included representation from the Events Industry Alliance. The Taskforce will prepare a report including a set of recommendations on how best the arts and culture sector can adapt and recover from the unprecedented damage arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. I look forward to receiving the Taskforce report in due course.

I am also very conscious of the unprecedented nature of the challenge facing live performance promoters and producers, not least from a financial point of view. I was pleased to have recently announced a new fund that will assist established commercial venues and promoters to employ performers, artists, technicians, creative and performance support staff up to the end of 2020 in anticipation of the return of audiences to live performance.

An allocation of €5 million is being made available under the “Live Performance Support Scheme” under my Department which aims to assist commercial venues, producers and promoters of live performances and provide employment to workers in the creative industries. The scheme will help to de-risk the costs of preparing for new productions which may subsequently have to be postponed, cancelled or curtailed due to restrictions to safeguard public health. The main objective of the scheme is to provide employment opportunities in the ticketed performance sector and allow commercial organisers of live performances to commence preparations immediately and productions to go ahead in the near future while also complying with public health protection measures. This scheme has been developed following consultation with the sector and will be managed directly by my Department. This scheme is open to applications until 1pm on the 25th September and I hope to announce the recipients of this funding in the coming weeks.

A further support package, the Music Stimulus Package, involves three funding schemes designed to help sustain the popular and commercial music sector across all music genres, including rock, pop, hip hop, indie, jazz, country and western and traditional and folk. Under this package, a fund of €1,000,000 is being put in place to stimulate areas of work which artists would usually fund with income from own sources including live event fees.

The music support schemes are targeted at professional musicians and their teams and will support song writing camps, recording and album releases. The aim is to ensure that Irish musicians, engineers, PR, media, agents, labels and publishers can continue to develop and share their work in the context of COVID restrictions. The Music Stimulus Package schemes will be managed on behalf of the Department by First Music Contact and will be subject to peer panel assessment.

Sports Capital Programme

Questions (114)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

114. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht if the sports capital grant scheme will open in 2020 for applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26124/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Media)

The Sports Capital Programme (SCP) is the primary vehicle for Government support for the development of sports and recreation facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment throughout the country. The new Programme for Government commits to continuing the SCP and to prioritising the investment in disadvantaged areas.

The most recent (2018) round of the SCP attracted a record 2,337 applications. Allocations were announced in January, May and November of last year with a total of over €56 million awarded to 1,648 different projects. All unsuccessful applicants were given the opportunity to appeal the Department’s decision. In relation to the capital grants announced in November, a total of 122 appeals were submitted by the December deadline. The review of these appeals was completed in April with 6 new allocations approved. The priority to date this year has been to advance all of these projects to ensure the facilities are available for use and that the relevant grants are drawn down.

In relation to future grants, following the finalisation of the appeals process, a full Review of the 2018 round of the SCP was undertaken. This Review has now been complete and the terms and conditions of the next round of the programme will be based on the recommendations in the Review. Work on these terms and conditions is now being finalised and a new round of the programme will be open for applications before the end of the year with an announcement in this regard expected in the coming weeks.

Regeneration Projects

Questions (115)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

115. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the status of the Cork events centre. [26010/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Cork Event Centre is included as a commitment under Project Ireland 2040 and it underlines the Government’s objectives around urban regeneration, enhanced amenity and heritage, associated quality of life standards, balanced regional development, and the regeneration and development of Cork City Centre.

It was agreed in the context of Budget 2020 that responsibility at central Government level for making the grant aid support available for the project would transfer to my Department. In that context, funding was allocated to my Department in 2020 to support the project.

Responsibility for the advancement of proposals for the development of the Cork Event Centre remains, in the first instance, a matter for Cork City Council.

Invasive Plant Species

Questions (116)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

116. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the person or body responsible for the eradication of Japanese knotweed if the source is on one property and is encroaching on a neighbouring property; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26070/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Invasive alien species legislation is contained within the Wildlife Acts and the European Communities (Birds & Natural Habitats) Regulations, SI 477 of 2011.

