Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar
Gnáthamharc

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 4 Oct 2011

Vol. 742 No. 2

Written Answers.

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 18, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 19 to 40, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 41 to 52, inclusive, answered orally.

Human Rights Issues

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

53 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Colombia is the world’s most dangerous country for trade unionists in which according to the International Trade Union Conference annual survey of trade union rights violations, 2010, a trade unionist has been murdered on average every three days over the past 23 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27317/11]

I am very well aware of the situation in Colombia regarding the dangers for trade unionists, even if the precise level of such murders is difficult to establish exactly, and I share the deep concern expressed by the Deputy. I met with the Colombian Ambassador to Ireland in July and we discussed at length the human rights situation in the country. I welcomed the steps which the Santos administration has taken to bring an end to violence in Colombia, and I outlined the ongoing concerns of the Irish Government at reports of human rights abuses in Colombia, in particular the hardships reportedly being suffered by trade unionists. At that meeting, I also welcomed the passage of the Victims' Rights and Land Restitution Law in June this year. This is an innovative piece of legislation and will, if fully implemented, represent a further important step in the efforts to push forward the peace process. Vice President Garzón has been tasked by President Santos to take forward the Government's human rights programme. Vice President Garzón has a trade union background himself and has shown his willingness to meet with a broad range of groups to discuss human rights issues, including the four members of the Oireachtas who travelled to Colombia in October 2010 [Deputy Breen, former Deputies Higgins and Kitt, and Senator Daly].

The Colombian Ambassador reiterated to me President Santos's willingness to bring all stakeholders together in the efforts to reduce human rights violations against trade unionists, human rights defenders and journalists.

It should be noted that, despite these very real concerns, Colombia is a safer place to live today, compared with the situation ten years ago. Dialogue with the Government of Colombia, bilaterally and with our EU partners, offers, I believe, the best way to further the objective of improving the human rights situation there. The most recent EU-Colombia human rights dialogue was held in Bogota on 30 June, where the EU voiced concerns at human rights violations against trade unionists in Colombia.

The Government will continue to monitor human rights in Colombia through our Embassy in Mexico and together with the European Union.

Overseas Development Aid

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

54 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views that the publication of the Irish Aid annual report confirms that Ireland’s overseas aid programme is of world class quality; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27320/11]

Each year my Department publishes a report on the activities supported by Irish Aid, the Government's development aid programme. The focus of the 2010 Irish Aid Annual Report, which I launched two weeks ago, is on demonstrating the impact of Irish Aid funding on the lives of communities where we are working. The theme of the report is that development assistance works. At a time when international aid budgets are under pressure, and every item of public expenditure is under scrutiny, it is vital that we can demonstrate the difference Irish Aid funding is making in the lives of communities in some of the poorest countries in the world. In June, I visited Ireland's aid programmes in Malawi and Mozambique, and saw for myself how they are making a practical contribution to the fight against poverty and hunger.

Important examples of how Irish Aid funding is saving and changing lives are included in the Annual Report. For instance, with the assistance of Ireland's aid:

Life expectancy at birth, increased by five years between 2000 and 2010, in Ethiopia.

7 million children are in school in Mozambique, compared to just 400,000 twenty years ago.

The rate of infection with the HIV virus in Uganda is now 6.4%, compared to 18% in the 1990s.

Ireland's aid programme has a strong international reputation for its quality. It is recognised for its sharp focus on reducing poverty and hunger in some of the poorest countries, in particular in sub-Saharan Africa.

The OECD has described our aid programme as cutting edge, and a champion in making aid more effective. Just last week another report, the 2010 Evaluation of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, ranked Ireland highest among EU Union Member States for the delivery of our commitments on aid quality. These reports confirm that the high standards of Ireland's aid programme are being maintained.

Northern Ireland Issues

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

55 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to meet the new Libyan authorities in relation to the relationship between the previous Libyan regime and the IRA in order to ascertain the full details of arms shipments and all other supports given by the previous regime to prescribed organisations and their associated organisations during the time of the Northern Troubles. [24699/11]

The Government is actively building bilateral relations with the new Libyan authorities. I attended a high-level meeting on Libya in New York on 20 September, on the margins of the sixty-sixth session of the UN General Assembly. This meeting demonstrated the strong international support for the transition now underway in Libya and marked also the formal acceptance into the United Nations of the new Libya and its interim government, the National Transitional Council (NTC).

At the high-level meeting, I warmly welcomed, on behalf of the Government and the Irish people, the fact that the NTC has now assumed power and will govern Libya as an interim administration during the period leading up to fair and free elections. I also offered the Libyan people all possible cooperation in the period ahead, building on the political support and humanitarian assistance, amounting to some €1.3 million, which we have extended since last February. The interim authorities have identified many immediate challenges, including the provision of humanitarian assistance to those in need, removing unexploded ordinance, opening schools and repairing critical infrastructure such as electricity and water networks. Capacity building in public administration and re-establishing the rule of law will also be critical.

I have already had discussions with representatives of the NTC, including a meeting with the interim Prime Minister of Libya, Mahmoud Jibril, on the margins of the Foreign Affairs Council last April and an earlier meeting in Dublin with the NTC's representative to the UK and Ireland. I look forward to further high-level contacts with the new Libyan authorities at the earliest opportunity.

The Government believes that there is significant scope for strengthening bilateral cooperation between Ireland and Libya in many areas. Many Libyans have travelled to Ireland for educational or work reasons and have made it their home. There are also economic opportunities, not least the possibility of Irish companies assisting Libya in its re-construction.

In relation to the bilateral issue raised by the Deputy, the Government remains in ongoing contact with the British Government and other relevant stakeholders in the context of efforts to address the legacy of the Troubles, in keeping with the principles of Good Friday Agreement. This specific issue is one element of this legacy and is best addressed as part of a comprehensive approach to dealing with the legacy of the Troubles.

Democratisation Process

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

56 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the recent warnings from Lord Ashdown, the former international high representative for Bosnia, that mounting Bosnian Serb pressure to break up the multiethnic state could see conflict return to the region; and if these issues have been discussed at an EU level. [27237/11]

Bosnia and Herzegovina is experiencing a prolonged period of political and economic stalemate. Elections took place almost exactly a year ago, on 3 October 2010. The process of government formation has yet to be completed. All main political party leaders met recently in Brcko to try to find a way forward, with a specific focus on the formation of the state level executive, the Council of Ministers. While it appears that some of the parties have moved towards compromise positions, a number of obstacles to agreement remain, particularly in relation to the representation of the Bosnian-Croat community in the executive. Ireland and its EU partners continue to urge all the parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina to overcome their differences and form a government so that the country can move forward on its path towards EU accession.

Safeguarding the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the cornerstone of the EU's policy towards the country. The EU has not hesitated to reject statements questioning the legitimacy of the country's post-Dayton institutions.

In May of this year, High Representative Ashton secured a commitment from Milorad Dodik, the Republika Srspka President, that a decision by that entity's national assembly to hold a referendum calling into question the state-level judiciary would be repealed. Subsequently, on 2 June 2011, the Republika Srpska national assembly voted to repeal the decision to hold the referendum. I welcomed this development, which was a sign of the EU's commitment to protecting Bosnia and Herzegovina's state-level institutions.

Ultimately, the EU perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the most powerful tool at the disposal of the international community to help build and maintain stability in the country. The EU is closely engaged in assisting Bosnia and Herzegovina to undertake the reforms necessary to move forward on its path to the EU. Developments in the country are regularly discussed by the European Union at both official and political level, including in recent months.

The EU is working to enhance its presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This will help to make the prospect of EU accession more real to the people of the country, and strengthen the leverage of EU accession as a means to encourage the necessary reform. In September, Peter Sorensen, who has broad experience of the Western Balkans, took up the double-hatted post of Head of EU Delegation and EU Special Representative in Sarajevo.

In December 2010, the EU lifted visa requirements for Bosnian and Albanian visitors to the Schengen area. In the lead-up to visa liberalisation, Bosnia and Herzegovina's political leaders and administration worked together effectively to implement wide-ranging reforms. This development was a major boost for the country and proves that the Bosnian authorities are capable of working together when there is a tangible EU-related goal at stake.

In terms of the EU's commitment to safeguarding stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I would also note the presence of EUFOR Althea, the EU military mission in the country. The mission of Operation Althea, to which Ireland has made a significant contribution over the years, is to provide a military presence in order to contribute to a safe and secure environment, deny conditions for a resumption of violence, and help to implement the Dayton agreement.

Departmental Reports

Derek Keating

Ceist:

57 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the name and number of external reports that were commissioned by his Department from 2008 to 2011 in tabular form; the cost of each one of these external reports; if these external reports were given out to tender; the name of the person or company who was commissioned for these external reports; his views of the benefits that these external reports served the public interest; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21414/11]

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is responsible for two Votes — Vote 28 (Foreign Affairs) and Vote 29 (International Cooperation). The following tables set out, for both Votes, the details of external reports commissioned by the Department from 2008 to 2011 and the costs in each case. The tables have been prepared by reference to directly contracted engagements in respect of which professional fees were paid and Professional Services Withholding Tax (PSWT) was deducted, where appropriate. The Department is very conscious of the need the achieve value for money and is in full compliance with national and EU procurement regulations concerning tendering requirements.

The Department, through Irish Aid (Ireland's official development assistance programme), occasionally commissions outside expertise where the effective management and evaluation of the programme necessitates the use of such skills. During the course of their engagements these consultants/experts may prepare reports and other documentation. However, as they would not have been commissioned specifically to furnish a report, these details have not been included in the table.

The Department commissions external reports only where specialised knowledge is not available within the Department and, particularly in the case of Irish Aid, where ongoing independent evaluation of programmes and projects is required. In-depth analysis of issues by external experts has informed — and continues to inform — my Department's policies, allowing for more targeted use of resources and greater accountability in the allocation of budgets. I consider that these reports have been necessary, strategically beneficial and cost-effective.

External Reports commissioned under Vote 28 (Foreign Affairs)

Year

Experts/Consultants

Matter Reported On

Cost(€)

2008

Millward Browne

Research Project to establish reasons underlying the result of the Referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

138,061

2008

Richard Sinnott, Johan A Elkink, Kevin O’Rourke and James McBride

Report on Attitudes and Behaviour in the Referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon

11,800

2008

Communications Clinic

The preparation of a detailed Communication Action Plan to be used to direct spending under the Department’s Communicating Europe Initiative in 2009.

48,000

2008

Jim O’Leary

Assessment of Value for Money Review of the Passport Service.

7,260

2009

Millward Browne

Fieldwork for survey to investigate opinions and attitudes to the European Union

30,253

2009

Richard Sinnott, Johan A Elkink and Stephen Quinlan

Report on Attitudes and Behaviour in the Second Referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon

11,362

2010

Aisling Swaine, University of Ulster

Report of Cross-Learning Process on UN Security Council Resolution 1325

13,525

2010

Macaulay Associates Network

Preparation of Stakeholder Feedback Report Analysing Impact of Reconciliation and Anti Sectarianism Funds

7,118

2011

Nata Duvvury, NUI Galway

First draft of Ireland’s National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325

13,000

External Reports commissioned under Vote 29 (International Cooperation)

Year

Experts/Consultants

Matter Reported On

Cost(€)

2008

AGEMA — Mozambique

Vulnerability & Agriculture Extension Study

42,000

2008

Albert Malama

Copper Belt Government Programme Evaluation

7,343

2008

Alicia da Silva Calane — Mozambique

Analytic Study on process and indicators to address gender related obstacles to achieving PROAGRI goals

10,000

2008

Catherine Butcher

Review of HIVAIDS programme in Northern Province (Zambia)

18,600

2008

Copenhagen Development Consulting A/S.

Evaluation of Irish Aid Support to Primary Education in the Rwenzori Region, Uganda

96,665

2008

Debebe — Ethiopia

Civil Society Fund Audit

3,000

2008

Desam International Consultants — Uganda

Evaluation of Irish Aid Civil Society Programme — Uganda .

19,500

2008

Development Research Training (DRT) — Uganda

Status of Chronic Poverty and Vulnerability in Karamoja

2,857

2008

Dr Barry Ryan

Review of the role of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in the Partnership Programme for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (PPECA)

15,000

2008

Dr. Henk J.W Mustsaers

Review Operational Research for Food Security and Capacity Building and Evaluate Joint Mekelle and Cork Universities MSc Degree in Rural Development

30,600

2008

Dr. Joseph Oonyu — Uganda

Mid Term Review of Irish Aid Support to Human Resources Development for Increased Access to Primary Health Care.

6,554

2008

Dr. Larry Adupa — Uganda

Documenting the process of establishing the civil society fund for HIV/AIDS response in Uganda

11,257

2008

Economics for the Environment Consultancy Ltd (eftec)

Review of Irish Aid’s Strategic Partnership’s Environment Programme 2006-2008:

30,000

2008

Elim Serviços Lda-

Evaluation of Irish support to Technoserve

19,369

2008

FRR/ IDL Group

Review of Irish Aid Programme in Zimbabwe

18,351

2008

FSG Social Impact Advisors

Evaluation of International Partnership for Microbicides

139,000

2008

Health Tech Consulting — Mozambique

Evaluation of the Provincial Investment Plan 2004-2008 (PIPS) in Niassa Province (Mozambique)

25,000

2008

Helen O’Neill

Assessment of United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) as potential partner for Irish Aid

4,000

2008

Integra Economic Development Consultants Ltd

Report to Inter-Departmental Committee on Development (IDCD) on development of skill sets

18,300

2008

Ishmaels K. B. Kabanukye and others

Mapping exercise of Gender Based Violence ( GBV) Programme in Uganda

20,000

2008

ITAD Ltd

Evaluation of Ireland’s Timor Leste Country Strategy Paper 2004-2008

130,000

2008

ITAD Ltd

Evaluation of the Uganda Country Strategy Paper 2007 -2009

88,760

2008

J Fitzpatrick Associates

External Review of Irish Aid Support to Kimmage Development Studies Centre

66,550

2008

J Fitzpatrick Associates

Evaluation of Traidlinks Programme

30,250

2008

Jane Salvage

Feedback on evaluation of Irish Aids support to Health Rehabilitation Project for Marsh Arabs of Southern Iraq

1,650

2008

John O’ Regan

Financial Assessment Component of an organisational Assessment on partner NGOs for Multi-Annual Programme Scheme (MAPS), Civil Society Fund, Block Grants & other Civil Society Funding Schemes

22,400

2008

Mary Jennings

Copper Belt Government Programme Evaluation

15,770

2008

National Forestry Authority Uganda

Environmental impact assessment of the construction improvement component of the post primary education and training programme (PPET) in Karamoja.

21,666

2008

Paud Murphy

Evaluation of Global e-Schools & Communities Initiative (GeSCI )

33,200

2008

Petrus Consulting Ltd

Quality review of draft HIV and AIDS Value for Money Report

3.400

2008

Pricewaterhouse Coopers Ltd

Develop Irish Aid Tanzania Private Sector Support Strategy

36,414

2008

Prof Amon Z Mattee — Tanzania

Assessment of the performance of extension services delivery under ASDP in Tanzania

19,235

2008

Prof. Ronan Conroy

Independent assessment of issues arising from review of a local HIV and AIDS Programme in Tanzania.

5,000

2008

IDL Group — Mozambique

Analysis of Opportunities to Support Rural Livelihood Security and Pro-poor Growth through the Public Sector

38,743

2009

Channel Research

Review of Rapid Response Initiative

10,647

2009

COWI Zambia Ltd

Assessment of the Zambian Ministry of Education School Infrastructure Implementation Plan 2008.

23,760

2009

Dr. Kamal Kar

Review of draft Irish Aid Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Policy

2,391

2009

Eleanor O’Gorman

Provision of Conflict Analysis for Timor Leste

23,449

2009

Howard Dalzell

Review of Irish Aid Support for unexploded Ordinance Programmes in Lao PDR & De-Mining in Cambodia

18,172

2009

Karen O’Shea

An Evaluation of the Development Intercultural Education (DICE ) Lectures Project (Part 2 of 2007-09 Model ) January 2009

3,819

2009

KPMG -Kenya

Report on Uganda Aids Commission

48,500

2009

Mary Mc KeownVarney A Yenbeth Dr Yvonne Harding

Evaluation of Sierra Leone & Liberia Country Programmes

35,557

2009

Mary McKeown,

Redesign of Irish Aid Regional Support in Ethiopia.

9,254

2009

Matthias Fiedler

Development Assistance Committee Research Mapping

25,000

2009

Mike Kiernan

Joint Appraisal for the development of a Joint Modality within a Sector Wide Approach to support the Palestinian Education System

10,410

2009

Mokoro Ltd

Preparation Good Practice Note Empowerment Local Development

21,900

2009

Peter McEvoy

Evaluation of Irish Aid Supported Activities of Dochas, 2006-2008

15,058

2009

Rural Net Associates

Evaluation of support to Zambian Ministry of Education programme.

14,150

2009

Circa Group, Europe

Development of a Performance Measurement Framework for the Programme of Strategic Cooperation between Irish Aid and Higher Education and Research Institutes 2007-2011

24,561

2010

Cathy Gaynor

Multi-Annual Programme SchemeII Evaluation

11,730

2010

Emma Warwick

Review of Irish Aid Emergency Response Fund

4,000

2010

IOD PARC

Evaluation of Irish Aid Multi-Annual Programme Scheme II 2007 to 2011

214,735

2010

John Coughlan

Senior Consultant to Review the Central America Programme

15,677

2010

Luis Bran

Junior Consultant to Review the Central America Programme

13,300

2010

Mokoro

Evaluation of Vietnam Country Strategy Paper

78,637

2010

Mokoro

Evaluation of Irish Aid Zambia Country Strategy Paper 2007-2010

74,850

2010

Paul Isenmann

Consultancy to support the work to advance Mutual Accountability

43,750

2010

SPN & MLC Consulting

Consultancy to Conduct an External Review of Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED)

40,000

2010

Tony Taaffe

Consultancy to advise on the upgrade of the Irish Aid Financial Management System.

864

2010

Dr Tina Sideris and Dr Penny Plowman

Mid-Term Review (MTR) of the Gender Based Violence (GBV) Component of the Irish Aid Gender Programme in South Africa.

14,800

2010

Jim Kiely

Review of Irish Aid Collaboration with Irish Health Research Board

7,500

2010

Dr. Lawrence Mukuka

Evaluation of Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC)

5,000

2010

Mokoro

Evaluation of Mozambique Country Programme 2007-2010

91,910

2010

Mary Jennings

Evaluation of Multi-Annual Programme Scheme II

11,775

2010

Rosetti Nabbumba Nayenga

Development of Social Protection Policy Guidance Tool on Gender Analysis of Expanding Social Protection Programme 2010-14 (Uganda)

7,500

2010

John Coughlan

Review of Irish Aid-Ethiopia Partnership with Civil Society Organisations.

25,000

2011

Kevin Moore

Support to the Governments of Zambia and South Africa to develop Special Economic Zones for the promotion of inward investment and employment

€8,500

2011

Paul Sheane

Support to the Governments of Zambia and South Africa to develop Special Economic Zones for the promotion of inward investment and employment

€4,000

2011

Stefanie Meredith

Review of Irish Aid Support for Product Development Partnerships in developing countries.

€7,125

2011

Samia Saad

Review of Irish Aid Support for Product Development Partnerships in developing countries.

€7,125

2011

Paud Murphy

Development Education Reviews — to examine the current funding support and engagement in each of the priority areas identified in the Development Education strategy (primary, post primary, third level, adult, community and youth work).

€7,800

2011

80:20

Development Education Reviews — to examine the current funding support and engagement in each of the priority areas identified in the Development Education strategy (primary, post primary, third level, adult, community and youth work).

€8,450

2011

Eilis Murray

Development Education Reviews — to examine the current funding support and engagement in each of the priority areas identified in the Development Education strategy (primary, post primary, third level, adult, community and youth work).

€5,850

2011

ISOS

Development Education Reviews — to examine the current funding support and engagement in each of the priority areas identified in the Development Education strategy (primary, post primary, third level, adult, community and youth work).

€31,010

2011

Bernard McLoughlin

Review of the Irish Aid Centre

€6,000

2011

Cathal Higgins

Preparation of a report on the programme of education sector budget support towards school infrastructural development in Karamoja region and skills development in the oil sector (Uganda)

€5,000

Official Engagements

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

58 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the bilateral meetings that he attended at the recent UN Assembly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27241/11]

As part of the broader programme for UNGA Ministerial Week, I had bilateral meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Andorra, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Laos, the Palestinian Authority, Russia, and Serbia as well as the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, former Egyptian Foreign Minister, Nabil el-Araby. I had also been due to meet the Israeli Foreign Minister, but this did not prove possible due to scheduling difficulties on the Israeli side.

These meetings provided a valuable opportunity to discuss a range of international issues, including developments in relation to the Middle East Peace Process, as well as bilateral issues and Ireland's candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council in 2012.

I also held a bilateral meeting on 26 September with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Among the issues we discussed were sustainable development, gender and the enhancement of women's rights, the Palestinian application for UN membership, and the Arab Spring.

In view of Ireland's upcoming Chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in January 2012, I participated in an OSCE Troika meeting with the Foreign Ministers of Lithuania and Kazakhstan, respectively, the current and previous Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE. I also attended an important Ministerial meeting on Mediation hosted by the Foreign Ministers of Turkey and Finland.

I also participated in a number of High Level Meetings during the UNGA week, including on Libya, the Durban Declaration and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Article XIV Conference. I was also honoured to address the High Level Meeting on Nutrition and Food Security on 21 September which US Secretary of State Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban also participated in and which builds on the successful Irish-US initiative on this issue launched at the United Nations in September 2010. In addition, I also attended the traditional meetings of EU Foreign Ministers with their US and Russian counterparts as well as a Mini-Summit on the Horn of Africa on 24 September.

Economic promotional work also formed an important part of my programme in New York where I met with both Irish and American business representatives, and conducted interviews with a wide range of important US media, including the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News and Fox News. Another important aspect of my visit was meeting with local Irish community representatives in New York and presenting the first Certificate of Irish Heritage to the family of the late Joseph Hunter, a member of the New York Fire Department who died in the 9/11 attacks.

Global Economic Forum

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

59 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will have any role to play in the upcoming second Global Economic Irish Forum at Farmleigh. [21813/11]

The second Global Irish Economic Forum will be held in Dublin Castle on the 7th and 8th of October. The primary purposes of the Forum will be to engage fully with the Irish Diaspora in developing Ireland's global business and trade relations; to discuss face-to-face the Government's priorities for economic renewal with key members of the international business community; and to strengthen ties with the Irish Diaspora as a key part of the Government's efforts to restore Ireland's international reputation abroad. There has been an exceptional uptake on the Taoiseach's invitation and over 270 acceptances have been received from members of the Global Irish Network based in some 35 countries.

The Forum is being organised and managed by my Department in close cooperation with other Government Departments and the State Agencies. Over the course of the two days, I will make an address at the opening session and take part in the opening plenary debate which will discuss "Ireland: the road to recovery". I will also be a panellist for other debates including “Ireland’s image abroad: communicating the message” and the closing plenary discussion, along with the Taoiseach and President Clinton.

In response to requests from participants at the 2009 Forum, a considerable amount of time has been devoted to small breakout working groups. Each working group will focus on a topic of relevance to the Programme for Government and will involve the participation of the relevant Minister. I will take part in two working groups, the one dealing with "Ireland's reputation abroad" on 7 October and the "Job Creation" group on 8 October. I will also deliver the closing address to the Forum. A copy of the programme including details of the working groups and a list of those attending is available on the Forum's website, globalirishforum.ie.

International Agreements

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

60 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on whether the EU-Colombia Peru Free Trade Agreement will undermine indigenous rights in Colombia and Peru, in particular those under ILO Convention 169 that require prior free and informed consent by indigenous persons. [27318/11]

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

69 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the EU-Colombia Peru Free Trade Agreement will destroy the dairy industries in Peru and Colombia and threaten the livelihood of persons connected with other agricultural industries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27319/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 60 and 69 together.

EU relations with Colombia and Peru are conducted in the framework of regional relations between the EU and the Andean Community, comprising Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

Negotiations commenced in 2009 on a Multiparty Free Trade Agreement between the EU and two member states of the Andean Community — Colombia and Peru.

The FTA negotiations, which were conducted by the European Commission on the basis of a mandate from the Council, concluded in March 2010 and the Agreement was initialled by the parties on 13 April 2011. It is expected that it will be signed in the first half of 2012.

The Agreement is ambitious and contains significant commitments by each party. Under the terms of the proposed deal, the EU will open up its market to exporters from Peru and Colombia by committing to an immediate liberalisation in industrial and fisheries products as well as substantial tariff concessions in agriculture. This will generate new opportunities and new market outlets for economic operators, including dairy and other farmers, at all levels in Colombia and Peru and will contribute significantly to the social and economic development of both countries.

In order for small scale producers to reap the full benefits of the agreement, its implementation must go hand in hand with the development of an integrated set of rural development programmes which comprise education, public services and infrastructure. This is the responsibility of the Andean partner countries in the first place but the EU is providing support for these measures through its co-operation programmes.

Nor is the Agreement limited to trade issues alone. It also covers other important aspects such as human rights and sustainable development. These include commitments to the implementation of key International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions and respect for environmental rules. A monitoring system, which foresees the active involvement of civil society stakeholders, will ensure the effective implementation of these commitments.

The Agreement will not undermine the rights of indigenous peoples in Peru and Colombia. I am confident that the authorities in both countries will take full account of the consultation and participation provisions of ILO Convention 169 in their internal processes for approval of the Agreement. In the case of Peru, the Government launched a dialogue process in 2009 to address a number of issues relating to indigenous rights. Furthermore, the Government has committed to implement a development plan for the Amazonian populations.

The EU is supportive of national efforts to ensure effective protection for, and promotion of the rights of indigenous communities. It is also financing projects implemented by NGOs and non-state actors in the field of education, training, and sustainable management of natural resources which aim to reinforce indigenous organisations and promote their rights.

Departmental Expenditure

John McGuinness

Ceist:

61 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his policy on the use of taxis by staff; if this policy is adhered to; if such a policy exists, if breaches are made; and if so, the actions that he has taken. [27246/11]

My Department's current taxi policy provides that taxis may be used for official business only in cases when public transport is not available or feasible or when officers are required, because of work or official travel commitments to travel early in the morning or late at night either to or from HQ or to airports or train stations. At other times, the use of taxis is not sanctioned. I believe that this provides a reasonable balance between requirements to safeguard the exchequer to the greatest extent possible and a recognition that there are situations where the use of taxis will be necessary.

The costs related to taxi use are monitored on a monthly basis with a view to identifying any use not in line with this policy. While no such inappropriate use has been identified in recent years, if it were to be, the official would be asked to clarify the situation, instructed to ensure future compliance with the policy and would be required to reimburse the official account where necessary.

Human Rights Issues

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

62 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied) currently being held by Syrian authorities in solitary confinement without any charges being put to them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27328/11]

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

67 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his position on the current situation in Syria; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27367/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 62 and 67 together.

I remain gravely concerned about the situation in Syria. President Assad and his Government seem oblivious to the demands of the Syrian people for change and to the lessons of the "Arab Spring" elsewhere. It is unconscionable that the Syrian government has for some seven months calculatedly and systematically persecuted its own citizens peacefully demanding democratic freedoms. Despite the appeals of the international community, President Assad and his authorities have persisted in their violent repression, including firing at short-range into crowds of unarmed protestors and shelling Syrian towns. To date, these actions have resulted in the deaths of over 2,700 men, women and children. Thousands more have been detained and many of those have been appallingly tortured.

As I stated when I addressed the UN General Assembly on 26 September, my basic message to President Assad is that no leader who refuses to listen to what his people are saying and to act on their clearly expressed desire for peace and reform can expect to remain in power.

The international community is determined to bring utmost pressure to bear until there is a change in policy in Syria. Ireland has fully supported, and enacted, actions taken at European Union level, including comprehensive sanctions against Syria. I fully support the strong political messages which have been sent by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, most recently on 23 September, calling for an end to the repression and the immediate start of an inclusive political dialogue.

The EU has now extended its range of sanctions against the Syrian government, enacting an investment ban on the Syrian oil sector, as well as prohibiting the delivery of banknotes to the Syrian Central Bank, and listing additional persons and entities connected with the repression in Syria under the existing asset freeze and travel ban. These measures are targeted to ensure that the impact on the general population in Syria is minimised. The EU has also imposed a ban on the import of crude oil from Syria — the EU is by far the largest such importer — on 2 September. Through these measures, the EU hopes to prompt a rethink on the part of a government that has so far failed to heed the international community's messages.

Efforts are also continuing at UN level to increase pressure on Syria to bring about an end to the violence. On 3 August, the UN Security Council issued a Presidential Statement which condemned widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities. The Security Council also noted the lack of progress in the implementation of announced reforms by the Syrian authorities. The UN Security Council is currently discussing a draft Resolution on the situation and Ireland strongly supports our EU partners on the Security Council who are working towards a robust Resolution on Syria, commensurate with the gravity of the situation there. In addition, the UN Human Rights Council has formed an international Commission of Inquiry to examine and report on the human rights situation in Syria.

In relation to the case raised by the Deputy, that of renowned Syrian psychoanalyst Dr Rafah Nashid, I understand that Dr Nashid was detained on 10 September at Damascus airport. There have been reports that she is being held in solitary confinement and concerns are growing about her serious health condition. Mrs. Nashid is well-known for treating victims of psychological trauma as well as for her active engagement in favour of dialogue between all Syrians. I call for her immediate release, as well as the release of the many thousands who have been arbitrarily detained in Syria, many of whom are being subjected to torture in custody. In this regard, I fully support the comments by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton in her statement of 23 September on the case of Dr Nashid.

Ireland will, with its partners with the EU and the broader international community, maintain and indeed intensify its pressure until the violence perpetrated by the Assad regime in Syria comes to an end and the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people begin to be realised.

Gender Discrimination

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

63 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will support the Plan International proposal to institute 22 September as the International Day of the Girl by voting in favour of the upcoming Canadian Resolution to the General Assembly of the United Nations on this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27316/11]

The 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly opened on 13 September 2011. Plan International, a children's development organisation, is campaigning to have 22 September instituted as the International Day of the Girl Child. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, through Irish Aid, has a long history of support to Plan Ireland, which is the national affiliate of Plan International in Ireland.

In 2010, Irish Aid provided Plan Ireland with grants totalling €1,839,992. Over €1million of this was allocated to support the work of Plan Ireland in responding to emergencies. The balance of the grant supports long-term development work in West Africa which ensures that more children, especially girls, have access to well-constructed and equipped schools and better quality education.

Protecting and empowering girls is critical to advancing gender equality, which is a fundamental human right and essential for the reduction of poverty. Getting more girls into primary schools is a key objective of education programmes supported by Irish Aid in Lesotho, Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia. For many girls, particularly at secondary school level, gender-based violence is a key obstacle to their attendance. Irish Aid has supported Government and NGO child protection strategies and programmes in Mozambique and Zambia.

In order to have an international day instituted, the United Nations General Assembly must support a draft resolution instituting the international day.

I am aware that Canada is considering proposing a draft resolution on this issue. Ireland will consider the terms of the draft resolution when it is presented.

