Internal Audits

Ceisteanna (175)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

175. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if her Department has completed an external quality assurance assessment of its internal audit function as required by the Institute of Internal Audit standards that were introduced in 2012 (details supplied). [5104/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

An external quality assurance assessment of the internal audit function in this Department was completed on 6 December 2016 in accordance with the requirements of the Institute of Internal Audit standards.

Job Creation

Ceisteanna (176, 177)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

176. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her plans and the plans of the State's industrial promotion agencies to assist in 2018 in the maintenance of existing employment and in job creation throughout County Cavan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5131/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

177. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her plans and the plans of the State's industrial promotion agencies to assist in 2018 in the maintenance of existing employment and in job creation throughout County Monaghan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5132/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 176 and 177 together.

The North East/North West Regional Action Plan for Jobs is a key Government response for supporting employment growth in the Border region. The Plan is stimulating job creation across the region, including Counties Cavan and Monaghan, by facilitating collaborative initiatives between the public and private sector, and through the provision of new competitive funds, awarded through Enterprise Ireland (EI) to support regional enterprise projects.

The core objective of the Action Plan is to have a further 28,000 at work in the region by 2020. We are aiming to ensure the unemployment rate is within 1% of the State average.

Sectors targeted as part of the plan include traditionally strong sectors for the region like agri-food, manufacturing/engineering and tourism. The Local Authorities, enterprise agencies, and other key public and private sector stakeholders in Counties Cavan and Monaghan have been strongly involved in, and are key drivers of the Action Plan.

The third progress report covering the period from June-December 2017 is being finalised and shows that good progress is being made. The progress reports are available on www.regionalapj.ie.

Some 12,000 jobs were created in the Border region since the regional Action Plans for Jobs initiative was launched in January 2015 while the unemployment rate in the region has fallen since then and now stands at 6.5% according to the CSO.

Furthermore, Live Register numbers have fallen in County Cavan by 16.1% and in County Monaghan by 15.3% in the past 12 months. There is of course always room for improvement but the latest CSO figures are testament to the Government’s efforts to help create jobs and reduce unemployment.

In May 2017 Enterprise Ireland launched the Regional Enterprise Development Fund with funding of up to €60m, designed to support the ambition, goals, and implementation of the Regional Action Plans for Jobs. The first call under this Fund concluded last August, with results announced on 11th December and 21 projects were successful, totalling €30.5m in aggregate grant support. The second call will fund projects from the remaining balance of the €60m budget available, and is expected to issue in Q1 2018.

Monaghan County Enterprise Fund is one of the 21 collaborative projects that secured funding under Stream 3 which is designed to support Local & Community Enterprise Development Projects with grants of €50,000 up to €250,000 per project. The project involves the development of a Regional Food Centre of Excellence and a range of Food Product development supports.

Enterprise Ireland together with the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) play a critical role in driving and nurturing entrepreneurship all the way from an originating idea at local level, to taking-on global markets. In 2017, EI paid €2.5m to companies in Cavan and €7.2m to companies in Monaghan.  

Capital allocations of €565,001 and €583,428 were made available to LEO Monaghan and LEO Cavan respectively in 2018 to fund investment in their clients by way of grants and a range of “soft” supports, such as training and mentoring. This funding is supplemented by a further €132,000 investment fund to both LEOs under the Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) competition – a total of 32 (Monaghan) and 31 (Cavan) applications were received by end September 2017.

Both LEO Monaghan and LEO Cavan are also in partnership with the LEOs in Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo in a project that was awarded funding of €175,000 in 2016 under the LEO Competitive Fund. The programme – ACCELINVEST – aims at creating a clear pathway for export focused, investment-ready regional companies to progress from the LEO Network to Enterprise Ireland.  LEO Cavan is also a partner in 2 other competitive fund projects with the LEOs in Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon. The LEOs concerned were awarded almost €220,000 to collaborate on a Graduate Internship for Entrepreneurship Programme in their areas and an initiative aimed at encouraging shared learning, dynamic trade development and knowledge transfer in the creative sector.

2017 was the first year of EI’s strategy, Build Scale, Expand Reach 2017 – 2020. This Strategy is focused on:

- Assisting clients to create 60,000 new jobs by 2020 while sustaining the existing record level of jobs;

- Growing the annual exports of client companies by €5bn to €26bn per annum;

- Increasing the level of spend made by client companies in the Irish economy by €4bn to €27bn per annum by 2020; and

- Inspiring more Irish owned companies to have global ambition.

