Banking Sector

Questions (409)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

409. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which his Department continues to monitor changes to the availability of credit throughout Europe; the extent to which Irish banks continue to lend to the various sectors of the economy which now requires a particular level of growth in order to offset any negative influences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32091/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Government recognises that SMEs are vital to the Irish economy. As Minister for Finance one of my key concerns is to ensure that SMEs have access to sufficient liquidity, and that access to credit for SMEs is maintained. The Government has announced a range of measures to assist companies deal with the consequences of the COVID-19 restrictions. These include tax measures, as well as loan schemes made available through the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland and Microfinance Ireland to assist SMEs. Throughout the pandemic, the network of Local Enterprise Offices have continued to act as a point of contact for businesses around the country, and they can offer advice and support to small businesses, about how best to proceed and what supports are available to them, further information on COVID-19 supports available to SMEs can be found at enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

In regard to lending to the various sectors of the economy, quarterly data are published by the Central Bank in respect of Irish bank lending to SME and large businesses, broken down by economic sector of activity of the business. Data for Q4-2020 can be found at www.centralbank.ie/statistics/data-and-analysis/credit-and-banking-statistics/sme-large-enterprise-credit-and-deposits. The sectoral demand for credit from SMEs is also monitored in the Department of Finance SME Credit Demand Survey. The Credit Demand Survey has consistently shown that whilst SME credit demand has been subdued in recent years the majority of loan applications are approved by banks.

As Minister for Finance I have no function in the commercial decisions made by banks, however SME borrowers have regulatory protections via the Central Bank's SME lending regulations. The SME Regulations centralbank.ie/news/article/regulations-for-firms-lending-to-smes-from-2016 set out the required treatment of SMEs by regulated entities in relation to various aspects of business lending. This includes detailed provisions around the credit application process, requirements regarding security or collateral, credit refusals and withdrawals, handling complaints, managing arrears and having in place policies for engaging with SMEs in financial difficulty. The options could include additional flexibility, and this could be a short-term arrangement such as additional periods without payments or interest-only repayments, or if appropriate more long term arrangements. The Central Bank recently wrote to all lenders indicating that lenders are to ensure that they have sufficient expert resources to assess individual borrower circumstances, and to offer appropriate and sustainable solutions to affected borrowers in a timely manner in line with regulatory requirements. The Central Bank’s clear expectation is that lenders engage effectively and sympathetically with distressed borrowers across all sectors. In addition, Credit Review www.creditreview.ie was established to assist those SMEs and farm borrowers from all sectors that have had credit applications of up to €3 million refused or indeed an existing credit facility withdrawn or amended by the participating bank. SMEs can apply to Credit Review after exhausting the internal appeals process in the participating institution, which are currently AIB, BOI, Ulster Bank and Permanent TSB.

In terms of credit availability in Europe, the ECB publishes harmonised data on euro area lending to households and non-financial corporates every month, to the Statistical Data Warehouse (SDW), found at sdw.ecb.europa.eu/. Central Bank of Ireland commentary on developments in euro area credit can be found in the Central Bank’s Financial Stability Review (FSR), which is published bi-annually www.centralbank.ie/publication/financial-stability-review .

Brexit Issues

Question No. 411 answered with Question No. 397.

Questions (410)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

410. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which his Department has identified negative issues arising from Brexit; the availability of action to address such issues in the short and medium term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32092/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

My Department has been participating in whole of Government preparations for Brexit since before the UK referendum in 2016 and, in line with the Government’s overall approach, this work intensified during 2020 ahead of the end of the transition period.

The new Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and UK is a positive conclusion to the transition period. However, the new agreement still represents a break from previously existing arrangements.

Effective implementation of the TCA is a priority. Ireland, as part of the EU, will play our full part in realising the full potential of TCA for citizens and businesses. The EU continues to engage intensively with the UK to find solutions to the difficulties following Brexit, including implementation of the Ireland Northern Ireland Protocol, which safeguards the Good Friday Agreement, avoids a hard border and protects the Single Market, and Ireland’s place in it.

The net impact of Brexit on the policy areas within my remit is negative. The principal negative impact arises from the trade shock, which represents a permanent shock to the Irish economy, with a negative economic impact on the Irish economy and living standards compared to the previous relationship. In the weeks since the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, a level of trade friction has been evident. Given the phased basis of the new import controls which are being applied by the UK, it will take time for these to feed through to overall exporting activity, and to assess any associated economic impact.

In the face of Brexit, the Government has been taking steps to build up the resilience of the economy by developing and expanding our economic and trade relationships, both with our EU partners and with other overseas markets. The Mission Network abroad, in partnership with the State Agencies, are playing an important role in terms of public and economic diplomacy.

This trade shock and associated economic impact will be mitigated somewhat by a positive Foreign Direct Investment shock resulting from a redirection to Ireland of investment from firms looking to relocate within the single market. The nature, scale and complexity of Ireland’s international financial services sector will change in a number of ways, and the sector is becoming broader and more diverse with more firms carrying out a greater range of regulated activities than at any time. The full impact of Brexit for Ireland’s international financial services sector may not materialise for some years.

The Government and various state agencies continue to implement ‘Ireland for Finance’, the strategy for the development of Ireland’s international financial services sector to 2025’, and are working to fully capture any opportunities for inward investment that emerge through promoting Ireland’s strengths as a leading financial services centre.