Middle East Peace Process

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

64 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s proposals to punish Turkey, which include possible support for Kurdish rebels and co-operation with the Armenian lobby in the US, both made in direct response to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s announcement that Turkish warships will escort future flotillas to Gaza. [27325/11]

Turkey and Israel have clear, strongly held and conflicting views on the circumstances surrounding the tragic deaths of nine Turkish citizens on the May 2010 Gaza flotilla, and attempts to resolve this issue between them have so far been unsuccessful. The publication earlier this month of the UN Palmer Report on the incident, which it was hoped might begin a move towards reconciliation, has unfortunately led instead to further recriminations.

Regardless of the position any observer might take on the flotillas or the 2010 events, this breakdown in relations between Israel and Turkey is an unwelcome development in the already tense and troubled region of the Eastern Mediterranean. It is very much to be hoped that they will actively seek to find common ground and work to restore good relations.

I would not comment on the reported words of either side in this case. It is not clear what was the basis for the reports of the ideas supposedly considered by Foreign Minister Liberman, and referred to in the Question. Both the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office stated in response to these reports that the policy of Israel was to seek to avoid heightening difficulties with Turkey.

Overseas Development Aid

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

65 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if overseas development aid will be protected in budget 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27243/11]

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

94 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will support a matter (details supplied) regarding foreign aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27157/11]

Jack Wall

Ceist:

95 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views regarding a submission on overseas aid (details supplied); the actions taken or to be taken to attain the level of investment indicated; the results of his representations and the areas that he has visited and the groupings, either elected or representative from the countries involved with whom he has engaged; the results of such meetings; if on his recent visit to the UN he held discussions with any groups, countries or personnel within the UN regarding the issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27184/11]

Robert Dowds

Ceist:

97 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if Ireland is still in line to achieve the aim of spending 0.7% of national income on foreign aid by 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27270/11]

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

107 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding Ireland’s commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on overseas aid by 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27477/11]

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

110 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will outline his commitment to spending 0.7% of national income on overseas aid, if this is his intention until 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27570/11]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

123 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding the 0.7% on foreign aid in the current economic climate and his proposals for same. [27684/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 65, 94, 95, 97, 107, 110 and 123 together.

The Government is strongly committed to Ireland's overseas development programme, which is central to our foreign policy. It is internationally recognised as one of the best development aid programmes in the world, is clearly focused on the fight against extreme poverty and hunger, and is concentrated in some of the poorest countries of sub-Saharan Africa. Ireland's aid programme has a rigorous focus on achieving real and sustainable results and provides strong international leadership in making aid more effective.

We were elected to restore growth to the Irish economy and rebuild our international reputation on the world stage. Despite the good progress we have made, Ireland still faces considerable challenges in ensuring that our public finances are put back on a sound and sustainable footing. However despite our current difficulties we are not willing to turn our backs on the world's poor and marginalised.

The Programme for Government underlines our commitment to Ireland's development programme and the UN target of spending 0.7% of GNP on Overseas Development Assistance (ODA). As recently as last week at the UN General Assembly, the Tánaiste clearly stated that we remain committed to this 0.7% target and that we will continue to work towards its attainment.

Decisions on the annual allocations for the aid programme in the coming years will have to be taken within the overall budgetary framework and the fiscal constraints facing the Government. We are currently engaged in the 2012 estimates process, and while I can give an assurance that, as Minister with responsibility for trade and development, I will make the strongest possible case for funding for development cooperation — the final budget allocation for next year will ultimately be a matter for the Minister for Finance.

Global Economic Forum

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

66 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the outcome of the initiatives and recommendations following the global economic forum in 2009; the number of networks that have been successfully implemented; and if he will make a statement on the forthcoming Global Economic Forum being held in October. [27242/11]

The inaugural Global Irish Economic Forum, held at Farmleigh in 2009, was an important milestone in Ireland's relationship with its Diaspora.

A detailed update in respect of each of the 59 specific and medium term objectives identified in the Report of the Forum was published on my Department's website in April of this year. That document demonstrates the significant number of proposals that have either been fully or substantively delivered by Government. Some of the initiatives proposed at Farmleigh were general or thematic in nature and covered a range of sectors including: innovation; education; tourism; culture; diaspora engagement and network development.

Among the specific initiatives that emerged from, or were influenced by, the 2009 Farmleigh Forum were:

the establishment of the Global Irish Network of over 300 influential individuals drawn from 37 countries;

a new focus on the promotion of Irish culture abroad;

Tourism Ireland's ‘Come Home' campaign targeted at the Diaspora;

the establishment of the Farmleigh Fellowship Programme in Singapore;

the establishment of a Diaspora focussed website- www.worldirish.com- ;

the expansion of the Irish Technology Leadership Group (with Irish Government support) and the establishment of the Irish Innovation Centre in Silicon Valley;

increased access to genealogical records and the establishment of the Certificate of Irish Heritage;

the provision of mentoring, introduction and advice for Irish companies;

the appointment of a high profile spokesperson for the IFSC.

In addition, since the 2009 Forum, Irish Missions and State Agencies overseas have worked with local communities to enhance existing or establish new business Networks. For instance, our Ambassadors in Paris, Berlin and Abu Dhabi have worked with 2009 Forum participants to establish new Irish business networks in these locations. A number of young Irish professional networks have also been established with the support of my Department since 2009.

The second Global Irish Economic Forum will take place at Dublin Castle on 7 and 8 October and will have a number of objectives. First, it is designed to maintain and further develop a structured engagement between the Government and leading business figures from our Diaspora and from among our friends abroad. Secondly, it will play an important role in the Government's ongoing and increasingly successful work of rebuilding Ireland's international reputation by enabling us to outline our economic objectives and achievements to date and to seek the assistance of participants in projecting positive messages abroad. Thirdly, a number of specific initiatives will be launched or showcased at the Forum. Fourthly, participants will be tasked with proposing no more than two to three specific value added ideas from each of the fifteen working groups.

The Government is deeply encouraged by the fact that over 300 people have accepted the invitation to participate and looks forward to a productive meeting.

Question No. 67 answered with Question No. 62.

Overseas Development Aid

Robert Troy

Ceist:

68 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to visit the Horn of Africa to assess the way in which Irish Aid funds are being put to use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27239/11]

The humanitarian situation across the Horn of Africa is worsening, with more than 13 million people affected by drought and food shortages.

The Government has been following and responding to the crisis for many months and has already allocated more than €10 million in emergency assistance. Our funding has been utilised by the UN, the Red Cross and NGOs such as Concern and Trócaire, to provide vital food supplies, shelter, basic health care and clean water to many thousands of people. In addition to financial help, Irish Aid has also carried out two airlifts of humanitarian supplies from its pre-positioned stockpiles in Dubai and has deployed 21 members of its highly skilled Rapid Response Corps to directly assist in humanitarian operations. We are making a real and tangible difference on the ground. Lives are being saved as a result.

The Government is committed to continuing its support for the Horn of Africa region and at the recent international summit on the crisis, convened by the United Nations in New York, the Tánaiste pledged a further €10 million in emergency assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable in the region before the end of 2012.

The Government is acutely conscious of the need to ensure that the emergency funding which we provide is used to save lives and target those most in need. For this reason, we work closely with our humanitarian partners, including the key UN agencies, the Red Cross and the major NGOs, in deciding on funding allocations and in designing and implementing their programmes. We also prioritise monitoring and evaluation as a means to ensure value for money in the use of public funds for the relief effort.

To date in 2011, officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs have carried out three field visits to the Horn of Africa, including to Somalia, the Dollo Ado refugee camp in Ethiopia and the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. These visits have proven invaluable in allowing us to assess both the situation on the ground and the most effective means to provide assistance.

At this stage, neither the Tánaiste nor I have advanced plans to visit the Horn of Africa region. What is most important at this juncture is that we continue to respond as effectively as possible and we are continuing to keep in constant touch with our partners on the ground to ensure our assistance has maximum impact. I can, however, assure the Deputy that the Government will continue to monitor the situation closely and will assess the possible benefits of a Ministerial visit in light of developments in the region and our ongoing discussions with our humanitarian partners.

Question No. 69 answered with Question No. 60.

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

70 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the preparations that he is making to ensure that Ireland makes a meaningful contribution to the upcoming high level summit meeting on aid effectiveness in Busan. [27322/11]

One of the most important international meetings on development issues this year will be the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, to be held in Busan, in the Republic of Korea, in November. The Forum will assess progress in implementing the commitments made under the 2005 Paris Declaration on making aid more effective. It will also focus on new global development challenges, such as climate change and fragile states, and on strengthening partnerships with emerging economies. I look forward to attending the Forum. We have held discussions on our preparations with members of the Oireachtas, and I look forward to further consultations with the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade. I am pleased that the Chair of the Joint Committee will join the official delegation in Busan. We are also consulting with the Irish development Non-Governmental Organisations on their priorities and plans for the meeting.

When I visited Malawi and Mozambique in June, I was struck by how important it is for all international aid donors to co-ordinate their programmes and to work more closely with Governments and communities in developing countries so that aid is delivered effectively and makes a sustainable contribution to the ending of extreme poverty and hunger. In the current economic climate, it is more important than ever to ensure that our development aid delivers value for money and achieves long term results.

Ireland will play a strong role at the Forum. Our development programme is already recognised internationally as a leader in making aid more effective. Officials from Irish Aid, in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, are engaging internationally with our partners in developing countries, the OECD, the EU and the UN on preparations for the discussions and the Outcome Document. Ireland's approach has been to work to strengthen the focus on poverty reduction and on development results, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected states. We are also ensuring that women and girls are prioritised in development plans. Other priorities for Ireland include strengthening the transparency and accountability of development spending, ensuring civil society can play their legitimate role as partners in poverty reduction and reducing the bureaucracy of managing aid.

I hope that the Forum in Busan will mark a decisive move in placing the effectiveness of aid at the heart of development policy and development programmes.

Diplomatic Representation

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

71 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to reduce the number of Irish embassies in 2012. [27244/11]

The scale and presence of the Irish diplomatic network is currently being reviewed, along with all aspects of my Department's operations, as part of the Government's Comprehensive Review of Expenditure. Given the current budgetary situation, and recognising the role that our diplomatic network is playing in Ireland's economic recovery, any adjustments to our diplomatic network will continue to be strategically focused. In short, all our Missions abroad must continue to deliver benefits for Ireland and must do so in a manner that represents good value for money.

Consideration of proposals to reduce our diplomatic network must balance any potential financial savings against the operational and reputational costs that would be incurred, including undermining our ability to influence the policies of the countries in question and writing off investments made over years in developing bilateral relationships with them. At a time when Ireland needs as much international support and co-operation as possible, it is important to get these decisions right.

Middle East Peace Process

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

72 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, in view of the strong bonds between our two countries and given their role in assisting our peace process, the positive role we can play in seeking support from the United States towards a resolution of the Palestinian issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27249/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

77 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the current status of the Middle East peace process with particular reference to emphasis on a permanent structure to which all parties can submit their grievances; the degree, if any, to which discussion has taken place around such a prospect throughout the international community; the obstacles preventing such a process; the extent to which he and the international community can influence the ongoing situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27314/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

114 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which he has been in a position to influence his EU colleagues, the UN or the wider community towards bringing about a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27595/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 72, 77 and 114 together.

The United States has a critical role to play in the search for peace in the Middle East. Notwithstanding its long political and practical commitment to the security of Israel, successive US administrations have sought to encourage a political engagement between Israel and the Palestinians to reach a comprehensive peace, based on the two state solution. The EU and the US, along with Russia and the UN, work together in the International Quartet to try and bring this about.

I have referred earlier, in answer to a Priority Question, to the current state of the peace process, which has in recent years often been very frustrating. But the strong personal commitment of President Obama and his administration has been evident and very welcome. Both through the EU, and in my own discussions with Secretary Clinton, we have consistently sought to encourage the US to continue and push forward this involvement. I believe there is a particular need for the friends of Israel to try to convince it of its own best interest in grasping the very real opportunity for long-term peace which now exists, but which may not last much longer. Clearly, this is not a responsibility of the United States alone.

The question of a permanent structure, or secretariat, for the Middle East Peace Process has been raised from time to time. However, I am not aware that any of the parties has ever suggested that this might be a useful idea to them, and no such proposal is currently under consideration by the international community. Frankly, it is difficult to see how it might operate in practice, and it might just become another matter to disagree on.

The issues required to be settled in a comprehensive agreement are now well rehearsed. There are full-time envoys working on the conflict on behalf of the individual Quartet members (the UN, the EU, the US and Russia) as well as on behalf of the Quartet itself, where this role is performed by former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair. The problem is not so much a lack of structures, as an absence of the political will necessary to forge an agreement.

Overseas Development Aid

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

73 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the international aid response to the famine in the Horn of Africa-East Africa; and if the emergency aid financial targets have been met with an equal per capita response from donor countries. [27327/11]

The international community is facing a grave humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa, with an estimated thirteen million people in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti affected by a long-running drought.

The situation is most critical in Somalia, where the United Nations estimates that 750,000 are at imminent risk of starvation and where the conflict and access issues have greatly exacerbated the situation. Famine has been declared in six districts of the country and hundreds of thousands of people have moved to Mogadishu or across the border to Kenya or Ethiopia. Meanwhile, millions of people in Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti, continue to face severe difficulties of their own.

Ireland has responded swiftly to the crisis, allocating more than €10 million for emergency assistance to UN agencies, the Red Cross movement and other humanitarian agencies working in the Horn of Africa.

In addition, at a United Nations Ministerial Summit on the Horn of Africa in New York last week, the Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore TD, pledged a further €10 million in humanitarian assistance in 2011 and 2012. Our emergency assistance combined with our longer term food security support to the region will amount to approximately €50 million in 2011 and 2012. Ireland continues to be one of the most committed and generous donors to the region in per capita terms.

Other donors have also contributed significantly to the relief operation, with pledges to date reaching €1.8 billion of the estimated €2.5 billion cost of the relief operation to the end of 2011. The European Commission and EU Member States have provided more than half a billion euro, the United States has pledged more than $600 million and the UN's own Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), to which Ireland is a major contributor, has also allocated over $117 million. These funds have allowed the UN, the Red Cross and many NGOs to provide food, health care and other assistance to many hundreds of thousands of people.

While many have given generously the UN has warned that the relief operation requires a further $700 million in 2011 if all of the needs in the region are to be met. Under these circumstances there is an onus on national governments, including those which are not traditional aid donors, as well as the private sector, to step up their assistance.

At EU level, Ireland has already been instrumental in pushing for a more intensive response and I used the recent meeting of EU Development Ministers in Sopot in Poland to call on the EU to respond quickly and generously. We will continue to call on the international community to increase its efforts in the period ahead.

Human Rights Issues

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

74 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps he has taken in pursuit of justice for a person (details supplied) who is currently imprisoned in Mexico, sentenced initially to 92 years and later reduced to 61 years, and who has been refused repatriation to France to serve their sentence, even though this is admissible under European Rights law. [27324/11]

I am aware of the case of the French citizen in question and of the controversy surrounding it. This case is being dealt with as a bilateral matter between France and Mexico. It is, however, being monitored by our Embassy which, together with the other EU diplomatic missions in Mexico, pays close attention to the situation regarding the administration of justice there.

International Agreements

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

75 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his position on EU trade agreements with developing nations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27247/11]

The Government recognises that trade is an engine for growth which offers a path to development for those most in need, wherever they live. With increased trade, many developing countries have seen incomes and employment grow rapidly and this has resulted in significant reductions in poverty levels. This understanding is clearly reflected in the EU's trade policy which seeks to promote inclusive growth in the European Union and abroad.

To ensure that trade leads to positive development outcomes, the EU has employed a carefully differentiated approach to its engagement on trade with developing country partners. EU trade policy is helping the poorest economies by providing generous unilateral trade preferences through the Generalised System of Preferences Scheme. This includes the Everything but Arms Scheme which provides duty-free and quota-free access for goods from Least Developed Countries. Other initiatives include the Economic Partnership Agreements, a series of new trade and development agreements which the EU has been negotiating with the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of States since 2002. The goal is to foster development by promoting regional integration, creating opportunities for trade and investment and improving economic governance.

EU trade agreements are designed to create opportunities by opening new markets for goods and services, increasing investment opportunities and making trade cheaper and faster. It is, of course, essential that the EU adapts its strategy carefully to the situation of each partner country.

As Minister of State for Trade and Development, I closely follow the negotiations of EU trade agreements with developing nations. I believe it is essential that all such agreements clearly support the development needs of developing countries, and specifically their programmes to reduce poverty. I am working with our partners to help ensure that the EU's negotiating approach is as flexible as possible under WTO law and that the negotiations, which are led by the European Commission, serve to strengthen the EU's partnership with developing countries.

Foreign Conflicts

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

76 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps he is taking to break the deadlock in Western Sahara, in which Prime Minister, Abdelkader Taleb Oumar, appealed to the international community to put pressure on Morocco to comply with international law, and where he recently described the situation as leading to the irreparable with all the predictable negative consequences for the whole Mediterranean region. [27326/11]

Ireland continues to support the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, and the continuing engagement of the United Nations in the search for a political solution in the territory based on the principle of self-determination. UN Secretary General Ban's Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, has convened several rounds of informal talks most recently in July this year.

The major obstacle remains Morocco's refusal to allow a referendum in the territory which would include an option of independence for the people of the Western Sahara. This has been provided for in a number of UN peace plans, and it is difficult to see that there can be any genuine self-determination without such a referendum. The frustration of the Saharawi people at the impasse in the peace talks is understandable, particularly given the sweeping changes we have witnessed across the Arab world in recent months when their neighbours in the region have demanded a greater say in the governance of their countries. However, as we know only too well on this island, the only solution to the conflict is through dialogue and negotiation, not through any other course of action.

In his most recent report to the Security Council on the situation in Western Sahara, the UN Secretary General has suggested that the parties find a means to include respected representatives of a wide cross-section of the population of Western Sahara inside and outside the territory in the discussion of issues related to self-determination. SG Ban also urged both parties to identify and discuss governance issues as many of these issues can be discussed without reference to the final status of the territory. A resolution of some governance issues such as the structure of judiciary, the conduct of elections, or the design of education could help build trust between the two parties. I would encourage both parties to implement the Secretary General's recommendations as a means of making progress as well as to continue to implement practical confidence building measures, such as family exchange visits.

Ireland will continue its dialogue with both Morocco and the Polisario, through their representatives based here in Ireland, to encourage support for the UN Secretary General's good offices mission and the efforts of Personal Envoy Ross to achieve some measure of political progress and increased confidence between both sides.

Question No. 77 answered with Question No. 72.

Departmental Staff

Anne Ferris

Ceist:

78 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Taoiseach the number of promotions from age 63 years to retirement that were given to senior civil servants from higher executive officer grade to Secretary General grade over the past ten years; if he will provide a breakdown by year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26892/11]

No staff aged 63 years or older have been promoted in my Department in the past 10 years.

Cabinet Sub-Committees

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

79 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Taoiseach when the Cabinet sub-committee on public sector reform was established; the frequency with which it has met since it was established. [26893/11]

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

80 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Taoiseach the full list of members, including the chair, of the Cabinet sub-committee on public sector reform. [26894/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 79 and 80 together.

The Government agreed in April this year to establish a number of Cabinet Committees, including one on Public Service Reform. The Committee held its first meeting on 13 July and is scheduled to meet again at the end of October. The Committee is comprised of:

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Convenor)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade

Minister for Finance

Minister for Education and Skills

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government

Minister for Justice, Equality & Defence

Minister for Health

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

Minister of State for Public Service Reform.

Other Ministers, Ministers of State and the Attorney General may attend as required.

Departmental Expenditure

Anne Ferris

Ceist:

81 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a full breakdown, per year, of the expenses and entitlements of former Taoisigh since the initiative was introduced in 2001; if he will provide a breakdown for each former Taoiseach; the computer and mobile telephone equipment made available to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26897/11]

Under the terms of an initiative introduced by the Department of Finance in August 2001, my Department pays the salary of secretarial assistants employed by former Taoisigh, up to the maximum of the Higher Executive Officer (standard) scale. The initiative provides that a former Taoiseach may employ two secretarial assistants for a period not exceeding five years from the date when s/he was last Taoiseach. After the five year period has elapsed only one secretarial assistant may be employed. The initiative also includes provision for purchase of computer equipment necessary for this type of service.

While there are no guidelines in relation to the type of work for which secretarial assistants are employed by former Taoisigh, I understand that they carry out a normal range of secretarial duties to support the former Taoisigh in carrying out those aspects of work associated with their former roles which remain after their period in office has ceased. However, under the initiative the secretarial assistant cannot engage in constituency or active party political work.

The table provides details of the costs incurred in providing secretarial assistants to former Taoisigh who have availed of the scheme since its introduction.

Former Taoiseach

Cost of Scheme by Year

Mr. Charles J Haughey

2001 — €7,8062002 — €32,4752003 — €32,4752004 — €35,5382005 — €36,9842006 — €54,609

Dr. Garret FitzGerald

2001 — €2,6022002 — €32,4752003 — €32,4752004 — €35,5382005 — €36,9842006 — €38,5142007 — €41,8572008 — €44,9652009 — €38,0552010 — Nil2011 — €30,091

Mr. Albert Reynolds

2001 — €6,8242002 — €21,7372003 — €35,0342004 — €42,2752005 — €52,0512006 — €14,7942007 — €19,1452008 — €49,5752009 — €44,8902010 — €45,6562011 — €24,731

Mr. John Bruton

2001 — €26,0202002 — €32,4752003 — €18,9432004 — €35,5382005 — €36,9842006 — €38,5142007 — €40,6352008 — €11,1032009 — €02010 — €13,3102011 — €15,896

Mr. Bertie Ahern

2008 — €74,9832009 — €114,3692010 — €106,8382011 — €70,994

Mr. Brian Cowen

2011 — €32,279

My Department also provided Dr. Garrett FitzGerald with the use of computer equipment to the value of €1,913 during this period and the cost of providing computer equipment to Mr. Brian Cowen was €1,440.

The details in relation to mobile phone expenses for former Taoisigh paid for by this Department for 2005 to date is set out in the following table:

Mobile Phone Expenses incurred by former Taoisigh

Annual amount paid in respect of mobile phones provided to former Taoisigh 2005 to date

Year

Charles J Haughey

Albert Reynolds

Dr Garret FitzGerald

John Bruton

Bertie Ahern

Brian Cowen

2005

€916.73

€1,164.74

€997.83

€1,567.73

n/a

n/a

2006

€1,209.23

€1,277.34

€1,603.83

€1,618.58

n/a

n/a

2007

€136.19

€1,546.36

€1,202.83

€1,216.03

n/a

n/a

2008

n/a

€1,757.35

€727.17

€1,938.94

€2,511.65

n/a

2009

n/a

€700.97

€616.15

€901.11

€3,544.54

n/a

2010

n/a

€525.76

€659.90

€1,444.68

€2,401.61

n/a

2011 Jan-Aug

n/a

€ 262.41

€ 178.77

€ 1,251.01

€ 2,197.70

€296.82

Amounts paid in respect of each former Taoisigh, for previous years, are not available at this time. However, the total annual cost of payments in 2003 and 2004 in respect of all former Taoisigh were €2,567.70 and €9,507.29, respectively.

Consultancy Contracts

Derek Keating

Ceist:

82 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Taoiseach the cost to him of public relations companies and external advisers of the previous Governments between the years 1998 and 2011; the person who initiated these contracts and if they were put out to tender; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26989/11]

The following table details spend by my Department on Public Relations and External Advisors from 2002 to 2011. The details also include consultancy expenditure recouped from the Change Management Fund which has transferred to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform between 2002 and 2010.

Year

Spend on Consultancy

Spend on PR

Department

Change Management Fund

2002

€428,795

€60,985

Nil

2003

€21,300

€58,443

Nil

2004

€45,766

€119,830

€21,024

2005

€101,099

€77,910

€27,240

2006

€45,109

€212,368

€1,583

2007

€256,286

€86,495

Nil

2008

€198,699

€558,694

Nil

2009

€37,603

€169,529

Nil

2010

€26,095

€17,047

Nil

2011 (Jan — Feb)

Nil

Nil

Nil

My Department ensures all contracts awarded are subject to tendering procedures as laid down in Public Procurement Guidelines and, where applicable, EU procurement rules and guidelines.

It is not possible to provide the details sought by the Deputy prior to 2002. Since 2002, when the Oracle system was introduced, my Department has maintained a database which records details of all contracts awarded after a tendering process, including year, name of successful tenderer, and contract value. Details of the person who initiated the process are not kept on this system.

Pension Provisions

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

83 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach the amount of revenue that could be raised in a 12 month period by applying a 0% rate of tax on the first €75,000 lump sum pension payment paid out to public and civil servants in his Department on retirement; then applying the lower rate of tax on the next €125,000 of the same payment; and applying the higher rate of tax on the remainder. [27068/11]

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

85 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach the amount of revenue that could have been raised between June 2010 and June 2011 if a 0% rate of tax on the first €75,000 lump sum pension payment on retirement of all public and civil servants in his Department during the same period; applying the lower rate of tax on the next €125,000 of the same payment; and applying the higher rate of tax on the remainder. [27100/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 83 and 85 together.

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform will supply the Deputy with the information requested in relation to my Department in his written response to question numbers 283 and 285 which are also for answer today. I have asked the National Economic & Social Development Office, which is the only non-commercial State agency under my aegis, to provide the Deputy with the corresponding relevant data for its organisation.

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

84 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach the number of retired public and civil servants from his Department who are currently in receipt of an annual pension of up to and including €30,000 per year; up to and including €50,000 per year; up to and including €70,000 per year; up to and including €90,000 per year; up to and including €100,000 per year; up to and including €120,000 per year; up to and including €140,000 per year; up to and including €160,000 per year; and the number in receipt of pensions in excess of €160,000 per year; in a tabular form. [27084/11]

The data on the numbers of retired civil servants in the ranges of pension, which has been supplied to my Department by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, is detailed in the table below. I have asked the National Economic & Social Development Office (NESDO), which is the only non-commercial State agency under my aegis, to provide the Deputy with the corresponding relevant data for its organisation.

Pension Range €

Numbers

Under 30,000

62

30,000 — 50,000

8

50,000 — 70,000

15

70,000 — 90,000

3

90,000 — 100,000

Nil

100,000 — 120,000

2

120,000 — 140,000

2

140,000 — 160,000

1

160,000 and upwards

Nil

Question No. 85 answered with Question No. 83.

Appointments to State Boards

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

86 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach the number of persons who hold multiple State agency board positions; their total remuneration; the number of board memberships that said persons hold and their names in tabular form. [27198/11]

The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) is the only agency under the aegis of my Department.

Details of the membership NESDO's constituent body, the National Economic and Social Council (NESC), are set out in the table. None of the members receive remuneration in respect of their membership of the Council.

My Department does not hold information on other board memberships of NESC members.

National Economic and Social Council 2011

Name

Occupation / Organisation

Martin Fraser

Secretary General Department of the Taoiseach

David Begg

General Secretary, ICTU

Sally Anne Kinahan

ICTU

Shay Cody

IMPACT

Manus O’Riordan

SIPTU

Danny McCoy

IBEC

Tony Donohoe

IBEC

Tom Parlon

CIF

Ian Talbot

Chambers Ireland

Seamus O’Donohue

ICOS

Pat Smith

IFA

Edmond Connolly

Macra na Feirme

Frank Allen

ICMSA

Fr. Sean Healy

Social Justice Ireland (formerly CORI)

Brid O’Brien

INOU

Caroline Fahey

Saint Vincent de Paul

James Dorley

NYCI

Oisin Coughlan

Friends of the Earth

Karin Dubsky

The Environmental Pillar

Siobhan Egan

The Environmental Pillar

Michael Ewing

The Environmental Pillar

Kevin Cardiff

Secretary General, Department of Finance

Sean Gorman

Secretary General, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Geraldine Tallon

Secretary General, Department of Environment, Community & Local Government

Brigid McManus,

Secretary General, Department of Education and Skills

Prof Egdar Morgenroth

ESRI

Prof John McHale

NUIG

Prof Mary Daly

Queen’s University Belfast

Prof Anna Davis

Trinity College

Prof Seán Ó Riain

NUI Maynooth

Dr. Michael O’Sullivan

Credit Suisse — London

Mary Walsh

Charted Accountant

Dr. Michelle Morris

UCD

Departmental Expenditure

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

87 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a list of all companies providing an external professional service to his Department such as ICT, legal advice, advertising, project management and including any other external professional service not listed; the amount invoiced by each company to him over the past 12 months, in tabular form. [27312/11]

The following table details the total paid to suppliers that provided an external professional service to my Department within the past 12 months, 1st September 2010 to 31st August 2011:

Supplier Name

Amount paid between 1st September 2010 to 31st August 2011

Mazars

€2,500

Mercer (Ireland) Ltd

€23,595

Indecon

€13,930

Creative Ad Limited

€1,283

JDK Design

€115

Ashville Media Group Ltd

€42,078

Power Design

€5,372

Ward Solutions

€2,632

MSA (Michael Slattery Assoc)

€23,595

Ministerial Staff

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

88 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Taoiseach the total cost of all staff, permanent and non-established, allocated to assist him with constituency work in the 100 days following his appointment. [27351/11]

There are five staff working in my Constituency Office. Three staff are based in Government Buildings, one of whom is a civil servant, while two are based in Castlebar.

The total salary cost of these staff in the first 100 days following my appointment was €89,130.

Question No. 89 answered with Question No. 46.

Emigrant Support Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

90 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the measures he will take to ensure that young persons who have to emigrate due to unemployment are assisted as far as possible to prevent them from falling into poverty and homelessness abroad and that the maximum number are enabled to return to Ireland for work and training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26084/11]

The Emigrant Support Programme, administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, provides funding to non-profit organisations and projects to support Irish emigrant communities overseas and to facilitate the development of more strategic links between Ireland and the global Irish. Between 2004 and 2010 almost €81.5million was provided to organisations, the majority of which provide culturally sensitive, frontline welfare, information and advocacy services to Irish emigrants. In excess of €12 million is being made available to such organisations this year through the Emigrant Support Programme. In addition to the funding provided to services abroad, the Emigrant Support Programme also funds a small number of projects in Ireland, one of whom, Crosscare Migrant Project in Dublin, works with intending, existing and returning Irish migrants to assist them in accessing information and services on opportunities and entitlements, before they travel, whilst they are abroad, and on return to Ireland.

The priority of the ESP and of the organisations it supports is in assisting the most vulnerable members of Irish communities overseas. These organisations have made a substantive difference to the lives of Irish people living abroad, including through tackling social isolation, and enabling Irish emigrants to access their local, statutory entitlements.

Whilst the provision of education opportunities is not a core function of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, many of the organisations which receive funding through the Emigrant Support Programme assist Irish emigrants in accessing information on both educational and employment opportunities. FÁS, the national training and employment authority, provides an online jobs vacancy service through its Jobs Ireland Website www.jobs.ie. This site is available worldwide and can be accessed by Irish emigrants abroad seeking work in Ireland. Our Missions abroad will also provide information to Irish people wishing to access job opportunities at home.