Legal responsibility for the eradication, containment or management of invasive alien species resides with the landowner.

Local Authority Housing

Questions (117)

Chris Andrews

Question:

117. Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if funding will be provided for the modernisation and regeneration of a flat complex (details supplied) to bring it up to the highest level of energy efficiency possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26193/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The regular management and maintenance of local authority housing stock, is a matter for each relevant local authority, and it is open to each authority to address maintenance or improvements to their housing stock from within their own resources. However, my Department also supports local authorities to improve their social housing stock through a range of programmes energy retrofitting, regeneration and refurbishment works to vacant properties in order to return these to productive use as quickly as possible.

In all cases, the identification of properties for inclusion in any such programmes, is a matter for the local authority. I understand that Dublin City Council has completed an audit of its apartment complexes and it will be a matter for the Council, in the first instance, to consider actions arising from that.

Home Loan Scheme

Questions (118)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

118. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of applications for the Rebuilding Ireland scheme to date in 2020; the number of applicants who have been successful; and the number of those who have been refused. [26023/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Housing Agency provides a central support service which assesses applications for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan on behalf of local authorities and makes recommendations to the authorities to approve or refuse applications. Each local authority must have in place a credit committee and it is a matter for the committee to make the decision on applications for loans, in accordance with the regulations, having regard to the recommendations made by the Housing Agency.

I have asked the Agency to compile figures on the numbers of applications that it has assessed and recommended for approval/decline in 2020. The most recent figures, as at the end of August 2020, indicate that of the 937 applications assessed by it since January, the Agency had recommended 422 applications for approval and 515 for decline.

Local Authority

Applications Assessed

Recommended to Approve

Recommended to Decline

Carlow County Council

15

3

12

Cavan County Council

5

1

4

Clare County Council

19

8

11

Cork City Council

62

25

37

Cork County Council

86

43

43

Donegal County Council

14

6

8

Dublin City Council

121

71

50

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council

18

11

7

Fingal County Council

96

55

41

Galway City Council

17

9

8

Galway County Council

25

11

14

Kerry County Council

27

8

19

Kildare County Council

28

9

19

Kilkenny County Council

17

7

10

Laois County Council

19

9

10

Leitrim County Council

6

1

5

Limerick City & County Council

30

17

13

Longford County Council

14

6

8

Louth County Council

19

7

12

Mayo County Council

13

2

11

Meath County Council

34

12

22

Monaghan County Council

11

1

10

Offaly County Council

6

3

3

Roscommon County Council

10

5

5

Sligo County Council

8

2

6

South Dublin County Council

73

37

36

Tipperary County Council

23

9

14

Waterford City & County Council

25

11

14

Westmeath County Council

7

4

3

Wexford County Council

44

13

31

Wicklow County Council

45

16

29

Total

937

422

515

The final decision on loan approval is a matter for each local authority and its Credit Committee on a case-by-case basis. Decisions on all housing loan applications must be made in accordance with the statutory credit policy that underpins the scheme, in order to ensure prudence and consistency of treatment for all applicants.

Loan applicants who are dissatisfied with a loan application decision of a local authority Credit Committee may appeal that decision to the local authority. Details of the appeals process can be obtained from the relevant local authority.

Planning Issues

Questions (119)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

119. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the avenues of appeal available to people after An Bord Pleanála has delivered a verdict; if there is a higher planning authority or avenue through the Planning Regulator, the Houses of the Oireachtas, the courts or elsewhere; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26027/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

An Bord Pleanála was established in 1977 under the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1976 and is an independent statutory body responsible for the determination of appeals and certain other matters under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, and the determination of applications for strategic infrastructure development including major road and railway cases. It is responsible for dealing with proposals for the compulsory acquisition of land by local authorities and others under various enactments. An Bord Pleanála also has functions to determine appeals under the Building Control, Water and Air Pollution Acts.