I am committed to work closely with Enterprise Ireland to drive this Strategy, to ensure that it continues to support companies in urban and rural areas to start, innovate, increase our exports and remain competitive in international markets, now and into the future. In recent months, with the support of my Department, EI has launched new measures to strengthen the rural and regional economy and to provide quicker access to innovation funding for exporting companies. This includes the new €60m Regional Enterprise Development Fund mentioned earlier and a new fast-track Agile Innovation Fund.

My priority, as Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, is to drive creation of high-quality and sustainable employment across Ireland, including in Cavan and Monaghan. We are making significant progress towards achieving our regional development targets, which include a 30% to 40% increase in FDI in the North East Region. There are 36 multinational companies based in this region, employing 5,007 staff.

Trade Agreements

Ceisteanna (178)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

178. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation his views on the reports that the European Commission is to propose a yearly tariff rate quota of 90,000 tonnes of beef, 20,000 tonnes more than offered in October 2017, to South American countries in the latest round of Mercosur negotiations; and if it will be ensured that a final deal in which a beef offer is a component will not be supported. [5168/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

An EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement would be the EU’s largest trade deal to date, four times the size of the trade agreement with Japan.  It aims to eliminate trade tariffs between the EU and the Mercosur region.  Irish exporters are currently subject to trade tariffs, barriers and restrictions, when exporting to Mercosur.  The proposed FTA should make exports from Ireland more attractive and potentially increase demand for Irish products. 

Sectoral opportunities for Ireland in further enhancing a trading relationship with this region include software and services in telecommunications, financial services, digital content and travel, engineering products and services, life sciences, agriculture, food and beverages, and education services.

Within the region, Brazil is Ireland’s main trading partner and has been identified as possessing “high growth market potential” by Enterprise Ireland. 

On the other hand, Ireland has strong concerns in relation to agriculture, especially the potential impact that these negotiations present to the EU beef sector.  While all FTA’s include agricultural market access and TRQs (Tariff Rate Quotas), TRQs provided under such agreements are not always fully utilised by our trading partners.  Equally, most Member States tend to have sensitives in relation to certain goods or services to be comprehended under an FTA.

I am keenly aware of the issues faced by the Agriculture sector and the challenges posed by a trade agreement with Mercosur.  In the context of these negotiations, Ireland has many “offensive” and “defensive” interests, including in the agri-food sector and engages on these issues with the Commission, in its role as lead negotiator.

In this regard, Ireland has continued to highlight the cumulative impact of agricultural market access in relation to all EU trade agreements.  My Department has done this through engagement with the Trade Policy Committee in Brussels, as well as joining with other Member States in formally writing to the Commission outlining our concerns.  In addition, our concerns have been raised at political level including this Department’s Ministerial team raising the issues with counterparts, both at Trade Council deliberations and bilaterally with the EU Commission.

Overall, Ireland remains fully committed to this negotiation, especially in view of the important economic and political gains expected for both sides from a comprehensive, ambitious and balanced EU-Mercosur Association Agreement.  However, we believe that any TRQ offered in relation to beef must be structured - in terms of its size, staging, composition and the application of in-quota tariff rates - in a way that mitigates the potential impact of a Mercosur deal on the EU beef sector at this particular time.

The European Commission conducts the negotiations on behalf of Member States and as the Deputy notes tabled an offer of 70,000 tonnes of beef per annum last October.  However, Mercosur countries are pushing for a much increased offer.  I am aware of various media reports that the Commission may increase its last offer, but as discussions are ongoing, including this week, and a number of outstanding issues on a range of items remain to be resolved before talks can be concluded, my Department has not been notified by Commission Services of a revised offer on beef.  Accordingly, it remains unclear what the final package will be, although it must be acknowledged that for the Mercosur countries offers on EU agricultural produce are crucial to securing any deal.

Ireland will only be in a position to take a view on the proposed Agreement when all elements are finalised, including on sensitive agricultural products such as beef and dairy, and our view will be informed in terms of the aggregate benefits the Agreement offers our economy as a whole.

Job Creation Data

Ceisteanna (179)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

179. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of jobs created by local enterprise office, LEO, companies in 2017; the net number of jobs created by LEO companies in 2017; and the number of jobs in LEO companies in 2017. [5235/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Statistics in relation to the number of jobs created last year through support provided by the LEOs are currently being compiled as part of the 2017 survey of client companies.