Pension Provisions

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

91 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the amount of revenue that could be raised in a 12 month period by applying a 0% rate of tax on the first €75,000 lump sum pension payment paid out to public and civil servants in his Department on retirement; then applying the lower rate of tax on the next €125,000 of the same payment; and applying the higher rate of tax on the remainder. [27062/11]

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

92 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of retired public and civil servants from his Department that are currently in receipt of an annual pension of up to and including €30,000 per year; up to and including €50,000 per year; up to and including €70,000 per year; up to and including €90,000 per year; up to and including €100,000 per year; up to and including €120,000 per year, up to and including €140,000 per year; up to and including €160,000 per year; the number in receipt of pensions in excess of €160,000 per year; in a tabular form. [27078/11]

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

93 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the amount of revenue that could have been raised between June 2010 and June 2011 if a 0% rate of tax on the first €75,000 lump sum pension payment on retirement of all public and civil servants in his Department during the same period; applying the lower rate of tax on the next €125,000 of the same payment; and applying the higher rate of tax on the remainder. [27094/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 91 to 93, inclusive, together.

The calculation, payment and tax-treatment of superannuation benefits payable to retiring and retired staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are matters for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. However, I can advise the Deputy that three individuals who retired from the former Agency for Personal Service Overseas (APSO), which was integrated into my Department in 2004, are in receipt of pensions direct from the Department. The annual amount in each case is less than €30,000.

Questions Nos. 94 and 95 answered with Question No. 65.

Question No. 96 answered with Question No. 50.

Question No. 97 answered with Question No. 65.

Departmental Expenditure

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

98 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide a list of all companies providing an external professional service to his Department such as ICT, legal advice, advertising, project management and including any other external professional service not listed; the amount invoiced by each company to him over the past 12 months, in tabular form. [27306/11]

My Department engages the services of a range of professionals in the course of its work. They are used to provide specialist skills where they do not exist in my Department, to provide extra resources where necessary or to provide an external perspective where this is appropriate. In engaging such professionals full account is taken of the need for the service to provide added-value to the work of my Department. The standard procurement arrangements are in place to ensure that these services are sourced in an open and transparent manner that maximises value for money.

Details of such services in respect of 2010 and to end-September this year are in the following table:

Company

Service

2010

2011 (to date)

ICT

DAVE KELLY BUSINESS EQUIPMENT

COMPUTER HARDWARE MAINTENANCE / RENTAL

6,857

204

FUNSHOG OFFICE FIT LTD

COMPUTER HARDWARE MAINTENANCE / RENTAL

9,139

PRIVATE FILE

ICT OUTSOURCING

590

RITS

ICT OUTSOURCING

187,563

134,913

SABEO CONTRACTING SERVICES LTD

ICT OUTSOURCING

8,894

35,161

SURESKILLS

ICT OUTSOURCING

8,470

WARD SOLUTIONS

ICT OUTSOURCING

10,436

ZERO DOWNTIME LTD

ICT OUTSOURCING

128,336

91,934

1E LTD

ICT SUPPORT ANDMAINTENANCE

2,967

A&O SYSTEMS & SERVICES IRL

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

8,769

2,638

AMS LTD

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

3,019

B T IRELAND

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

13,385

BEARING POINT

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

2,621,237

1,578,971

BLUEWAVE TECHNOLOGY

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

681

454

BRANDON CONSULTING

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

6,776

BRYAN S RYAN

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

5,517

538

BUSINESS & SCIENTIFIC

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

53,811

BUTLER TECHNOLOGIES

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

78,214

CENTRAL SOLUTIONS LTD

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

28,209

11,355

CORE FINANCIAL SYSTEMS LTD

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

315,675

1,328

CORE INTERNATIONAL LTD. (IRL)

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

86,102

31,362

DATA EDGE

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

3,812

DELL COMPUTER

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

7,544

37,154

EIRCOM BUSINESS

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

63,327

EIRCOM LTD

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

77,988

133,250

GTM COMPUTER SYSTEMS

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

106

MAXIMA MANAGED SERVICES IRELAND

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

20,334

12,899

MICROMAIL

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

28,125

MICROSOFT

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

133,816

ORACLE EMEA LTD

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

69,026

63,011

PFH TECHNOLOGY

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

1,995

POST TRUST LTD

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

1,112

QUEST SOFTWARE INTERNATIONAL LTD

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

626

REPLIWEB INC

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

5,825

SABEO CONTRACTING SERVICES LTD

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

7,623

SAGEM IDENTIFICATION

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

314,297

269,238

SOFTEX

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

3,545

SOFTWORKS COMPUTING LTD

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

22,856

STREAMING LTD

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

6,990

1,674

SYSTEM VIDEO

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

92,579

TETRA IRELAND COMMUNICATIONS LTD

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

26,705

VERSION 1 SOFTWARE

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

2,366

15,852

WARD SOLUTIONS

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

26,992

38,595

WORLDREACH SOFTWARE CORPORATION

ICT SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE

51,701

51,275

AREKIBO COMMUNICATIONS LTD

SOFTWARE MAINTENANCE/SUPPORT

65,586

11,472

BIANCONI RESEARCH LTD

SOFTWARE MAINTENANCE/SUPPORT

6,430

FRANK HUMPHREYS

SOFTWARE MAINTENANCE/SUPPORT

5,000

GOOGLE IRELAND LIMITED

SOFTWARE MAINTENANCE/ OTHER SERVICES

11,394

ICE TECH LIMITED

SOFTWARE MAINTENANCE/SUPPORT

605

IREACH

SOFTWARE MAINTENANCE/SUPPORT

3,710

RED DOG DESIGN

SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT

8,978

EQUINITI ICS LIMITED

SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENT/ MODIFICATION

184,180

LEGAL

CEM MURAT SOFUOGLU

LEGAL EXPENSES

4,000

323

DANIEL SPRING

LEGAL EXPENSES

71,917

GWEN MALONE STENOGRAPHY SERVICES

LEGAL EXPENSES

2,804

P.R. & ADVERTISING

ANIMO LTD T/A ANIMO COMMUNICAT

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING

2,396

BRINDLEY ADVERTISING

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING

41,176

56,501

DAVID M. ROTHROCK

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING

242

EDUCATION MATTERS

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING

1,050

GTI SPECIALIST PUBLISHERS LTD

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING

484

JEFF BARBEE

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING

2,388

LUCID MEDIA T/A MICROMEDIA

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING

1,025

MAXWELL PICTURE AGENCY

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING

27,451

MONGEY COMMUNICATIONS

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING

520

PANOS PICTURES LTD.

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING

10,000

PG PRINT MEDIA

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING

968

2,420

PIETERNELLA PIETERSE

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING

2,450

PRESS 22

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING

395

RED DOG DESIGN

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING

19,569

16,674

TRUVO

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING

7,079

VALUE ADDED IN AFRICA

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING

31,600

VOLUNTARY SERVICE INTERNATIONA

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING

320

CONSULTANCY

80:20 EDUCATING + ACTING FOR A

CONSULTANCY — FEES

13,000

ACTRA ADVISERS LIMITED

CONSULTANCY — FEES

17,787

AGULHAS DEV CONSULTANTS LTD

CONSULTANCY — FEES

34,461

AISLING SWAINE CONSULTANCTY LTD

CONSULTANCY — FEES

30,328

AODH O CONNOR

CONSULTANCY — FEES

1,380

B CONNECTED LTD

CONSULTANCY — FEES

2,886

BERNARD MCLOUGHLIN

CONSULTANCY — FEES

9,450

BERNARD WOOD & ASSOCIATES LTD

CONSULTANCY — FEES

6,596

6,642

BERNIE CRAWFORD

CONSULTANCY — FEES

3,500

CAROLINE BURKE

CONSULTANCY — FEES

3,000

CATHERINE SARAH JONES ACVL

CONSULTANCY — FEES

15,426

CATHY DORAN

CONSULTANCY — FEES

3,500

CATHY GAYNOR

CONSULTANCY — FEES

60,996

19,616

CATHY ROCHE

CONSULTANCY — FEES

3,000

CHARLES LATHROP

CONSULTANCY — FEES

5,625

CLARE HERBERT

CONSULTANCY — FEES

690

COONEY AND ASSOCIATES

CONSULTANCY — FEES

10,890

CR2 SOCIAL DEVLOPMENT LTD.

CONSULTANCY — FEES

7,188

1,891

NUALA O’LOAN

CONSULTANCY — FEES

20,506

5,718

DEIRDRE FARRELL

CONSULTANCY — FEES

4,600

DHR COMMUNICATIONS LTD

CONSULTANCY — FEES

184,232

DPT FOR INTL DEVELOPMENT

CONSULTANCY — FEES

140,000

DR MARGARET FITZGERALD

CONSULTANCY — FEES

6,463

4,113

EAMON OBOYLE AND ASSOCIATES

CONSULTANCY — FEES

7,163

EAMONN O’REILLY

CONSULTANCY — FEES

7,500

ECONOMIC + SOCIAL RESEARCH INS

CONSULTANCY — FEES

46,071

17,385

EILIS MURRAY

CONSULTANCY — FEES

4,750

1,900

EMMA WARWICK

CONSULTANCY — FEES

4,840

FITZPATRICK ASSOCIATES

CONSULTANCY — FEES

26,136

39,688

FRED TOTTENHAM

CONSULTANCY — FEES

5,844

4,084

GERALD CAWLEY

CONSULTANCY — FEES

7,301

GERALDINE MCDONALD

CONSULTANCY — FEES

782

GERNOT PREMPER

CONSULTANCY — FEES

5,138

GROUPE URD

CONSULTANCY — FEES

9,075

HELEN LABANYA

CONSULTANCY — FEES

2,541

HUNTER MC GILL

CONSULTANCY — FEES

10,890

3,630

INEZ MCCORMACK

CONSULTANCY — FEES

6,050

INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATION DEV

CONSULTANCY — FEES

155,757

INTRAC CONSULTANTS

CONSULTANCY — FEES

15,795

9,831

ISAS

CONSULTANCY — FEES

4,898

ITAD LTD

CONSULTANCY — FEES

4,282

JAMES SAUNDERSON

CONSULTANCY — FEES

1,914

3,000

JIM CANNON

CONSULTANCY — FEES

2,212

9,075

JIM KIELY

CONSULTANCY — FEES

7,500

JIM KINSELLA

CONSULTANCY — FEES

4,800

4,800

JOHN COUGHLIN

CONSULTANCY — FEES

11,722

JOHN SHEILS

CONSULTANCY — FEES

20,449

JOHNNY O REGAN

CONSULTANCY — FEES

69,181

19,542

KATE DYER

CONSULTANCY — FEES

23,892

KEVIN FARRELL

CONSULTANCY — FEES

49,250

6,000

KEVIN MOORE

CONSULTANCY — FEES

13,310

10,285

LIZZIE DOWNES

CONSULTANCY — FEES

3,000

LORRAINE WHITTY

CONSULTANCY — FEES

4,180

LUIS ENRIQUE BRAN REYES

CONSULTANCY — FEES

27,711

2,058

MALAQUAIS LOPEZ CERVANTES

CONSULTANCY — FEES

24,200

MARCEL GROGAN

CONSULTANCY — FEES

14,278

27,830

MARIE SMITH

CONSULTANCY — FEES

5,700

MARIE THERESE FANNING

CONSULTANCY — FEES

13,500

MARTIN GREENE

CONSULTANCY — FEES

24,291

MARY BRADY

CONSULTANCY — FEES

11,900

MARY BUCKLEY

CONSULTANCY — FEES

2,312

3,020

MARY CORBETT

CONSULTANCY — FEES

11,750

MARY JENNINGS

CONSULTANCY — FEES

29,751

2,748

MARY McCANN SANCHEZ

CONSULTANCY — FEES

12,130

MATTHIAS FIEDLER

CONSULTANCY — FEES

18,450

4,700

MAZARS

CONSULTANCY — FEES

14,974

MOKORO LTD

CONSULTANCY — FEES

109,303

79,479

MORINA O’NEILL

CONSULTANCY — FEES

4,437

MOTT MAC DONALD LTD T/A HLSP

CONSULTANCY — FEES

8,178

NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND

CONSULTANCY — FEES

25,168

NIALL ROCHE

CONSULTANCY — FEES

7,789

2,250

NOGUGU MAFU

CONSULTANCY — FEES

8,800

PATRICA HUNT

CONSULTANCY — FEES

4,750

PAUL ISENMAN

CONSULTANCY — FEES

34,939

PAUL SHEANE

CONSULTANCY — FEES

4,840

PETER MCEVOY

CONSULTANCY — FEES

11,350

2,600

PHILIP REGAN

CONSULTANCY — FEES

14,590

2,115

PIETERNELLA PIETERSE

CONSULTANCY — FEES

2,000

PROF HELEN O’NEILL

CONSULTANCY — FEES

4,950

1,650

RITS

CONSULTANCY — FEES

65,545

18,631

RODNEY RICE

CONSULTANCY — FEES

6,000

RONAN TIERNEY

CONSULTANCY — FEES

11,798

18,150

RUTH O’ DOHERTY

CONSULTANCY — FEES

2,898

8,280

SAMIA SAAD

CONSULTANCY — FEES

8,621

SHERRY MCLEAN

CONSULTANCY — FEES

29,115

SPN CONSULTING

CONSULTANCY — FEES

33,880

STEFANIE MEREDITH

CONSULTANCY — FEES

8,621

SUAS EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

CONSULTANCY — FEES

42,440

THE POLICY PRACTICE LTD

CONSULTANCY — FEES

28,367

THE TRIBAL HELM CORPORATION LTD

CONSULTANCY — FEES

11,798

TONY TAAFFE

CONSULTANCY — FEES

1,850

1,650

FIONNUAL SWEENEY

OTHER PROFESSIONAL FEES

2,323

DR. TOM HARDIMAN

OTHER PROFESSIONAL FEES

12,927

TRAINING

ACUMIS TECHNOLOGY LTD

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

605

BCT COMMUNICATIONS LTD

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

670

4,100

BEARING POINT

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

4,200

BRIDGE INTERPRETING

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

537

2,002

CARR COMMUNICATIONS

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

750

CENAD

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

4,000

CENTRE FOR OSCE RESEARCH CORE/IFSH

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

14,666

CIPFA FINANCE DEPARTMENT

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

1,613

CORE FINANCIAL SYSTEMS LTD

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

437

GLOBAL KNOWLEDGE

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

2,260

HIGH PERFORMANCE

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

2,120

ICS SKILLS TRAINING & CERTIFICATION

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

16,225

7,205

INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

3,655

3,000

IRENE O MEARA

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

371

JACINTA KITT

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

874

874

P L & ASSOCIATES

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

12,006

4,899

PAI PUBLICATIONS LTD,

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

720

PATRICK SUTTON T/A COMMUNICATE

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

945

PEAK CONNEXXION LTD

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

800

400

PITMAN TRAINING CENTRE

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

2,024

900

PKA TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

3,618

3,314

PRACTICAL STRESS MANAGEMENT LTD.

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

3,128

ROYAL COLLEGE OF SURGEONS

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

4,250

SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL & AFRICAN STUDIES

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

40,197

15,679

SECOND LANGUAGE TESTING FOUNDATION INC

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

210

STRATIGOS LTD

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

9,981

SURESKILLS

TRAINER FEES & TRAININGMATERIALS & EQUIP

1,995

13,000

THE COMMUNICATIONS CLINIC

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

9,660

5,400

WORLDREACH SOFTWARE CORPORATION

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

6,530

WRIGHT CONSULTANCY

TRAINER FEES & TRAINING MATERIALS & EQUIP

4,590

2,160

INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS NETWORK

TRAINING COURSE FEES

1,675

KIMMAGE MANOR, HGF

TRAINING COURSE FEES

500

THE IRISH TIMES

TRAINING COURSE FEES

790

UNIVERSITY OF LIMERICK

TRAINING COURSE FEES

2,005

TRANSLATION

DCULS LTD

TRANSLATION SERVICES

629

666

E TEAMS (INTERNATIONAL)

TRANSLATION SERVICES

127

EANGACH

TRANSLATION SERVICES

50

363

EUROPUS TEO

TRANSLATION SERVICES

1,554

168

EUROTEXT TRANSLATIONS LTD

TRANSLATION SERVICES

56

SANAS IRISH TRANSLATION SERVICES

TRANSLATION COSTS

1,797

SEAN DE FREINE

TRANSLATION SERVICES

1,684

465

SEMA CAHILL

TRANSLATION SERVICES

315

SIOBHAN UI BHRAOIN

TRANSLATION SERVICES

150

200

WEBSITE

AMINO TELEVISION LTD

WEBSITE COSTS

1,400

.IE DOMAIN REGISTRY

WEBSITE COSTS

976

150

CLEAR OCEAN INTERNET SOLUTIONS

WEBSITE COSTS

14,520

E TEAMS (INTERNATIONAL)

WEBSITE COSTS

1,300

FREASTAL.IE

WEBSITE COSTS

627

FUSIO LTD.

WEBSITE COSTS

8,216

7,537

GETTY IMAGES

WEBSITE COSTS

3,207

RITS

WEBSITE COSTS

445

TERMINAL FOUR SOLUTIONS LTD

WEBSITE COSTS

32,594

X COMMUNICATIONS LIMITED

WEBSITE COSTS

1,487

PREMISES

DELAP & WALLER

ARCHITECT AND ENGINEER PREMISES FEES

11,265

JOSEPH CURTIS & CO

ARCHITECT AND ENGINEER FEES

3,025

O CONNELL HARLEY O’DWYER

ARCHITECT AND ENGINEER FEES

20,449

McMAHON CONROY

PREMISES PROFESSIONAL FEES

3,620

OLIVE SAFETY SERVICES

PREMISES PROFESSIONAL FEES

4,175

PRO ACTIVE SAFETY SERVICES

PREMISES PROFESSIONAL FEES

2,108

BRINKS ALLIED LTD

SECURITY

Ministerial Staff

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

99 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the total cost of all staff, permanent and non-established, allocated to assist him with constituency work in the 100 days following his appointment. [27345/11]

My Constituency Office is staffed by one Personal Assistant, one Personal Secretary and one Clerical Officer receiving combined annual salaries amounting to €132,963. While staff are not paid on a daily basis, I estimate that the salary cost of employing them for the first 100 days following my appointment was €36,428.

EU Presidency

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

100 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the role he will play in preparing for Ireland’s Presidency of the EU in 2013; and if this role will increase following the transfer of responsibility for EU co-ordination from his Department. [21421/11]

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

102 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his role in co-ordinating Ireland’s next Presidency of the EU Council. [24708/11]

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

104 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the involvement he has in respect of the preparations for the 2013 Presidency of the European Council. [24724/11]

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

105 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will detail the role to be played by his Department in Ireland’s Presidency of the European Council. [26099/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 100, 102, 104 and 105 together.

I retain overall Ministerial responsibility for the co-ordination of EU affairs, including preparations for Ireland's Presidency of the EU in 2013.

Following the transfer of the European Union Division at my Department to the Department of the Taoiseach, the Second Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach will be responsible for the management of an integrated EU co-ordination function and will report to both the Taoiseach and me as appropriate on our particular duties at European level, including for Presidency planning and management. This appointment, and the establishment of a unified EU Division at the Department of the Taoiseach, will result in more effective coordination and promote a greater strategic direction of Ireland's engagement with the EU in all Departments and across the Government, including in our preparation for, and management of, Ireland's Presidency in 2013.

Planning for Ireland's Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2013 is coordinated by two interdepartmental groups; the first group leads on policy preparations (and is chaired by the Minister of State for European Affairs), while the second group is coordinating logistics planning.

Ireland is a member of a Presidency ‘Trio' that also includes Lithuania (which will succeed Ireland as Presidency in the second half of 2013) and Greece (which will take over the Presidency in January 2014). Last July I met the Lithuanian Prime Minister to discuss preparations for our Presidencies in 2013. I have also met with the Lithuanian Foreign Minister on two occasions in recent months. I also hope to meet my Greek counterpart shortly.

The Taoiseach met Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, at Government Buildings in June and their discussions included the forthcoming Irish Presidency. Similarly, during his visit to Ireland this summer the Taoiseach and I met Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament, and the Irish Presidency was a significant topic in those meetings

The Minister of State for European Affairs has met a number of her counterparts including the Greek European Affairs Minister, the Secretary General of the European Parliament and the Secretary General of the European Commission to discuss Ireland's Presidency and other issues. Officials have also held meetings with representatives of the EU institutions and with Trio partners. Contacts at all levels will become more frequent over the coming months as preparations for the Presidency intensify.

Northern Ireland Issues

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

101 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will detail preparations made by him regarding the review of cross-Border institutions. [24720/11]

The St Andrews Agreement provided that, under the auspices of the North/South Ministerial Council (NSMC), a review group would be appointed objectively to examine (1) the efficiency and value for money of existing implementation bodies and (2) the case for additional bodies and areas of co-operation within the NSMC, where mutual benefit would be derived. The group would also input into the work previously commissioned by the NSMC on the identification of a suitable substitute for the proposed Lights Agency of the Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission. At the meeting of the NSMC in plenary format on 10 June 2011 Ministers noted the proposals relating to Terms of Reference 1 and prepared by the St Andrews Agreement Review Group arising from consultation on recommendations in a report prepared by experts/advisers to the Review Group. They agreed that these would be forwarded, along with a copy of the report, for consideration by Ministers in the new Executive and Irish government with responsibilities for North South Bodies, as well as the Finance Ministers. It was further decided that, taking account of these considerations, the NSMC joint secretariat at Armagh will make recommendations to finalise this element of the review at the NSMC plenary in November 2011. Ministers also agreed that terms of reference 2 and 3 of the Review will be discussed at the NSMC plenary in November 2011.

Question No. 102 answered with Question No. 100.

Departmental Reports

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

103 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will detail any Europe related publication which he intends issuing in the next 12 months. [24709/11]

I propose to issue the regular 6 Monthly and Annual reports on Developments in the EU over the coming year.

Questions Nos. 104 and 105 answered with Question No. 100.

North-South Ministerial Council

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

106 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if a full range of sectoral meetings will be held between Ministers North and South in advance of the North-South Ministerial Council plenary meeting in November 2011. [23772/11]

Since the previous meeting of the North/South Ministerial Council (NSMC) in plenary format on 10 June 2011, meetings in sectoral format covering all areas of co-operation have been taking place and it is expected that a full range of meetings will be held before the next NSMC Plenary meeting scheduled for November. In addition, I met yesterday with the First Minister and deputy First Minister, in the context of an NSMC Institutional meeting, to take careful stock of issues in preparation for the Plenary meeting in November.

Question No. 107 answered with Question No. 65.
Question No. 108 answered with Question No. 50.

Passport Applications

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

109 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of emergency passports issued by Irish embassies for the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and to date in 2011; the criteria required in order to obtain an emergency passport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27562/11]

The Passports Act 2008, details the circumstances in which the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade may offer emergency travel facilities to Irish citizens. Section 15 of the Act provides that the Minister may issue an emergency passport to a person where (a) a passport that was issued to the person has been lost, stolen or damaged or is temporarily unavailable or the person does not hold a valid passport, (b) the person provides evidence of his or her intention to undertake travel immediately for which a passport is required, and (c) by reason of the circumstances of urgency in relation to the application, there is insufficient time in which to issue a passport other than an emergency passport to the person.

The Act further provides that these facilities may only be offered where the person is an Irish citizen and upon receipt of a completed passport application form accompanied by information and documents to support the application. These include proof of identity e.g. a copy of an old passport, drivers license etc; entitlement to an Irish passport — e.g. long form birth certificate, proof of residence e.g. address of permanent or hotel residence and proof of travel for a which a passport is required.

The number of emergency passports issued between 2008 and 29 September 2011 is as follows.

2008

2009

2010

2011

2,609

2,775

3,576

2,059

Question No. 110 answered with Question No. 65.

Overseas Development Aid

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

111 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which efforts are made to ensure that overseas development aid goes directly to those for whom it was intended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27592/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

112 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which the bilateral aid programme is monitored to ensure that the aid goes directly to those for whom it was intended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27593/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

113 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which comparisons have been made between the bilateral and multilateral aid programme with a view to achieving the best value for money and assurances that such aid goes to the use for which it was intended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27594/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 111 to 113, inclusive, together.

As Minister of State with responsibility for Ireland's Official Development Assistance, I am very conscious of the need to ensure that development aid reaches its intended beneficiaries and that it makes a real difference in the lives of the poorest people.

The overarching objective of the aid programme is to contribute to the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger in the world. To ensure that our assistance is effectively delivered to those most in need in developing countries, we work in partnership with Governments, local communities, NGOs, and key multilateral partners such as the United Nations and European Union. Our aid programme is strongly concentrated on some of the poorest countries and communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Of Ireland's total Official Development Assistance, about 70% is delivered bilaterally and 30% through multilateral systems. The multilateral system, in particular the UN, has a number of key strengths, not least its global mandate and global representation. It is uniquely positioned to provide rapid response to emergencies, such as conflict and natural disasters, and operates in some 150 countries. Channelling assistance through a multilateral organisation such as the UN can also help to avoid duplication of effort by donors and to avoid overwhelming already stretched national systems.

On the other hand, where we have a bilateral programme such as in our nine Programme Countries, we have a stronger long term, strategic relationship with the host country and are in a position to engage directly with the Government and local communities. This allows us to have a much greater impact in a more focused area, such as agriculture, health or education.

All proposals for funding, whether through multilateral or bilateral channels, are rigorously appraised by Irish Aid staff using clear criteria, including quality of intended impact, sustainability, cost effectiveness and efficiency in the use of resources. An independent external Programme Appraisal and Evaluation Group is tasked to evaluate all major funding proposals for the bilateral aid programme.

Programmes in receipt of funding are subject to regular internal and external monitoring to ensure that the intended objectives and goals are being accomplished. Irish Aid programmes are evaluated and audited by independent experts as well as by Irish Aid's Evaluation and Audit Unit. The Unit's work is regularly reviewed by the independent Audit Committee of my Department.

The quality of our aid programme has been recognised in many independent reports. The OECD has found that "improvements in the quality and accountability of public financial management together with rigorous oversight ensure that Irish funds are correctly used". In the most recent international report on development assistance, the 2010 Evaluation of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, published just last week, Ireland ranks highest among EU Member States for the delivery of our commitments on aid quality.

I believe that this focus on appraisal, regular monitoring, independent evaluations and audit provides assurance that all Irish Aid funds are very closely monitored and used for the purposes intended.

Question No. 114 answered with Question No. 72.

Humanitarian Aid

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

115 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which he or his Department directly, or through the aegis of the EU or UN, have managed to monitor or influence the situation in the Horn of Africa with particular reference to addressing the issues of starvation, conflict and human rights abuse; the efforts made to date to address this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27596/11]

The humanitarian situation across the Horn of Africa is worsening, with over 13 million people now affected by drought and food shortages in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti. The situation is at its worst in Somalia, where the United Nations has warned that 750,000 are at imminent risk of starvation and where ongoing conflict and access issues have greatly exacerbated the challenge of reaching those most in need.

The Government has been following and responding to the increasingly dire situation across the region for many months and has already provided over €10 million in emergency assistance. On a per capita basis, Ireland's contribution is one of the most significant responses to the crisis. Our funding has been used directly by the UN, the Red Cross and NGOs such as Concern and Trócaire, to provide vital food supplies, shelter, healthcare and clean water to many thousands of people. In addition, at a United Nations Ministerial Summit on the Horn of Africa in New York last week, the Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore T.D., pledged a further €10 million in humanitarian assistance in 2011 and 2012.

Many other donors, including the European Commission and a number of EU and other countries have also contributed significantly to the response, with pledges to date reaching $1.8 billion to the end of 2011. Nevertheless, the UN has warned that the relief operation requires a further $700 million this year if all of the needs in the region are to be met. There is therefore an onus on national governments, including those which are not traditional aid donors, as well as the private sector, to step up their assistance.

Beyond the provision of immediate relief, it is clear that the dire situation across much of the region will require sustained political engagement by the international community over the months and years to come. The effects of the famine have been exacerbated by the absence of effective governance in the country since 1991. The UN-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) faces enormous challenges, not least the fact that it controls little of the country's territory and that significant armed groups remain opposed to its authority. This has considerably hampered the ability of aid agencies to access many of those most in need. Ireland and our EU partners strongly support the UN-facilitated Djibouti peace and reconciliation process, and welcomed the recent adoption of a Roadmap for Ending the Transition in Somalia. We hope to see rapid progress toward achieving a representative and effective Government.

The issue of coordination amongst international actors is critical and was a recurring theme at the recent mini-summit in New York. Ireland has already been instrumental in pushing for a more intensive and coordinated response to this crisis and I used the recent meeting of EU Development Ministers in Sopot in Poland to call on the EU to respond quickly and generously. The Government also supports measures which would strengthen the capacity of the EU and the UN to engage at a political level in Somalia and the wider region and remains actively engaged on these issues at official level in Brussels, Geneva and New York. I can assure the Deputy that we will continue to call on the international community to increase its efforts in the period ahead.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

116 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which overseas development workers can expect protection while working in the Horn of Africa; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27597/11]

Studies by the United Nations have shown that the last ten years have represented one of the worst decades ever in terms of attacks on humanitarian workers. The situation varies considerably from country to country however and within the Horn of Africa, aid workers can generally go about their business in a protected and unhindered manner across much of the region.

The clear exception to this situation is to be found in Somalia, where after two decades of conflict, the country is now one of the most difficult and dangerous environments for aid workers anywhere in the world. The security situation is such that access to many areas has been significantly affected, a scenario compounded by the decision by the 2009 decision by the Al Shabaab militant group to ban the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and several other Western aid agencies from regions of the country under its control. While access within Mogadishu has now improved following Al Shabaab's decision to withdraw from the city, the highly insecure and volatile security situation in many other parts of southern Somalia continue to hamper relief efforts. Humanitarian agencies operating in these regions generally do so through local partners or counterparts given the level of risk to expatriate staff.

The safety and well-being of humanitarian personnel is a priority for the Government. Ireland is a strong advocate at international level for the full respect for the core humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, and impartiality — principles which ultimately underpin acceptance by host communities and provide the basis for warring parties to accept humanitarian action in situations of armed conflict. Domestically, the Government is taking steps to ensure the safety and security of personnel deployed to humanitarian crises, with the launch of a joint exercise in this area between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, through Irish Aid, and the Humanitarian Aid Working Group of Dochas — the umbrella group for Irish development and humanitarian NGOs. The exercise will identify a common set of security management principles and training standards for application across the sector.

Trade Relations

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

117 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which new trading opportunities have been established over the past 12 months at various locations; the extent to which such locations are in proximity to Irish embassies; the extent to which the opening of further embassies might be likely to assist in such efforts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27598/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

122 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which new markets have been established for Irish products throughout Europe, Asia, the Americas and Australia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27603/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 117 and 122 together.

The Government's decision to assign additional responsibilities in the trade promotion area to my Department has enhanced further the already close working relationship with Enterprise Ireland both at headquarters level and in the field throughout the Embassy network. Enterprise Ireland clients are successfully exporting to major markets throughout Europe, Asia, the Americas and Australia. I have set out below a table which provides a breakdown of Enterprise Ireland client performance in those markets in 2010.