In respect of the broader financial services sector, my Department has been working closely with the Central Bank of Ireland and the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), through the Financial Stability Group, and through the Brexit Contact Group, to limit the impact of key identified risks in the Irish financial system. This work and engagement has sought to ensure that the sector is adequately prepared, and that financial services firms and market participants have contingency plans in place to cope with the possible effects of Brexit, with as little disruption for consumers, investors and markets as possible. On the basis of its work and engagement across the sector, the Central Bank has been able to assure me that the financial services sector is well prepared and resilient enough to manage the changes associated with Brexit. My Department, the Central Bank of Ireland and the NTMA will continue to monitor developments and activities in the financial sector in accordance with their respective responsibilities.

Question No. 411 answered with Question No. 397.

Small and Medium Enterprises

Question No. 413 answered with Question No. 396.

Questions (412)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

412. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the degree to which the reopening of the economy is in line with previous expectations with particular reference to the maximisation of opportunities through small and medium-sized enterprises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32094/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

While the reintroduction of restrictions at the end of last year led to a further contraction of the domestic economy in the first quarter of 2021, the decline in activity was not as severe as that seen during the first lockdown last spring. Modified Domestic Demand, which provides the best measure of domestic economic activity, fell by 5 per cent on an annual basis in the first quarter of 2021. This compares with a fall of 15½ per cent in Q2 last year, with both of these ‘covid quarters’ compared to non-covid quarters. Within this, consumer spending fell by 12 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter, which compares to a fall of over 21 per cent during the first lockdown in the second quarter of 2020. Given that the level of stringency in the first quarter of 2021 was in line with that of the first lockdown last year and among the most stringent across advanced economies, these figures point to a weakening in the relationship between stringency and economic activity, and likely reflect adaptation by firms, particularly by small and medium-sized enterprises (SME).

In addition to our economy becoming more resilient, the vaccination programme is also having a positive effect. The number of Covid-19 infections have fallen by more than 90 per cent from the peak in January and the incidence among all age groups has declined. As a result of this progress, the Government began easing restrictions in April with a further relaxation of restrictions in May for sectors incorporating small and medium-sized enterprises in non-essential retail and personal services like hairdressers.

In-line with this easing of restrictions the economy started to recover in the second quarter. Various indicators confirm this recovery including a range of business and consumer confidence indicators, daily card payment data, as well as May’s tax receipts. Encouragingly an improvement in the labour market can also be seen from the PUP figures which have fallen from a high of 481,000 in February to 285,000 as of June 7th with further falls expected in the coming weeks. Alongside this recovery, many SME dominated sectors experienced significant declines in PUP numbers. Wholesale & Retail Trade & Repair of Vehicles has fallen by 46 per cent from its peak in February, while over the same period, Accommodation & Food Services are down 24 per cent and Arts, Entertainment & Recreation is down by 26 per cent.

These developments are broadly in-line with my Department’s macroeconomic forecasts in the Stability Programme Update, published in April. These forecasts assumed that the vaccine roll-out would ramp-up over the second quarter and accelerate thereafter. Wider vaccine coverage is still expected to allow for a further gradual relaxation of containment measures and a modest pick-up in economic activity, with the recovery gaining momentum from the summer onwards.

Question No. 413 answered with Question No. 396.

Services Sector

Questions (414)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

414. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the degree to which his Department continues to monitor activities in the manufacturing and services sectors and thereby identifying potential strength and weakness and any remedial action as required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32096/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The reintroduction of Covid-19 related restrictions at the end of last year had a significant impact on the domestic economy in the first quarter. While much of the manufacturing sector remained open throughout the quarter, many domestic services activities were largely closed. As a result, the impact of these restrictions across sectors has been uneven. Gross Value Added (GVA) in manufacturing grew by around 13 per cent on a quarterly basis in the first quarter of 2021. In contrast, GVA in contact-intensive service sectors (which includes Distribution, Transport, Hotels and Restaurants and Arts, Entertainment and Other Services) declined by 9 per cent on a quarterly basis, with activity around 27 per cent below the pre-pandemic (Quarter 4-2019) level.

The manufacturing sector has continued to perform strongly in recent months. Overall industrial Production in April remained above pre-pandemic levels. Crucially, production in the mainly indigenous “traditional sector”, which has a higher domestic value-added and is more labour-intensive than the modern sector of the economy, was also above its pre-pandemic level. Furthermore, the manufacturing PMI rose to the highest level on record in May as demand picked up following the re-opening of the economy, pointing to a further increase in manufacturing over the coming months.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to weigh on services activity. The CSO’s Monthly Services Index fell by 0.5 per cent on a monthly basis in April, with overall activity around 3½ per cent below the pre-pandemic (January 2020) level. Indeed, with the exception of ICT, the level of activity remained below the January 2020 level in all sectors in April.

