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Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 31 Jan 2012

Vol. 753 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 8, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 9 to 42, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 43 to 51, inclusive, answered orally.

Údarás na Gaeltachta

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

52 D’fhiafraigh Michael McGrath den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cad iad na hathruithe atá i gceist aige d’Údarás na Gaeltachta; an bhfuil níos lú béime anois ar chúrsaí gnó; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [5254/12]

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Ceist:

60 D’fhiafraigh Pádraig Mac Lochlainn den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta céard iad na spriocanna fostaíochta atá ag Údarás na Gaeltachta i mbliana; agus cén earnálacha ina bhfuil siad sin. [5178/12]

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

75 D’fhiafraigh Pearse Doherty den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cathain a bheidh toghcháin Údarás na Gaeltachta ar siúl; agus cén próiseas toghcháin atá ar intinn aige. [5177/12]

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

77 D’fhiafraigh Jonathan O’Brien den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an féidir leis a insint dúinn cén uair a líonfar na folúntais in Údarás na Gaeltachta don Phríomhfheidhmeannach agus do na bainisteoirí réigiúnacha. [5188/12]

Tógfaidh mé Ceisteanna Uimh. 52, 60, 75 agus 77 le chéile.

Ar 31 Bealtaine 2011, thóg an Rialtas na cinntí polasaí seo a leanas maidir le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta:

go mairfidh an status quo maidir le feidhmeanna reatha an Údaráis go ginearálta, a chuid feidhmeanna fiontraíochta san áireamh;

go mbeidh an fhreagracht maidir le forfheidhmiú na Straitéise 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge laistigh den Ghaeltacht ar an Údarás; agus

go ndéanfar foráil faoin mBille Gaeltachta atá beartaithe chun bord an Údaráis a laghdú go suntasach agus chun deireadh a chur leis an riachtanas do thoghcháin do bhord an Údaráis.

Tá na dréacht-Chinn don mBille Gaeltachta, a thabharfaidh feidhm do na cinntí seo de réir mar is cuí, dréachtaithe ag mo Roinn agus tá súil agam go gcuirfear faoi bhráid an Rialtais iad go han-luath agus go bhfoilseofar an Bille níos déanaí i mbliana.

D'fhógair an tÚdarás, ina ráiteas deireadh bliana ar 23 Eanáir 2012, go bhfuiltear ag súil, leis na hacmhainní atá ar fáil dó, go gceadófar tograí nua i rith na bliana a chruthóidh thart ar 700 post nua. Beidh straitéis fiontraíochta an Údaráis le linn 2012 dírithe ar thacaíocht a sholáthar dá chomhlachtaí reatha, infheistíocht bhreise a lorg ó chliant-chomhlachtaí nua agus reatha, agus tacú le fiontair atá bunaithe ar acmhainní nádúrtha sna hearnálacha uisce-shaothraithe, turasóireachta agus foraoiseachta. Cuirfear béim ar leith ar an bhfostaíocht a cailleadh i gceantair áirithe le roinnt blianta anuas a athchur agus ar an líon fostaíochta sa Ghaeltacht a thabhairt ar ais chuig leibhéil a bhí ann roimhe seo.

Maidir le post phríomhfheidhmeannach Údarás na Gaeltachta, tá cead tugtha agam don Údarás le cúpla lá anuas an post sin a líonadh i gcáil bhuan. Maidir le poist na mBainisteoirí Réigiúnacha, is ceist don Údarás féin a chuid foirne a bhainistiú faoi réir na dtreoirlínte atá leagtha síos ag an Roinn Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe.

Archaeological Heritage

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

53 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which he has prioritised heritage renewal, upgrading restoration projects throughout the country with a view to identifying the most important or sensitive areas whereby positive intervention could have a beneficial effect beyond the actual cost in terms of benefits to the national heritage, economically and culturally; if particular locations have been identified in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5191/12]

In 2011, my Department provided €650,000 through a "Structures at Risk Fund" to assist with works to safeguard structures, both in private and civic ownership, protected under the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2010. This fund was administered by local authorities. This funding was focused primarily on those protected structures most at risk.

€105,000 in funding was also provided through the National Monuments Service of my Department for rescue excavations at archaeological sites under immediate threat of damage and destruction.

In addition, my Department provided capital assistance of €1.25 million to the Office of Public Works to assist in the conservation and presentation of historic properties and national monuments in State care. This included work on such iconic projects as the National Botanic Gardens and Cormac's Chapel on the Rock of Cashel, both major tourist attractions.

My Department also funds infrastructural developments in Ireland's National Parks and Reserves. These are key assets in Ireland's tourism infrastructure. In this regard, my Department has received a grant of €5.2 million from Fáilte Ireland to restore Killarney House in Kerry as a visitor centre and gateway to Ireland's most popular national park. Work commenced on the House in 2011.

My Department also provided funding of almost €7.5 million to support the work of the Heritage Council, which in turn provides support for built and natural heritage projects.

The Deputy will appreciate that, due to the economic situation and the significant reductions in the capital allocations provided to my Department, the resources available to me for the provision of grants for the protection of the built heritage are limited. This will have a further impact on the provision of funding in 2012.

Interdepartmental Committees

Robert Troy

Ceist:

54 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of times the implementation committee for the Creative Capital report, Building Ireland’s Audiovisual Creative Economy, has met since the report’s publication in July; when the committee will issue a set of recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5232/12]

The Implementation Committee established last July to examine the feasibility of the implementation of the recommendations in the Creative Capital Report — Building Ireland’s Audiovisual Creative Economy— has met on three occasions. The Committee is chaired by my Department and has representation from the Departments of Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, Education and Skills, Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, and Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. The Irish Film Board, Screen Producers Ireland and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland are also represented.

The Creative Capital Report identified the strengths and weaknesses of the Irish industry and recommended to Government specific action that will equip the industry to successfully enter the next phase of its growth from a predominantly domestic platform into international markets.

While the Implementation Committee has met formally on three occasions, informal contact continues between meetings. I expect the Committee's interim report around Easter.

Tax Code

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

55 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he has considered extending section 481 tax relief to the digital content creation industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5236/12]

Under section 481 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, tax relief is allowed for investments in certain films and TV productions. The types of productions eligible for certification are feature film, television drama, creative documentary and animation. The scheme is kept under regular review in consultation with the Irish Film Board and any changes considered necessary are brought to the attention of the Minister for Finance, as appropriate. The scheme was amended in the Finance Acts of 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and, most recently, in 2011. The amendments in 2011 extended the scheme for a further three years until the end of 2015.

The whole area of the development of the Irish audiovisual industry, including incentives to build strong companies, was examined during the preparation of the Creative Capital Report—Building Ireland’s Audiovisual Creative Economy. The Report was published in July and an Implementation Committee is at present examining the advancement of its recommendations. I am expecting a report from that Committee around Easter. This strategic review will focus on issues regarding talent development, convergence, sectoral growth, education and the digital opportunities for Ireland, as well as reporting on industry leadership, State agency roles and innovation. It will provide a road map for the next few years and will assist in enabling the domestic audiovisual content production sector to develop into an internationally traded sector for product and services over a five year period 2011 to 2015.

Primary responsibility for the support and promotion of film-making in Ireland, in respect of both the indigenous sector and inward productions, is a matter for the Irish Film Board. This agency is funded through my Department and has been allocated €15.7 million in 2012 to carry out its functions.

Question No. 56 answered with Question No. 49.

Costais Riaracháin

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

57 D’fhiafraigh Brendan Smith den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cé mhéad a íocann Foras na Gaeilge ar chostais riaracháin, cíos san áireamh, in aghaidh na bliana; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [5264/12]

Mar áisíneacht den Fhoras Teanga, déantar Foras na Gaeilge a mhaoiniúó mo Roinnse agus ón Roinn Cultúir, Ealaíon agus Fóillíochta ó thuaidh, i gcomhréir le buiséid atá ceadaithe ag an gComhairle Aireachta Thuaidh Theas.

Tuigtear dom ó Fhoras na Gaeilge go raibh costais riaracháin measta de €5.49m i gceist don bhliain 2011. Ba chóir a mhíniú go gclúdaíonn na costais riaracháin sin réimse leathan caiteachais mar a bhaineann le pá agus cúrsaí foirne, riarachán ginearálta, cíos oifige, árachas, iniúchóireacht agus nithe gaolmhara eile.

Is foireann de 60 duine a bhí fostaithe ag Foras na Gaeilge ar 31 Nollaig 2011, ina measc naonúr a bhí fostaithe ar bhonn conartha ag plé leis an mórfhoclóir nua Béarla-Gaeilge. Tá foireann an Fhorais lonnaithe i gcúig oifig, lena n-áirítear dhá oifig i mBaile Átha Cliath agus oifigí eile i Ráth Chairn, Gaoth Dobhair agus Béal Feirste.

Clár Forbartha Áitiúil

Brian Stanley

Ceist:

58 D’fhiafraigh Brian Stanley den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an féidir leis soiléiriú a thabhairt maidir le todhchaí Arramara Teo. [5186/12]

Mar a chuir mé in iúl i mo fhreagra ar Cheist Dála 42 ar 24 Samhain 2011, tá próiseas idir lámha ag Údarás na Gaeltachta chun páirtnéir straitéiseach a lorg d'Arramara Teo, comhlacht atá faoi lán-úinéireacht an Údaráis ón mbliain 2006. Tuigtear dom ón Údarás go bhfuil dul chun cinn maith á dhéanamh leis an bpróiseas, atá anois ag an staid go bhfuiltear ag aithint an "táirgeoir is dealraithí a roghnófar". Tuigtear dom fosta go bhfuiltear ag súil leis an gcuid sin den phróiseas a bheith críochnaithe faoi Aibreán 2012.

Aithníonn an tÚdarás an poitéinseal fáis agus forbartha atá ag an earnáil próiseála feamainne agus tá mé dóchasach, dá bharr, go rachaidh an próiseas atá idir lámha chun leasa an chomhlachta, a chuid fostaithe, lucht bainte feamainne agus na hearnála i gcoitinne.

Wildlife Protection

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

59 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his plans to re-introduce stag hunting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5240/12]

The Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2010 made it an offence to hunt a deer with two or more dogs. This legislation had the purpose of banning stag hunting by riders and hounds.

I have a broad remit to protect Ireland's wildlife and natural heritage. One of my biggest challenges will be to work towards greater common understanding of the issues we face in protecting our natural heritage. My Department has significant challenges before it to ensure that Ireland is in full compliance with EU Directives on nature conservation and that we ensure that the richness of Ireland's built and natural heritage contributes to national economic recovery. It is my view that the resources of my Department should be focused on those areas. I will continue to keep all provisions of the Wildlife Acts under review and introduce improvements to the law, where appropriate.

Question No. 60 answered with Question No. 52.

Job Creation

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

61 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the full extent to which he expects to utilise the area of the arts and heritage to contribute to job creation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5203/12]

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

81 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his plans to develop the creative sector of the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4750/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 61 and 81 together.

Positioned at the core of local, regional, urban and rural activities, the arts, creative and heritage-related sectors play a pivotal part in the economic life of communities across the country, including the vital area of employment. Employment in the arts sector embraces a very diverse and broad extent of activities, encompassing those engaged in specific arts practice, as well associated wider elements.

I believe strongly that cultural tourism can contribute in a significant way to the restoration of the economy and the creation of jobs. A 2009 study reported that employment dependent on the arts, culture and creative sectors combined was 170,000, or 8.7% of total employment in the economy. Taking into account economic multipliers, the same study estimated that the value added dependent on the arts, culture and creative sectors was €11.8 billion, or 7.6% of total GNP.

A more recent study by Indecon in 2011 showed that total employment in the wider arts sector, which includes film and video, museums and other cultural activities, literature and publishing, amounted to 21,300 and contributed €716m (GVA) to the economy in 2010. I will continue to work to build on these foundations.

Departmental Bodies

Brian Stanley

Ceist:

62 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht how the subsuming of Culture Ireland into his Department will affect the function and role of that body; how he intends to ensure the continued promotion of Irish arts internationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5201/12]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government, as part of the Public Service Reform Plan, recently announced a radical streamlining of State bodies, including in respect of certain bodies funded from my Department's Vote Group. This includes decisions to combine or merge a number of such bodies. In addition, decisions have been taken to critically review, by June 2012, the streamlining and shared services agenda in respect of a number of other bodies funded from my Department's Vote Group, including in relation to the merging of the functions of Culture Ireland into my Department. More details in this regard can be accessed on the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform website at www.per.gov.ie.

The Deputy will be aware that it is recognised, most recently at the Global Irish Economic Forum last October, that arts and culture are Ireland's global calling card and one of our world-class, distinctive strengths as a nation. The international promotion of Irish arts through my Department's Culture Ireland has made a significant impact — especially in the US last year with the Imagine Ireland programme — in restoring our global reputation at a critical time and expanding international markets and audiences for Irish artists. Equally, in the coming years, the promotion of Irish cultural and creative excellence in Europe and in key growth markets, such as China, offers vital opportunities for the country, working in tandem with the promotion of trade, investment, tourism, food and science. In particular, our EU Presidency in 2013 will present a platform to strengthen our cultural links with key European partners, such as Germany and France.

I am committed to ensuring that we will be able to continue to deliver the functions of Culture Ireland effectively in the future. The critical review requested by Government is already under way in my Department and I expect to be in a position shortly to take definitive decisions on the matter.

Heritage Sites

David Stanton

Ceist:

63 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, further to Parliamentary Question No. 57 of 18 October 2011, if the review of Irish Heritage Trust has been completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5267/12]

My Department commenced a review of the operation of the Irish Heritage Trust in 2011 in accordance with a protocol agreed with the Trust in 2006. In this regard, my Department invited observations on an Issues Paper in relation to the operation of the Trust. 16 submissions were received. My Department intends to finalise the review, in consultation with the trust, over the coming weeks.

Departmental Bodies

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

64 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the progress made on his plans to consolidate boards and agencies in his Department since publication of the Public Service Reform plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5244/12]

As the Deputy will be aware, in November 2011 the Government announced a number of amalgamations and mergers of bodies that come within the ambit of my Department. Details of these can be accessed on the website of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform at www.per.gov.ie. Clearly, the amalgamation and merger of these bodies, including consolidation of boards, raises complex issues, which my Department is currently examining. A Departmental Reform Committee was established recently, which will be liaising with the relevant bodies in the weeks ahead in order to implement the Government’s Decision in this regard as effectively and efficiently as possible. I expect to be reverting to Government on progress made in relation to this process by June of this year.

Question No. 65 answered with Question No. 50.

Architectural Heritage

Michael McNamara

Ceist:

66 Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he agrees with the decision of county councillors in north Clare to withhold from themselves and the public a consultant’s report on the future development of Blake’s and Linnane’s Corner, Ennistymon, County Clare, commissioned by Clare County Council at a cost of €15,000, which moneys were ultimately provided by him. [37428/11]

I did not fund and am not familiar with the report referenced by the Deputy. However, I consider that the dissemination of any report that the council has itself commissioned is entirely be a matter for the council itself.

Census Publication

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

67 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the efforts he has made to publish the 1926 census; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5197/12]

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to enabling the publication of the 1926 Census. The project requires two principal components to be addressed. The first is the legal necessity to change the relevant legislation to permit publication of the Census before the expiry of the statutory 100 year period, while respecting certain rights. The second is the technical process whereby the material can be converted from the paper records to a searchable electronic database in a cost-effective fashion. Legal advice has been obtained in relation to the legislative changes and consultation with bodies involved is in progress. Possible technical approaches are also currently being considered, as are their resource implications.

National Asset Management Agency

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

68 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the contact he has had to date with the National Asset Management Agency with regard to the use of NAMA buildings for cultural purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5193/12]

I refer the Deputies to my replies to a number of previous Parliamentary Questions on this matter. I have met the chair and chief executive of NAMA in relation to the potential use of NAMA buildings for cultural purposes.

NAMA was set up to acquire loans from certain financial institutions and it does not own property as such. In most cases, the property securing these loans is under the control of the debtor and will remain so as long as the debtor continues to meet his obligations. In the case of certain debtors, NAMA has taken enforcement action and the property securing the loans is now under the control of receivers or other insolvency agents appointed by NAMA.

My Department will continue engagement with NAMA in instances where assets of shared interest arise. In that regard, I would like to welcome the re-opening of the Lighthouse Cinema last week.

Commemoration of Events

Seán Crowe

Ceist:

69 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the preparations that have been made regarding the commemoration of the 1916 Rising; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5200/12]

I am satisfied that the Centenary commemoration of the Easter Rising in 2016 requires a comprehensive programme that will also present the economic, social and cultural conditions of the period. The development of the commemorative programme is therefore oriented towards the entire Decade of Centenaries, 2012 to 2022, with official consideration currently being focussed on the period from 2012 to 2016.

The Government envisage a framework that will feature not only the official commemorative programme but also the initiatives of local authorities, national cultural and sporting organisations, heritage groups and community initiatives. A special effort will be made to ensure that all events are organised on an inclusive basis with respectful regard for the different traditions in Ireland. As we explore our shared heritage, we will also be mindful of the interest and affinity of the Irish abroad in the commemorative programme.

With a view to the enhanced engagement required of all partners, arrangements are being made to strengthen the Oireachtas Consultation Group on commemorations, which is expected to meet shortly.

Departmental Bodies

Dessie Ellis

Ceist:

70 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht how the recently announced plans for public sector reform will affect the role and functions of the Heritage Council; the way he intends to ensure the continued protection and enhancement of our national heritage; if service levels will be maintained and improved; the savings which are expected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5195/12]

Under the Public Service Reform Programme announced by Government on 17th November last, the Heritage Council is included in Appendix IIb as a candidate body for critical review by end-June 2012. The focus of the review in relation to the Council is to examine the potential merger of functions of the Council into my Department. Any decision in relation to the future of the Council will await the finalisation of that review. Funding of some €48.421m has been made available to my Department in 2012 to support investment and the delivery of services across the built and natural heritage areas. This represents a reduction from €52.096m in 2011.

It may be noted that due to the national economic difficulties, there has been a significant reduction in the capital allocations provided to my Department since 2008. However, notwithstanding these constraints, I intend to ensure that service levels are maintained to the extent possible, with funding directed at priority areas of environmental compliance, protection of structures at risk, and supporting tourism and economic renewal.

State Art Collection

Derek Keating

Ceist:

71 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of pieces of valuable art that are in storage because of a lack of facilities, staff or restoration services; if he can provide examples of some of the more expensive and exciting items that have not yet been put on display; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4752/12]

The State's principal art collections are managed by the National Gallery of Ireland, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork.

The National Gallery of Ireland operates as an autonomous statutory body in accordance with the provisions of the National Gallery of Ireland Act 1928, as amended. The Crawford Art Gallery Cork and the Irish Museum of Modern Art are both incorporated as companies limited by guarantee in accordance with the provisions of the Companies Acts 1963-2005. The Boards of these National Cultural Institutions are responsible for all operational matters relating to their institutions, including storage and exhibitions, and I, as Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, do not have a statutory function in respect of operational matters.

I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that, for security reasons, it is not appropriate to comment on the number, value or significance of art works held by these institutions, either in storage or elsewhere. It is common policy for public art galleries to rotate their collections and, as a practice, galleries do not maintain static displays. The rotation of the collections and grouping of art works under inventive exhibition themes maintains the public profile of the galleries and helps attract increased visitor numbers.

Question No. 72 answered with Question No. 49.

Departmental Initiatives

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Ceist:

73 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the steps he has taken to ensure a dividend from the initiative known as The Gathering 2013 for the arts and culture sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5198/12]

My colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, presented proposals for "The Gathering 2013" at last October's 2011 Global Irish Economic Forum. The National Tourism Development Authority, Fáilte Ireland, is the lead agency for the implementation of The Gathering initiative. The arts, culture, film and heritage sector constitute an essential part of our national tourism offering: indeed, they animate the brand globally. In that context, my Department and the relevant agencies under its aegis are working closely with the lead Department on this important initiative.

Architectural Heritage

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

74 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the position regarding any contact or discussions he has had with Bank of Ireland on making the Bank of Ireland premises in College Green, Dublin, available as a public building for cultural purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5192/12]

I refer the Deputy to my response in the House earlier today to Questions Nos. 45 and 47.

Question No. 75 answered with Question No. 52.

Economic Regeneration

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

76 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he is satisfied with the adequacy of the resources available to him in the current year, with particular reference to the need to maximise economic benefit and consequent employment retention and creation through the various bodies under his aegis; if he has had discussions with the various stakeholders in this regard; the extent to which possible areas for generation of growth or expansion have been identified and evaluated for future purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5190/12]

As the Deputy will be aware, a key priority in the Programme for Government is to support and lead economic regeneration, job creation and employment retention over the coming period. In this regard, I can assure the Deputy that my Department's resources and financial allocation will be utilised to the greatest extent possible in achieving these aims and delivering on these commitments.

Since my appointment as Minister in March 2011, I have engaged with the various sectors and stakeholders funded by my Department, including the bodies and agencies funded from my Department's Vote Group, to ensure that maximum benefit and value is obtained from available resources. Indeed, my Department's key priorities and programme of work supportive of job creation and economic regeneration are set out in its Statement of Strategy, which will be published over the coming weeks.

It is important to note that there is much potential in the arts and in the cultural, heritage and creative industries to create growth and jobs. A key objective for my Department, therefore, will be to maximise the economic and employment creation potential of the arts, heritage and Gaeltacht sectors. Cultural tourism also has a significant contribution to make to Ireland's economic recovery and the rebuilding of Ireland's reputation on the international stage.

A further objective for my Department over the coming period will be to promote Irish arts and heritage abroad. It will also seek to facilitate synergies between the arts, cultural, heritage and Gaeltacht sectors, most notably in the area of tourism product development and cultural tourism.

Question No. 77 answered with Question No. 52.

Comhlachtaí Poiblí agus Tras-Teorann

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

78 D’fhiafraigh Peadar Tóibín den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an féidir leis sonraí a thabhairt don Dáil ar an méid comhoibrithe idir-rialtasach trasteorann atá ar siúl ar son na Gaeilge. [5180/12]

Feidhmíonn an Foras Teanga mar cheann de na 6 chomhlacht forfheidhmithe thuaidh theas a bunaíodh faoin Acht um Chomhaontú na Breataine-na hÉireann 1999. Tá dhá ghníomhaireacht mar chuid den Fhoras Teanga, eadhon, Foras na Gaeilge agus Gníomhaireacht na hUltaise. Tá an Foras Teanga freagrach don Chomhairle Aireachta Thuaidh Theas agus do na hAirí sna Ranna Urraíochta, is iad sin mo Roinn agus an Roinn Cultúir, Ealaíon agus Fóillíochta i dTuaisceart Éireann.

Is féidir liom a dheimhniú don Teachta go bhfuil caidreamh an-mhaith agus comhoibriú leanúnach ag leibhéal aireachta agus feidhmeannaigh idir mo Roinnse, an Roinn Cultúir, Ealaíon agus Fóillíochta agus an Chomhairle Aireachta Thuaidh Theas maidir le gnóthaí an Fhorais Teanga i gcoitinne agus cur chun cinn na Gaeilge agus na hUltaise ach go háirithe. Go hiondúil, bíonn ar a laghad dhá chruinniú in aghaidh na bliana den Chomhairle Aireachta Thuaidh Theas i bhformáid rannach an Fhorais Teanga mar aon le cruinnithe ullmhúcháin agus monatóireachta, de réir mar is cuí. Beidh an chéad chruinniú eile den Chomhairle Aireachta Thuaidh Theas i bhformáid rannach an Fhorais Teanga ar siúl in Inis Ceithleann i gCo. Fhear Manach ar 14 Feabhra 2012. Anuas ar na cruinnithe sin, bíonn deis ag na hAirí cúrsaí a phlé fosta ag cruinniú iomlánach na Comhairle Aireachta Thuaidh Theas a eagraítear cúpla uair sa bhliain.

Ar ndóigh, bíonn deiseanna eile ag an Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta, an tUasal Jimmy Deenihan T.D., agus agam féin casadh lenár gcomhghleacaithe ó thuaidh ó am go chéile. Mar shampla, bhí mé féin i láthair nuair a rinne an tAire Cultúir, Ealaíon agus Fóillíochta, Carál Ní Chuilín MLA, feachtas Gaeilge a Roinne dar teideal Líofa 2015 a sheoladh ag Stormont i mí Mheán Fómhair 2011.

Tourism Industry

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

79 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will detail visitor numbers for the cultural institutions for 2011; how he intends to maximise visitor numbers for 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5202/12]

The 2011 visitor numbers for our national cultural institutions and for other cultural venues supported by my Department are detailed in the table below. Overall visitor numbers were 3.61 million, which represents a moderate increase on the 2010 figures of 3.58 million and a significant increase over and above the 2009 figures of 3.25 million.

Initiatives to attract the interest of the general public and to enhance the visitor experience will remain a priority for all of these cultural institutions and venues in 2012 and my Department will continue to work closely with them in this regard.

Cultural Institutions and Venues — 2011 Visitor Numbers

National Library of Ireland

206,342

Irish Museum of Modern Art

362,955

National Concert Hall

293,639

National Gallery of Ireland

624,412

Chester Beatty Library

247,729

National Archives

13,907

National Museum, Kildare Street

402,582

National Museum, Collins Barracks

295,488

Natural History Museum

289,172

National Museum, Turlough Park

108,785

Crawford Art Gallery

187,311

Archbishop Marsh’s Library

8,328

Foynes Flying Boat Museum

32,113

Hunt Museum, Limerick

69,058

Science Gallery

242,189

Dublin City Gallery — Hugh Lane

135,117

Royal Hibernian Academy

95,583

Total

3,614,710

Question No. 80 answered with Question No. 50.
Question No. 81 answered with Question No. 61.

Comharchumainn Gaeltachta

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

82 D’fhiafraigh Mary Lou McDonald den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an féidir leis soiléiriú a thabhairt maidir leis an maoiniú a bheidh ar fáil do na Comharchumainn Gaeltachta agus d’Ealaín na Gaeltachta i mbliana agus cén ciste as a dtiocfaidh sé sin. [5179/12]

Is é€3 mhilliún an tsuim atá ar fáil d'Údarás na Gaeltachta in 2012 dá Chiste Reatha/Forbairt. Déantar maoiniú as an gCiste sin ar dheontais reáchtála do chomharchumainn agus do chomhlachtaí pobal-bhunaithe, chomh maith le gnóthaí eile, lena n-áirítear gnóthaí pobail, teanga, cultúir, ealaíon, óige agus luath-oideachais. Tuigim ón Údarás nach bhfuil na sonraí iomlána maidir le dáileadh an Chiste seo socraithe go fóill.

National Monuments

Michael Colreavy

Ceist:

83 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the steps he has taken to secure the future of 14-17 Moore Street, Dublin; and if he will ensure that the area around Moore Street can be developed into a revolutionary quarter at the heart of Dublin city. [5194/12]

In January 2007, the then Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government placed a preservation order on Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street under the National Monuments Acts. The order was made on the grounds that No. 16 is a monument, the preservation of which is of national importance by reason of its historical significance as the site of the final council of war and final headquarters of the Provisional Government. The effect of the order is that works affecting these properties, including any excavation or ground disturbance within, around or in proximity to them, will require my consent under section 14 of the National Monuments Act 1930, as amended.

The proposed development of the Carlton Cinema site, of which Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street form part, and for which approval has been granted by An Bord Pleanála, envisages the retention of these buildings and the provision of a commemorative centre to the 1916 Rising in No. 16. The developer's application to my Department for consent to these proposals under section 14 of the National Monuments Acts is being examined. As part of the process, I have visited the monument site and met various interest groups, including relatives of the 1916 leaders. My Department is currently in consultation with the National Museum of Ireland in relation to the application and I hope to be able to make a decision on it shortly.

Any wider plans for the development of the Moore Street area would be a matter for the relevant landowners and the development authority, Dublin City Council.