Under section 30 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, as Minister, I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is, or may be concerned.

Section 50 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, provides that, where a question of law arises, any person may apply to the High Court for leave to seek a judicial review of a planning decision made by An Bord Pleanála. Leave to seek a judicial review must usually be sought within eight weeks of the decision, although the High Court may extend this period where it considers that there is good and sufficient reason for doing so. The High Court may only grant leave where it is satisfied that there are substantial grounds for contending that the decision is invalid or should be quashed. The person seeking leave must also have a substantial interest in the decision and have participated in the decision making process or had good and sufficient reasons for not doing so.

Any such application for judicial review does not involve the courts adjudicating on the merits of a proposed development from the perspectives of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area and/or effects on the environment. An Bord Pleanála publish an update on legal cases in their Annual Report.

The Office of the Planning Regulator (the OPR) was established in April 2019. Under section 31AU(1)(a) of the 2000 Act, the OPR may examine any complaints made by any person to the Office in respect of a planning authority where such complaint relates to the organisation of the authority and of the systems and procedures used by it in relation to the performance of its functions under the Act. Members of the public and organisations can make such complaints directly to the OPR if they have evidence of systemic issues in this regard and the OPR can examine the allegations and make recommendations to the Planning authority and Minister, if the OPR considers it appropriate. However, it should be noted that, while the OPR is empowered to examine complaints about planning authorities, it does not have the role of an appeals body in respect of individual planning decisions.

Rental Accommodation Scheme

Questions (120)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

120. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of active rental accommodation scheme tenancies. [26112/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

As of 30 June 2020, there were 17,887 active tenancies supported under the Rental Accommodation Scheme.

Hare Coursing

Questions (121, 124)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

121. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the status of the renewal of the national coursing licence; his views regarding the renewal of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26126/20]

View answer

Paul Murphy

Question:

124. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he will publish a copy of the licences to net and tag hares for the upcoming coursing season. [26206/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 121 and 124 together.

On 16 September last my Department issued licenses under the Wildlife Acts to the Irish Coursing Club on behalf of its affiliated clubs to net and tag hares for the forthcoming 2020/2021 coursing season. The licenses are published on the website of the National Parks and Wildlife Service at the following link: https://www.npws.ie/licences/hare-coursing.

Planning Issues

Questions (122)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

122. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if issues faced by planning authorities will be reviewed regarding the taking in charge process particularly concerning developer provided infrastructure and management companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26127/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The most recent amendments to the taking in charge provisions of the planning code were made in the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018 with a view to further strengthening and streamlining the taking-in-charge process. I have no current plans to conduct a review of the taking-in-charge provisions of the Act.

Management companies are not covered under the taking in charge process, as developments which have a management company in place were, by their very nature, to remain as private developments. The majority of developments which are maintained by management companies incorporate multi-unit developments and are governed under the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011.

Earlier this week (21 September) I announced funding allocations under the new multi-annual capital investment programme for the progressive resolution of housing estates with developer provided water services infrastructure. These are estates that are not taken-in-charge and do not have their water services networks connected to the public (Irish Water) network. Details of the announcement are available on my Department's website.

Water Charges

Question No. 124 answered with Question No. 121.

Questions (123)

Martin Browne

Question:

123. Deputy Martin Browne asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he will request Irish Water to give an exemption from water charges to community councils and voluntary groups which provide meals on wheels services and other services for those in need; if his attention has been drawn to organisations that have been billed for thousands of euro in the space of a few months; if his attention has been further drawn to the difficulties such organisations have in paying charges due to low income and the recent fall in funds due to Covid-19 restrictions; if his attention has been further drawn to the high water charges they are faced with regularly; his views on the way in which such organisations have been heroes of the Covid-19 pandemic; his views on recognising their efforts by providing such exemptions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26200/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Since 1 January 2014, Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of water services planning and delivery. Irish Water charging policy is also subject to approval by the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU).

