Rail Network

Questions (83, 84, 85)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

83. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the progress to date in the preparation of the DART to Maynooth and further afield to such locations as Kilcock and Enfield with a view to catering for the commuter belt across north County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26249/20]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

84. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the progress to date in the enhancement and upgrading of commuter rail facilities from Sallins to Dublin with particular reference to need at peak times; the extent to which planning has advanced in this regard by way of increased frequency and capacity of commuter trains serving Newbridge, Sallins and Hazelhatch; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26250/20]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

85. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if research has been carried out into the possibility of extending rail services throughout the commuter belt of north County Kildare to towns that do not have access to services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26251/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 83 to 85, inclusive, together.

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area, including the DART+ programme (until recently referred to as the DART Expansion programme).

DART+ is a transformative programme of investment which will significantly increase capacity on all the rail corridors serving the Greater Dublin Area including the Kildare and Maynooth Lines as referred to by the Deputy, through investment in infrastructure and new fleet.

Noting the NTA's responsibility in the matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a more detailed reply. Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 days.

Rail Network

Questions (86)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

86. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the progress to date in the development of or restoration of rail services in areas throughout the country which might benefit from the restoration of such services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26252/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. However, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport.

The issue raised is an operational matter for Iarnród Éireann, in conjunction with the National Transport Authority, and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply.

Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Aviation Industry

Questions (87, 88)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

87. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the short to medium-term steps he can take to support air transport in the context of the Covid-19 crisis with particular reference to the need to ensure that Irish-based airlines are not disadvantaged on the world market; if he remains satisfied that adequate assistance remains available to airline such as companies (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26253/20]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

88. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if he remains satisfied that, in the context of state aid towards airlines, the Irish airlines do not become disadvantaged by the extent to which state aid has been extended to their competitors on European or world markets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26254/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 87 and 88 together.

My Department is monitoring the financial impact of COVID-19 on the Irish aviation sector on an ongoing basis, in consultation with all key stakeholders and relevant Government Departments.

The Government has put in place a range of supports for businesses, including those in aviation. The supports include the extended wage subsidy scheme, which will now run to April 2021, alleviation of commercial rates, tax clawback, and liquidity support available through the ISIF Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund.

It remains open to airlines to engage directly with the relevant agencies concerned with a view to drawing down such supports. The amount of any funding sought by each airline would be a commercial matter for the airlines concerned.

The report of the Aviation Recovery Taskforce contains a number of recommendations relating to the provision of further support to the sector including through stimulus funding to aid recovery, and these recommendations are being considered, as appropriate, in the context of the ongoing work to manage the impact of COVID-19 on aviation and the wider economy.

The Government recently decided that it would broadly support the European Commission's proposed common approach to travel restrictions and movement within the EU.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (89)

Brendan Smith

Question:

89. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Transport if adequate checks are taking place at airports and ports in relation to dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26263/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Department of Health, as the lead Government Department in relation to Ireland’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, established the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) on 27 January 2020, chaired by the Chief Medical Officer. The NPHET oversees and provides advice on the development and implementation of the strategy to contain Covid-19 in Ireland and measures to protect public health and my Department assists with the implementation of these measures.

It is also worth noting that specific sectoral protocols for the travel by air and sea have been developed in consultation with the public health authorities and with industry, who are already implementing the measures. The protocols set out the expectations and requirements on industry to ensure safety of passengers, staff and crew as regards public health and include key requirements such as health declarations by passengers at check-in; allowing only passengers intending to travel to enter airports or ferry terminal buildings; physical distancing and the wearing of face coverings by passengers and staff and increased sanitation measures in relation to aircraft, airports, passenger vessels and ports. Further information is available here https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/ab625-protocols-for-international-travel/

Everyone arriving into the country, by air and sea, regardless of where they come from, is required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form. The form must be completed online during the 48 hours prior to arrival and allows incoming passengers to be directly informed on the public health advice and also supports contact tracing in event of a passenger testing positive for COVID-19.