The Deputy will be aware that the figures released for services trade recently show that Ireland's services exports in the first half of 2011 are up 8.4% from the same period last year. Merchandise trade is also performing strongly, up 6% in the first half of this year. Enterprise Ireland client companies increased exports by 10% between 2009 and 2010 from €12,643m to €13,930m.

The fact that Irish companies are continuing to grow their exports in a challenging global economic environment is testament to the work that has been done by these companies, with the support of my Department and our Embassy network, other Government Departments and the State Agencies in developing new markets and opportunities for Irish products.

While Ireland's Embassy network is modest, we do have an Embassy in each of the countries identified as priority markets under the Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy Strategy. These Embassies give the highest priority to supporting State Agencies and their client companies to pursue market opportunities in their regions. The local market teams chaired by the Ambassador in each of these markets report to the Export Trade Council which I chair and which held its inaugural meeting last week following the commitment to establish it in the Programme for Government.

My Department and all the State agencies with responsibilities in the areas of economic growth, trade and investment have committed to keeping their resource allocations overseas under review to ensure the State achieves maximum benefit from its footprint abroad. There are a number of additional markets, particularly those where there is an emerging demand for the high quality products which Ireland exports, where there would be benefits to be gained by opening an Embassy in the period ahead. However, these benefits must be weighed against the very significant constraints on public expenditure that we are facing and will continue to face for some time to come.

EI clients are successfully exporting throughout the world and are exporting to all major markets throughout Europe, Asia, the Americas and Australia. Table 1 gives a breakdown of performance in 2010.

Table 1 EI Client Companies Exports 2010 by Main Market Area

2009

2010

% +/-

United Kingdom

€5,479m

€5,580m

Northern Europe

€1,658m

€1,839m

+11%

Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa

€1,465m

€1,616m

+10%

Germany, Central, Eastern Europe, and Russia

€972m

€1,239m

+27%

USA and Canada

€1,267m

€1,492m

+18%

Latin America

€69m

€84m

+22%

Asia / Pacific

€756m

€846m

+12%

Unspecified

€420m

€537m

+28%

Total

€12,086m

€13,233m

+9%

EU Treaties

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

118 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the degree to which he expects to review the operation to date of the various EU treaties with particular reference to ensuring that any new treaty incorporates measures to address the difficulties that have arisen in the past; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27599/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

119 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the degree to which he has engaged with his EU colleagues with a view to achieving consensus in the matter of any future EU treaties which might address issues that have arisen over the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27600/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 118 and 119 together.

I have not discussed any substantive Treaty change with my colleagues. As the Taoiseach has recently said, the Government does not believe further Treaty change is necessary in order to deal with current difficulties in the euro area.

We are, however, pursuing the process of having the guarantees given to Ireland at the time of the Lisbon Treaty referendum enshrined in a protocol to the Treaties, in line with the commitment given to Ireland by the Member States in 2009. The aim is to have this process completed at the time of the Croatian Accession Treaty.

Human Rights Issues

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

120 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which the issue of human rights abuses in Iran has been addressed by the international community with particular reference to academics imprisoned following lawful protests; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27601/11]

The human rights situation in Iran is profoundly disturbing, and the period since the presidential election of 2009 has been characterised by an intensification of human rights abuses on many fronts. I am greatly concerned about the targeting of the academic community and educators in Iran, amid a widespread and intentional erosion of political and civil freedoms in Iran. Within this context, I am also concerned about the ongoing trials of the Bahá'ís associated with the Bahá'í Institute for Higher Education in Iran. The ongoing persecution of academics in Iran is in breach of the international obligations that Iran has itself signed up to. The frequent accompanying lack of judicial transparency means that those detained are often unaware of why they are being detained. This has an insidious effect on the wider academic community, adding to the atmosphere of intimidation and harassment within which Iranian academics — and indeed students — increasingly operate.

I call upon the government of Iran to respect its obligations to the academic community under international human rights instruments and fully support the statements of EU High Representatives Catherine Ashton on human rights violations in Iran, most recently on 15 September. The EU has repeatedly raised human rights issues in Iran with the Iranian authorities this year. In a further effort to increase the EU's impact on human rights in Iran, the Foreign Affairs Council in April adopted a travel ban and asset freeze against a number of serious human rights offenders in Iran. This sends an important political signal to those in the judicial system and elsewhere in the Iranian regime who perpetrate human rights abuses. The EU has also introduced measures to enable it to respond in a more timely fashion to serious violations of human rights in Iran while also trying to keep some basic channels of communications open with the Iranian authorities. I welcome these steps which demonstrate the depth of our concern. Ireland will continue to be active at EU level in pressing for stronger EU action in relation to the human rights situation in Iran.

At UN level, Ireland was active in ensuring the successful adoption at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in March of a decision providing for appointment of a Special Rapporteur to examine Iran's human rights situation. I welcome the appointment of Ahmed Shaheed as Special Rapporteur on 1 August and call upon the Government of Iran to extend the utmost cooperation, including facilitating immediate and unhindered access to Iran, to Mr Shaheed. I am disappointed that the Iranian government has still not yet — after two months — replied to Mr Shaheed's request to be permitted to visit Iran.

At a bilateral level, my Department engages in ongoing dialogue with the Iranian Ambassador and his Embassy on these issues. My officials have already held a number of meetings with the Ambassador since the start of this year to convey our grave concerns at the human rights situation in Iran. Ireland will continue to raise human rights in Iran, including the rights of academics and other detainees, bilaterally and at the EU and UN, at all appropriate occasions.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

121 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which the EU and or UN or other global organisations have examined the issues of human rights abuses including the abuse of prisoners throughout the Middle East; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27602/11]

Human rights concerns remain central to our foreign policy. Together with our EU partners, Ireland closely monitors the human rights situations in many countries throughout the world, on the basis of information obtained from a variety of sources including official channels, reports of the United Nations human rights Treaty Monitoring Bodies, reports of Independent Experts and Special Rapporteurs appointed by the United Nations and international and Irish non-governmental and civil society organisations.

Ireland supports the use of the full UN human rights machinery in responding to human rights abuses, including supporting the role of UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies, Special Procedures and Mandate Holders and the convening, where appropriate, of Special Sessions of the UN Human Rights Council. At these UN bodies, the EU regularly makes statements on the human rights situations in a number of countries. Ireland is fully associated with these statements. The EU also introduces or supports resolutions dealing with specific countries, as circumstances require.

Ireland has engaged proactively with the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review mechanism since its creation in March 2006. Ireland will be examined on Thursday, 6 October 2011 under this mechanism.

The EU has adopted Common Positions on certain countries, which attach priority to promoting human rights, democracy, good governance and the rule of law. In addition, the EU conducts human rights dialogues with a number of countries and also raises human rights concerns as part of political dialogue meetings.

Together with our EU partners, Ireland has been a consistent and strong supporter of the International Criminal Court, recognising it as an essential means of combating impunity for the most serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law. The Court's Prosecutor has opened investigations into a number of country situations and we will continue to monitor this work closely.

While the Arab Spring has given much hope to the Middle East region, Ireland is concerned about the abuse of prisoners during this volatile period, particularly in Syria where there are reports of thousands of arbitrary detentions and the widespread torture and abuse of those detainees. The UN Human Rights Council has formed an international Commission of Inquiry to examine and report on the human rights situation in Syria, including the rights of prisoners, and I await its findings with great interest. In Libya, Ireland and the international community welcome the efforts of the National Transitional Council to establish the rule of law, and urge the interim authorities to ensure that the rights of prisoners are respected.

Ireland is also concerned about the situation faced by detainees, and civilians facing charges in military courts, in Bahrain. Ireland is very concerned at the severity of the sentences handed down to medical professionals last week and urges that none of these individuals will be re-arrested, pending the outcome of their appeals. Ireland calls for the application of due process, respect for international human rights and the release of all political detainees in Bahrain.

The Government will continue to avail of all the above-mentioned mechanisms and instruments as a means of highlighting violations of human rights and furthering their protection.

Question No. 122 answered with Question No. 117.
Question No. 123 answered with Question No. 65.

Trade Missions

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

124 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the responsibility his Department has for organising Taoiseach led trade visits. [27363/11]

Trade missions, including those organised by the relevant State Agencies, are a valuable support to Irish business in developing the exports which are crucial to our economic recovery. This is particularly the case in countries where Government-to-Government contacts are a prerequisite for doing business. My Department and our Embassy network work closely with the agencies and other Government Departments regarding the organisation of such missions, whether led by the Taoiseach or other members of the Government. The Export Trade Council, which I have established in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government and which held its inaugural meeting last week, will also provide a useful forum for discussion of issues relating to trade missions.

I understand that the Taoiseach is planning to lead a trade mission to China in the period ahead once agreement is reached with the Chinese side on suitable dates. Contacts with the Chinese authorities are continuing through our Embassy in Beijing. My Department will be engaged in the co-ordination of this visit with the Department of the Taoiseach, other Government Departments and the State Agencies once the dates are confirmed.

Balance of Payments Statistics

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

125 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance the balance of payments each year from 1980 to date in 2011 broken down into the current account and the capital account in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26891/11]

The Central Statistics Office is responsible for the production of statistics relating to the Balance of Payments. It should be noted that there are discontinuities in the balance of payments series and that the data from 1998 onwards are not comparable with the old series because of greater enterprise coverage and a radically different compilation methodology. From 1998 onwards a financial account is published alongside the capital account.

Year

Balance on Current Account

Balance on Capital Account

Net errors and omissions

1980

-1,318

1,243

75

1981

-2,025

1,877

148

1982

-1,671

1,965

-294

1983

-1,175

1,496

-322

1984

-1,200

1,419

-219

1985

-826

1,284

-458

1986

-776

1,801

-1,023

1987

-76

-224

300

1988

79

-368

288

1989

-442

-575

1,017

1990

-284

-1,638

1,922

1991

265

-1,484

1,219

1992

406

-748

342

1993

1,585

-2,560

975

1994

1,267

-2,815

1,548

1995

1,359

-1,186

-173

1996

1,606

-1,501

-105

1997

1,629

-4,783

3,154

Year

Balance on Current Account

Balance on Capital Account

Balance on Financial Account

Net errors and omissions

1998

627

840

1,135

-2,602

1999

226

560

-2,211

1,425

2000

-379

1,182

8,420

-9,223

2001

-757

703

-319

372

2002

-1,295

512

1,070

-287

2003

-2

93

-1,372

1,280

2004

-867

279

3,801

-3,212

2005

-5,690

264

-487

5,912

2006

-6,304

223

4,770

1,311

2007

-10,124

39

12,051

-1,966

2008

-10,169

47

16,132

-6,010

2009

-4,697

-1,252

-885

6,833

2010

761

-673

12,390

-12,479

Flood Insurance

Brian Walsh

Ceist:

126 Deputy Brian Walsh asked the Minister for Finance his views on the provision of a Government-backed insurance scheme for the small number of cases in which homeowners are not in a position to purchase adequate insurance cover as a result of previous claims made in respect of flooding; if progress has been made in talks between the Office of Public Works and the Irish Insurance Federation on this subject; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27113/11]

There are no plans to introduce the type of Government backed insurance scheme outlined by the Deputy. The possible introduction of a scheme to protect householders who cannot obtain flood insurance from regular insurance companies was examined in 2010. However, the Government concluded at that time that such an approach was not financially viable. In particular there were concerns that, over time, such a scheme could incentivise the insurance industry to discontinue the provision of flood cover in medium and high risk areas, thereby making the cost of such a scheme prohibitive. I am advised by the Minister of State, with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW), that the OPW has engaged with the Irish Insurance Federation, detailing areas of the country which have benefited from flood protection measures put in place over several decades. In addition, the recently published OPW Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment, as part of the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment Management Programme, has been forwarded to the Irish Insurance Federation for its information. This interchange of data contributes to providing opportunities for the insurance industry to make informed decisions in relation to flood risk cover.

Banking Sector Remuneration

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

127 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance in view of the comments made by the Taoiseach during leaders questions in Dáil Éireann on 20 April 2011 regarding the severance payout to former Allied Irish Bank Chief Executive Officer Colm Doherty, if he has received a report on the contractual arrangements that apply in relation to severance payments for other senior banking executives; and if so, if he will provide details of its contents [27135/11]

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

191 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when the review into remuneration and severance arrangements in place at the covered institutions commenced; the terms of reference of this review; the person who is conducting this review; when he expects this review to be completed; and if he will commit to publishing it. [27578/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 127 and 191 together.

I have explained to the Deputy in my reply to his questions of 22 September 2011 (Refs. 25523/11 & 25550/11) the current position on the remuneration review and severance arrangements.

The object of the review, which is presently being conducted by my Department, is to thoroughly review all remuneration practices at the covered institutions with the object of simplifying remuneration and compensation structures, discouraging excessive risk-taking and to better align pay and reward to long term value creation.

The review is an iterative one with data being received and analysed with a view to producing comparable data across the institutions. I fully recognise that there is a real public interest in the levels of remuneration at the covered institutions and I will endeavour to have this completed in the shortest timeframe possible with a view to putting the information into the public domain.

Tax Code

Jerry Buttimer

Ceist:

128 Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that receipts for the student contribution being issued by third level colleges which refer to the €2,000 payment as a registration fee are not being accepted by the Revenue Commissioners for the purposes of claiming a tax rebate, thereby depriving families of the benefit of the reduced student contribution of €1,600 for second and subsequent children attending third level institutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27262/11]

It has not proved possible to provide a detailed reply on this matter within the timeframe for answering Parliamentary Questions. Accordingly, the Deputy will be contacted directly on this issue at an early date.

Financial Institutions Recapitalisation

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

129 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance the level of payments on the promissory note payments over the next ten years; the expected interest level payments on the promissory notes from 2013; the reduction or elimination of these payments that he hopes to achieve; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26926/11]

There are promissory notes in Anglo (€25.3 billion ) and INBS (€5.3 billion) and in EBS (€0.25 billion). As Anglo and INBS have similar terms I will provide the information for them together and separately deal with EBS.

The promissory notes were issued in various tranches with different interest rates (four tranches for Anglo and 2 tranches for INBS). The total interest cost for the State for all tranches of the Anglo and Irish Nationwide promissory notes is circa €17 billion with annual repayments of €3.1 billion per annum. These annual repayments reduce over time as the various tranches of the promissory note are repaid. The final payment on the promissory note of circa €0.1 billion will be made on 31 March 2031. Set out below is a detailed aggregated schedule of capital repayments and interest on the promissory notes.

Promissory Note Schedule — Anglo and INBS *

€bn

Total interest

Repayments

Total capital reduction

31/03/2011

0.55

3.06

2.51

31/03/2012

3.06

3.06

31/03/2013

0.49

3.06

2.57

31/03/2014

1.84

3.06

1.22

31/03/2015

1.75

3.06

1.31

31/03/2016

1.65

3.06

1.41

31/03/2017

1.55

3.06

1.51

31/03/2018

1.44

3.06

1.62

31/03/2019

1.32

3.06

1.74

31/03/2020

1.19

3.06

1.87

31/03/2021

1.06

3.06

2.00

31/03/2022

0.91

3.06

2.15

31/03/2023

0.75

3.06

2.31

31/03/2024

0.57

2.09

1.52

31/03/2025

0.45

0.91

0.47

31/03/2026

0.39

0.91

0.52

31/03/2027

0.33

0.91

0.58

31/03/2028

0.26

0.91

0.65

31/03/2029

0.19

0.91

0.73

31/03/2030

0.10

0.91

0.81

31/03/2031

0.01

0.05

0.05

16.8

47.4

30.6

*These number may not tot exactly as a result of rounding

Promissory Note Schedule — EBS

€bn

Total interest

Repayments

Total capital reduction

17/06/2011

0.014

0.025

0.011

17/06/2012

0.013

0.025

0.012

17/06/2013

0.012

0.025

0.013

17/06/2014

0.012

0.025

0.013

17/06/2015

0.011

0.025

0.014

17/06/2016

0.010

0.025

0.015

17/06/2017

0.009

0.025

0.016

17/06/2018

0.009

0.025

0.016

17/06/2019

0.008

0.025

0.017

17/06/2020

0.007

0.025

0.018

17/06/2021

0.006

0.025

0.019

17/06/2022

0.005

0.025

0.020

17/06/2023

0.004

0.025

0.021

17/06/2024

0.002

0.025

0.023

17/06/2025

0.001

0.022

0.020

0.12

0.37

0.25

Financial Institutions Regulation

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

130 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance the loan to deposit ratio of each of the Irish banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26941/11]

The loan to deposit ratios for AIB, Bank of Ireland and Irish Life & Permanent are 143%, 172% and 227% respectively at 30 June 2011. These figures are sourced from the interim reports for each of the banks, all of which are available on the companies' websites, and which include information on any assumptions made in calculating the ratios, including line items specific to each institution. EBS did not publish results for the period to 30 June 2011 and in the future its results will be consolidated in those of AIB. The figures for each of the banks since 30 June 2011 are not in the public domain at this time and would be considered price sensitive information.

IBRC transferred the majority of its deposits (both INBS and Anglo) on the 24th February 2011 by way of High Court transfer orders pursuant to CISA.

The links for the above information are as follows:

AIB:

http://www.aibgroup.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=AIBInvestorRelations/AIB Download/aibddownload&c=AIBDownload&cid=1314616620712&channel=IRFP

BOI:

http://www.bankofireland.com/fs/doc/publications/investor-relations/interim-report-for-the-six-months-ended-30-june-20111.pdf

IL&P:

http://www.irishlifepermanent.ie/~/media/Files/I/Irish-Life-And-Permanent/Attachments/ pdf/annual-and-interim-reports/2011/ilp-interim-results-2011.pdf

Banking Sector

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

131 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance his views on business services (details supplied) by Irish banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26956/11]

The issue the Deputy refers to is a commercial decision for each of the Irish banks. The Government operates at arm's length from the institutions and does not consider it appropriate to direct a bank on this matter.

The covered institutions are however engaging in cost cutting plans. These are plans arising out of the restructuring and recapitalization programme announced in March 2011. The effects of these will be to enable costs saving through shared services and economies of scale. They are also expected to bring about cost reductions which will improve operating margins and permit the banks to better absorb funding costs.

Legislative Programme

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

132 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if, in the context of the Construction Contracts Bill, he will revisit the proposal to limit the application of the legislation to contracts with a value of greater than €200,000 and €50,000 for public contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26959/11]

This is a matter for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. However, I am informed that the position is that Mr. Brian Hayes TD, Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform recently published the Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) of the Construction Contracts Bill. The Regulatory Impact Analysis examined issues relating to payment practices in the construction sector and assessed the need for legislative intervention. It found that legislation is desirable to improve payment practices and to allow swift resolution of payment disputes by way of adjudication, allowing projects to be completed without wasting time and money in litigation. The Report is available in the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform website: www.per.gov.ie/reports. I understand that a note on this issue was circulated to all Oireachtas members last week. The RIA examined the main proposals to amend the Bill that were raised during the Seanad debate and at a subsequent consultation with key stakeholders. One of the issues examined was the impact of the €200,000 and €50,000 thresholds.

In the context of considering the various issues raised in the consultation process and incorporating them into legislative proposals which will be brought to Government shortly for approval, Minister Hayes will carefully consider the issue of thresholds in light of what was said by key stakeholders at the consultation meeting and in particular with the number of contracts that would be excluded if the thresholds were not amended or removed.

National Asset Management Agency

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

133 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance the number of properties currently leased by Government Departments and or agencies that are owned by the National Asset Management Agency and the rental cost to the State for leasing these properties. [26963/11]

NAMA advises me that it does not own any properties. Clearly there are NAMA debtors who own properties which are leased to state agencies and who derive income from them. The properties are leased to the State by these debtors on an arms-length basis. NAMA's primary concern is whether a property is generating cash flow that allows debt to be repaid by a debtor. NAMA informs me that once the due diligence process is fully complete and its management information systems fully developed, it will be possible to extract data on tenancies attached to property under the control of its debtors but such information is not currently available.

Tax Code

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

134 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance the amount of revenue that could be raised by standardising pension tax relief at the lower rate of tax on all public and civil service workers. [26965/11]

A breakdown of the cost of tax relief on employee contributions to occupational pension schemes is not available by income tax rate or by reference to occupational categories, as tax returns by employers to the Revenue Commissioners of employee contributions to such schemes are provided on an aggregated basis. An historical breakdown is available by tax rate of the tax relief claimed on contributions to personal pension plans — Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs) and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs) — by the self-employed and others, to the extent that the contributions have been included in the personal tax returns of those taxpayers. There is, therefore, no statistical basis for providing definitive figures. However, by making certain assumptions about the available information, the Revenue Commissioners inform me that the estimated overall full year yield to the Exchequer from confining tax relief to the standard rate of 20% in respect of individual contributions to occupational pension schemes, RACs and PRSAs would be about €500 million.

Because of the limitations on available data however, as outlined above, it is not possible to disaggregate this estimated yield as between the public and private sector.

Jobs Initiative

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

135 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money collected on the pension levy introduced in the jobs initiative by the payment date of 25 September 2011, and the amount which remains outstanding for payment in respect of the 2011 liability. [26968/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that receipts from the temporary 0.6% stamp duty levy on pension fund assets introduced in the Finance (No. 2) Act, 2011 amounted to €460.5 million by the end of September. This compares to a projected annual yield from the levy of €470 million. Revenue will initiate enquiries to establish if any amounts of the levy for 2011 remain unpaid and will take the appropriate action where these are identified. It is not possible at this juncture to predict the amounts that might be involved.

Banking Sector Remuneration

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

136 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the number of times the funding cap for banking officials remuneration has been breached since it was introduced; for whom it was breached; the amount by which it was breached; if this was sanctioned by him or any other member of the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26970/11]

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

137 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the number of officials in the covered institutions that have received remuneration in excess of €500,000 including salary, expenses pensions and so on; the names of these officials; the amount they received; if these remuneration packages were sanctioned by him or any other member of the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26971/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 136 and 137 together.

The salary cap that the Deputy refers to was introduced following the report of the Covered Institutions Remuneration Oversight Committee of February 2009. The then Government decided to implement a base salary cap of €500,000 to be applied to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) position at some of the Covered Institutions. This cap has been waived on one occasion only in the case of the appointment of the CEO at Bank of Ireland and was sanctioned by the previous Government. Details were published in the bank's annual report for 2010.

I have indicated previously in replies to questions on this subject that my Department does not routinely collect data of this nature. However, the review of remuneration policies and practices at the covered institutions is, as the Deputy is aware, on-going. The review is an iterative one with data being received and analysed with a view to producing comparable data across the institutions. I fully recognise that there is a real public interest in the levels of remuneration at the covered institutions and I will endeavour to have this completed in the shortest timeframe possible with a view to putting the information into the public domain.

Tax Compliance

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

138 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance his plans to change tax law and company law to prevent the kind of abuses referred to by the Pensions Ombudsman whereby companies close down, walk away from their debts and set up again immediately with the same pensions, staff and contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27013/11]

A risk to tax collection arises where businesses are linked due to the involvement of the principals in a business to a failed business where the protection of limited liability might have been deliberately used to evade the payment of taxes, especially fiduciary taxes, in that failed business (Phoenix Syndrome). To address this risk, Revenue has procedures in place to identify entities with directors common to such failed businesses and to then closely monitor the tax compliance of the successor entity. A dedicated unit is responsible for managing the debt and compliance of phoenix cases. The full range of enforcement measures are very speedily deployed when compliance problems arise so as to minimize the potential for the accumulation of tax debts.

Any change to company law would be a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Banking Sector Regulation

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

139 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the recent interest rate increase to variable rate mortgage holders with Permanent TSB; if they require his permission to raise rates; if they are required to notify him of such measures; if so, the justification that was given; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27102/11]

As Minister for Finance, I have no statutory role in the setting of interest rates charged by financial institutions regulated by the Central Bank.

The Central Bank has responsibility for the regulation and supervision of financial institutions in terms of consumer protection and prudential requirements and for ensuring ongoing compliance with applicable statutory obligations. Each institution determines the rate it charges its customers, depending on a number of factors, such as cost of funds and commercial considerations, competition in the market, risk pricing and the impact on deposit rates.

EU-IMF Support Programmes

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

140 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the permanent presence in his Department of any staff member of the EU, IMF and ECB; and if he will provide details of the way the arrangement works. [27129/11]

There are no EU, IMF or ECB staff located in my Department. However, a representative from both the EU and the IMF have recently taken up duty in Dublin, located respectively in the EU Commission's Dublin office and the Central Bank of Ireland.

These resident representatives are a normal feature of support programmes. The IMF has resident representatives in almost all countries where it provides financial support, including more than a dozen in Europe. It currently has about 80 offices worldwide, including about a dozen in Europe, with offices in almost all countries where it provides financial support, together with offices serving regions or groups of countries. The European Commission has adopted a similar approach, which began with the EU adjustment programmes for Hungary, Latvia and Romania. Again, this is now a standard feature of support programmes where Community resources are involved.

The resident representatives provide a liaison between the IMF and the EU Commission respectively and the country authorities, build relationships with non-officials, and help the EU and the IMF deepen their understanding of conditions on the ground. They support the authorities by explaining the views of the IMF and the EU and by keeping the EU and IMF abreast of economic and social developments in the country.

Mortgage Interest Rates

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

141 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if, since coming into office, he has had any communication, verbal or written, with the covered financial institutions in relation to their mortgage interest rate policy; and if he will confirm if he requested the said institutions to absorb the ECB interest rate increases of April and July. [27132/11]

The implementation of the goals as set out in the Programme for Government which the Deputy refers to will be introduced in a measured way and in accordance with the Government's priorities over the period of the Programme.

The Deputy will be aware that as part of the restructuring and recapitalising plans announced last March as part of the PCAR and PLAR exercise, the banks are engaging in cost cutting plans which are already underway.

I also refer to the consolidation of the banks around two pillar banks made up of the merger of AIB and EBS, alongside Bank of Ireland. The merger of AIB and EBS which concluded last week will enable costs saving through shared services and economies of scale. By deleveraging non-core assets, the banks will be better placed to focus on supporting the domestic economy.

The effects of these changes will bring about cost reductions which will improve operating margins and permit the banks to better absorb funding costs. The Government remains in consultation with the banks in connection with the more significant parts of these plans including a significant reduction of employee numbers.

Banks Restructuring

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

142 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the expected number of job losses and redundancies in each of the covered institutions arising from the downsizing and restructuring of the banking system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27133/11]

As I have stated previously, the Deputy will appreciate that it is an inevitable, but unfortunate, consequence of the necessary restructuring of the banking system that job losses will arise. Essentially the banks will be smaller operations than previously with the focus being on the creation of the two universal full-service pillar banks with a more domestic remit and a restructured Irish Life & Permanent.

It is not possible, at this stage, to be precise on the expected number of jobs losses that will arise at the covered institutions consequent on the restructuring of the banking sector. For example, the timing of the disposals of business operations which fall to be deleveraged as part of the respective institution's commitment to restructure are pivotal factors. To date, AIB have indicated that some 2,000 plus jobs will have to go. IBRC has recently announced plans to lose 130 jobs by voluntary redundancy. Naturally, further job losses will arise at that institution.

I am most anxious that, in this most sensitive of matters, all parties would be treated with the utmost consideration and respect.

Banking Sector Remuneration

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

143 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he has made a decision on the request by Allied Irish Bank to approve a salary in excess of €500,000 for a new chief executive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27136/11]

No decision has been made on the matter. As the Taoiseach, indicated in the Dáil last week, I, as Minister for Finance, will consider the matter having regard to the existing policy and bring any proposal to Government for decision.

Mortgage Arrears

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

144 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if the Central Bank of Ireland has details of the number of residential mortgages which are in arrears of less than 90 days as at 30 June 2011; and if so, if he will provide a statement of the details. [27138/11]

The Central Bank has informed me that they do not publish data from lenders on arrears of less than 90 days.

Details of loan accounts in arrears, including loans greater than 90 days in arrears and loans less than 90 days in arrears are reported to the Central Bank on a quarterly basis. The Central Bank publishes figures on arrears greater than 90 days as this gives a more accurate reflection of the level of current arrears and the trend therein.

Financial Institutions Regulation

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

145 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of entities now regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland; and if he will provide a breakdown of the different categories of entity. [27139/11]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the Central Bank Annual Report and Annual Performance Statement, both published in May this Year.

A breakdown of the different categories of entities for 2010 is as follows:

Categories of Entities

Credit Institutions (Including branches of overseas credit institutions)

78

Life Insurance Companies

70

Non-Life Insurance Companies

152

Reinsurance Companies

115

Investment Firms (MiFID)/Investment Business Firms

168

Retail Intermediaries

— Multi Agency Intermediaries

2,026

— Authorised Advisors

439

— Insurance/Reinsurance Intermediaries

3,774

Mortgage Intermediaries authorizations granted/renewed

1,829

Collective Investment Schemes (including sub funds)

4,743

Fund Service Providers

253

Credit Unions

409

Money Transmitters and Bureaux de Change

27

Moneylenders

46

Regulated Market/Market Operator

1

Money Brokers

6

Retail Credit Firms

18

Home Reversion Firms

2

Payment Institutions

10

Total

14,166

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

146 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the number of individual residential properties in the ownership of each covered institution; the way these properties are being managed at present; for each institution, if he will provide a breakdown of the properties between those repossessed, voluntarily, surrendered or secured by another means; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27140/11]

The number of individual residential properties presently in the ownership of the covered institutions is 807. This information is provided on an aggregate basis for the covered banks due to the commercial sensitivities of the data. The information provided is the most up to date available from each of the covered institutions, with all data less than one month old. The table below includes data for home loans and residential investment properties.

The breakdown of properties is as follows:

Number

Repossessed

272

Voluntarily surrendered

323

Secured by another means (abandoned/receiver appointed/other)

212

Total

807

AIB has informed me that all repossessed properties are managed by the property section in the Arrears Support Unit (ASU) pending sale and that the ASU uses external management companies for the security, upkeep and maintenance of these properties.

BOI has informed me that once a property has been repossessed (either by Possession Order through the courts, voluntary surrender or abandonment by the customer), it:

Obtains two independent valuations.

Obtains buildings insurance cover.

Carries out any essential works/repairs required to sell the property.

Appoints an estate agent to sell the property on the Bank's behalf for the maximum realisable value.

Manages the marketing strategy and maintain the property until the sale is completed.

EBS has informed me that repossessed properties and voluntarily surrendered properties are secured, insured and then independently valued before being placed for sale on the open market. For those properties that are secured by another means, which EBS refer to as abandoned property, these are firstly secured and insured, upon EBS being satisfied that the property has, in fact, been abandoned. EBS will then progress via the courts to formally take ownership of the properties. For those properties that are secured by means of the appointment of a Receiver, these properties are also secured and insured by the Receiver. Where the properties are let, the Receiver takes over the management of the letting and arranges for the collection of rents etc. These properties are ultimately independently valued and then sold.

Anglo Irish Bank, on behalf of INBS, has informed me that properties in possession are currently managed within the Arrears Support Unit, the process of receiving a property into possession involves ensuring that the property is secure and having a property inspection report carried out which will identify any issues with the property that require attention/remedial work. When a property is received into possession by the bank it is placed on the market for sale. The bank is currently involved in a tender process the aim of which is to identify a single source supplier for this service which will further enhance the process in terms of sales and asset management.

