Youth Services Funding

Ceisteanna (285)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

285. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs when the next round of the youth capital funding will be made available for youth club organisations to apply for; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4681/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I was pleased to approve the establishment the Local Youth Club Equipment Scheme in 2017. The primary focus of this scheme was to assist volunteer led clubs and groups that work with young people in communities throughout the country.  The scheme allowed for the purchase of equipment for sport, arts, adventure and other much needed items. Some €6.35m was made available nationally.

I can advise the Deputy that Budget 2018 provided €2.6m in capital youth funding to my Department.

Officials within my Department are working with the sixteen Education and Training Boards on the design and delivery of the 2018 capital scheme. Details of the scheme and the associated application process will be advertised in the coming months.

Trade Union Recognition

Ceisteanna (286)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

286. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the board of a company (details supplied), which indirectly receives a substantial amount of funding from her Department, is refusing to recognise a trade union the majority of its employees wish to join; her views on whether it is appropriate that this company should be receiving public funding in those circumstances; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4744/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The company in question is under contract with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to conduct the pilot Bail Supervision Scheme following a successful public tender. This Department has no role in the internal operations of the company.

Ministerial Advisers Data

Ceisteanna (287)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

287. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the names of advisers she has appointed to her office since becoming Minister; the responsibilities of each; the previous employment of each; the salaries of each; and if she plans to make further additional appointments. [4862/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The names and annual salaries of my Special Advisers are set out in the following table. These appointments and the remuneration applied were made in accordance with the Instructions for Ministerial Appointments as published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in June 2016.

Name

Salary with effect from 1 January 2018

Patricia Ryan

€95,441

Jerry O'Connor

€95,441

The duties assigned to Special Advisers are set out in paragraph 2 of Section 11 of the Public Service Management Act 1997 and are as follows:

11(2) A Special Adviser to a Minister or to a Minister of State, as the case may be, shall—

(a) assist the Minister or the Minister of State, as the case may be, by—

(i) providing advice,

(ii) monitoring, facilitating and securing the achievement of Government objectives that relate to the Department, as requested by the Minister or the Minister of State, as the case may be, and

(iii) performing such other functions as may be directed by the Minister or the Minister of State, as the case may be, that are not otherwise provided for in this Act and do not involve the exercise of any specific powers conferred on the Minister or the Minister of State, as the case may be, or any other office holder by or under any other Act, and

(b) be accountable to the Minister or the Minister of State, as the case may be, in the performance of those functions.

Both of my Special Advisers have had significant previous public sector experience which makes them eminently suitable for the posts to which they have been appointed.

Town and Village Renewal Scheme

Ceisteanna (288)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

288. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of a renewal grant (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4764/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

On 11th January 2018, my Department received an application for the first tranche of funding for the project referred to in the Deputy's question, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Town and Village Renewal Scheme. 

The project was one of 281 projects which I approved for funding under the scheme in October 2017, to support the rejuvenation of rural towns and villages across Ireland. 

A payment of €50,000 was processed upon receipt of the payment request and I understand that the payment issued on 22nd January 22nd 2018.

Ministerial Advisers Data

Ceisteanna (289)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

289. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the names of advisers he has appointed to his office since becoming Minister; the responsibilities of each; the previous employment of each; the salaries of each; and if he plans to make further additional appointments. [4874/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I have appointed two advisers, details of which are outlined below:

1. Press Adviser:

Mr Daniel Rowan was appointed as Press Adviser on 14th August 2017.  His main responsibilities include the following:

- Provision and oversight of press information and liaison on my behalf (working with the Department’s Press Officer and Press Office staff),

- Liaison, on my behalf, with the Government Press Office (working with the Department’s Press Officer and Press Office staff), and with Department Officials on media aspects of policy;

- Adviser on external communications and publicity on my behalf;

- Focal point, along with Mr Ó Ceallacháin (my Policy Adviser), for political clearance and transmission of speaking and briefing material for all “Order of Business” purposes and circulation of such material to me and to the Minister of State;

- Liaison with team of Media Advisers across Government;

- Clearance of all Ministerial speeches and news releases.

Mr Rowan has previously worked in communications roles in the charity sector, politics, and public sector. Mr Rowan’s salary is at the level of the Principal Officer Standard pay scale, sanctioned at €81,767.

1. Special Advisor

Mr Séamus O’ Ceallacháin was appointed as Special Adviser to me on 11th September 2017. Mr Ó Ceallachain's main responsibilities include the following:

- Assisting in the management of my programme of work;

- Liaison, on my behalf, with relevant Units in relation to the Department/Government priorities and timelines for dealing with the stated policies and priorities;

- Attendance at weekly pre-Government meeting of Ministerial Special Advisers;

- Liaison with team of advisers across Government;

- Attendance at relevant Senior Official and Cabinet Committee meetings;

- Focal point, along with Mr Rowan (my Press Adviser), for political clearance and transmission of speaking and briefing material for all “Order of Business” purposes and circulation of such material to me and to the Minister of State;

- Liaison with Secretary General’s Office in regard to the provision of observations on Government Memoranda.

