Post Office Network

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<h3>Ceisteanna (3)</h3>
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<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/image/thumb" alt="Michael Moynihan"/>
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<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/">Michael Moynihan</a>
</h4>
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<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Michael Moynihan</h4><span class="question-start">Ceist:</span>
<p id="para_1" class="">3. <strong>Deputy Michael Moynihan</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources</strong> to outline his plans to guarantee the future of the Irish post office network; if he is concerned at the possible movement to e-payments by the Department of Social Protection which would have a dramatic impact on the post office network; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11699/14]</p>
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<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-3">
<h3>Freagraí ó Béal (8 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Communications)</h3>
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<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/image/thumb" alt="Michael Moynihan"/>
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<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/">Deputy Michael Moynihan</a>
</h4>
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<p id="para_2" class="">The question relates to the future of the Irish post office network. Is the Minister concerned about the movement to e-payments by the Department of Social Protection? What plans does the Minister have to guarantee the future of the Irish post office network?</p>
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<div class="speech" id="spk_2">
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<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/image/thumb" alt="Pat Rabbitte"/>
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<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte)</a>
</h4>
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<p id="para_3" class="">There is no Government plan to close post offices. The decline in post office numbers has, in fact, been arrested. Figures in the Grant Thornton report commissioned by the Irish Postmasters Union show that, although there were 197 closures between 2006 and 2010, from the end of 2010 to date there have been 17 closures.</p>
<p id="para_4" class=""> Reference was made to the business carried out by An Post for the Department of Social Protection. The new six year contract to handle social welfare payments, which was recently won by An Post, is good news for the post office network. Securing the future feasibility of the post office network in the longer term will not be achieved by restricting individual access to e-payment solutions. Rather, the post office network must continue to modernise, as it is doing, to provide the services that its customers require. An Post has undertaken a programme of capital investment especially in the computerisation of the post office network, including the automation of all post offices. As a result, the post office network stands well positioned to become the front-office provider of choice for Government and the financial services sector for both electronic transactions as well as the more traditional over-the-counter transactions. Naturally, any such developments would have to be subject to public procurement requirements, as appropriate.</p>
<p id="para_5" class=""> An Post has made considerable progress towards diversification with its enhanced arrangement with Aviva for the transfer of Aviva Ireland's branch office personal business insurance business book to One Direct.</p>
<p id="para_6" class="">The opportunity to pay local property tax through the post office network has also been secured. It is also important to acknowledge the responsibilities of postmasters themselves to develop new ways of meeting customers’ needs at the post office counter. I look forward to hearing what the Irish Postmasters Union considers its members can achieve at a meeting I am due to hold with the union soon.</p>
<p id="para_7" class="">
<em> Additional information not given on the floor of the House</em>
</p>
<p id="para_8" class=""> I welcomed the fact that the Government has agreed to my proposal for a whole-of-Government consideration, encompassing central and local government and the wider public service, of the nature and extent of services that can be provided to the public using the post office network as a front office of Government. This whole-of-Government analysis will be undertaken in the first instance by the Cabinet committee on social policy with a view to a report to Government by that committee. This will afford an opportunity for a holistic review of the range of services which could be provided by the post office network and could perhaps yield synergies among the different agencies. The Cabinet committee on social policy is the appropriate vehicle for dealing with the whole-of-Government approach required for the future of the post office network.</p>
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<div class="speech" id="spk_3">
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<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/">
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<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/">Deputy Michael Moynihan</a>
</h4>
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<p id="para_9" class="">The importance of the post office network cannot be overstated. The Irish Postmasters Union is very concerned about any threat to post offices, including issues concerning their closure. It is time we examined the post office network, which is a trusted high street brand. Like other public services, including the ESB, there is a public service obligation to maintain the network. We must challenge An Post because for far too long the line has been that the company is a commercial State entity which must conduct its business commercially. If we are serious about maintaining the post office network, both in urban and rural areas, there should be an obligation on An Post to maintain the network. That should be written into the memorandum to An Post, so that it would have to maintain the network like the ESB and other State companies. That would force An Post to find products for its market. Over the years, we have had debates on what services the post office network should provide.</p>
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<div class="speech brief" id="spk_4">
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<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-P-Kitt.D.1975-03-04/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Michael-P-Kitt.D.1975-03-04/image/thumb" alt="Michael P. Kitt"/>
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<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-P-Kitt.D.1975-03-04/"> An Leas-Cheann Comhairle</a>
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<p id="para_10" class="">I will come back to the Deputy for the next reply, but I must now call the Minister.</p>
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<div class="speech brief" id="spk_5">
<div class="c-avatar -debate -short">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/image/thumb" alt="Michael Moynihan"/>
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<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/">Deputy Michael Moynihan</a>
</h4>
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<p id="para_11" class="">It is important to place an obligation on An Post to maintain the network.</p>
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<div class="speech" id="spk_6">
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<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/image/thumb" alt="Pat Rabbitte"/>
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<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">Deputy Pat Rabbitte</a>
</h4>
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<p id="para_12" class="">I agree with Deputy Moynihan's disposition towards the importance and value of An Post. However, the Irish postal service is a network of commercial enterprises that are subject to EU competition law, so there is no avoiding that. I do not disagree with the sentiments that Deputy Moynihan has expressed but in his question he asks about my plans to guarantee the future of the Irish post office network. Since coming to office, I have taken a number of measures to arrest the decline and rate of closure. I gave the figures earlier but I cannot give a guarantee because public procurement and EU competition law apply. That basic point must be understood because we are not going to have some <em>deus ex machina</em> entering from stage-left that can wave a magic wand and say that EU law applies, but not to the Irish post office network.</p>
<p id="para_13" class=""> The Cabinet sub-committee on social policy is examining what can be done on a whole-of-Government basis but that, too, must be responded to by the Irish postmasters themselves in terms of innovative ideas. These include creating new products and services that, consistent with EU law, will enable the post office network to be used as a front-of-office facility for the provision of Government services.</p>
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<div class="speech" id="spk_7">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/image/thumb" alt="Michael Moynihan"/>
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<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/">Deputy Michael Moynihan</a>
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<p id="para_14" class="">Can some obligation be put on An Post to maintain the network? The ESB is a case in point - it is a commercial semi-State company but is obliged to maintain networks in every community. Is it not time to be realistic? It is 23 or 24 years since the "Save our post offices" campaign began, yet the post office network has been steadily eroded. When a post office closes, the community closes also.</p>
<p id="para_15" class=""> Is there a possibility that under EU and domestic law we can push An Post to maintain the network which will then become the Government office in a community? It is high time we dramatically challenged what is there at the moment, otherwise I fear for the future of many post offices.</p>
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<div class="speech" id="spk_8">
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<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/image/thumb" alt="Pat Rabbitte"/>
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<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">Deputy Pat Rabbitte</a>
</h4>
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<p id="para_16" class="">The universal service obligation stands. It is Government policy and we have reflected that Government policy at EU level, which is that the universal service obligation should apply and continue to apply. It is no longer possible, as a member state of the European Union, that any Minister or anyone from any side of the House can prescribe that in future the post office in whatever town or village has the exclusive right to be the front office for government services, irrespective. It was necessary to go through a public tender process to hold on to the social welfare contract. Happily, this happened last year. However, these services have to comply with EU procurement law but this compliance allows for many things to be done. I do not know of any other organisation that has almost 1,150 retail outlets scattered throughout the length and breadth of the country. I will welcome any input I receive not only from Deputy Moynihan and his party but from any other colleagues in the House. I will bring any such proposals which are innovative and feasible to the Cabinet sub-committee dealing with this matter.</p>
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Postcode Implementation