However, the vaccination programme is now having a positive effect and the number of Covid-19 case numbers have fallen by more than 90 per cent from the peak in January and the incidence among all age groups has declined. As a result, the Government began easing restrictions in early April. This relaxation has recently gained pace allowing the economy to start to recover in the second quarter. In line with this, soft data point to a recovery of services activity with the services PMI reaching its highest level in over five years in May as pent-up demand was released following the initial easing of restrictions. A range of other indicators also confirm that an economic recovery is underway, including business and consumer confidence indicators, daily card payment data, as well as May’s tax receipts. Furthermore, the National Economic Recovery Plan published on 1st June sets out how the Government will support the full resumption of economic activity, get people back to work and support those sectors which have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Inflation Rate

Questions (415)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

415. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the degree to which inflation has affected the construction sector; the actions needed in response to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32078/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The Construction Sector Group (CSG), established in 2018 and chaired by the Secretary General of my Department, ensures regular and open dialogue between Government and the construction sector. Its remit includes, but is not limited to, considering opportunities to introduce reforms within the sector that will help in controlling construction price inflation.

To support the work of the CSG, an annual "Build" Report was produced by my Department in 2019 and 2020. The purpose of this report is to give a comprehensive overview of the performance and prospects of the Irish construction sector, based on the available official statistics and data. The report aids in monitoring of trends across the sector, ranging from output and investment to employment and cost inflation, so that risks and performance issues can be identified and addressed where necessary.

Inflation measures how much more expensive a set of goods and services becomes over a certain period of time. A number of measures relating to inflation in the Irish construction sector are detailed in the Build Report. The data included in the report is mostly obtained from the Central Statistics Office.

Two major costs for the construction industry are the cost of materials and the cost of wages.

Inflation in the cost of construction materials can be measured through the Wholesale Price Index. As for the wage inflation, this has been measured by monitoring average hourly earnings for the construction sector.

The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) for Building and Construction Materials provides a general indication of price trends in the sector. WPI essentially measures the changes in the prices of goods sold and traded in bulk. In April 2021 the WPI for Building and Construction Materials stood at 3.4% on an annual basis. However within this there are certain materials which have seen elevated levels of inflation such as timber and steel.

Average Hourly earnings for the construction sector (includes all employees of construction) increased by 9% between Q1 2020 and Q2 2021.

The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland Tender Price index reveals that national construction tender prices increased by 1.3% in the second half of 2020, up from 0.9% in the previous 6 months. The results indicate a slight rebound of tender price growth in the construction sector, with national annual inflation now at 2.2% (Jan 2020 to Dec 2020), however it is still significantly less than tender price inflation levels pre-Covid. The Index is the only independent assessment of construction tender prices in Ireland. It is compiled by the Quantity Surveying members of the Society. The Tender Price Index (TPI) is based largely on sentiment returns with actual tender returns included in the calculations. The TPI is for non-residential projects during the period in question. It is based on predominately new build projects with values in excess of € 0.5m and covers all regions of Ireland. The Index relates to average price increases across differing project types and locations.

Overall, while there was elevated construction sector inflation in 2019, construction price inflation has slowed overall in 2020 as a result of Covid-19. Elevated levels of inflation possesses risk for the construction sector and wider economy as a whole by undermining value for money.

There are two primary channels through which inflation in the construction sector can be addressed; by reducing demand through lower levels of investment or by supporting the increase of supply.

Industry is being supported by the Government to expand its capacity with three broad policies: communicating for industry confidence, securing the skills pipeline, and driving innovation. Specific actions include a new apprenticeship action plan, the work of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, the funding and establishment of the Build Digital Project to drive digital adoption across the built environment sector and work by Enterprise Ireland to assess the potential for a Construction Technology Centre.

Civil Service

Questions (416)

John Brady

Question:

416. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties that many employees in the Civil Service are having with their employers regarding flexitime while remote working; the measures he plans implementing to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30494/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The normal operation of flexi-time, or equivalent attendance management rules, including any flexi-time accruals and deficits, continues to remain temporarily suspended for those employees who are working under different arrangements to normal, pre-COVID work attendance pattern. This includes those who are working from home and working different shift patterns etc., which are required in order to support physical/social distancing and public health requirements.

Flexi-time arrangements were re-introduced with effect from 24 August 2020 and/or commencement of the organisation’s next viable flexi period. This arrangement applies only in circumstances where employees are attending the employer’s work premises and are working their normal, pre-COVID work attendance patterns. Flexi-time will be reviewed in tandem with any changes to public health requirements.

Planning Issues

Questions (417)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

417. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if a company (details supplied) has sought and been given a letter of consent from the State in relation to the inclusion of buildings and lands belonging to the State in O’Connell Street including the O’Connell Street Garda station and the An Gúm building in the planning application by the company; the terms agreed or sought by the State from the private developer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30495/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The Commissioners of Public Works, on behalf of the State, manage a large and diverse property portfolio of over 2,500 properties, including the former O'Connell Street Garda Station and the property once occupied by An Gúm.

Officials in my Department have informed me that they are aware of the planning application referred to by the Deputy and that a letter of consent has been requested. The matter is under consideration by the OPW in consultation with other State interests.

Museum Projects

Questions (418, 440)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

418. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will request the OPW to extend the opening hours of the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham which currently close each evening at 6.30pm, despite public health advice that it is safe for persons to socialise outdoors. [30560/21]

View answer

Patrick Costello

Question:

440. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will extend the opening of the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin 8 from 6:30pm for the summer season. [31130/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 418 and 440 together.

The grounds of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham are open from 8.00AM to 18.30PM Monday to Saturday and 11.00AM to 18.30PM on Sundays and Bank Holidays. The Royal Hospital Kilmainham is a historic site, the main building being 340 years old, with carefully crafted formal gardens. It is home to the Irish Museum of Modern Art which cares for an important national art collection.