Responsibility for the Passenger Locator Form and the follow up calls is a matter for the Department of Health. However, I am aware that all passengers who complete the electronic form receive an email receipt which includes key public health messages. After arrival to Ireland, passengers receive public health messages via SMS. Passengers arriving from non-green list countries receive three additional public health messages via SMS throughout the next 14 days. A selection of arriving passengers also receive follow-up calls to verify information provided on the forms.

My Department engages with carriers, airports and ports in relation to raising awareness among passengers of the mandatory requirement for passengers arriving into the country to complete a COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form.

Vehicle Registration Tax

Questions (90, 91)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

90. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26004/20]

View answer

Brendan Griffin

Question:

91. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter as outlined in correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26018/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 90 and 91 together.

Vehicle Registration Tax is charged on new cars or used imports registering in the State for the first time. The VRT reform option in the Tax Strategy Group paper sets out a mechanism for transitioning to the new road emissions test 'WLTP' and recalibrating the tax design in light of the more realistic emissions recorded. This is included as an action in the 2019 Climate Action Plan.

As set out in the TSG paper, the option presented would result in VRT rate decreases for low emission vehicles and increases for high emission vehicles. As per the VRT charging formula, the value of these increases or decreases would be determined by the emissions profile and the open market selling price of the car (OMSP).

Any changes to the VRT regime will be made in the context of Budget 2021. As the Deputy will be aware, it is a longstanding practice of the Minister for Finance not to comment, in advance of the Budget, on any tax matters that might be the subject of Budget decisions.

Budget Process

Questions (92)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

92. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance if there will be a bespoke package of supports in budget 2021 for chauffer drivers. [26186/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

As the Deputy may be aware, it is a longstanding practice of the Minister for Finance not to comment, in advance of the Budget, on any tax matters that might be the subject of Budget decisions.

Cycle to Work Scheme

Questions (93)

Holly Cairns

Question:

93. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Finance his views on adjusting the cycle to work scheme to cover the purchasing of child seats or trailers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26243/20]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Section 118(5G) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for the cycle to work scheme. This scheme provides an exemption from benefit-in-kind where an employer purchases a bicycle and associated safety equipment up to a maximum of €1,500 for e-bikes and €1,250 for other bicycles for an employee to use, in whole or in part, to travel to work. These thresholds were increased from 1 August 2020 under the Financial Provisions (Covid-19) (No. 2) Act 2020. Safety equipment includes helmets, lights, bells, mirrors and locks but does not include child seats or trailers.

The inclusion of child seats and trailers in the scheme or would create an additional cost and that cost must be recovered elsewhere.

As the Deputy may be aware, it is a longstanding practice of the Minister for Finance not to comment, in advance of the Budget, on any tax matters that might be the subject of Budget decisions.

Value Added Tax

Questions (94)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

94. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost of reducing VAT from 13.5% to 9% for hospitality and tourism activities for 2021, calculated on the same basis as the increase from 9% to 13.5% for the same set of activities in budget 2019. [25996/20]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that information provided on VAT3 returns (the primary return filed by VAT traders) does not require a business to separately identify the yield from particular VAT rates or sectors of the economy.

However, based on other Revenue data and third-party data sources, a tentative estimate on the impact of a reduction in the VAT rate on hospitality and tourism activities from 13.5% to 9% is in the region of €320m for 2021. This is based on the current low level of activity in the sector and as already stated is very tentative in nature.

Vehicle Registration Tax

Questions (95)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

95. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Finance if consideration will be given to the request for support measures outlined from the branch of an organisation (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25998/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am informed by Revenue that VRT is levied under the provisions of the Finance Act 1992, Part II, Chapter IV. There are a number of exemptions and reliefs under this legislation including a zero rating on vehicles such as ambulances and fire engines, and, under certain circumstances, relief from VRT and VAT under the provisions of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994.

While a vehicle may qualify under one of the above provisions, none of the provisions apply to public service vehicles, whether they are wheel chair accessible or not.