Employment Statistics

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

84 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Taoiseach if he will provide details of the number of workers in each economic sector in each year from 2007 to 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5060/12]

The Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) is the official source of estimates of employment in the State. The data requested by the Deputy with respect to the second quarter of each year is presented in the table below:

Persons aged 15 years and over in employment (ILO) classified by NACE Rev. 2 Economic Sector,

Quarter 2 2007 — Quarter 2 2011

Economic sector (NACE Rev. 2)

Q2 2007

Q2 2008

Q2 2009

Q2 2010

Q2 2011

All persons

A

Agriculture, forestry and fishing

108.5

114.8

97.2

84.9

85.8

B-E

Industry

299.0

287.3

258.3

240.1

233.7

F

Construction

269.9

241.4

155.4

125.3

105.7

G

Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles

297.2

307.3

277.7

269.1

265.6

H

Transportation and storage

93.5

92.9

94.6

89.7

94.7

I

Accommodation and food service activities

130.6

125.4

119.8

119.8

107.2

J

Information and communication

70.5

71.1

73.5

74.1

74.9

K-L

Financial, insurance and real estate activities

101.1

105.1

108.7

103.2

103.9

M

Professional, scientific and technical activities

109.8

116.6

102.6

100.9

101.8

N

Administrative and support service activities

78.3

76.3

65.9

61.3

66.1

O

Public administration and defence; compulsory social security

102.3

102.7

107.7

107.8

100.2

P

Education

141.5

146.3

150.4

149.8

146.5

Q

Human health and social work activities

210.3

220.8

227.8

234.9

237.9

R-U

Other NACE activities

101.4

104.7

98.7

98.1

97.2

Total Employment

2,113.9

2,112.8

1,938.5

1,859.1

1,821.3

Reference period: q2=Apr-Jun

Source: Quarterly National Household Survey, Central Statistics Office.

Diplomatic Representation

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

85 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach the dates for European Council meetings for the rest of 2012 that have been agreed. [4778/12]

There are meetings of the European Council scheduled for 1-2 March, 28-29 June, 18-19 October and 13-14 December. Further meetings may be called at the discretion of the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy.

Official Engagements

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

86 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach his plans for foreign visits in the time ahead. [4779/12]

I will be travelling to the United States on three occasions in February and March. I will travel to New York to participate in the Invest in Ireland round-table hosted by former President Bill Clinton on 9 February. This is the event which President Clinton undertook to organise when he attended the Global Irish Economic Forum which we held in Dublin Castle last October. I will return to the United States on 15 February for a series of engagements in Boston and New York including a number of business meetings, both with Irish firms doing business in the US, and with US firms investing in Ireland. I will also meet with representatives of the Irish communities there.

While in Boston, I will take up an invitation to give a lecture at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. I will travel to the United States in March for the traditional St Patrick's Day meetings and celebrations. I will also use the opportunity of the visit — at a time of the year when Ireland enjoys the highest of profiles around the world — to visit Chicago and New York as well as Washington to further promote Irish business interests in the US as well as highlighting the attraction of Ireland as a location for US investment.

I will attend the meetings of the European Council scheduled for 1-2 March, 28-29 June, 18-19 October and 13-14 December. Arrangements for other meetings with key European partners are under consideration in light of on-going developments. Further visits are envisaged for the latter half of 2012 in the context of Ireland's 2013 Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Departmental Staff

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

87 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach the salaries and allowances paid to his private secretary and to the Secretary General of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5035/12]

My Private Secretary is a Higher Executive Officer (Higher Scale) and his salary is based on the relevant civil service pay scale which is as follows: €46,426, €47,730, €49,035, €50,347, €51,653, €53,532, €54,766, €56,007, €57,251. He is also in receipt of a Private Secretary Allowance and a Higher Duties Allowance as per civil service norms. The Secretary General of my Department is paid €200,000 per annum. The Government significantly reduced the remuneration for this post last year.

Appointments to State Boards

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

88 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a breakdown of the number of appointments that have been made to State boards by him since he took office, including the names of the appointees and the boards they have been appointed to; the number of these appointments that have been made using new procedures involving the advertising of such posts on his Department’s websites and the interview of the chairperson of boards by Oireachtas committee; if he will highlight situations in which this process has not occurred; and the reason it has not occurred in each case. [5051/12]

The National Economic and Social Council (NESC) is an advisory Council which provides guidance to Government on strategic issues for Ireland's economic and social development. Details of the appointments I have made to the NESC since coming into office on 9 March, 2011 are set out in the accompanying table.

The appointments were made in accordance with the provisions of the National Economic and Social Development Office Act 2006 as amended by the National Economic and Social Council (Alteration of Composition) Order 2010. In the particular case of the NESC, I should emphasise that most of the members are appointed on the basis of nominations received from representative organisations. Historically, the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson posts are filled from my Department at Secretary General and Assistant Secretary level. I am satisfied that the other appointments were appropriate, bearing in mind the key strategic role of the NESC.

Table : Appointments by the Taoiseach to the National Economic and Social Council

Name

Organisation

Date of Appointment

Prof. Edgar Morgenroth,

Associate Research Professor, Economic and Social Research Institute

June 2011

Prof. John McHale,

Economist, National University of Ireland, Galway

June 2011

Prof. Mary Daly,

Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast

June 2011

Prof. Anna Davis,

Department of Geography, Trinity College Dublin

June 2011

Prof. Seán Ó Riain,

Department of Sociology, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

June 2011

Dr. Michael O’Sullivan,

Head of UK Research and Global Asset Allocation, Credit Suisse, London

June 2011

Ms Mary Walsh,

Charted Accountant

June 2011

Dr. Michelle Morris,

Senior Lecturer, School of Applied Social Science, University College Dublin.

July 2011

Mr. Martin Fraser, Chairperson of NESC

Secretary General, Department of the Taoiseach

August 2011

Shay Cody

Impact (replaced Mr. Peter McLoone)

September 2011

Mr. John Murphy

Secretary General, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (replaced Mr. Sean Gorman)

November 2011

Mr. John Shaw, Deputy Chairperson of NESC

Assistant Secretary, Department of the Taoiseach

January 2012

Departmental Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

89 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach the number of retired public servants that have been rehired by him, or rehired by State agencies under his aegis. [5076/12]

No retired public servants have been re-hired in an established position by my Department or the National Economic and Social Development Office, which is the only agency under the aegis of my Department. However, one person who previously retired from the Defence Forces is employed in an unestablished position by my Department. The employment contract of the person concerned will cease when my term of office as Taoiseach ends.

State Visits

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

90 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has received a report into the Ireland Stand Up meeting held on 18 January 2012; and his views on their request regarding the Vatican Embassy and an invitation to the Pope to visit Ireland for the Eucharistic Congress in June 2012. [4792/12]

A senior official from the Department of the Taoiseach and the Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ireland's Ambassador-designate to the Holy See, attended the meeting of the Ireland Stand Up campaign on 18 January 2012. They both spoke with members of the Ireland Stand Up campaign about their concerns. As was outlined in my statement of 3 November last year, the decision of the Government to close our embassy to the Holy See and to appoint a non-resident Ambassador was driven by economic factors deriving from our need to cut public expenditure and focus the modest resources of our diplomatic service on economic recovery. The total cost saving in a full year is estimated at €845,000.

The Government will continue to review our diplomatic network and it may be that, as public finances recover, we will at some time in the future be able to reopen a modest resident embassy to the Holy See. I understand that the Catholic Bishops have issued an invitation to Pope Benedict to visit Ireland on the occasion of the International Eucharistic Congress in 2012, and that this invitation is under consideration by the Holy See. As I have made clear previously, if the Government receives an indication that the Pope wishes to travel to Ireland for the Eucharistic Congress, or on a subsequent occasion, the Government will be more than ready to issue a formal invitation and to welcome him to Ireland. The willingness of the Government to invite Pope Benedict to Ireland was made very clear by our Ambassador designate, when he met Vatican officials in Rome earlier this month.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

91 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if it is his intention to issue an invitation, either personal or on behalf of the Government, to His Holiness Pope Benedict to Dublin for the fiftieth Eucharist Congress to be held in Dublin between 10 and 17 June 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4793/12]

I understand that the Catholic Bishops have issued an invitation to Pope Benedict to visit Ireland on the occasion of the International Eucharistic Congress in 2012, and that this invitation is under consideration by the Holy See. If the Government receives an indication that the Pope wishes to travel to Ireland for the Eucharistic Congress, or on a subsequent occasion, the Government will be more than ready to issue a formal invitation and to welcome him to Ireland. The willingness of the Government to invite Pope Benedict to Ireland was also made very clear by our Ambassador designate, when he met Vatican officials in Rome earlier this month.

Passport Applications

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

92 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to improve the passport system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4924/12]

Arrangements are currently being put in place aimed at bringing the turnaround time for properly completed Irish passports submitted in Britain to approximately three weeks. This will be comparable to passport services offered by other jurisdictions to their citizens who are resident overseas. There have been some technical problems with the telephone system in the Passport Service and this had resulted in difficulties for customers. These issues have now been resolved. Notwithstanding this, the Passport Service handles over two hundred calls per day from UK residents, or approximately 25% of all calls received.

I can also confirm that additional temporary staff have been recruited, some of whom are already in training, and this will increase further the capacity of the Passport Service to take telephone queries. It is not possible to comment on the specific detail of the complaint from the named individual as neither the identity of the applicant nor the application number have been provided.

Departmental Staff

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

93 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the salaries and allowances paid to his private secretary and to the secretary general of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5029/12]

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

Office

Private Secretary

Annual allowance

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade

GradeThird SecretarySalary scale€31,619 —€55,415 Standard scaleor€33,247 —€58,294 PPC scale

€19,653 Standard scaleor€20,685 PPC scale

Secretary General

GradeThird SecretarySalary scale€31,619 —€55,415 Standard scaleor€33,247 —€58,294 PPC scale

€10,405 Standard scaleor€10,951 PPC scale

The private secretary allowances, which are set by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, were reduced on 1 January 2010 in line with the general civil service pay reductions.

Appointments to State Boards

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

94 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide a breakdown of the number of appointments that have been made to State boards by him since he came to office, including the names of the appointees and the boards they have been appointed to; the number of these appointments that have been made using new procedures involving the advertising of such posts on his Department’s websites and the interview of the chairperson of boards by Oireachtas committee; if he will highlight situations where this process has not occurred; and the reason it has not occurred in each case. [5045/12]

There are no State agencies, and consequently no State boards, under the aegis of my Department

Departmental Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

95 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of retired public servants that have been rehired by him, or rehired by State agencies under his aegis. [5070/12]

Since 1 January 2011 the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has temporarily engaged a total of ten retired civil or public servants in connection with the following: Ireland's Chairmanship of the OSCE in 2012; the examination of Departmental files prior to their submission to the National Archives; the provision of technical assistance or the review of development cooperation programmes and projects commissioned by the Department; and to act as Passports Appeals Officer under the provisions of the Passport Act, 2008. There are no State agencies under the aegis of my Department.

Passport Applications

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

96 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding the granting of a passport in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5215/12]

The entitlement of the person in question to American citizenship is a matter for determination by the relevant US authorities. I would advise that she make direct contact with the US Embassy in Dublin who might be able to provide help with her enquiries. The contact details for the Embassy are as follows:

Address:Embassy of the United States of America42 Elgin RoadBallsbridgeDublin 4Telephone: 01.630.6200Webpage: www.usembassy.ie

In the event that the person in question has an entitlement to American citizenship and thus a passport from that country, there is no provision under the Passport Act, 2008 that requires her to surrender her Irish passport. It is quite common for Irish people to be citizens of other countries and thus hold passports from those countries. These entitlements do not affect their rights under Irish law to Irish citizenship or their right to an Irish passport, although the other country or countries of which they are citizens may have regulations regarding dual citizenship.

Rights to Citizenship

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

97 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his position on the issue of surrogacy as it pertains to children born abroad but parented in Ireland; the reason children born by surrogacy abroad are refused Irish passports; the reasons for such refusals; the reason a declaration of parentage is needed for passport applications for such children when a child born outside Ireland to an Irish citizen does not need such requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5225/12]

The legal situation of children born through surrogacy arrangements is a very complex area in Irish law. Whereas there is no specific legislation in Ireland relating to surrogacy, a range of Irish laws relating to the areas of citizenship, guardianship, consent for the child to travel and other parental rights must be comprehensively addressed by applicants before any travel document may issue. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has responsibility for the issuance of passports, but it may only do so when the above issues, which largely relate to areas of law within the competence of other Departments, such as the Department of Justice and Equality, have been resolved. When issuing passports, the Passport Service is obliged to respect the law as it stands. In determining whether a child born outside the State is an Irish citizen, it is necessary first of all to establish whether the child was born to an Irish parent. Furthermore, in general, only a parent or guardian may apply for a travel document on behalf of an Irish citizen child. Thus the questions of who are the legal parents of the child, and who are the legal guardians of the child must be examined in order to determine whether a child born outside the State is an Irish citizen, and whether consequently an Irish travel document may be issued to the child.

In considering these questions it is important to be aware that the fact that a genetic relationship exists between a commissioning adult and the child does not mean that he or she is automatically the legal parent of the child under Irish law.

Under Irish law the woman who gives birth to the child — the surrogate mother — is the legal mother of the child, even if the ovum from which the child was produced was provided by one of the commissioning adults, or by a donor. Under the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964, the mother of a child born outside marriage is the child's sole guardian. Under Irish law, family relationships and the rights and responsibilities that flow from them cannot be subjected to the ordinary law of contract and cannot, in particular, be transferred to another person, bought, or sold. This means that, under Irish law, the surrogate mother and the child will have a life-long legal relationship with one another.

If the surrogate mother is married, then under section 46 of the Status of Children Act 1987, the surrogate mother's husband is presumed by law to be the father of the child, unless the contrary is proved on balance of probabilities. The husband will also, along with the surrogate mother, be the joint guardian of the child. If the commissioning father is the genetic father of the child, it is possible to overcome the presumption of paternity in favour of the surrogate mother's husband, so as to allow the commissioning father to be recognised as the legal parent of the child. However, this requires an application for a declaration of parentage to be made to the Circuit Court under Part VI of the Status of Children Act 1987.

If the surrogate mother is not married, and the commissioning father is the genetic father of the child, then the Irish authorities may recognise his paternity of the child on receipt of reliable DNA evidence. However, because the commissioning father is not married to the surrogate mother, he is not automatically a guardian of the child under Irish law, even if he has been granted a declaration of parentage. The Department therefore recommends that legal advice should be sought about the appropriate mechanism for arranging for the commissioning father to be made a guardian of the child.

In addition to the issue of passports, it is very much in the best interest of any newly born infant arriving into the State that they are accompanied by an adult with whom they have a legally recognised relationship and who has legal authority to make decisions, including medical decisions, on their behalf. The Irish authorities will therefore, in the best interests of child, seek undertakings from commissioning adults that they notify their local health centre of the child's arrival in the State and encourage them to seek a court order establishing the commissioning father's legal relationship with the child, thereby allowing him to make decisions, including medical decisions, on behalf of the child.

I understand that the preparation of guidelines by the Department of Justice and Equality in this area is at an advanced stage and I would expect that they will be published over the coming months.

Embassy Closures

Michael McNamara

Ceist:

98 Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the respective savings that will be obtained by closing the Embassy to the Holy See, the Embassy in Tehran and the mission in East Timor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5444/12]

The total net economies that will be achieved by the closure of the Embassies to the Holy See and Iran and the Irish Representative office in Timor Leste are estimated at €1.175 million over a full year. It is expected that these savings will be fully realised in 2013. However, in 2012, there will be immediate disengagement costs (for example, local staff severance payments, running down of rental and other contracts) and the net savings from the closures this year are estimated at about €480,000.

Net savings in respect of the closure of the Embassy to the Holy See are estimated at €400,000 this year and €845,000 in 2013. These projections take into consideration the relocation of the offices of the Embassy to Italy and the residence of the Ambassador to Italy to the state-owned Villa Spada. It is expected that the transfer will be completed during the course of the present year and that the full year rental savings, amounting to €445,000, will be realised in 2013.

The corresponding figures for Tehran are €80,000 this year and €330,000 in 2013.

The savings on closure of the office in Dili, estimated at about €200,000 in a full year, will be reallocated within the Irish Aid programme.

In addition, as a result of the closures, it will be possible to relocate 6 diplomatic staff to help offset staff losses elsewhere in the service.

European Council Meetings

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

99 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the EU Council of Ministers on which he sits; the number of meetings of that Council that have been held between 2007 and 2011; the number of those meetings that he attended; the number that were attended by the relevant Minister of State; the number that were attended by an Irish official; and if he will provide the names of those who attended in tabular form. [5469/12]

The Council of the European Union is a key decision-making institution of the EU, at whose meetings all EU Member States are represented. As Minister for Foreign Affairs, I have represented Ireland frequently at Council meetings. Since March 2011, I have attended 3 Foreign Affairs Councils, 1 General Affairs Council and 2 informal meetings of Foreign Ministers, the so-called "Gymnich" meetings.

Between December 2009-March 2011, Ministers of Foreign Affairs attended 5 meetings of the General Affairs Council and 5 meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council. Between January 2007-December 2009, when the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, Ministers of Foreign Affairs attended 21 meetings of the General Affairs and External Relations Council. Between January 2007-March 2011, Ministers of Foreign Affairs attended 6 "Gymnich" meetings. In 2010, the Minister for Foreign Affairs attended one European Council (to which Ministers of Foreign Affairs were invited).

On the occasions when a Minister of Foreign Affairs was unable to attend these meetings, Ireland has normally been represented by a Ministerial colleague, generally the Minister for State for European Affairs.

Since March 2011, the Minister of State with special responsibility for European Affairs, Ms Lucinda Creighton T.D. has attended 4 Foreign Affairs Councils and 9 General Affairs Councils.

Between December 2009-March 2011, Ministers of State attended 7 meetings of the General Affairs Council and 6 meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council. Between January 2007-December 2009, when the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, Ministers of State attended 11 meetings of the General Affairs and External Relations Council. Between January 2007-March 2011, Ministers of State attended 2 "Gymnich" meetings.

In addition, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Mr. Brendan Howlin T.D. represented Ireland at 1 meeting of the General Affairs Council (Cohesion Policy).

On 8 occasions between January 2007-March 2011, it was not possible for any Minister or Minister of State to attend one of these Council meetings. On these occasions, Ireland was represented by the Permanent Representative of Ireland to the European Union.

Full details of attendance, at meetings of the General Affairs Council, Foreign Affairs Council, General Affairs and External Relations Council and "Gymnichs", are listed below.

It was the practice up until the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009 for Foreign Ministers to attend European Council meetings. Between January 2007 and December 2009, Ministers for Foreign Affairs attended 12 European Council meetings.

2011

Date

Meeting

Irish representation

31 January

General Affairs Council, Brussels

Permanent Representative of Ireland to the EU, Mr. Rory Montgomery

31 January

Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels

Permanent Representative of Ireland to the EU, Mr. Rory Montgomery

21 February

General Affairs Council, Brussels

Permanent Representative of Ireland to the EU, Mr. Rory Montgomery

21 February

Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels

Permanent Representative of Ireland to the EU, Mr. Rory Montgomery

11/12 March

Informal Foreign Affairs Council, Budapest

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.

21 March

General Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms Lucinda Creighton

21 March

Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms Lucinda Creighton

12 April

Foreign Affairs Council, Luxembourg

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.

13 April

General Affairs Council, Luxembourg

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms Lucinda Creighton

23 May

General Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms Lucinda Creighton

23 May

Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms Lucinda Creighton

20 June

Foreign Affairs Council, Luxembourg

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.

21 June

General Affairs Council, Luxembourg

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms Lucinda Creighton

18 July

Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.

18 July

General Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms Lucinda Creighton

2/3 September

Informal Foreign Affairs Council, Poland

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.

12 September

General Affairs Council, Brussels

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D. Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms Lucinda Creighton

10 October

Foreign Affairs Council, Luxembourg

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms Lucinda Creighton T.D.

11 October

General Affairs Council, Luxembourg

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms Lucinda Creighton T.D.

22 October

General Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms Lucinda Creighton

15 November

General Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms Lucinda Creighton

1 December

Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms Lucinda Creighton

5 December

General Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms Lucinda Creighton

16 December

General Affairs Council (Cohesion), Brussels

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Mr. Brendan Howlin T.D.

2010

Date

Meeting

Irish representation

25 January

General Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

25 January

Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Overseas Development, Mr. Peter Power T.D.

22 February

General Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

22 February

Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

5-6 March

Informal Foreign Affairs Council, Spain

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.

22 March 2010

General Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.

22 March 2010

Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.

26 April

General Affairs Council, Luxembourg

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

26 April

Foreign Affairs Council, Luxembourg

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.Minister for Defence, Mr. Tony Killeen T.D.

10 May

General Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

10 May

Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

14 June

General Affairs Council, Luxembourg

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.

14 June

Foreign Affairs Council, Luxembourg

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.Minister of State with special responsibility for Overseas Development, Mr. Peter Power T.D.

26 July

General Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

26 July

Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

10 September

Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

10-11 September

Informal Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.

13 September

General Affairs Council, Brussels

Permanent Representative of Ireland to the EU, Mr. Rory Montgomery

16 September

Special European Council (with Foreign Ministers invited), Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.

25 October

General Affairs Council, Luxembourg

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

25 October

Foreign Affairs Council, Luxembourg

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

22 November

General Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

22 November

Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.

13 December

General Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

14 December

General Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

2009

Date

Meeting

Irish representation

26 January

General Affairs & External Relations Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.

23 February

General Affairs & External Relations Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.

16 March

General Affairs & External Relations Council, Brussels

Permanent Representative of Ireland to the EU, Mr. Bobby McDonagh

27-28 March

Informal Foreign Affairs Council, Czech Republic

Minister of State with special responsibility for European Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

27-28 April

General Affairs & External Relations Council, Luxembourg

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.

18-19 May

General Affairs & External Relations Council, Brussels

Minister of State with special responsibility for European Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.Minister of State with special responsibility for Overseas Development, Mr. Peter Power T.D.

15-16 June

General Affairs & External Relations Council, Luxembourg

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.

27 July

General Affairs & External Relations Council, Brussels

Minister of State with special responsibility for European Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

4-5 September

Informal Foreign Affairs Council, Stockholm

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.

14-15 September

General Affairs & External Relations Council, Brussels

Minister of State with special responsibility for European Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

26-27 October

General Affairs & External Relations Council, Luxembourg

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.Minister of State with special responsibility for European Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

16-17 November

General Affairs & External Relations Council,Brussels

Minister of State with special responsibility for European Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.Minister of State with special responsibility for Overseas Development, Mr. Peter Power T.D.

30 November

General Affairs & External Relations Council, Geneva

Minister of State with special responsibility for Trade and Commerce, Mr. Billy Kelleher

7 December

General Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.Minister of State with special responsibility for European Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

8 December

Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.Minister of State with special responsibility for European Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

2008

Date

Meeting

Irish representation

28 January

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D.Minister of State with Special Responsibility for European Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

18 February

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D.

10 March

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D.Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Trade & Commerce, Mr. John McGuinness T.D.

28-29 March

Informal Foreign Affairs Council, Slovenia

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D.

29 April

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Luxembourg

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Trade & Commerce, Mr. John McGuinness T.D.

13 May

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels

Permanent Representative of Ireland to the EU, Mr. Bobby McDonagh

26-27 May

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Michael Martin T.D.Minister for Defence, Mr. Willie O’Dea T.D.Minister of State for Overseas Development, Mr. Peter Power T.D.

16 June

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Luxembourg

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Michael Martin T.D.

18 & 21 July

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels (18 July) & Geneva (21 July)

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Trade, Mr. John McGuinness T.D.Minister of State with Special Responsibility for European Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

22-29 July

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels & Geneva

Tánaiste & Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, Ms Mary Coughlan T.D.Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Michael Martin T.D.Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries & Food, Mr. Brendan Smith T.D.Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Trade & Commerce, Mr. John McGuinness T.D.

13 August

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Overseas Development, Mr. Peter Power T.D.

5-6 September

Informal Foreign Affairs Council, France

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Michael Martin T.D.

15-16 September

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Trade & Commerce, Mr. John McGuinness T.D.

13 October

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Luxembourg

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Michael Martin T.D.

10-11 November

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Michael Martin T.D.Minster for Defence, Mr. Willie O’Dea T.D.Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Overseas Development, Mr. Peter Power T.D.

8-9 December

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Michael Martin T.D.

2007

Date

Meeting

Irish representation

22 January

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for European Affairs, Mr. Noel Treacy T.D.

12 February

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D.Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Trade & Commerce, Mr. Michael Ahern T.D.

5 March

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for European Affairs, Mr. Noel Treacy T.D.

30-31 March

Informal Foreign Affairs Council, Bremen

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for European Affairs, Mr. Conor Lenihan T.D.

23-24 April

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Luxembourg

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D.

14-15 May

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels

Permanent Representative of Ireland to the EU, Mr. Bobby McDonagh, Secretary-General of Department of Defence, Mr. Michael Howard, Director General of Development Cooperation in Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ronan Murphy

17-18 June

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Luxembourg

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D.Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

23-24 July

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D.Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dick Roche T.D.

7-8 September

Informal Foreign Affairs Council, Portugal

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D.

15-16 October

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Luxembourg

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D.

19-20 November

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D.Minister for Defence, Mr. Willie O’Dea T.D.

10 December

General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D.Government Chief Whip & Minister of State at Department of Defence, Mr. Tom Kitt T.D.

Embassy Staff

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

100 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the new measures he will introduce governing the application procedures for embassy visas for domestic workers; and the timeframe for when these new regulations will be established. [5489/12]

Responsibility for visas rests with the Minister for Justice and Law Reform. However, my Department is working with colleagues in the Department of Justice and Law Reform and other relevant Government Departments with a view to implementing additional protections, including revised procedures related to entry requirements for private domestic workers in diplomatic households consistent with its obligations under the Vienna Convention. Revised procedures will be introduced as soon as this work has been completed and agreement has been reached with the relevant Government Departments on the measures to be implemented.

Middle East Peace Process

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Ceist:

101 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if, during his upcoming trip to Palestine and Israel, he will be accompanied by an Israeli security detail at any point in his journey in the occupied West Bank or East Jerusalem; and if he will have regard to the fact that international law considers these areas, along with Gaza, to be occupied Palestinian territories, and that to travel through any of the areas with an Israeli security detail would send entirely the wrong message to the Palestinians, the Israeli Government and the international community. [5530/12]

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Ceist:

102 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, on behalf of the Irish people he will be representing, if he will make clear his opposition to, and the illegal nature of, Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. [5531/12]

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Ceist:

103 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, further to Parliamentary Question No. 85 of 13 December 2011, if he will clarify his statement by developing Ireland’s bilateral relationships in the region; and if he is referring to increased trade between Ireland and Israel or any other form of economic co-operation between the two states. [5532/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 101 to 103, inclusive, together.

As I stated in my earlier reply to which the Deputy refers, the primary purpose of my recent visit to the Middle East was to meet the parties in relation to the Middle East Peace Process, to hear from them the prospects and obstacles as they see them, and to encourage them to commit seriously to this effort. I also wished to look for myself at some of the issues on the ground.

My expressed intention to develop Ireland's bilateral relations in the region referred to the normal range of contacts between states and peoples, which we seek to promote. This would include, as it would in any country which I visit, the possibilities for increasing Irish trade there — in this case with Israel. I have made very clear that it is not my view that our strong criticisms of Israeli policies in relation to the Occupation must constitute the totality of our relations; indeed I believe that to do so would only weaken the weight carried by our views, both in Israel, which we seek to persuade, and among our European partners. No Irish Government has supported suggestions that we should boycott trade or other relations with Israel, or contacts with Israeli people.

I have already on previous occasions made very clear my strong views not only on the illegality of settlements, but on the obstacle they increasingly pose to the achievement of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, which should be the priority of all sides concerned. This was of course an important element in the views I conveyed in my discussions with Israeli leaders during my visit, although my principal focus was on the overall issue of promoting substantive peace talks and a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians which will help bring the Occupation to an end.

I am of course aware of the position of international law on the status of the Occupied Territories. My visit, in keeping with our normal practice, was arranged in accordance with this. I can confirm that no Israeli security escort accompanied myself or the accompanying delegation during my visit to the Occupied Territories.

Departmental Expenditure

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Ceist:

104 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the total cost of the recent visit by the Israeli parliamentary delegation on 17 January 2012 to Ireland, including spending on accommodation, transport, sustenance and any security costs incurred. [5533/12]

The visit of the Israeli Parliamentary delegation was an inter-Parliamentary visit at the invitation of the Ceann Comhairle. The only expense relating to my Department was a lunch hosted by Minister of State Creighton, which cost €849.03.

Tax Code

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

105 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding betting legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5110/12]

Jack Wall

Ceist:

106 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance his views regarding a matter (details supplied); the position regarding proposed legislation to address the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5285/12]

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

108 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Finance his views on proposals regarding betting legislation contained in correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5527/12]

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

146 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Finance if he will include persons involved in betting exchanges in which bets are laid under the proposed legislation on betting; if persons involved in this area will require a bookmaker’s licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5481/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 105, 106, 108 and 146 together.

