Wage Subsidy Scheme

Questions (285)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

Question:

285. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that domestic employers who availed of the temporary wage subsidy scheme for domestic employees, such as childminders, are being asked to pay the full amount given to them, as part of the scheme, back to the Revenue Commissioners; if a reimbursement scheme can be set up to cover this loss in view of the fact had employers not availed of the scheme employees would have applied for the pandemic unemployment payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38798/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), which is provided for in section 28 of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (COVID-19) Act 2020, operated from 26 March 2020 to 31 August 2020 and was replaced by the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) from 1 September 2020.

The scheme was introduced as an emergency measure to provide financial support to businesses that were severely impacted by the pandemic and enabled employees whose employers could no longer afford to pay wages receive subsidy payments. The scheme was not intended as a support to domestic employers nor was it ever implied that it applied to them.

The TWSS operated on a self-assessment basis with the onus on applicants to satisfy themselves that they fully met the eligibility criteria for the scheme and to self-declare to Revenue that they correctly qualified. To assist employers in determining their eligibility, Revenue published very extensive guidance, which clearly set out the qualifying conditions, including the requirement that a minimum 25% decline in business turnover had occurred due to COVID-19 related restrictions. Revenue also deployed very significant resources to a TWSS Helpline to ensure employers were supported to the greatest extent possible through telephone and written (including e-mail) engagement.

The provision of domestic duties by an employee within a private household, where the employer is the owner or occupier is not a business activity for the purposes of the scheme. A relevant business in the context of the TWSS generally includes manufacturing, buying, selling or supplying goods or services with a view to making a profit, none of which can be associated with employing domestic staff. It is also not possible for a domestic employer to meet the ‘25% turnover’ eligibility test as there is no turnover associated with engaging a domestic employee.

In the event that any employers, including domestic employers, received TWSS payments to which they were not entitled, it is very important that they engage with Revenue and agree repayment arrangements. Where this does not happen, it may result in Revenue raising assessments and deploying debt collection sanctions to secure the repayments.

From the perspective of the employee, questions relating to an individual’s entitlements and rights in an employment context, what wages an employer may be legally obliged to pay employees in respect of their employment contract, hours worked and an employer’s capacity to pay wages to employees in light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic are all matters that are outside the remit of the scheme.

The question in relation to applications for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Social Protection.

Help-To-Buy Scheme

Questions (286)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

286. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance if a policy change will be considered to the help to buy scheme whereby if a couple is purchasing a home in which one of the couple is a first time buyer that some relief would be given to assist them to purchase a home. [38848/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Section 477C of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 requires that applicants for the Help to Buy Scheme (HTB) must be first-time buyers. This includes circumstances where there is more than one person involved in the purchase or building of a new home.

The definition of first time buyer in Help to Buy is as follows:

'first-time purchaser' means an individual who, at the time of a claim under subsection (3) has not, either individually or jointly with any other person, previously purchased or previously built, directly or indirectly, on his or her own behalf a dwelling.

The intention is to target the Help to Buy scheme on those who have not had the opportunity to build up equity in another property which could be used to purchase the second or subsequent property.

The definition complements that in the Central Bank's macro-prudential rules. It should be noted that the Bank is independent in the formulation of this policy.

I do not propose amending the definition of first time buyer along the lines suggested by the Deputy.

Revenue Commissioners

Questions (287)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

287. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the number of data access requests the Revenue Commissioners have 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. [38849/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that, based on the advice of the Attorney General’s Office, it has not made any disclosure requests to communications service providers under the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011 since December 2018.

The following table outlines the number of disclosure requests made under the Act since 2017:

Year

Number of disclosure requests

2017

40

2018

26

2019

0

2020

0

No disclosure requests were declined but , there were 3 requests in 2018 where no response was received from the relevant communications service provider.

The Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011 provides that Revenue can make a disclosure request under that Act for the purposes of the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of a “revenue offence”. A Revenue offence is defined by the 2011 Act as an offence, that is a serious offence, under section 14 of the Customs Act 2015; section 1078 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997; section 102 of the Finance Act 1999; section 119 of the Finance Act 2001; section 79 of the Finance Act 2003 (inserted by s 62 of the Finance Act 2005); or section 78 of the Finance Act 2005. Examples of revenue offences include tax or duty evasion, fuel fraud, supply or sale of illicit tobacco products. I am advised by Revenue that its requests under the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011 were in accordance with the aforementioned provisions.