Security arrangements and operations are planned in line with the conservation, preservation and sustainable management of this important historic site.

OPW acknowledges that Royal Hospital Kilmainham is a beautiful amenity for citizens of Dublin 8 but for evening activities those citizens have access to other excellent facilities including the Phoenix Park, across the river, which is accessible 24hrs a day and also the Irish National War Memorial Gardens which stays open later (according to daylight hours).

Office of Public Works

Questions (419)

Matt Carthy

Question:

419. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the major projects that have been delayed; the planning matters that resulted in the delay; the amount unspent as a result in tabular form per note A.5 in the 2019 Annual Accounts of the Office of Public Works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30576/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

A number of flood relief projects were delayed in 2019 due to issues surrounding the planning processes as set out in Vote 13 of the 2019 Appropriation Account. While delays arising from planning processes, with an associated impact on expenditure outturn, are not uncommon, three schemes in particular were significantly delayed, which then had a notable impact on the overall outturn on the Flood Risk Management Capital expenditure profile.

Transposition of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive 014/52/EU into Irish law took some time before final implementation. Once transposed through the European Union (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Arterial Drainage) Regulations 2019, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform was accordingly required to undertake an independent assessment of the various environmental reports for schemes submitted for consent under the Arterial Drainage Acts. Both the transposition, and the resultant requirements thereof, impacted on the time taken for consent to be given for flood relief schemes in Blackpool and Glashaboy. The anticipated start of construction works was not possible in 2019 as a result.

The Lower Morell Flood Relief Scheme, being progressed by Kildare County Council, was approved by An Bord Pleanála under the Planning and Development Acts in April 2018, at which point construction was expected to commence. However, a Judicial Review was instigated by a local landowner and this prevented any construction works from being undertaken in 2019.

The impacts on the outturn on the 2019 Vote from the above schemes are set out below:

Project/Programme

Initial Profile

Outturn (rounded)

Underspend (rounded)

Glashaboy FRS

€3m

€0.5m

€2.5m

Blackpool FRS

€3m

Nil

€3m

Lower Morell FRS

€1.7m

€0.4m

€1.3m

The issue on the Lower Morell Scheme was eventually resolved in 2020 and works commenced in 2020. The Glashaboy and Blackpool schemes were subsequently confirmed under the Arterial Drainage Acts earlier in 2021 and it is hoped that the Glashaboy Scheme will commence construction in the next seven months, following a tender process for a contractor. An application for Leave to take a Judicial Review of the Minister’s decision on the Blackpool scheme has just been lodged, so it is not possible to say when this scheme will be progressed.

In addition to flood relief schemes above being delayed due to planning difficulties, there were a number of other flood relief schemes where construction works were slightly delayed due to a variety of issues. These included schemes in Douglas, Co. Cork, Sandymount in Dublin and Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. Expenditure on these schemes was approximately €5m behind schedule in 2019.

The application process for the Voluntary Home Relocation Scheme did not progress in line with expectations, resulting in only €0.5m of a projected €3m being spent in 2019.

Public Sector Staff

Questions (420)

Gerald Nash

Question:

420. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the end dates of the terms of office of each of the chief executive officers or equivalent in each of the public bodies under his aegis or of the ESRI and IPA as publicly funded bodies; if there will be a publicly open competition to fill these roles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30583/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

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

Body

Role Title

Terms of office end date of the current CEO or equivalent

Advertised through a publicly open competition

Office of Public Works

Chairman

11 December, 2023

Yes

National Shared Services Office

Chief Executive Officer

9 June, 2024

Yes

Public Appointments Service

Chief Executive Officer

28 July, 2023

Yes

Office of the Ombudsman

Director General

Permanent Civil Servant

Yes

State Laboratory

State Chemist

2 September, 2022

Yes

National Lottery Regulator

Regulator

8 October, 2024

Yes

Economic and Social Research Institute

Director

14 July, 2025

Yes

Institute of Public Administration

Director General

30 September, 2022

Yes

Energy Policy

Questions (421)

Gerald Nash

Question:

421. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if each of the agencies under his aegis and the publicly funded agencies of the ESRI and the IPA have included transport and travel in their annual reports to the SEAI in relation to public sector energy efficiency performance in relation to their 2020 energy targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30585/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I wish to advise the Deputy that, with the exception of the Office of Public Works (OPW), none of the bodies in question report on transport or travel in their annual reports to the SEAI. These bodies are not required to do so by the SEAI due to a lack of a fleet of vehicles for transport purposes and no requirement for business travel.

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

How Public Sector energy efficiency transport performance is addressed in the 2020 Annual Report to the SEAI

How Public Sector energy efficiency travel performance is addressed in the 2020 Annual Report to the SEAI

Office of Public Works (OPW)

The OPW reports annually to the SEAI on recorded fuel consumption for all fleet vehicles.

Energy performance for OPW staff business travel is not currently included as part of the annual Monitoring and Reporting return to SEAI. This will be reported going forward due to the requirement from this year for Public Sector Organisations to make returns under travel performance as part of the annual return.