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<h3>Ceisteanna (4)</h3>
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<div class="question" id="pq_4">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Colreavy.D.2011-03-09/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Michael-Colreavy.D.2011-03-09/image/thumb" alt="Michael Colreavy"/>
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<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Colreavy.D.2011-03-09/">Michael Colreavy</a>
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<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Michael Colreavy</h4><span class="question-start">Ceist:</span>
<p id="para_17" class="">4. <strong>Deputy Michael Colreavy</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources</strong> if he will provide details of the awarding of the contract to oversee the introduction and maintenance of postcodes here; the number of companies that applied for the contract; the way a decision was reached to award the contract; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11909/14]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-4">Amharc ar fhreagra</a></div>
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<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-4">
<h3>Freagraí ó Béal (6 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Communications)</h3>
</div><div class="speech" id="spk_9">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Colreavy.D.2011-03-09/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Michael-Colreavy.D.2011-03-09/image/thumb" alt="Michael Colreavy"/>
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<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Colreavy.D.2011-03-09/">Deputy Michael Colreavy</a>
</h4>
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<p id="para_18" class="">I wish to take a couple of seconds to vent my frustration. Because of the rules, protocols and regulations in this place, I was not able to change my priority questions after 11 a.m. on Thursday. The Minister announced in the press a major change with regard to a renewable energy project which has been effectively mothballed. Neither Deputy Moynihan nor I could change our questions and it makes no sense. I hope we will have an opportunity during this week to hear the Minister make a statement and to ask questions on it.</p>
<p id="para_19" class=""> A postcode system entails converting map coordinates into machine-readable format and it is not a complicated process. Yet, it is reported that this cost €25.6 million for a contract over ten years and in addition there will be a tender for a contract for technical advice and support. This is extraordinary because I would have thought this cost would have been included in €25.6 million. It is reported that it will cost an additional €5 million to integrate the postcode system with other government software systems. There was also a €40 million turnover requirement for companies tendering for the contract which excluded most, if not all, Irish IT small and medium enterprises from applying. How is this reconciled with the Government's stated aim to support SMEs?</p>
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<div class="speech" id="spk_10">
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<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/image/thumb" alt="Pat Rabbitte"/>
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<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">Deputy Pat Rabbitte</a>
</h4>
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<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/ga/debates/question/2014-03-11/4/speech/10/" data-share-text="Postcode Implementation" title="Share speech #10 by Deputy Pat Rabbitte"><i>Roinn</i></a></div>