Finally, the Deputy should be aware that a Judge of the High Court designated by the Government oversees the operation of the Act. The designated Judge has access to all official documents or records associated with disclosure requests. The Judge ascertains whether the Revenue Commissioners and other agencies are complying with the provisions of the Act and reports annually to the Taoiseach on any matters that are considered appropriate.

Mortgage Lending

Questions (288)

Thomas Gould

Question:

288. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to a situation in which a bank (details supplied) has refused mortgage approval due to the Covid-19 pandemic despite no loss in income by application. [38892/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

As you will be aware, both officials and I have engaged and will continue to engage extensively with the Banking and Payments Federation (BPFI) and the banks directly in relation to supports for personal and business customers affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Officials in my Department are alert to issues raised directly by the public and these inform the Department’s ongoing engagement process and policy formation.

Notwithstanding this, it is important to highlight that, as Minister for Finance, I cannot mandate or overrule the internal risk assessment processes in any bank, even one in which the State has a shareholding. Furthermore I am specifically precluded from intervening in the case of any individual customer with any bank, even one in which the State has a shareholding. 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.

Furthermore, the banking crisis we faced over ten years ago was fuelled by unsustainable lending. There are now thankfully far firmer regulatory controls and restrictions on lenders. Speaking on this particular issue, on 7 May 2020 the Governor of the Central Bank publicly noted that if an individual borrower’s circumstances have changed such that doubt is cast over the sustainability of potential borrowing, it is in the best interests of the borrower and the bank if the situation is reviewed.

The European Union (Consumer Mortgage Credit Agreements) Regulations 2016 (CMCAR) apply here. These mandate that before concluding a mortgage credit agreement, a lender must make a thorough assessment of the consumer’s creditworthiness. That assessment must take appropriate account of factors relevant to verifying the prospect of the consumer being able to meet his or her obligations under the credit agreement. The CMCAR also provide that a lender should only make credit available to a consumer where the result of the creditworthiness assessment indicates that the consumer’s obligations resulting from the credit agreement are likely to be met in the manner required under that agreement. The assessment of creditworthiness must be carried out on the basis of information on the consumer’s income and expenses and other financial and economic circumstances which is necessary, sufficient and proportionate.

In addition, the Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Code 2012 imposes ‘Knowing the Consumer and Suitability’ requirements on lenders. Under these requirements, lenders are required to assess affordability of credit and the suitability of a product or service based on the individual circumstances of each borrower.

This overall regulatory framework means a decision to grant or refuse an individual application for mortgage credit is a commercial decision to be made by the regulated entity. Where a formal loan offer is made by a lender, the loan offer may contain a condition that may allow the lender to withdraw or vary the offer if in the lender’s opinion there is any material change in circumstances prior to drawdown. In such cases, the decision to withdraw or vary the loan offer is also a commercial decision for the lender.

These overlapping and complimentary regulations are designed to protect consumers, prevent risky unsustainable lending, protect the integrity of the financial system and preserve competition in the market.

Officials in my Department did request a comment from Bank of Ireland on the impact of Covid-19 on the processing of mortgages and received the following response:

“At Bank of Ireland we are very conscious of the potential impact of COVID-19 on income levels and we assess each application carefully taking individual customer circumstances into consideration. Where customers are progressing mortgage applications and have affordability to do so, the Bank continues to support those applications.

Where income has changed or where we are aware of potential challenges to a customer’s income as a result of COVID-19, we are liaising with customers to understand their circumstances and assess if these are expected to change again in the future. This process has always been followed as it wouldn’t be responsible to provide somebody with a mortgage at a level that they may struggle to afford now or in the future.

We engage closely with our mortgage applicants on an ongoing basis to ensure we fully understand their circumstances. As part of this engagement we ask employers to confirm if their employee’s income is supported by a Government scheme due to COVID-19. The Bank does not seek any information about financial support that may be provided to the employer.”