In this regard, my Department is maintaining close contact with Irish Water in relation to its response to the COVID-19 Emergency, while also liaising with the CRU. Irish Water has acknowledged the challenges faced by their non-domestic customer base, including community councils and voluntary groups and it will readily engage with customers who may be experiencing temporary cash flow or trading difficulties. Customers facing such circumstances should contact Irish Water, via its call centre (1850 778 778), at an early date to access the available supports.

Responsibility for the independent economic regulation of the water sector is assigned to the CRU. Under the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 Irish Water is required to collect charges, where relevant, from its customers in accordance with a water charges plan approved by the CRU. The CRU, as regulator, is independent in this matter and has come to its own assessment of the appropriate tariff and charging arrangements that shall apply to non-domestic customers.

From 2001, national water pricing policy had required local authorities to recover the costs of providing water services from all non-domestic users of these services. This policy provided for charges based on actual metered consumption, consistent with the requirements of the Water Framework Directive. All non-domestic customers were transferred to Irish Water under their existing charging arrangements with no changes, as instructed by the CRU.

I understand that the existing charging arrangements are to remain in place pending the introduction of Irish Water's new non-domestic tariff framework. This Framework was determined by the CRU in 2019, informed by a multi-stage public consultation process. Implementation of the revised tariff arrangements was planned for 1 May 2020, but was subsequently deferred arising from the onset of Covid-19. This decision has been taken by Irish Water with the support of the CRU and my Department and is being kept under review in light of emerging developments in relation to COVID-19.

Question No. 124 answered with Question No. 121.

Homeless Persons Supports

Questions (125)

Holly Cairns

Question:

125. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if his attention has been drawn to the fact that 39 homeless persons have died in Dublin to date in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26223/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I am aware that that there have been a number of deaths of individuals accessing homeless services this year and I would take the opportunity to offer my condolences to the family and friends of those individuals. However, my Department does not hold specific details in this regard.

Supporting households experiencing homelessness is a priority for this Government and the Programme for Government recognises that many households experiencing homelessness have additional support needs. In this regard it includes specific commitments to address these needs, including measures to help rough sleepers into sustainable accommodation, the continued expansion of Housing First, with a focus on the construction and acquisition of one-bed homes, and, importantly, ensuring that necessary health and mental health supports are provided to assist homeless people with complex needs.

Ultimately the key to resolving homelessness is to increase the supply of housing, particularly for those on the lowest incomes. To this end, the Programme for Government commits to the increased supply of public, social and affordable homes. In particular, we will increase the social housing stock by more than 50,000 with an emphasis on new builds.

I have also established a High Level Homelessness Taskforce, to provide a forum for engagement with key organisations working to address homelessness. The Taskforce will input on the implementation of the commitments on homelessness in the Programme for Government.

Working Holiday Programmes

Questions (126)

Michael McNamara

Question:

126. Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if a working holiday application will be processed as a matter of urgency for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26011/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Working Holiday Authorisations (WHAs) play an important role in building Ireland's bilateral relations with Canada and a number of other non-European countries and regions with which we have reciprocal agreements, encouraging people-to-people contacts. The Working Holiday Agreement with Canada, in place since 2003, reflects the excellent relationship which we have with Canada and contributes further to that relationship by fostering increased personal, cultural and professional ties between our young people aged between 18 and 35 years.

The Government of Canada administers its WHA programme through 'International Experience Canada' while the Embassy of Ireland in Ottawa manages the application process for eligible Canadians wishing to come here on a working holiday. At the present time, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has placed a temporary pause on the processing of WHA applications until further notice. As you will appreciate, Canadian immigration policies are a matter solely for the Canadian authorities.

Our Embassy in Ottawa has likewise temporarily ceased processing new applications under the WHA programme. Our primary concern remains the health, welfare and well-being of those who would seek to travel to Ireland on a WHA. We will instruct our Missions abroad, including the Embassy in Ottawa, to re-open the working holiday application process once circumstances permit.