<p id="para_20" class="">My Department commenced the procurement process for a national postcode system in 2011. An open and competitive procurement process was conducted in accordance with Department of Finance and EU procurement frameworks.</p>
<p id="para_21" class=""> A pre- qualification questionnaire was issued <em>on </em><em>www.etenders.gov.ie</em><em>
</em>on 17 January 2011. This invited interested parties to tender for the contract as a postcode management licence-holder for a period of ten years, to design, provide, disseminate and maintain a national postcode system. This procurement process followed the negotiated procedure under the relevant EU regulations. I must inform the Deputy that the process is a great deal more complex than he has presented. Given the technical complexity of the project, the Department ran the procurement following a competitive dialogue procedure provided for in the public supply and works Directive. The procurement was managed by my Department assisted by its advisors, PA Consulting.</p>
<p id="para_22" class=""> The procurement comprised three specific stages. Stage 1 was a pre-qualification process involving the short-listing of candidates for the next stage on their technical capacity and financial and economic standing and this took place in early 2011. Stage 2 was an invitation to submit initial proposals together with a competitive dialogue and this took place in 2011. Stage 3 was the final tender and took place in June 2013. Three parties qualified following stage 1 of the procurement process.</p>
<p id="para_23" class="">Landmark, a UK company, withdrew from the process at the final tender stage. The Department subsequently received two final bids from consortia led by Capita and An Post, respectively. The two bids were evaluated by an evaluation team comprising senior personnel from my Department and its advisers. That evaluation process was conducted in August 2013 and the bids were analysed and evaluated under a number of award criteria.</p>
<p id="para_24" class=""> The evaluation team concluded that Capita's proposal best met the criteria set out in the tender documentation and recommended it as the preferred bidder. I brought that recommendation to Government for approval in October 2013 and signed the contract with Capita on 20 December last year.</p>
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<div class="speech" id="spk_11">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Colreavy.D.2011-03-09/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Michael-Colreavy.D.2011-03-09/image/thumb" alt="Michael Colreavy"/>
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<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Colreavy.D.2011-03-09/">Deputy Michael Colreavy</a>
</h4>
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<p id="para_25" class="">There is nobody better than management consultants at making a simple matter complex. The more complex it becomes, the more they and their friends can cash in. A postcode system converts map coordinates into machine-readable format. The complexity in this case apparently arose because the system had to be tailored in a certain way to support the administration and organisation of public services. That has never been fully explained.</p>
<p id="para_26" class=""> In addition, I still do not understand why there was a requirement for tendering companies to have a turnover of €40 million or more, a requirement which excluded most Irish IT companies from the competition. It was also reported that a person, persons or company involved in analysis, design and advice in regard to the system was also part of the consortium which eventually won the tender. Will the Minister comment on that?</p>
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<div class="speech" id="spk_12">
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<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/image/thumb" alt="Pat Rabbitte"/>
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<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">Deputy Pat Rabbitte</a>
</h4>
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<p id="para_27" class="">We have a leading-edge project here. In a context where every OECD country has already introduced this type of system - most of them 30 years ago - we are able to benefit from the subsequent advances in technology. Moreover, the expenditure on the project will go back to the State on a scale in excess of 50% because it involves preparing the databases within Departments and so on. The company that won the competition already employs 1,000 people in Ireland.</p>
<p id="para_28" class=""> I did not know there was a turnover threshold below which companies could not apply, and I am sceptical as to whether that was, in fact, the case. In any event, as we can see from the period of time it has taken to reach where we are, a great deal of care went into ensuring the company chosen has the proven capacity to deliver on this significant challenge. The establishment of a system of unique identifiers puts us at the leading edge in terms of this type of technology. The new system has been universally welcomed - particularly by business, and not just businesses in the logistics areas. In the context of an era of digital enterprise, this is the way we have to go. In addition, it will add to the bottom line of An Post.</p>
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<div class="speech" id="spk_13">
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<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Colreavy.D.2011-03-09/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Michael-Colreavy.D.2011-03-09/image/thumb" alt="Michael Colreavy"/>
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<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Colreavy.D.2011-03-09/">Deputy Michael Colreavy</a>
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</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/ga/debates/question/2014-03-11/4/speech/13/" data-share-text="Postcode Implementation" title="Share speech #13 by Deputy Michael Colreavy"><i>Roinn</i></a></div>