Mortgage Lending

Questions (289)

Thomas Gould

Question:

289. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Finance the statutory timeframe to provide written refusal and reason for refusal to mortgage applicants. [38893/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Central Bank has advised that the Consumer Protection Code 2012 (the Code) sets out timeframes for assessing a mortgage application. A regulated entity is required to make a decision on a mortgage application within 10 business days of receipt of all documents or items of information necessary to assess the application. If the regulated entity cannot make a decision on whether it will grant or refuse the application within 10 business days, it must inform the consumer of the reasons why the assessment of the application will take longer than 10 business days and the expected timeframe within which a decision will be made.

If the mortgage application is refused, the European Union (Consumer Mortgage Credit Agreements) Regulations 2016 require that the regulated entity must inform the consumer without delay of the refusal. Where the refusal is based on the result of the database consultation, the creditor shall inform the consumer of the result of such consultation and of the particulars of the database consulted. The Code also requires that, where a credit application is refused, the regulated entity must clearly outline to the consumer the reasons why the credit was not approved, and must offer to provide this information on paper or another durable medium to the consumer.

Regional Development

Questions (290)

Seán Canney

Question:

290. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to put in place the programme for Government commitments to regional development (details supplied); the way in which he plans to address regional inequality; if a commitment will be given to a policy of positive discrimination in the upcoming review of the National Development Plan 2018-2027; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38753/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

Balanced regional development is a key priority of this Government and this priority is at the heart of Project Ireland 2040. This strategic plan includes the National Planning Framework (NPF), which sets the overarching spatial strategy for the next twenty years, along with the National Development Plan (NDP) 2018-2027, which sets out the ten year capital and infrastructure investment strategy of €116 billion.

Ensuring close alignment between the two is necessary in order to accommodate a projected 1 million additional people by 2040 across Ireland's three regional assembly areas. The plan aims to ensure that 75% of growth takes place outside Dublin. One of the objectives of the review of the National Development Plan, which I announced recently, is to ensure the alignment of investment with that strategy in order to promote regional development as planned.

Project Ireland 2040 provides an opportunity to successfully accommodate that growth by refocusing investment in our rural towns and villages through the support of the €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, and by ensuring the cities of Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford grow at twice the pace of Dublin through the support of the €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund. By delivering compact growth within our rural villages, our towns and our cities it will become possible to deliver more infrastructure to more people e.g. public transport, broadband, housing, health and a broad range of social, cultural, sporting and community services.

The three Regional Assemblies are responsible for co-ordinating, promoting and supporting the strategic planning and sustainable development of their regions, by formulating Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSES). The strategy for the Northern and Western Region provides the opportunity for the priorities from the County Development Plans to be integrated into a regional investment plan which is expected to be a major driver of the implementation of the NPF.

A regional report on the North West has been published on the Project Ireland 2040 website. The report details the specific regional projects and programmes which are being planned and delivered in the North-West as part of the public investment detailed in Project Ireland 2040.

In addition, my Department publishes a major capital projects tracker, which sets out details of the key projects and programmes being implemented under the NDP, including the location of the projects where possible. The Tracker includes a number of major projects directly related to the Northern and Western region. The tracker currently focuses on projects and programmes with costs greater than €20 million. While it does not provide an exhaustive list of all capital expenditure, the list of projects serves to highlight the diverse range of infrastructural demands competing for the resources of the State.

Court Accommodation

Questions (291)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

291. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the cost of scaffolding that has been positioned around the dome of the Four Courts for the past number of years. [37773/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The amount expended to date on the Four Courts Scaffolding by the Office of Public Works is €1,146,131.11 Ex. Vat.

The scaffolding facilitates on-going essential repairs to the Drum at the Four Courts at Inns Quay, Dublin 7, and has been used to provide access to the upper dome to facilitate concrete repair works; access to rotunda area to facilitate inspection, investigations, plaster repairs and decoration. It continues to provide access to intermediate level of the dome to facilitate investigations of plaster mouldings to rotunda, and for maintenance purposes.

Public Procurement Contracts

Questions (292)

Carol Nolan

Question:

292. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the details of contracts of €25,000 or more that 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. [37803/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the procurement processes for all contracts in my Department were carried out in accordance with the Office of Government Procurement’s (OGP) Public Procurement Guidelines for Goods and Services which aim to promote an open, competitive and non-discriminatory public procurement regime which delivers the best value for money.

