Company Law

Questions (166)

Christopher O'Sullivan

Question:

166. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if consideration will be given to streamlining the statutory audit process for community co-ops and social enterprises when they draw funds from State bodies in view of the fact the current process is burdensome and costly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38506/20]

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Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

My responsibilities are in respect of statutory audit as required by EU law or national law in respect of small companies.

A statutory audit is a legally required review of a company’s financial statements. A statutory audit provides stakeholders such as creditors, investors and employees, with an independent opinion on the accuracy of the company’s accounts.

Under the Companies Act 2014, all companies are required to undertake a statutory audit of their financial statements. However small companies may avail of an exemption from the requirement to carry out an audit.

The Companies (Accounting) Act 2017 simplified and reduced the financial reporting obligations on small and micro sized companies. It also raised the thresholds for qualification as a small company, so more companies can now qualify for the audit exemption. These upper limits are the highest permitted under EU law.

To qualify as a small company it must satisfy two of the following 3 criteria

- Balance sheet total not exceeding €6m

- Turnover not exceeding €12m

- Employees not exceeding 50

Where community co-ops and social enterprises are registered companies then they would be required to adhere to the rules of the Companies Act 2014 and this includes being able to avail of the exemption from statutory audit on the basis of their size.

If community co-ops and social enterprises do not fall within this segment and there are specific statutory obligations arising for them deriving from responsibilities they assume on foot of receiving public funding from Government Departments and agencies, then the streamlining of audit requirements in this case would be a matter for the relevant Department overseeing the funding concerned.

Employment Rights

Questions (167)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

167. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 175 of 29 September 2020, if all matters have now been resolved in respect of employment permits for the person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38601/20]

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Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

On 6th November 2019, the employer (details supplied) e-mailed my officials querying if different restaurants [owned by different companies] could be brought under the one "umbrella" to allow for movement of staff between the different employers. On 11th November 2019, my officials responded requesting further information from the employer on their proposal in order to be in a position to answer the query.

Following your previous Parliamentary Question on this issue, Parliamentary Question No. 175 of 29 September 2020, my officials again contacted the employer (details supplied) to request further information on their proposal in order to assist, but no response has been forthcoming as of yet.

On 23rd November 2020, my officials sent another request for this additional information. The employer sent a holding response, saying that the information requested will be forwarded later this week.

Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement

Questions (168)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

168. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will provide a schedule of all staff employed by or seconded to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, including their grade and-or rank; the details in respect of their position and role, including the time duration that they have been seconded to the ODCE; and if options exist for seconded staff to extend their time with the ODCE. [38623/20]

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Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

Since his appointment, the current Director of Corporate Enforcement has undertaken a significant restructuring of the Office to better reflect the organisation’s needs in the context of both its strategic shift towards deploying resources towards more serious indications of wrongdoing and the increasingly complex environment within which the ODCE operates.

Establishing the ODCE as the Corporate Enforcement Authority will give the Director greater autonomy and flexibility in terms of the ability to recruit staff with the necessary skills mix and depth of experience and will provide the Director with greater flexibility to adapt if the workload expands. The Bill is awaiting pre-legislative scrutiny at the Oireachtas Committee and I want to proceed with enactment as soon as possible.

The following table indicates a schedule of the current staff complement of ODCE by grade or rank, role and year of assignment to the ODCE.

Staff employed by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and who are assigned to the ODCE may transfer back to the parent Department on request, subject to the availability of a post relevant to their grade or specific professional qualifications. The table also indicates those staff recruited by the Public Appointments Service with particular skillsets and experience, required to fill particular roles. One officer at Assistant Principal grade is on secondment to the ODCE for a period of twelve months and can request to have this period of secondment extended.

The Director of Corporate Enforcement engages directly with An Garda Síochána regarding Garda resourcing of the ODCE. The Department is aware that a request for Garda resources has been made and understands 6 assignments will be made by year-end.

POST

-

ROLE

SPECIFIC COMPETITION?