The proposed betting (Amendment) Bill, which is being drafted at present, will amend the 1931 Betting Act to inter alia establish the regulatory framework for the licensing of remote bookmakers and betting exchanges, including measures to enforce the regulatory framework. The drafting of the Bill, which is fairly complex, is well advanced. The Finance Act 2011 contained measures to allow for the extension of the 1% betting duty to remote bookmakers and for a 15% gross profit tax to betting exchanges. The taxation provisions are subject to a Ministerial Commencement order which can only be commenced when the Betting (Amendment) Bill is enacted.

In relation to the taxation treatment of betting exchanges, it is the operator of the betting exchange that will be liable to the gross profit tax which is also the position in the UK.

Customs and Excise

Eoghan Murphy

Ceist:

107 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if there is an operation in place to test trucks crossing the Border from Northern Ireland to ensure the fuel is not going to underground filling stations in the Republic. [5499/12]

All consignments of mineral oil from Northern Ireland are subject to requirements of EU law for the Intra-EU movement of excisable products. These requirements include the paying or securing of the excise duty due in the State, and that the consignment is at all times under cover of the appropriate documentation. In keeping, however, with the principle of free movement of goods in the EU, there can be no systematic or random checking of these consignments at the border, and a consignment may only be stopped and checked where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that there has been a breach of requirements. The consignment may then be stopped by Revenue officers, and documents may be examined and the mineral oil sampled and tested.

Revenue employs a broad range of compliance and enforcement strategies to detect illicit practices involving mineral oil fraud, including optimum deployment of resources to intercept illicit product, and sampling and testing of mineral oil, both in the course of consignment and at retail outlets.

Question No. 108 answered with Question No. 105.

Tax Code

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

109 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if a person’s income from the Department of Social Protection, which is exempt from the universal social charge, counts towards the exemption limit of €10,036 per annum. [4796/12]

The position is that payments from the Department of Social Protection are exempt from the Universal Social Charge. The annual exemption threshold of €10,036 applies to income which is chargeable to the USC. Accordingly, payments from the Department of Social Protection are not included in the exemption limit of €10,036.

Financial Services Regulation

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

110 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance the discussions he has held with AIB and Permanent TSB regarding the possibility of removing tracker mortgages from their balance sheets into separate vehicles; if he has engaged with the ECB on the issue; the number of customers this will affect; the likely effect on customers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4821/12]

As the Deputy will appreciate, officials in my Department are in constant and on-going dialogue with our external partners and all of the covered institutions in respect of implementing structures and solutions which would seek to enhance the overall financial system. As and when further measures are agreed/solutions emerge, I will inform the House as appropriate.

Tax Code

Patrick Nulty

Ceist:

111 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Finance if the criteria for being defined as a first-time buyer for stamp duty purposes are identical to the criteria applied to those seeking mortgage interest relief; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4832/12]

The position is that the stamp duty exemption for "first time buyers" has been abolished in relation to instruments executed on or after 8 December 2011. As regards instruments executed on or before 7 December 2011, a "first-time buyer" for stamp duty purposes is a person (or where there is more than one buyer, each person) who has not on any previous occasion, either individually or jointly, purchased or built on his or her own behalf, or in a fiduciary capacity, a house in Ireland or abroad. A person is also regarded as a purchaser where a gift of a house is taken on or after 22 June 2000 or a gift of part of a house is taken on or after 27 June 2000.

As regards the tax relief in respect of interest paid on qualifying home loans (known as mortgage interest), the description "first time buyer" is used to describe an individual who is entitled to tax relief on greater amounts of interest paid and at higher rates of relief for the first 7 tax years in respect of which that individual is entitled to claim tax relief on interest paid on qualifying home loans.

As the Deputy is aware, I am introducing increased relief for those purchasers of houses for the first time in the 2004 to 2008 period and details will be in the forthcoming Finance Bill.

Patrick Nulty

Ceist:

112 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Finance the tax breaks and allowances that exist here for the purchase of and maintenance of commercial property; the cost of these to the Exchequer on annual basis for the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4836/12]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that where a commercial premises is in use for the conduct of a trade or profession, or where the premises is being let for such a business, then any normal, recurring, non-capital expenses which are incurred in the purchase, maintenance, upkeep, decoration and repair will generally be treated as deductible expenses for tax purposes. The expenses qualifying include interest payable on a loan to purchase, extend, repair or maintain a commercial building. The tax code also provides a general scheme of capital allowances in respect of expenditure on the construction of certain industrial buildings. The type of buildings that qualify under the general scheme of capital allowances for industrial buildings include factories and mills, harbours, airport runways and aprons, farm buildings and hotels and other tourist infrastructure. In general, buildings such as offices or retail premises are regarded as commercial and no capital allowances are available in respect of the cost of their construction. The "normal" rate at which capital allowances apply to industrial buildings under the general scheme is currently 4% per annum over 25 years.

In addition, under the various property and area-based incentive schemes, which have operated for many years, capital allowances were available in respect of the construction or refurbishment of certain commercial and industrial buildings. These schemes have all now been terminated except for the Specialist Palliative Care Units Scheme (which was never commenced) and the Mid-Shannon Corridor Tourism Infrastructure Investment Scheme (expiry 31/5/2015).

These incentive reliefs allow expenditure on industrial and commercial buildings to be written off for tax purposes at a faster rate than might otherwise be the case. In addition, the schemes provided relief for buildings, which would not otherwise get relief in the first place.

Following an Economic Impact Assessment carried out by my Department during 2011, certain restrictions are being introduced as to how allowances, which were available under the various property and area-based incentive schemes, can be used after the end of 2014. These measures, which I announced in the Budget last December, only apply to passive investors and the details will be included in the forthcoming Finance Bill. Under the proposed measures investors in accelerated capital allowance schemes (that is, schemes where allowances of greater than 4% per annum apply) will no longer be able to use unused capital allowances beyond the tax life of the particular building where that tax life ends on or after 1 January 2015. Where the tax life of a building has ended before January 2015, no carry forward of unused allowances into the tax year 2015 or any later tax year will be allowed.

The Revenue Commissioners have provided the following table which sets out the various property incentive schemes referred to above and the final termination date for incurring qualifying construction or refurbishment expenditure under each scheme.

Scheme

Termination Date (Note 1)

Urban Renewal

31/07/2008

Town Renewal

31/07/2008

Seaside Resorts

31/12/1999

Rural Renewal

31/07/2008

Multi-storey car parks

31/07/2008

Living over the Shop

31/07/2008

Enterprise Areas

31/12/2000

Park and Ride

31/07/2008

Holiday Cottages

31/07/2008

Hotels

N/A (Note 2)

Nursing Homes

30/06/2011

Housing for the Elderly/Infirm

30/04/2010

Hostels

N/A (Note 3)

Guest Houses

N/A (Note 3)

Convalescent Homes

30/06/2011

Qualifying (Private) Hospitals

31/12/2013

Qualifying Sports Injury Clinics

31/07/2008

Buildings Used for Child care Purposes

31/03/2012

Mental Health Centres

30/06/2011

Student Accommodation

31/07/2008

Registered Caravan Parks

N/A (Note 3)

Mid Shannon Corridor

31/05/2015

Specialist Palliative Care Units

Not commenced

Notes to Table

1) The termination dates shown in the Table are the dates by which the construction/refurbishment work on a building has to be carried out if the expenditure that is attributable to that work is to qualify for tax relief, not the date by which a building must be completed/sold or relief claimed. The termination dates shown are the final termination dates. Earlier termination dates may have applied in certain circumstances.

2) Capital allowances for expenditure incurred on hotel projects are of long standing and different rates have applied over time. An accelerated rate of 15% per annum (10% in year 7) applied in relation to construction/refurbishment expenditure incurred from 28/1/1994 up to 31/07/2008, subject to certain transitional arrangements being met. For expenditure incurred after that date, or where the transitional arrangements were not met, the annual allowance is 4%.

3) Annual allowances of 4% are available. Capital allowances in respect of industrial buildings may, subject to the conditions and limitations set out in the legislation, be used against trading and professional income as well as rental income received from the letting of such a building. The estimated costs in respect of capital allowances for industrial buildings for 2008 and 2009, the latest years for which figures are available, are €808.1m and €800.0m respectively. It is not possible to separately identify the cost of allowances claimed in respect of rental income derived from commercial property only.

The estimated cost of the property incentives element of the capital allowances costs shown above is as set out in the table below. The figures shown relate to the cost to the Exchequer of tax relief in respect of the industrial buildings allowance element of a range of property-based incentives derived from personal income tax returns filed by non-PAYE taxpayers and corporation tax returns filed by companies for 2008 and 2009, the latest years for which this information is available:

Scheme

Tax Cost 2008

Tax Cost 2009

€m

€m

Urban Renewal

30.9

38.1

Town Renewal

9.5

6.6

Seaside Resorts

1.8

1.3

Rural Renewal

7.7

6.6

Multi-storey car parks

6.6

5.2

Living over the shop

0.5

0.5

Enterprise Areas

2.5

2.1

Park and Ride

0.1

0.1

Holiday Cottages

14.8

13.9

Hotels

116.4

102.1

Nursing Homes

19.8

21.6

Housing for the Elderly/Infirm

3.0

2.8

Hostels

0.69

0.30

Guest houses

0.12

0.10

Convalescent Homes

0.5

0.5

Qualifying (Private) Hospitals

12.3

12.5

Qualifying sports injury clinics

1.7

1.5

Buildings used for Child-care Purposes

12.2

12.5

Student Accommodation

0.0

0.0

Caravan Camps

0.6

0.2

Mid Shannon Corridor

0.7

0.2

Other

13.5

13.7

Total

256.1

242.5

It should be noted that any corresponding data returned by PAYE taxpayers in the income tax return (Form 12) is not captured in the Revenue computer system. However, any PAYE taxpayer with non-PAYE income greater than €3,174 is required to complete an income tax return (Form 11).

The estimated relief claimed has assumed tax forgone at the 41% rate for 2008 and 2009 in the case of individuals and 12.5% in the case of companies for both years. The figures shown correspond to the maximum Exchequer cost in terms of income tax and corporation tax. Corresponding data cannot yet be provided for 2010 and 2011, as the tax returns for these years are either not yet due or are still being processed.

Tax relief is also available under Section 482 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 for expenditure incurred on the restoration and maintenance of significant buildings and gardens. While a small number of these properties are operated on a commercial basis, it is not possible to split out the cost of the relief for such properties without a protracted examination of the records. In addition, Section 766A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for a 25% tax credit in respect of expenditure on buildings or structures used for research and development.

Patrick Nulty

Ceist:

113 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Finance the amount of extra revenue that will be garnered by increasing both capital gains tax and capital acquisitions tax to 40% in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4837/12]

Budget 2012 saw an increase in the rate of both Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT) and Capital Gains Tax (CGT) from 25% to 30%. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year yield to the Exchequer from increasing the CAT tax rate by 10% to 40% could be in the region of €110 million.

I am also advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year yield to the Exchequer from increasing the CGT tax rate by 10% to 40% could be in the region of €166 million. This figure includes corporate gains. However, these estimates assume no behavioural changes on the part of taxpayers, and large increases in rates such as are contemplated in the question may have a significant behavioural impact and may not produce a corresponding increase or decrease in tax yield. In current economic conditions any estimate of additional yield must be treated with caution. In addition, increasing the rate could, in theory, lead to a reduction in yield from the tax.

Customs and Excise

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

114 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance, in view of the increased number of flights into Ireland West Airport Knock, County Mayo, his plans to appoint full-time customs staff at the airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4869/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, although staff are not based full-time at Ireland West Airport Knock, there is a Customs presence for the majority of flights, including all flights from high risk destinations as determined by Revenue's risk analysis and profiling systems. Attendance by Customs officers is selective and targeted and is based on analysis and evaluation of national and international seizure trends, traffic frequency, routes and other risk indicators. Attendance can also be as a result of specific intelligence. A drugs detector dog is frequently in attendance and X-ray equipment is in regular use in the arrivals terminal. Flights with origins and destinations with a high-risk rating attract particular interest. Attendances by Customs officers cover the full range of flight times and are kept under constant review, in particular to take account of emerging smuggling trends and any traffic increases at the Airport. This approach is in line with international practice in smaller airports and is also an efficient use of limited resources. Revenue is aware of new flights commencing shortly at Knock and will keep the level and extent of customs controls under review, as necessary, based on risk analysis of those additional flights.

EU-IMF Programme

Tom Fleming

Ceist:

115 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Finance if the terms of reference being used by the troika as it works towards producing a common paper on a possible alternative to the IBRC promissory notes, include the possibility of proposing some form of new substitute financial instruments as opposed to merely adjusting the interest rate and/or the duration of repayment of the existing promissory notes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4874/12]

As the Deputy is aware, the Government is currently in detailed discussions with its European partners about restructuring the promissory notes held by IBRC. These promissory notes are funded by emergency liquidity assistance, or ELA, provided by the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI). This ELA is itself funded by the CBI through Intra-Eurosystem liabilities and any repayments of ELA are used to reduce this liability on the Central Bank's balance sheet. If the discussions about restructuring the promissory notes are successful, it could result in the replacement of these notes with an alternative instrument and a change in the repayment profile of the associated funding. The government's approach in this matter is to vigorously pursue a resolution that is in Ireland's interests but to do so with the agreement of the ECB, the IMF and EC.

Economic Growth

Tom Fleming

Ceist:

116 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Finance if he will clarify the relative importance of the divergence that now exists in the projected growth rate for this year between the December budget figure of 1.3% and the troika’s new estimate of 0.5%, in terms of any mid-term adjustment being considered for 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4876/12]

The Budget Day forecast is for real GDP growth of 1.3 per cent in 2012. The Budget Day forecast was prepared on the basis of economic information (domestic and international) available up to end-November 2011, and was mid-range at that time. Given the highly uncertain environment, the Budget documentation also pointed to a number of risks to this forecast — some to the downside and some to the upside. This uncertainty has continued into 2012 and is reflected in the wide range of GDP projections for this year, not just for Ireland, but also for the euro area. Indeed, the Troika's January forecast of 0.5 per cent growth reflects heightened concerns about the euro-area outlook.

While the Troika has revised down its real GDP growth forecast for this year, it still sees the overall deficit target of 8.6 per cent as achievable, albeit with risks — as is always the case with any forecast in any year. In this respect, it is important to highlight that it is the nominal growth rate of GDP (i.e. volume and price changes) which drives tax revenue and affects the various fiscal ratios. It is also crucial to point out that the Exchequer budgetary position at end-2011 was better than anticipated at Budget time, providing a small safety margin in terms of achieving the 2012 deficit target.

We are only a month into the New Year so talking about a mid-term adjustment at the moment is not appropriate. My Department will continue to monitor the economic and budgetary situation over the coming months, in particular the monthly Exchequer Statement, and this will inform official thinking on these matters. As is the norm, my Department will publish a revised set of economic and budgetary forecasts in the April Stability Programme Update.

Departmental Bodies

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

117 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if the Revenue Commissioners will confirm that in so far as they have dealings with a person (details supplied) in County Kerry, they are of the highest probity and professional standing and that any inference to the contrary is completely without foundation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4893/12]

This is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. I am advised by Revenue that under its Customer Service Charter a presumption of honesty underpins all interaction with taxpayers (and by extension their representatives). Revenue does not and could not be expected to provide formal confirmation or assurance of the bona fides of any tax professional. The creation of such a document for any tax practitioner would be in contravention of the equitable treatment that Revenue is required to provide to all its customers and their intermediaries. The matter raised by the Deputy has previously been addressed fully by Revenue. Both the Offices of the Information Commissioner and Ombudsman have independently considered applications by the individual in question and issued decisions upholding Revenue's responses and actions.

National Asset Management Agency

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

118 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance the reason the National Asset Management Agency is delaying the sale of land in Sandyford, Dublin 18 (details supplied) that will allow for the investment of €10 million by a private company and significant job creation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4917/12]

I am informed by NAMA that the site in question is controlled jointly by NAMA and a non-NAMA bank. Any sale requires the joint agreement of the two lenders in question. The company in question had sought to purchase c. 50% of the site marketed for sale, and the view of the joint lenders was that this proposal significantly devalued the balance of the site. I am also informed that the company in question had dropped it's offer price significantly during negotiations.

Disabled Drivers

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

119 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Finance if allowances can be made in exceptional circumstances regarding disability regulations (details supplied). [4934/12]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that Section 134(3) of the Finance Act 1992 (as amended) and Statutory Instrument No: 353 of 1994 (Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations, 1994 (as amended) provide for permanent relief from the payment of specified maximum amounts of VAT and VRT for persons registered under the scheme. The legislation specifies that where a person satisfies the Revenue Commissioners that s/he is a Disabled Driver who complies with all the conditions of the Disabled Drivers Scheme, that person shall be entitled to relief in respect of a vehicle with an engine capacity of up to but not greater than 2,000 c.c. The legislation does not provide for any exceptions and the provisions of SI 353/1994 must be fully adhered to.

Departmental Correspondence

John McGuinness

Ceist:

120 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance if he will expedite a resolution in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny arising from correspondence issued recently by the Revenue Commissioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4943/12]

The Revenue Commissioners have asked me to advise you that details of the named individual's Old Age Pension were received from the Department of Social Protection and his Tax Credits 2012 were adjusted to facilitate the collection of tax on this income. The named individual called to his local Revenue office recently and his tax position was fully explained to him. If he has any further questions, he should contact Revenue again.

Tax Collection

John McGuinness

Ceist:

121 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance if a payment plan to pay taxes to the Revenue Commissioners in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny will be accepted. [4950/12]

This is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. I am advised by Revenue that the debt owed by the persons concerned was referred to the Sheriff when an arrangement for payment acceptable to Revenue was not agreed. The persons concerned are paying the debt owed to the Sheriff through an interim phased payment subsequently agreed with the Sheriff. This arrangement is due to be reviewed by the Sheriff at the end of February. The persons concerned will have an opportunity to bring any material matters to the Sheriff's attention in the context of that review.

State Banking Sector

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

122 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Finance his views on the costs which are incurred by financial institutions under his control each time they issue correspondence to customers informing them of mortgage rate increases; the amount each institution spent in 2010 and 2011 on administration and postage of such letters in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4957/12]

The administration expenses incurred by these financial institutions are a day-to-day operational matter for the board and management of those institutions and I have no function in the matter.

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

123 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter regarding Anglo Irish Bank; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4972/12]

I have been informed by the Bank that it had a €1.25bn senior unsecured unguaranteed EMTN in issue, which matured on 25 January 2012. Securities such as this are freely tradeable once issued and therefore IBRC, the issuer, has no means of establishing the underlying ownership. These securities are publicly traded and dealt through market participants and settled by clearing house systems. An issuer does not have any access to the records of the clearing house. At maturity, the Bank will instruct its paying agent to transfer the funds due to the clearing house who will then distribute the funds to the holders of the securities as per their records.

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

124 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm that the vast majority of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation’s liabilities are now accounted for by emergency liquidity assistance debts to the Central Bank of Ireland; if he will provide an estimate of the level of these debts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4990/12]

I can confirm that IBRC receives the majority of its funding from the Central Bank of Ireland via its emergency liquidity facility. As the Deputy will be aware, the latest published figures are set out in the bank's Interim Report for the six months ended 30 June 2011 which can be found at the following link: http://www.ibrc.ie/About_us/Financial_information/Latest_interim_report/Interim_Report _2011.pdf.

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

125 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance if he has requested that the Central Bank of Ireland allow the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation to delay beginning repayments of its emergency liquidity assistance debts until the country has emerged from its economic crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4991/12]

I have not asked the Central Bank of Ireland to allow IBRC to delay repayments of the Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) provided. The Deputy will be aware that while there is an implicit link between the current repayment schedule on the Promissory Note and ELA there is no specific repayment schedule, as such, in relation to ELA. Any discussions in relation to ELA would of necessity have to include the ECB. As I have indicated, I am committed to reviewing the approach to the Promissory notes with a view to reducing the overall cost to the State of correcting the banking system. The troika have agreed to engage in a process with Irish Officials to produce a common paper which will consider all options for restructuring the notes in terms of the source of funding, the duration of the notes, the interest rate, etc.

In tandem with this technical review I have commenced an intensive campaign at political level to garner support for an approach which is more beneficial to the Irish State. The Minister has met with Commissioner Rehn and Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank last week to progress the matter.

Given the nature of advocacy and the decision making process in the EU, I would not expect this matter to be concluded in the short term.

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

126 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance, on the understanding, based on Article 14.4 of the ECB statute, that deferral of emergency liquidity assistance repayments can be blocked by a two thirds vote of the ECB Governing Council, if he has asked for ECB President Draghi’s support in approving such a proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4992/12]

The Government is currently in technical discussions with its European partners about restructuring the promissory notes held by IBRC. These promissory notes are funded by exceptional liquidity assistance, or ELA, provided by the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI). This ELA is itself funded by the CBI through Intra-Eurosystem liabilities and any repayments of ELA are used to reduce this liability on the Central Bank's balance sheet. If the discussions about any restructuring of the promissory notes are successful, it could result in the replacement of these notes with an alternative instrument and a change in the repayment profile of the associated funding. The government's approach in this matter is to vigorously pursue a resolution that is in Ireland's interests but to do so with the agreement of the ECB, the IMF and EC.

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

127 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an explanation of the Central Bank of Ireland’s policy regarding its plans for repayment of emergency liquidity assistance debts by the IBRC; if this money is used to purchase assets for the bank, profits from which can be returned to the Exchequer, or if this money is used to write down the bank’s liabilities, effectively destroying the money created when the ELA loans were made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4993/12]

Exceptional Liquidity Assistance or ELA is one of the ways that the Central Bank has responded to the financial crisis. This is distinct and separate from regular funding operations carried out for monetary policy implementation purposes through the ECB. A loan provided to a credit institution under ELA is granted against suitable collateral, where suitability is in line with unpublished criteria defined by the Central Bank. As with procedures for ECB eligible collateral, appropriate haircuts/discounts are applied with a view to ensuring that the Central Bank would not suffer any loss in the event of default on the loan assistance. Any ELA provided by a central bank is funded through Intra-Eurosystem liabilities. As such, any repayments of ELA are used to reduce this liability on the Central Bank's balance sheet.

Departmental Staff

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

128 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance the salaries and allowances paid to his private secretary and to the Secretary General of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5028/12]

In my Department, I understand that although the Secretary General's nominal salary is significantly higher than €200,000, he has gifted the excess to the state on a voluntary basis. The position of private secretary to the Minister is currently staffed in my Department by a civil servant at Administrative Officer level who receives an allowance of €20,685 per annum in respect of the extra duties and responsibilities attaching to the post including extra attendance outside normal hours.

The allowance for private secretaries to Ministers was reduced by 5% on 1 January 2010 under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009. In December last, it was announced that all Departments will have to achieve a reduction of 5% in the cost of allowances and premium payments in 2012. In this regard all allowances in the public service, including the allowance payable to private secretaries to Ministers, are currently subject to a review led by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Appointments to State Boards

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

129 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a breakdown of the number of appointments that have been made to State boards by him since he came to office, including the names of the appointees and the boards they have been appointed to; the number of these appointments that have been made using new procedures involving the advertising of such posts on his Department’s website and the interview of the chairpersons of boards by Oireachtas committees; if he will highlight situations where this process has not occurred; and the reason it has not occurred in each case. [5044/12]

In response to the Deputy's question the following appointments were made in respect of bodies under the aegis of my Department since March 2011.

Fiscal Advisory Council

The following people were appointed to the Fiscal Advisory Council:

Mr. Sebastian Barnes

Professor Alan Barrett

Dr. Donal Donovan

Professor John McHale, Chair

Dr. Roisin O'Sullivan

As Minister for Finance I announced the establishment of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council on a non-statutory basis on 7 July 2011. The Council is part of a wider agenda of reform of Ireland's budgetary architecture which is envisaged in the Programme for Government and is a requirement of the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland. When establishing the Council, I stated that the Council would be an independent body whose existence and independence would be underpinned by legislation to be brought forward by Government in the Fiscal Responsibility Bill.

The Chairman did not undergo interview by Oireachtas Committee but the Fiscal Council appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform on 17 November 2011 to discuss their first fiscal assessment report published in October.

I appointed the members having regard to a number of criteria including the desirability of having a mix of appropriate backgrounds (academia, the financial sector/financial markets and public finance), macroeconomic/microeconomic expertise and a strong international dimension, as well as the need to take gender considerations into account. I am satisfied that the appointed members have the mix of skills and experience, including in relation to fiscal affairs, to ensure that the Council will be highly effective in fulfilling its mandate. The Fiscal Responsibility Bill will include provisions for the appointment of members once the Council is on a statutory footing.

Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC)

Mr. Oliver Ellingham and Mr. Roger McGreal were appointed to the Board of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.

As specific skills are required due to the nature of the business model at IBRC it was decided on this occasion not to proceed with the public advertisement of the vacancies.

For the sake of completeness, I have formed a panel of suitably qualified people in 2011 for possible appointment or nomination to the board of certain banks following a public expressions of interest process. Recently, Bank of Ireland has appointed Mr. Patrick Haren who was included on this panel to their Court (board).

Tax Clearance Certificates

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

130 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will arrange for tax credit to be reviewed and a revised certificate issued if necessary in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [5059/12]

The person concerned called to the Revenue office in Cork in early January and was advised that he was exempt from tax. On a more detailed review, it now appears that this information was incorrect, and Revenue regrets any distress caused by the incorrect information. The most recent figures available to Revenue indicate that an occupational pension of approximately €25,000 was paid in 2010, and that a contributory State pension of approximately €22,400 has been payable since late 2010. Based on this information, and assuming those income levels continue, this person and his spouse will exceed the exemption limit for a jointly assessed couple. Revenue has issued a revised tax credit certificate based on this assumption.

If the person feels that the information held by Revenue is incorrect, it is recommended that the person concerned complete a Form 12 (Return of Income) for 2011 to ensure that Revenue's information is complete. If he has any other queries, he should telephone Revenue on 1890 22 24 25.

Tax Collection

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

131 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding tax in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5144/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the person concerned is in receipt of an Occupational Pension and a pension from the Department of Social Protection which provide him a combined taxable income of approximately €40,000. Tax credits and reliefs have been applied to this income and a revised Tax Credit and Universal Social Charge Certificate issued to the persons concerned in respect of the year 2012. Based on the information available to the Revenue Commissioners the person concerned has been allowed the appropriate tax credits and reliefs on his income.

The person concerned may wish to contact the Revenue Commissioners in respect of the home improvement loan in order that any necessary adjustment may be made to his Tax Credit and Universal Social Charge Certificate.

State Banking Sector

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

132 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a full list of all unsecured unguaranteed bonds due to be paid by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation in 2012 and 2013 detailing the amounts to be paid, the dates on which the payments will be made and the current holders of the bonds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5160/12]

The list of unsecured unguaranteed bonds due to be paid in 2012 and 2013 is set out in a table. As already indicated the bank has no means of establishing the underlying ownership of these securities which are freely tradeable once issued. These securities are publicly traded and dealt through market participants and settled by clearing house systems. An issuer does not have any access to the records of the clearing house. At maturity, the Bank will instruct its paying agent to transfer the funds due to the clearing house which will then distribute the funds to the holders of the securities as per their records. Even where the bank is presented with lists alleging to represent names of bondholders I am informed there is no way for the bank, or anyone else, to verify the veracity of such lists.