Five procurement processes valued over €25,000 (excluding VAT) were undertaken in 2019 and 2020 by my Department under the terms of Article 32 of the Public Sector Procurement Directive (2004/18/EC). This Article provides for the awarding of contracts without the use of a competitive procedure in certain circumstances, including, for example: where no suitable tenders have been submitted in response to an open or restricted procedure; where competition is absent for technical reasons; and for reasons of extreme urgency brought about by unforeseeable events.

The Deputy will note that there was an increase in the number of Article 32 procurements valued over €25,000 in my Department in 2020, in comparison with 2019. This was primarily due to the operational impacts of the Covid-19 public health emergency, which has led to major changes in how the Department delivers on its strategic remit.

Details of all contracts/purchases of more than €25,000 (exclusive of VAT) undertaken without a competitive process, and the reasons for doing so, are notified to the Comptroller and Auditor General when preparing the Annual Appropriation Accounts and published in that context.

The relevant information in respect of my Department is set out in the table below.

Contracts over €25,000 approved without a Competitive Tender process

Year

Body

Company Awarded Contract

Details of the Contract

Value of Contract (€)

2020

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Equinix

To support Government Network connectivity between Public Sector Bodies (PSBs) and telecommunication providers and other third party bodies that PSBs engage directly with

€55,000

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

AwS

Provision of IT Cloud Services to facilitate increased demand for Gov.ie services that have arisen in the context of Covid-19

€100,000

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Eir (Security Services)

Provision of IT Security Services to enhance malware detection and prevention systems in response to a National Cyber Security Centre alert on heightened threat levels arising from Covid-19

€123,000

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors

Provision of legal advices on advisory notes and legal agreements for use with standard form Capital Works Management Framework contracts in response to Covid-19 measures

€29,520

2019

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Equinix

To support Government Network connectivity between Public Sector Bodies (PSBs) and telecommunication providers and other third party bodies that PSBs engage directly with

€54,853

Note: Details of transactions with other public sector bodies are not included.

I am informed that the position in respect of the Bodies under the aegis of my Department is as set out below.

Contracts over €25,000 approved without a Competitive Tender process

Year

Body

Company Awarded Contract

Details of the Contract

Value of Contract (€)

2019

Ombudsman’s Office

Accent Solutions

Continuation of contract for cleaning services arising due to relocation of premises in December 2019

€33,341

2019

Public Appointments Service

Emerald Cleaning Services

Continuation of commercial cleaning services pending outcome of decision on long-term status of premises. A tender on foot of competitive process was awarded in February 2020

€70,000

2019

Office of Public Works

Various

There were thirty five contracts for 2019, totalling €2.959 million:

- €140,236 related to one contract for urgent specialised work of a security nature

- €1,189,526 related to payments to eight suppliers where no contract was in place at the time of supply

- €440,207 related to six contracts where the incorrect procurement method was used

- €1,189,307 related to 20 contracts which were procured from a single suitable supplier or a contractor with specialised expertise or due to urgency.

€2,959,000

Flood Relief Schemes

Questions (293)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

293. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when a flood relief plan for Letterkenny, County Donegal, will be published. [37842/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

A major flood relief scheme for Letterkenny was identified in the Flood Risk Management Plan for the North Western River Basin, and is to be advanced over the period of the National Development Plan to 2027. The proposed project, with a preliminary Total Project Cost Estimate of €4.23m, will consist of a series of flood walls and embankments, along with the replacement of a footbridge on the Cullion watercourse, and is to provide flood protection to approximately 41 properties when completed.

While the proposed project for Letterkenny is not in the first phase of projects to be progressed, the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Donegal Co. Council are working closely to ensure that it will be commenced as early as possible in the current programme of investment.

The Flood Risk Management Plans announced in May 2018 recommended fifteen projects in County Donegal. Following consultation and discussions between the OPW and Donegal County Council, nine of the Donegal projects were selected and are being progressed in the first phase of implementation, in addition to a project already being progressed for Raphoe. Consultants have been appointed for the design of a projects for Lifford, Burnfoot, Castlefin, Glenties and Downings (the latter four bundled together), with Kerrykeel being progressed by OPW. Donegal County Council is also currently in the process of procuring design consultants for Ballybofey-Stranorlar, Buncrana-Luddan and Ramelton (also in a bundled format).