YEAR OF ASSIGNMENT

Director

1

Director of Corporate Enforcement

y

2012

Digital Forensic Specialist

1

Technological assistance on investigations

y

2017

Principal Officer

1

Management and oversight of Insolvency and Corporate Services Units and liaison with the Department on related matters

n

2007

Enforcement Portfolio Managers

2

Management of investigations and enforcement

y

2017

Enforcement Lawyers

2

Legal advice to Office

y

2018

Forensic Accountants

4

Forensic examination of accounting and financial data

y

y

y

y

2016

2017

2018

2018

Solicitor

1

Solicitor to the Office; court appearances, engagement of counsel, etc

y

2002

Assistant Principals

3

Management of Enforcement Unit

Management of Insolvency Unit

Management of Corporate Services Unit

n

n

n

2020

2017

2002

Higher Executive Officers

8

Higher-level decision-making; staff management; local planning

n

n

n

n

n

n

n

n

2007

2007

2008

2009

2015

2017

2017

2018

Executive Officers

6

Decision-making; staff supervision

n

n

n

n

n

n

2012

2014

2017

2018

2018

2019

Clerical Officers

7

Clerical support to units

n

n

n

n

n

n

2002

2011

2012

2016

2018

2019

2019

Detective Inspector

1

Seconded from Garda National Economic Crime Bureau to the ODCE for criminal investigations - roles as per An Garda Síochána for each rank

n/a

2018

Detective Sergeant

3

Seconded from Garda National Economic Crime Bureau to the ODCE for criminal investigations - roles as per An Garda Síochána for each rank

n/a

2017

2019

2019

Detective Garda

4

Seconded from Garda National Economic Crime Bureau to the ODCE for criminal investigations - roles as per An Garda Síochána for each rank

n/a

2010

2012

2015

2017

Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement

Questions (169)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

169. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of vacancies that exist in the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement; the length of time the vacancies have existed; and the timeframe for filling the positions. [38624/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

Since his appointment, the current Director has undertaken a significant restructuring of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) to better reflect the organisation’s needs in the context of both its strategic shift towards deploying resources towards more serious indications of wrongdoing and the increasingly complex environment within which the ODCE operates.

Establishing the ODCE as the Corporate Enforcement Authority will give the Director greater autonomy and flexibility in terms of the ability to recruit staff with the necessary skills mix and depth of experience and will provide the Director with greater flexibility to adapt if the workload expands. The Bill is awaiting pre-legislative scrutiny at the Oireachtas Committee and I want to proceed with enactment as soon as possible.

Over recent years, a number of vacancies have arisen within the ODCE through a combination of retirement, promotion and transfer to other parts of the public service. In that context, the skill sets, competencies, roles and responsibilities associated with each vacant post have been reviewed and reconfigured.

The current serving staff complement of the ODCE is 36, excluding Garda resources and the number of vacancies is 6, as follows:

- Two vacant positions at Clerical Officer level, one part time post, vacant since February 2020 just before the public health emergency occurred, for whom a comparative replacement is not yet available and one full time position, vacant since September 2020 which is due to be filled by 30th November 2020.

- One vacant position at Higher Executive Officer level, vacant since January 2020 and for which replacement has been impacted by the current public health emergency. It is expected that this vacancy will be filled by the end of February 2021.

- Three vacancies at Forensic Accountant level, two of which are vacant since May 2019, and one since November 2019, all of which are due to be filled from the current recruitment process which is led by the Public Appointments Service. The recruitment process is being finalised and it is expected that the appointments will be announced shortly.

Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement

Questions (170)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

170. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the level of resources that the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement has in the context of funding, office space, capacity to work from home, vehicles, IT hardware and software; and the details of requests made by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement for additional allocation of resources and staff in respect of 2020 and 2021. [38625/20]

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Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

The issue of resourcing of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement is kept under review on a regular basis by the Department and the ODCE as part of the ongoing work in operationalising the transition of the ODCE to a stand-alone agency and also as part of the normal liaison on operational matters relating to the Office.

Funding

The distribution of the funding allocations for the Department’s Vote, including that of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, is determined through the annual Revised Estimates Volume (REV) process.

In 2019 an additional €1 million was provided for the ODCE to reflect the costs associated with the transition of the ODCE into a stand-alone Agency. The total funding allocation of €6.057million represented a 20% increase on the previous year. This increased funding allocation was provided again in 2020 with €3,740,000 allocated in respect of pay and €2,317,000 allocated in respect of non-Pay. The resources sought and allocated for 2021 remain unchanged.

Office space

The ODCE resides on three floors of a shared building in Parnell Square. The office space available is at capacity for current staffing levels.