The National Transport Authority “Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Grant Scheme” offers a financial grant for the purchase or conversion of a new WAV and a sliding scale with lesser monies being available for older cars. More information in respect of this grant is in the NTA Information Guide at the following link: https://www.nationaltransport.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Information_Guide_for_WAV20_Grant_Scheme_2020.pdf

As the Deputy may be aware, under the Charities VAT Compensation Scheme, charities which are registered with the Charities Regulator can claim for VAT on any expenditure incurred in relation to their charitable activities, except where the charity is already entitled to a refund, deduction, relief or repayment of that VAT. Under this scheme the applicant is entitled to claim a proportion of their VAT costs based on the level of non-public funding they receive. For example, if 70% of their income comes from non-public funds they may claim back 70% of the eligible VAT incurred. However, as mentioned above, there is a capped amount of funding available annually under the scheme. Charities are paid on a pro-rata basis where the total amount of claims received exceeds the cap. The scheme has closed for this year and will re-open in January 2021 in respect of expenditure incurred in 2020. The scheme is kept under observation and will be subject to review in 2022.

Wage Subsidy Scheme

Questions (96)

Bríd Smith

Question:

96. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Finance if a company (details supplied) is in receipt of the new employment subsidy scheme for its workforce; if so, the reason; the oversight and safeguards in place to ensure all companies in receipt of the subsidies are dispensing the funds to their employees; the number of employees that are topping up their employees’ wages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26001/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Deputy will be aware that under Section 851A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, Revenue is precluded by reason of its taxpayer confidentiality obligations, from providing any details in relation to the company in question.

The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), which was provided for in section 28 of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (COVID-19) Act 2020, expired on 31 August 2020. The TWSS has now been replaced by the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), which was legislated for under the recently enacted Financial Provisions (Covid-19) (No. 2) Act 2020. The specific nature and terms of the EWSS arrangement are separate and distinct from the TWSS. Furthermore, as the EWSS provides payments to employers rather than employees, the issue of top-ups or additional payments (to employees) does not arise. This is different to the TWSS where in excess of 80% of employees regularly received a top-up additional payment from their employers.

Where an eligible employer makes a payment of wages, within prescribed limits, to a qualifying employee during the scheme, the employer can claim a EWSS subsidy in respect of that employee. In effect, the EWSS provides a flat-rate subsidy to qualifying employers, based on the number of qualifying employees on the payroll. For every qualifying employee paid between €203 and €1,462 gross wages per week, the level of subsidy is €203. For every qualifying employee paid between €151.50 and €202.99 gross per week, the subsidy is €151.50. No subsidy is paid for employees paid less than €151.50 gross or more than €1,462 gross per week.

I have been advised by Revenue that the question of an individual’s entitlements in an employment context, and the question of what wages an employer may or may not be in a position to pay such an employee in the light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the employer’s business, are matters that are outside the remit of the EWSS. Essentially, the scheme has no role in relation to the employer/employee relationship in so far as the terms, conditions and entitlements of the employment are concerned, subject, of course, to the employer paying the requisite amount of gross wages to an employee, as outlined above, in order to qualify for subsidy in relation to the employee

Revenue has begun to publish weekly statistics updates on the EWSS as employers continue to complete the registration process. These statistics are available at link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/number-of-taxpayers-and-returns/covid-19-wage-subsidy-scheme-statistics.aspx.

As shown in the publications at the above link, by 17 September 2020, over 34,300 employers had registered for EWSS. The statistics (dated 17 September) show the breakdown of the registered employers by size, sector and county.

The payslip information for EWSS recipient employers for the period 1 September onwards will be available in October and Revenue has confirmed that it will publish this information as soon as is practicable after that date.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (97)

Brian Stanley

Question:

97. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Finance if he will put the case to the banks and lending institutions to extend the mortgage payment break for those workers who are still laid off due to Covid-19; and if he will focus in particular on the banks that were bailed out and that the State retains part ownership of. [26055/20]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As the Deputy is aware, on 18 March the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) announced a coordinated approach by banks and other lenders to help their businesses and personal customers who were economically impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. These measures included flexible loan repayment arrangements, and included a loan payment break of up to three months which was subsequently extended for up to a six month period.