Unguaranteed

ISIN

Maturity Date

Value Date

Currency

Net Issuance

Euro Equivalent

XS0243157897

03/02/2012

03/02/2006

EUR

20,000,000

20,000,000

XS0278110357

15/02/2012

21/12/2006

GBP

1,000,000

1,200,768

XS0286152482

23/03/2012

23/03/2007

EUR

3,500,000

3,500,000

XS0288559585

23/03/2012

23/03/2007

EUR

8,000,000

8,000,000

XS0290744530

28/03/2012

28/03/2007

EUR

9,000,000

9,000,000

XS0298047290

26/04/2012

26/04/2007

JPY

1,500,000,000

15,034,580

XS0293036819

27/04/2012

27/04/2007

EUR

30,000,000

30,000,000

XS0294693774

27/04/2012

27/04/2007

EUR

10,000,000

10,000,000

XS0363778449

14/05/2012

14/05/2008

GBP

60,000,000

72,046,110

XS0306306613

26/06/2012

26/06/2007

GBP

8,595,000

10,320,605

XS0306307694

26/06/2012

26/06/2007

EUR

590,708,000

590,708,000

XS0306654657

27/06/2012

27/06/2007

USD

15,000,000

11,607,212

XS0307691559

28/06/2012

28/06/2007

GBP

400,000,000

480,307,397

XS0382011749

20/08/2012

18/08/2008

EUR

10,000,000

10,000,000

XS0327475074

08/11/2012

08/11/2007

CZK

600,000,000

23,574,712

XS0373626208

04/07/2013

04/07/2008

EUR

50,000,000

50,000,000

XS0367944377

22/07/2013

21/07/2008

EUR

25,000,000

25,000,000

XS0333549599

29/11/2013

30/11/2007

BGN

25,000,000

12,782,493

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

133 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Question No. 44 of 15 November 2011, if he will provide an update on his and Irish Bank Resolution Corporation’s efforts to establish the identity of current unsecured, unguaranteed bondholders with Anglo Irish bank; the rationale for his or IBRC’s efforts in this regard; if he or IBRC have identified these bondholders; and if so, if he will provide a list of those identified and the bonds they currently have with IRBC; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5204/12]

As the Deputy is aware the bank has no means of establishing the underlying ownership of these securities which are freely tradeable once issued. These securities are publicly traded and dealt through market participants and settled by clearing house systems. An issuer does not have any access to the records of the clearing house. At maturity, the Bank will instruct its paying agent to transfer the funds due to the clearing house which will then distribute the funds to the holders of the securities as per their records. Even where the bank is presented with lists alleging to represent names of bondholders I am informed there is no way for the bank or anyone else to verify the veracity of such lists. In the circumstances the Deputy will appreciate that there is nothing further I can do to identify the names of the bondholders.

Pension Provisions

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

134 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter regarding pensions (details supplied); if he will outline the person’s options; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5220/12]

Income tax relief at an individual's marginal tax rate is allowed (within limits) on contributions made to supplementary private pension arrangements, including personal pension plans and retirement annuity contracts. Investment growth in such pension arrangements approved by the Revenue Commissioners is also exempt from tax. The purpose of these various tax relief arrangements is to allow individuals to supplement any State pension income they may be entitled to with private pension income in retirement. The use of tax-relieved private pension savings to purchase additional State pension entitlements either here or elsewhere is not permitted and I have no plans to change that position. Retirement benefits can be taken from a personal pension plan or retirement annuity contract at any time after age 60 and before age 75 without any requirement to give up work, so if the individual is 65 he is free to take his benefits. The options available are as follows:

Up to 25% of the accumulated fund may be taken as a lump sum that is tax-free up to a lifetime limit of €200,000. The options available with the remainder of the pension fund are—

to purchase an annuity,

to receive the balance of the pension fund in cash (subject to tax, as appropriate), or

to invest in an approved retirement fund (ARF).

The latter two options are subject to conditions. The conditions include the requirements that the individual be over 75 years of age or, if younger, that the individual has a guaranteed level of pension income (specified income) actually in payment for life at the time the option to effect the ARF or cash option is exercised. Finance Act 2011 increased the guaranteed level of pension income required to an amount equal to 1.5 times the maximum annual rate of the State Pension (Contributory) bringing the "specified income" limit to €18,000 per annum at present. Where the minimum specified income test is not met, and an individual does not wish to purchase an annuity, then an approved minimum retirement fund (AMRF) must be chosen into which a "set aside" amount must be invested from the pension fund equal to 10 times the maximum annual rate of State Pension (Contributory) —€119,800 at present — or the remainder of the pension fund, after taking the tax-free lump sum, if less.

Government Bonds

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

135 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide the monthly average yields for Irish Government bonds being traded on the secondary market categorised by duration of each bond form October 2010 to January 2012 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5290/12]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the table below. This information has been provided by the National Treasury Management Agency.

Average Redemption Yield % (monthly Oct 2010 to Jan 2012*)

Maturity Date

Oct-10

Nov-10

Dec-10

Jan-11

Feb-11

Mar-11

Apr-11

May-11

June-11

July-11

Aug-11

Sept-11

Oct-11

Nov-11

Dec-11

Jan-11

Mar-12

3.60

5.27

4.87

4.67

4.41

5.22

6.46

8.36

6.74

9.38

7.38

6.84

5.08

5.42

4.22

3.18

Apr-13

4.30

6.35

6.12

6.51

6.77

8.64

9.53

11.55

11.93

16.47

9.58

8.25

7.24

8.48

7.98

5.75

Jan-14

4.71

7.19

6.98

7.33

7.65

9.45

10.29

12.37

13.58

16.71

9.64

8.26

7.45

8.52

8.19

6.16

Apr-16

5.35

7.56

7.68

8.02

8.19

9.78

10.19

11.51

12.20

14.07

9.05

7.69

6.97

8.20

8.15

6.49

Oct-18

5.94

7.89

8.08

8.30

8.49

9.40

9.70

10.76

11.36

12.88

8.94

8.04

7.65

8.34

8.47

7.37

Jun-19

6.10

7.85

8.24

8.47

8.62

9.34

9.65

10.42

11.02

12.38

8.78

7.95

7.68

8.32

8.39

7.40

Oct-19

6.24

8.01

8.39

8.65

8.90

9.72

8.89

10.70

11.49

13.17

9.63

8.29

7.83

8.37

8.54

7.54

Apr-20

6.31

8.00

8.39

8.64

8.79

9.41

9.48

10.23

10.95

12.17

9.13

8.16

7.71

8.32

8.46

7.44

Oct-20

6.42

8.13

8.52

8.75

8.93

9.59

9.65

10.39

11.19

12.38

9.31

8.33

7.90

8.32

8.52

7.61

Mar-25

6.71

8.14

8.56

8.77

8.85

9.30

9.09

9.61

10.34

11.18

8.94

7.24

7.74

8.23

8.33

7.48

* to 27/1/2012
Source: Bloomberg

Banks Recapitalisation

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

136 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Question No. 112 of 29 November 2011, if he will clarify a matter (details supplied) on the banks’ pension funds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5348/12]

As the Deputy will be aware none of the institutions in receipt of State Aid has used State Funds directly to offset deficits in defined benefit pension schemes. This assurance, provided by the banks, would cover the direct transfer of funds provided in State Aid towards the reduction of deficits in the banks' pension schemes. The institutions do contribute, as required by law and regulation, to pension schemes in the normal way. Deficits that exist in pension schemes in the institutions are being reduced generally through increased employee contributions and reductions in future benefits. The Deputy will appreciate, however, an institution's funds are not generally segregated by source for distribution in specific ways. It is very difficult in terms of a bank's funding to categorically state that State Aid does not indirectly find its way through normal employee contribution or pre-State Aid contractual arrangements into pension funds. However, in terms of the principal at issue I am assured by the institutions that none of the institutions has used State funds directly to off-set deficits in defined benefit pension scheme funds.

Disabled Drivers

Paul Connaughton

Ceist:

137 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Finance the rationale behind the stipulation in the application for tax relief for passengers with disabilities stating that the car must be purchased from an authorised dealer; if he will define an authorised dealer; if there is any mechanism whereby a person who purchased a vehicle privately can have it authorised; if there are any plans to change the current regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5364/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that an authorised dealer is a person who is authorised under section 136 of the Finance Act 1992 (as amended) "to manufacture, distribute, deal in, deliver, store, repair or modify unregistered vehicles and to convert registered vehicles”. Authorisation brings a number of responsibilities concerning the management and record keeping in relation to vehicles, responsibilities that are subject to control and scrutiny by the Commissioners. Because of the significant amount of relief from both VRT and VAT available to purchasers of vehicles under the Disabled Drivers and Passengers scheme, it is appropriate that vehicles provided under this scheme should be provided by authorised dealers to facilitate the monitoring of various elements of the scheme.

As it is the dealer who supplies a vehicle that is authorised and not the vehicle, it is not possible to retrospectively authorise a vehicle purchased privately.

There are no plans to change the current regulations regarding authorisation.

EU-IMF Programme

Eric J. Byrne

Ceist:

138 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Finance in respect of Ireland’s commitments under the EU-ECB-IMF troika deal, the methods that will be used to meet our targets under this deal in terms of our debt to GDP ratio for 2012, 2013 and 2014 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5369/12]

Table 2.1 on page 20 of the Medium-Term Fiscal Statement outlines the amount of consolidation required over the period2012-2015 to meet the targets agreed under the EU/IMF Programme—link: http://budget.gov.ie/budgets/2012/Documents/Medium%20Term%20Fiscal%20Statement%20November%202011.pdf

Technical General Government Deficit Projections and Amount of Consolidation Required to Achieve Targets

2012

2013

2014

2015

% of GDP

General Government Deficit Target — as set by ECOFIN Council

8.6

7.5

5.1

2.9

Projected General Government Deficit

8.6

7.5

5.0

2.9

€ billions

€ billions

€ billions

€ billions

Total Consolidation Amount

3.8

3.5

3.1

2.0

Expenditure

2.2

2.25

2.0

1.3

Current

1.45

1.70

1.9

1.3

Capital

0.75

0.55

0.1

0.0

Tax

1.6

1.25

1.1

0.7

New Measures

1.0

0.95

0.9

0.4

Carry Forward

0.6 *

0.30

0.2

0.3

* The Universal Social Charge is also expected to deliver an additional €0.4 billion in revenues in 2012. While this is not part of the €3.8 billion consolidation package, it is captured in the budgetary projections.

Source: Department of Finance and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Rounding may affect totals

There were minor revisions to this information in Budget 2012 contained on pages D.16-17 and more detailed information was provided on the composition of revenue measures for the period 2013-2015— link: http://budget.gov.ie/budgets/2012/Documents/Economic%20and%20Fiscal%20Outlook.pdf

Indicative Revenue Raising Measures 2013-2015

€million

2013

2014

2015

Total

c/f

New

c/f

New

c/f

New

Direct and Capital Taxes

71

415

195

300

130

330

1,441

Indirect Tax

149

420

65

100

20

100

854

Local Tax

125

440

120

685

Sub-Total

220

960

260

840

150

550

Total (inclusive of c/fwd)

1,180

1,100

700

2,980

Source: Department of Finance.

Rounding can affect totals.

As set out in the MTFS, revenue measures amounting to a cumulative €4.65 billion for the period 2012 to 2015 are envisaged. Taking account of the Budget 2012 measures Table 8 sets out the indicative path to achieve this overall total.

Revenue Consolidation Targets 2012-2015

€ billion

2012

2013

2014

2015

Total

MTFS Target

1.6

1.25

1.1

0.7

4.65

Post-Budget

1.7

1.2

1.1

0.7

4.65

Sources: Department of Finance.

Rounding can affect totals.

Taking into account the latest macroeconomic and fiscal forecasts as contained in Budget 2012, these consolidation measures would result in debt to GDP ratios for the period 2011-2015 as detailed in the table below. This information is also available in Annex II on page D.22 of Budget 2012— link: http://budget.gov.ie/budgets/2012/Documents/Economic%20and%20Fiscal%20Outlook.pdf

General Government Debt Developments 2011-2015

% of GDP

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Gross debt

107

115

119

118

115

Change in gross debt (=1+2+3)

14.8

7.3

4.5

-1.2

-3.3

Tax Collection

Brian Walsh

Ceist:

139 Deputy Brian Walsh asked the Minister for Finance if there is any mechanism by which charities can reclaim VAT that was incorrectly applied by telecommunications providers to charitable donations made via SMS text message; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5389/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, where telecommunications providers incorrectly apply VAT to charitable donations made via SMS text messages, as distinct from applying it to any fees charged by them, VAT legislation allows for the telecommunications providers to refund to their customers the VAT overcharged, provided that their systems and records are capable of identifying the overcharges and giving adequate proof as to the nature of any refunds, in accordance with the normal rules. VAT legislation does not allow Revenue to make refunds of VAT, overcharged by suppliers of services or goods, directly to the customers of such suppliers.

Revenue Commissioners

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

140 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an analysis of Revenue Commissioners staff at each grade, on the basis of gender and age, as of 1 January 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5406/12]

The Revenue Commissioners have provided me with a table in relation to the information sought by the Deputy:

Table 1: Head count* of Revenue staff, by grade, gender and age at 31/12/11.

Age

Grade

Gender

20-29

30-39

40-49

50-59

Over 60

GrandTotal

PO

F

7

7

17

2

33

M

3

11

64

6

84

PO Total

10

18

81

8

117

AP

F

2

29

34

62

6

133

M

2

4

55

201

24

286

AP Total

4

33

89

263

30

419

HEO/AO

F

10

82

127

294

7

520

M

3

52

139

332

18

544

HEO/AO Total

13

134

266

626

25

1,064

EO/SO

F

27

193

472

653

24

1,369

M

22

174

225

309

13

743

EO/SO Total

49

367

697

962

37

2,112

CO

F

194

575

568

449

67

1,853

M

101

236

184

136

24

681

CO Total

295

811

752

585

91

2,534

Other

F

1

3

13

7

24

M

1

10

29

49

32

121

Other Total

1

11

32

62

39

145

Grand Total

362

1,366

1,854

2,579

230

6,391

*Please note that the above figures are based on the head count; the whole-time equivalent figures would be less.

An analysis of the data shows that 44% of the Revenue staff are aged 50 and over with only 5.6% of staff aged 20 to 29. The overall female to male breakdown is 62% female and 38% male.

These demographics are due in part to the restrictions on recruitment in recent years. The numbers by grade and gender will change further as a result of the retirements due by the end of February 2012. Over 200 Revenue staff have applied to retire during January and February 2012. Further significant retirements are expected over the next 5-10 years. Officials from my Department, the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform are in discussions on how to address critical skills losses arising from recent and known retirements, and to plan for the medium and long-term.

Customs and Excise

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

141 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Finance if he will allocate funding to purchase additional mobile X-ray scanner and a cutter vessel for customs and excise; if he will apply for European Union funding to cover these costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5407/12]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners, who are responsible for the collection of taxes and duties and for tackling the smuggling of dutiable and prohibited goods, including tobacco products and narcotics, that they regard anti-smuggling prevention as a high priority area. The use of enforcement equipment such as mobile X-ray scanners, Revenue cutters and other detection technologies is just one part of a multi-faceted strategy employed by Revenue to tackle smuggling. This strategy includes ongoing analysis of the nature and extent of smuggling activity and developing and sharing intelligence on a national, EU and international basis. It necessitates ongoing review of operational policies and optimum deployment of resources at points of importation and inland to intercept contraband product.

Revenue consistently monitors ongoing developments in available X-ray and other technologies, and the selection and deployment of detection equipment is constantly reviewed. Revenue has made use of the European Union Hercule II Programme in the past to fund detection equipment and will apply for funding, when appropriate, in the future. The actual technology selected and the operational deployment of that technology is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners.

Under the present rules of the EU Hercule II Programme, Ireland would have to fund a minimum of 50% of the capital costs and 100% of the on-going operational costs of a new container scanner. The capital cost of a new mobile X-ray container scanner is in the region of €3 million with annual running costs of approximately €320,000.

Revenue currently has two mobile X-ray container scanning systems, the second of which was commissioned in January 2010. One scanner is based in Dublin Port and the other at Rosslare Ferry Port. However, both scanners are available for deployment at other ports as required. Revenue deploys the scanners on a risk assessment basis at various locations throughout the country. In addition to the container scanners, Revenue also uses smaller static baggage/ parcel scanners, which are deployed at all major ports, airports and postal depots. Two new X-ray scanners were also purchased within the last 12 months for use in postal depots. Revenue also expects to procure a smaller mobile Scan Van in 2012 and has submitted an application for co-funding for this to the European Union Hercule II programme. With regard to mobile container scanners Revenue is satisfied that the two main container ports in the State are adequately serviced and has no plans to acquire any such additional scanners.

The Revenue Commissioners currently have two cutters in service, RCC Suirbheir, which was brought into service in 2004 and RCC Faire, which entered service in 2009. Both vessels are involved on an ongoing basis in the patrol and monitoring of the State's maritime jurisdiction and adjacent waters. These patrol/monitoring activities are aimed at the prevention, detection, interception and seizure of prohibited and dutiable goods, including narcotics and tobacco products, smuggled or illegally imported into, or intended to be exported out of, the State/EU. They are also involved in servicing national and international arrangements and Mutual Assistance requests from other jurisdictions.

The Revenue cutters are part of a multi-faceted strategy employed by Revenue in combating drugs trafficking and other smuggling by sea. The Revenue cutters operate in co-operation with land based Revenue officials and other State enforcement agencies to combat drugs trafficking into Ireland by sea and co-operating with international customs agencies to combat international drugs trafficking by sea.

Revenue constantly monitors its equipment requirements in the light of new technologies and changing risks. They have advised that they are satisfied that there is no current requirement for an additional cutter.

Financial Services Regulation

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

142 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance his views on the decision of the Financial Regulator to restrict lending to credit unions; his further views on whether this will mean credit unions will have less money to earn from interest in order for the money to be put into reserves required by the Financial Regulator; his further views on whether this decision was made as part of a long-term plan to restrict the number of credit unions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5418/12]

The imposition of lending restrictions is the responsibility of the Registrar of Credit Unions, who is the independent regulator for credit unions. Within his independent regulatory discretion, the Registrar acts to support the prudential soundness of individual credit unions, to maintain sector stability and to protect the savings of credit union members. 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. It would not be appropriate for me, as Minister for Finance, to examine or adjudicate on whether the placing of lending restrictions is necessary on a case by case basis. I believe that such action would represent interference in the work of the independent regulator.

While loan interest is a valuable source of income for credit unions, it is important that lending takes places in accordance with regulatory requirements in order to protect the savings of members in credit unions and to ensure that credit unions focus on risks when making lending decisions. Restrictions are imposed on a case-by-case basis and are reviewed regularly. The type of lending restrictions can include maximum individual loan size, overall maximum monthly lending limits and restrictions on business lending.

The Registrar has advised that about 50% of credit unions are subject to lending restrictions at present. Almost all credit unions with a lending restriction have a maximum individual loan size restriction. Of the credit unions with lending restrictions over 65% can lend €20,000 or more to an individual member. Less than 3% of credit unions are restricted to loans of less than €10,000 to an individual member, and less than 1% of credit unions are restricted to lending less than €5,000 per member. Commercial lending restrictions apply to approximately a third of credit unions.

The imposition of lending restrictions is part of the normal regulation and supervision of the sector and is not part of credit union restructuring. The Commission on Credit Unions was established to review and make recommendations on the future of the credit union movement, 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 Interim Report of the Commission was published in October 2011 and was welcomed by all the stakeholders. The Final Report is to be provided to me by the end of March 2012.

Tax Reliefs

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

143 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance if he has made a decision in relation to a mortgage interest relief issue (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5434/12]

As I stated in my Budget speech, the Government has now fulfilled its commitment contained in the Programme for Government to increase the rate of mortgage interest relief to 30 per cent for first-time buyers who took out their first mortgage in the period 2004 to 2008. The technical detail of the legislation is currently being prepared for the Finance Bill and I will take the highlighted case into consideration in that regard.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

144 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a list of the senior bondholders who were paid in full by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation on 25 January to the sum of €1.25 billion; if these bondholders made a profit on the payment; if he has such a list; if IBRC has such a list; if the payment of these bondholders falls within the remit of the Comptroller and Auditor General; if the latter will be able to publish a report dealing with these payments in relation to who received them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5441/12]

As the Deputy is aware I am not in a position to provide a list of the bondholders who were repaid the gross payment of €1.25 billion. I am advised that the process of issuing new bonds is normally through underwriting, where one or more securities firms or banks form a syndicate buying the entire bond issue from the issuer and then re-selling to investors. Primary issuance is arranged by these syndicates who contact potential investors and advise the bond issuer in terms of timing, tenor and pricing of the bond issue.

The bond issuer will likely have little knowledge of the original owners of the bonds; also these initial investors may over time sell the bonds to other investors. Bonds are usually issued in bearer form which means that the purchasers of the bonds are unknown, with the bonds usually held by a securities depository company (e.g. Euroclear and Clearstream). When paying interest and principal the bond issuer will transfer the required funds to the securities depository company which in turn will pay the funds through to the bondholders.

The function of the securities depository company is to receive the appropriate interest or principal payment for the entire bond issue from the issuer and to distribute the required amounts to the individual bondholders. This is a standard process for all such issuances. Therefore throughout this entire process the bond issuer is unaware of the individual bondholders' details.

European Council Meetings

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

145 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Finance the EU Councils of Ministers on which he sits; the number of meetings of that Council held between 2007 and 2011; the number of those meetings he attended; the number attended by the relevant Minister of State; the number attended by an Irish official; and if he will provide the names of those who attended in tabular form. [5468/12]

The Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin) usually meets monthly, although it can meet more frequently, if required. Formal Ecofin meetings are held in Brussels or Luxembourg; informal Ecofin meetings are convened in the country holding the six-monthly Presidency (usually April and October). Separately to the Ecofin meetings, Eurogroup meetings usually take place on the evening beforehand. In many cases when the Minister could not attend an Ecofin meeting, he would have attended the Eurogroup meeting that preceded it. 61 meetings of the Ecofin Council have been held between 2007 and 2011. Since my appointment as Minister for Finance, 11 meetings of Ecofin took place in 2011 and I attended ten of these meetings. Mr. Brian Hayes TD, Minister of State at the Department of Finance attended a meeting of Ecofin on 14 June 2011, as I was abroad on official business in the US.

The following tables set out the dates of all Ecofin Council meetings convened between 2007 and 2011, and details of who attended each of these meetings:

2007

Date

Name

30/01/2007

Brian Cowen TD, Minister for Finance

27/02/2007

Brian Cowen TD, Minister for Finance

27/03/2007

Brian Cowen TD, Minister for Finance

20-21/04/2007 (Informal Ecofin — Germany)

Brian Cowen TD, Minister for Finance

08/05/2007

Ambassador Bobby McDonagh, Permanent Representative to the EU

05/06/2007

Ambassador Bobby McDonagh, Permanent Representative to the EU

10/07/2007

Brian Cowen TD, Minister for Finance

14-15/09/2007 (Informal Ecofin, Portugal)

Brian Cowen TD, Minister for Finance

09/10/2007

Ambassador Bobby McDonagh, Permanent Representative to the EU

13/11/2007

Ambassador Bobby McDonagh, Permanent Representative to the EU

04/12/2007

Ambassador Bobby McDonagh, Permanent Representative to the EU

2008

Date

Name

22/01/2008

Brian Cowen TD, Minister for Finance

12/02/2008

Brian Cowen TD, Minister for Finance

04/03/2008

Brian Cowen TD, Minister for Finance

04-05/04/2008 (Informal Ecofin, Slovenia)

James O’Brien, Second Secretary, Department of Finance

14/05/2008

Brian Lenihan TD, Minister for Finance

03/06/2008

Brian Lenihan TD, Minister for Finance

08/07/2008

Ambassador Bobby McDonagh, Permanent Representative to the EU

12-13/09/2008 (Informal Ecofin, France)

Brian Lenihan TD, Minister for Finance

07/10/2008

Brian Lenihan TD, Minister for Finance

04/11/2008

Brian Lenihan TD, Minister for Finance

02/12/2008

Ambassador Bobby McDonagh, Permanent Representative to the EU

18/12/2008 (Informal Ecofin, Paris)

Brian Lenihan TD, Minister for Finance

2009

Date

Name

20/01/2009

Brian Lenihan TD, Minister for Finance

10/02/2009

Brian Lenihan TD, Minister for Finance

10/03/2009

Ambassador Bobby McDonagh, Permanent Representative to the EU

03-04/04/2009 (Informal Ecofin, Czech Republic)

Brian Lenihan TD, Minister for Finance

05/05/2009

Ambassador Rory Montgomery, Permanent Representative to the EU

09/06/2009

Ambassador Rory Montgomery, Permanent Representative to the EU

07/07/2009

Ambassador Rory Montgomery, Permanent Representative to the EU

02/09/2009

Minister Brian Lenihan TD

01-02/10/2009 (Informal Ecofin, Sweden)

Minister Brian Lenihan TD

20/10/2009

Ambassador Rory Montgomery, Permanent Representative to the EU

10/11/2009

Ambassador Rory Montgomery, Permanent Representative to the EU

02/12/2009

Brian Lenihan TD, Minister for Finance

2010

Date

Name

19/01/2010

Ambassador Rory Montgomery, Permanent Representative to the EU

16/02/2010

Brian Lenihan TD, Minister for Finance

16/03/2010

Brian Lenihan TD, Minister for Finance

16-17/04/2010 (Informal Ecofin, Spain)

Irish Ambassador to Spain, HE Justin Harman (the Minister was unable to travel to Spanish Informal due to travel restrictions on account of Volcanic Ash).

09/05/2010

Brian Lenihan TD, Minister for Finance

18/05/2010

Ambassador Rory Montgomery, Permanent Representative to the EU

08/06/2010

Ambassador Rory Montgomery, Permanent Representative to the EU

13/07/2010

Martin Mansergh TD, Minister of State at the Department of Finance

07/09/2010

Brian Lenihan TD, Minister for Finance

01/10/2010 (Informal Ecofin, Brussels)

Dara Calleary TD, Minister of State at the Department of Finance

19/10/2010

Ambassador Rory Montgomery, Permanent Representative to the EU

17/11/2010

Brian Lenihan TD, Minister for Finance

07/12/2010

Ambassador Rory Montgomery, Permanent Representative to the EU

2011

Date

Name

18/01/2011

Ambassador Rory Montgomery, Permanent Representative to the EU

15/02/2011

Brian Lenihan TD, Minister for Finance

15/03/2011

Michael Noonan TD, Minister for Finance

08-09/04/2011 (Informal Ecofin, Hungary)

Michael Noonan TD, Minister for Finance

17/05/2011

Michael Noonan TD, Minister for Finance

14/06/2011

Brian Hayes TD, Minister of State at the Department of Finance

20/06/2011

Michael Noonan TD, Minister for Finance

12/07/2011

Michael Noonan TD, Minister for Finance

16-17/09/2011 (Informal Ecofin, Poland)

Michael Noonan TD, Minister for Finance

04/10/2011

Michael Noonan TD, Minister for Finance

22/10/2011

Michael Noonan TD, Minister for Finance

08/11/2011

Michael Noonan TD, Minister for Finance

30/11/2011

Michael Noonan TD, Minister for Finance

Question No. 146 answered with Question No. 105.

Tax Code

Seán Kyne

Ceist:

147 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Finance if he is considering rebalancing the excise tax structure on cigarettes by reducing the ad valorem element significantly and increasing the specific element of excise tax, thereby removing the tax discount for cheap cigarettes; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that 12 EU member states have rebalanced their tax structures by reducing the ad valorem element and increasing the specific element of excise tax, and have increased total excise revenue return as a result; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5485/12]

The Deputy will be aware that Ireland has the highest prices and excise duty levels for cigarettes in the EU and already applies a high specific duty element and a low ad valorem element in setting its excise duty for cigarettes relative to other Member States. However the question of re-balancing the excise tax structure will be examined in the context of the 2012 Finance Bill.

EU Directives

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

148 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the potential implications for financial institutions in this State of the inclusion in the draft European bank capital directive the requirement that all loans be treated as in default when they are in arrears for more than 90 days, particularly the impact on banks’ capital requirements and their ability to work with mortgage holders in arrears; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5529/12]

I am informed by the Central Bank that it does not see any material near-term impact on banks' capital levels or on their ability to work with mortgage holders in arrears from the draft Capital Requirements Directive provision on the definition of default (Article 174). In the current Capital Requirements Directive (Directive 2006/48/EC), which Ireland transposed through SI No.661 of 2006, default shall be considered to have occurred with regard to a particular obligor when either

a) the institution considers that the obligor is unlikely to pay its credit obligations to the institution, the parent undertaking or any of its subsidiaries in full, without recourse by the institution to actions such as realising security; or

b) the obligor is past due more than 90 days on any material credit obligation to the institution, the parent undertaking or any of its subsidiaries. I am informed by the Central Bank that its assessment is that the definition of default in the proposed new directive remains broadly the same.

People experiencing difficulties with their mortgage arrears are covered by the Central Bank's Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (the CCMA). The Central Bank also produced a consumer guide to assist consumers in understanding the new process and what they should expect from lenders. The guide is available on the Central Bank's website at http://www.centralbank.ie/regulation/processes/consumer-protection/documents/code of conduct on mortgage arrears 1 january 2011.pdf.

Programme of Financial Support

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

149 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of moneys drawn down to date from the EU-IMF programme; the dates on which the draw-downs took place; the interest rates payable on those draw-downs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5554/12]

To date, Ireland's nominal borrowings from the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism and the European Financial Stability Facility under the EU/IMF Programme amount to €38.2 billion. The following table, provided by the NTMA, sets out the loans drawn down to date from each source under the EU-IMF programme of financial support for Ireland along with the interest rate for these loans. The interest rates reflect the interest rate margin reductions agreed in respect of loans from the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM).