In consideration of issues arising on the establishment of the ODCE as a stand-alone agency and in preparation for this change, the Director and staff of the ODCE have been working with my Department and the OPW on necessary accommodation arrangements that will likely be required following transition to the Corporate Enforcement Authority.

Capacity to work from home

The equipment available for remote working comprises a mix of encrypted mobile remote access devices and encrypted desktop PCs enabled for remote working and ensures that all that all staff are fully equipped for working from home.

Vehicles

ODCE does not have any vehicles; the Garda Unit however has vehicles available to them which are provided by An Garda Síochána.

IT Hardware and Software

The ODCE is in the process of finalising a contract for IT hardware for its forensics laboratory which will fulfil the hardware requirements of the laboratory.

All other general IT hardware is sourced through a Departmental contract and a supplementary order is currently being processed on behalf of the Office which this will fulfil the IT hardware requirements of the Office for general use. General use software is similarly sourced though Departmental contracts. Where additional and specialised software is required, the Office is fully funded to source it through procurement procedures.

Requests made by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement for additional allocation of resources and staff in respect of 2020 and 2021

As I said previously, in 2019 an additional €1 million was provided for the ODCE to reflect the costs associated with the transition of the ODCE into a stand-alone Agency. In 2020 a total allocation of €6,057,000 was provided for the ODCE, €3,740,000 allocated in respect of pay and €2,317,000 allocated in respect of non-Pay. An additional €1,874,000 had initially been requested by the ODCE for 2020 for non-pay purposes to cover potential legal and rental costs. These costs did not materialise in 2020.

With respect to Garda resources, while the Companies Act 2014 provides for the secondment of Gardaí to the ODCE, the Director and the Garda Commissioner are independent in their functions and the assignment of Gardaí to the ODCE is an operational matter for both the Director and the Commissioner. The Director of Corporate Enforcement engages directly with An Garda Síochána regarding Garda resourcing of the ODCE. The Department is aware that a request for Garda resources has been made and 6 officers are expected to be assigned by year-end.

In terms of civilian staffing resources, as part of the work underway to progress the transition of the ODCE to the Corporate Enforcement Authority, the Department and the ODCE are working closely in assessing and identifying the specific posts that will be required for the future operation and governance of the proposed new agency.

Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement

Questions (171)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

171. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of gardaí and Revenue Commissioners’ officers currently working in the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement by grade and rank. [38626/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

With respect to Garda resources, while the Companies Act 2014 provides for the secondment of Gardaí to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE), the Director and the Garda Commissioner are independent in their functions and the assignment of Gardaí to the ODCE is an operational matter for both the Director and the Commissioner.

There are currently 8 members of An Garda Síochána seconded to ODCE from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, as follows:

- 1 Detective Inspector

- 3 Detective Sergeant

- 4 Detective Garda

The Department is aware that a request for Garda resources has been made and 6 assignments will be made by year-end.

There are no officers from the Revenue Commissioners working in the ODCE but there is close liaison with the Revenue Commissioner where appropriate.

Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement

Questions (172)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

172. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of data access requests the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement has made to telecom companies and social media companies here in the past three years to date in 2020 under the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011; the number of access requests that were approved and declined by the companies that the data was requested from; and the reason the data was sought. [38852/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

Any requests made by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement to companies are operational matters for the ODCE. Section 949(3) of the Companies Act 2014 provides that the Director of Corporate Enforcement shall be independent in the performance of his statutory functions. I, as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and Innovation have no direct function in such matters.

I am informed by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement that the provisions of the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011 do not currently extend to the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

Electric Vehicles

Questions (173)

Emer Higgins

Question:

173. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications his plans to reduce carbon emissions to help management companies of apartment complexes install electric charge points in underground car parks for residents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38094/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Climate Action Plan, published in June 2019, sets out a range of actions to support the delivery of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs). These actions, which are further underpinned by the Programme for Government, include developing the electric vehicle charging network necessary to support the growth of EVs and to ensure the supply of infrastructure stays sufficiently ahead of demand. The development of a strategy to meet these objectives is currently underway.  

Charging while at home accounts for around 80% of electric vehicle charging in Ireland and Government policy is to promote home charging in order to maintain this current high level of charging. To support home charging the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), on behalf of my Department, continues to administer an EV Home Charger Grant of up to €600 towards the purchase and installation of an EV home charger unit for those with access to an off-street parking space which can be connected to their domestic supply.  