Irish Life & Permanent has informed me that it has a team of people managing the portfolio of Properties in Possession whose primary focus is to ensure that when a property is taken in to possession it is;

secured

prepared for sale (which entails ensuring clear marketable title)

brought to market for sale as quickly as possible via an approved panel of Auctioneers

Mortgage Statistics

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

147 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the number of residential mortgages which relate to investment properties or non-principal private residences; the number of such mortgages in arrears of 90 days or more; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27141/11]

I am advised by the Central Bank that:-

the outstanding amount of on-balance sheet loans for buy-to-let properties was €24.5 billion at the end of June 2011, accounting for 25% of loans for house purchase. There was a decline of €58 million in these loans during the three month period ending on 30 June 2011,

loans for holiday homes/second homes accounted for 1.1% of on-balance sheet loans for house purchases at end-June 2011.

I have been informed by the Central Bank that their arrears and repossession statistics relate only to mortgages on principal private residences.

The Deputy might also find useful the Central Bank's information release dated 23 September 2011 entitled “Trends in Personal Credit and Deposits:Q2 2011” . This document is available on the Central Bank’s website: www.centralbank.ie.

Credit Union Regulation

Dara Murphy

Ceist:

148 Deputy Dara Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if the Central Bank of Ireland has carried out analyses on the impact, on credit unions and credit union members, of the lending restrictions currently imposed on a large number of credit unions; if such information has been shared with the credit unions and other stakeholders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27155/11]

As Minister for Finance, my role is to ensure that the legal framework for credit unions is appropriate for the effective operation and supervision of credit unions.

The Registrar of Credit Unions is responsible for administering the system of regulation and supervision of credit unions provided under the Credit Union Act 1997, with a view to the protection by each credit union of the funds of its members and the maintenance of the financial stability of credit unions generally.

Within his independent regulatory discretion, the Registrar of Credit Unions acts to support the prudential soundness of individual credit unions, to maintain sector stability and to protect the savings of credit union members. It is on this basis that the Registrar has put in place lending restrictions on a number of credit unions as their financial position has deteriorated. Restrictions are imposed on a case-by-case basis and are reviewed regularly. Before setting the level of restriction in each credit union the Registrar carries out an analysis of the credit union business and financial position and the restrictions are designed to allow these credit unions to continue to lend, albeit at a more prudent level, in order to protect the savings of their members.

The Registrar advises me that the restrictions are structured to allow credit unions to lend a higher number of small value loans to the broader membership, thereby reducing concentration risk. He also advises that initial analysis indicates that the credit unions which are restricted continue to have higher levels of arrears than those which are not and this remains a concern. The Registrar closely monitors and interacts with those credit unions where lending restrictions have been imposed.

The restriction on a credit union is determined taking account of its financial data including the level of its lending, average loan size, its arrears trends and bad debt provision levels. Credit unions are able to continue to lend to members within their financial capacity to do so. If a credit union can demonstrate an improved financial position then such restrictions can be reviewed.

The imposition of these restrictions is not considered lightly and the type of lending restrictions imposed takes account of the particular business profile and financial position of each credit union concerned. The type of lending restrictions can include maximum individual loan size and overall maximum monthly lending limits. Where lending limits are specified for individual credit unions, this is communicated directly with the credit union.

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

149 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance, following on from the programme for Government, his views on the commitment towards political reform, in view of the fact that the programme states that it will ensure that the Government is seen to be held to account and that Government is too centralised and unaccountable, and the need for a real shift in power from the State to the citizen, and further in view of the fact that power is being passed, not to the people, but to the Regulator, as per the terms of Statutory Instrument No. 515 of 2010, which was issued and enacted by the Financial Regulator, not by our elected legislators, the Central Bank of Ireland and Credit Institutions Bill, albeit necessary, passes even more power to the Financial Regulator and away from the people. [27187/11]

The statutory instrument to which the Deputy refers sets out the rules made by the Registrar of Credit Unions at the Central Bank of Ireland which impose requirements on credit unions to keep a minimum amount of liquid assets to enable them to meet their liabilities as they arise. Among other things, this is to ensure that credit union members can continue to access their savings on demand.

Under section 85 of the Credit Union Act 1997, the Oireachtas expressly delegated to the Central Bank the power to impose such requirements. The Central Bank, in exercise of the powers set out in Section 85(3) of the Credit Union Act 1997, set out rules in S.I. No. 515 of 2010 requiring that a credit union must maintain at all times a Liquidity Ratio of at least 20%. Most credit unions hold liquidity significantly in excess of this regulatory minimum level.

In terms of Central Bank accountability, section 32L(3) of the Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended by the Central Bank Reform Act 2010) provides that the Central Bank is accountable to the Oireachtas, through its annual regulatory performance statement, for the activities of the Registrar of Credit Unions.

The Central Bank and Credit Institutions (Resolution).(No. 2) Bill is currently before Dáil Éireann and has been the subject of extensive debate. The Central Bank powers in the Bill are necessary and proportionate given the seriousness of the problem that the Bill seeks to address. Section 107 of the Bill, as amended, provides for a relationship framework to support the legal framework of the Bill by ensuring there is a clear identification of roles and responsibilities and providing guidance as to how and in what circumstances the Minister will use the powers provided to him/her in the Bill. In formulating the relationship framework the Minister will draw on international best practice that may have relevance to the specific circumstances of this situation. The Minister plays a central role in relation to the powers conferred upon the Central Bank by this Bill — for example, one of the intervention conditions is that the Central Bank must have consulted with the Minister. This provision will facilitate the development of a relationship framework or protocol by which the powers and functions of the Central Bank and of the Minister can work in harmony in the public interest.

In the Programme for Government 2011-2016, the Government stated that it recognises the important role of credit unions as a volunteer co-operative movement and the distinction between them and other types of financial institutions. In line with the Government commitment, we established a Commission on Credit Unions to review the future of the credit union movement and make recommendations in relation to the most effective regulatory structure for credit unions, taking into account their not-for-profit mandate, their volunteer ethos and community focus, while paying due regard to the need to fully protect depositors savings and financial stability. The Commission has provided me with an interim report which I am currently examining. It will have completed its work by end-March 2011.

The Commission has a broad representation across the credit union sector, academic and management fields and wider interests. Its members have extensive knowledge and expertise and I am confident that the review of credit union legislation which the Commission is carrying out will reflect a wide range of views.

Vehicle Registration Tax

Jim Daly

Ceist:

150 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Finance the reason the Revenue Commissioners will not grant a tax exemption to a person (details supplied) under Section 134(1)(c) of the Finance Act 1992 despite the substantial evidence put forward supporting the claim from the person and their legal agent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27232/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the individual does not, in their view, qualify for an exemption of vehicle registration tax (VRT) under Section 134(1)(c) of the Finance Act 1992 and accordingly the claim for an exemption was refused. Section 134(1)(c) provides for an exemption from payment of VRT in relation to a vehicle where that vehicle is

the personal property of a deceased person and is being brought permanently into the State by a person resident in the State, or a person or body of persons established in the State and engaged in a non-profit making activity, who either acquired by inheritance the ownership or beneficial ownership of such vehicle or is the personal representative resident in the State of the deceased person,

Section 134(1)(c) is qualified by Statutory Instrument 59 of 1993. Regulation 6. Paragraph 2(b) provides that

(b) evidence that the person by or on whose behalf the application for the relief is made is either the person entitled to the ownership of the vehicle under the will or, as the case may be, on the intestacy, of the deceased person or is the personal representative of the deceased person, the evidence being a copy of the will together with proof that the will has been accepted by the appropriate authorities of the place where the deceased person died for the purposes of the administration of his estate or, if the deceased person was intestate as to the vehicle concerned, a declaration issued by a notary or other competent person in the place aforesaid or by a notary in the State that the vehicle was acquired by the person as the beneficiary under the intestacy or as the personal representative of the deceased person,....... "

From the evidence presented to Revenue, the applicant did not, in their view, receive ownership of the vehicle under the will, but rather from her mother who was the beneficiary under the will. Accordingly, as the individual did not acquire ownership or beneficial ownership of the vehicle by inheritance, the claim for an exemption was refused.

However, in view of the fact that the applicant was not informed of her rights of appeal, a late appeal (without prior payment of the VRT in question) will be allowed in this instance. The appeal should be addressed to The VRT Appeals Officer, Office of the Revenue Commissioners, Revenue House, Assumption Road, Blackpool, Co. Cork.

Construction Industry

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

151 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Finance the supports in place for construction companies whose debts have not been transferred to the National Asset Management Agency; his views on whether construction companies who are covered by NAMA are at an unfair advantage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27251/11]

NAMA has a commercial remit to manage its portfolio of acquired loans and the property securing them in order to generate the best achievable financial return for the State. Following the transfer of a debtor's loans to NAMA, the debtor is requested to complete a realistic and concise business plan. The viability of the business plan of each major borrower is then assessed by NAMA. Where viability cannot be demonstrated or where a borrower is not co-operating with the process, NAMA takes enforcement action against the borrower concerned. By end-August 2011, NAMA had approved the appointment of receivers in 84 cases. Furthermore, to date, NAMA has secured the reversal of a significant number of asset transfers as part of its business plan agreements with debtors. I understand from NAMA that only a minority of debtors engaged in asset transfers to spouses, relatives or other parties but, in cases where it did occur, the reversal of such transfers is a key requirement imposed by NAMA before it can agree to a debtor's business plan.

The Chairman of NAMA has stated that, as the agency is charged with maximising the commercial return to the taxpayer, i.e., generating the maximum repayments on its acquired loans, it is regularly faced with difficult choices to make between working with a developer on his loans or foreclosing through the appointment of a receiver. The option selected by NAMA is whichever is likely to generate the higher return for the taxpayer. It is not a question of conferring any advantage on the borrower relative to borrowers whose loans remain with the banks. NAMA assures me that developers who are NAMA debtors do not enjoy any advantage over developers whose loans are with non-participating institutions.

Mortgage Lending

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

152 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied that criteria used by banks covered by the banking guarantee, to assess suitability of candidates to draw mortgages is appropriate; if he has received details from the banks in relation to the number of refused mortgage applications; if he will provide details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27252/11]

The decision on whether or not to grant a mortgage to a borrower must remain a commercial decision for the lending institution concerned. It is important that each lending institution is allowed to assess properly and independently the risks that it is considering when deciding whether or not to approve a mortgage. Mortgage lending must fully comply with the regulatory requirements both in relation to the financial institution itself and also the safeguarding of the borrower's interests. When providing a product or service to a customer, a financial institution must comply with the ‘Knowing the Customer’ and ‘Suitability Provisions’ of the Consumer Protection Code issued by the Central Bank. This process involves, inter alia, gathering relevant information from the customer about his/her financial situation, individual circumstances and needs.

Based on this information, the financial institution is required to complete a ‘ Suitability Process’, where only products suitable to that particular customer are offered. While affordability is a prime component of suitability, a fuller consideration of a customer’s individual circumstances and needs would be required in order to comply with the suitability provisions of the Code.

In this regard, when assessing suitability — in relation to mortgage products — the Central Bank is of the opinion that factors such as employment, income and repayment capacity, purpose of borrowing, type and length of loan, plans for early redemption, attitude to fixed/variable interest, age, savings track record should be considered. As suitability is specific to the circumstances and needs of each individual customer, financial institutions should be satisfied that written statements reflect an assessment of each customer's specific circumstances and needs, thereby meeting the ‘ Knowing the Customer’ requirements of the Consumer Protection Code.

The Consumer Protection Code may be accessed at www.centralbank.ie.

Non-Resident Companies

James Bannon

Ceist:

153 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding taking cash back to Ireland to invest in land in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford who has business interests in Uganda; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27258/11]

It is not possible to answer the Deputy's question because the circumstances of the case are not clear from the information provided. My officials will try to clarify the matter if the Deputy contacts my office with further details.

State Banking Sector

Robert Dowds

Ceist:

154 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which Anglo Irish Bank has been able to recoup moneys owed to it by the Quinn Group; his views that any more money can be recouped by Anglo Irish Bank in the future from the Quinn Group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27291/11]

Anglo Irish Bank has not recovered any principal monies owed to it by the Quinn Group. However, some recovery of value across the Quinn Group is expected to materialise over time. The companies across the group are in a distressed state, have considerable debt and guarantee burdens and require time and improved market conditions to stabilise before recovery can take place. With regard to the international property, Mr. Sean Quinn is in litigation with the Bank across a number of geographies and the outcome of this litigation is uncertain. We have been informed by the bank that his actions appear to be designed to put the property beyond the reach of the Bank and thus taxpayers. Nonetheless, it has been made very clear to me that the bank intends to pursue recovery, to the greatest extent possible, of the substantial sums owing to it by the Quinn Group.

Vehicle Registration Tax

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

155 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Finance if the remission of vehicle registration tax on a car (details supplied) will be approved in view of the unique circumstances concerned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27294/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the individual does not, in their view, qualify for an exemption of vehicle registration tax (VRT) under Section 134 (1)(c) of the Finance Act 1992 and accordingly remission of VRT was refused. Section 134 (1) (c) provides for an exemption from payment of VRT in relation to a vehicle where that vehicle is

the personal property of a deceased person and is being brought permanently into the State by a person resident in the State, or a person or body of persons established in the State and engaged in a non-profit making activity, who either acquired by inheritance the ownership or beneficial ownership of such vehicle or is the personal representative resident in the State of the deceased person,

Section 134(1)(c) is qualified by Statutory Instrument 59 of 1993. Regulation 6. Paragraph 2 (b) provides that

(b) evidence that the person by or on whose behalf the application for the relief is made is either the person entitled to the ownership of the vehicle under the will or, as the case may be, on the intestacy, of the deceased person or is the personal representative of the deceased person, the evidence being a copy of the will together with proof that the will has been accepted by the appropriate authorities of the place where the deceased person died for the purposes of the administration of his estate or, if the deceased person was intestate as to the vehicle concerned, a declaration issued by a notary or other competent person in the place aforesaid or by a notary in the State that the vehicle was acquired by the person as the beneficiary under the intestacy or as the personal representative of the deceased person, ....... "

From the evidence presented to Revenue, the applicant did not, in their view, receive ownership of the vehicle under the will, but rather from her mother who was the beneficiary under the will. Accordingly, as the individual did not acquire ownership or beneficial ownership of the vehicle by inheritance, a remission of VRT was refused.

However, in view of the fact that the applicant was not informed of her rights of appeal, a late appeal (without prior payment of the VRT in question) will be allowed in this instance. The appeal should be addressed to The VRT Appeals Officer, Office of the Revenue Commissioners, Revenue House, Assumption Road, Blackpool, Co. Cork.

Departmental Expenditure

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

156 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a list of all companies providing an external professional service to his Department such as ICT, legal advice, advertising, project management and including any other external professional service not listed; and the amount invoiced by each company to him over the past 12 months, in tabular form. [27305/11]

The table below sets out the list of suppliers to my Department, of professional services, where professional service withholding tax has been applied and the invoice value of each, in the past twelve months.

Supplier Name

Invoice Amount €

A&L Goodbody

2,823.00

Core International

1,131.25

Charles Rivers Assoc

50,000.00

Baseline Creative Services

5,500.66

KR Economics

38,286.51

Arthur Cox

2,550,245.56

Systems Dynamics Enterprise

1,176.12

Fusio Ltd

1,633.50

Creative Ad

3,164.15

Price Waterhouse Coopers

112,127.07

Systems Dynamics Solutions Ltd

1,176.12

CommBizz

33,069.29

Canavan Byrne

8,772.50

GEON Legal solutions Ltd

13,043.80

Loucain Ld

42,350.00

ANV Technology

3,412.02

Lúan Ó Braonáin S.C.

2,226.40

Niamh Hyland B.L.

24,657.38

David Barniville S.C.

36,401.64

The Deputy should note that included in the figures supplied by my Department, are invoices for professional services which from July 2011 have transferred to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Jobs Initiative

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

157 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Finance the jobs created by initiatives funded by him under the jobs initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27331/11]

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

158 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Finance the likely net impact on the Exchequer in 2011 and 2012 of measures announced in the jobs initiative; if a net economic assessment of the initiative has been or will be undertaken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27335/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 157 and 158 together.

The intention of the Jobs Initiative 2011 is to focus our now more limited resources on measures that offer the greatest potential for expansion and employment creation in the domestic economy. The aim is to target key sectors of the economy that can assist in getting people back to work, providing opportunities for those who have lost their jobs to re-skill and building confidence in order to encourage consumer activity. The Jobs Initiative 2011 should be viewed as one element of a wider strategy to support economic activity.

Given our commitments under the Joint EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support, and our current public finance difficulties, the Jobs Initiative 2011 is budgetary neutral over the period to 2014 and is being funded through the introduction of a temporary levy on pension funds.

The measures introduced as part of the Jobs Initiative 2011 were expected to result in a net gain for the Exchequer of approximately €200 million in 2011. This is because the forecast €470 million yield from the temporary levy on pension funds more than offset the estimated cost of the other measures introduced. These included the new temporary second reduced rate of VAT of 9%, aimed primarily at the tourism sector, the halving of the lower rate of employers PRSI, the suspension of the Air Travel Tax and the small additional amounts of current and capital expenditure.

In 2012, a net loss to the Exchequer of just over €200 million was projected. This is because in 2012, the full year cost of the measures introduced, including the new temporary second reduced rate of VAT of 9%, the halving of the lower rate of employers PRSI and the suspension of the Air Travel Tax were estimated to be greater than the forecast yield from the temporary levy on pension funds.

The implementation and monitoring of expenditure measures is a matter for relevant Ministers and Departments. My Department, in conjunction with the Revenue Commissioners, will monitor the revenue measures.

It should be noted that the proposed suspension of the Air Travel Tax, at an estimated cost of €15 million in 2011 and €90 million in 2012, was conditional on the airlines increasing passenger numbers in terms of restoring routes and capacity. Following discussions with the airlines in that regard, the Government decided to retain the Air Travel Tax in 2011, pending a further review next spring.

The Jobs Initiative 2011 is designed to support a return to economic growth and strengthen its foundations. It is of course extremely difficult to separate out the increase in economic activity that is attributable to specific initiatives, particularly as the QNHS employment data only shows gross sectoral flows. Nonetheless, the Jobs Initiative 2011 is an important part of the Government’s overall strategy to establish the correct conditions to allow our economy to recover, while at the same time respecting the requirement to return our public finances to a sustainable position.

Ministerial Staff

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

159 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Finance the total cost of all staff, permanent and non-established, allocated to assist him with constituency work in the 100 days following his appointment. [27344/11]

Since my appointment as Minister for Finance on 9 March 2011, the following staff have been appointed to my constituency office:

Grade

Salary Scale (per annum)

1 Personal Assistant

€43,715 — €56,060

1 Executive Officer (EO)

€30,516 — €47,975

1 Clerical Officer (CO)

€23,177 — €37,341

1 Clerical Officer (CO)

€23,042 — €36,267

No travel and subsistence costs were incurred by these staff members in the relevant period.

EU Budget

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

160 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance his approach in the coming months to discussions with other Heads of State or Government regarding the new EU budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18910/11]

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

161 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he has submitted any documents to the European Commission or European Council regarding the next EU budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18911/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 160 and 161 together.

I assume that the Deputy is referring to the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) for the EU Budget 2014-2020, proposals for which were presented by the European Commission to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament on 29 June 2011. The negotiations on these proposals will decide on the maximum level of EU budget expenditure, the policy areas for expenditure and how this expenditure will be funded for the relevant seven year period.

The negotiation of the next MFF will be one of the key engagements for the Government at EU level over the next few years. I met EU Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski in advance of the publication of the Commission's proposals to outline Ireland's overall approach to the negotiations, which will be a constructive engagement based on ensuring the best outcome for the EU as a whole and for Ireland.

Detailed discussions on the MFF are proceeding at official level and the Irish officials are playing an active role. At political level, the General Affairs Council has lead responsibility for the negotiation and will ensure overall coordination between the different sectoral Councils. The MFF was the sole topic of the Informal General Affairs Council in Poland in July. Ireland was represented by Minister of State Brian Hayes and the Irish position was outlined at the meeting. The ECOFIN Council will also be involved.

The key elements of Ireland's approach to the negotiations will be:

Ensuring that the overall size of the EU Budget as a percent of EU GNI reflects the agreed policy priorities of the Union, in particular the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, inclusive and sustainable growth, while keeping in mind the budgetary consolidation imperative faced by all Member States including Ireland;

The need to maintain a strong and effective CAP with a commensurate budget which will support a vigorous consumer-focused agricultural production base in Europe. This is one of the areas where the Union continues to add real value and shows real and positive impacts both for consumers and producers. There remains a pressing need for continued food security and safety which warrants only gradual changes to the Common Agriculture Policy;

Regarding the funding of the Budget, Ireland's view has been that the Gross National Income (GNI) key provides the fairest and most effective base for calculating Member State contributions. We would need to be convinced that the Commission's proposals in this regard are an improvement before considering any change in our position.

Banking Sector Regulation

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

162 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance his plans to contact other Heads of State or Government regarding the issue of bank bondholders during the next three months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18842/11]

As Minister for Finance I have ongoing contacts with other Ministers for Finance and various leaders across Europe and beyond on a range of matters including issues concerning financial markets. These contacts on occasion include Heads of Government. I have no specific plans at this point to contact Heads of State or Government regarding the issue of bank bondholders in the next three months.

Expenditure Reviews

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

163 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he will host in his Department or elsewhere meetings connected with the quarterly review by the troika of Ireland’s financial assistance package. [20074/11]

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

164 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Finance the persons other than civil servants who have met or are scheduled to meet with the EU-IMF review delegation. [20311/11]

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

168 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance the instructions he has given to staff of his Department in relation to the review of the financing programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20073/11]

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

171 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if any personnel in his Department are involved in preparations for meetings with the EU-IMF regarding their support for Ireland. [26101/11]

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

184 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if he has met with the EU-IMF delegation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19808/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 163, 164, 168, 171 and 184 together.

I personally met with the EU-IMF delegation during the combined first and second quarterly review of the EU / IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland on the 12th and 15th April 2011 and more recently during the third quarterly review on 8th and 14th July 2011. These meetings were also attended by my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin T.D., and senior officials from both Departments.

The fourth quarterly review will take place from the 11th to the 21st October 2011. The majority of meetings will take place in my Department with a number of meetings also taking place in the Central Bank. Arrangements for these meetings are currently being put together by officials from my Department in consultation with the Department of Pubic Expenditure and Reform, the Troika, the Central Bank, the NTMA and the appropriate Government Departments. As has been the case with the previous quarterly reviews, the Troika may meet with officials from a number of financial institutions and other interested parties during the fourth quarterly review. These arrangements have yet to be finalised.

It is my intention to meet again with the Troika delegation during the fourth quarterly review. The review will comprise of a series of meetings to evaluate all the elements of the programme including fiscal developments including the Comprehensive Spending Review, the macroeconomic outlook, progress on commitments in the restructuring of the financial sector and structural reform. The meetings will range from technical to policy discussions and will be conducted, under my direction and that of the Minister of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Governor of the Central Bank as appropriate, by senior officials from my Department, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator, the National Treasury Management Agency and the Office of the Attorney General. Other Departments and Ministers may also be involved where appropriate.

Clearly, for the forthcoming review, the primary focus will be on our performance against the targets due by the end of the third quarter of 2011 and assessing progress on targets due in coming quarters. I have already signalled that notwithstanding the substantial consolidation already carried out, in particular the amount being delivered this year, difficult decisions in relation to future consolidation remain. There is no doubt that Budget 2012 will be another difficult Budget. Under the terms of the EU-IMF Programme Memorandum of Understanding, an adjustment of at least €3.6 billion is to be implemented next year. But as I have already signalled, consolidation above that amount may be required if we are to adhere to the General Government deficit target set for 2012. That will become clearer in the coming weeks in light of the continuing assessment of the most up-to-date information available.

Departmental Agencies

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

165 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance the discussion he has had regarding bringing greater transparency to the remuneration, including bonus arrangements, of public servants at the National Treasury Management Agency and the National Asset Management Agency. [20292/11]

As I have previously stated, it is my intention to examine the approach to remuneration in the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) in more detail in the coming months following consultation with my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. I have also sought the views of the NTMA and of the NTMA Advisory Committee in this regard. In the meantime, I would point out that the overall remuneration of NTMA senior management has been reduced very substantially this year due to their waiving of the performance-related element of their remuneration in respect of 2010.

The public sector pension deduction provided for in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 applies to all NTMA staff. While the NTMA was not subject to the general reductions in salaries provided for in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009, it secured a reduction of some 8% in overall payroll costs in 2010 on a like-for-like basis compared with the previous year through a reduction in the performance-related element of overall remuneration. In 2011, it secured a further reduction of almost 3% in overall payroll costs, again on a like-for-like basis.

Staff recruited by the NTMA and assigned to the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) in 2010 and 2011 have been recruited on specified-purpose contracts — their term of employment lasts for as long as NAMA requires their particular function.

Finally, taking all these issues into account, I will see what changes, if any, might be appropriate in relation to the remuneration of all staff in the NTMA, having regard to the changing economic circumstances of the State and the need for transparency in public expenditure.

Economic Policy

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

166 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he intends to table any papers regarding economic matters for consideration by other Heads of State or Government. [19801/11]

In relation to the tabling of papers for the consideration by Heads of State or Government, this would be a matter for the Taoiseach. In this regard, I will point out that the Taoiseach is in regular contact with his European counterparts on a wide range of issues.

Having said this, I would point out that my fellow European Finance Ministers and I regularly discuss at Eurogroup and Ecofin meetings the economic situation in the EU, eurozone and in individual Member States. This includes matters of common interest and any items which have the potential to negatively impact or delay economic recovery. In these meetings I continue to make the Irish position known.

I will remain in regular contact with EU colleagues to continue our ongoing work in pursuing the EU's, eurozone's and individual Member States economic recoveries.

Fiscal Advisory Council

Seamus Kirk

Ceist:

167 Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Finance when he expects to hold consultation with the Opposition regarding the statutory foundation for the Fiscal Advisory Council. [20299/11]

The Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform jointly published a discussion document entitled Reforming Ireland’s Budgetary Framework earlier this year. At the end of May, the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform jointly hosted a seminar on the issue of reforming Ireland’s budgetary framework. The seminar was intended to allow for discussion and debate among all interested parties and experts with a view to arriving at the optimum set of proposals for fiscal reform. The seminar was well attended and the views expressed are currently being considered in the further development of these policy proposals. In addition, the Department of Finance has also received a number of written submissions from interested parties.

The Discussion Document contained draft heads of a Fiscal Responsibility Bill. As well as the legal provisions of the changes to expenditure management structures and the legislation underpinning the fiscal rules, the Fiscal Responsibility Bill will also provide the statutory basis for the recently established Irish Fiscal Advisory Council.

Under the terms of the EU/IMF Programme, the Fiscal Responsibility Bill must be published by the end of the year. Once published the opposition parties will be able to discuss and offer comment on the Bill during its passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The Fiscal Responsibility Bill and Irish Fiscal Advisory Council are being introduced as part of a wider agenda of reform of Ireland's budgetary architecture which is envisaged in the Programme for Government.

Question No. 168 answered with Question No. 163.

Expenditure Reviews

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

169 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance his views on the report of the third review of the financing programme completed last week; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21422/11]

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

185 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a report of his meetings with the EU-IMF delegation during their recent visit here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21413/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 169 and 185 together.

I presume the Deputies are referring to the third review of the EU / IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland which took place from 6th to 14th July 2011.

I met with the EU-IMF delegation during the third quarterly review on 8th and 14th July 2011. These meetings were also attended by my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin T.D., and senior officials from both Departments. The primary focus of this review was on our performance against the targets due by end June 2011 and assessing progress on targets due in subsequent quarters. The mission itself comprised of a series of meetings to evaluate all the elements of the programme including the fiscal developments, the macroeconomic outlook, progress on commitments in the restructuring of the financial sector and structural reform.

The conclusion of the third review was that Ireland is meeting all of the conditions and targets of our programme, that the programme is on track and that Ireland is making progress. We have met the fiscal, banking and structural reform targets on time. Indeed, implementation of some of the financial sector reforms occurred ahead of schedule, including:

the legal merger of Allied Irish Bank and EBS Building Society which was completed on 1st July 2011, well ahead of the end September 2011 deadline.

the merger of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society to form the Irish Bank Resolution Company (IBRC) which was completed on 1st July 2011, well ahead of its scheduled end December 2011 deadline.

The third review was completed successfully on the 2nd of September when the IMF Executive Board and the ECOFIN Council approved the completion of the third quarterly review. This enables the next disbursement of the agreed funding by the IMF and the EU's funding mechanisms.

The strong start we have made to delivering on Ireland's programme commitments has been maintained and it remains the Government's key priority. This performance and the Government's continuing commitment to keep the programme on track is the best way to ensure that we emerge successfully from this programme. That will mean that we can return safely to the financial markets for funding in as timely a manner as possible.

European Court of Auditors

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

170 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he has given consideration to Ireland’s nomination for our seat at the European Court of Auditors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21416/11]

Ireland's nomination to the European Court of Auditors is under active consideration at present.

Question No. 171 answered with Question No. 163.

Tax Code

Catherine Byrne

Ceist:

172 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Finance if the Revenue Commissioners will enter into an arrangement with a person (details supplied) in Dublin 10 to enable their company to trade out of its difficulties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27400/11]

I am advised by Revenue that the company concerned has a significant tax debt. Revenue has worked with the company over the last 18 months to alleviate cash flow pressures that gave rise to tax payment delays. The company concerned has failed to put the payment of tax debts as they arise on a timely footing, despite being put on notice by Revenue of the importance of doing so. I am advised by Revenue that it is not in a position to enter into any further arrangement with the company as regards payment of its tax debts and that the company needs to make appropriate alternative arrangements to address any cash flow issues impacting on the timeliness of its compliance with Revenue requirements.

Banking Sector

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

173 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Finance if he has examined the impact of the deterioration of the property market here on other core business activities of those persons who were engaged in property speculation; if he has encountered situations in which banks, covered by the banking guarantee, have wound up profitable, viable and functioning core businesses to service property debts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27402/11]

As I mentioned in my appearance before the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform on 1 September last, I am aware that contagion of the property collapse spread beyond the property and construction industries and into small businesses that took the decision to invest their profits in property. Notwithstanding the fact that some SMEs may have engaged in property speculation and subsequently suffered from the collapse in property prices, the restructuring of the domestic banking sector creates capacity for the pillar banks to lend in excess of €30 billion over the next three years in SME and other important sectors. This is in excess of Central Bank estimates of the likely demand for SME and mortgage credit over this period. Both pillar banks are concentrating on the Irish economy and need to issue credit to make profits and rebuild their balance sheets.

As the Deputy may be aware, the Government has imposed lending targets on the two domestic pillar banks for the three calendar years, 2011 to 2013. Both banks will be required to sanction lending of at least €3 billion this year, €3.5 billion next year and €4 billion in 2013 for new or increased credit facilities to SMEs.

Both pillar banks have provided me with their plans to ensure that the 2011 target is achieved. This is particularly relevant given the comments contained in the fifth quarterly report of the Credit Review Office, which stated that "it will be a challenge for each of the banks to reach their €3bn sanction target for new and restructured facilities in the current year."