Energy Policy

Questions (422)

Gerald Nash

Question:

422. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if each of the agencies under his aegis and the publicly funded bodies of the ESRI and the IPA that have as of the 2020 Annual Report on Public Sector Energy Efficiency Performance, not yet reached 15% for their 2020 target, have an energy performance plan, an energy performance budget, an energy performance adviser and have fully engaged with the SEAI; if his Department has a role with regard to energy targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30586/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

My Department has designated an Energy Performance Officer from among its senior management team to carry out the roles set out in the Public Sector Energy Efficiency Strategy. These include liaison with the designated Energy Performance Officers (EPOs) of the bodies in question in relation to the discharge by them of their obligations under the Strategy. In that context, a workshop of the Departmental group’s EPOs was held in September 2019 by the Department, in conjunction with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and the Department of Environment, Climate, and Communications, to outline to EPOs good practice examples in managing the achievement of the Energy Efficiency Target that has been set for the Departmental Group as a whole under the Strategy. It also explored the scope for the group members to co-operate and assist each other in achieving the target for the Group as a whole and outlined the more comprehensive suite of supports available to EPOs from the SEAI and others. It is intended to organise a further workshop in the coming months.

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

Energy Efficiency Performance target reached and reported to SEAI

Energy Performance Plan in place

Energy Performance Budget in place

Energy Performance advisor in place

Details of engagement with the SEAI

Office of Public Works (OPW)

The provisional energy efficiency figure achieved by OPW as reported by SEAI for 2020 is 22%.

Yes

Yes

Yes

The OPW is in regular contact with SEAI and is currently engaged with a number of SEAI Pathfinder Energy Retrofit Programme projects.

National Shared Services Office (NSSO)

The NSSO 2020 Target was reached with a 19.5% energy savings since baseline to 2020. This was reported via SEAI.

Yes

Formed as part of the NSSO overall Facilities Management budget.

Yes (via SEAI)

The NSSO is in regular contact with SEAI

Public Appointments Service (PAS)

Yes, PAS has achieved 49.5% energy reduction since baseline and this is reflected in the most recent report published by the SEAI.

Not at present, currently being incorporated into the PAS green energy.

No

Yes (via OPW)

PAS reports annually to the SEAI

Office of the Ombudsman

Yes

Yes

No

Yes (via SEAI)

The Office of the Ombudsman reports annually to the SEAI

State Laboratory

Yes - Energy efficiency performance reported through M&R system. Public sector requirement of 33% energy efficiency relative to base line year achieved.

Yes – Coordinated through SEAI Energy Management Action Plan

Not a dedicated performance budget. Cost for energy performance upgrades allocated against facilities budget.

Energy performance coordinated Energy Performance Officer and Health & safety and Facilities Liaison Manager. The State Laboratory is a member of the Public Sector Laboratories Energy Group and receives support through SEAI Energy link and SEAI PSM.

Yes – As part of Public Sector Laboratories Energy Group, through M&R system and SEAI Training Academy.

National Lottery Regulator

Yes. Target reached and reported to SEAI.

No, the ORNL has 10 staff and rents a small office space within a larger building and thus has limited scope to directly impact its energy use. All policies and initiatives that can be put in place have been achieved or are in train.

No

No

The ORNL reports annually to the SEAI

Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI)

Yes. Target reached and reported to SEAI.

The ESRI works with its facilities management company on an ongoing basis on energy performance. The FM company are currently working on a new plan - reviewing plant life cycle and planning a replacement programme.

There is no explicit budget for energy performance. The ESRI’s management team assess the cost of energy efficiency proposals on an ongoing basis.

The ESRI's externally sourced facilities management company provide advisory services to the ESRI via their energy team.

The ESRI reports annually to the SEAI in their M&R system, in line with public sector requirements

Institute of Public Administration (IPA)

Yes. The IPA reached an energy saving target of 33.6% since baseline to 2020.

No

No

Yes

The IPA reports annually to the SEAI

Office of Public Works

Questions (423)

Gerald Nash

Question:

423. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the Office of Public Works is encumbered in public sector energy reductions due to the array of older and heritage buildings in its portfolio; if additional resources or arrangements are needed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30587/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The OPW undertakes various programmes of work to improve the energy ratings of existing buildings within its portfolio. Heritage Buildings however pose a specific challenge due to the nature of their historic fabric and the need to conserve the significant historic elements of these buildings.

Works to these buildings that could result in future energy savings need to be carefully considered on a case by case basis and measured against the potential for negative impacts on the architectural and historic status of these buildings

OPW is presently evaluating the level of resources required to examine and resolve these requirements.

Office of Public Works

Questions (424)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

424. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide a schedule of the Garda stations that are currently being refurbished by the OPW; the nature of the works being carried out at each station; and when each refurbishment project will be completed. [30756/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I can confirm that The Office of Public (OPW) is currently carrying out refurbishment works, with a value in excess of €250,000, at a number of Garda Stations throughout the country. Details of the Garda Stations, the works being carried out and the expected completion date are outlined in the table below which includes works funded by both the OPW and An Garda Síochána. It is important to note that the table does not include other capital works relating to the Garda estate in buildings that are not designated Garda Stations eg construction of the new Garda Headquarters at Military Road. There will also be many upgrade works being carried out at various Garda Stations throughout the country below the figure of €250,000.