Work is currently being progressed to expand the EV Home Charger Grant to include shared parking in apartment blocks and similar developments. However, there are a number of complex planning and legal issues to address first. My Department is working closely with the SEAI and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage to address the issues involved.  

It should be noted that the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2018/844/EU) requires Member States to ensure that appropriate charging infrastructure is installed in all new residential and non-residential buildings with more than 10 parking spaces. It is intended that this EU requirement will be transposed into Irish law by end 2020.

North-South Interconnector

Questions (174, 192, 193, 194)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

174. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if a meeting will be arranged with his Department and council officials (details supplied) to discuss the North South Interconnector project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38232/20]

View answer

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

192. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the most recent estimated cost for undergrounding the North-South Interconnector; the year in which the cost was estimated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38234/20]

View answer

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

193. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the way in which the North-South Interconnector will be constructed if Eirgrid or the construction contractors ESB do not have permission from land owners to access private land; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38235/20]

View answer

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

194. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the discussions he has had with his counterpart in Northern Ireland, Minister Nichola Mallon on the North-South Interconnector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38236/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 174 and 192 to 194, inclusive, together.

The North-South Interconnector is critical to improving the efficient operation of the all-island single electricity market and increasing security of electricity supply in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It will also help Ireland to move towards 70% renewable electricity, a commitment made in the Programme for Government. A resilient and well-connected energy infrastructure is vital for Ireland’s economic well-being and the ability to respond to the future needs of energy consumers.

I welcomed the decision in September by Minister Mallon to grant full planning consent for the project. The project was also approved by An Bord Pleanala in Ireland in 2016. 

The option of undergrounding the line has been assessed on several occasions over the years. Most recently, my Department published an independent study in October 2018 on undergrounding the interconnector which found that an overhead line remained the most appropriate option for the proposed interconnector. This study was the latest in a series of studies that reached the same conclusion. The estimated cost of undergrounding the line was €680 million versus an estimated cost of €230 million for the overhead option. It is important to point out these estimates do not include provision for additional associated construction costs for terminals and substation connectivity.  The estimates also do not include costs of landowner compensation.

EirGrid and ESB Networks, as our electricity system operators, always seek to work in close collaboration with landowners and stakeholders in the delivery of electricity infrastructure. Both companies are engaging with those living closest to the route of the interconnector. In that regard I note that EirGrid has already set in place a variety of engagements locally, including the appointment of community liaison officers and a mobile information unit active in the area. I expect such engagements to intensify in the coming weeks and months, subject of course to national public health guidelines on Covid-19.

In regard to a suggested meeting between Monaghan County Council officials and departmental officials,  it is important for me to point out that my Department does not have any role in the delivery of electricity infrastructure on the ground. This is consistent with the 2012 Government Policy Statement on the Strategic Importance of Transmission and Other Energy Infrastructure which states: ‘The Government does not seek to direct EirGrid and ESB Networks or other energy infrastructure developers to particular sites or routes or technologies’.  

I believe that this important new cross-Border infrastructure will significantly facilitate the integration of renewable energy into the power system, will bring economic benefits to the region and can address our climate objectives on the island of Ireland.

Post Office Network

Questions (175, 176, 177, 178, 196, 200, 202, 203)

Holly Cairns

Question:

175. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the progress his Department has made on addressing the actions relevant to his areas of responsibility outlined in the Private Members’ motion of 16 November 2016 on the post office network; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38527/20]

View answer

Holly Cairns

Question:

176. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the progress his Department has made on addressing the actions relevant to his areas of responsibility outlined in the Private Members’ motion of 16 November 2016 on the post office network; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38529/20]

View answer

Pauline Tully

Question:

177. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will implement the Private Members' motion previously passed in 16 November 2016 regarding the future of the post office network as a matter of urgency to ensure the sustainability of the existing community post office network; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38729/20]

View answer

Brendan Smith

Question:

178. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he plans to put in place a five year plan for the post office network to ensure its sustainability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38824/20]

View answer

Holly Cairns

Question:

196. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the progress his Department has made on addressing the actions relevant to his areas of responsibility outlined in the Private Members’ motion of 16 November 2016 on the post office network; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38526/20]

View answer

Pauline Tully

Question:

200. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will implement the Private Members' motion passed in 16 November 2016 regarding the future of the post office network as a matter of urgency to ensure the sustainability of the existing community post office network; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38678/20]

View answer

Brendan Smith

Question:

202. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications his plans to implement a sustainability plan for the post office network with particular reference to the provision of new products, additional Government services for the network and capital investment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38823/20]

View answer

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

203. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the steps he plans to take, including a Government public service obligation subvention, to ensure the survival of the post office network for the medium term future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38830/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 175 to 178, inclusive,196, 200, 202 and 203 together.