The Deputy will also be aware that the Credit Review Office (CRO) assists SME and farm borrowers who have had an application for credit to the pillar banks declined or reduced, and who feel that they have a viable business proposition. The CRO also look at cases where borrowers feel that the terms and conditions of their existing loan, or a new loan offer, are unfairly onerous or have been unreasonably changed to their detriment. In increasing the ceiling on eligible loan applications from €250k to €500k recently I have significantly expanded the number of companies that can turn to the CRO to appeal the decision of their lending institution.

It is vital that the banks continue to make credit available to support economic recovery. However, it is not in the interest of the banks, businesses or the economy for finance to be provided unless the business is viable and has the capacity to meet the interest payments and repay the sum borrowed.

Tax Code

Jim Daly

Ceist:

174 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Finance the amount outstanding in arrears to the Revenue Commissioner across all taxation brackets for each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27409/11]

It has not proved possible to provide a detailed reply on this matter within the timeframe for answering Parliamentary Questions. Accordingly, the Deputy will be contacted directly on this issue at an early date.

Banking Sector Staff

Jim Daly

Ceist:

175 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Finance the number of new staff hired by Allied Irish Banks in 2010 and from January 2011 to date in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27410/11]

I am informed by AIB that gross new external hires in 2010 were 471 and in 2011 to date are 769. These figures are in respect of the bank overall across all geographies. On a net basis (including terminations and departures) the number of employees at the bank declined by 492 in 2010 and has fallen by 205 in 2011 year to date. Additionally, AIB and officials from my Department have been discussing the introduction of a redundancy package for AIB employees. As those discussions have not yet been finalised, the figures shown above do not include any departures as a result of AIB's intended redundancy program.

An Post Savings Products

Jim Daly

Ceist:

176 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Finance if he will give an assurance to the public who are concerned about deposit accounts held at An Post under the national solidarity bond scheme; if he will confirm that they are, as advertised, 100% secure; the position if Ireland was to exit from the euro at any stage in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27411/11]

All State Savings money is placed directly with the Irish Government and repayment of all State Savings money, which includes principal, interest and bonus payments if due (or, in respect of Prize Bonds, cash prizes), is a direct, unconditional obligation of the Government of Ireland. Ireland State Savings is the brand name used by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) to describe the range of savings products offered by the NTMA to personal savers.

The suite of Ireland State Savings products includes Savings Certificates, Savings Bonds, Prize Bonds, the National Solidarity Bond, Instalment Savings and Deposit Accounts such as the Ordinary Deposit Account and the Deposit Account Plus.

An Post and the Prize Bond Company are agents of the NTMA for the operation of the Ireland State Savings schemes. However, neither An Post nor the Prize Bond Company retain or manage any Ireland State Savings money. All money invested in Ireland State Savings products is a part of the national debt which is under the management of the National Treasury Management Agency.

Ireland has never contemplated the possibility of defaulting on its sovereign debt and this position has been restated on several occasions. The Government, without any question, will fully honour all its legal obligations to its creditors and has no intention whatsoever of allowing a default.

In relation to our membership of the euro, I am happy to confirm that that is irreversible.

The State Savings products have been an important and dependable component of Government borrowing for many years and make a valuable contribution to the national finances.

Tax Code

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

177 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance his plans to phase out tax credits on higher incomes, for example halving the tax credits after €100,000 and eliminating them beyond €150,000 per annum; and the estimated savings for the Exchequer. [27427/11]

The Programme for Government states that as part of the Government's fiscal strategy we will maintain the current rates of income tax together with bands and credits. However, the position is that all taxation measures will be considered in the context of the forthcoming Budget and Finance Bill. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year yield to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to 2012 incomes, of the restricting or abolishing the main personal and employee tax credits as suggested in the question for income earners earning in excess of €100,000 would be of the order of €135 million.

This figure is an estimate from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2009 adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends for the year 2012. It is therefore provisional and likely to be revised.

Trust Funds

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

178 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if there is an estimate of the funds held in trust funds in this State. [27429/11]

I am informed by the Central Bank that it does not hold or require regulated firms to provide it with any information in respect of funds held in trust funds in this State. Section 46(15) Capital Acquisition Tax Consolidation Act provides that the Revenue Commissioners must be informed when property becomes subject to a discretionary trust. However, this information would only relate to a small proportion of trusts and Revenue does not maintain any data system from which the information sought on funds held in trust funds in the State could be derived.

Tax Code

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

179 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he has examined the potential to tax online gambling; and the estimated return to the Exchequer if a 5% tax was placed on each bet made here regardless of the company handling the transaction online. [27430/11]

The Finance Act 2011 contains legislation that, subject to a Ministerial Commencement Order, provides for the extension of the 1% betting duty to remote bookmakers and a 15% gross profits tax on betting exchanges that offer their services to consumers within the State. The tax changes provided for in the Finance Act can only be implemented once the Betting (Amendment) Bill, which will provide for a regulatory and licensing regime, is enacted. The Betting (Amendment) Bill 2011 is currently at an advanced stage of drafting. It is expected that by including this high-growth area of the betting sector, particularly given the increasing prevalence of smart phones, the tax base from betting will be boosted significantly. In a full year it is expected that the tax yield could grow up to €20 million depending on the prevailing market conditions.

Just as important is the positive signal this measure will convey to international betting operations that have expressed an interest in or have already invested in Ireland. A location with an appropriate licensing framework coupled with relatively low taxes provides real investment and employment opportunities in this sector.

It should be borne in mind that a 5% tax on turnover would equate to around a 50% tax on profits (based on a bookmaker operating on a 10% gross profit margin) and would be in addition to corporation tax etc. While such a tax rate may, in theory, increase the potential yield, it is very likely that the overall benefit to the Exchequer would be negative due to lack of investment by firms, a reduction in current employment levels and by potential tax avoidance by firms located outside the State. On the other hand, if the tax was to be placed on the punter, there would be a strong incentive to seek out unlicensed bookmakers thereby leading to tax leakage.

Enforcement and compliance will be a critical area if the taxation of online betting is to be successful and that is why the tax levels provided for in the Finance Act 2011 are deemed appropriate together with providing for an environment that would attract future investment and employment opportunities.

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

180 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance his views that the current system of carrying forward investment losses for the purposes of avoiding capital gains tax can be continued; if he will consider a time limit for the carrying forward of these losses; and the estimated savings to the Exchequer if this facility was limited at five years. [27431/11]

A provision for allowing losses to be offset against profits or gains is common to a number of taxes, including Income Tax and Corporation Tax as well as Capital Gains Tax (CGT); and there is no time limit for carrying forward losses under any of these taxheads. A chargeable loss arises if a taxpayer disposes of an asset for less than the cost of acquisition — in other words, if the asset has declined in value. Therefore Capital losses are not being made to avoid CGT per se. However, many assets have declined significantly in value and claims for capital losses have the potential to affect the CGT yield.

The Deputy will be aware that the Memorandum of Understanding with the ECB, EU and IMF provides for a reform of CGT. The level and timeframe of any changes will be determined in the context of the Budget following the comprehensive expenditure review.

It is not possible to estimate the yield from limiting loss relief claims as suggested by the Deputy.

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

181 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the potential savings to the Exchequer in limiting the time period over which businesses can carry forward profits for investment purposes capital allowances to five years. [27444/11]

I assume the Deputy is referring to the imposition of a time limit on the carry forward of losses in circumstances where a business does not have sufficient profits against which to offset capital allowances. In computing the trading profits of a business for tax purposes, deductions are not generally available for capital expenditure, whether in respect of the cost of capital assets purchased or by way of depreciation. However, deductions in the form of capital allowances may be made for certain types of capital expenditure as specified in the Tax Acts. In the case of companies, capital allowances are treated as a trading expense of the trade and, where the amount of capital allowances for an accounting period exceeds the trading profits against which they are to be deducted as a trading expense, the excess is treated as a trading loss for that period.

Under existing loss relief provisions in the Tax Acts, any unrelieved trading losses of a company for an accounting period may be carried forward for offset against trading income of the same trade in future accounting periods. No distinction is made in this regard between losses incurred as part of normal trading and losses generated as a result of insufficient profits to absorb capital allowances in an accounting period.

While trading losses carried forward may only be offset against future trading income of the same trade and not against any other profits, there is no time limit on the carry forward of such losses and any unused trading losses may be carried forward indefinitely until they are fully offset or the trade ceases. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the potential saving to the Exchequer if a five year time limit were to be imposed on the carry forward of trading losses would depend on the future profitability of businesses carrying losses forward and their capacity to utilise such losses within a five year timeframe. As it is not possible to anticipate what this might be, an estimate of the potential saving is not available.

Tax Clearance Certificates

Jack Wall

Ceist:

182 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) is due a rebate of tax payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27445/11]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, if the person concerned is still in employment, he should contact his employer in relation to any possible tax rebate. If this person has ceased employment, he should submit a completed Form P50 with P45, parts 2 & 3 to the Revenue Commissioners and a review of his tax position will be undertaken. These forms should be submitted to the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, East & South East Region, PAYE Mail Centre, P.O. Box 1, Rosslare Harbour, Co.Wexford.

EU-IMF Programme

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

183 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if the implementation of the programme for Government may be affected by the EU-IMF deal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19810/11]

The Programme for Government represents the Government's agreed policy agenda. The policies set out in it are designed to facilitate economic growth, restore confidence, fix the banking system, bring order to our public finances, and support the creation of jobs. The Programme for Government explicitly states its support for the objectives of the EU-IMF programme. The EU-IMF Programme of financial support represents a three year programme aimed at restructuring and recapitalising the financial system, achieving fiscal sustainability and returning the Irish economy to growth. It is providing a significant amount of funding — €67.5 billion of external funding — at rates which are considerably lower than those available to us in the financial markets. This funding supports the objectives of the Programme for Government and without it the scope for Government policy actions would be considerably more constrained.

The financial support is provided on the basis of policy conditionality relating to fiscal consolidation, financial sector restructuring, structural reform and structural fiscal reform. An integral part of the EU — IMF programme is our commitment to consult with the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF on the adoption of policies that are not consistent with the EU/IMF Programme.

From my dealings to date, I have found the Programme partners are open to changes in the actions and conditions set out in the EU/IMF Programme provided any such changes are accompanied by compensatory measures of equal value or effect. The primary forum for such consultation is the quarterly review missions with the Programme partners, the fourth of which takes place from the 11th to the 21st of October 2011. These review missions provide an opportunity to consult with the Programme partners on the various measures set out in the Memorandum of Understanding and Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies. In this context, I would remind the Deputy that the Government has already successfully renegotiated elements of the Programme — for example the Jobs initiative, the ending of further asset transfers to NAMA, and reversal of the Minimum Wage cut. More recently, we have successfully renegotiated the interest rate charged for the loans along with important changes and improvements to the EU's EFSF funding facility. For the forthcoming review, the Government focus will be on issues such as the composition of fiscal policy both for Budget 2012 and for the medium terms along with issues such as asset disposals.

Question No. 184 answered with Question No. 163.
Question No. 185 answered with Question No. 169.

Fiscal Policy

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

186 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if he has read the National Economic and Social Council paper, “Ireland’s Economic Recovery — An Analysis and Exploration”; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24753/11]

The report to which the Deputy refers was published on 27 July this year by the Secretariat of the National Economic and Social Council. It was not published under the Council's name, and therefore the views expressed in it are those of the authors and do not represent the collective view of the Council. For this reason it was not subject to a Government decision prior to publication. However, in accordance with the usual practice for NESC papers, it has been disseminated within, and examined by, my Department. The paper provides an account of how four years into the crisis, the Irish economy has begun to show tentative signs of recovery, before going on to set out the changing policy positions of both supporters and opponents of the EU/IMF programme of Financial Assistance. It is generally positive in tone, and is largely in line with the views of many commentators and analysts.

In support of its argument that there are some signs of an economic recovery (albeit a fragile one) it cites rising exports, a recovery in investment, falling costs, a slowing of employment contraction and growth in the net financial worth of households (excluding household assets).

The NESC Secretariat also outlines five related "elements" that it says are necessary for the EU/IMF programme to work. These are that Ireland should—

(i) continue fiscal adjustment and reform, by achieving a balance between expenditure and revenue measures;

(ii) "work relentlessly to revive sustainable growth";

(iii) "make social solidarity a core concern to ensure fairness and unity of purpose";

(iv) "address developmental constraints which have the potential to undermine the long term recovery of the economy and society"; and,

(v) "work to promote a comprehensive EU and international financial resolution".

I consider that the paper represents a fair assessment of Ireland's economic progress over the last four years and that it provides support for the Government's policies to secure recovery.

EU-IMF Programme

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

187 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance his response to the IMF report of 20 September 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26072/11]

The report referred to is the International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook (WEO) published on 20 September 2011. The IMF considers that the recovery of the global economy has weakened considerably, and downside risks have increased sharply. The IMF forecasts world growth of about 4% in both 2011 and 2012 (revised down from 4.5% for both years in the April WEO forecast). However, they point to the recovery being very unbalanced — with growth of 6.4% forecast for emerging market countries for 2011, but only 1.6% for advanced economies. The European Commission in its Interim Forecast published on 15 September also revised down its forecast for global output to 4% in 2011. Reflecting this weaker global outlook, the Fund revised down its growth projections for the Irish economy in 2011 and 2012. It now expects growth of 0.4% this year and 1.5% next year, representing downward revisions of 0.1% and 0.4%, respectively, from those published in the previous WEO in April. It is important to note, however, that these revisions were made prior to the release of second quarter national accounts data by the Central Statistics Office which confirmed that the Irish economy grew at a very strong pace in the first half of this year. Real GDP increased by 1.9% and 1.6% in the first and second quarters respectively (on a quarter-on-quarter basis). Furthermore, the Fund continues to anticipate average annual growth of around 3% in the Irish economy over the medium term (2013 to 2016).

The IMF is forecasting GDP growth in the euro area of 1.6% in 2011 (unchanged from its April WEO) and 1.1% in 2012 (revised down from an April forecast of 1.8% in 2012). They consider that high public deficits and debt, lower potential output, and mounting market tensions are weighing on growth in much of advanced Europe. Their forecast is for a slowdown in activity for much of Europe, with risks to the downside. The EU Commission in their Interim Forecast showed that economic growth in the EU and the euro zone slowed down considerably in the second quarter of 2011 but said that, due to the stronger-than-expected first quarter, GDP growth in the euro area for 2011 as a whole is set to remain unchanged from their spring 2011 forecast at 1.6%. The Commission considers that, although risks to growth have increased in the EU, a double dip recession is not likely.

National Asset Management Agency

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

188 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance if the National Asset Management Agency can confirm if they will be making properties available to local community organisations for various community uses, in particular, if they have any properties available at a location (details supplied) in County Kerry. [27526/11]

NAMA has a commercial remit and a statutory objective to generate a return for the taxpayer. However, within the context of its commercial remit and consistent with section 2 of the National Asset Management Agency Act 2009, NAMA is at all times open to considering proposals aimed at contributing to broader social and economic objectives. Thus NAMA is open to facilitating the work of public and community bodies in the creation of vibrant sustainable communities where this is possible. The NAMA Board has committed to giving first option to State bodies on the purchase of property which may be suitable for their purposes where these bodies have requirements such as schools, hospitals, parks, and so on. I understand that officials of NAMA have already had contact with officials of the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, Department of Education and Skills, the HSE, local authorities and other public bodies to explore the scope for such arrangements.

Any local community organization such as the one mentioned by the Deputy, which has a proposal which it wishes to put to NAMA should contact the Portfolio Management unit within NAMA. The NAMA Chairman recently informed the Joint Committee on Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform that engagement with community groups with regard to land has happened and will continue to happen. He informed the Committee that NAMA would not give away land but should a community group have an interest in a particular piece of land or property or wishes to extend a sports pitch it should speak with NAMA.

In the context of social objectives, I would add that NAMA concluded the sale of 58 social and affordable units to the Cluid Housing association in July. The agency has provided a list of over 1,000 other properties to the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, which that Department is examining for suitability. I am informed by NAMA that an official from the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency is currently on an assignment in NAMA to review the suitability of available property with the NAMA portfolio team.

Tax Code

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

189 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider a reduction in the VAT rate of personal protective equipment to encourage more persons to avail of such equipment; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that in the UK the VAT rate on such items is 0%; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that motorcyclists account for 1% to 2% of our road users but 12% of all fatalities and 5% of all casualties from 2000 to 2009 and the benefit a reduction in VAT would have to these road users; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27550/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) clothing for children up to 10 years of age is liable to VAT at the zero rate in accordance with paragraph 10(1) of Schedule 2 of the Value-Added Tax Consolidation Act 2010. The supply of PPE clothing for children older than 10 years and adults is liable to VAT at the standard rate of 21% as provided for in Section 46(1)(a) of the VAT Consolidation Act. The application of a reduced rate of VAT in Ireland to the supply of PPE clothing to older children and adults is prohibited by the EU VAT Directive, with which Irish VAT law must comply. Article 110 of that Directive provides that Member States which, at 1 January 1991, applied a zero rate or a reduced rate of VAT could continue to apply those rates. The standard rate of VAT applied to older children and adult PPE clothing at 1 January 1991 so Ireland could not and cannot apply a VAT rate lower than the standard rate to these items. I understand that in the UK, as in Ireland, all PPE clothing supplied to children up to 10 years is zero rated and that older children and adult helmets and boots only that meet recognised PPE standards are liable at the zero rate. The UK can apply the zero rate to PPE helmets and boots as they applied such a rate to them on at 1 January 1991, as provided for under Article 110.

Financial Services Regulation

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Ceist:

190 Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the new corporate structure that was put in place to facilitate the restructuring of the Quinn Group debt; if new companies were formed for the division of Quinn Group assets and liabilities when it was divided into manufacturing and non-core parts; the percentage of the €588 million now owed by Quinn Group under the non-core entity that has been written off; if the bondholders still have a call on the entire €588 million; the value that was placed on the entire Quinn Group when the bondholders were allocated a 25% shareholding; if any other entity is owed any part of the €588 million which was transferred to the non-core part of the new arrangement and if this debt appears as an asset on the balance sheet of any other company or person; if the Quinn Group records any portion of the €588 million debt on its balance sheet or on the balance sheet of any of its subsidiaries; the fee structure being charged by the receivers who now run the Quinn Group; if any part of the €588 million of the Quinn Group debt has been moved to the balance sheet of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation formerly Anglo Irish Bank in the overall deal with the banks and bondholders; if so, if this has increased the liabilities for the taxpayers of the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27577/11]

The Deputy will appreciate that discussions in relation to the restructuring of Quinn Group debt are ongoing. We have been informed by the bank that details of the ongoing discussions with the senior creditors are commercially sensitive. Nonetheless, the bank has informed me that the proposed arrangements envisage the establishment of some new entities. The split, or tranching, of the debt has yet to be decided. We understand from the bank that it is not envisaged that any of this Quinn debt will be written off and that the bondholders will continue to have a call on the debt due from the Quinn Group. The Quinn debt will therefore remain as an obligation of the Quinn Group to the senior creditors and can, if appropriate, be carried by subsidiaries of the Quinn Group. The bank has made it clear that it has not taken on any of the Quinn Group's obligations to the senior creditors. The bank has also indicated that the valuation of the Quinn Group for the purposes of this proposed arrangement is commercially sensitive and cannot be disclosed. Finally, we understand from the bank that KPMG, as the Share Receivers appointed by Anglo Irish Bank, are paid in a manner customary with arrangements of this nature.

The Deputy will be aware that this restructuring is very much a commercial decision for the bank and one to which I have no direct input and is intended to give the Quinn Group grounds for hope of a viable future. It is important to state clearly to the House that a viable future however depends to a large degree on market conditions and a willingness by everybody to engage wholeheartedly with the new ownership arrangements, and to begin to put their energies into growing the business. Market conditions and cooperation generally are critical to the performance of the Group and to the retention of jobs in the local communities on both sides of the border.

Question No. 191 answered with Question No. 127.

Tax Code

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

192 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details, including dates, of all meetings which officials in his Department have attended on the issue of the introduction of a common consolidated corporate tax base; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27579/11]

The draft proposal for a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) was published by the European Commission on 16 March this year. Since then, officials from my Department and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners have attended meetings on the subject matter of the CCCTB on five occasions. The first of those meetings was a meeting of the Council High Level Group on Taxation held on 28 April this year. The other four meetings were all meetings of the Council Working Party on Tax Questions which were held on 5 May, 31 May, 19 July and 6 September this year.

National Asset Management Agency

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

193 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he supports National Asset Management Agency’s plan to establish a deferred purchase scheme for residential properties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27584/11]

The deferred consideration initiative was recently approved by the NAMA Board and the agency has written to me seeking my agreement to the initiative commencing. The details of the initiative are currently being reviewed within my Department and I will respond to NAMA when that review has been completed.

Departmental Expenditure

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

194 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount that has been paid to each of the following firms (details supplied) for professional services on the banking crisis since 2008 including any amounts, shown separately, paid by his Department, the Central Bank of Ireland, the National Treasury Management Agency and the National Pensions Reserve Fund, or by the covered institutions themselves. [27585/11]

The Deputy has requested information in relation to payments made by the Department of Finance, the Central Bank, the NTMA and the NPRF to a number of firms. It is not possible to provide all this information in a short time frame. I have however requested this information from the relevant bodies and will send it to the Deputy shortly.

I can however inform the Deputy that my Department has made the following payments for professional services on the banking crisis since 2008.

Consultant

2008

2009

2010

To August 2011

Description of advice provided

Mercer (Ireland) Ltd.

€3,308

Advice to CIROC

Watson (Wyatt) Ltd.

€7,290

Advice to CIROC

Hay Group Ireland Ltd.

€4,860

Advice to CIROC

Arthur Cox Solicitors

€1,628,024

€4,173,689

€4,804,884.17

€693,179.42

Legal advice in relation to the Bank Guarantee Scheme; Eligible Liabilities Guarantee (ELG), recapitalization and restructuring issues; general banking advice.

PricewaterhouseCoopers

€118,580

Professional Fees in respect of accounting advice on promissory notes.

The financial institutions covered by the State Guarantee use consultants in respect of many aspects of their operations. The Department of Finance does not compile a list of these consultants. I do however expect the banks to continue to control and reduce their cost base and ensure that they achieve value for money when engaging consultants.

State Banking Sector

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

195 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance his plans to introduce new measures to ensure viable businesses are supported by the banks that are controlled or partly owned by the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27607/11]

The restructuring of the domestic banking sector creates capacity for the pillar banks to lend in excess of €30 billion over the next three years in SME and other important sectors. This is in excess of Central Bank estimates of the likely demand for SME and mortgage credit over this period. Both pillar banks are concentrating on the Irish economy and need to issue credit to make profits and rebuild their balance sheets. As the Deputy may be aware, the Government has imposed lending targets on the two domestic pillar banks for the three calendar years, 2011 to 2013. Both banks will be required to sanction lending of at least €3 billion this year, €3.5 billion next year and €4 billion in 2013 for new or increased credit facilities to SMEs.

Both pillar banks have provided me with their plans to ensure that the 2011 target is achieved. This is particularly relevant given the comments contained in the fifth quarterly report of the Credit Review Office, which stated that "it will be a challenge for each of the banks to reach their €3bn sanction target for new and restructured facilities in the current year."

On the issue more generally of the demand for credit, my Department is in the process of commissioning an independent survey of the demand for credit within the SME sector. The outcome will provide the necessary information to better inform Government policy in this important sector of the Irish economy.

It is vital that the banks continue to make credit available to support economic recovery. However, it is not in the interest of the banks, businesses or the economy for finance to be provided unless the business is viable and has the capacity to meet the interest payments and repay the sum borrowed.

The Deputy should also be aware of the plans of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to introduce a temporary partial loan guarantee scheme, which is a commitment included in the Programme for Government, and work is advancing on the arrangements for the introduction of this scheme.

Economic Competitiveness

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

196 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if he will set out his priorities in the context of his targets to create the atmosphere for economic revival and competitiveness in the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20370/11]

The Deputy will be aware that this Government's overriding aim is to return the economy to sustainable growth which will underpin an improvement in the labour market. There are three key conditions for doing so:

restoring order to the public finances,

a functioning banking system, and

improving competitiveness.

The Government is committed to restoring order to the public finances and to reducing the General Government deficit to less than 3% of GDP by 2015. Significant budgetary adjustments have already been implemented, and while progress has been made in tackling and stabilising the deficit, further measures will be required to keep the corrective process on track.

A functioning, well capitalised banking sector is a prerequisite for a sustainable economic recovery. The Government has taken concrete steps to ensure that the Irish banking system is fit for purpose, right sized, adequately capitalised and with a focus on the Irish economy.

As our recovery will be export led, it is crucial that the competitiveness gains made in the last number of years be sustained. To this end, both the Programme for Government and the EU/IMF Programme outline a series of structural reforms, which will help to further restore competitiveness and support economic growth. These include:

a comprehensive review of the REA & EROs which has been completed

legislative changes to remove restrictions to trade and competition in sheltered sectors which is in process

review of the electricity and gas sectors which will be undertaken before year end

All of the above are having the desired effect — the latest figures from the CSO show that the economy is growing once again, led by exports. Despite this, the Government is not complacent and is well aware that further improvements in our competitiveness are essential to ensure a sustained recovery.

State Banking Sector

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

197 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Finance the action that he has taken to assist in the establishment of a strategic investment bank as outlined in the programme for Government. [21149/11]

As I said in a reply to a question from Deputy Nash on 27 September last, ensuring that a strategic investment bank is operating in the domestic banking market, providing finance to large capital projects and acting as a conduit for venture capital as well as a lender to SMEs, is an objective in the Programme for Government. A comprehensive programme of bank recapitalisation and restructuring is currently underway following my statement on the future banking landscape in Ireland at the end of March last. The essential detailed assessment and planning work to meet this objective will be accelerated once the Government's key objectives for the renewal of the banking system, which are ahead of schedule, have been completed. This assessment will include the strategic investment bank's relationship with the two pillar banks and the timeline for its establishment.

As regards the support of small and medium enterprises in general, the restructuring of the domestic banking sector creates capacity for the pillar banks to lend in excess of €30 billion over the next three years in SME and other important sectors. This is in excess of Central Bank estimates of the likely demand for SME and mortgage credit over this period. Both pillar banks are concentrating on the Irish economy and need to issue credit to make profits and rebuild their balance sheets.

As the Deputy may be aware, the Government has imposed lending targets on the two domestic pillar banks for the three calendar years, 2011 to 2013. Both banks will be required to sanction lending of at least €3 billion this year, €3.5 billion next year and €4 billion in 2013 for new or increased credit facilities to SMEs.

FÁS Training Programmes

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

198 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the promised FÁS course to prepare workers for water metering installation will commence in view of the fact that this is likely to provide work for some of the many unemployed construction workers but has been postponed on several occasions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27014/11]

I understand that FÁS does not envisage a need in the short-term to run courses in water meter installation.

FÁS considers that there are currently many unemployed, underemployed and employed qualified plumbers with the necessary skills to install water meters.

If a shortage of these skills arises in the future, FÁS will, of course, re-consider investing resources into the provision of such courses.

Special Educational Needs

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

199 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost per annum of 227 special needs assistants posts. [27682/11]

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

200 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Education and Skills the net cost per annum, after increased tax revenue and reduced social protection costs of 227 special needs assistants posts. [27683/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 199 and 200 together.

Special Needs Assistants are paid on 12 point salary scale ranging from €23,188 to €35,919 for those whose first appointment was prior to 1st January 2011 (full details in Circular 05/2010 hereunder). For those Special Needs Assistants whose first appointment was on or after 1st January 2011, the salary scale ranges from €20,869 to €32,327 (full details in Circular 41/2011 hereunder).

All Special Needs Assistants commence employment at the first point of the relevant salary scale and move up one point for each year of service. After 3 years on the maximum of the scale, Special Needs Assistants receive a Long Service Increment of €1,420 if their first appointment was prior to 1st January 2011 or €1,278 if their first appointment was on or after 1st January 2011.

It is not possible to accurately provide the net cost of salary for 226 Special Needs Assistants. This is because the rate at which statutory deductions such as income tax, PRSI and Universal Social Charge are deducted are individual to each Special Needs Assistant depending on their individual circumstances.

I am presuming the Deputy is referring to the posts which were absorbed within the cap for Special Needs Assistants following the successful transition of 13 pilot ABA schools (226 posts). These posts operated outside of the Employment Control Framework limits set for the SNA post prior to being fully recognised special schools within the state education system. In order to successfully accommodate these new schools, which are a welcome addition to the growing diversity of provision for children with special educational needs, it was necessary to absorb these 226 posts within the cap imposed by the EU/IMF Memorandum of Understanding. The alternative would have been to not recognise these 13 pilot schools and to deny them the support and recognition which they deserve.

Circular 0005/2010

To the Management Authorities of Primary, Secondary, Community and Comprehensive Schools and the Chief Executive Officer of each Vocational Education Committee Revision of Salaries for Special Needs Assistants with effect from 1 January 2010

1. The Minister for Education and Science wishes to inform Vocational Education Committees, Management Authorities and Special Needs Assistants of the application of revised rates of salary with effect from 1 January 2010.

2. The new rates of salary and allowances have been introduced as a result of the application in the education sector of pay reductions with effect from 1st January 2010 in accordance with the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009 (No. 41 of 2009) (The "Act").

3. In accordance with the Act, reductions in basic salary have been applied with effect from 1st January 2010 as follows:-

a. 5% on the first €30,000 of salary;

b. 7.5% on the next €40,000 of salary;

c. 10% on the next €55,000 of salary;

d. This formula produces overall reductions in salaries ranging from 5% to 8% in the case of salaries up to €125,000.

4. The revised salary scales are set out in a schedule to this circular on this Department's website at www.education.ie under Education Personnel/Payroll.

5. Vocational Education Committees and management authorities are requested to bring the contents of this Circular to the attention of all Special Needs Assistants in their school and also to the members of the Board of Management.

P. Maloney

Principal Officer.

January 2010.

Circular 0041/2011

To: The Managerial Authorities of Recognised Primary, Secondary, Community and Comprehensive Schools and The Chief Executive Officers of Vocational Education Committees New Pay Scales for New Special Needs Assistants in 2011

Introduction

1. The Minister for Education and Skills wishes to inform vocational education committees, management bodies and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) of the application of revised rates of salary for new appointees as SNAs from 1 January 2011 onwards.

2. As part of Budget 2011 the Government has applied a 10% reduction in the pay of new entrants to the public service (referred to in this Circular as "new appointees") and all new appointees to the entry grades of the public service must start at the first point of the relevant pay scale with effect from 1 January 2011.

Application of new pay rates

3. The revised pay scale for SNAs is set out in an Appendix to this Circular and can be accessed by clicking here.

New appointee to the SNA Grade

4. The new pay rates apply to all SNAs who are new appointees appointed on or after 1 January 2011.

5. Where a person gave service as an SNA before 1 January 2011 (including those currently on an approved leave of absence), s/he will not be regarded as a new appointee. In addition, a person with a written offer of employment before 1 January 2011 will not be regarded as a new appointee. In these cases, the person will be assigned to the appropriate pre-1 January 2011 scale and allowances, and incremental credit for previous SNA service and other experience which is deemed relevant will be awardable.