The financial circumstances of many of the borrowers that availed of a Covid-19 payment break have now normalised and they are in a position to return to making payments. In that regard, the BPFI has indicated that the broad options available to borrowers coming off a payment break will be to return to payments over the existing term of the loan, or to extend the term of the loan so as to make the monthly repayments more affordable for the borrower. It is important that lenders and borrowers coming off a payment break engage so as to select the most appropriate new repayment arrangement in their individual case.

Unfortunately, at the end of a payment beak there will be some borrowers who will continue to experience financial difficulty. In these circumstances, it will be particularly important that engagement should take place as early as possible. I would, therefore, encourage any borrower who feels he or she may have difficulty in resuming payments after a Covid-19 payment break to contact their lender and if possible to do so before the payment break end date. Borrowers have a suite of regulatory protections and lenders have specific obligations, under the Central Bank consumer protection framework, to support and work with borrowers in arrears or in pre-arrears. In particular, lenders are obliged to engage and work with co-operating borrowers to identify an appropriate and sustainable solution having regard to the particular circumstances of a case and that lenders should use the full suite of restructuring solutions available to them. In that regard, while the European Banking Authority has recently stated that it would not extend its 30 September closing date to qualify for a Covid-19 payment break, it has also made it clear that banks can continue to support their customers with an extended payment break after 30 September on a case by case basis with such loans classified according to the normal prudential framework.

I will make it clear, in my on-going engagement with individual banks and with the representatives of the banking industry, that banks should work with and pro-actively assist their customers who will still be experiencing difficulty at the end of a Covid-19 payment break and I will also work with the Central Bank, as regulator, to ensure that the Central Bank consumer protection framework will be fully available to mortgage and other borrowers that will still need support following a Covid-19 payment break.

Notwithstanding this overall engagement, it is important to highlight that, as Minister for Finance, I cannot mandate or overrule the internal decision making processes in any individual bank, even one in which the State has a shareholding, including decisions in relation to Covid-19 payment breaks and the decisions individual banks may make at the end of a Covid-19 payment break. Decisions in this regard are the sole responsibility of the board and management of the banks which must be run on an independent and commercial basis. The independence of banks in which the State has a shareholding is protected by Relationship Frameworks which are legally binding documents that cannot be changed unilaterally. These frameworks, which are publicly available, were insisted upon by the European Commission to protect competition in the Irish market. However, all banks, including those in which I have a shareholding interest, will have to fully comply with all the applicable Central Bank and other consumer protection requirements that apply to all Central Bank regulated banks and mortgage lenders.

Tax Reliefs

Questions (98)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

98. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Finance if a series of matters raised in correspondence by a person (details supplied) will be given consideration; the steps that will be taken to alleviate the inability of cross-Border workers to work from home due to double taxation legislation; if steps will be taken to remove the double taxation rules to allow persons here working in the Northern Ireland a better work life balance (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26076/20]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that Transborder Relief may apply in the case of an individual resident in the State but who commutes to his or her place of work outside the State. This relief is set out in section 825A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.

The relief effectively removes the foreign employment income from a liability to Irish tax where foreign tax has been paid on that employment income. In simple terms, the effect of the measure is that Irish tax will only arise where the individual has income other than income from a foreign employment.

The relief applies subject to certain conditions, which includes the requirement that the duties of a qualifying employment are performed wholly outside the State in a country with which Ireland has a Double Taxation Agreement. There is an exception in respect of merely incidental duties which may be performed in the State.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic Revenue updated the guidance in respect of this relief, having regard to the unprecedented circumstances. The updated guidance confirms, where employees are required to work from home in the State due to COVID-19, such days spent working at home in the State will not preclude an individual from being entitled to claim this relief for 2020, provided all other conditions of the relief are met. The updated guidance for this relief and other COVID-19 measures are available on the COVID-19 hub of Revenue’s website - available here.