In the four years since the Private Members motion referred to was debated a lot of work has been done to ensure An Post and the post office network remain viable. 

An Post put in place a Strategic Plan, covering the period 2017 – 2021, in response to the structural challenges faced by the postal sector.

In order to implement the Plan, the cost of which was estimated to be in the region of €150m, the Minister for Finance provided a loan of €30m to the company in December 2017 to support the renewal of the post office network (€15m) and the continued fulfilment of a 5 day per week mails delivery service (€15m).

As part of the delivery of the plan the company was split into two distinct business units, An Post Mails and Parcels and An Post Retail.

An Post is transforming its retail network by delivering new products and new formats. This includes, among other things, diversifying and growing the financial services products it provides for individuals and SMEs to include loans, credit cards and more foreign exchange products, local banking in association with the major banks and a full range of State Savings products. Two new dedicated sub-brands, An Post Money and a new business-to-business brand, An Post Commerce, were launched. Investment by An Post of €50 million in the network is designed to encourage communities to use the enhanced services in their local post office.

With regard to the community banking model a project team comprising officials from the Department of Rural and Community Development and the Department of Finance was established to progress that particular commitment.  The final report was published by the respective Ministers on 4 July 2018. The report indicated that the Department of Finance would continue to engage in dialogue with Irish Rural Link and other stakeholders and that it would commission an independent external evaluation of the possibility or otherwise for promotion of the local public banking concept in Ireland.  That further report was published by the Department of Finance in December 2019 and concluded that there is no business case for the State to establish a public banking system in Ireland, supporting the outcome of the July 2018 report.

The importance of the post office network has been clearly demonstrated throughout the pandemic where we have seen a range of initiatives through our post offices which have helped support local communities, the elderly and vulnerable. 

The serious decline in the volume of mail and the impact of Covid on footfall through post offices, has had a severe impact on the postal network and I am aware of the concerns of the Irish Postmasters Union. I am also aware of the findings of the most recent Grant Thornton Report commissioned by the IPU, which are being considered by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications.  

While it is longstanding Government policy that postal services will not be directly subsidised by the Government, we remain fully committed to a sustainable post office network as a key component of the economic and social infrastructure in both rural and urban areas. 

The Programme for Government recognises that a modernised post office network will provide a better range of financial services and e-commerce services for citizens and enterprise, as part of our commitment to a sustainable nationwide post office network.

Government believes An Post has untapped potential to do more and make a further significant contribution across many areas of public, business and community life in Ireland. With an evolving mandate An Post can emerge as a central hub for a wide variety of valuable community focused services.  We will work closely with An Post to see if there is scope to channel additional services through the network. All options will be considered fully and efforts will be redoubled to give effect to our commitment to ensuring a sustainable and viable post office network. 

Energy Infrastructure

Questions (179, 190)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

179. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37765/20]

View answer

Patrick Costello

Question:

190. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the plans that exist to support LNG import terminals in the State; the departmental policy towards fracking and LNG terminals more generally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38161/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 179 and 190 together.

The Programme for Government sets out that, as Ireland moves towards carbon neutrality, it does not make sense to develop liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals that import fracked gas. The Programme for Government is clear that the Government does not support the importation of fracked gas and commits to developing a policy statement to establish that approach. 

My Department is developing the policy statement which includes consideration of any necessary legal/regulatory provisions. This includes detailed examination of the European energy and environmental frameworks, in which our national laws operate, to ensure the policy statement will be legally robust. Once finalised, I intend to bring the Policy Statement to Government for approval.

In addition, my Department is carrying out a review of the security of energy supply of Ireland’s electricity and natural gas systems which is focusing on the period to 2030 in the context of ensuring a sustainable pathway to 2050. The review will include a detailed technical analysis and a public consultation. A request for tender for the technical analysis has recently been published. 

The review will inform future policy in relation to natural gas supplies, gas storage, electricity interconnection, emergency reserves and other measures that would enhance our security of supply. This will be done in the context of the doubling of the electricity generated from renewable sources to 70% of Ireland’s final consumption and the achievement of net zero emissions by 2050.