<p id="para_29" class="">I have it on the good authority that the €40 million turnover threshold was indeed a requirement for tendering companies. Perhaps the Minister will look into the matter and draw up a note as to how that figure was arrived at. The Minister referred to complexity. In fact, all we have had is a statement to the effect that the complexity arises because the system will be used by Departments and will support the planning and evaluation of services. However, that aspect was never outlined so that the likes of me can understand where the complexity actually lies.</p>
<p id="para_30" class=""> The Minister made no reference to the fact that a person, persons or company involved in analysis, design and advice in regard to the system is now benefiting from the ten-year contract that was awarded.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="speech" id="spk_14">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/image/thumb" alt="Pat Rabbitte"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">Deputy Pat Rabbitte</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/ga/debates/question/2014-03-11/4/speech/14/" data-share-text="Postcode Implementation" title="Share speech #14 by Deputy Pat Rabbitte"><i>Roinn</i></a></div>

<p id="para_31" class="">I do not know what the Deputy means by his last point. I will, of course, furnish him with a note on the point he makes about the threshold, but I do not know to whom he is referring in his last point.</p>
<p id="para_32" class="">I do not know who he considers to be "benefiting". The officials in my Department who brought forward the project are not benefiting. The company that was eventually selected has an extensive involvement in Ireland and a proven track record elsewhere. The value of the system is that it will improve the efficiency and accuracy of internal business processes and deliver improved efficiencies with regard to logistics. Deputy Colreavy has previously raised with me issues regarding the emergency services, each of which has welcomed this development. The system will facilitate better planning and analysis capabilities across the public and private sectors. It will provide a stimulus to mail volumes through improved direct marketing capabilities. It will enable organisations to improve existing services or develop new service offerings. It will facilitate improved efficiencies and quality improvement in the mail sector.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>

Renewable Energy Projects

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Ceisteanna (5)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_5">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Thomas-Pringle.D.2011-03-09/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Thomas-Pringle.D.2011-03-09/image/thumb" alt="Thomas Pringle"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Thomas-Pringle.D.2011-03-09/">Thomas Pringle</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/ga/debates/question/2014-03-11/5/question/5/" data-share-text="Renewable Energy Projects" title="Share question #5 by Thomas Pringle">
<i>Roinn</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Thomas Pringle</h4><span class="question-start">Ceist:</span>
<p id="para_33" class="">5. <strong>Deputy Thomas Pringle</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources</strong> if the potential for indigenous job creation in the offshore wind energy sector in the supply of tender vessels and crew been assessed by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11701/14]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-5">Amharc ar fhreagra</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-5">
<h3>Freagraí ó Béal (6 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Communications)</h3>
</div><div class="speech" id="spk_15">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Thomas-Pringle.D.2011-03-09/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Thomas-Pringle.D.2011-03-09/image/thumb" alt="Thomas Pringle"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Thomas-Pringle.D.2011-03-09/">Deputy Thomas Pringle</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/ga/debates/question/2014-03-11/5/speech/15/" data-share-text="Renewable Energy Projects" title="Share speech #15 by Deputy Thomas Pringle"><i>Roinn</i></a></div>