Garda Station

Description of works

Estimated Completion Time

Anglesea St GS

Control Room Upgrade Works

Quarter 3 2021

Anglesea St GS

Fitout of Cyber Crime Investigation Unit

Quarter 2 2021

Athlone GS

Refurbishment, extension and alteration of the existing An Garda Siochána Station and adjacent former Government Buildings

Quarter 3 2021

Ballincollig GS

Atrium Glazing replacement works

Quarter 4 2021

Cavan GS

Works for accommodation for specialist unit and a new public office

Quarter 3 2021

Drogheda GS

Provision of new security gates and associated works

Quarter 3 2021

Fitzgibbon St GS

Full Refurbishment of the Building

Quarter 3 2021

Henry St GS Limerick

Replacement of Prefabricated Units housing Locker Rooms

Quarter 3 2021

Longford GS

Cell Upgrade and Refurbishment Works

Quarter 1 2022

Navan GS

Provision of a new two-storey building at Navan GS including a new cell block and additional office space

Quarter 4 2022

Roscommon GS

Cell Upgrade and Refurbishment Works

Quarter 4 2021

Sligo GS

Cell Upgrade and Refurbishment Works

Quarter 3 2021

Togher GS

Building Fabric Upgrade and Universal Access works

Quarter 1 2022

Westport GS

Public Office Upgrade and replacement of prefabricated units housing Locker Rooms

Quarter 3 2021

State Bodies

Questions (425)

Gerald Nash

Question:

425. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his Department or any of the bodies under his aegis or the publicly funded bodies of the IPA and the ESRI have persons employed in roles (details supplied) for any section of the community identified for protection under the Equal Status Acts 2000-2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30820/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the role of the Equality Officer and Equality Team are the responsibility of the HR Strategy Unit of my Department, with the role of Access Officer being provide by the Facilities Management team. The promotion of Equality, Diversion and Inclusion is central to the strategies and practices of the HR Strategy Unit. In terms of raising awareness about disabilities within my Department, a number of initiatives are in place:

- The Diversity and Inclusion sub-group within the PERspectives group, a cross-grade, cross-divisional staff forum to support the Department’s People Strategy, contributes to the cultivation of equality and a diverse and inclusive culture across the Department;

- To mark the 2019 International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December), all staff in the Department were invited to complete the online Disability Equality Training offered by the National Disability Authority (NDA). A presentation to raise awareness about autism was delivered by AsIAm (Ireland’s largest autism charity) to mark the 2020 observance;

- New hires in my Department receive a PDF of the Code of Practice for the Employment of People with a Disability in the Irish Civil Service (2007), as well as a welcome letter from the Department’s Disability Liaison Office (DLO) along with FAQs on Disability prepared by the National Disability Authority (NDA); and

- The induction of new hires in the Department includes a presentation and Q&A session with the Disability Liaison Officer.

The Civil Service is strongly committed to equality of opportunity in its employment practices for all individuals. The Dignity at Work Policy aims to promote respect, dignity, safety, and equality in the workplace. This commitment is demonstrated and documented with key Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I) actions in the People Strategy for the Civil Service; Our Public Service 2020; the Programme for Government (particularly on disability and migrant integration); Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities (2015-2024); and Migrant Integration Strategy.

As set out in Circular 11/2001, should a reported complaint fail to be resolved at an informal stage, civil servants have the opportunity to make a formal complaint under the Equal Status Acts, in accordance with the documented grievance procedure.

Details of the implementation of the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty by my Department are set out on the gov.ie website at this link: www.gov.ie/en/organisation-information/5df24-public-sector-equality-and-human-rights-duty/.

The position regarding the bodies under the aegis of my Department is set out in the table below.

Equality Officer employed

Equality Officer employed

Access Officer employed

Equality team employed

IHREC Public Duty implementation team employed

Documented complaints mechanism for persons with a disability in place

Office of Public Works (OPW)

The Office of Public Works does not employ a dedicated Equality Officer for the purposes of complying with the Equal Status Acts 2005-2015.

The OPW has a designated Access Officer for building access related to section 25 of the Disability Act. Responsibility for ensuring access to services under section 26 of the Act, accessibility of services supplied under section 27 of the Act, access to information under section 28 of the Act and access to heritage sites under section 29 of the Act is distributed across the organisation on a functional basis according to the type of goods, services, information and site access being designed, built or provided. Specified access officers for each of these provisions have not been appointed in the Office of Public Works.

The Office of Public Works employs a Human Resource Management team with responsibility for employment equality. This includes a dedicated Disability Liaison Officer to support OPW employees with disability.

Having regard to its functions and purpose, the OPW does not have or require an implementation team to drive its compliance with the IHREC public duty.

The OPW has a Customer Charter in place that includes a documented complaints mechanism for customers including those with disability. Through its dignity at work policy, the OPW has a documented complaints mechanism for all employees including those with disability.

National Shared Services Office (NSSO)

One officer responsible for EDNI – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

No. However, the NSSO works with Access Officers in each Public Service Body (PSB) in the event that any customer or employee of that PSB may require further assistance. The NSSO also intends to further examine its provision of services in line with the Code of Practice and as part of a programme of continuous improvement generally. In relation to buildings, this role is covered by the facilities team and H&S officers. In addition,the NSSO has a dedicated DLO to assist staff.

One officer responsible for EDNI – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

No

The Disability Liaison Officer assists staff with reasonable accommodation requests. Complaints mechanism for persons with a disability can be addressed to the Personnel Officer or through the Dignity at Work process whichever is most appropriate. Complaints from members of the public in relation to disability can be made to the Access Officer.