I expect that the review will be completed by the end of 2021.

Public Procurement Contracts

Questions (180)

Carol Nolan

Question:

180. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the details of contracts of €25,000 or more than have been awarded by his Department or bodies under the aegis of his Department that were found to be non-compliant with procurement guidelines from 1 January 2019 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37796/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

In general, competitive tendering is used by my Department unless exceptional circumstances exist which justifies the use of an alternative approach and Department of Finance Circular 40/02 on Public Procurement provides for instances where competitive tendering may not be appropriate, feasible or cost-effective. Non-compliant contracts of €25,000 or more are disclosed by my Department each year in its Appropriation Account which is audited by Comptroller and Auditor General. Details of contracts awarded in 2019 and to date in 2020 are shown in the following tables.  

2019

Contract

Company

Contract Value (Ex VAT)

Mobile phones

Vodafone

€189,571

Fixed phones

Eir

€135,661

Cleaning Services

Moore Cleaning

€120,017

Cleaning Services

Accent Facilities

€67,309

Legal drafting services

Independent contractor

€25,000

Media Monitoring Services

Kantar

€59,546

Legal advisory services in support of the National Broadband Plan

Mason, Hayes & Curran

€1,200,000

Legal advisory services in support of the National Broadband Plan

Mason, Hayes & Curran

€600,000

Financial and procurement advisory services in support of the National Broadband Plan

KPMG

€850,000

Financial and procurement advisory services in support of the National Broadband Plan

KPMG

€850,000

Technical advisory services to support the National Broadband Plan

Analysys Mason

€700,000

Technical advisory services to support the National Broadband Plan

Analysys Mason

€430,375

Specialist personnel to support the National Broadband Plan

KPMG

€300,000

Taxation advisory services in support of the National Broadband Plan

Deloitte

€40,000

Taxation advisory services in support of the National Broadband Plan

Deloitte

€30,000

Economic and strategy advisory services in support of the National Broadband Plan

PWC

€300,000

Economic and strategy advisory services in support of the National Broadband Plan

PWC

€100,000

Insurance advisory services in support of the National Broadband Plan

Marsh Insurance

€94,838

Management of the National Digital Research Centre

National Digital Research Centre

€2,330,000

Advisory services in relation to the procurement of a MSE for the Galway-Mayo Telecoms Duct

Analysys Mason

€32,301

Advisory services in relation to the procurement of ECAS

Analysys Mason

€41,000

ObSERVE services to survey the western Irish Sea

University College Cork-led consortium

€270,109

Chair of Price Monitoring Group

Communimax

€70,000

Seismic Programme

IMC Exploration

€50,000

Fuel

West Cork Oil Company

€70,744

Insurance

Aquabroker

€64,529

Fuel Cards

Diesel Card Ireland

€67,430

Electrical Maintenance

Marine Electrics

€80,000

Filming

New Decade

€60,000

Electric Vehicle

Hyundai

€30,679

Maintenance

MH Auto Body

€120,000

Consultancy Services

Independent contractor

€62,467

Maintenance

Independent contractor

€50,000

Maintenance

South Coast Diesels

€50,000

Support on Wind Energy Guidelines Noise Provisions

RPS

€35,700

Marginal abatement cost curve for Ireland

McKinsey & Co

€318,000

2020 (To Date)

Contract

Company

Contract Value (Ex VAT)

Legal advisory services relating to the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill

Independent contractor

€55,000

Just Transition

Independent contractor

€30,000

Legal advisory services in support of the National Broadband Plan

Mason Hayes & Curran

€57,000

Financial and procurement advisory services in support of the National Broadband Plan

KPMG

€322,096

The information requested in relation to the agencies under the aegis of my Department is an operational matter for each agency.  The Department will request the relevant bodies to reply directly to the Deputy with the information requested in respect of their organisations.