<p id="para_34" class="">I would like to know whether the significant potential for people to be employed on boats and in crews during the construction and ongoing maintenance of offshore wind turbines has been examined. Steps need to be taken now to ensure Irish companies can avail of these opportunities when these projects are commenced.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="speech" id="spk_16">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/image/thumb" alt="Pat Rabbitte"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">Deputy Pat Rabbitte</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/ga/debates/question/2014-03-11/5/speech/16/" data-share-text="Renewable Energy Projects" title="Share speech #16 by Deputy Pat Rabbitte"><i>Roinn</i></a></div>

<p id="para_35" class="">The offshore renewable energy development plan, which I published last month, identifies an opportunity for Ireland to realise the potential of our offshore energy resources by increasing indigenous production of renewable energy, thereby contributing to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, improving the security of our energy supply and creating jobs in the green economy, especially in coastal communities where there are particular job creation challenges. The strategic environmental assessment that was carried out for the offshore renewable energy development plan found that it would be environmentally sustainable for 4,500 MW of offshore wind to be developed in Irish waters in the period to 2030. The development plan will provide the mechanism through which action across Government Departments and agencies to support the development of offshore renewable electricity generation can be fully co-ordinated in areas such as environmental monitoring, research and development, consenting procedures, infrastructure requirements and enterprise development. There will be potential for local job creation in construction, maintenance and the supply of materials and equipment, including offshore surveying, transportation and installation vessels and associated manpower. There will also be opportunities to develop new products across information technology, remote communications and software.</p>
<p id="para_36" class=""> All relevant State agencies, particularly in the enterprise area, will have to co-ordinate their activities to ensure the employment potential of offshore projects is maximised. This opportunity has already been identified by IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland in their clean technology growth strategies. My Department and I will work with the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to put in place an appropriately led and resourced programme to ensure domestic companies avail of local opportunities for a period and are well placed to explore opportunities to internationalise their operations. As highlighted in the offshore renewable energy development plan, the potential for the offshore wind energy sector to contribute to EU energy needs beyond 2020 and provide jobs has been recognised, notably in the European Commission’s blue growth study. Economic analysis carried out for the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland indicates that a level of three construction job years per MW of offshore wind deployed, along with 0.6 jobs per MW in ongoing operations and maintenance of offshore installations, can be achieved.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="speech" id="spk_17">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Thomas-Pringle.D.2011-03-09/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Thomas-Pringle.D.2011-03-09/image/thumb" alt="Thomas Pringle"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Thomas-Pringle.D.2011-03-09/">Deputy Thomas Pringle</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/ga/debates/question/2014-03-11/5/speech/17/" data-share-text="Renewable Energy Projects" title="Share speech #17 by Deputy Thomas Pringle"><i>Roinn</i></a></div>

<p id="para_37" class="">I thank the Minister for his response, the concluding part of which outlined the significant job potential that exists in this area. We need to gear up to be able to avail of those opportunities. I am thinking particularly of the supply of vessels during the construction phase. There is huge potential in the case of one of the projects proposed at the moment because it is estimated that up to 40 vessels will be required.</p>
<p id="para_38" class="">I know of a number of boatyards that would be in a position to construct those vessels if they were geared up for it and encouraged to go for that level of business, which is very significant. In terms of providing crew, we have many highly trained and skilled former and current fishermen working in the UK and Germany on these projects who would need minor upskilling to allow them to develop further and avail of these opportunities. Will the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources be co-ordinating this to ensure it happens or is this something that will sit in the ether and wait for somebody to pick it up and run with it?</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="speech" id="spk_18">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/image/thumb" alt="Pat Rabbitte"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">Deputy Pat Rabbitte</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/ga/debates/question/2014-03-11/5/speech/18/" data-share-text="Renewable Energy Projects" title="Share speech #18 by Deputy Pat Rabbitte"><i>Roinn</i></a></div>