Draw-down Date

Maturity Date

Interest Rate

Currency Code

Principal Currency

Billion

01/02/2011

18/07/2016

2.75%

EUR

4.2

14/11/2011

04/02/2022

3.60%

EUR

3.0

15/12/2011

15/03/2012

0.32%

EUR

1.0

12/01/2012

04/02/2015

1.73%

EUR

1.3

19/01/2012

19/07/2012

0.37%

EUR

0.5

Total European Financial Stability Facility

10.0

12/01/2011

04/12/2015

2.50%

EUR

5.0

24/03/2011

04/04/2018

3.25%

EUR

3.4

31/05/2011

04/06/2021

3.50%

EUR

3.0

29/09/2011

04/09/2026

3.00%

EUR

2.0

06/10/2011

04/10/2018

2.38%

EUR

0.5

16/01/2012

04/04/2042

3.75%

EUR

1.5

Total European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism

15.4

18/01/2011

18/01/2021

Floating SDR + Surcharges

XDR

5.0

18/05/2011

18/05/2021

Floating SDR + Surcharges

XDR

1.4

07/09/2011

07/09/2021

Floating SDR + Surcharges

XDR

1.3

16/12/2011

16/12/2021

Floating SDR + Surcharges

XDR

3.3

Total International Monetary Fund

11.0

14/10/2011

15/04/2019

4.72%

GBP

0.4

30/01/2012

30/07/2019

4.29%

GBP

0.4

Total UK Bilateral Loan

0.8

Note 1: The interest rate on IMF loans is variable. It is composed of a weekly setting of the IMF SDR interest rate and surcharges which are volume and time dependent. As of 30 January 2012 the SDR interest rate accruing on Ireland’s IMF loans is 0.14% and the surcharges are 2.32% making a total of 2.46%.

This interest rate represents the unhedged cost of funds.Note 2 :XDR is the currency code used to denote the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), an international reserve asset which is composed of a basket of currencies consisting of the euro, Japanese yen, pound sterling, and U.S. dollar.

Under Ireland's EU-IMF Programme a total of €67.5 billion in loans will be provided from EU facilities, bilateral loans and the IMF. Total disbursements from the EFSF/EFSM will amount to €3.3 billion in January 2012. The schedule of future disbursements is kept under constant review and is the subject of discussion at each quarterly review. Disbursements take place following the completion of the review process, with the approval by EU Finance Ministers at Eurogroup and ECOFIN and the IMF's Executive Board, of the reports prepared, respectively, by the European Commission Services and IMF staff. The actual disbursements take place in the period following approval.

The next planned disbursement from the IMF will be approximately €3.2 billion and is scheduled to take place, subject to approval, after their Executive Board meeting on February 27th. The second disbursement of approximately €482 million under the bilateral loan agreement with the UK took place on 30 January 2012. Subject to signature of the bilateral loan agreements with Sweden and Denmark, the first disbursements of €0.2 billion and €0.1 billion respectively are due to be drawn down following this review.

National Anthem

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

150 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the use of the phrase “Sinne fianna fáil”, translated from Liam Ó Rinn’s version of the national anthem, should be re-translated in order for it not to reflect a particular political party name; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5556/12]

In response to the Deputy's question, I have previously provided a response to a question put down by the Deputy on 11 May 2011 (ref: 10806/11) in relation to the translated version of the National Anthem that is commonly in use today. In that response I referred to an article that was written by Ms Ruth Sherry, Professor of English in the University of Trondheim in Norway entitled "The Story of the National Anthem". The article appeared in the publication, History Ireland, in Spring 1996.

In her article Ms Sherry makes the point that the Irish translation which became generally known and used was written perhaps as early as 1917 by Liam Ó Rinn, who later became Chief Translator to the Oireachtas. He translated the first line of the chorus, ‘Soldiers are we, whose lives are pledged to Ireland' as "Sinne fianna fail, atá fá gheall ag Éireann''. A copy of the article can be found on the following website: http://www.historyireland.com/ volumes/volume4/issue1/features/?id=113150.

Included in the article, it states that "(Liam) Ó Rinn translated the first line of the chorus, ‘Soldiers are we, whose lives are pledged to Ireland', as ‘Sinne fianna fáil, atá fá gheall ag Éirinn'." Before the Treaty, the Volunteers had identified themselves in Irish as descendants of Finn Mac Cool's warriors, the Fianna, and Inis Fáil was believed to be an old name for Ireland: hence ‘Fianna Fáil, the Soldiers of Ireland'. The Volunteers wore insignia incorporating the letters FF. These insignia were carried over and used by the National Army after the establishment of the Free State, and are still used on army uniforms today. Thus Ó Rinn's rendering of Kearney's ‘soldiers' as ‘fianna fáil' is an apt reference to the group which adopted the song, and, in the context of the early publication of his translation in An tOglach in 1923, the first line constitutes a reference to the continuity between the Volunteers and the Free State army.

This translation was made well before Éamon de Valera's founding in 1926 of the political party which was also given the name Fianna Fáil. This shows that there is no reflection to a political party name in the translation version of the National Anthem.

Departmental Offices

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

151 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the Paymaster General’s office, which provides a banking service to all Departments and Government offices and is assigned to him under the Ministers and Secretaries Act 1924, would be better served as an independent service under the Constitution, as in the case of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, rather than under the political control of the Minister for Finance in office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5557/12]

The Paymaster General's Office, which is part of my Department, has two operational units. One of the units provides a banking service to Departments and Offices. It is not involved in policy matters. Due to automation of processes and the decline in the number of paper payments (payable orders) from 4.2 million in 2001 to 295,000 in 2011, it has been possible to reduce the number of staff in the unit, from a headcount of 18 in 2004 to four full time staff today.

Under the Public Service Reform Plan, which was published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, it is intended during 2012 to develop a strategic business case, in consultation with key impacted Department representatives, for a shared banking service to be used by all Government Departments/Offices and their Agencies in due course. In the circumstances, I do not consider it warranted, or appropriate, to put the Paymaster General's Office on a Constitutional footing, which would require a referendum with attendant costs.

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

152 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm that the important function of the Paymaster General’s office is the provision of end-of-month financial reports to departmental offices, to facilitate reconciliation of their accounts; if the offices are in any way accountable for the spending of Departments and the monitoring of their solvency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5558/12]

I can confirm that an important function of the Office of the Paymaster General is the provision of online reporting facilities, which enable Departments and Offices to generate reports to assist them with the reconciliation of their accounts. The appointed Accounting Officer of each Department or Office is accountable for the spending of the Department/Office and, in that regard, is required to have adequate systems of internal financial controls.

In managing their spending, Departments/Offices are subject to the upper limits, known as "Estimates for Supply Services" voted by Dáil Éireann each year, the requirement for the sanction from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the requirements set out in "Public Financial Procedures". Departments/Offices are also monitored on an ongoing basis by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

153 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons who have been granted the position of Paymaster General since 2002; the salary paid in each case; the number who have retired; the retirement gratuity and pension payable in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5559/12]

Under the Schedule (first part) of the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924, the Office of the Paymaster General and Deputy Paymaster for Ireland was assigned to the Department of Finance. As such the position is vested in the Minister for Finance and no additional remuneration or pension entitlement arises. The Office of the Paymaster General has two operational arms: one provides a banking service to Departments and Offices while the other pays pensions on an agency basis to retired civil servants, office holders and VEC staff. The Office is under the day to day management of a Principal in my Department who also has other responsibilities.

Mortgage Arrears

David Stanton

Ceist:

154 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance his position regarding persons in mortgage arrears; the details of the instruction, if any, issued to banks and other financial institutions by him or the Financial Regulator regarding the need to negotiate with clients who are unable to meet their mortgage repayments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5579/12]

The Government is acutely aware of the increasing financial stress that some households are facing arising from difficulty in meeting their mortgage commitments. The Government, therefore, established an Inter-Departmental Working Group on Mortgage Arrears to consider what additional measures could be introduced to assist people experiencing mortgage difficulty. The Group's report was published last October and the implementation of its recommendations is a key part of the Government's ongoing efforts to tackle mortgage difficulty.

With regard to mortgage holders in arrears or in danger of going into financial difficulty, the Central Bank revised Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA) offers increased protections. The revised CCMA, which came into effect from 1 January 2011, builds on the provisions of the previous version and includes more detailed requirements, including the establishment of a formal Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP). In that regard, the Central Bank has also published a guide for consumers on mortgage arrears ‘Mortgage Arrears — A Consumer Guide to Dealing with your Lender' and this is available on the Central Bank website.

More recently, the Central Bank has also required licensed mortgage lenders to develop comprehensive strategies and implementation plans to deal with their individual mortgage arrears situations. The Central Bank is currently reviewing these strategies and plans to ensure that they are addressing the problem and that mortgage lenders are looking at appropriate longer term solutions, such as those recommended in the Inter-Departmental Mortgage Arrears Working Group report and other options that banks may develop themselves, for their customers who may have unsustainable mortgages. The Central Bank will continue to engage with lenders on the further development and implementation of these strategies and plans.

Flood Insurance

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

155 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if he will fund a house insurance scheme for those who cannot access flood insurance due to repeated flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37693/11]

I have no plans to introduce a 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 insurance companies was examined in 2010. However, at that time the Government concluded 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, that the OPW continues to liaise with the Irish Insurance Federation, to ensure that the Federation and its members have access to up-to-date information on flood protection measures. The Minister of State has also advised me that he intends to arrange a meeting with representatives of the insurance industry early this year to provide a forum for the effective interchange of information and opinions in relation to flood risk management.

Eurozone Crisis

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

156 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance his views on the ESRI report which predicts that the economic crisis may reach the scale of the 1930s Depression; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38669/11]

The ESRI Quarterly Economic Commentary published in November suggested that there is a lack of coordinated action in the euro area and the situation contains elements reminiscent of policy making during the Great Depression. Since the start of the economic crisis, significant and bold policy actions have been undertaken by the ECB and by euro area Member States. As a result, an outright depression has been avoided.

The intensification of the eurozone sovereign debt crisis in recent months has called for additional action on our part and we have stepped up to this challenge. For example, the ECB is providing unlimited three year liquidity. The six pack of legislative reforms is another example. Moreover, as part of the intergovernmental agreement reached on Monday, euro area Member States have committed to a new "Fiscal Compact". This will lead to enhanced budgetary and economic coordination and governance. So progress is clearly being made.

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

157 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether only the ECB can be a firewall against financial panic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38670/11]

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

166 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if the ECB will make radical choices to solve the euro crisis in order that international markets can regain confidence in our currency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38474/11]

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

172 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the ECB should have an extended role in its response to the euro currency crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1918/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 157, 166 and 172 together.

The independence of the European Central Bank is enshrined in the Treaty and in this context it is important that this be respected when commenting on such matters. In terms of developments in recent months, I would highlight the key role that the ECB is already playing in addressing the crisis. For instance, it is important to note the positive impact of measures announced in December to support bank lending and liquidity in the euro area money market. In addition, secondary market purchases of the sovereign debt of vulnerable euro area Member States under the Securities Markets Programme have had a beneficial impact.

In terms of the wider question regarding the resolution of the euro area crisis, my view is that we are now seeing concerted action to address the weaknesses that have become evident in the design of monetary union. Retrofitting the single currency with the tools necessary to make it consistent with an economic union will be important in this regard. Considerable progress has been made, including the so-called "six-pack" of legislative reforms as well as the agreement on a "fiscal compact" to ensure fiscal discipline in participating Member States.

Secondly, we need to avoid difficulties in one Member State spreading to other Members States by erecting suitable financial firewalls. There has been some considerable progress in this area, including the development of stabilisation mechanisms that would have been unthinkable only two years ago.

Economic Growth

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

158 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if he has discussed the downgrading of Irish growth projections with his European counterparts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39784/11]

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 is a useful exercise and particularly important at the current juncture given the very uncertain environment in which we are operating. This uncertainty is reflected in the wide range of growth projections for this year, not just for Ireland but also for the euro-area.

Concerns about the euro area outlook in particular, reinforce the need for strong policy action at European level. I and my colleagues are working to this end and progress is being made.

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

159 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if he has discussed the downgrading of growth projections in the eurozone with his European counterparts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39785/11]

The European Commission released its Autumn Economic Forecast on 10th November 2011. The Commission believes that the global economy has moved to a lower growth trajectory and that real GDP growth in the EU came to a standstill around the end of 2011. Only in the second half of 2012 is a return to economic growth expected. GDP growth in 2011 is estimated at 1.5% in the euro area and 1.6% in the EU, and projected to be 0.5% and 0.6% respectively in 2012 and 1.3% and 1.5% in 2013.

I have discussed the Commission's latest forecasts with my European colleagues. These downward revisions to growth underline the importance of achieving an early and effective resolution of the sovereign debt crisis in the euro area in order to restore consumer and investor confidence. In this regard there have been some positive developments recently including the six-pack of legislative reforms and agreement on the Treaty on Stability, Co-ordination and Governance.

EU-IMF Programme

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

160 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance his views regarding the content of his recent meetings with the United States Treasury Secretary, Mr. Timothy Geithner, and the concerns he expressed that the Irish bailout programme could be derailed by poor and slowing growth in the domestic and wider European economy. [2328/12]

The last time that I met formally with US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was in June of last year in Washington. In terms of the discussion, I assured Secretary Geithner that our programme was on track, as had been confirmed in various quarterly reviews, and that political ownership of the programme was strong. Macroeconomic developments at both the European and global level were also discussed, and I impressed upon him the openness of the Irish economy and, as such, its high degree of sensitivity to international developments. I also took the opportunity to outline my belief that the design of the EU/IMF programme of support for Ireland could be improved, which I believe is in all of our interests.

Flood Insurance

Joan Collins

Ceist:

161 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Finance if he will fund a house insurance scheme for those who cannot access flood insurance due to repeated flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37727/11]

I have no plans to introduce a 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 insurance companies was examined in 2010. However, at that time the Government concluded 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, that the OPW continues to liaise with the Irish Insurance Federation, to ensure that the Federation and its members have access to up-to-date information on flood protection measures. The Minister of State has also advised me that he intends to arrange a meeting with representatives of the insurance industry early this year to provide a forum for the effective interchange of information and opinions in relation to flood risk management.

Pension Provisions

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

162 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Finance the reason he has approved new arrangements to grant tax-free lump sums of up to €200,000 to Secretaries General who retire after February 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35139/11]

The following are the current arrangements which apply in relation to the taxation of retirement lump sums paid under Revenue approved pension arrangements. These arrangements apply in both the public and private sectors and were introduced in Budget and Finance Act 2011:

Retirement lump sum amounts up to €200,000 are paid free of tax. They are also paid free of the Universal Social Charge (USC).

The portion of a lump sum between €200,001 and €575,000 is taxed on a ring-fenced basis at 20%. (This means that no tax credits or other tax reliefs can be set against this portion of the lump sum.) No USC is chargeable.

Any amount of a lump sum in excess of €575,000 is taxed under Schedule E and collected under the PAYE system (credits and other tax reliefs are available). In this instance, USC is also chargeable on the excess.

These amounts are lifetime amounts with prior lump sums taken since 7 December 2005 aggregating with later lump sums.

Tax Code

Joe Higgins

Ceist:

163 Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Finance if he has discussed the proposal for a European-wide transaction tax with other EU leaders. [3675/12]

As I have stated clearly in the past, if such a tax cannot be introduced on a global basis, I think it would be better if it were introduced on an EU-wide basis. This would prevent any distortion of activity within the Union. Our major concern is that, if an FTT is introduced, it could affect the financial services industry, especially in the IFSC, and lead to some activities and jobs moving abroad. If, as some countries have proposed, the tax was to be brought in under enhanced co-operation arrangements, we would fear we could lose business to London, since the UK is strongly opposed to this initiative. In the past, certain financial activities moved to London when other countries enacted similar taxes. The current draft proposal is still being discussed at EU Council Working Party level and will be considered again by the Council of Ministers later this year. I have made clear our views, as has the Taoiseach, in discussion with our European colleagues.

Budget Submissions

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

164 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if there were pre-budget meetings with the social partners in the context of budget 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37018/11]

I met with a number of groups as part of the Budget 2012 process. These included ICTU, IBEC, the IFA, the ICMSA, the CIF and the Community and Voluntary Pillar. As the Deputy will be aware, the Pillar is comprised of seventeen organisations representing the interests of people from many different sectors of society. In addition, my Department received in the order of 700 submissions from organisations, groups and individuals. These were considered by officials in the context of Budget preparation.

Jobs Initiative

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

165 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the job stimulus initiatives already undertaken will be sufficient to ease the unemployment figures if growth rates remain between 1.6 and 1.8%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38472/11]

As set out in Budget 2012, my Department expects the unemployment rate to gradually decline as the economy recovers. At present, the labour market is still in a weak state, as confirmed by the latest CSO Quarterly National Household Survey data. The unemployment rate is unacceptably high and people are still losing jobs. At the same time, some jobs are being created. Figures from the Department of Social Protection, show that 144,000 left the live register to take up employment last year.

I am confident that the measures introduced by the Government in May 2011, such as reducing the rate of VAT in the high value added tourism sector, have played a role in this respect. This view is shared by my colleague, the Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation, who only last week informed the House that a significant number of jobs were created in the tourism sector on foot of measures set out in the Jobs Initiative.

The Government recognises that improving labour market conditions represents its biggest challenge, and, accordingly, is giving top priority to job protection, job creation and supporting the unemployed. In this regard, the Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation will soon publish an Action Plan on Jobs.

Question No. 166 answered with Question No. 157.

Eurobond Scheme

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

167 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if a eurobond scheme has been discussed at EU level; and his views on whether this would address Germany’s concerns and allow the ECB to stabilise the euro. [38476/11]

In November last year, the European Commission published a Green Paper on the feasibility of introducing Stability Bonds. The paper analyses the potential benefits and challenges of a number of approaches to common sovereign debt issuance among euro area Member States. In terms of process, the Commission is expected to indicate its views on the best way forward in mid-February, on the basis of the public consultation.

While there are potentially significant benefits attached to common debt issuance, resistance from some Member States is clearly a factor.

In terms of the stabilising role of the ECB, I would highlight the key role that the ECB is already playing in addressing the crisis. For instance, it is important to note the positive impact of measures announced in December to support bank lending and liquidity in the euro area money market. In addition, secondary market purchases of the sovereign debt of vulnerable euro area Member States under the Securities Markets Programme have had a beneficial impact.

European Council Meetings

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

168 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the new EU intergovernmental agreement or fiscal compact will have any impact on the IFSC and its ability to do business in an effective and responsible manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1934/12]

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

173 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he has made an assessment of whether the withdrawal of Britain from the EU intergovernmental agreement will affect the IFSC; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1924/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 168 and 173 together.

As of the European Council meeting last night, 25 of the 27 EU Member States signed up to an intergovernmental agreement. The intention is to have the agreement signed in March.

In these negotiations the Government at all times sought to protect Ireland's interests and also the jobs in the IFSC. In particular, while it was not mentioned in the agreement, the Government's position is clear on the introduction of a Financial Transactions Tax. We do not agree to such a tax being introduced except at a global level or at least by all 27 Member States of the European Union including the United Kingdom. The Taoiseach reiterated this view during the recent British-Irish Council meeting in Dublin.

I announced in my Budget speech that I intend to introduce a package of measures in the forthcoming Finance Bill to support the continued success of the international financial services industry in Ireland. The sector employs more than 30,000 people and contributes over €1 billion in tax to the Exchequer. The Government's commitment to the sector was reaffirmed in the five year strategy for the industry which was launched by the Taoiseach in July last year.

EU-IMF Programme

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

169 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he met the troika when they were in Dublin recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2325/12]

My colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Mr. Brendan Howlin T.D., and I met with the EU-IMF delegation during the recent quarterly review of the EU / IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland. These meetings were also attended by senior officials from both Departments. A wide range of topics was covered at these meetings, including financial reforms, structural reforms, economic developments and the progress of the Programme.

Tax Collection

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

170 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the recent decision of the Revenue Commissioners to write to pensioners was handled correctly; if not, the actions he proposes to take; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2326/12]

Deputy Martin will be aware that the Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners, at a meeting on 11 January 2012 of the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, explained to the Committee Revenue's approach to using data that the Commissioners received from the DSP on long-term pension payments. The Chairman explained that Revenue's role is to collect the right amount of tax from all taxpayers. Revenue's evaluation of the data supplied by the Department of Social Protection was that, on aggregate, a material amount of additional tax was due from recipients of the relevant DSP pensions and Revenue had a responsibility to the State to secure that tax as quickly as possible. It was further explained that Revenue's primary objective was to put matters right for 2012 and they had very little time to do that. Deferring any action until some time in 2012 would have meant that arrears of tax would have built up for the taxpayers concerned.

I am satisfied that the Revenue Commissioners had to act quickly to ensure that the changes required to secure the additional taxes arising from the exchange of data with the DSP were implemented in time for the start of the 2012 tax year. I am also satisfied that the purpose of sending letters out to different groupings was well intentioned and sought to explain how the inclusion of up-to-date figures from the DSP would affect taxpayers' tax credits and rate bands. The Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners has acknowledged that the letters caused confusion and distress to some people and apologised for any distress. Revenue has and will continue to meet groups representing pensioners to get their views on how best to explain the whole area of the interaction of tax and pensions to their members.

Revenue has a good track record in managing large projects in a sensible way while at the same time collecting the tax that the State needs and I am confident that they will on this occasion also. The response by Revenue staff, in particular the quality of service Revenue staff provided, to the large number of pensioners who contacted them, has been commended by the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform.

Economic and Monetary Union

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

171 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the recent eurozone reform deal will be sufficient to enable the markets to respond in a positive manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1916/12]

The Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union represents a major step forward in terms of economic cooperation in the euro area. The measures contained in the Treaty will go a long way towards addressing many of the root causes of the current crisis, and will ensure much greater fiscal discipline, improved policy co-ordination and convergence, as well as enhanced governance within the euro area. Taken in conjunction with other important reforms, including the so-called ‘six-pack' of legislative reforms, it is clear that shortcomings in the design of monetary union, which have been exposed by the current crisis, are being addressed in an effective manner.

Having said this, it is, of course, impossible to accurately assess the reaction of markets to policy developments, especially at the current juncture.

Question No. 172 answered with Question No. 157.
Question No. 173 answered with Question No. 168.

Proposed Legislation

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

174 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance his plans to introduce consumer legislation in the area of mortgage rate reductions; the options available to him; the obstacles that require consideration prior to drafting legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36213/11]

I have no plans to introduce consumer legislation into the area of mortgage rate reductions. In late 2011 the Taoiseach asked for the Central Bank's opinion on recent developments in mortgage interest rates and on possible action by the Central Bank in that regard. In response to the Taoiseach's request, the Deputy Governor wrote to him on 11 November 2011. In his letter the Deputy Governor stated that the Central Bank was not requesting the power to have regulatory control over the setting of retail interest rates given that this could absolve banks of their responsibility to price risk accurately. He indicated that experience of such controls in the past and in other countries, did not encourage the Central Bank to believe that such a regime would be advantageous in net terms as the banking system recovers its normal functioning. Binding controls tend to reduce the availability of credit and channel it to the most creditworthy customers, starving smaller and less secure customers from credit. Binding controls would have a chilling effect on the entry of sound competitors in the market. By absolving banks from their responsibility to price risk accurately, binding interest rate controls would especially during the recovery phase, impede progress towards the re-establishment of bank management practices that can ensure a healthy and free-standing banking system no longer dependent on the Government for bail-outs. In his letter, the Deputy Governor also said that within its existing powers, the Central Bank would continue to engage with specific lenders which appear to have standard variable rates set disproportionate to their cost of funds.

Jobs Initiative

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

175 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Finance the proportion of the revenue raised via the pension levy that was used for job creation as promised in the jobs initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36042/11]

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

182 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Finance the proportion of revenue raised via the pension levy that was used for job creation as promised in the jobs initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4150/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 175 and 182 together.

The Jobs Initiative introduced last year brought forward a number of targeted sectoral measures and tax/PRSI changes designed to assist in employment generation, to provide opportunities for those who have lost their jobs and thus generate confidence in the economy. These included a new second reduced VAT rate of 9% aimed primarily at the tourism sector, a halving of the employers PRSI rate until 2013, small amounts of additional current and capital expenditure aimed primarily at ‘shovel-ready' projects and increasing the number of available educational, training and up-skilling places.

In order to fund the various measures, the Government introduced a temporary levy on funded pension schemes and personal pension plans. In 2011 this raised approximately €463 million. Over the 2011-2014 period the Jobs Initiative will be budgetary neutral. It is the case however, that the pension levy was expected to generate a net gain to the Exchequer in 2011 as the yield was expected to more than offset the cost of the other measures introduced. The range of measures outlined in the Jobs Initiative for 2011 were projected to cost approximately €400 million and these with the exception of the Air Travel Tax are being advanced or have already been put in place by the relevant implementing Department or agencies. In July last year, following input from the Minister for Transport, it was decided not to abolish the Air Travel Tax and to revisit the situation this Spring when further negotiations will take place with the airlines.

The Government is currently finalising a comprehensive Action Plan for Jobs which will set out further measures to be taken in 2012 to support job creation. This Action Plan, which complements last year's Jobs Initiative, will be published in the coming weeks.

Unemployment Levels

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

176 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Finance the target he has set for the total number of unemployed at the end of four years as outlined in the medium-term fiscal statement. [36214/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the budgetary documentation which I provided to the House in December contains more up-to-date forecasts than the medium term fiscal statement. The unemployment rate is projected to fall over the coming years but to remain elevated. For 2015, my Department is forecasting an unemployment rate of 11.6 per cent. This figure is a forecast as opposed to a target. It does not take account of policies which the Government is currently working on, such as the Action Plan on Jobs, which my colleague the Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation will soon publish. I want to stress that the Government considers the labour market represents its biggest challenge and, accordingly, is giving top priority to job protection, job creation and supporting the unemployed.

Tax Code

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

177 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Finance if he will detail his Department’s assessment of the effect of the increase in VAT on job creation and retention. [4117/12]

The standard VAT rate was increased in the budget from 21% to 23% as part of a general package of raising revenues measures to contribute to Exchequer funding and is in line with commitments made in the Programme for Government and in the EU/IMF Programme. The €670 million raised by this VAT increase will go some way towards funding other costs in Exchequer spending.

As I said when I addressed the Dáil in December, the Government carefully considered the various options open to us in terms of taxation. One of the key objectives of the Government is to get people back to work. Indirect taxes have a less adverse impact on economic activity and employment, which is why Budget 2012 focused on indirect taxes such as VAT rather than on income tax.

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

178 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Finance if he has made progress on the implementation of a single business tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4158/12]

The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for Government is a comprehensive document containing many proposals and commitments. Some, such as the Jobs Initiative, have already been delivered; others will be progressed over the lifetime of this Government. The Programme notes that we will direct the Revenue Commissioners to examine the feasibility of introducing — on a revenue neutral basis — a Single Business Tax for micro enterprises. The Revenue Commissioners are currently engaged in working with my Department on the preparation of the Finance Bill and this must remain a priority. Once this has been delivered it is my intention to have the feasibility of introducing such a tax examined by Revenue.

Unemployment Levels

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

179 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Finance his assessment of the impact that the scaling back of growth figures for Europe will have on employment levels here. [35949/11]

Obviously as a small open economy whose recovery is being driven by exports, we will be affected by the soft patch that the European economy is currently going through, though competitiveness improvements evidenced in recent years will provide some support. I would also point out that as some of our exports are by their nature quite capital intensive, the impact on employment levels of a slowdown in export growth will be more muted than would otherwise be the case. It is also important to point out that a weakening of activity in our main trading partners is already factored into my Department's forecasts for economic growth and employment that underpin the Budget.

What I would stress is that this Government considers the labour market represents its biggest challenge and, accordingly, is giving top priority to job protection, job creation and supporting the unemployed. In this regard, my colleague the Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation will soon publish an Action Plan on Jobs.