Public Appointments Service (PAS)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Office of the Ombudsman

Yes

Yes

Yes – Public Sector Duty Committee

Yes

Yes - Disability Liaison Officer

State Laboratory*

No

The Access Officer role is included in the Corporate Services Manager role.

No

No

The Disability Liaison Officer assists staff with reasonable accommodation requests. Complaints mechanism for persons with a disability can be addressed to the Personnel Officer or through the Dignity at Work process whichever is most appropriate. Complaints from members of the public in relation to disability can be made to the Access Officer.

Office of the National Lottery Regulator (ORNL)

Yes

Yes

Staff complement of 10.

Staff complement of 10. The ORNL assigned relevant staff to review in detail the requirements under the Public Sector Duty and how the Office will meet those requirements.

Yes, documented in the Customer Charter and Action Plan.

Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

A Grievance Policy is in place which allows staff to raise issues. A policy for non-staff is in the process of being drafted and will be implanted shortly.

Institute of Public Administration (IPA)

No dedicated person employed. Any staff member or learner from any section of the community identified for protection under the Equal Status Acts 2000 -2015 is supported through the HR office or the Registrar’s office

No dedicated person employed. Any staff member or client from any section of the community identified for protection under the Equal Status Acts 2000 -2015 is supported through the HR office or the Registrar’s office

No dedicated team employed. Any staff member or client from any section of the community identified for protection under the Equal Status Acts 2000 -2015 is supported through the HR office or the Registrar’s office

This falls under the remit of the HR Office

The IPA does not have a complaints mechanism specifically for persons with a disability. Any person can use the complaints IPA processes

Note: The State Laboratory does not deal with the public. The majority of its staff are recruited through the Public Appointments Service who have an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) Strategy which recognises their statutory obligation to implement the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty set out under Section 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014. A small number of staff are recruited using a listed recruitment agency under license from the Commission for Public Service Appointments.

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Issues

Questions (426)

Gerald Nash

Question:

426. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his Department, the bodies under his aegis or the publicly funded bodies of his Department are covered by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014; if so, if they have a public sector equality and human rights duty implementation plan; the stage of the three-step approach for implementing the public sector equality and human rights plan each of the bodies is at; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30821/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

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

Name of Body

Is the body covered by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014?

Is there a Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty Implementation Plan in place?

The stage the three step approach for implementing the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Plan is currently at?

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Yes

Yes. Details of the implementation of the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty by the Department are set out on the gov.ie website at this link: www.gov.ie/en/organisation-information/5df24-public-sector-equality-and-human-rights-duty/

Stage 3

National Shared Services Office (NSSO)

Yes

Not as yet, but the NSSO has had initial discussions with the IHREC in relation to its obligations under the 2014 Act and how to develop a Plan.

The NSSO is hoping to commence Stage 1 in Q1, 2022

Public Appointments Service (PAS)

Yes

Yes. The issues that arise are covered in the PAS Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

Stage 2

Office of Public Works (OPW)

Yes

Having regard to its functions and purpose, the Office of Public Works does not believe it has any issues in relation to human rights and equality that need assessment, implementation or reporting. Accordingly, there is no implementation plan required or in place.

Not applicable

Office of the Ombudsman

Yes

Yes. The Office of the Ombudsman is committed to providing a service to all clients that respects human rights and the right to equal treatment and has adopted a proactive approach to implementing this duty. The Office’s approach is underlined by its core organisational values of independence, customer focus and fairness, which are evident in both the culture of the Office and our internal policies and procedures.

In 2018, the Office established a working group on its public sector duty. The group considered the human rights and equality issues relevant to the Office’s functions and identified the policies, plans and actions needed to address these. On foot of this, a Public Sector Duty Committee was established and an Equality Officer appointed. The Committee has made a considerable amount of progress since 2018. It oversaw the introduction of an e-learning module on human rights and equality for new staff members, carried out a review of all communications in the Office, introduced a revised internal communications strategy focusing on the availability of needs assessments and assistive technologies and enhanced the accessibility of the Office for staff and visitors

Stage 2/3

State Laboratory

Yes

No. The State Laboratory does not deal with the public. The majority of its staff are recruited through the Public Appointments Service who have an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) Strategy which recognises their statutory obligation to implement the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty set out under Section 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014. A small number of staff are recruited using a listed recruitment agency under license from the Commission for Public Service Appointments.

Not Applicable

Office of the Regulator of the National Lottery (ORNL)

Yes

Yes. The ORNL has assessed the human rights and equality issues it believes to be relevant to the functions and purpose of the body and identified the policies, plans and actions in place or proposed to be put in place. The Office has already begun to implement these and will be incorporating them in the next Strategic Plan (2022-2024)

Institute of Public Administration (IPA)

No

The IPA is a company limited by guarantee. However, the principles espoused in the Act are reflected in the Institute’s corporate policies and values. In accordance with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014, the IPA is cognisant that in the performance of its duties that it has regard to the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of equality of opportunity and the protection of the human rights of all staff and clients availing of its services. The IPA has a number of policies and codes in place to ensure this implementation. These include Code of conduct, Dignity at work and Equal Opportunity Policy. The principles espoused in the Act underpin IPA corporate policy and values. The IPA is fully committed to eliminating discrimination, promoting equality and protecting human rights at all times.