<p id="para_39" class="">If the Deputy gets an opportunity to study the OREDP, which I published last month, he will see there are many actions at my door that will have to be driven in the years ahead. Ocean energy encompasses much more than purely the offshore wind aspect. Wave and tidal sources of energy are still at the research stage, but we have uniquely propitious resources in that area. I am also interested to do anything we can to improve the rate of offshore exploration and appraisal activity. An area such as Killybegs would be well suited to accommodate that. I understand it has a deep port and, as the Deputy has said, it has local labour with skills in the broad area. One of the attractions of the OREDP is that it holds considerable prospects for coastal communities that would not otherwise have the prospect of employment.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="speech brief" id="spk_19">
<div class="c-avatar -debate -short">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Thomas-Pringle.D.2011-03-09/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Thomas-Pringle.D.2011-03-09/image/thumb" alt="Thomas Pringle"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Thomas-Pringle.D.2011-03-09/">Deputy Thomas Pringle</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/ga/debates/question/2014-03-11/5/speech/19/" data-share-text="Renewable Energy Projects" title="Share speech #19 by Deputy Thomas Pringle"><i>Roinn</i></a></div>

<p id="para_40" class="">I thank the Minister. Will the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources drive the delivery of the opportunities or who will be responsible for delivering the outcomes? Having somebody driving it is key to the creation of indigenous jobs.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="speech" id="spk_20">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/image/thumb" alt="Pat Rabbitte"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">Deputy Pat Rabbitte</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/ga/debates/question/2014-03-11/5/speech/20/" data-share-text="Renewable Energy Projects" title="Share speech #20 by Deputy Pat Rabbitte"><i>Roinn</i></a></div>

<p id="para_41" class="">We discussed that at Cabinet when I brought the memorandum on the OREDP. The Deputy's question is pertinent because the situation has always been somewhat disparate, to put it mildly. My Department has the role we know about. In addition, the Ministers for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Transport, Tourism and Sport, and Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation all have roles. In Cabinet there was emphasis for the Ministers concerned to come together to see what progress we might make. I am certainly determined that should be the case. I am and have been in discussion with my colleagues about the future in this area.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>

EU Directives

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Ceisteanna (6)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_6">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/image/thumb" alt="Michael Moynihan"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/">Michael Moynihan</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/ga/debates/question/2014-03-11/6/question/6/" data-share-text="EU Directives" title="Share question #6 by Michael Moynihan">
<i>Roinn</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Michael Moynihan</h4><span class="question-start">Ceist:</span>
<p id="para_42" class="">6. <strong>Deputy Michael Moynihan</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources</strong> the way he will respond to the European Commission’s decision to refer Ireland to the European Court of Justice for failing to fully transpose EU internal energy market rules; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11700/14]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-6">Amharc ar fhreagra</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-6">
<h3>Freagraí ó Béal (6 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Communications)</h3>
</div><div class="speech brief" id="spk_21">
<div class="c-avatar -debate -short">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/image/thumb" alt="Michael Moynihan"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/">Deputy Michael Moynihan</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/ga/debates/question/2014-03-11/6/speech/21/" data-share-text="EU Directives" title="Share speech #21 by Deputy Michael Moynihan"><i>Roinn</i></a></div>

<p id="para_43" class="">I ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources for his response to the European Commission’s decision to refer Ireland to the European Court of Justice for failing to transpose fully EU internal energy market rules, and if he will make a statement on the matter.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="speech" id="spk_22">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/image/thumb" alt="Pat Rabbitte"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">Deputy Pat Rabbitte</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/ga/debates/question/2014-03-11/6/speech/22/" data-share-text="EU Directives" title="Share speech #22 by Deputy Pat Rabbitte"><i>Roinn</i></a></div>