National Pension Reserve Fund

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

180 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of any proposals he has developed to access the National Pension Reserve Fund to stimulate economic growth and deliver jobs. [35941/11]

In September 2011 the Government announced the establishment of the New Economy and Recovery Authority (NewERA) within the NTMA and the establishment of the Strategic Investment Fund. NewERA will centralise the management of Government holdings in the commercial semi-state sector (initially the companies within NewERA's remit are ESB, EirGrid, Bord Gáis, Bord na Móna and Coillte) from a shareholder perspective. This role, based on the Shareholder Executive model already established in a number of developed economies, will involve oversight of activities such as capital expenditure plans, corporate strategy, acquisitions and disposals. NewERA is already working closely with the relevant Government departments and companies in this regard. The Shareholder Executive approach is designed to provide the Government with a portfolio view of investment returns from the sector and with a means of assessing the likely impact of commercial developments in the sector on long-term Government investment plans.

NewERA is also charged with assisting the development and implementation of Government plans for investment inenergy, water and next-generation telecommunications with the long-term objective of employment creation and has commenced work with the relevant Government departments in these areas.

The Strategic Investment Fund will, following appropriate legislative changes to the investment policy of the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF), channel commercial investment from the NPRF towards productive investment in the Irish economy. As well as money from the NPRF, the Fund will seek matching commercial investment from private investors and target investment in areas of strategic significance to the future of the Irish economy. It will comprise a series of sub-funds targeted at commercial investment in critical areas of the Irish economy, including infrastructure, venture capital and provision of long-term capital for SMEs. The NPRF will take a lead role in the development and implementation of each sub-fund.

In November 2011, the NPRF announced a commitment of €250 million to a new Irish infrastructure investment fund which is seeking up to €1 billion from institutional investors in Ireland and overseas and which will invest in infrastructure assets in Ireland, including assets designated for disposal by the Government and commercial State enterprises and also new infrastructure projects.

NewERA and the Strategic Investment Fund are important elements in the Government's strategy to promote economic growth and create jobs.

Tax Collection

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

181 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Finance the cost to the economy in terms of employment of tax evasion and avoidance. [35954/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that it is not possible to estimate the cost to the Irish economy in terms of employment due to tax evasion or avoidance. The measurement of the scale of tax evasion, often referred to as the shadow economy, is inherently difficult given the nature of the problem. There is no one internationally recognised and agreed measure, nor are there agreed measures to estimate the consequent cost to employment of the shadow economy. There is no doubt that shadow economy activity and aggressive tax avoidance create distortions in the economy and competitive disadvantages for compliant businesses. For these reasons, Revenue focuses on deterring shadow economy activity and non-compliance through its audit and investigation programmes based on risk analysis, use of Revenue powers and their intelligence and information systems.

Revenue fully recognises the need to tackle tax evasion in all its forms, and consequently has an increased focus on sectors that have the potential to operate using cash. Last year Revenue carried out 11,066 audits resulting in a yield of €440.46 million.

Revenue continues to identify and challenge aggressive tax avoidance schemes and unintended use of legislation that threaten tax yields and the perceived fairness of the tax system. In general, tax avoidance is tackled by reviewing and amending legislation where there are perceived loopholes and by challenging individual cases. The introduction of a Mandatory Disclosure Regime in January 2011, which placed obligations on Promoters of certain tax-avoidance transactions to disclose them to Revenue, is designed to act as an "early warning system" to help tackle such schemes.

Question No. 182 answered with Question No. 175.

Credit Availability

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

183 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Finance the change in the amount of credit made available to small businesses in 2011 compared to 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4163/12]

As the Deputy is aware the Central Bank gathers and collates statistics on a wide range of Financial Services Sector activities on an on-going basis. As a general rule, my Department does not engage in a separate exercise to collect such statistics, but has access to and relies on statistics provided and published by the Central Bank. Data provided by the Central Bank indicates that the drawdown of new lending by non-financial SMEs from credit institutions in Ireland was €2.3 billion in the first 9 months of 2011. Figures for the equivalent period in 2010 show drawdowns of €2 billion. Excluding SMEs in the property related sectors these figures show drawdowns of new lending of €1.6 billion in the first 9 months of 2011, roughly equal to amounts drawn down in the first 9 months of 2010. Figures are not yet available for Q4 of 2011. For the Deputy's information, the relevant statistics for credit made available to small business are accessible at: http://www.centralbank.ie/polstats/stats/cmab/Documents/ie_Table_A.14.1_Credit_Advanced _to_Irish_Resident_Small_and_Medium_Sized_Enterprises.xls

The Deputy should also be aware that the banking system restructuring plan creates capacity for the two Pillar Banks, Bank of Ireland and AIB, to provide lending in excess of €30 billion in the next three years. SME and new mortgage lending for these banks is expected to be in the range of €16-20bn over this period. This lending capacity is incorporated into the banks' deleveraging plans which allow for repayment of Central Bank funding through asset run-off and disposals over the period to 2013.

The Government has imposed lending targets on the two domestic pillar banks for the three calendar years, 2011 to 2013. Both banks were required to sanction lending of at least €3 billion in 2011, €3.5 billion this year and €4 billion in 2013 for new or increased credit facilities to SMEs. Both have indicated that they have achieved their 2011 targets.

Tax Code

Derek Keating

Ceist:

184 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider the proposals made recently that the two-colour diesel fuel system be abolished and that a rebate system for tax-compliant hauliers on diesel fuel be introduced to replace the current practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5517/12]

The Deputy's question envisages a movement away from the current system of marking of oil to which a reduced rate of tax applies to one in which certain users would be given refunds of part of the mineral oil tax paid by them in respect of fuel used for non-auto purposes. This would, however, involve the establishment of an extensive repayments system, which would give rise to a significant administrative burden and costs for oil traders, users and Revenue, as well as posing significant cash-flow costs for those who currently use marked oil. Moreover, repayment systems are vulnerable to abuse and would be likely to be targeted by criminal elements such as those currently involved in oil laundering. It has to be borne in mind also that, even if there were a move to a repayments system, those involved would still have the possibility of sourcing UK marked oil for laundering. A move away from marking could only be considered, therefore, if the UK were to do likewise. For those reasons, it is not clear that a repayment system would be less susceptible to fraud. The intention, therefore, is to ensure that controls relating to the sale and distribution of oils, and enforcement action for combating laundering, are as effective as possible.

Recognition of Qualifications

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

185 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a trade test (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5118/12]

I have outlined below the situation in relation to the Recognition of Foreign Qualifications Abroad and the Recognition of Foreign Qualifications in Ireland.

Recognition of Foreign Qualifications Abroad

Individuals who wish to have their Irish qualification recognised abroad must submit their qualifications to the regulatory authorities in the relevant jurisdiction, and comply with the recognition requirements.

Recognition of Foreign Qualifications in Ireland

Individuals with Foreign trade qualifications must submit their qualification to the NQAI who will compare the foreign qualification to a qualification that is placed at a particular level on the Irish National Framework of Qualifications.

The Irish Trade qualifications for craft-worker status have been placed on the Irish Framework of Qualifications at FETAC level 6 Advanced Certificate-craft.

Individuals with trade specific international qualifications which have been ratified as lower than the FETAC Level 6 Advanced Certificate Craft, and who wish to attain a FETAC Level 6 Advanced Certificate Craft through the Irish apprenticeship structure, must comply with the following:

The person must be registered as an apprentice by a FÁS approved employer.

Submit a copy of the trade specific qualifications and a copy of the statement of equivalence from the NQAI, with an application for exemptions with portfolio of evidence.

Exemptions are determined by FÁS and notified to the applicant.

Exemptions are only granted up to Phase 5, and applicants must undertake the Phase 6 Practical and Theory examinations and complete Phase 7 with competency assessments with the FÁS approved employer.

Successful applicants are Awarded the FETAC Level 6 Advanced Certificate-Craft.

However, in some professions you do not need to have completed an apprenticeship to be allowed to work. Motor Mechanic would be an example. As it is not a regulated profession it is a matter for each employer to specify the qualifications of the individual to meet standards and regulations. A full list of regulated professions in Ireland is included in schedule 1 to the Recognition of Professional Qualifications (Directive 2005/36/EC) Regulations, 2008 and relevant authorities have processes in place for evaluating and recognising relevant qualifications and experience gained abroad for the purposes of allowing access to those professions.

FÁS Training Programmes

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

186 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount paid by the Exchequer in respect of Safe Pass courses per annum; if he is satisfied that the delivery of these courses is meeting the standards required and represents value for money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5208/12]

The Safe Pass programme administration, monitoring and tutor training are based on a self -financing model. The income from the production of the Safe Pass card is set against the activities required to administer the system and the system is therefore cost neutral.

Safe Pass Courses are developed and reviewed in conjunction with employers and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the content is up-to-date and keeps abreast of changes in safety legislation, developing best practice in safe behaviour on site, and the changing profile of the workforce in the construction industry. FÁS also carries out monitoring of privately provided courses to ensure that the courses meet industry standards.

School Curriculum

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

187 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which he and his Department have engaged in promotion of the arts through the education system, with particular reference to primary and second level schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5588/12]

Arts education (visual arts, music and drama) is one of the seven curriculum areas that comprise the primary curriculum, which was revised in 1999. Therefore all primary school children have access to an arts programme.

At second level there are approved syllabuses for Junior Certificate in Music and Art, Craft and Design. In the senior cycle there are syllabuses in Music and Art. Modules in the Arts are also available as part of the Leaving Certificate Applied. In the Transition Year programme, schools offer a variety of modules which stimulate pupils' interest in the Arts in general and which, in many cases, give them the opportunity to interact with practising artists in their own classrooms and in other contexts.

In addition to supporting curricular provision for the arts at primary and second level, my Department aids the arts through the provision of some 68,000 teaching hours to a number of schools of music operated by VECs and through co-operation (teaching) hours to VECs which support work with other institutions. In addition, two Music Education Partnerships are funded in Donegal and Dublin City VECs.

A further initiative in Music for young people of school age has been launched by Music Generation, a subsidiary company of Music Network, supported by donations from U2 and the Ireland Funds. The programme is aimed at providing access to vocal and instrumental music education for children and young people.

The Artists in School Guidelines, developed jointly by the Arts Council and my Department, and issued to all schools in 2006, are an important resource in informing schools of how best to plan, implement and evaluate partnerships with local artists and organisations which will provide stimulating and interesting learning experiences for children.

School Staffing

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

188 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will clarify the current teacher allocation arrangements and enrolment requirements for a school (details supplied) in County Cork; if the school will face cuts in teaching posts due to budgetary adjustments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4782/12]

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

242 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a school (details supplied) in County Cork; if it is set to lose any teachers under recent budgetary adjustments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5505/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 188 and 242 together.

The Statistics Section of my Department's website contains extensive data at individual school level in county order. The most recent information available relates to the 2010/2011 school year. Statistical information in respect of the current school year is currently being compiled in my Department and is due for publication in September 2012.

The criteria used for the allocation of teachers to schools are published annually on my Department's website. The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September. The relevant appointment and retention figures for mainstream staffing for the coming school year have been published on the Department's website. However, the staffing arrangements in schools for the 2012/2013 school year can also be affected by changes in their enrolment, the impact of other budget measures and the reforms to the teacher allocation process. The reform of the allocation process is designed to bring a more equitable distribution of existing posts between schools so there will inevitably be some schools that will lose posts and some schools that will gain posts.

My Department's focus is on implementing the staffing arrangements for the coming school year and I do not propose to divert scarce staffing resources to deal with the individual type queries from the Deputy.

My Department will be notifying schools in the coming weeks of the new staffing arrangements for 2012/13 school year.

Disadvantaged Status

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

189 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the review of all disadvantaged schools; his views on the fact that disadvantage exists outside the larger cities; if he will ensure that DEIS band 1 schools in towns such as Clonmel, County Tipperary, will be given the same treatment as DEIS band 1 in the cities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4799/12]

DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) provides for a standardised system for identifying levels of disadvantage and an integrated School Support Programme (SSP). Schools in the programme include both urban and rural primary schools and post-primary schools. Urban primary schools are categorised as serving areas with a population greater than 1,500, while the rural dimension serves areas with a population of less than 1,500. Primary schools in the town referred to by they Deputy are considered urban.

Measures under Budget 2012 relate to the withdrawal of certain posts under older disadvantage schemes that pre-date DEIS. Some urban primary schools have been adversely affected by these measures, as they retained teaching resources to implement more favourable class sizes from a number of previous disadvantaged schemes.

I announced in the House on 11th January that my Department is to report to me within four weeks on the impact of the withdrawal of posts under these older schemes on DEIS Band 1 and Band 2 primary schools only. The report will take account of the net effect of a range of factors on teacher allocations in these schools, for example increasing and decreasing enrolments and the reforms to the existing teacher allocations process, all of which will determine the staffing requirement for these schools for 2012/13 school year.

It is only when this report is made available to me that I will be in a position to make a decision on the final outcome for the individual schools involved and finalise and publish the staffing schedules for 2012/2013.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Joe Higgins

Ceist:

190 Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of teaching posts that will be lost nationally by the inclusion of guidance counsellors in schools’ teaching allocations. [4806/12]

Joe Higgins

Ceist:

191 Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reverse changes to the teacher-pupil ratio regarding guidance counsellor teachers, in view of the damaging effect this will have on counselling services for pupils and in terms of loss of teachers in schools. [4807/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 190 and 191 together.

I fully acknowledge that the reduction in resources to second level schools will be challenging for schools. However, the change must be seen in the context of the major challenges we have as a Government in trying to shelter public services to the greatest extent that we can in these exceptional times. The net impact on overall teacher numbers in our schools has been minimised to the greatest extent possible. In the budget announcement for education I made clear that the net impact of the measures relating to second level schools for the school year commencing next September would, after taking account of demographics amount to about 450 posts.

Schools will have autonomy on how best to prioritise its available resources to meet its requirements in relation to guidance and the provision of an appropriate range of subjects to its students. Decisions on how this is done will be taken at school level and I am confident that schools will act in the best interest of students when determining precisely how to use the teaching resources available to them.

I have also provided for the filling of 300 Assistant Principal posts in second-level schools over the level originally planned. This will ensure that schools have sufficient management positions to ensure appropriate supports are available for all students. A key priority for me is to continue to prioritise and target available funding at schools with the most concentrated levels of educational disadvantage. All 195 second-level school in DEIS, including the school referred to by the Deputy, will be given targeted support by a more favourable staffing schedule of 18.25:1. This is a 0.75 point reduction compared to the existing PTR of 19:1 that applies in non-fee-paying second-level schools.

My Department will be notifying schools in the coming weeks of the new staffing arrangements for 2012/13 school year.

Capitation Grants

Patrick Nulty

Ceist:

192 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of the annual capitation grant for each primary and post-primary school in Dublin 15 in 2012 and also in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4834/12]

My Department provides capitation funding to all recognised primary schools and post primary schools within the free education system. I am unable at this time to provide the Deputy with precise details of funding that will be provided in 2012 because the verification process in respect of enrolment data is not yet complete.

Details of the funding provided from 2008 to 2011 to the primary schools and the community and comprehensive schools in Dublin 15 is set out in the table below. Budget 2011 provided for a general reduction of 2% in per capita and related grants. At primary level this will mean a reduction of €7 per pupil in capitation rates, with a similar reduction in enhanced capitation rates for special schools and special classes. The ancillary and book grants remain unchanged.

The funding arrangements made by my Department for post primary schools reflect the sectoral division of our second-level system. At the core of all arrangements is reliance upon capitation as the principal determinant of funding.

My Department provides funding to three Community and Comprehensive schools on a budget basis that is based mainly on pupil numbers, but also take into account additional factors which vary from school to school such as age of buildings, size of school, etc.

With regard to the VEC sector financial allocations are made to VECs as part of a block grant. VECs are given a high level of autonomy in the management and appropriation of this grant and each is allowed to distribute its allocations in line with its priorities and perceptions of need. Accordingly, my Department does not have available to it a details of the distribution of funds by County Dublin VEC to the second level schools it manages in Dublin 15.

My Department provides funding to voluntary secondary schools by way of per capita grants. There will be a reduction of €11 in the capitation rate for voluntary secondary schools in 2012. All other per capita grants remain unchanged. Castleknock College is a fee charging school in Dublin 15, and therefore does not receive current funding from my Department. A proportionate reduction will be applied to funding allocations to the Community and Comprehensive School and the VEC sectors.

SCH_NO

School Name

2008 Financial yr

2009 Financial yr

2010 Financial yr

2011 Financial yr

00697S

ST BRIGIDS MXD N S

€140,383.28

€162,302

€165,620

€165,192

16675V

MULHUDDART NS

€28,293.54

€39,800

€48,600

€51,870

18046A

SCOIL BRIDE B

€45,636.38

€58,646

€59,364

€49,590

18047C

SCOIL BRIDE C

€55,515.28

€69,328

€65,128

€58,941

18623M

SCOIL NAISUNTA CHNUACHA

€31,417.98

€36,600

€37,000

€34,960

18778S

S N NAOMH MOCHTA

€126,439.14

€146,928

€156,928

€154,398

19435Q

ST FRANCIS XAVIER J N S

€67,733.34

€83,820

€81,374

€81,282

19470S

ST FRANCIS XAVIER SENIOR N S

€69,598.40

€74,938

€69,974

€71,802

19505L

SN OILIBHEIR

€46,360.01

€59,503

€59,503

€56,366

19601H

ST PHILIP THE APOSTLE JUNIOR N S

€50,466.30

€58,446

€59,682

€56,050

19605P

SCOIL NAIS MHUIRE SOIS

€47,862.60

€52,964

€55,210

€51,536

19630O

WARRENSTOWN HSE SP SCH

€10,414.80

€12,000

€12,000

€11,400

19636D

ST PATRICKS SENIOR SCHOOL

€58,706.86

€67,172

€67,028

€63,215

19643A

ST PHILIPS SENIOR N S

€58,337.70

€62,210

€62,410

€58,674

19644C

ST CIARANS N S

€126,192.66

€149,400

€150,200

€148,580

19694R

SCOIL MHUIRE SIN

€54,436.52

€57,156

€55,328

€54,042

19755L

SACRED HEART N S

€155,524.78

€180,102

€180,548

€167,400

19769W

SCOIL THOMAIS

€117,166.50

€129,600

€133,200

€127,300

19850F

LADYSWELL N S

€96,657.04

€121,947

€126,056

€121,009

20098I

CASTLEKNOCK EDUCATE TOGETHER NS

€72,035.70

€84,400

€100,846

€92,756

20130B

ST PATRICKS NS

€104,495.16

€136,800

€148,000

€139,650

20137P

MARY MOTHER OF HOPE SENIOR NS

€121,158.84

€97,720

€72,800

€76,000

20186F

CASTAHEANY EDUCATE TOGETHER NS

€58,621.66

€72,020

€77,574

€78,742

20241K

SCOIL CHOILM COMMUNITY NATIONAL SCHOOL

€129,438

€205,528

€313,748

€226,902

20247W

SCOIL GRAINNE COMMUNITY NS

€5,357

€212,610

€235,876

€259,256

20231H

ST BENEDICTS NATIONAL SCHOOL

€206,556

€309,702

€206,347

€234,520

20201V

TYRRELSTOWN EDUCATE TOGETHER NATIONAL SCHOOL

€235,876

€259,256

€248,846

€150,374

20309S

MARY MOTHER OF HOPE JUNIOR NATIONAL SCHOOL

n/a

€226,902

€220,800

€391,322

Total

€2,320,681.87

€3,227,799.96

€3,269,989.96

€3,233,129.36

91315O

Coolmine Community Sch.

€564,532

€582,611

€585,403

€571,282

91316Q

Blakestown Community Sch.

€370,513

€381,997

€354,861

€365,206

91339F

Hartstown Community Sch.

€509,907

€528,824

€532,719

€525,230

Total

€1,444,952

€1,493,432

€1,472,983

€1,461,718

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Patrick Nulty

Ceist:

193 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the pupil-teacher ratio for each DEIS school in Dublin 15 in 2012; if he will outline all changes in staffing arrangements for these schools between 2011 and 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4835/12]

I announced in the House on 11 January that my Department is to report to me within four weeks on the impact of the withdrawal of posts under these older schemes on DEIS Band 1 and Band 2 primary schools only.

This report will detail the facts for each individual school affected by this measure, applying the most up to date enrolments for September 2011. In addition, the report will take account of the net effect of a range of factors on teacher allocations in these schools, for example increasing and decreasing enrolments and the reforms to the existing teacher allocations process, all of which will determine the staffing requirement for these schools for 2012/13 school year.

It is only when this report is made available to me that I will be in a position to make a decision on the final outcome for the individual schools involved and finalise and publish the staffing schedules for 2012/2013.

Disadvantaged Status

Dara Murphy

Ceist:

194 Deputy Dara Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the procedures and requirements for a primary school to achieve DEIS status; the proposed changes he intends to make to the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4846/12]

The process of identifying schools for participation in DEIS in 2005 was managed by the Educational Research Centre (ERC) on behalf of my Department and supported by quality assurance work co-ordinated through the Department's regional offices and the Inspectorate.

In the primary sector, the identification process was based on a survey carried out by the ERC. The analysis of the survey returns from primary schools by the ERC identified the socio-economic variables that collectively best predict achievement, and these variables were then used to identify schools for participation in DEIS. Furthermore, an appeal mechanism was put in place in 2006 to address the concerns of schools that did not qualify for inclusion in DEIS but regarded themselves as having a level of disadvantage which was of a scale sufficient to warrant their inclusion in the programme.

An ongoing evaluation of DEIS has been underway since the rollout of supports commenced in 2006. My Department commissioned the Educational Research Centre to undertake this evaluation, the aim of which is to monitor the implementation of the programme and assess its impact on students and schools at primary and post primary levels.

In addition, the Inspectorate of my Department conducted evaluations of planning in a sample of 36 DEIS schools, 18 primary and 18 post-primary. A national composite report on the effectiveness of DEIS planning in primary and post-primary schools has been completed and this report along with the ERC report have been published.

My Department will fully consider these evaluation reports before any decisions can be made regarding the future of DEIS. While a key priority for me is to continue to prioritise and target resources at schools with the most concentrated levels of educational disadvantage, the current economic climate and the challenge to meet significant targets on reducing public expenditure limits opportunities and means that there is no capacity to provide for additionality to the DEIS programme.

School Transport

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

195 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the school bus programmes that serve schools (details supplied) in County Cork will be affected by cutbacks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4849/12]

Under the terms of my Department's School Transport Scheme children are eligible for transport where they:

have special educational needs arising from a diagnosed disability in accordance with the designation of high and low incidence disability set out in Department of Education and Skill's (DES) Circular 02/05 and

are attending the nearest recognised: mainstream school, special class/special school or a unit, that is or can be resourced, to meet their special educational needs.

There are no plans to change the terms of this scheme and school transport or grant assistance will continue to be provided for eligible children.

School Staffing

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

196 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he has taken to prepare for the likely disruption caused to schools by 1,600 primary and secondary teachers leaving the education service in February to avail of pension arrangements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4851/12]

Teachers who planned to retire before the end of February were required to give 3 months' notice of their intention to retire in order to ensure that schools were aware of potential staffing difficulties. While the minimum notice period was 3 calendar months, school management were advised to seek the cooperation of staff in giving the earliest possible notice of their intention to retire in order to facilitate resource planning and timetabling. In recognition of the additional pressure of students facing state examinations, and the concerns of teachers who wish to ensure continuity of support for these children I have made provision, for this year only, to reduce disruption to students undertaking examinations in June. This is in the form of alleviation measures allowing post-primary schools to re-employ teachers who retire between 1 December 2011 and 29 February 2012 and who, immediately before their retirement, have been teaching students preparing to sit the Junior or Leaving Certificate examinations in 2012.

These teachers may be re-employed until the summer holidays for the teaching duties for which they were timetabled immediately before their retirement. Where a teacher's pre-retirement duties included both teaching and non-teaching duties, such as in the case of an Assistant Principal or Deputy Principal, the teacher may be re-employed for his or her teaching hours only.

I am aware that there are a large number of qualified and registered teachers who are unable to source work at the current time. I am also very alive to the pressures our young people are under to perform well in their State exams. I believe that the approach being adopted strikes the right balance between the needs of students who face into significant examinations, the retiring teachers who have invested a huge amount of time and effort in preparing students for their examinations and those teachers who are looking forward to the opportunities presented by the increased level of retirements at a time of constrained resources. Vacancies left by retiring primary and post-primary teachers of non-exam classes may be filled in a temporary capacity for the remainder of the school year in accordance with the existing recruitment procedures. I am confident that the large pool of qualified and registered teachers will be in a position to continue to provide high quality education to students.

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

197 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of vacancies that will be created in schools in County Louth by primary and secondary teachers leaving the education service in February to avail of pension entitlements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4852/12]

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

228 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the plans he has to lift the ban on recruitment of front-line staff in education and in particular the scenario or circumstances that will prompt him to so act. [5167/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 197 and 228 together.

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to vacancies is not readily available in my Department.

At the outset, I want to be very clear that vacancies created in the teaching profession by the forthcoming wave of public sector retirements up to February 29th 2012 will be filled. Students and pupils will not be left without teachers to teach them as a result of retirements. Furthermore, the turnover in teaching staff will provide many newly qualified teachers with opportunities to gain employment. The filling of vacancies in individual schools will be addressed by Boards of Management at school level. I am also seeking to reduce the impact of these retirements on students preparing for the State examinations. I am allowing schools to re-employ teachers who retire between 1 December 2011 and 29 February 2012, and who had been teaching classes due to sit State exams in 2012, until the end of the school year. In the case of teachers who are not teaching exam classes, replacements can be employed until the end of the school year, subject to the numbers framework.

The information available to the Pensions Unit of my Department in relation to projected retirements nationally from 1 January 2012 to 29 February 2012 are of the order of 729 Primary teachers, 507 Secondary/Community and Comprehensive School teachers and 220 Vocational teachers. A county by county breakdown of these figures is not readily available.

A key part of the Government's overall budgetary strategy is a requirement to reduce the public sector payroll. This will continue to be the case until we close the gap between what we spend as a country and what we take in through taxes. Given that one third of all public sector employees work in the Education sector it is simply not possible to completely exempt staffing levels in education from the Government's need to reduce expenditure.

The Government has prioritised, as best as possible, the filling of front-line posts in the Education sector within the constraints of the Employment Control Framework. For example, schools are permitted to fill teaching vacancies that arise within their approved staffing allocations.

Psychological Service

Jack Wall

Ceist:

198 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for assessment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4870/12]

I can inform the Deputy that all primary and post primary schools have access to psychological assessments either directly through the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), or through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA), full details of which are on the Department's website. Where a NEPS psychologist is not assigned to a school, authorities therein may access psychological assessments through SCPA. Under this scheme schools can have an assessment carried out by a member of the panel of private psychologists approved by NEPS, and NEPS will pay the psychologist the fees for this assessment directly.

It should also be noted that in common with many other psychological services, NEPS encourages a staged assessment process, whereby each school takes responsibility for a pupil's initial assessment, educational planning and remedial intervention in consultation with their assigned NEPS psychologist. Only if there is a failure to make reasonable progress in spite of the school's best efforts, will a child be referred for individual psychological assessment. It is the responsibility of the school Principal in the first instance to identify and prioritise pupils for assessment under the process described above.

I have made enquiries in relation to the child detailed in the question and understand that he was the subject of an educational psychological assessment through NEPS in the past year. Should his parents have any concerns or queries in regard to the results of this process I would advise that they communicate them to the Principal of the school involved. The NEPS psychologist currently assigned to Levistown N.S. is available to provide any assistance or clarification to them in this connection.

Irish Language

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

199 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied that there are sufficient education resources in Irish for the purposes of the social, personal and health education programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4884/12]

Substantial progress has been made in the provision of textbooks and resources specifically for use in Gaeltacht and other all-Irish schools since An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta was set up in 2002. An Chomhairle was established to co-ordinate the provision of textbooks and aids to support Irish, to advise on policies relating to Irish in schools generally and in all-Irish and Gaeltacht schools, to provide support services through the medium of Irish and to undertake research in this area.

An Chomhairle works closely with An Gúm and other agencies to address the deficit in Irish medium resources and materials. It has published an extensive resource directory on its website (www.cogg.ie) on materials and resources now available to support the teaching of Irish in the curriculum, and the teaching of other subjects through Irish, across primary and post primary schools. These resources will be expanded progressively over time. A complete list of Teaching Aids and Resources has also been sent to Gaeltacht schools and Gaelscoileanna, and a mobile library van provides demonstrations to schools of the resources available.

The following publications are available in English and Irish on SPHE:

All syllabuses, guidelines and circulars on my Department's website: www.education.ie.

Software, teaching materials and textbooks promoted by COGG: www.cogg.ie.

TRUST — RSE Senior Cycle Resource (publicised through the SPHE website www.sphe.ie).