Banking Sector

Questions (99, 101)

Mick Barry

Question:

99. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Finance if he will report on his discussions with a bank (details supplied); if he will be in contact with the bank; his views on the impact of job losses and a loss of banking services to the public should the bank be sold; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26104/20]

View answer

Mick Barry

Question:

101. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Finance his plans to meet with representatives of the employees of a bank (details supplied) to discuss concerns over the withdrawal of the bank from the market. [26106/20]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 99 and 101 together.

Ulster Bank Ireland is a significant employer, has 88 branches, has a sizeable market share in terms of mortgage lending and SME lending and it is important in terms of providing competition in the Irish market.

I am aware of the media reports suggesting that NatWest is engaged in a strategic review of its operations and specifically examining options in relation to Ulster Bank Ireland. The Government has no formal role in such a review or any commercial decisions that result, as these are a matter for the Board and Management of the Bank and its parent company, NatWest. I understand that the process is ongoing and that no decisions have been made. I cannot comment further and will not speculate on the possible outcomes.

I would expect Ulster Bank Ireland to ensure that both customers and staff representatives are kept informed about developments in the review and are promptly informed about any decisions. The Bank will also have to keep the Central Bank of Ireland fully informed and comply with its requirements in its decision making process.

Mortgage Lending

Question No. 101 answered with Question No. 99.

Questions (100)

Mick Barry

Question:

100. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Finance his views on protecting those with home loans with a bank (details supplied) in the event of a sale of the mortgage loan book of the bank; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26105/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I will not speculate or comment on the specific matter raised by the Deputy but I can outline the protections that apply when mortgages are transferred from a regulated entity.

The relevant Irish and EU consumer protections continue to apply to any mortgage that has transferred. The Consumer Protection (Regulation of Credit Servicing Firms) Act 2015 provided that all the consumer protections a borrower had prior to a loan sale continue to apply after the loan sale irrespective of the regulatory status of the new creditor. This Act provided that entities which bought loans and which were not already subject to Central Bank authorisation and regulation must either become an authorised entity or else appoint a regulated credit servicing firm to deal with the consumer in relation to the loan. In either case, all the relevant Central Bank codes would continue to fully apply.

The Consumer Protection (Regulation of Credit Servicing Firms) Act 2018 , which came into effect on 21 January 2019, expanded the activity of “credit servicing” to include legal ownership of legal title to credit granted under a credit agreement, and associated ownership activities. Therefore if a loan is now transferred, the holder of the legal title to the credit must be authorised by the Central Bank as a credit servicing firm unless it is already a regulated entity.

It should also be noted that all mortgage or other loans which are sold or assigned to a new creditor will continue to be subject to the terms of the contract as entered into by the borrower. As a matter of contractual law, the new creditor will not be able to unilaterally change the terms and conditions of the contract.

I am advised by the Central Bank that its regulatory framework makes clear that the relevant Central Bank statutory codes, such as the Consumer Protection Code and where applicable, the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears , will apply to residential mortgages provided to consumers irrespective of the current creditor party to that mortgage agreement.

The Deputy should also be aware that the Central Bank wrote to banks, retail credit and credit servicing firms in August 2019 to set out its expectations of all firms in respect of loan sales. These expectations include that:

- Sufficient due diligence and information sharing takes place at the outset to ensure that complete customer files transfer as part of a loan sale.

- Where a cooperating borrower is complying with the terms of an ARA and their loan is sold, the new regulated entity cannot unilaterally change the ARA.

- The new regulated entity should continue to honour an ARA until review, expiry or by agreement, as appropriate. This includes honouring timelines and terms and conditions for reviews of the ARA.

- Where the borrower’s circumstances have changed, any change to the ARA must be appropriate, sustainable and proportionate to that borrower’s circumstances.

Question No. 101 answered with Question No. 99.

Credit Unions

Questions (102)

Mick Barry

Question:

102. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Finance if he will intervene with the Central Bank in relation to credit union regulations that require a majority of members to sign up to a death benefit scheme in order for the scheme to be continued by a given credit union in order that these regulations are amended to allow for the schemes to be continued for those that wish to avail of it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26116/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Central Bank have informed me that there is no Central Bank regulation relating to Death Benefit Insurance.