Once Canada resumes the processing of working holiday applications, an update will be provided on the International Experience Canada website and on its social media pages. I would recommend that the individual to whom the Deputy refers in his question consult the website on a regular basis for any developments in this regard. I hope that that he and other Irish applicants are able to avail fully of the experience and opportunities offered by the Working Holiday Agreement once processing has been resumed by the Canadian authorities

Refugee Resettlement Programme

Questions (127, 131)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

127. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if assistance will be provided and matters addressed in relation a recent incident (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26071/20]

View answer

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

131. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will engage with the Greek authorities with a view to helping relocate more of the refugees, particularly unaccompanied minors displaced from the Moria camp in Greece; and if he will implore the Greek authorities to make sure that minors are registered as minors and not as adults; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26266/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

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

I am deeply saddened by the fire at the Moria camp on Lesbos and the impact this has had on the refugees and migrants based at the camp. It is a relief that there are no reported deaths or injuries, but the very sudden displacement of thousands of people, including children, has caused great suffering and created a major humanitarian emergency as well as posing a huge logistical challenge for the Greek authorities in the midst of the COVID pandemic.

My colleague, the Minister for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, spoke with his Greek counterpart on 9 September immediately after the fire to offer Ireland's full solidarity and support. The Greek authorities have requested assistance from EU Partners in dealing with the immediate humanitarian needs arising. My Department, through our Embassy in Athens, has confirmed Ireland’s readiness to provide assistance from our humanitarian logistics base in Brindisi, Italy. The Greek authorities have thanked us for our offer of assistance and we now stand ready to respond to a request for the deployment of emergency humanitarian supplies.

As Minister for Foreign Affairs, I have repeatedly urged the need for greater solidarity and burden-sharing among Member States in dealing with the wider issue of migration. On 23 September 2020, the Commission published a major new proposal on reforming the EU migration and asylum system - a “New Pact on Migration and Asylum”. I welcome the release of this Pact and the renewed impetus that it will give to arriving at an agreed common approach to this difficult issue. We need to find more sustainable solutions involving consensus among Member States based on solidarity and responsibility. Ireland is committed to continue to work with our EU partners to resolve these issues. In the meantime, it is essential that humanitarian and legal obligations continue to be met by all Member States.

We in Ireland are endeavouring to do our part, having already received 1022 asylum seekers (including six unaccompanied minors) from Greece under the first phase of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme. We have also committed to accept 36 unaccompanied minors in need of international protection in Greece, and I was pleased that the first group of eight such minors arrived in Ireland last June. In the context of the very difficult situation now arising from the destruction of the Moria refugee camp, the Government has decided to accept another group of four unaccompanied minors, as part of this overall commitment, and is continuing to keep under review what further actions it can take to meet the enormous humanitarian and relocation needs arising from this tragic event.

Foreign Policy

Questions (128)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

128. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the highlighting by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the lack of respect by Spain for international bodies with regard to the situation in Catalonia; the steps Ireland can take to impress on the Spanish authorities the need to respect international law in relation to the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26077/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

My Department follows developments in Spain closely and I am aware of the United Nations Working Group to which the question refers.

I maintain contacts with my Spanish counterparts on a range of issues, including the situation in Catalonia. The question of Catalan independence remains a deeply divisive and contentious issue in Catalonia and in the rest of Spain.

As I have previously stated, the constitutional and political arrangements in Spain are matters to be determined by their own citizens, through their own democratic processes and institutions, in keeping with the rule of law. We respect the constitutional and territorial integrity of Spain.

Good Friday Agreement

Questions (129)

Johnny Mythen

Question:

129. Deputy Johnny Mythen asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the action taken to protect small businesses particularly along the Border counties in view of the potential damage that the UK Internal Market Bill poses to the Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland and the economy here; and if the relevant Government bodies have engaged directly with ferry companies and ports, including Rosslare Port, to ensure Ireland can maintain the continuity of incoming and outgoing goods with European partners in cases in which problems arise with a no-deal Brexit scenario and the UK land bridge. [26156/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

On 9 September the Government published its Brexit Readiness Action Plan which supports and promotes the necessary preparations for the end of the Brexit transition period. With less than 100 days to go until the end of the Brexit transition period, it is vital that businesses step up their preparations for the range of changes that will definitively take place on 1 January, 2020. From that date the UK will be outside the Single Market and Customs Union and this will have profound and immediate implications for every business who moves goods to, from or through Great Britain.