In addition, an Irish version of the resource b4udecide.ie, a Relationships and Sexuality Education Resource Materials produced for Teachers and Youth Workers by the Crisis Pregnancy Agency (www.crisispregnancy.ie) will be sent to Irish-medium schools shortly.

Departmental Surveys

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

200 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Education and Skills, further to Parliamentary Question No. 113 of 13 December 2011, if this specific analysis has commenced yet; when he expects this analysis to be completed for a school (details supplied) in Dublin 16; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4888/12]

My officials have written to each of the 55 fee-charging schools requesting details of tuition fees charged for the academic year 2011/12. The schools were requested to provide this information to my Department by Friday last, 27th January.

A number of schools have not responded to date. My officials have again written to those schools yet to supply the information, asking for a prompt reply.

Once the information is received in respect of each school, including the school referred to by the Deputy, my officials will commence the work of analysing the position. My Department has undertaken to share the results of the analysis with and to provide each school with an opportunity to present any pertinent information or make any observations pertaining to their own particular situation.

Special Educational Needs

Áine Collins

Ceist:

201 Deputy Áine Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will appoint a special needs assistant to a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [4891/12]

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 recently published statistical information on SNA allocations on a county by county and school by school basis on its website www.ncse.ie.

I have arranged for Deputy's question regarding an individual application for SNA support to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

202 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) in County Westmeath will retain all of its special needs assistant posts this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4895/12]

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 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 recently published statistical information on SNA allocations on a county by county and school by school basis on its website www.ncse.ie.

The Deputy will also be aware that Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) are recruited specifically to assist in the care of pupils with disabilities in an educational context. SNA allocations are not permanent as the level of SNA support allocated to a school may be increased or decreased as pupils who qualify for SNA support enrol or leave a school or where a child's care needs may have diminished over time. The allocation of SNAs in each school can therefore alter from year to year.

Schools will be invited to make applications to the NCSE for SNA support for the 2012/13 school year by 16th March, 2012 and will subsequently be advised of their allocation for the next school year, based on the number of valid applications received and the extent of the care needs of qualifying children.

Higher Education Grants

Jack Wall

Ceist:

203 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reasons a person (details supplied) in County Kildare is referred to a county vocational education committee outside the county in which they are resident to make their grant application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4902/12]

Grant applicants should generally apply to the local authority or VEC in the area where they are normally resident. However, where a student has previously been in receipt of a student grant, they should re-apply to the grant awarding authority that previously processed their student grant application. Regardless of what grant awarding authority a student applies to, he/she will still be assessed in accordance with the terms and conditions of the relevant student grant scheme.

Schools Building Projects

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

204 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) in County Meath will be included in the capital funding programme 2012 to 2016. [4956/12]

A Master Plan for the site on which the proposed school, referred to by the Deputy, is to be constructed is currently being finalised. The production of the Master Plan is the first step in the process for the delivery of a primary, post primary and special school on the site. My Department is due to meet with the Local Authority in early February to discuss the Plan. The outcome of the meeting will influence the delivery dates for all schools to be constructed on the site.

As the Deputy is aware, I have previously committed to publishing shortly a five year plan outlining the school building projects to be constructed in that time.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

205 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will confirm having received an application for additional permanent accommodation for a school (details supplied) in County Westmeath, which is in need of same due to the significant rise in pupil numbers at the school and the continuing projected increase of such numbers; if same will now be facilitated in the capital programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4965/12]

The school to which the Deputy refers has recently submitted an application for capital funding to my Department. The application will be considered and a decision will be conveyed to the school authority as soon as this process has been completed.

Higher Education Grants

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

206 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills if, in the context in which a person has rental income from property that is let, but has significant interest associated with the said property, which consumes all of the rental income available and more, the person is entitled to have the said interest associated with the said rental income calculated in the assessment of eligibility for higher education grant purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4966/12]

The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter for the relevant grant awarding authority.

Reckonable income for student grants purposes is gross income from all sources. Therefore, the assessing authorities use the profit or loss as shown by the statement of rental income and no allowance is made for the interest associated with rental income. The Deputy will appreciate that in the absence of all of the relevant details that would be contained in an individual's application form and supporting documentation, it would not be possible for me to say whether or not a student should qualify for a grant. However, an applicant may appeal the decision of the grant awarding authority to its appeals officer. Where the appeals officer decides to reject the appeal, the applicant may appeal this decision to my Department or the independent appeals board, as appropriate.

School Staffing

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

207 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if, in the context of the review of learning support teachers due to be published shortly, he will consider basing one learning support teacher, LST, in a school (details supplied) in County Cork, in view of the fact that it shares an LST with two other schools; the likelihood that another LST will be allocated to the three schools shortly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4968/12]

The new simplified approach to the General Allocation Model of support for schools will make it easier to automatically update it annually in line with the changes in the number of classroom teachers in each school. Schools will also have autonomy on how to deploy the resource between language support and learning support depending on their specific needs. The arrangements for the staffing allocation under the General Allocation Model (GAM) are specifically designed to facilitate GAM hours being clustered into full-time posts — either entirely within their own school or with a nearby neighbouring school. The new GAM allocations are being done in 5-hour blocks which is the equivalent of the tuition time for a full school day. Teachers that are in shared posts between schools can therefore operate local arrangements that enable their travel to a neighbouring school to be done, where possible, from the start of the school day thus avoiding loss of tuition time.

As part of the reforms to the teacher allocation process existing posts will be used to put in place a network of about 2,450 full-time resource posts in over 1,600 base schools throughout the country that will be allocated on a permanent basis. This approach builds on the interim arrangements that operated in 2011 but in a more structured and transparent manner. The annual changes in resource hours at individual school level will only affect where the teacher is working on any one day — not whether the base school continues to host the full-time post. This approach will introduce a greater constancy in the context of the annual allocations and redeployment process.

The teachers in these full-time resource posts will undertake NCSE approved (low incidence) resource hours in the base schools or in neighbouring schools. Schools are typically notified of their NCSE approved resource hours in the late Spring/early Summer period but also throughout the school year. Through his/her role in allocating resources the local SENO will have an oversight role in relation to the sharing arrangements between schools so that they can operate as efficiently as possible and any time loss due to travel between schools can be kept to a minimum. Schools that are unable to access their NCSE approved resource hours from this network of full-time resource posts will be allocated mainly part-time temporary posts.

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

208 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider allowing a school (details supplied) in County Cork to retain a teaching post in view of the fact that it is shortly due to absorb a pupil which will bring it to the required 51-pupil threshold and given its DEIS band 2 status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4969/12]

Michael Lowry

Ceist:

219 Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide information on the number of teaching posts that will be lost in smaller schools — schools with fewer than four teachers — in counties Tipperary and Offaly, separately, for the next academic year 2012-2013; the number of schools affected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5083/12]

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

245 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of posts that will be lost in each county from September this year as a result of changes to staffing schedules in one, two, three and four-teacher schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5601/12]

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

246 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools that will be affected in each county from September this year as a result of changes to staffing schedules of one, two, three and four-teacher schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5602/12]

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

247 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools that face closure from September this year as a result of changes to staffing schedules in one, two, three and four-teacher schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5603/12]

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

248 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of pupils that will be affected from September of this year as a result of changes to staffing schedules in one, two, three and four-teacher schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5604/12]

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

249 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of gaelscoileanna and minority faith schools that will be affected from September this year as a result of changes to staffing schedules in one, two, three and four-teacher schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5605/12]

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

250 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if any impact analysis was carried out in his Department prior to proceeding with the decision to introduce changes to staffing schedules in one, two, three and four-teacher schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5606/12]

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

251 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason he chose to apply retention figures for small schools retrospectively to last year’s enrolment figures in respect of changes to staffing schedules in one, two, three and four-teacher schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5607/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 208, 219 and 245 to 251, inclusive, together.

At a time of great strain in our public finances, we have to ensure that the very valuable but limited resources available for the education system are used in the best way possible. The staffing schedule at primary level disproportionately benefits small primary schools. It is worth noting that we have 3,200 primary schools across Ireland. Over two thirds of those schools have more than 86 pupils and, as a result, have far higher average class sizes than all of the schools affected by this measure. For example a two teacher school with 32 pupils has an average class size of 1 teacher for sixteen pupils. In contrast, a typical ten teacher school with 272 pupils has an average class size of 27.2 pupils. It is important to retain a sense of perspective and balance when discussing this matter and to realise the exceptionally favourable supports my Department will continue to provide for small schools. For that reason, as part of the Budget 2012 decisions, the number of pupils required to gain and retain a classroom teaching post in small primary schools will be gradually increased between September 2012 and September 2014. Even when all of these phased increases are implemented, the threshold for small schools will still be significantly lower than the minimum of 28 pupils that was required for the appointment of a second teacher in schools prior to the mid-1990s.

The phasing of these measures can provide the schools concerned with time to consider the potential for amalgamation with other schools where this is feasible. If amalgamations take place, they will be voluntary and follow decisions taken by local communities and not by my Department. My Department's focus is on implementing the staffing arrangements for the coming school year and I do not propose to divert scarce staffing resources to deal with the individual type queries from the Deputies. My Department will be notifying schools in the coming weeks of the new staffing arrangements for the 2012/13 school year.

Special Educational Needs

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

209 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 did not receive a home tuition grant up to July; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4984/12]

The Deputy will be aware that my Department's 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 and also to provide early educational intervention for preschool children with autism. The child referred to by the Deputy has been allocated tuition until the end of the school year. Separately the July Education Programme is available to all special schools and mainstream primary schools with classes catering for children with autism who choose to extend their education services through the month of July. Home based provision is also provided for under this scheme. The child in question will also be eligible to apply for tuition under this scheme.

Schools Building Projects

Brian Walsh

Ceist:

210 Deputy Brian Walsh asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application by a school (details supplied) in County Galway for building expansion; and if the school will be included in the five-year programme for school building projects to be announced this year. [4987/12]

The building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning. Stage 2(b) submission (Detailed Design) was approved on 10th January 2012. The 2012 construction programme was published in December. Following on from this, my Department will shortly publish an outline five year programme on the projects to be constructed in that time. All school building projects currently in architectural planning, including the project referred to by the Deputy, will be considered in the context of that programme, taking into account the funding available, the building costs involved and the progression of other major projects required to meet demographic needs.

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

211 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has met a delegation from a school (details supplied) in County Louth to discuss concerns about accommodation; if he will provide an account of this meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5010/12]

The Major Building Project referred to by the Deputy is currently at an early stage of Architectural Planning. The Design Team has recently been appointed and the Board of Management were authorised to commence Stage 1 (Preliminary Sketch Design) on 5th January 2012. My Department is awaiting a status update from the Board and their Design team. When this update has been received my department officials will arrange a meeting in order to expedite the progression of the project.

School Closures

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

212 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the names of the schools he intends to close in County Meath; the dates on which he intends to close them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5016/12]

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

213 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the future of a school (details supplied) in County Meath; if he will ensure that the school remains open and continues to serve the local area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5017/12]

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

214 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the future of a school (details supplied) in County Meath; if he will ensure that the school remains open and continues to serve the local area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5018/12]

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

I want to clarify for the Deputy that I have no intention to forcibly close any schools, in County Meath or elsewhere in Ireland, arising from the announcement I made on 5th December 2011. I would advise the Deputy to read the detail of that announcement, available on www.education.ie, so he can familiarise himself with what I actually announced in the Budget. The criteria under which National Schools are recognised by the Department are outlined in the Education Act 1998 and the Rules for National Schools. Under the criteria, recognition can be withdrawn where a school’s pupil enrolment returns to the Department, at 30th September, fall below eight pupils and remain at this level for at least two consecutive years and where the Patron is satisfied that there is little prospect of a reversal in the school’s pupil enrolment trend. The schools referred to by the Deputy currently meet the recognition criteria concerned.

Departmental Staff

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

215 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills the salaries and allowances paid to his private secretary and to the Secretary General general of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5026/12]

The salaries and allowances paid to private secretaries in my Department are set out in the following table. Any consideration of reductions in salaries or allowances for private secretaries would be a matter in the first instance for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Private Secretaries in Department of Education and Skills — Salaries and Allowances

Position

Salary

Allowance

Private Secretary to Minister Ruairí Quinn, T.D.

€57,251

€19,653

Private Secretary to Minister of State Ciarán Cannon, T.D.

€53,532

€19,653

Private Secretary to Minister of State Seán Sherlock, T.D.

€35,977

*€20,685

Private Secretary to Secretary General Brigid McManus

€44,967

*€10,951

* Full PRSI Class A.

Appointments to State Boards

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

216 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a breakdown of the number of appointments that have been made to State boards by him since he came to office, including the names of the appointees and the boards they have been appointed to; the number of these appointments that have been made using new procedures involving the advertising of such posts on his Department’s websites and the interview of the chairperson of boards by Oireachtas committee; if he will highlight situations where this process has not occurred; and the reason it has not occurred in each case. [5042/12]

The following table provides a list of appointments made to bodies under the aegis of my Department since my appointment as Minister for Education and Skills for the Deputy's information. It should be noted that Board appointments, while made by me, as Minister, are not in all cases made at my sole discretion. Individuals may be nominated for appointment by various organisations as specified in the relevant statute of the body concerned. The Deputy may also wish to note that my Department has recently corresponded with survivors groups seeking nominations for the new Board of the Education Finance Board (EFB). This Board will effectively be a caretaker board which will serve for a number of months pending the establishment of the Statutory Fund. It is envisaged that the new Fund will assume the functions of the Board and the Board will be dissolved when the fund is set up.

In December 2011, in accordance with Government policy, expressions of interest were sought from suitably qualified and experienced persons for consideration for appointment to the following boards of Bodies operating under my Department aegis:

Léargas Ltd — The Exchange Bureau

The Higher Education Authority

The Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland (to be newly established)

Interested applicants were advised to register an Expression of Interest through the Public Appointments Service (PAS).

Vacancies on other Boards of Bodies under the aegis of the Department that arise during 2012 will be advertised on my Department's website. The Deputy should note that in making any direct Ministerial appointments, I am not necessarily confined to those who make such expressions of interest but will ensure that all of those appointed have the relevant qualifications for the positions.

Breakdown of appointments

Agency Name

Number Appointments /re-appointments

Names

Notes

Foras Áiseanna Saothair

1 appointment

Mr. Michael Moriarty

Mr. Moriarty, who is General Secretary of the IVEA, was appointed in July 2011 because of his expertise in the Vocational Education Committees which will be availed of particularly when FÁS is transformed into SOLAS, the new further education and training authority.

Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC)

11 re-appointments

Mr. Donal O’RourkeDr. Padraig WalshMs Margaret O’ConnellMr. Rory O’SullivanMr. Joseph O’LearyMs Deirdre KeyesMs Bridie DalyMs Margaret MernaghMr. John MulcahyMr. Tony PetitMs Shira Mehiman

As FETAC’s term of office expired in December 2011, and to meet with statutory obligations, eligible members of the outgoing Board were re-appointed to the Board until such time as the new QQAAI is established. All 11 re-appointed on 21st December 2011.

Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC)

2 appointments8 re-appointments

Dr. Maria Hinfelaar (1st appointed 9/6/2011)Mr. Aengus Ó Maoláin (1st appointed 1/7/2011)Prof. Séamus SmythDr. Finola Doyle-O’NeillDr. Marion PalmerDr. Íde Ní FhaoláinMs Mary Mc GlynnDr. Diarmuid O’Callaghan

As HETAC’s term of office expired in December 2011, and to meet with statutory obligations, eligible members of the outgoing Board were re-appointed to the Board until such time as the new QQAAI (see note 1) is established. All 8 re-appointed on 21st December 2011.

Higher Education Authority

1 re-appointment

Mr. Gary Redmond

Mr. Redmond was re-appointed in July 2011 by virtue of his re-appointment as President of the USI

National Council for Curriculum and Assessment

2 appointments

Mr. Seán Ó CoinnProfessor Noirín Hayes

Mr. Ó Coinn nominated by Foras na Gaeilge and Professor Noirín Hayes nominated by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Both appointed on the 13th of December 2011.

National Council for Special Education

1 appointment

Ms Maureen Costello

Director of the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) appointed in September 2011.

National Qualifications Authority of Ireland

1 appointment5 re-appointments

Mr. Gary Redmond (1st appointed 24/6/2011)Prof. Anne ScottMs Marie BourkeMr. Eamon DevoyMs Audry DeaneMr. Tony Donohue

All re-appointed on 31st March 2011 with exception of Mr. Redmond.See Note 1.

Residential Institutions Redress Board

11 re-appointments

Dr. Fionnuala O’LoughlinDr. Helen CummiskeyDr. Harry BuglerDr. Mary BluettDr. Ruth PilkingtonDr. William DelaneyMr. John CampbellMs Ann O’BrienMs Samantha Cruess CallaghanMs Dariona Conlon

All re-appointed on 16th December 2011

Residential Institutions Review Committee

6 re-appointments

The Hon. Mr. Justice Francis D. MurphyMr. John DaltonMs Ita ManaganMr. Justice John BuckleyMr. Brendan GogartyMr. Colm Gaynor

All re-appointed on 16th December 2011

Skillnets Ltd. (See Note 1)

1

Mr. Mícheál Ó Fiannachta

A Departmental official appointed in June 2011.

Note 1: The Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC) and the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI) are to merged to form a new body to be known as the Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland (QQAAI) in the coming months.

Third Level Graduates

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

217 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide details of the economic sectors in which there are the greatest numbers of graduates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5061/12]

The most recent data for graduate employment in Ireland was published in 2010 and relates to 2008 graduates. The full report "What do graduates do?" is available at www.hea.ie. The data shows that the most common initial employment sector for holders of all awards in Ireland was Non-market services, which includes education and health sectors, with 45.3% of level 8 honours degree graduates; 89% level 9 postgraduate diploma graduates (more than half of which employed in secondary education); 76% of PhD graduates (almost half of which were employed in third level education sector) and 37.8% of taught masters Graduates employed in this sector. A significant proportion of both honours degree and taught masters graduates also found employment in Business Finance and Insurance Services (22.3% and 23.2%, respectively). This pattern is repeated in the sectoral distribution of graduates overseas with Non-Market sector as the most popular employment sector for the majority of graduates.

Departmental Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

218 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of retired public servants that have been rehired by him, or rehired by State agencies under his aegis. [5067/12]

The information requested by the Deputy is being compiled and will be forwarded direct to her.

Question No. 219 answered with Question No. 208.

Oideachas Lán-Ghaeilge

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

220 D’fhiafraigh Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna an gcreideann sé go bhfuil sé de cheart ag gach tuismitheoir in Éirinn a bpáistí a chur chuig Gaelscoil; an bhfuil measúnú aige ar cén céatadán de thuismitheoirí na tíre atá ag lorg oideachais trí mheán na Gaeilge dá bpáistí; céard atá ar bun aige chun an t-éileamh ar an nGaelscolaíocht a shásamh. [5096/12]

Glacann an bunoideachas ról feiceálach chun an chéad teanga oifigiúil a chaomhnú agus a leathnú amach. Is é an cuspóir tábhachtach a bhí riamh ag Rialtais leanúnacha Éireannacha ná an teanga Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn agus rinneadh a háit in ár gcóras oideachais a chosaint ar bhonn seasmhach i gconaí. Rinneadh a leithéid a fhrithchaitheamh sna blianta a ghabh tharainn sa mhéid gur aithníodh roinnt Gaelscoileanna nua — bunaíodh 18 gaelscoil nua ón bhliain 2005 amach agus tá ceann eile le hoscailt i mí Mheán Fómhair na bliana seo. Méadaíonn a leithéid an líon gaelscoileanna suas go dtí 141 agus bhí 29675 dalta ar na rollaí iontu siúd sa scoilbhliain 2010/11. Mar bhreis air sin tá 106 bunscoil Lán-Ghaelach ann agus an clárú iomlán iontu ionann is 7302 dalta sa scoilbhliain 2010/11.

Mar is eol don Teachta, rinne mé a fhógairt i mí an Mheithimh 2011 go bhfuiltear chun 20 bunscoil nua a bhunú in ionaid éagsúla sa sé bliana rómhainn. Rinne mé a fhógairt, freisin, go mbeidh eagair nua i bhfeidhm maidir le bunscoileanna agus scoileanna dara leibhéal a aithint. Na heagair nua seo a foillsíodh ag mo Roinn, cuireann siad cur chuige cothrom i bhfeidhm chun go bhféadfaí iarratais ar bhunú scoileanna nua a dhéanamh ag patrúin ionchasacha. Cuireann na critéir a úsáidfear i roghnú Pátrúnachta le haghaidh scoileanna nua seo béim ar leith ar éileamh tuismitheoirí maidir le éagsúlacht agus le ilfheidhmeannas Pátrúnachta.

Beidh an Teachta eolach freisin maidir leis an bhFóram ar Phátrúnacht agus Ilfheidhmeannas san Earnáil Bhunoideachais a sheol mé an bhliain seo caite agus tuigim go mbeidh ar fáil agam go luath an tuarascáil ón nGrúpa Comhairleach ar thoradh réamhbheartaithe an Fhóraim sin. Tuigim go mbeidh moltaí sa tuarascáil sin ar chonas is féidir an t-eileamh ar bhunoideachas Lán-Ghaeilge a shásamh sna réigiúin sin nach féidir leis na déimeagrafaigh bunú bunscoileanna nua a chosaint ná a údarú.

Special Educational Needs

Charles Flanagan

Ceist:

221 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to a situation that has developed at a school (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5121/12]

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

240 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reverse the withdrawal of a teacher from a school (details supplied) in County Laois in 2011 in view of the implications for the school and the health and safety issues involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5477/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 221 and 240 together.

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for determining the appropriate staffing levels in relation to the support of pupils with special educational needs in mainstream and special schools. The NCSE operates within my Department's policy in allocating this support. My Department's Circular 0042/2011 notified school management authorities of the staffing arrangements which would apply in special schools in the 2011/12 school year. The Circular set out that the 2010/11 level of teaching supports would be maintained in special schools for the 2011/12 school year, other than for schools with declining enrolments. The Circular also indicated that the NCSE may suppress a teacher post in schools which have excess teaching posts in order to create a post in a school which does not have excess posts and which has growing pupil numbers.

The special school referred to by the Deputy currently has an enrolment of 18 pupils with a staffing allocation of 4 teachers and 12 Special Needs Assistants. Notwithstanding the fact that the pupils attending this school have very significant levels of need, this is a very high staffing level, with a total of 16 staff providing for 18 pupils at the school. These enhanced pupil teacher and SNA ratios are provided to special schools to support them in dealing with pupil behaviour and individual educational and care needs. In addition, it is open to schools to seek guidance and advice from the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) in relation to the establishment of whole-school procedures in this area. Finally, I wish to advise the Deputy that the Health Service Executive is responsible for the provision of health supports, including Physiotherapy, to children who require such support.

Jobs Initiative

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

222 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of teachers seeking to have their probationary period completed that have been admitted through the national internship programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5122/12]

Teachers who have registered with the Teaching Council and have fulfilled all conditions other than probation currently apply to Limerick Education Centre (LEC) for probation. At present, inspection visits are conducted by the Department Inspectorate on behalf of the Teaching Council to evaluate the professional competence of the eligible teachers. The Inspectorate provides the teacher with a statement indicating their level of competence. It is the responsibility of the teacher to provide evidence of professional competence to the Teaching Council in order to become fully registered. The records maintained in Limerick Education Centre indicate that 12 teachers listed for probation have declared themselves to be on Jobbridge and 3 teachers have declared themselves to be on FÁS work placement programme.

Physical Education Facilities

Noel Harrington

Ceist:

223 Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Education and Skills his response to proposals by Clonakilty Town Council, County Cork, regarding physical education for secondary school students (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5134/12]

I fully appreciate the importance of Physical Education in promoting positive well being, and mental and physical health in schools, and the role this plays in supporting student achievement. However, curriculum overload has been found in many evaluations in the Irish system, and I do not intend to extend the length of time required for PE in primary or second level schools. My focus is on ensuring that the time recommended for PE is implemented in all schools, as part of a broad and balanced programme, that schools encourage physical activity during breaks and seek to promote sporting activities outside of school time, and make their premises and facilities available to the wider community.

In addition to PE being a required subject in all schools, the importance of healthy lifestyles, good nutrition and physical exercise is also featured as part of the Social Personal and Health Education Programme which is a mandatory part of the curriculum in primary schools and in junior cycle. In a new school building or major refurbishment/extension, PE facilities are included as part of the design, and new PE equipment is provided.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has recently completed a public consultation process on a syllabus for Physical Education as a Leaving Certificate examinable subject, and will be forwarding its advice to me during 2012. However, there are a range of syllabuses awaiting implementation which cannot be progressed in the current budgetary climate. In Junior cycle, PE is a non-examinable subject. As part of the reforms which I have recently endorsed, there will be opportunity for schools to provide short courses which are locally developed, of 100 hours duration, which are assessed by means of a portfolio. There will be scope under these arrangements for schools to extend the provision for sports and PE should they wish to do so.

It is important to realise that children spend just 20% of their waking hours at school and so their level of physical activity during the rest of the week in just as important. Indeed, the ‘State of the Nation's Children 2010" report found that children in Ireland are doing well on physical activity, ranking first across 40 countries in being physically active for at least 60 minutes per day on more than 4 days per week.

Third Level Institutions

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

224 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a breakdown of hospitality and entertainment allowances allocated to each of the State’s seven main universities in 2010 and 2011; if he will categorise how these allowances were spent in each college per year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5137/12]

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

225 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a breakdown of buildings here which are being rented or hired by each of the State’s seven main universities in 2010 and 2011 separately; the location and name of each building; the annual cost of renting and or hiring each building per year; the purpose of use in each case; the length of each rental contract or hire arrangement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5138/12]

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

226 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a breakdown of the costs incurred by each of the State’s seven main universities in respect of travel expenses within the EU for staff members in 2010 and 2011 separately; if he will outline each universities’ policy on travel expenses for staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5139/12]

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

227 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a breakdown of the costs incurred by each of the State’s seven main universities in respect of travel expenses outside the EU for staff members in 2010 and 2011 separately; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5140/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 224 to 227, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy was advised in relation to previous requests for information on various university costs, information of this nature is generally not readily available. Furthermore, given differences in management and financial information systems across the seven universities, it is difficult to collect consistent, comparable data. However, I have asked the HEA to contact the seven universities with a view to obtaining as much information as is possible and I will arrange to have it forwarded when compiled.

Question No. 228 answered with Question No. 197.

Departmental Expenditure

Eoghan Murphy

Ceist:

229 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total amount of the education budget for 2012; and the breakdown in spending between the different categories and levels of education, both as a percentage of the total budget and in monetary terms. [5293/12]

The 2012 Gross Budget Allocation for Vote 26: Education and Skills was almost €8,672 million. Expenditure on Education services in Vote 26 is accounted for under seven main headings in Vote 26 as follows:

2012 Gross Budget Allocation

Programme

Amount

%

€m

Administration

€91.7

1%

Other Services

€329.4

4%

First-Level Education

€3,109.5

36%

2nd level Education

€2,957.6

34%

3rd level and Further Education

€1,566.3

18%

Capital Services

€474.2

5%

Skills Development and Further Education

€142.8

2%

Total

€8,671.5

The following table, for the information of the Deputy, is a full breakdown of estimated 2012 expenditure for Vote 26: Education and Skills, as contained in the Comprehensive Expenditure Report 2012-14 which was published in December 2012 at Budget time.

VOTE 26

EDUCATION AND SKILLS

I. Estimate of the amount required in the year ending 31 December 2011 for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Education and Skills, for certain services administered by that Office, and for the payments of certain grants and grants-in-aid.