Just Transition Fund

Questions (181)

Carol Nolan

Question:

181. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the status of the midlands regional transition team application to the Secretariat Technical Assistance for Regions in Transition on 20 September 2019 requesting technical assistance to develop a holistic plan for just transition in the midland region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37884/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

In July 2019, the European Commission confirmed its agreement to the inclusion of the Midlands Region in the Platform for Coal Regions in Transition. The overall purpose of the Platform is to assist EU countries and their coal (and fossil fuel) regions with networking, knowledge sharing, and technical and advisory support. Membership of the initiative enabled the Midlands Region to apply for assistance under its START programme (Secretariat Technical Assistance for Regions in Transition) to develop a Holistic Plan for Just Transition in the Midlands Region, to assist with the development of strategies and projects for the region, focusing in particular on the employment challenges faced by workers affected by decarbonisation. Under the Commission’s EU Green Deal proposals, the initiative has now become part of the Just Transition Platform. This objective of the platform is to provide a single access point for participating regions for support and information related to funding opportunities, relevant regulatory updates, or sector specific initiatives.

I am informed that the Midlands Regional Transition Team (MRTT), under the auspices of the Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan, has undertaken a programme of work over the last year, with the technical assistance of START, to inform wider work on just transition within the region, which has delivered the following outputs:

- a Midlands regional profile, setting out analysis of the socio-economic and industrial context;

- an inventory of project proposals for the Midlands region, focusing on identifying key, credible, considered projects to facilitate a just transition. An open call for projects under this process registered over 150 projects, which served as the first phase of project identification for the Just Transition Fund;

- a report on ‘Future employment and skills in the Irish Midlands’ published in August 2020; and

- a report on ‘Midlands Pathway to Transition’, which maps a process for transition in the Midlands in the short and longer term, through the MRTT and involving other relevant government actors.

These outputs are available on www.midlandsireland.ie and https://ec.europa.eu/energy/topics/oil-gas-and-coal/eu-coal-regions/secretariat-technical-assistance-regions-transition-start_en.

As recommended in the Just Transition Commissioner's first progress report, published in May 2020, the MRTT, established by Offaly County Council to address the challenges and opportunities presented by the acceleration of Bord na Mona's 'Brown to Green' decarbonisation strategy, has been expanded to include other impacted local authority areas. The MRTT aims to pursue funding opportunities and actions to mitigate the impact of Bord na Mona job losses, and to position the region to develop alternative forms of employment, attract investment and maximise existing opportunities. The Commissioner's report also recommended the establishment of a number of working groups within the MRTT, with membership drawn from the local authorities and State agencies operating in the Region. Four working groups will address the following areas:

- Education/Training/Research

- Employment Generation

- Employment Continuity Pathways

- Community Assistance Programme/Social Enterprise Interventions

My Department’s call under the Just Transition Fund for innovative projects that will contribute to the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the wider Midlands region, and which have employment and enterprise potential, has identified a number of possible opportunities for collaboration between public bodies and private enterprises.

The Department published an initial list of sixteen successful projects on 9 September 2020 and I announced forty-seven further successful projects today, details of which are available on www.gov.ie. Unsuccessful applicants will be offered a further opportunity to engage with the MRTT to progress project concepts, develop partnerships and/or identify further sources of funding. The MRTT will also provide support, where appropriate, to projects that are successful in securing funding from the Just Transition Fund.

Legislative Process

Questions (182)

Carol Nolan

Question:

182. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the details of all applications made by his Department to the Oireachtas Business Committee to waive pre-legislative scrutiny of primary and secondary legislation sponsored or initiated by his Department from 1 January 2017 to date; the outcomes of such applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37893/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department has applied to waive pre-legislative scrutiny in respect of two items of primary legislation since January 2017. The first item of legislation was the Radiological Protection Bill 2018 and the second item of legislation was the Inland Fisheries (Amendment) Bill 2017.

Pre-legislative scrutiny was waived on 2 occasions for the Radiological Protection Bill 2018, in May 2017 and January 2018.  The application for an exemption was on the basis that the new provisions contained in the Bill were of a technical nature and did not alter the principles or policies set out in the Radiological Protection Act 1991. The Bill dealt with “Mulcreevy type” issues with the Radiological Protection Act 1991 which the Attorney General's Office had identified and advised required early resolution. 

An exemption from pre-legislative scrutiny for the Inland Fisheries (Amendment) Bill was sought to address an issue in the Inland Fisheries Act 2010 concerning the power of IFI to prosecute in relation to offences under the Fisheries Acts. It was essential that the 2010 Act could be amended without delay to ensure that Inland Fisheries Ireland, as a statutory prosecutor, could continue to enforce the Inland Fisheries Acts which underpin the protection, management and conservation of Ireland’s inland fisheries and sea-angling resource. 

The exemption requests were granted in both cases.