<p id="para_44" class="">There has been detailed engagement by my Department with the European Commission over recent years on the transposition and implementation of the EU third energy package. The Commission notice of referral refers to Ireland having adopted a considerable amount of legislation required by the directive but notes that some provisions remain to be transposed.</p>
<p id="para_45" class=""> My Department is at an advanced stage in the drafting of a limited number of additional legislative provisions. These will provide for the full transposition of most of the outstanding provisions of the electricity directive, some of which are included in the matters which the Commission has decided to refer to the European Court of Justice, with the exception of a provision on unbundling, which is also included in the matters referred by the Commission. I am committed to having these remaining technical provisions fully transposed as early as possible this year, well in advance of any hearing in the European Court of Justice.</p>
<p id="para_46" class="">In relation to transposition of the rules on ownership unbundling, Ireland opted for, and subsequently received, certification from the European Commission for the operation of the electricity transmission system under Article 9(9) of the directive and so did not apply full ownership unbundling as provided for in Article 9(9). Certification under the Article 9(9) option is obtained provided the European Commission is satisfied with regard to multiple matters concerning the ownership and operation of the transmission system.</p>
<p id="para_47" class=""> I am awaiting receipt of the specific detail of the European Commission's case in the notice of application to the European Court and I will consider my response once legal examination of these issues is completed. The application of the Commission to the court has not yet been received. In view of the complexity of the directive, the extensive number of provisions to be transposed and the detailed correspondence engaged in to date, it appears prudent and appropriate to me to await such a legal examination of the precise statement of the outstanding issues, and of the case itself, before deciding on the next steps.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="speech" id="spk_23">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/image/thumb" alt="Michael Moynihan"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/">Deputy Michael Moynihan</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/ga/debates/question/2014-03-11/6/speech/23/" data-share-text="EU Directives" title="Share speech #23 by Deputy Michael Moynihan"><i>Roinn</i></a></div>

<p id="para_48" class="">Will the Minister clarify that the aim of the directive is to provide a level playing field for all the market players to ensure competition in the market and that the cost of energy to householders and businesses can be driven down? Also, what are the limited number of additional legislative provisions to which the Minister referred in his reply? I understand these were to be enacted on 3 March 2011.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="speech" id="spk_24">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/image/thumb" alt="Pat Rabbitte"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">Deputy Pat Rabbitte</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/ga/debates/question/2014-03-11/6/speech/24/" data-share-text="EU Directives" title="Share speech #24 by Deputy Pat Rabbitte"><i>Roinn</i></a></div>

<p id="para_49" class="">I can give the Deputy an example. In the context of cross-border issues, the national energy regulator, which in Ireland's case is the Commission for Energy Regulation, is required to maintain the same level of confidentiality regarding any information received from another regulatory authority as that which applies to the original regulatory authority. The regulator is to be required to comply with directive provisions regarding cross-border arrangements such as informing the European Commission about relevant decisions taken by another regulator allowing it to request the EU energy regulatory body, known as ACER, for an opinion on cross-border trade. Energy supply undertakings, for example, Electric Ireland, SSE Airtricity and BG Energy, is to be required to keep records for five years and to make them available to the European Commission, the regulator or the Competition Authority as may be requested. The transmission system operator, which in Ireland's case is Eirgrid, is to be required to make public information necessary for the effective competition and the efficient functioning of the market. There is a number of others in similar mode. They are not exactly bedtime reading but I can assure Deputy Moynihan they are in hand and that additional legislative proposals will be ready before the date of the court case.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="speech" id="spk_25">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/image/thumb" alt="Michael Moynihan"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Moynihan.D.1997-06-26/">Deputy Michael Moynihan</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/ga/debates/question/2014-03-11/6/speech/25/" data-share-text="EU Directives" title="Share speech #25 by Deputy Michael Moynihan"><i>Roinn</i></a></div>

<p id="para_50" class="">As I understand it the ultimate aim of the directive is to ensure that there is more competition in the market. In view of that I ask the Minister to make sure that any outstanding issues are complied with as soon as possible because we hear on a daily basis, and I note the Bord Gáis increase announced this week, that there must be more competition in the market. It is difficult to justify some of the increases that have been granted.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="speech" id="spk_26">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/image/thumb" alt="Pat Rabbitte"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">Deputy Pat Rabbitte</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/ga/debates/question/2014-03-11/6/speech/26/" data-share-text="EU Directives" title="Share speech #26 by Deputy Pat Rabbitte"><i>Roinn</i></a></div>

<p id="para_51" class="">We have a healthy marketplace now. In addition to the companies I named, we now have Centrica, a major company in the neighbouring island, coming in after the purchase of Bord Gáis Energy. Most commentators would agree that we have significant competition in the marketplace but I agree with Deputy Moynihan that one has to be vigilant about this. There were particular reasons the previous Government held the view it did on the question of breaking up the ESB, and there were particular reasons for the decisions I made at the time, and I do not believe there will be disagreement between Deputy Moynihan and myself about them.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>