€8,062,573,000

II. Subheads under which this Vote will be accounted for by the Office of the Minister for Education and Skills

2011 REV

Over 2011 REV 2012

% 2012

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

ADMINISTRATION

A.1-

SALARIES, WAGES AND ALLOWANCES

62,743

62,743

59,889

59,889

-5%

A.2-

TRAVEL AND SUBSISTENCE

1,577

1,577

1,499

1,499

-5%

A.3-

TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT AND INCIDENTAL EXPENSES

1,355

1,355

1,262

1,262

-7%

A.4-

POSTAL AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES

3,250

3,250

3,041

3,041

-6%

A.5-

OFFICE EQUIPMENT and EXTERNAL IT SERVICES

3,462

2,000

5,462

3,355

1,500

4,855

-11%

A.6-

OFFICE PREMISES EXPENSES

2,350

2,350

2,318

2,318

-1%

A.7-

CONSULTANCY SERVICES and VALUE FOR MONEY REVIEWS

100

100

100

100

0%

A.8-

NATIONAL EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICE

18,629

18,629

18,719

18,719

0%

A.8-

REGIONAL OFFICE EXPENSES

260

260

0

0

-100%

Subtotal:- *

93,726

2,000

95,726

90,183

1,500

91,683

-4%

OTHER SERVICES

B.1-

GRANT-IN-AID FUND FOR GENERAL EXPENSES OF ADULT EDUCATION ORGANISATIONS (PART-FUNDED BY NATIONAL LOTTERY)

854

854

847

847

-1%

B.2-

TRANSPORT SERVICES

179,974

179,974

169,693

169,693

-6%

B.3-

INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITIES

1,038

1,038

1,109

1,109

7%

B.4-

UNESCO CONTRIBUTION AND INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION EXCHANGES

2,464

2,464

2,280

2,280

-7%

B.5-

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES

2,475

2,475

2,350

2,350

B.6-

TEACHER EDUCATION

25,205

25,205

24,705

24,705

-2%

B.7-

EXPENSES OF NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR CURRICULUM AND ASSESSMENT

3,812

3,812

4,567

4,567

20%

B.8-

FUNDING OF PROJECTS IN DRUG TASK FORCE AREAS

543

543

411

411

B.9-

NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION

9,015

9,015

8,712

8,712

-3%

B.10-

EDUCATIONAL DISADVANTAGED (DORMANT ACCOUNTS)

1,500

500

2,000

1,100

500

1,600

-20%

B.11-

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH STRATEGY FOR FIRST AND SECOND-LEVEL TEACHERS

1,750

1,750

1,750

1,750

B.12

RESIDENTIAL INSTITUTIONS REDRESS

45,000

45,000

69,880

500

70,380

56%

B.13-

ROYAL IRISH ACADEMY OF MUSIC GENERAL EXPENSES (GRANT-IN-AID)

3,544

3,544

3,440

3,440

-3%

B.14-

GRANT-IN-AID FUND FOR GENERAL EXPENSES OF CULTURAL, SCIENTIFIC AND EDUCATIONAL ORGANISATIONS (PART-FUNDED BY NATIONAL LOTTERY)

196

196

187

187

B.15-

NORTH/SOUTH CO-OPERATION FUNDING

3,350

3,350

3,250

3,250

-3%

B.16-

FUNDING FOR THE PROMOTION OF IRELAND AS AN INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION CENTRE

100

100

100

100

0%

B.17-

MISCELLANEOUS

5,005

5,005

4,035

4,035

-19%

B.18-

SCHOOLS INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES ACTIVITIES

13,578

1,500

15,078

13,278

500

13,778

-9%

B.19-

COMMISSION ON CHILD ABUSE

12,994

12,994

8,000

8,000

-38%

B.20-

NATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS FRAMEWORK

8,823

500

9,323

8,174

0

8,174

-12%

Subtotal:-

321,220

2,500

323,720

327,868

1,500

329,368

2%

Education and Skills

414,946

4,500

419,446

418,051

3,000

421,051

0

2010 Prov Outturn

Over 2010 Prov Outturn

% 2011

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

FIRST-LEVEL EDUCATION GRANTS AND SERVICES

C.1-

SALARIES, ETC., OF TEACHERS

2,052,229

2,052,229

2,079,028

2,079,028

1%

C.2-

MODEL SCHOOLS — MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES

511

511

511

511

0%

C.3-

CAPITATION GRANTS TOWARDS OPERATING COSTS OF NATIONAL SCHOOLS

187,102

187,102

188,142

188,142

1%

C.4-

SALARIES ETC. OF NON-TEACHING STAFF IN NATIONAL SCHOOLS INCLUDING SPECIAL NEEDS ASSISTANTS, CARETAKERS AND CLERICAL OFFICERS

310,451

310,451

310,793

310,793

0%

C.5-

OTHER GRANTS AND SERVICES

55,337

55,337

50,585

50,585

-9%

C.6-

SUPERANNUATION, ETC., OF TEACHERS

473,474

473,474

474,485

474,485

0%

C.7-

SPECIAL EDUCATION INITIATIVES

6,065

6,065

6,000

6,000

-1%

Subtotal:-

3,085,169

3,085,169

3,109,544

3,109,544

1%

SECOND LEVEL AND FURTHER EDUCATION

D.1-

SALARIES ETC. OF TEACHERS IN SECONDARY COMPREHENSIVE AND COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

1,180,733

1,180,733

1,141,095

1,141,095

-3%

D.2-

GRANTS TO SECONDARY SCHOOL AUTHORITIES AND OTHER GRANTS AND SERVICES IN RESPECT OF SECONDARY SCHOOLS.

107,191

107,191

103,800

103,800

-3%

D.3-

SALARIES ETC. OF NON-TEACHING STAFF IN SECONDARY, COMP AND COMM SCHOOLS INCLUDING SPECIAL NEEDS ASSISTANTS, CAREATKERS AND CLERICAL OFFICERS

52,151

52,151

50,345

50,345

-3%

D.4-

SUPERANNUATION OF SECONDARY, COMPREHENSIVE AND COMMUNITY SCHOOL TEACHERS

344,125

344,125

346,131

346,131

1%

D.5-

COMPREHENSIVE AND COMMUNITY SCHOOLS - RUNNING COSTS

46,342

46,342

45,492

45,492

-2%

D.6-

ANNUAL GRANTS TO VOCATIONAL EDUCATION COMMITTEES (EXCLUDING CERTAIN GRANTS IN RESPECT OF SPECIALIST COLLEGES AND STUDENT SUPPORT)

906,809

906,809

914,848

914,848

1%

D.7-

PAYMENTS TO LOCAL AUTHORITIES IN RESPECT OF SUPERANNUATION CHARGES

234,278

234,278

239,513

239,513

2%

D.8-

MISCELLANEOUS POST-PRIMARY SERVICES

18,574

18,574

18,027

18,027

-3%

D.9-

SPECIAL INITIATIVES ADULT EDUCATION

44,465

44,465

44,165

44,165

-1%

D.10-

STATE EXAMINATIONS COMMISSION

54,310

54,310

54,202

54,202

Subtotal:-

2,988,978

0

2,988,978

2,957,618

0

2,957,618

-1%

THIRD LEVEL AND FURTHER EDUCATION GRANTS AND SERVICES

E.1-

STUDENT GRANT SCHEMES

386,057

386,057

333,282

333,282

-14%

E.2-

UNIVERSITY SCHOLARSHIPS

1,800

1,800

1,700

1,700

-6%

E.3-

AN tÚDARÁS UM ARD-OIDEACHAS - GRANT-IN-AID FOR GENERAL EXPENSES

5,587

5,587

5,358

5,358

-4%

E.4-

AN tÚDARAS UM ARD-OIDEACHAS — GENERAL CURRENT GRANTS TO UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES AND DESIGNATED INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION (GRANT-IN-AID)

1,177,032

1,177,032

1,119,604

1,119,604

-5%

E.5-

TRAINING COLLEGES FOR PRIMARY TEACHERS EXCLUDING THOSE FUNDED THROUGH THE HIGHER EDUCATION AUTHORITY

12,549

12,549

11,680

11,680

-7%

E.6

STRATEGIC INNOVATION FUND

14,000

14,000

4,000

4,000

-71%

E.7-

DUBLIN DENTAL HOSPITAL — DENTAL EDUCATION GRANT (GRANT-IN-AID)

11,986

11,986

11,815

11,815

-1%

E.8-

DUBLIN INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDIES (GRANT-IN-AID)

7,020

7,020

6,796

6,796

-3%

E.9-

GRANT IN RESPECT OF TUITION FEES TO DESIGNATED NON-HIGHER EDUCATION AUTHORITY THIRD-LEVEL INSTITUTIONS

5,475

5,475

5,325

5,325

-3%

E.10-

MISCELLANEOUS

220

220

220

220

0%

E.11-

GRANTS TO CERTAIN THIRD LEVEL INSTITUTIONS

17,019

17,019

11,350

11,350

-33%

E.12-

ALLEVIATION OF DISADVANTAGE

16,000

16,000

13,200

13,200

E.13-

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES

41,085

41,085

40,085

40,085

-2%

E.14-

GRANGEGORMAN DEVELOPMENT AGENCY

2,080

0

2,080

1,880

0

1,880

-10%

Subtotal:-

1,697,910

0

1,697,910

1,566,295

0

1,566,295

-8%

CAPITAL SERVICES

F.1

BUILDING, EQUIPMENT AND FURNISHING OF NATIONAL and 2nd LEVEL SCHOOLS

418,000

418,000

362,000

362,000

-13%

F.2

PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP COSTS

41,651

15,500

57,151

50,200

2,000

52,200

-9%

F.3

AN tÚDARÁS UM ARD-OIDEACHAS - BUILDING GRANTS AND CAPITAL COSTS FOR UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES, INSTITUTES OF TECHNOLOGY, DESIGNATED INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND RESEARCH

57,335

57,335

59,835

59,835

4%

F.4

BUILDING GRANTS AND CAPITAL COSTS OF OTHER THIRD LEVEL INSTITUTIONS

165

165

165

165

0%

Subtotal:-

41,651

491,000

532,651

50,200

424,000

474,200

-11%

SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

G.1

FAS ADMINISTRATION AND GENERAL EXPENSES

85,491

85,491

83,491

83,491

-2%

G.2

FAS TRAINING AND INTEGRATION SUPPORTS

40,267

40,267

23,067

23,067

-43%

G.3

LEONARDO PROGRAMME

140

140

140

140

0%

G.4

FÁS — CAPITAL

5,500

5,500

3,000

3,000

-45%

G.5

FÁS — PENSION PAYMENTS ARISING FROM THE FINANCIAL MEASURES (MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS) ACT

30,500

30,500

30,800

30,800

1%

G.6

EUROPEAN GLOBALISATION FUND

1,000

1,000

1,000

1,000

0%

G.7

OPERATIONAL PROGRAMME FOR HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT — TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE

1,300

1,300

1,300

1,300

0%

Subtotal:-

158,698

5,500

164,198

139,798

3,000

142,798

-13%

Gross Total:-

8,387,352

501,000

8,888,352

8,241,506

430,000

8,671,506

-2%

Deduct:-

G.-

APPROPRIATIONS-IN-AID

604,432

4,501

608,933

604,432

4,501

608,933

0%

Net Total:-

7,782,920

496,499

8,279,419

7,637,074

425,499

8,062,573

-3%

NATIONAL TRAINING FUND

362,000

362,000

362,000

362,000

0%

OVERALL GROSS TOTAL

8,749,352

501,000

9,250,352

8,603,506

430,000

9,033,506

-2%

Exchequer pay included in above net total

5,020,712

4,955,648

Exchequer pensions included in above net total

886,126

898,164

Third Level Sector

Paudie Coffey

Ceist:

230 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the role or involvement he has in respect of the Irish Universities Association; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5393/12]

Paudie Coffey

Ceist:

231 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total level of funding the Irish Universities Association received from his budget on an annual basis in the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5394/12]

Paudie Coffey

Ceist:

232 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total number of persons employed by the Irish Universities Association; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5395/12]

Paudie Coffey

Ceist:

233 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total amount the Irish Universities Association spent on rent in the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5396/12]

Paudie Coffey

Ceist:

234 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total level of expenses that were paid out by the Irish Universities Association to its members on an annual basis in the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5397/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 230 to 234, inclusive, together.

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) is the representative body for Ireland's seven universities. The Association, which was established by the universities themselves, is a non-profit making body with charitable status and is a company limited by guarantee not having a share capital. It is not a body under the aegis of my Department and no funding is provided directly by my Department to support the running of the Association. The employment of staff and the expenses of the IUA are solely a matter for the Directors of the IUA, comprising the Provost and Presidents of the seven universities.

Paudie Coffey

Ceist:

235 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number and nature of submissions received by him from the Irish Universities Association in the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5398/12]

The information requested by the Deputy is being compiled and I will arrange to have it forwarded to the Deputy shortly.

Asbestos Remediation Programme

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

236 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will take seriously the issue of unregistered asbestos removal from school buildings (details supplied); the measures he will take to tackle this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5417/12]

The project referred to by the Deputy is currently under construction with a design team and appointed contractor in place.

My Department has published guideline documents on "Asbestos Management in Schools" and the Code of Practice for Management of Asbestos Material in Schools". These documents are available on my Department website at www.education.ie.

Responsibility for ensuring the safe removal of asbestos is a matter for the design team and the appointed contractor on behalf of the school authority.

Third Level Sector

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

237 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he supports proposals for closer links between Dundalk IT and Dublin City University; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5443/12]

The National Strategy for Higher Education sets out an approach to the development of the system that is based on building strength through collaboration while retaining and fostering mission diversity across institutions. My Department and the Higher Education Authority, in partnership with our higher education institutions, are now together implementing the wide ranging reforms set out in the strategy. An element of the reforms, currently under consultation, includes the development of regional clusters of institutions, which would be characterised by close co-ordination and co-operation between various types of independent higher education institutions that together would determine and meet the needs of a wide range of students, communities and enterprises in their region.

Special Educational Needs

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

238 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an assessment will be carried out in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork who needs extra help with their junior certificate in June, in view of the fact that this cannot be sought until an assessment has been carried out. [5452/12]

I can inform the Deputy that all primary and post primary schools have access to psychological assessments either directly through the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), or through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA), full details of which are on the Department's website. Where a NEPS psychologist is not assigned to a school, authorities therein may access psychological assessments through SCPA. Under this scheme schools can have an assessment carried out by a member of the panel of private psychologists approved by NEPS, and NEPS will pay the psychologist the fees for this assessment directly.

I have made enquiries in relation to the student detailed in the question and can inform the Deputy that the school which she attends currently is assigned a NEPS psychologist.

It should also be noted that in common with many other psychological services, NEPS encourages a staged assessment process, whereby each school takes responsibility for a pupil's initial assessment, educational planning and remedial intervention in consultation with their assigned NEPS psychologist. Only if there is a failure to make reasonable progress in spite of the school's best efforts, will a child be referred for individual psychological assessment. It is the responsibility of the school Principal in the first instance to identify and prioritise pupils for assessment under the process described above.

I would suggest that the parents of the student in question should discuss the matter with the school Principal who will advise them as to the appropriateness of a referral in this instance and the process for accessing same.

Additionally students with permanent or long-term conditions, including visual and hearing difficulties, or specific learning difficulties, which they believe will significantly impair their performance in the Junior or Leaving Certificate examinations may apply to the State Examinations Commission (SEC) for a reasonable accommodation to be made to facilitate them taking the examinations. The reasonable accommodations are intended to:

(a) remove, as far as possible, the impact of the disability on the candidate's performance and thus enable the candidate to demonstrate his or her level of attainment and

(b) ensure that, whilst giving candidates every opportunity to demonstrate their level of attainment, the special arrangements will not give the candidate an unfair advantage over other candidates in the same examination.

Again I would advise that the student's parents raise, with the school Principal, the potential or appropriateness of submitting an application to the SEC in this instance.

Should school authorities have specific difficulties with regard any of the foregoing I would suggest that they raise the matter with their assigned NEPS psychologist for advise or clarification (NEPS Southern Regional Office, Tel: 021-4536358).

European Council Meetings

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

239 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the European Council of Ministers on which he sits; the number of meetings of that Council that have been held between 2007 and 2011; the number of those meetings that he attended; the number that were attended by the relevant Minister of State; the number that were attended by an Irish official; if he will provide the names of those who attended in tabular form. [5466/12]

The Minister for Education and Skills sits on the EU Council of Ministers for Education. This Council meets three times a year, in February, May and November. From 2007 to 2011 inclusive, fifteen meetings of the Council have been held. Of these, the Minister for Education and Skills attended six, a Minister of State attended five and officials deputised at four.

The names of those who attended are attached in tabular form:

Date of meeting

Attendance

February 2007

Minister of State Seán Haughey

May 2007

Ambassador Ken Thompson

November 2007

Minister Mary Hanafin

February 2008

Minister of State Seán Haughey

May 2008

Minister Batt O’Keeffe

November 2008

Minister of State Seán Haughey

February 2009

Minister Batt O’Keeffe

May 2009

Minister Batt O’Keeffe

November 2009

Minister Batt O’Keeffe

February 2010

Ambassador Geraldine Byrne-Nason

May 2010

Ambassador Geraldine Byrne-Nason

November 2010

Minister of State Seán Haughey

February 2011

Ambassador Geraldine Byrne-Nason

May 2011

Minister Ruairí Quinn

November 2011

Minister of State Ciarán Cannon

Question No. 240 answered with Question No. 221.

School Accommodation

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

241 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the application by a school (details supplied) in County Dublin for the construction of permanent classrooms to replace prefabs which are costing the school tens of thousands of euro in rent per annum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5490/12]

My Department has asked the school, referred to by the Deputy, for further information relating to its application for permanent accommodation. When this information is received the application will be assessed and a decision on the matter will be conveyed to the school authority.

Question No. 242 answered with Question No. 188.

Schools Building Projects

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

243 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will include a school (details supplied) in Dublin 7 on the schools building programme this year, particularly in view of the fact that the school has been in unsuitable and inadequate premises for more than 16 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5591/12]

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department is currently in the process of acquiring a site for the school to which she refers. An application for planning permission forms part of the site acquisition process. A draft design for the school was discussed with the school authority and the design is currently being revised in light of those discussions.

The Government's Medium Term Infrastructure and Capital Investment Framework, which was published on 10th November 2011, sets out the demographic challenge facing the education system in the coming years.

In view of the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place, the delivery of major school projects and smaller projects devolved to schools to meet the demographic demands nationally as well as the demands in the area to which the Deputy refers, will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years.

I have previously committed to publishing shortly a five year plan outlining the school building projects to be constructed in that time.

School Enrolments

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

244 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of primary schools in each county with an enrolment of 86 pupils or less. [5594/12]

A full list of primary schools in county order with their enrolments can be found on my Department's website at the following link http://www.education.ie/home/home.jsp?pcategory=10917&ecategory=12016&language=EN

Questions Nos. 245 to 251, inclusive, answered with Question No. 208.

Schools Building Projects

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

252 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a building project at schools (details supplied) in County Meath, in view of the fact that the projects were transferred to the National Development Finance Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5671/12]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that accommodation briefs for the two schools referred to by the Deputy have been completed. The appropriate method for delivery of these projects is being considered and final decisions will be communicated to the school authorities in the near future.

Oireachtas Officeholders’ Remuneration

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

253 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will confirm that the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, Ministers and Ministers of State took a voluntary reduction in pay in March 2011; if he will indicate for each of the positions the salary received before and after the voluntary pay cut; if any of these Oireachtas office holders did not take a voluntary pay cut at this time; if he will name them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4765/12]

The Government decided on taking office in March 2011 to reduce the salaries of An Taoiseach, Tánaiste, Ministers and Ministers of State with immediate effect. The reductions were implemented on a voluntary basis by all relevant Officeholders pending passage of the necessary legislation giving statutory effect to the reductions. Section 6(c) of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Amendment) Act, 2011 gave a legislative basis to the pay reductions for Office holders from 1 January 2012.

The effect of these reductions is that the gross annual salary of An Taoiseach has been reduced by nearly 30%, from €285,583 in December 2009 to €214,187 in January 2011 to €200,000 in March 2011. The gross annual salary of the Tánaiste has been reduced by nearly 25% from €245,325 in December 2009 to €197,486 in January 2011 to the current rate of €184,405, that of a Minister by nearly 25% from €225,196 in December 2009 to 181,283 in January 2011 to €169,275 and that of a Minister of State by nearly 16% from €154,740 in December 2009 to €139,266 in January 2010 to the current rate of €130,042.

State Assets

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

254 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the European Commission has agreed to allow a portion of profits from the sale of State assets to be invested in job creation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4777/12]

As I have already informed this House, in our discussions during their recent mission to Dublin, the European Commission/ECB/IMF Troika signalled that, in the context of the Government pursuing an ambitious programme of asset disposals, they would be prepared to agree to the retention by the Government of a sizeable amount of the proceeds generated from such disposals for reinvestment in job creation initiatives in the economy. However, the actual amounts or proportions involved remain to be agreed within the context of a final agreement on the overall scale and composition of the programme to be pursued. When this is finalised, the House will be fully briefed on these matters.

Pension Provisions

Michael Creed

Ceist:

255 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will confirm that companies who wish to tender for public works contracts can subscribe to pension schemes for their employees other than those offered by the Construction Industry Federation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4803/12]

Pension arrangements other than those offered by the Construction Industry Federation may be used as an alternative provided the terms in such arrangements are no less favourable than the terms in the Registered Employment Agreement (Construction Industry Pensions Assurance and Sick Pay).

Where a firm is registered in another Member State of the EU and is working in Ireland and has employees temporarily posted from that jurisdiction who subscribe to a national pension scheme in their own country, then that firm or its employees (who have their own pension arrangements in their own State) do not have to subscribe to an Irish pension scheme that meets the requirement of the REA.

Flood Relief

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

256 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when the Office of Public Works will commence work on the remedial works on the castle stream in Dunboyne, County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4916/12]

The responsibility for the maintenance of this channel rests with Meath County Council. Following a request made by Meath County Council after the flood event of 24 October, 2011, the Office of Public Works undertook, on this occasion, to carry out minor maintenance works on the Castle stream on the Council's behalf.

It is planned to commence the works before April, 2012. The works will involve the removal of trees and vegetation from the channel.

Heritage Sites

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

257 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide figures, by individual location, for total annual visitors to the Office of Public Works heritage sites in 2009, 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4920/12]

The table below shows visitor numbers for the sites managed by Office of Public Works where a guide service is provided.

In 2009 total visitor numbers were 3,264,969

in 2010 total visitor numbers were 3,267,772

In 2011 total visitor numbers were 3,440,901

These totals do not include visitor statistics for sites such where the public can freely access elements of the site without the visitor centre e.g. Glendalough Monastic site, the Battle of the Boyne site, Mellifont Abbey. These sites may be accessed freely without entering the Visitor Centres. Statistics for seasonal sites such as Loughcrew, Gallarus Oratory or Mellifont Abbey refer to the numbers of visitors to the site when the guide service is present.

These visitor statistics relate to times when sites are manned by OPW Guide Services (Mar./Apr. to Sept., at many sites). The total number of visitors is, therefore, understated, as a lot of tourists visit a number of these sites in the off season.

Site Name

2009

2010

2011

Altamont Gardens

57,975

62,455

47,514

Ardfert Cathedral

4,315

4,525

5,009

Athenry Castle

8,944

11,504

9,303

Aughnanure Castle

26,555

23,976

21,825

Ballyhack Castle

1,966

2,339

2,464

Barryscourt Castle

9,137

9,774

11,226

Battle of the Boyne

41,799

40,334

38,846

Blasket Centre

38,627

42,896

41,717

Boyle Abbey

7,008

6,736

6,201

Brú na Boinne: Visitor Centre

40,406

37,071

43,828

Brú na Boinne: Knowth

51,941

49,414

51,962

Brú na Boinne: Newgrange

130,083

122,785

132,760

Cahir

54,976

52,037

59,822

Carrowmore

25,077

23,177

23,073

Casino Marino

6,502

6,425

12,047

Céide Fields

28,253

26,196

25,885

Charles Fort

58,754

63,608

67,247

Clonmacnoise

144,565

133,015

134,034

Corlea

5,600

5,691

4,937

Derrynane House

21,330

21,576

23,209

Desmond Castle

10,128

9,331

9,681

Desmond Hall

2,823

3,324

3,702

Donegal Castle

39,133

36,637

36,678

Dublin Castle

127,740

129,722

141,849

Dún Aonghasa

107,667

109,351

107,244

Dungarvan Castle

6,622

9,730

9,983

Dunmore Cave

28,173

25,939

30,024

Emo Court

6,092

5,589

5,776

Ennis Friary

9,368

0

0

Ferns Castle

4,509

5,081

5,314

Gallarus

44,000

44,004

41,024

Garinish Island

49,639

53,945

53,102

Glebe House and Gallery

22,148

26,377

24,321

Glendalough Visitor Centre

80,336

70,081

80,726

Hill of Tara

11,441

12,878

11,628

J F Kennedy Arboretum (inc-seasonal card user numbers)

68,931

67,852

86,007

Jerpoint Abbey

23,885

20,555

21,534

Kilkenny Castle

170,865

192,777

206,277

Kilmainham Gaol

285,974

278,108

294,095

Listowel

2,232

2,257

2,182

Loughcrew

7,857

7,340

7,491

Main Guard

9,409

6,979

6,198

Maynooth Castle

7,081

8,799

9,444

Mellifont Abbey

12,499

14,315

14,224

Newmills

4,001

3,746

3,298

Ormond Castle

8,218

8,108

9,539

Parke’s Castle

14,283

14,765

13,460

Pearse Museum

13,769

16,669

16,528

Pearse’s Cottage

5,064

6,194

5,609

Phoenix Park

83,615

101,005

121,487

Portumna Castle

15,393

15,428

14,073

Rathfarnham Castle

7,206

6,232

9,506

Reginald’s Tower

12,305

13,065

29,368

Rock of Cashel

221,481

204,270

233,038

Roscrea Heritage

5,626

4,730

3,402

Ross Castle

22,619

20,354

25,509

Skellig Michael

10,642

12,343

9,750

Scattery Island

1,362

1,584

1,344

Sligo Abbey

10,403

9,623

10,706

St. Audoen’s Church

30,210

33,837

25,927

St. Mary’s Abbey

1,144

2,297

2,816

St. Mary’s Church, Gowran

2,592

2,544

2,987

Swiss Cottage

19,089

22,319

20,939

Tintern Abbey

6,047

6,093

7,169

Trim Castle

61,240

59,416

59,127

Castletown

10,353

11,794

11,432

Farmleigh

245,937

269,904

315,464

Aras

5,000

5,500

6,010

Botanics — Gardens

545,005

529,447

501,000

Totals

3,264,969

3,267,772

3,440,901

Members’ Allowances

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

258 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will detail the full provisions of the party leaders’ allowance as it is paid to independent TDs, including the amounts of money paid out to individual TDs on an annual basis since 2001; the tax liability of this allowance; the accounting and auditing practice for the allowances; the range of activities covered by this allowance; his plans to introduce legislation on this matter outlining the purpose of the legislation and its intended publication date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4963/12]

As indicated in my replies to Parliamentary Questions No. 40637 on 15th December last, No. 3118 on 19th January and No. 3848 on 24th January this year, I intend to bring proposals to Government shortly in relation to the Party Leader's Allowance.

The Party Leader's Allowance is provided for in the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) Act, 1938, as amended by the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices (Amendment) Act, 2001.

The allowance is paid to the parliamentary leader of a qualifying party in relation to expenses arising from the parliamentary activities, including research, of the party. Payments are made in respect of members of the party elected to Dáil Éireann and members elected/nominated to Seanad Éireann at the last preceding general election, or a subsequent bye-election or, in the case of Seanad Éireann, nominated to it after the last preceding general election.

The legislation provides that payments may be made to a member of Dáil Éireann, who at the last preceding general election or at a subsequent bye-election was elected as a member other than as a member of a qualifying party, i.e. an Independent Member. Such qualifying Independent TDs are entitled to an annual rate of €41,152. A similar provision in the Act provides for an annual payment of €23,383 for Independent Senators

The annual amounts paid in respect of each Independent TD since 2001, as requested by the Deputy, are set out below at Appendix 1. The allowances are generally payable monthly in arrears into a bank account specified by the beneficiary of the allowance. The Party Leader's Allowance is not subject to tax.

The conditions governing entitlement to payment of the allowance are set out in the Act. The Act prescribes 11 different categories of expenditure, including research, which are regarded as expenses arising from parliamentary activities for the purposes of entitlement to the allowance. These are set out at Appendix II. The primary restriction in the Act on the use of the allowance is that it may not be used in respect of election expenses.

The 2001 Act gives a statutory oversight role in relation to the Party Leader's Allowance to the Standards in Public Office (SIPO) Commission. This requires each party leader to prepare a statement of expenditure for the allowance, to have it audited by an independent auditor and furnish it with the auditor's report to the Commission. Based on the accounts submitted, the Commission is required to make a report to the Minister in relation to the use of the Party Leader's Allowance and cause a copy of the report to be laid before the Oireachtas. Allowances paid to Independent members are not subject to these oversight provisions. Any changes to the matters prescribed in the Act require primary legislation.

Appendix I

Independent TDs

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Harry Blaney

€21,307.41

€9,954.55

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

Thomas Gildea

€21,307.41

€9,954.55

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00