Government Departments, enterprise agencies and regulatory bodies have made available a range of business supports, including financial, upskilling, and advisory supports to assist in preparing for the end of the Brexit transition period. More information on these supports, including to businesses in the border counties, is available in the Government's Brexit Readiness Action Plan.

The Border Enterprise Development Fund (BEDF) was launched in January, to assist businesses in the border region. The BEDF is administered by Enterprise Ireland and provides support for collaborative, enterprise capability building projects, to advance entrepreneurship, productivity and innovation in the border region. The aim of the fund is to improve the international competitiveness of enterprise in the border region in the context of Brexit and other market challenges, which now also includes COVID-19. The Fund is part of a €28 million economic stimulus package announced earlier this year for the six border counties of Louth, Monaghan, Cavan, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal.

It is important to note that the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland is an integral part of the Withdrawal Agreement agreed between the EU and the UK and will apply in all scenarios from 1 January 2021, ensuring that many of the changes arising in our trade with Great Britain will not apply to trade with Northern Ireland. The Common Travel Area will also continue to operate as it does today.

Together with EU partners, the Government is closely monitoring developments in relation to the UK Internal Markets Bill. We have outlined to the UK Government our very strong concerns about the Bill. Any unilateral departure from the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement is not acceptable.

Trade connectivity between Ireland and continental Europe, both via the landbridge across the UK and via direct routes, is of major strategic importance to Irish businesses.

The efficient and effective functioning of the UK landbridge is a priority for Government. While the landbridge will remain a route to market for EU traders after the transition period ends, new procedures will apply. Businesses should familiarize with these new procedures immediately. Businesses should also be aware that ports will experience delays following the end of the transition period with Dover-Calais identified as a likely bottleneck.

These new procedures will not apply to goods that move directly to the continent. The Government remains in contact with shipping companies regarding direct maritime connectivity to continental Europe, including through Rosslare Europort. In consultations with shipping companies, they have indicated that sufficient capacity is in place on direct routes and that they expect to be able to respond to any additional demand for direct services. So far this year, we have already seen a number of new direct services commenced from Irish ports to continental ports, including a new service from Rosslare Europort to Bilbao.

Where feasible, traders moving goods to or from EU markets through the UK should consider direct maritime services as an alternative to the UK landbridge. I would encourage early engagement between all parties – traders, hauliers, ferry companies – to discuss needs and options.

Passport Applications

Question No. 131 answered with Question No. 127.

Questions (130)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

130. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position in relation to an application for a passport in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26257/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am advised by the Passport Service that a search was completed for a passport application using the details supplied by the Deputy but no application was found as the Passport Number is not valid.

The Passport Service will be happy to provide information and guidance to the person in question. The Passport Service operates a Customer Service Hub which provides information via telephone and webchat. The telephone number for the Customer Service Hub is 01 671 1633 and webchat can be accessed through the Passport Service's website. Telephone lines operate from 8am till 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays) and webchat is available from 9am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Question No. 131 answered with Question No. 127.

Defence Forces Properties

Questions (132)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

132. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Defence the status of plans for the Nenagh military barracks site, County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26120/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The former barracks in Nenagh is no longer required for military purposes. In accordance with Government policy and my Department's practice to dispose of such surplus properties, matters relating to the disposal of Nenagh Barracks are currently being progressed.

My officials are in the process of regularising outstanding legal matters relating to the property with the assistance of the Chief State's Solicitor's Office. It is the intention to dispose of the property when the outstanding legal matters have been resolved.