The Central Bank understand that any requirements mandating a credit union to have a percentage of its members sign up to a Death Benefit Insurance scheme to allow such a scheme to be offered to members, may be a particular feature of the product offering of the insurer.

It is a matter for each individual credit union to determine the types of services they offer to their members taking account of all relevant legal and regulatory requirements and guidance. Details including terms and conditions of such services should be provided by the credit union in writing to its members. The services provided by credit unions may also be informed by the business strategies and policies of the particular credit union.

As Minister for Finance, I recognise the important role of credit unions as a volunteer co-operative movement in Ireland and the Government's priorities remain the protection of members' savings, the financial stability of credit unions and the sector overall; and the Government is determined to continue to support a strengthened and growing credit union movement. However, I have no role in the provision of Death Benefit Insurance by the credit unions.

State Claims Agency

Questions (103)

Duncan Smith

Question:

103. Deputy Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Finance the costs associated with claims finalised by the State Claims Agency in each year since 2010 by awarded damages, legal costs, medical fees, engineering fees and other costs in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26142/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The State Claims Agency has prepared the attached table in response to the information requested by the Deputy. The information in the table represents the amount paid on claims finalised by court award between 1 January 2010 and 31 August 2020.

Claims Finalised

Garda Stations

Questions (104)

Brendan Smith

Question:

104. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the timescale for the reopening of Bawnboy Garda station, County Cavan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26198/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The Programme for Government included for a ‘pilot programme of station re-openings’ throughout the country, including Bawnboy Garda Station. OPW undertook technical surveys on the building and issued a report on the works required, indicative costs involved and proposed layout to Garda Estate Management.

The deliberative process between An Garda Síochána and the OPW to finalise proposals is on-going. Upon final Garda sign-off, this Office will prepare, submit and publicise the necessary Part 9 planning application and progress the procurement of works required to re-open the station, which is expected will take place in 2020.

Tax Code

Questions (105)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

105. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if consideration will be given to the request for support measures outlined from the branch of an organisation (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25999/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Minister for Finance has responsibility for the taxation matters raised in this question. I understand that the Deputy will receive a reply from the Minister as he has already submitted the same question to him.

State Properties

Questions (106)

James Browne

Question:

106. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding a use of a building (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26090/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I am advised by my officials that the former Garda station on Roche’s Road, Wexford was closed on 22nd September 2017, following the relocation of An Garda Síochána to the newly built station at Mulgannon Road, Wexford. My officials began the process of seeking alternative State use for the property in line with its policy on vacant properties.

My officials have made many efforts to accommodate requests to take the property under Lease/Licence over the last three years. Property Management in the OPW had agreed to enter into a Lease arrangement with the Wexford Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Service for part of the property. This arrangement did not proceed however when the Support Service advised my officials on the 19th February 2019 that they had secured alternative accommodation in Wexford.

I recently met with parties in Wexford who have expressed an interest in acquiring the former Garda station property. The adjoining Care Centre is now exploring the potential of a feasibility study to assess the viability of licensing the property with the support of Wexford County Council. Both parties have agreed to revert to the OPW as soon as possible.

While discussions on sourcing a possible occupant are advancing, OPW has engaged the services of a contractor to remove overgrowth of weeds and to complete other routine tidying on the site.

In the event that the licensing proposal referenced is not considered viable by the Centre or the Council, my officials will proceed with the disposal of the property by public auction.

EU Funding

Questions (107)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

107. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the reason for considering centralising funding from the European Regional Development Fund in Dublin rather than being used in the regions for the regions as has been the case up to now; when a decision will be made on the plans being considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26151/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

At the outset it is important to remind the Deputy that Ireland’s allocation of European Regional Development Funds have in the past, and will continue in the future, to support projects in all parts of Ireland. Moreover, in accordance with the EU Regulatory requirement, stakeholders at local, regional and national level will continue to have a key role in the planning, monitoring and delivery of these programmes.

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 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. They 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.

The 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 the 28th of 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 on 28th July. This report, along with the Needs Analysis, adopted by the PPSG in July, will inform the ERDF programming for 2021 – 2027.