In 2017, the OPW provided funding to the Council under the Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme for flood mitigation works at Oatfield Terrace and the Circular Road in Letterkenny. These works are now complete.

Legislative Process

Questions (294)

Carol Nolan

Question:

294. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform 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. [37900/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the table below.

Legislation

Primary or Secondary

Outcome

2017

Public Service Pay and Pensions Act

Primary

Granted

2018

Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) Bill 2018

Primary

Granted

2019

None

2020

None

Departmental Staff

Questions (295)

Patrick Costello

Question:

295. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the grade at which the chief data protection officer in his Department is employed. [37916/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

My Department does not have a "Chief Data Protection Officer" role. Our Data Protection Officer is employed at the Assistant Principal Officer grade.

Tribunals of Inquiry

Questions (296)

John McGuinness

Question:

296. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of tribunals, inquiries or investigations being undertaken currently by his Department; the number that are in the process of being set up; the number in which the terms of reference are not complete or not agreed; the cost of all to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38046/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

My Department has had no tribunals, public investigations or commissions of investigations under its remit since it was established in 2011.

Office of Public Works

Questions (297)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

297. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if a bridge (details supplied) falls under the care of the Office of Public Works; if the OPW is aware of the deteriorating condition of the bridge; if so, if the OPW plans to carry out remedial and restorative works on the bridge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38346/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

Babe's Bridge is not a National Monument in the ownership or guardianship of the State. As such, the Office of Public Works holds no role in its care or maintenance and has no plans to do any work to the structure.

Public Procurement Contracts

Questions (298)

Mairéad Farrell

Question:

298. Deputy Mairéad Farrell asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the full list of public procurement contracts will be provided for capital works that have exceeded €10 million, disaggregated by number of tender bids, value of each bid, name of each bidder, name of successful contract winner and final cost of the project, in tabular form. [38566/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The information sought by the Deputy is not recorded centrally in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for public works contracts.

However, contracting authorities are obliged to publish contract award notices on both the eTenders website www.etenders.ie and the Official Journal of the EU (OJEU) for all contracts above certain thresholds. National policy currently requires all contracts with a value in excess of €25,000 to be published on the eTenders website (as per Circular 10/14) whereas for contracts to which the EU procurement directive applies, Article 50 of the directive requires a contract award notice to be published in the OJEU within 30 days of the award of the contract. The procurement directive applies to all public works contracts with a value in excess of €5.35m.

The Office of Government Procurement, who administers the eTenders website, are in the process of compiling a report with details of the successful contractors; contract award values; and date of publication of contract award notices. The report will be compiled on the basis of contract award notices with a value of €10m and above, published by contracting authorities in the OJEU. The report will be sent onto the Deputy within a week.

It is important to note that:

- The management of the tendering process for a public contract and the administration of the contract once awarded is a matter for each contracting authority. The complete data on individual public works contracts is held by the contracting authorities concerned.

- It is the responsibility of individual contracting authorities to publish contract award notices following the signing of a contract. This process is facilitated through the national eProcurement portal www.etenders.gov.ie, which is managed by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP).

- The OGP has no role in the validation of any information input by a contracting authority on the eTenders website.

The following is a summary of the data that is being compiled:

- The report will cover the period from 2016 to date.

- The report will include data for public works contracts that are majority exchequer funded i.e. more than 50%.

- A number of framework agreements will be included in the report. The value included is the estimated total value of the contracts under the framework agreement over its life, which is generally 4 years but there is no guarantee that the full value of the framework will be drawn down. Each of the framework members will be listed in the report.

All data provided will be based on the information input by the relevant Contracting Authorities.

Departmental Offices

Questions (299)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

299. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 88 of 17 November 2020, the steps that will be taken to recoup the rent overpayment of €10 million for Miesian Plaza; and the steps that have been taken to ensure that a similar error does not occur in the future. [38774/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The rent being paid by the Commissioners of Public Works in respect of the offices at Block 1, Miesian Plaza is in accordance with the terms of the lease. An ambiguity around the measurement standard used as a basis for the rent calculation in Miesian Plaza was first identified during the course of an OPW internal review and subsequently in a Comptroller & Auditor General examination of the lease process in early 2018. The variance in annual rent payment arising from the different measurement standards amounts to €279,827 plus VAT.