6. Where an SNA who is retired and is in receipt of a pension returns to the position of an SNA on or after 1 January 2011, s/he will start on the first point of the post 1 January 2011 incremental salary scale.

Incremental credit

7. All new appointees to SNA positions will start on the first point of the incremental salary scale. The Government has decided that all new appointees to entry grades (subject to the criteria set out above) will start at the minimum point of the new reduced scale.

8. However, incremental credit may continue to apply for relevant recognised service. Similarly, those who leave the system will be able to reckon such previous relevant service on re-entry.

Circulation

9. Please ensure that copies of this Circular are provided to the Board of Management/Vocational Education Committee and its contents are brought to the attention of all SNAs in your employment including those on leave of absence.

10. This Circular can be accessed on the Department's website under http:// www.education.ie.

11. All enquiries regarding this Circular should be e-mailed to teachersna@education.gov.ie OR payroll@education.gov.ie.

Dalton Tattan

Padraig Maloney

Principal Officer

Principal Officer

Teachers/SNAs Terms and Conditions

Section Payroll Division

June 2011

June 2011

Appendix I

Pay Scales for new Special Needs Assistants appointed on or after 1 January 2011

Special Needs Assistants (New Appointees post 1/1/11)

Point 1

20,869

Point 2

21,850

Point 3

22,826

Point 4

23,807

Point 5

24,788

Point 6

25,763

Point 7

26,715

Point 8

27,664

Point 9

28,620

Point 10

29,571

Point 11

30,527

Point 12

32,327

Long Service Increment

33,605

Part Time Hourly Rates (New Recruits post 1/1/11)

Point 1

12.50

Point 2

13.09

Point 3

13.67

Point 4

14.26

Point 5

14.85

Point 6

15.43

Point 7

16.00

Point 8

16.57

Point 9

17.14

Point 10

17.71

Point 11

18.28

Point 12

19.36

Long Service Increment

20.13

Appendix II

Frequently Asked Questions

I am a new SNA who has never worked as an SNA before — Which pay scale will I start on?

Only service given as an SNA pre-1 January 2011 will count as prior service for eligibility for pre-2011 pay scales. If you have not served in an SNA position before 1 January 2011 you will be offered a contract at the new pay rates and conditions. No incremental credit is awarded for any training prior to entry to the position of SNA.

I am an SNA who worked in Ireland as an SNA in 2001 but I have been in the UK for the past number of years — Which pay scale will I start on?

You worked in an SNA position prior to 1 January 2011. You will therefore be offered a contract at pre-2011 pay rates and conditions. Your work in the UK may be reckonable for incremental credit purposes.

I am an SNA who worked in the EU for the past number of years. I have never worked in a SNA position in the public service in Ireland but am due to start in May 2011 — Which pay scale will I start on?

You are a new appointee to the SNA position in Ireland. You will begin on the first point of the January 2011 pay scale. Employment in another country prior to your first entry to the position of SNA in Ireland may be reckonable subject to certain conditions.

I am an SNA who has prior public sector experience as a Nurse. I will begin as an SNA in May 2011 — Which pay scale will I start on?

You are a new appointee to the position of SNA. You will therefore be offered a contract at January 2011 pay rates and conditions. This applies also to SNAs who are moving to take up a post in other positions (eg teachers, administrators, etc). You may be entitled to certain incremental credit in respect of your service as a Nurse.

I have been employed as an SNA in the private sector for 5 years. I will begin as an SNA in the public sector in May 2011 — What will my starting salary be?

You are a new appointee under the recent Government Decision. You will therefore be offered a contract at the first point of the January 2011 pay rates and conditions. You may be entitled to incremental credit in respect of your private sector service, subject to certain conditions.

I am an SNA who was employed with a Vocational Education Committee since September 2005. I resigned from my post with the VEC in November 2010. I expect to take up an SNA post in a Voluntary Secondary school in September 2011. Which pay scale will I be paid on?

You worked in the position of SNA prior to 1 January 2011. You will therefore be offered a contract at pre-2011 pay rates and conditions if you resume work as an SNA in a voluntary secondary school in September 2011. Your service with the VEC will be reckonable for incremental credit purposes.

Schools Building Projects

Patrick Deering

Ceist:

201 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a decision has been made regarding a request by a school (details supplied) for funding to complete building works as approved recently under the additional accommodation scheme. [26880/11]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that funding requested under the Additional Accommodation Scheme for works associated with the building project at this school has been approved. The school authorities have been notified accordingly.

Schools Refurbishment

Patrick Deering

Ceist:

202 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason minor works have been left off the schedule of grants for primary schools in 2011-12; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26881/11]

No decisions have yet been taken regarding the payment of the primary school minor works grant in the current school year. Consequently, reference to the grant was excluded from the annual schedule of grants for primary schools in respect of the school year 2011/2012.

School Management

Patrick Deering

Ceist:

203 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the boards of management for primary schools will be changing on 1 December 2011; or if they will be delayed due to the forum on patronage and pluralism. [26882/11]

The term of office of new boards of management of primary schools will commence on 1 December 2011. My Department has this week issued Circular Letter 0064/2011 to all primary schools advising that the election/nomination processes for the appointment of new boards must now commence. My Department has also published the updated booklet "Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure 2011" which sets out the provisions governing the composition, appointment and functioning of new Boards. These provisions will apply to all new Boards assuming office from 1 December 2011. The circular and the booklet are now available on my Department's website at www.education.ie.

Departmental Expenditure

Patrick Deering

Ceist:

204 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of money that has been spent or allocated to date in 2011 under the additional accommodation scheme. [26883/11]

The total amount allocated to date under the 2011 Additional Accommodation Scheme amounts to €34.8 million of which €4.5 million has been expended. A further €32.8 million has been expended to date this year in respect of commitments arising from Additional Accommodation Schemes approved prior to 2011.

Schools Building Projects

Patrick Deering

Ceist:

205 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to accommodate the increase expected in secondary school attendance over the next five years at a school (details supplied) in County Carlow. [26885/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, a major project for the school to which he refers was included on the list of projects on the work programme for 2011, which was announced on 24 January last, where briefs will be formulated in 2011 and the process of appointing a Design Team will commence.

In order to progress the project, my Department requested additional information from the school authorities in July. Follow up contact has since been made with the school to secure this information. As soon as a response is received from the school, the project can be progressed to the next stage of the architectural planning process.

Special Educational Needs

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

206 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a special needs assistant will be provided to a child (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26923/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts.

The NCSE has now advised all mainstream schools, including the school referred to by the Deputy, of their SNA allocation for the current school year, taking into account the care needs of qualifying pupils attending the school.

The NCSE has recently published statistical information in relation to the allocation of Special Needs Assistant posts and resource teaching hours to Primary Special and Post Primary Schools. The information is provided on a county by county and school by school basis on its website at www.ncse.ie.

The school referred to by the Deputy has an allocation of 1 SNA post and 5.9 Resource Teaching Hours.

It is considered that, with equitable and careful management and distribution of these resources, there should be sufficient posts to provide access to SNA support for all children who require such care support to attend school, in accordance with Departmental criteria.

I wish to clarify that the recruitment and deployment of SNAs within schools are matters for the individual Principal/Board of Management. SNAs should be deployed by the school in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated. It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.

The NCSE will advise schools early in the new school year of a process to review allocation decisions to ensure that correct procedures were followed and that they comply with my Department's policy. The merits of individual allocation decisions will not be open to appeal under this mechanism.

It will be expected that schools, before requesting a review, will be in a position to demonstrate that they have made every effort to manage their allocation of SNA posts to best effect.

Higher Education Grants

Clare Daly

Ceist:

207 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of third level students who have been affected by the reduction of the non-adjacent rate of the maintenance grant; and the estimated amount that the Exchequer will save in 2011 and 2012 from this reduction if it remains in place. [26942/11]

Some 18,000 students qualifying for grant support are estimated to live between 24 kms and 45 kms from their colleges and it is estimated that some 6,900 mature students qualifying for grant support live 45 kilometres or less from their institution.

Students qualifying for the maintenance element of the student grant in these cohorts will receive the adjacent rate of grant together with payment of their fees or student contribution. Those on particularly low incomes will also continue to receive a "top-up" in the special rate of grant. In addition, third level students in difficult financial circumstances will have access to the Student Assistance Fund.

The new qualifying distance criterion for the non-adjacent rate of grant is expected to achieve a full year saving of €30 million and removing the automatic eligibility of mature students to the higher non-adjacent rate of grant is expected to achieve a full year saving of €13 million.

As the previous Government had factored in the savings from these changes to the public expenditure programme for 2011, I regret that I am not in a position to reverse or vary them.

Radioactive Waste

Kevin Humphreys

Ceist:

208 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Education and Skills if research grants, funded by the State or other bodies, that are awarded to research laboratories in institutions of higher education must include the disposal costs of any radioactive materials used in the course of that work; his views on whether they should; his plans to ensure the costs of disposal are factored into grants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26972/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Ceist:

209 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to put in place a disposal programme for radioactive material either currently in storage or which may be produced in future at institutions of higher education and research; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26973/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Ceist:

210 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of radioactive material held by research institutions and universities of higher education under his aegis; if he will provide a breakdown of the amounts by institution; the disposal arrangements that are in place; the associated costs of storage and disposal of this material; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26974/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Ceist:

211 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the nuclear reactor components in storage in University College Cork have not been disposed of since their existence became public in 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26975/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Ceist:

212 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Education and Skills the date on which the nuclear reactor components in storage at University College Cork were last inspected by the European Atomic Energy Community; if any Irish body monitors and inspects this material to check its security and impact on health; the safety measures taken to protect staff and workers in UCC; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26976/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Ceist:

214 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the nuclear reactor components mentioned in a 2003 article (details attached) are still in storage at University College Cork; his plans to dispose of the remaining uranium fuel rods and associated fissile material including plutonium; the body responsible for its disposal; the estimated costs associated with disposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26990/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 208 to 212, inclusive, and 214 together.

The management of radioactive waste is the responsibility of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government working in conjunction with the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII).

Information available from the RPII regarding disused radioactive waste in the country's education sector indicates that there are 2,037 sources held at 17 institutions. These sources are held in dedicated storage facilities. Further information and details are available from the RPII directly. I am pleased to advise the Deputy that based on advice received from the RPII these disused sources do not represent a hazard. The RPII is satisfied that all sources held under licence are stored safely and securely to meet licence requirements and to comply with national legislation. Regular inspections are carried out by the RPII of all licensees in this sector.

The stock of disused sources will not increase. It is a licensing requirement that an application to acquire new sealed sources is accompanied by a take back agreement whereby the supplier agrees to take back the source when it is no longer required. Funding the costs of returning material other than that used for research purposes rests with institutions. Since disbursing research grants is the responsibility of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the position in relation to returning material used for research purposes is a matter between that Department and institutions.

Earlier this year my Department introduced a scheme in the higher education sector whereby specific funding is available for the disposal of legacy disused sources. With the exception of stock at UCC, this scheme will remove all legacy disused sources through export by commercial operators. While exact costs of implementing this scheme are not currently available due to ongoing tendering action, initial indications are that costs will not be significant.

Concerning sources held at UCC, I am informed that the position is as follows: 1. Material in storage at UCC did not come from a nuclear reactor as has been suggested. It was originally incorporated into a device called a sub critical assembly (SCA), designed to be safely used in an open laboratory. The SCA was incapable of generating either heat or power. 2. The SCA was disassembled in the early 1980s and its radioactive components were placed in secure storage. UCC no longer has any use for this SCA and continues to endeavour to dispose of this material. In this regard, UCC in consultation with the RPII has made significant progress and UCC is hopeful that a resolution can be achieved shortly. It is too early to assess the costs that will be associated with disposal at this time.

The components of the SCA were last inspected by the European Atomic Energy Community on 6th October, 2010. The nuclear material is securely stored at UCC in a proprietary radioactive waste store built to a design approved by RPII. The material is held at UCC under licence from the RPII whose Inspectors regularly inspect this store in addition to inspections by the EU and by the IAEA. The radioactive material is stored under strict physical and electronic security including continuous CCTV monitoring. The store is only entered save for the purposes of inspection. I am assured by the RPII that radiation levels outside the store are negligible and pose no health hazard. 3. The RPII last inspected the waste store at UCC in June 2011 and was satisfied with the on-going security arrangements. Furthermore, the storage facility has been the subject of several security audits undertaken by the National Crime Prevention Unit of An Garda Síochána since November 2008.

Teaching Qualifications

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

213 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kerry is not eligible to be included on the supplementary panel, in view of the their experience and work history to date, if they will now be included; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26980/11]

The primary redeployment procedures are published on my Department's website.

Under these procedures, my Department provides supplementary panel rights for eligible fixed-term teachers who are currently employed in a primary school with between three and five years temporary service.

The teacher referred to by the Deputy does not meet these requirements and has been advised accordingly.

Question No. 214 answered with Question No. 208.

School Staffing

Patrick Deering

Ceist:

215 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a language support teacher will be appointed to a school (details supplied) in County Carlow. [26992/11]

My Department has received an application for part-time language support in respect of the school referred to by the Deputy for the 2011-2012 school year. Such applications relate to schools that have less than 14 eligible pupils for language support. Decisions on these applications were deferred until the Autumn, having regard to the overall level of demand for full-time language support and other upward pressures on teacher numbers within the context of operating under a fixed ceiling on teacher numbers.

The Department is not in a position to approve applications for part-time language support posts and individual schools will be notified accordingly.

School Transport

Jim Daly

Ceist:

216 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a remote area grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27004/11]

Under the terms of my Department's School Transport scheme, a pupil with special educational needs is eligible for school transport if s/he is attending the nearest recognised: mainstream school, special class/special school or a unit, that is or can be resourced, to meet the child's special educational needs under Department of Education and Skills criteria.

The pupil referred to does not meet the above criteria and is therefore not eligible for school transport or the payment of a grant towards the cost of private transport arrangements.

Furthermore, Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Schemes, on behalf of my Department, has advised that it is not feasible for the pupil in question to avail of concessionary transport as the service referred to is not routed or timetabled to meet this pupil's transport requirements.

Pension Provisions

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

217 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of revenue that could be raised in a 12 month period by applying a 0% rate of tax on the first €75,000 lump sum pension payment paid out to public and civil servants in his Department on retirement, then applying the lower rate of tax on the next €125,000 of the same payment, and applying the higher rate of tax on the remainder. [27059/11]

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

219 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of revenue that could have been raised between June 2010 and June 2011 if a 0% rate of tax on the first €75,000 lump sum pension payment on retirement of all public and civil servants in his Department had been applied during the same period; the effect of applying the lower rate of tax on the next €125,000 of the same payment, and applying the higher rate of tax on the remainder. [27091/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 217 and 219 together.

My Department administers the payment of retirement lump sums in respect of Primary, Secondary, Community and Comprehensive school teachers and special needs assistance in such schools together with certain school clerical and caretaking staff. It also administers the retirement gratuities of civil servants who retire from my Department.

Based on lump sums paid to those school staff referred to above for the 12 month period from June 2010 to June 2011, the estimated yield from applying rates of taxation of 20% and 41% to these lump sums, as set out in the question, would be of the order of €9 million. In addition it is estimated that €0.09 million would have been yielded in respect of gratuities paid in the period to civil servants on retirement from my Department.

It is estimated that in any twelve month period a broadly similar amount would be yielded where the numbers retiring remain constant.

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

218 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of retired public and civil servants from his Department that are currently in receipt of an annual pension of up to and including €30,000 per year, up to and including €50,000 per year, up to and including €70,000 per year, up to and including €90,000 per year, up to and including €100,000 per year, up to and including €120,000 per year, up to and including €140,000 per year, up to and including €160,000 per year, and the number in receipt of pensions in excess of €160,000 per year, in a tabular form. [27075/11]

My Department administers the payment of pension benefits to beneficiaries of the Primary, Secondary, Community and Comprehensive Teachers Superannuation schemes and certain other education personnel in primary and voluntary secondary schools, e.g. special needs assistants. Table A hereunder outlines the information sought by the Deputy in relation to these pension schemes.

The Office of the Paymaster General administers the payment of pension benefits to retired civil servants from my Department and public servants from certain bodies under my Department's auspices. Table B hereunder outlines the information sought by the Deputy in relation to these persons.

The Deputy should note that pensions for the majority of former employees of VECs and Institutes of Technology are paid by local authorities and information in relation to these persons is not readily available. However, the Paymaster General's Office is in the process of taking over this pension payment function and the figures in table B include employees who have heretofore been paid by 8 local authorities, as well as all recent retirees from VECs/IoTs.

Information in relation to pay or pensions in the public bodies under the remit of my Department is not readily available as the information is not collated centrally.

Table A

Pensioners paid via the Department of Education and Skills Pension Payroll1

Gross Annual Pension

Number of retired teaching and non teaching staff on 29th September 2011

Up to and including €30,000

7,274

€30,001 to €50,000

14,175

€50,001 to €70,000

286

€70,001 to €90,000

0

€90,001 to €100,000

0

€100,001 to €120,000

0

€120,001 to €140,000

0

€140,000 to €160,000

0

In excess of €160,000

0

1This covers teachers who have retired from Primary, Secondary, Community & Comprehensive Schools; retired special needs assistants from these schools; certain retired clerical staff from primary and voluntary secondary schools and certain retired Caretakers from primary schools.

Table B

Department of Education (including State Exams, NCCA, NEWB and Certain VEC/IOT)

Pension Range €

Numbers

under 30,000

1,595

30,000 to 50,000

1,076

50,000 to 70,000

157

70,000 to 90,000

19

90,000 to 100,000

Nil

100,000 to 120,000

4

120,000 to 140,000

Nil

140,000 to 160,000

Nil

160,000 upwards

Nil

Question No. 219 answered with Question No. 217.

Special Educational Needs

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

220 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Skills if full special needs assistant support will be restored to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 16; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27104/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts.

The NCSE has now advised all mainstream schools, including the school referred to by the Deputy, of their SNA allocation for the current school year, taking into account the care needs of qualifying pupils attending the school.

The NCSE has recently published statistical information in relation to the allocation of Special Needs Assistant posts and resource teaching hours to Primary Special and Post Primary Schools. The information is provided on a county by county and school by school basis on its website at www.ncse.ie.

The school referred to by the Deputy has an allocation of 10.15 SNA posts and 99.5 Resource Teaching Hours.

It is considered that, with equitable and careful management and distribution of these resources, there should be sufficient posts to provide access to SNA support for all children who require such care support to attend school, in accordance with Departmental criteria.

I wish to clarify that the recruitment and deployment of SNAs within schools are matters for the individual Principal/Board of Management. SNAs should be deployed by the school in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated. It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.

The NCSE will advise schools early in the new school year of a process to review allocation decisions to ensure that correct procedures were followed and that they comply with my Department's policy. The merits of individual allocation decisions will not be open to appeal under this mechanism.

It will be expected that schools, before requesting a review, will be in a position to demonstrate that they have made every effort to manage their allocation of SNA posts to best effect.

School Curriculum

Anne Ferris

Ceist:

221 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the reform of the core curriculum for the junior certificate and specifically the inclusion of geography as a core subject; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27111/11]

The NCCA has been asked to review the junior certificate and advise on the scope for reform designed to strengthen literacy and numeracy, embed key skills, promote active learning and enhanced creativity and innovation, and ensure appropriate ways of generating evidence of learning. Concerns have also been raised about curriculum overload, and rote learning.

The Council is currently finalising its advice to me on the direction of reform, in consultation with the partners in education. I expect to receive the advice shortly.

I am aware that teachers of geography have raised concerns that their subjects will no longer be compulsory. The requirement to study geography in a secondary school but to have different options in vocational schools is a historical anomaly which is no longer appropriate. I believe that students should have as wide a choice as is feasible in their schools given the overall level of student demand and interest, the teaching resources available, and the qualifications profile of staff. The importance of geography in promoting critical analysis skills, interculturalism, an understanding of human development, democracy, past and current world issues, and the skills for an environmentally sustainable life are fully appreciated.

FÁS Training Programmes

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

222 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide details of the tendering process undergone by FÁS for the barber training pilot scheme; where the scheme was advertised; the number of responses received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27114/11]

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

223 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the name of the organisation that FÁS has been dealing with in relation to the barber training pilot scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27115/11]

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

224 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the financial arrangements between FÁS and the barber training pilot scheme, including the cost of the scheme; the length of the training and the projected numbers of persons to be trained and a projected average cost per trainee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27116/11]

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

225 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the plans there are to allow additional training providers to tender for future barber training contracts with SOLAS or FÁS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27117/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 222 to 225, inclusive, together.

FÁS has received an unsolicited proposal from Barbers Lane Ltd. in relation to a pilot training programme for barbering. FÁS is currently reviewing this proposal and has engaged with the company in this regard.

In relation to procurement, there is a procedure within the FÁS contracted training procedures to pilot new training initiatives. This procedure allows for nomination of contractors for an initial pilot. Thereafter, all subsequent courses are subject to tendering as per the FÁS contracted training procedures with those contractors who are pre-qualified on the FÁS contracted trainer tendering list. As no contract has been entered into, details such as cost of the programme, duration and participant numbers are under consideration as part of this proposal.

Through the Government e-tender website FÁS recently invited training contractors, existing and new, to apply to become pre-qualified contractors and be put on the official FÁS contracted trainer list. The closing date for this application process was 31st August 2011 and applications received are currently being assessed by FÁS. The list will be advertised on a four year cycle. In the interim, any applications received after 31st of August 2011 will be reviewed periodically.

School Accommodation

Derek Nolan

Ceist:

226 Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his chair specifications comply with the Irish and European Standard which is I.S.EN 1729; if these are the same device specifications covered by the study by the National Back Pain Association in the UK which concluded that Irish school chairs are not conducive to posture; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27152/11]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that my Department's specifications require that all chairs supplied to primary and post-primary schools conform to the Irish (and European) Standard which is I.S. EN 1729 Furniture, Tables and Chairs for Educational Institutions. This is a recent standard dating from 2006.

Vocational Education Committees

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

227 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a headquarters has been identified for the new Mayo and Sligo VEC entity. [27231/11]

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

232 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills his role in determining the location for the head offices of amalgamated VECs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27336/11]

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

241 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to move the headquarters of the amalgamated Limerick City and County Vocational Education Committee’s to Limerick City. [27489/11]

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

243 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider moving the location of the amalgamated Limerick City and County VEC’s headquarters to Limerick City. [27494/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 227, 232, 241 and 243 together.

I am at present finalising my consideration of where the headquarters will be located and I expect to be in a position to communicate my decision for all of the mergers in the near future.

Third Level Courses

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

228 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide information on the numbers of students attending each university here; if he will categorise the students under the following subheadings, citizens of the Republic of Ireland, residents of Northern Ireland, citizens of the EU excluding Ireland and non-EU students; if he will subsection these figures in undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD categories; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27278/11]

I have asked the Higher Education Authority to provide me with a breakdown on student numbers in the format requested by the Deputy. This data are currently being collated by the HEA. I will forward the information to the Deputy as soon as it is to hand.

Scientific and Technological Fund

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

229 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the broadband contract for schools under the National Centre for Technology in Education is currently being advertised; the differences between the new tender and the previously awarded contract; if increased speeds at each school will be a priority for the new tender; if improved call-out and repair times to each school will be a part of the tender; if a minimum speed for each school will be specified for each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27280/11]

A request for tenders for broadband connectivity for schools is due to issue within the next month. As the request for tenders has not yet issued I am not in a position to go into detail on the specifics of the document.

No school will be provided with an inferior service to what is currently in place, and where possible improved services for schools will be awarded within budgetary constraints.

Departmental Expenditure

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

230 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a list of all companies providing an external professional service to his Department such as ICT, legal advice, advertising, project management and including any other external professional service not listed; and the amount invoiced by each company to him over the past 12 months, in tabular form. [27303/11]

The information requested is not readily available and it will involve a significant amount of administrative time to identify and examine all relevant files in order to compile the information concerned.

Officials will endeavour to identify appropriate relevant information in so far as possible and this will be forwarded to the Deputy.

Jobs Initiative

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

231 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills the jobs created by initiatives funded by him under the jobs initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27330/11]

There are a number of facets to the Jobs Initiative as it relates to my Department. Firstly there is the provision of an additional 15,900 training and education places across a range of programmes with a special focus on the unemployed. This does not involve direct job creation.

My Department is now funding the provision of over 116,000 training places this year for the unemployed through FÁS, Skillnets and the Labour Market Activation Fund. In addition, there are now 172,000 places available in the Further Education Sector and 162,000 places available in the Higher Education Sector which the unemployed may also access. At the conclusion of these training and education programmes, participants will be better equipped to progress into further education, training, higher education or directly into employment.

There is also a job creation facet to the Department's programme of school building projects. In relation to the estimated number of jobs generated in this area, I would refer the Deputy to Minister Quinn's answer of Tuesday 17th May 2011 to Questions 169 and 168.

Question No. 232 answered with Question No. 227.

Ministerial Staff

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

233 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total cost of all staff, permanent and non-established, allocated to assist him with constituency work in the 100 days following his appointment. [27342/11]

A total of 4 staff (2 permanent and 2 non-established) were assigned to my Constituency Office at a cost of €50,513 during the 100 days following my appointment as Minister for Education and Skills on 9th March, 2011.

Home Tuition

Jim Daly

Ceist:

234 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason he will not issue payment in respect of home tuition hours for the period from 7 February 2011 to 23 March 2011 stating that seven hours per week had been sanctioned starting on 7 February 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27353/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the Home Tuition scheme provides funding to parents to provide education at home for children who, for a number of reasons such as chronic illness, are unable to attend school. The scheme was extended in recent years to facilitate tuition for children awaiting a suitable educational placement.

Parents engage tutors directly and the grant is paid to the parent on a monthly basis in arrears. In such instances the payment is made to the parent, who is then responsible for payment to their selected tutor. This affords a degree of flexibility and choice for parents in selecting the most suitable tutor for the purposes of home tuition for their children.

The position in relation to the case referred to by the Deputy is that the parent received the payment of the educational grant in advance for the approved period from the 7th February 2011 to the 3rd June 2011. However, the tuition provided only started in the week commencing the 28th March 2011, resulting in an over-issue of €527.25.

The parent received written notification to refund this amount to my Department, on two occasions, in accordance with the terms of this Scheme.

Higher Education Grants

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Ceist:

235 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding grant aid in respect of a person (details supplied). [27354/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

254 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the options available to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27525/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 235 and 254 together.

I regret that the economic circumstances of the country are such that I am not in a position to reverse or vary any of the changes to the student grant scheme announced in Budget 2011 by the previous Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government. These changes include the removal of the automatic entitlement of mature students to the non-adjacent rate of grant and an increase in the qualifying distance criterion for the non-adjacent rate of grant.

However, it might be helpful for the student in question to know that she can apply for assistance under the Student Assistance Fund. This Fund at some €5m continues to be made available through the access offices of third-level institutions to assist students in exceptional financial need. The access offices themselves will also provide support and advice to students to help them to continue with their studies.

Departmental Expenditure

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

236 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the percentage of his capital programme for 2008, 2009, 2010 that was awarded to companies outside of this jurisdiction; and the monetary value attached to that percentage. [27369/11]

Public works contracts are awarded under standard national or EU public procurement procedures. Under these procedures the criteria for the evaluation and award of contracts specifically prohibits taking account of the domicile of parties bidding for works. To do so could potentially lead to claims of discrimination. In the circumstances, data concerning the domicile of parties involved in the delivery of capital programmes are not readily accessible.

Public Procurement

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

237 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if complaints have been received by him regarding public works potentially being carried out by contractors operating in the black economy; the number of complaints that were upheld; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27375/11]

For school building projects, procedures are in place to mitigate against the possibility of appointing a main contractor who is not tax compliant. Following the tender process and before a contract is put in place, the recommended bidder must satisfy the standard requirements which are taken from the Department of Finance Capital Management Works Framework. These requirements include confirmation of tax clearance, compliance with legal obligations in regard to sick pay and pensions etc.

Residential Institutions Redress Board

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

238 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will expedite an application with the Residential Institutions Redress Board in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry. [27415/11]

The Residential Institutions Redress Board is an independent statutory body established pursuant to the Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002. The processing of applications is a matter for the Board which, in accordance with the provisions of the Act, has regard to the age and health of an applicant when considering applications. In this regard, the Board gives priority to those applicants who are over 70 years of age and those who are suffering from a life-threatening medical or psychiatric condition which has been confirmed by the applicant's regular medical adviser. I would also draw the Deputy's attention to section 28 of the Act which prohibits the publication of any information concerning an application or an award made under the Act that refers to any other person (including an applicant), relevant person or institution by name or which could reasonably lead to the identification of any other person (including an applicant), a relevant person or an institution referred to in an application made under the Act. A breach of this provision is a criminal offence.

Special Educational Needs

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

239 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider, by way of minimising the distress to parents in schools when a special needs assistant review is planned, that his Department and National Council for Special Education make, as a matter of course, a public presentation to parents, teachers and principals, at the outset, in order to minimise communications failures and to ensure that parents are suitably armed with the right documentary evidence to support their child’s case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27433/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts.

My Department's criteria in relation to the allocation of SNA support are set out in Circular 07/02. Special Needs Assistants are allocated to schools to cater for the care needs of children who have an assessed special educational need.

Schools then manage and deploy the SNA resources which have been allocated to them to provide for the care needs of designated pupils.

In considering applications for SNA support, or any review of the level of SNA support which has been provided to schools, SENOs actively engage with both schools and parents to consider the level of SNA support which may be required to meet the care needs of the children concerned, taking into account the level of SNA support currently available to the school.

In circumstances where parents obtain new medical reports or relevant information, they should submit this information through their school to the NCSE so that it might be considered as part of any review process.

The NCSE expects to respond to emergency cases on hand within the coming weeks. The outcome of a review of special school SNA allocations is expected early in the school year. Other demands from mainstream schools will be responded to up to the end of the school year. Through these arrangements it is expected that the majority of the SNA posts which have yet to be allocated, will have been allocated by early in 2012.

The NCSE will advise schools early in the new school year of a process to review allocation decisions to ensure that correct procedures were followed and that they comply with my Department's policy. The merits of individual allocation decisions will not be open to appeal under this mechanism.

It will be expected that schools, before requesting a review, will be in a position to demonstrate that they have made every effort to manage their allocation of SNA posts to best effect.

School Transport

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

240 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding school transport in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27471/11]

Bus Éireann, which operates the school transport service on behalf of my Department, plan bus routes in such a way as to ensure that, as far as possible, pupils have a reasonable level of service while at the same time, ensuring that school transport vehicles are fully utilised in an efficient and cost effective manner.

Bus Éireann has confirmed that though it is not possible to increase the size of the bus in order to accommodate all the children, the timetabling of the service has been adjusted thus reducing the waiting time at the school in the morning.

It is a matter for the managerial authorities of primary schools to arrange adequate supervision and insurance cover for children.

Question No. 241 answered with Question No. 227.