Electricity Transmission Network

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Ceisteanna (7)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_7">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Colreavy.D.2011-03-09/">
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<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Colreavy.D.2011-03-09/">Michael Colreavy</a>
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<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Michael Colreavy</h4><span class="question-start">Ceist:</span>
<p id="para_52" class="">7. <strong>Deputy Michael Colreavy</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources</strong> if the Askon report into the undergrounding of pylons will be considered by the independent review group into EirGrid's projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11910/14]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-7">Amharc ar fhreagra</a></div>
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<h3>Freagraí ó Béal (5 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Communications)</h3>
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<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Colreavy.D.2011-03-09/">Deputy Michael Colreavy</a>
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<p id="para_53" class="">The question asks whether the Askon report into the undergrounding of pylons will be considered by the independent review group into EirGrid's projects. The report was published in October 2008.</p>
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<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">Deputy Pat Rabbitte</a>
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<p id="para_54" class="">EirGrid’s Grid25 plan to upgrade the national transmission system between now and 2025 is a major initiative which will put in place a safe, secure and affordable electricity system throughout the country.</p>
<p id="para_55" class=""> On 28 January last, in response to EirGrid’s recent public consultation process, I announced that I had appointed an independent panel of experts, chaired by Mrs. Justice Catherine McGuinness, to decide the terms of reference for, and to oversee the integrity of, a process to be undertaken by EirGrid to report on comprehensive, route-specific studies of overhead and underground options for both the Grid Link and Grid West projects under the Grid25 programme. The outputs from those studies, which will be required to be complete, objective and comparable, will be published before proceeding to the next stage of public consultation on the two projects. The two studies will take account of environmental factors, including visual amenity impacts, technical efficacy and cost factors. The panel will have power to commission its own work if there is any perceived deficiency in the studies as presented.</p>
<p id="para_56" class=""> The panel has commenced its deliberations, including settling the terms of reference to oversee the integrity of the process being put in place and considering what work, if any, it might usefully undertake in regard to the North-South transmission line project. The panel’s terms of reference will be published by the panel once they have been agreed. Similarly, the panel's position regarding submissions of material to it, and third party requests to meet it, will also be published once the panel has finalised and agreed its position on these matters.</p>
<p id="para_57" class=""> I should mention that the report to which the Deputy refers was reviewed by the international expert commission for the Meath-Tyrone project in 2011 as part of its work reviewing all relevant reports. The commission questioned the findings and the methodology of the Askon report and reported its observations at some length in its report, which was published on 17 January 2012.</p>
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<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Michael-Colreavy.D.2011-03-09/">Deputy Michael Colreavy</a>
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<p id="para_58" class="">There are a very wide range of views, findings or statements, or whatever we want to call them, when we compare EirGrid's and Askon's analysis and reports on undergrounding versus overgrounding. Askon found that underground cables were better suited to integrating our network. It found that underground was more reliable, that transmission loss was significantly less than when using overground and that underground cables were safer. It found there were obvious environmental benefits and it also found that it could be done at an affordable cost compared with the figures put forward by proponents of overground. When adding to that the damage that will inevitably be done to tourism by overhead cables and the associated pylons, and the damage to property values, it would seem negligent if we were not to look again at the Askon report. While I do not know whether either statement of views is right, I believe we need to look afresh at Askon's report.</p>
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<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/ga/members/member/Pat-Rabbitte.D.1989-06-29/">Deputy Pat Rabbitte</a>
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<p id="para_59" class="">As Deputy Colreavy fairly said, there are a wide range of views on this. For a short piece of interconnector line, it must be the most examined and studied line in the history of transmission. If the expert panel under former Supreme Court Justice Catherine McGuinness agrees to look at it, the panel will, as a result, review the reports that are there, and that includes the Askon report.</p>
<p id="para_60" class=""> I presume it is a slip of the tongue by Deputy Colreavy when he asks me to put the pylons underground. Up to now, the demand on me has been to put the cables underground, and I am having great difficulty and pain in responding to that. However, the proposition that I have to put the pylons underground would, Deputy Colreavy might agree, be prohibitively expensive.</p>
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<div class="speech brief" id="spk_31">
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<p id="para_61" class="">It was not a Freudian slip on my part, just a linguistic one.</p>
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