Since the issue was identified the Commissioners have engaged with the Landlord in relation to the measurement standard applied with a view to mitigating the impact of this ambiguity. While an agreement has not yet been reached with the Landlord communications are ongoing in this regard.

The Commissioners’ processes have been reviewed and strengthened to ensure a similar situation cannot arise in future. A thorough examination of the final version of all leases is carried out by OPW staff who have not been involved in the lease negotiations, prior to execution of the lease. This is to ensure that the final lease accurately reflects what was agreed during negotiations.

Miesian Plaza is one of Dublin’s most significant Government accommodation locations and one of the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – a third party verification system for green buildings) Platinum buildings in Ireland, meeting best international energy efficiency and environmental standards for office buildings. It provides modern, energy efficient, 4th generation office space with almost 950 workstations. It has allowed the occupying Departments to move from a highly cellular working environment to one that is modern, open plan and efficient in supporting collaborative working. It also has allowed for the release of other property in the city for potential redevelopment.

Museum Projects

Questions (300)

James Lawless

Question:

300. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if a list of museums will be provided; the amount of State funding they receive in Dublin and nationwide; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38617/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

In its 2016 survey, the Irish Museums Association, which itself receives an annual subvention from my Department, cited approximately 230 museums operational in Ireland.

This, of course, includes the National Museum of Ireland (NMI), which is located in four premises, detailed below.

Dublin:

- The Archaeology & History Dept. at Kildare Street.

- The Natural History Museum at Merrion Street.

- The Decorative Arts & History Museum at Collins Barracks.

Mayo:

- The Museum of Country Life, Turlough Park, Castlebar.

The National Museum also has a Collections Resource Centre in Swords, Co Dublin that is open to the public by arrangement. Funding provided to the NMI by my Department in 2019 and 2020 is detailed below:

NMI Grant Allocation

2020

2019

Pay

€8,907,000

€8,757,000

Non-Pay

€4,244,000

€4,244,000

Total Current

€13,151,000

€13,001,000

Capital

€1,108,000

€1,108,000

Total Current and Capital

€14,259,000

€14,109,000

In addition to providing operational funding for the National Museum of Ireland, my Department operates a number of schemes under which museums can be funded. The schemes under which current funding may be provided are, briefly, the Co-operation with Northern Ireland Scheme, the Mobility of Collections Scheme for the dissemination of the National Collection to regional museums and the Small Scale Local Festivals and Summer Schools. In 2020, my Department also ran an Audience Re-engagement Scheme for regional museums as part of my Department's sectoral response to COVID-19.

Details of these schemes - including historical funding data - may be found on my Department's website at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/f2ed0-culture-grants-and-funding/.

I have provided the Deputy details of museums funded under these schemes in 2019 and 2020.

My Department also provides capital funding under the Regional Museum Exhibition Scheme and details of this scheme may also be seen at the link above and bodies funded are included in the appended sheet.

In addition, my Department operates a capital investment scheme for arts and culture centres. This capital investment scheme will run from 2019-2022 and will focus on enhancing the existing stock of arts and culture centres that operate as not-for -profit organisations throughout the country and has a clearly defined arts and culture focus. Details of previously funded bodies under this scheme may be found at https://www.chg.gov.ie/arts/creative-arts/grants-and-funding/previous-schemes.

Stream D of this capital funding scheme is still open for applications and detailed may be found at

https://www.gov.ie/en/service/b61b2-stream-d-of-the-cultural-capital-scheme-2019-2022/.

A full list of museums funded under this capital scheme in 2019 and 2020 is also here appended.

CSU funding for museums

Capital funding for Museums

Tourism Project Funding

Questions (301)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

301. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if a financial support package for a facility (details supplied) will be prioritised in recognition of the significant contribution that it makes to the entire tourism offering of the southern region [38791/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

Budget 2021 included a number of substantial measures to support and strengthen the tourism sector and these are supplemented by the economy-wide business supports and social welfare measures. However, funding for the zoo and aquarium sector is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage and in that regard I am pleased to note that funding of €1.6m has been made available by Minister O'Brien and his colleague Minister of State Noonan to the sector, including Fota Wildlife Park, through the National Parks and Wildlife Services.