Mr Ó Ceallacháin is seconded from his role as school Principal in Pobalscoil na Tríonóide, Youghal, Co. Cork.

Mr Ó Ceallacháin’s salary is at the level of the Principal Officer Standard pay scale, sanctioned at €94,521.

I have no plans to appoint any further Special Advisers.

State Pension (Contributory) Applications

Ceisteanna (290)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

290. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an application by a person (details supplied) for a contributory pension will be reviewed. [4694/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The social insurance record of the person concerned has been updated following the payment of their self-employment liabilities for 2016.

A revised decision has been made awarding a maximum rate of state pension (contributory), with effect from 11 September 2017, the person’s 66th birthday.

The person concerned has been notified of this decision in writing on 30 January 2018 and due arrears have issued.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Money Advice and Budgeting Service Funding

Ceisteanna (291)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

291. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will report on the recent decision by the Citizens Information Board to cease funding the MABS national management forum, NMF, with immediate effect, which goes against the will of Dáil Éireann which voted for the restructuring process to be halted; if she will direct the Citizens Information Board to suspend the defunding of MABS NMF; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4789/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Citizens Information Board (CIB) is a statutory body established by the Oireachtas. In addition to its own statutory responsibilities in relation to information and advocacy service provision, it has statutory responsibility for the countrywide networks of Citizens Information Services (CIS) and the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS).

In February 2017, the Board of CIB decided to change its governance arrangements from ninety three individual service delivery companies to an eight region model. The new model will comprise sixteen new regional companies, with one CIS and one MABS company in each of the eight regions.

MABS National Management Forum (NMF) was established as a representative body for the 51 local MABS management companies. A small annual funding allocation was made by CIB to the NMF to cover expenses (such as travel and subsistence) incurred in its day to day activities.

As the 51 MABS local management boards will no longer be in place following establishment of the 8 new MABS regional companies, the NMF will have no function in the revised structure. Instead, CIB intends to deal directly with individual MABS companies on restructuring and with the new MABS regional companies once established. CIB wrote to NMF on January 18 2018 to inform them of its decision to cease direct funding.

However, any expenses (such as travel and subsistence) incurred by local MABS company representatives on the NMF, pending the establishment of the new regional management structure, can be claimed from their relevant local company.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Ministerial Advisers Data

Ceisteanna (292)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

292. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the names of advisers she has appointed to her office since becoming Minister; the responsibilities of each; the previous employment of each; the salaries of each; and if she plans to make further additional appointments. [4867/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Two Special Advisers, Ms Denise Duffy and Mr Gerry Mullins, are employed by my Department, both of whom work across a wide range of areas within the remit of my Department including Employment Law, Employment Supports and Activation, Pensions Policy and Social Protection.

Immediately prior to her appointment, Ms Duffy was employed as Special Adviser to the Government Chief Whip in the Department of An Taoiseach. Mr Mullins had previously worked with IBEC as a Senior Corporate Affairs Executive.

Both are paid on the Principal Officer (Standard) PPC pay scale (€84,973 - €104,507).

I have no plans at present to make any additional appointments.

Pension Provisions

Ceisteanna (293)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

293. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if discussions have been initiated with the Pensions Authority with a view to seeking dispensation or relaxation of the conditions and restrictions imposed on pension scheme investments, which would permit the schemes to focus on investing for long-term gain rather than the current regulatory focus on government bond investment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4924/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

As the Deputy may be aware the objective of pension scheme investment policy is to ensure adequate assets will be available to meet the liabilities of the scheme. In order to do this efficiently, the trustees will want to achieve as high a rate of return as possible, but only if risks are kept to an acceptable level. On the other hand, the lower the target rate of return, the higher the contribution required will be. The fundamental challenge of setting the investment strategy is balancing the need for adequate returns with the ability of the scheme to tolerate risk.

The Pensions Authority has published guidelines for setting investment strategy for pension schemes. These guidelines are based on the Occupational Pension Schemes (Investment) Regulations, 2006 made under the Pensions Act 1990, as amended. Trustees are also required to check the relevant clause in their trust deed to ensure that any investment which might be planned is permissible.

The Regulations state that scheme assets must be invested in a manner designed to ensure the security, quality, liquidity, and profitability of the portfolio as a whole so far as is appropriate having regard to the nature and duration of the expected liabilities of the scheme. Furthermore the assets of the scheme must be properly diversified in such a way as to avoid excessive reliance on any particular asset, issuer or group of undertakings and so as to avoid accumulations of risk in the portfolio as a whole.

To date, neither I nor my Department have discussed relaxing the current Occupational Pension Scheme (Investment) Regulations with the Pensions Authority.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.