As the IPA will be launching its new strategic plan in Jan 2022, it will be carrying out a review of its commitments under the Act. Any findings will be incorporated into the next IPA statement of strategy. The IPA values of integrity, client-centred and responsive, openness and accountability, trust and respect support the implementation of its public sector duties under the Act.

See across

Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI)

No

The ESRI is a company limited by guarantee. Whilst not subject to the Act, the ESRI adheres to all relevant equality legislation and the Institute’s policies are consistent with the Act. The ESRI strategic plan states that values of collegiality, equality of opportunity and respect will define its work environment. An Employment Equality Policy and a Dignity at Work Policy are in place. The ESRI has commenced working on an implementation plan to ensure consistency with the Act.

Stage 1

Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB)

No

The SEUPB operates under the policy direction of the North South Ministerial Council. It is headquartered in Belfast, with smaller offices in Omagh and Monaghan.

The SEUPB is fully committed to carrying out all its functions with regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity as mandated in Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act (1998). It undertakes audits of inequalities and prepares a Section 75 Action Plan (as set out in the Northern Ireland Act 1998) to cover the period of the Body’s corporate plan, as a means of ensuring effective implementation of its duties through the internal reporting systems.

In addition, the SEUPB is committed to carrying out its employment duties and responsibilities as outlined in the Fair Employment and Treatment Order 1998. The SEUPB also has a Disability Action Plan which it reports on annually to the Equality Commission (NI).

Not Applicable

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Issues

Questions (427)

Gerald Nash

Question:

427. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if any of the bodies under his aegis or any of the publicly funded bodies under his Department that are covered by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 have since enactment of the Act, been invited by the Equality Commission to carry out a review or prepare and implement an action plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30822/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

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

Body

Position

Office of Public Works (OPW)

The OPW is covered by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act, 2014. Since the enactment of the Act, the OPW has not been invited by the Equality Commission to carry out a review or prepare and implement an action plan.

National Shared Services Office (NSSO)

The NSSO is covered by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014. Since the enactment of the Act, the NSSO has not been invited by the Equality Commission to carry out a review or prepare and implement an action plan. However, the NSSO has had initial conversations with the IHREC regarding its obligations in this regard.

Public Appointments Service (PAS)

PAS is covered by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014. PAS has not been invited by the Equality Commission to carry out a review or prepare and implement an action plan.

Office of the Ombudsman

The Office of the Ombudsman is covered by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014. The Office has not been invited by the Equality Commission to carry out a review or prepare and implement an action plan.

State Laboratory

The State Laboratory is covered by the Act. However, it does not deal with the public. The majority of the staff are recruited through the Public Appointments Service who have an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) Strategy which recognises their statutory obligation to implement the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty set out under Section 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014. A small number of staff are recruited using a listed recruitment agency under license from the Commission for Public Service Appointments. The State Laboratory has not been invited by the Equality Commission to carry out a review or prepare and implement an action plan.

Office of the National Lottery Regulator (ORNL)

The ORNL is covered by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014. The Office has not been invited by the Equality Commission to carry out a review or prepare and implement an action plan.

Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI)

The ESRI is not covered by the Act, as it was established as a company limited by guarantee and not by statute. Whilst the ESRI is not subject to the Act, the ESRI adheres to all relevant equality legislation and its policies are consistent with the Act. The ESRI strategic plan states that values of collegiality, equality of opportunity and respect will define its work environment. An Employment Equality Policy and a Dignity at Work Policy are in place.

Institute of Public Administration (IPA)

The IPA is a company limited by guarantee. However, the principles espoused in the Act are reflected in the Institute’s corporate policies and values. The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission will undertake a survey with public bodies in late August / September 2021 as part of its work to support and monitor implementation of the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty by public bodies. The IPA will complete this survey.

Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB)

The SEUPB is not covered by the Act. However, the SEUPB have a Disability Action Plan which it reports on annually to the Equality Commission (Northern Ireland).

Cycling Facilities

Questions (428)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

428. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if there are plans to resurface and widen the cycle lane on North Road in the Phoenix Park taking into account the recent works that have been carried out on the road. [30834/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

There are no plans to resurface or widen the cycle lane on the North Road in the Phoenix Park at the current time. It will be kept under review as OPW upgrades cycle lanes throughout the park over the short to medium term.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (429)

Carol Nolan

Question:

429. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the details of the expenditure incurred by staff in his Department under the heading of travel and subsistence from 1 January 2020 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30870/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The expenditure by my Department on Travel and Subsistence from 1 January 2020 to 31 May 2021 is set out in the table below.

2020

2021 (to 31 May)

DPER (Vote 11)

€114,370

€11,778

OGCIO (Vote 43)

€51,323

€3,291

OGP (Vote 39)

€59,759

€49

Staff across the Department itself (Vote 11) and the two Offices that also are part of the Department (Vote 39, Office of Government Procurement and Vote 43, Office of the Government Chief Information Officer) incur travel and subsistence costs to carry out their many varied duties. These duties include a number of essential cross-government support services which mostly incur domestic travel costs. Examples of which are the OGCIO's IT staff that are required to be onsite at locations across Government Departments and Offices, the Department's Employee Assistance Officers, staff in the Office of the Civil Service Chief Medical Officer and the EU audit team. Staff also incur travel expenses to represent Ireland internationally at the EU and the OECD. However, there was little international travel outside the State beyond the first quarter in 2020 to 31 May 2021.