School Placement

Stephen S. Donnelly

Ceist:

242 Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow who was offered a place in a local secondary school following a section 29 appeal, but had that place withdrawn following a judicial review by the school and a second section 29 appeal; if he will seek clarification in the courts as to the procedure of the section 29 appeal, school admission policies and waiting list management procedures; his plans to bring in new policy and legislation on the issue of schools discriminating against children based on their faith or religion; if such policy will also consider the situation of children who have moved to an area from elsewhere, including overseas, and therefore are at a disadvantage when applying to schools that run waiting lists over a number of years; the agenda for this legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27491/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Department has no legal powers to challenge a determination from a section 29 committee unless the school in question is not acting in accordance with the determination of the appeals committee.

The Deputy will be aware that I have recently launched a discussion paper on school enrolment. The document, "Discussion Paper on a Regulatory Framework for School Enrolment" contains suggestions on how to make the process of enrolling in schools more open, equitable and consistent and I am inviting education partners and interested parties to submit their views to my Department by the 28th of October.

The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The NEWB may be able to offer assistance and advice on securing a school placement within the pupil's area. The contact details for the NEWB are NEWB, Block 3 South Dublin County Council, Tallaght, Dublin 24, telephone 01-4635513

Question No. 243 answered with Question No. 227.

Third Level Charges

Ceist:

244 Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Education and Skills if post-leaving certificate courses will involve a registration fee of €200; if the registration fee will be fixed at its current level; if the current funding levels in the higher education sector will be maintained; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27496/11]

In relation to Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses, Budget 2011 provided for the introduction of a €200 annual PLC programme participant contribution, with effect from this September (the 2011/2012 academic year). Decisions in relation to such funding matters are generally made as part of the annual Estimates process.

Full medical card holders (in their own right and their dependent children), those eligible under the student grant scheme and those in receipt of the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) or Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) allowances are exempt from paying the contribution, which should ensure that those who are less well off will continue to access PLC courses.

In relation to funding levels in higher education, future demand for participation growth needs to be reconciled with limitations on public resources and a need to protect and enhance core quality. The National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 identifies the need for more detailed analysis and the Higher Education Authority has been asked to undertake further work on the sustainability of the existing funding framework, the intention of which is to assess the inter-relationship and tensions between three parameters of: growth in student numbers, funding constraints and quality. This work will inform consideration by Government of policy options in relation to future funding of the sector.

Ceist:

245 Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied that all students will be allowed to pay the student contribution in instalments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27500/11]

Robert Troy

Ceist:

246 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that not all third level institutions are offering the option for students to pay their registration fees in two instalments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27506/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 245 and 246 together.

A new student contribution of €2,000 was introduced in higher education institutions with effect from the 2011/12 academic year. The student contribution replaces the Student Services Charge and applies to all students who benefit under the free fees scheme.

In recognition of the financial pressures that the student contribution may place on families, my Department requested higher education institutions to consider putting in place arrangements under which a student may opt to pay the student contribution charge in two instalments in a given academic year. I have again asked the Higher Education Authority to request institutions to allow the payment of the charge in two moieties.

I understand that a few institutions do not have this facility at present due to technical/systems limitations and administrative issues that make it impractical to allow for payment by instalments. However, all institutions have been requested to accommodate students who present with financial difficulties on a case by case basis and, from the academic year 2012/13 onwards, to have systems in place that allow for the payment of the student contribution in two instalments.

School Accommodation

Robert Troy

Ceist:

247 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has secured new accommodation for a school (details supplied) in Mullingar, County Westmeath. [27507/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the school to which he refers has advised my Department that it wishes to relocate from its existing premises to alternative accommodation. As the school has provisional recognition, the sourcing of such accommodation remains the responsibility of the Patron. My Department's role extends to providing grant assistance for accommodation rental and the school has sought funding to support the relocation. My Department will consider the school's proposal and will convey a decision to the school authority when this process has been completed.

Higher Education Grants

Robert Troy

Ceist:

248 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills when qualifying students will expect to receive their grants as on 28 September 2011, no grant has been paid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27508/11]

I am aware that the timing of processing and paying of grants varies between the 66 awarding authorities depending on a number of variables including the volume of applications received, staffing resources and whether or not properly completed application forms have been submitted. Work prioritisation across different functions, and how available staff are deployed to execute those functions are matters for the management of each VEC and local authority concerned.

My Department is in constant contact with grant awarding authorities to monitor the situation in relation to the processing and payment of grants to ensure that applicants receive decisions on their grant applications as soon as possible. In this regard, I understand that one of the grant awarding authorities in the Deputy's constituency commenced making payments in September and the other three will be making payments this month.

The Deputy will be aware that the student grants system will be centralised from September 2012 and eliminate the need for 66 grant awarding bodies. I believe this will lead to improved efficiencies in the processing and payment of student grants and is evidence of innovative public service reform.

Universities and Institutes of Technology

Robert Troy

Ceist:

249 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consult with the relevant institutions with a view to extending the opening hours for academic libraries. [27509/11]

Universities and Institutes of Technology are autonomous academically independent institutions within the meaning of the Universities Act, 1997 and the Institutes of Technology Act, 2006 respectively. Neither I, nor my Department has any function in relation to the day to day management or academic affairs of any institute. The extension of opening hours in academic libraries is a matter for management in each individual higher education institution.

Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

250 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills in relation to the apprentices who took up the redundant apprentice placement scheme offered by FÁS, the number who were employed in public hospitals and in other public services to assist existing public servicetrades people; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27511/11]

I am informed by FÁS that as at 30th September, 2011, 168 Redundant Apprentices are currently participating on the Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme in Public Hospitals and other Public Services.

Higher Education Grants

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

251 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the non-adjacent student grant (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27517/11]

Under Budget 2011, the previous Fianna Fáil-Green party Government introduced changes to the qualifying criteria for the non-adjacent rate of student grant. These changes remove the automatic entitlement of mature students to the non-adjacent rate of grant and increase the qualifying distance criterion for that rate of grant to 45 kms.

As the previous Government had factored in the savings from these changes to the public expenditure programme for 2011, I regret that I am not in a position to reverse or vary them.

However, while a qualifying student may receive a lower rate of grant for the 2011/12 academic year, they will not loose grant assistance. Students on particularly low incomes will also receive a top-up in the special rate of grant.

Students in exceptional financial circumstances can apply for assistance under the Student Assistance Fund. Information on the Fund is available through the access offices of third-level institutions. The access offices themselves will also continue to provide support and advice to students to enable them to continue with their studies.

Brian Walsh

Ceist:

252 Deputy Brian Walsh asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that changes made by the previous Government to the adjacent and non-adjacent student maintenance grant scheme which has resulted in a fall of up to 60% in some maintenance payments, is resulting in an increase in the drop out rate among students, particularly mature students; his plans to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27521/11]

I regret that the economic circumstances of the country are such that I am not in a position to reverse any of the changes to the student grant measures announced in Budget 2011 by the previous Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government. These changes included the removal of the automatic entitlement of mature students to the non-adjacent rate of grant and an increase in the qualifying distance criterion for the non-adjacent rate of grant.

From this September, students who reside 45 kilometres or more from their higher education institution will continue to be eligible for the higher, non-adjacent rate of grant. Those on particularly low incomes will also continue to receive a "top-up" in the special rate of grant. In addition, third level students in difficult financial circumstances will have access to the Student Assistance Fund.

A study of educational progression, Irish Higher Education — Oct 2010 looked at new entrants in 2007-8 and their progression into 2008-9. This report is a reference document that will inform policy and the development of interventions to improve rates of completion and graduation in higher education. I understand the concerns of students with regard to the changes to the student grant schemes for the 2011/12 academic year and I will take account of these in considering any future changes as part of the budgetary process for 2012 and beyond, having regard to the position of the public finances.

Third Level Access

Brian Walsh

Ceist:

253 Deputy Brian Walsh asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to increase the student assistance fund to third level institutions to reflect the increasing hardship being experienced by students from certain socio-economic backgrounds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27522/11]

The management of the Third Level Access Measures Fund rests with the Higher Education Authority and the allocation of funding for the various access measures, one of which is the Student Assistance Fund, is a matter for that authority. Some €15.3m is available in the Fund overall to support individual students under these initiatives.

Question No. 254 answered with Question No. 235.

Health and Safety Regulations

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

255 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 155 of 27 September 2011, if he will order an investigation into these allegations, giving consideration to correspondence received by my office (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27540/11]

As the Deputy is aware works carried out under my Department's Summer Work Schemes are devolved to individual Board of Management and the issues referred to by the Deputy should be raised with the school management authority concerned in the first instance.

If there are individual cases where there is concern that Heath and Safety regulations has not been complied with, these cases should be brought to the attention of the Health and Safety Authority immediately who are responsible for ensuring that current regulation in relation to health and safety are adhered to. My Department would also welcome details of these cases.

Special Educational Needs

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

256 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he is taking to meet the educational requirements of autistic children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27542/11]

The Deputy will be aware of my Department's commitment to ensuring that all children, including those with autism, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs in school settings. This facilitates access to individualised education programmes, fully qualified professional teachers, special needs assistants and the appropriate school curriculum with the option, in line with each child's ability, of full/partial integration and interaction with other pupils.

My Department's policy is to provide for children with special educational needs, including autism, to be included in mainstream schools unless such a placement would not be in their best interests or the interests of the children with whom they are to be educated. Some children may be supported in a special class attached to a mainstream school. These students have the option, where appropriate, of full/partial integration and interaction with other pupils. Other children may have such complex needs that they are best placed in a special school. Students with special educational needs have access to a range of support services including additional teaching and/or care supports. In special schools and special classes, students are supported through lower pupil teacher ratios. Special needs assistants may also be recruited specifically where pupils with disabilities and significant care needs are enrolled.

The Deputy will be aware that the establishment of a network of autism-specific special classes in schools across the country to cater for children with autism has been a key educational priority in recent years. In excess of 450 classes have now been approved around the country at primary and post primary level, including many in special schools.

My Department has put in place a training programme for teachers in autism-specific interventions including Treatment and Education of Autistic Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH), Picture Exchange Communications System (PECS) and Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) through the Special Education Support Service.

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating special needs resources to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. The NCSE will continue to support schools, parents, children and teachers and special needs assistants will continue to be deployed to schools to meet children's needs in line with my Department's policy. SENOs with their local knowledge and expertise are a valuable resource to parents in sourcing an educational placement.

My Department continues to fund special school transport arrangements for pupils with special educational needs. Funding is also provided to schools to purchase assistive technology and/or specialist equipment. In addition, funding can be provided for school buildings to be adapted where necessary.

The Deputy will also be aware that my Department provides grant aid under the Home Tuition Scheme to provide early education intervention for pre-school children with a confirmed diagnosis of autism or to parents of children with autism who are awaiting an educational placement.

The education of children with special educational needs remains a key Government priority and the Government will continue to provide for learning support and resource teacher posts and special needs assistant posts in schools.

Skills Development

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

257 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will confirm entitlement to funding for the degree course which has been offered through the Springboard scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 18 and to further ask if this person, who as a result of the Building Control Act 2010 has been unable to work under the title architect and has suffered a loss of work, satisfies Springboard’s eligibility criteria in view of the fact that they have not been on jobseeker’s allowance but instead availing of the back to work allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27565/11]

To be eligible for a place on a Springboard course an applicant must have a previous history of employment, and at the time of starting a Springboard course must be unemployed and in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance, Jobseeker's Benefit or One Parent Family Payment or be signing for contribution credits. All applicants must be available for and actively seeking employment. While this is the reason the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance is not one of the eligible payments, a person transferring back to a Jobseeker's Benefit or Allowance Payment from the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance would qualify immediately to apply for a place on a Springboard programme. There is no requirement to be in receipt of the Jobseeker's payment for a specific period of time before applying for a Springboard programme.

People who do not fulfil the eligibility criteria for Springboard may also apply under the Department of Education and Skills Student Grant Scheme, for fee and maintenance cost support to pursue a higher education programme on a full-time basis. Full details regarding the Department's student grant schemes are available on www.studentfinance.ie.

Teaching Qualifications

David Stanton

Ceist:

258 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the current amount of time it takes the Teaching Council to process applications for registration; the current number of applications awaiting registration at present; if there is a process whereby registration can be fast-tracked if applicants have received an offer of a teaching position; the current number of applications awaiting registration at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27604/11]

I have been informed by the Teaching Council that the amount of time that it takes to process applications for registration is dependent on the type of application.

The Council has stated that it makes every effort to expedite an application in urgent circumstances such as confirming registration for teachers taking up new appointments. However, it cannot register a teacher without appropriate documentation, Garda Vetting Clearance, and certification of qualifications. The current turnaround time for the Garda Central Vetting Unit to return an outcome is 4-6 weeks. The Council must at all times be conscious of avoiding any fast tracking mechanisms which might compromise or dilute standards of entry into the profession.

The following document details the current processing timeframes where applications are properly completed and all supporting documentation is provided, as well as the current number of applications in the various categories. The Council has stated that these processing times are within EU guidelines, where applicable, and compare favourably with similar regulatory bodies in other jurisdictions.

Type of Application

Current Amount of Time it takes the Council to process at present

Current No of Applications

2011 Teacher Education Graduates (new teachers)

3-5 working days

97

Registration Applications not requiring qualification assessment

6 — 8 weeks

1153 (approx. 700 currently waiting Garda Vetting or further information from applicant)

Registration Applications requiring qualification assessment

8 — 12 weeks (within EU guidelines)

195

Total

1,445

EU Funding

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

259 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 150 of 14 September 2011, if he will provide a list of the measures already being provided to the redundant workers, a list of relevant service providers and an indication of the redundant workers who are accessing those measures being provided in anticipation of the European global adjustment fund approval. [27687/11]

As stated in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 150 of 14 September 2011, the EU budgetary authorities, have not to date approved the three applications submitted by my Department for EGF co-financing, which contain various active labour market measures in support of certain identified workers made redundant between 1 July 2009 and 31 March 2010 in the construction sector. However, a decision is expected shortly in this regard from the European Commission.

A number of measures, for which EGF co-financing is being sought, are already being provided by the relevant service providers and funded from national sources.

These measures include career guidance, full, part-time and evening further education and training courses, apprenticeship on- and off-the-job training, full and part-time third level education programmes, enterprise start-up advisory and financial supports and related training and education allowances where appropriate.

The main service providers delivering these supports are FÁS, Vocational Education Committees, publicly funded higher education institutes and City and County Enterprise Boards. Training is also provided through contracted private service providers and the technical employment support grant mechanism administered by FÁS.

To date, it is estimated that at least 4,500 interventions for this cohort have been commenced in the area of guidance, training and third level education. Data are still being collated from a number of service providers.

Subject to EU approval of the EGF applications, further measures will be provided or intensified as appropriate. Upon approval of the EGF applications, I will make copies of same publicly available for information purposes.

Vocational Education Committees

John McGuinness

Ceist:

260 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a company (details supplied) was paid €27,299.11 by Wexford Vocational Education Committee under an invoice dated 30 July 2010 for work carried out in 2009; the reason the invoice was not received by the VEC until 2011; if the work went out to tender and if so the number of legal firms requested to tender; the cost of legal fees to Wexford VEC in each year 2008 to 2009 and 2010 to date 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27693/11]

Details of the specific case to which the Deputy refers are not readily available to my Department, as such transactions are a matter for Wexford Vocational Education Committee itself. Accordingly, my Department has requested the information from the VEC and this will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Expenditure on legal fees in Co Wexford VEC in 2008 and 2009, as recorded in the VEC's audited accounts, was €45,637 and €75,168 respectively. Information regarding legal fees in 2010 and 2011 is not available. However, my Department has contacted the VEC and will also forward this data to the Deputy as soon as possible.

John McGuinness

Ceist:

261 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the internal audit report by the VSSU for County Wexford Vocational Education Committee (details supplied) has been accepted by the VEC; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27694/11]

My Department was informed by the Chairperson of Co. Wexford Vocational Education Committee that the Committee had accepted the findings and recommendations of an internal audit report signed on 19th December 2009 by the person to whom the Deputy refers.

John McGuinness

Ceist:

262 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills the procurement arrangements in place at vocational education committee level for the purchase of legal services; the threshold above which there must be a tendering process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27695/11]

It is a basic principle of public procurement, including for legal services, that a competitive process should be used unless there are justifiably exceptional circumstances. The type of competitive process can vary depending on the size and characteristics of the contract to be awarded. For contracts or purchases below the EU threshold values less formal procedures may be appropriate.

It is the responsibility of a Vocational Education Committee to satisfy itself that the requirements for public procurement are adhered to and to be fully conversant with the current value thresholds for the application of EU and national procurement rules. VEC management, and ultimately the Committee, should ensure that there is an appropriate focus on good practice in purchasing and that procedures are in place to ensure compliance with procurement policy and guidelines.

Flood Relief

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

263 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 34 of 5 July 2011, the progress made to date in relation to this study; the position in relation to the public consultation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26920/11]

As I outlined in my reply to the Deputy's question in July of this year, the consideration of flooding matters in the River Shannon catchment falls within the national programme of Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) studies being commissioned nationally throughout 2011.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) appointed engineering consultants, Jacobs International, in January 2011 to undertake the Shannon CFRAM study. This work will identify and examine in detail the causes of flooding throughout the Shannon catchment, and produce an integrated plan of specific measures to address the significant flood risk factors in a pro-active and comprehensive way. Its output will be a flood risk management plan for the Shannon catchment, taking into account economic, social and environmental factors.

The incidence of summer flooding of the Shannon Callows between Portumna and Athlone is an important part of the CFRAM study for the Shannon catchment. It is important to stress that the long-term resolution of significant areas of flooding risk in the Shannon catchment, and indeed on all national river catchments, must derive from the extensive range of CFRAM studies now being undertaken.

Progress:

Considerable progress has been made in progressing the Study, which will continue to 2015 and will meet the requirements of the EU Floods Directive.

A number of meetings of both the CFRAM Advisory and Progress Groups, which includes representatives of the principal stakeholders, have taken place, early draft deliverables have been supplied and the Study programme remains firmly on track.

The project website, www.ShannonCFRAMStudy.ie has been launched which allows all interested parties and members of the public to review progress on the Study and access regular electronic newsletters on the Study, outlining progress made and forthcoming consultation events and milestones.

Consultation:

In the context of the delivery of the first principal reporting stage of this study, the Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment, a public consultation process is underway for the River Shannon Catchment, as well as nationally for all other catchments.

In parallel with this public consultation, I have engaged extensively with a series of meetings with local delegations and the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), in Athlone, Longford and East Galway, and arranged a stakeholder consultation forum held in Ballinasloe in July. This included the main stakeholder groups in the Shannon Catchment, and provided a structured opportunity for those groups too set out their concerns.

Public consultation forms an integral part of the CFRAM Study process, and stakeholder group meetings and public, location-specific consultation days will be held throughout the Study period in addition to the formal consultation processes required under SI. No. 122 of 2010, which transposed the ‘Floods' Directive into Irish Law.

Proposed Legislation

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

264 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if, in the context of the Construction Contracts Bill, his views that the outcome of the adjudication process should be binding; and if he will consider an amendment to the Bill in that regard. [26958/11]

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

265 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if, in the context of the Construction Contracts Bill, he will review the provision concerning the time restriction attached to the right to suspend work for non-payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26960/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 264 and 265 together.

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to introduce new legislation to protect small building subcontractors that have been denied payments from bigger companies. In addition, you may be aware that the Construction Contracts Bill 2010 was introduced by Senator Feargal Quinn and passed Committee and remaining stages in the Seanad on 8 March 2011. It is now before the Dáil.

My colleague Minister of State Mr Brian Hayes has been working with Senator Quinn to develop the Bill into a robust piece of legislation. In this regard, Minister Hayes and Senator Quinn met relevant stakeholders and opposition spokespersons on 28 June 2011. This consultation highlighted a number of matters relating to the Bill that required further consideration. These have been taken into account now in the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) on the Bill which was completed recently and published on 27 September. The Report is available in my Departments website: www.per.gov.ie/reports. I understand that a note on this issue was circulated to all Oireachtas members last week.

The RIA examined issues relating to payment practices in the construction sector and assessed the need for legislative intervention. It found that legislation is desirable to improve payment practices and to allow swift resolution of payment disputes by way of adjudication, allowing projects to be completed without wasting time and money in litigation. In addition, the RIA examined the main proposals to amend the Bill that were raised during the Seanad debate and subsequent consultation. It found that there were merits to considering amending the Bill in a number of respects e.g. to bring lower value contracts within its scope and to make the adjudicators award binding in payment dispute cases. It concluded that any such amendments should be formulated in such a manner that would protect the taxpayer.

In addition to the issues dealt with in the RIA, Minister Hayes has asked the relevant officials to re-examine other issues raised during the consultation, including the time limit on suspension, to see if a more effective solution can be formulated in such a manner that would protect the taxpayer.

Minister Hayes will reflect on the findings of the RIA and incorporate them into the legislative proposals which will be brought to Government shortly for approval. It is essential that the solution to this issue needs to be balanced so as to avoid imposing regulatory or cost burdens on parties in dispute, the State or others.

Pension Provisions

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

266 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the cost of the public service pensions bill for each of the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and the expected bill for 2011, 2012 and 2013 taking account of the anticipated number of persons leaving the public service during that time. [27134/11]

The Public Service Pension bill for the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 is in the table below. The figures for 2008 and 2009 have been compiled from the Appropriation Accounts and for 2010 from the provisional outturn as published in the Revised Estimates Volume for 2011.

2008

2009

2010

€2.15bn

€2.56bn

€2.73bn

The Expenditure Ceilings for the Public Service Pension bill as published in the National Recovery Plan for 2011, 2012 and 2013 are below:

2011

2012

2013

€2.9bn

€3.0bn

€3.0bn

These ceilings for 2011 — 2013 take account of the impact of retirements in the period and the public service pension reduction.

Commercial Rates

Jim Daly

Ceist:

267 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will consider introducing new legislation to revise the method of calculation of commercial rates on properties by possibly rating them in relation to their turnover as opposed to their square footage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27412/11]

The Valuation Act 2001 provides for the valuation of all commercial and industrial property and the Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the performance of his functions under the Act and the making of valuations for rating is his sole prerogative.

The basis of rateable valuation for all property is net annual value, i.e. the rental value of the property and is set out in Part II of the Act. Various methodologies may be used in estimating the net annual value (NAV)/rental value of a property. The most common methodology used is direct comparison with other similar properties but in some instances the receipts & expenditure method of valuation, where turnover is relevant, may be employed.

Changing the basis of assessment from net annual value/rental value to turnover as such would most likely change individual ratepayer liabilities and would change rates from being a local commercial property charge to a local business tax based on turnover.

The levying of rates on commercial property by reference to turnover rather than valuation would be a significant change and a departure from the long-standing practice of levying rates by reference to property values. There are already taxes in place which are levied on turnover, i.e. VAT and income/corporation taxes, and the adoption of such a system for rating purposes would not be suitable because turnover can vary significantly within and between the various business sectors, which would lead to an unstable and volatile valuation base.

I should emphasise that while the list of rateable valuations produced and maintained by the Valuation Office is the basis on which rates are levied, the amount of rates to be collected is a matter for each local authority to decide.

The legislation provides for a revaluation of all commercial and industrial property in the State. The revaluation programme began in November, 2005 in the South Dublin County Council area and has since been rolled out to the areas covered by Fingal and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. The process is now being rolled out in Dublin City. The purpose of revaluation is to bring more equity, fairness and transparency in the local authority rating system. Ideally, occupiers of properties of similar value in the same rating authority area should have a similar rates liability. Following a revaluation, there will be a much closer relationship between rental value and commercial rates liability.

My Department is considering proposals to amend the Valuation Act to modernise and streamline the valuation process in the interests of both the ratepayers and the local authorities.

Pension Provisions

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

268 Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if a person who is approaching retirement within the public sector and is a number of years short of a full pension under the public sector pension scheme can make a lump sum payment to buy pension years under the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27440/11]

There is a purchase of notional service scheme in operation throughout the Civil/Public Service which, subject to certain conditions, provides an opportunity for employees to purchase additional service where their service at minimum or maximum retirement age, as appropriate, will fall short of the maximum service required for maximum superannuation benefits.

Service may be purchased either by periodic contributions deducted from salary, or by lump sum payments. An option to purchase by periodic contributions may only be exercised where there is at least 2 years between the date of commencement of the purchase agreement and the relevant retirement age by reference to which the agreement is entered into. Where a person is within 2 years of the relevant retirement age a periodic option is not available — service may only be purchased by lump sum. A lump sum purchase option may be exercised at any time, subject to one such option generally per annum.

While overall policy for the scheme is the responsibility of my Department, the day-to-day administration of the scheme is a matter for each Department/Public Service body in respect of their own employees. Consequently, anyone wishing to purchase service must apply to their own Personnel Section.

Flood Relief

John Paul Phelan

Ceist:

269 Deputy John Paul Phelan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding the Thomastown flood relief schemes in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27473/11]

The Office of Public Works provided funding of €58,000 to Kilkenny County Council in 2010 under the Minor Flood Mitigation Works Scheme for a Flood Risk Management Study commissioned by the Council that covered Thomastown, Graiguenamanagh and Callan. An amount of €22,000 was also provided under the Scheme to undertake a site investigation in Thomastown with a view to identifying appropriate works.

Following on from these studies, the Council submitted two applications this year under the Scheme for funding to provide flood protection measures in Thomastown, which include the flood proofing of a number of individual properties.

The OPW is currently assessing these applications in consultation with Kilkenny County Council and having regard to the scheme criteria. A decision on the applications will be made on the conclusion of these deliberations.

Departmental Expenditure

John McGuinness

Ceist:

270 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the total cost of the design and production of the brass plaque which was to be mounted on an internal wall of Leinster House 2000; if the piece is now in storage; if the project has been abandoned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27691/11]

The cost of design and production of a bronze sheet of signatories to Dáil Eireann was €51,000 in 2002. This original bronze sheet was dismantled by the OPW.

It was decided at the time that due to difficulties in relation to obtaining the signature of each Member of Dáil Eireann since its formation, the project was more suited to digital media and that it would not be continued in bronze format. All of the research undertaken on the signatories was passed to Leinster House research staff who were engaged in a separate project on the history of Leinster House.

Pension Provisions

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

271 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 254 of 14 September 2011, if he proposes any pension or gratuity changes in the Civil Service at the levels of Ssecretary General, assistant secretary general, principal officer and assistant principal officer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26904/11]

The current superannuation scheme provisions for established civil servants, including the grades of Secretary General, Assistant Secretary, Principal, and Assistant Principal, are uniform across the Civil Service, and full details of this scheme are set out at the Government website www.cspensions.gov.ie.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Single Public Service Pension Scheme, the bill for which has been published by the Government, includes the provisions set out below. These will apply after commencement of the legislation to new recruits to the Civil/Public Service, and to those who are not existing civil/public servants within 6 months of taking up their employment: a. Raises the minimum public service pension age — it is proposed this be increased initially to 66 to bring it into line and link it henceforth with the social welfare state pension age, rising on a phased basis to 67 and 68; b. sets a maximum retirement age of 70 — at present for most new entrants to the public service, there is no maximum retirement age; and c. move to the calculation of pensions on the basis of "career average" earnings rather than final salary.

The introduction of a career average rather than a final salary system is fairer and more equitable than a final salary system in that it affects the pension paid to those who have high earnings especially in late career [for example, a person promoted to top management later in their career] more than those who may have a relatively ‘flat' career progression [for example, nurses, teachers].

There are special provisions for Secretaries General, whose terms of appointment included the Top-level Appointments Committee exit terms. These terms are currently being reviewed by the Government.

It should be noted that public service remuneration has been reduced which will affect pensions of those retiring after February 2012. The salary of a Level-1 Secretary General has been reduced from €285,000 to €214,000, which has significant implications for retirees after February 2012. Secretaries General have also taken a voluntary reduction of €14,000, which does not affect pension. Those who retire before end-February 2012 will have their pensions reduced by the Public Service Pension Reduction, which in the case of a Secretary General is about 10%.

Lump sums above €200,000 are now being taxed.

There is an additional tax applied to those whose capitalised pension benefits exceed a threshold of €2.3 million, except for those who qualify for a Personal Fund Threshold in excess of their total pension benefits.

Public Service Recruitment

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

272 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if it is possible for persons to have their name added to the panel from which seasonal appointments are made at the Office of Public Works in Headford, County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26928/11]

The current panel from which seasonal appointments were made at the Office of Public Works' Western Drainage Maintenance Region in Headford, Co. Galway was set up following competitive interviews which took place in August 2010. It is not possible for persons to be added to this panel at this time.

When the current panel expires, any vacancies that the Commissioners may receive sanction to fill will be advertised in the relevant media as and when they occur.

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

273 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when recruitment will be taking place at the Office of Public Works, Headford, County Galway to replace workers who have retired; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26929/11]

Due to the implementation of the moratorium on recruitment in the public service there is no recruitment currently taking place at the Office of Public Works' Western Drainage Maintenance Region in Headford, Co. Galway.

Any vacancies that the Commissioners of Public Works may receive sanction to fill will be advertised in the relevant media as and when they occur.

Freedom of Information

Gerald Nash

Ceist:

274 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when he will introduce legislation to reform the freedom of information system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26954/11]

The Deputy will be aware of the significant commitments given in the programme for Government to restore the Freedom of Information Act, to extend its remit to other public bodies including the administrative side of the Garda Síochána, subject to security exceptions and to extend the Act to ensure that all statutory bodies, and all bodies significantly funded from the public purse, are covered. To this end my Department is currently reviewing the Freedom of Information Acts in light of the programme commitments to inform the preparation of appropriate legislative amendments for my consideration in the first instance and the Government in due course.

Expenditure Reviews

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

275 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the comprehensive spending review has been completed by all Government Departments; and if all the completed reports have been submitted to his Department [26961/11]

The final CRE Reports have now been received from all Departments. The results of these Reports, in addition to the cross-cutting Reports undertaken by my own Department, will be brought before Government for consideration and decision in the Budget and Estimates process in the coming weeks.

Referendum Commission

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

276 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the companies who tendered for the Referendum Commission project awarded to a company (details supplied); where was the tender advertised and the length of time for which it was advertised; and the basis on which the tender was awarded to the company. [26964/11]

My Department does not have any direct responsibility in relation to the Referendum Commission, other than to sponsor the budgetary requirement. All financial commitments will be authorised by the Referendum Commission and discharged by the Office of the Ombudsman. I am advised by the Office of the Ombudsman of the following:

In accordance with Department of Finance Public Procurement Guidelines, the Office of the Ombudsman (the Office), on behalf of a possible future Referendum Commission, published a Prior Information Notice (PIN) on the national procurement website, www.eTenders.gov.ie, on 21st October 2010, concerning a proposal to engage the services of a suitably qualified provider for the provision of marketing/project management/communications consultancy services as part of a campaign by a Referendum Commission to inform voters throughout Ireland of any referendum proposal that may be put to the people. The PIN was also published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) on 26th October 2010. A total of 154 parties registered an interest in the PIN on e-Tenders.

The Office subsequently published a related request for tenders (RFT) for the provision of marketing management consultancy services to the Referendum Commission for forthcoming referendums on e-Tenders on 5th August 2011. The RFT was published in the OJEU on 10th August 2011. A total of 54 parties registered their interest on e-Tenders.

The closing date for receipt of tenders was 12 noon on 2nd September 2011. A total of four tenders were received from the following:

Murray Consultants, Lattin Hall, Golden Lane, Dublin 8

DDFH&B, 3 Christchurch Square, Dublin 8