As the committee is aware the Minister is regrettably unable to be here this morning as she has to attend a Government meeting. Before setting out some information and details regarding the initiative, I will briefly introduce myself and my colleague, Ms Áine Maher. We are part of the inward investment team in the innovation and investment division of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. We work closely with IDA Ireland on issues, be they budgetary, administrative or financial, concerning the agency and more broadly on the implementation of effective foreign direct investment policy in Ireland. This includes the Succeed in Ireland initiative, which is the subject of the committee's deliberations today.
The Succeed in Ireland programme was borne out of the 2011 Global Irish Economic Forum. The concept behind the initiative was, in essence, to engage individual members of the Irish diaspora in helping to attract new foreign direct investment to Ireland in return for a financial award. The Government asked the IDA to oversee Succeed in Ireland, and following a tender in August 2011, ConnectIreland, a subsidiary of the Taxback Group, was appointed to implement the initiative. The programme was subsequently launched as part of the 2012 Action Plan for Jobs, with a target of creating 5,000 new employment positions in Ireland. It has been in operation since then and has contributed to the Government's efforts to win more foreign direct investment and jobs for the people of Ireland. According to the IDA, which is responsible for its oversight, 535 positions have been created through the initiative. As a financial reward is due in respect of each job that has been verified as having been created on the ground, ConnectIreland has received payments to date totalling €2.11 million from IDA Ireland. This figure does not include an additional €150,000 which ConnectIreland received from the IDA for marketing support. I should point out that the figure of 535, representing the total number of jobs created to date by the initiative, may yet increase. This is because jobs generated by approved projects under the programme will continue to be counted up until March 2020. Moreover, the verification process for any such jobs will continue to operate until March 2022.
As regards the conclusion of the contract underpinning the programme, it was originally due to end in March 2016. However, in advance of that date, ConnectIreland and the IDA agreed to extend it for a further 12-month period. The express purpose of that extension, which was mutually agreed by both parties, was to effect an orderly wind-down of the original agreement signed in 2012. The original agreement is now set to conclude on 26 March, this coming Sunday. The IDA has advised the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation that granting a further extension to the agreement, which would allow the programme to continue beyond 26 March, would legally not be permissible. This is because of public procurement law which provides that in this instance a new tender would be necessary before a further contract could be entered into.
At its meeting in November 2016, the board of IDA considered the future of Succeed in Ireland and whether a new tender should be issued in 2017 for its continuation. The board made the decision not to re-tender and the agency informed the Department of this immediately thereafter. The fact the IDA board opted against retendering in November 2016 does not necessarily mean - this is an important point to make - that a definitive decision has been taken in respect of the long-term future of the initiative. There is nothing to prevent, for example, the IDA from deciding to proceed with a tender for a further Succeed in Ireland programme at a later stage. The IDA has decided instead not to pursue that route at this point. The conclusion of the contract will also allow us to take stock of the programme and the contribution it has made to employment generation in the State.
We will be aided in this process by a review which, on the instructions of the Minister, will be commissioned by our Department in due course. In short, this review will allow for a full and comprehensive assessment of the costs and impact of Succeed in Ireland. Once completed, it will improve our understanding of how the initiative has functioned, its strengths and weaknesses and, crucially, how we could improve it for the future. As made clear by the Minister it is important that this review be undertaken before a determination is made on the ultimate future of the programme. The committee should be aware that the terms of reference for this review have not yet been finalised. A decision on the start date and authorship will be taken in due course following the conclusion of the current Succeed in Ireland contract. Confirmation of details concerning the review, once finalised, can be supplied to the committee in due course.
I want now to turn briefly to the well-publicised differences that have arisen between ConnectIreland and the IDA regarding the operation of the initiative. While this is unfortunate, it is the case that the contract between the parties provides for a procedure to resolve any such differences. This dispute resolution mechanism has been triggered and I understand the two sides have been engaged in efforts, pursuant to that contractual provision, to find a solution.
That process remains ongoing, and the Minister is hopeful that a mutually acceptable outcome can be reached for both parties. As the committee will appreciate, I am unfortunately precluded from commenting any further on the substance of this dispute or anything in connection with it in the event that I inadvertently prejudice the position of either of the parties in any future proceedings.
The Minister has asked me to emphasise that the attraction of further foreign direct investment to Ireland will remain an absolute priority of hers in the time ahead. The Government, together with the IDA, is continuing to do its utmost to attract more overseas companies to expand or locate here and to create new employment opportunities. ConnectIreland, through its operation of the Succeed in Ireland programme, has made a useful contribution to the collective efforts made in recent years to win more FDI for Ireland. The Minister is grateful for this contribution. We look forward to undertaking a review of the programme to be in a better position to make a determination as to how to proceed with Succeed in Ireland.
I am now happy to answer any questions the committee may have. I may not, however, be able to address certain operational or legal queries in connection with the programme for reasons I have just described. I trust the committee understands why that is the case.