In 2016, based on the Annual Employment Survey of LEO clients, total direct employment among the 6,846 LEO client companies stood at 34,634, of which 25,273 were full-time and 9,361 were part-time jobs, an increase of 3,679 jobs in the year.

Figures for 2017, including on an individual LEO basis, will be announced as soon as the results are available.

Job Creation Data

Ceisteanna (180)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

180. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of information and communication technology workers that have been attracted to work here under the techlife portal scheme from abroad in each year since established. [5239/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Tech/Life Ireland is a government funded national initiative to brand Ireland as a top destination to pursue a career in technology.  Launched in June 2016, the initiative is being delivered in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and the tech industry.  Tech/Life Ireland is a focused international marketing initiative with a dedicated website, www.techlifeireland.com, to attract talented and experienced tech experts to Ireland and to promote top tech career opportunities here. The initiative uses digital and social media to showcase the unrivalled lifestyle, tech environment and job opportunities available in Ireland. Initial target markets include countries in Central and Southern Europe. These have been identified based on detailed analysis of talent movement, local search activity and consultation with recruitment professionals from industry.

Over the 18 months of its operation, the website has had over 300,000 unique visitors and almost 33,000 job searches.  42% of total site traffic for 2017 was from organic sources, meaning that it did not result from paid advertisements, and the proportion of organic traffic has been rising steadily since the project began.  20% of traffic is from returning visitors, people coming back to search for jobs or find out more information about Ireland.  On 10th February, Tech/Life Ireland is running an event in London, bringing together tech companies from Ireland with skilled ICT professionals from the UK and elsewhere.

As a brand-building exercise, the project continues to perform strongly.  Estimating the exact number of ICT professionals who have moved to Ireland specifically because of Tech/Life Ireland, who would not have come here otherwise, is not possible to determine at this time.  Such decisions are made based on many factors, and Tech/Life Ireland is just one of those.  The portal, and the targeted search and social media work that goes on behind the scenes, continues to raise awareness of the top tech career opportunities available in Ireland, and to build Ireland’s brand as a recognised, exciting and attractive destination for ICT professionals.

Insurance Costs

Ceisteanna (181)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

181. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the timeframe to implement the recommendations in the cost of business insurance report for which her Department has lead responsibility; and if she will list each such recommendation. [5241/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Minister of State for Financial Services and Insurance at the Department of Finance, Mr Michael D’Arcy T.D., published the Cost of Insurance Working Group Report (CIWG) on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance on the 23rd January 2018 following approval by Government.  Minister D’Arcy chairs the Working Group on the Cost of Insurance and officials from my Department along with other Departments and Agencies are members of the Group.

This Report makes 15 recommendations with 29 associated actions to be carried out. The recommendations and actions are detailed in an action plan contained in the Report with agreed timelines for implementation. My Department in conjunction with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board has lead responsibility for Recommendation 9 in the Report, which relates to a review of the operation of the six-month standstill period provided for under Section 50 of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003, with a timeline of completion by Quarter 2 of 2019.

In parallel with the implementation of this recommendation in the CIWG Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance, my Department is implementing a number of recommendations for which it has lead responsibility from the CIWG Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance that was published in January 2017.

These recommendations include the establishment of the Personal Injuries Commission, and certain amendments to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003.  The Personal Injuries Commission, chaired by Justice Nicholas Kearns, was established in January 2017. The Commission published its first report on the 7th December 2017 and makes a number of recommendations on the adoption of a standardised and internationally recognised approach to the diagnosis, treatment and reporting of soft tissue injuries by practitioners who are appropriately competent and trained.  Work is progressing on the second phase of the Commission’s work, which will focus on benchmarking of Irish motor insurance personal injury awards with those in other jurisdictions.

Work is also progressing on enhancing the powers of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. The Heads of a Bill were approved by Government and published on the 27th June 2017 and subsequently sent to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for drafting.  The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Bill 2018 is expected to be published in Spring / Summer 2018.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (182)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

182. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation when the research study commissioned by her department, Sectoral Implications Arising from Brexit: Most Exposed Sectors, is due to be completed and published. [5242/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Department of Business, Enterprise, and Innovation has a number of research projects underway to help build an understanding of the possible implications of Brexit on Ireland for enterprise, consumers, and trading relations.  These studies examine a range of scenarios and will provide an evidence base to inform Ireland’s policy positions as part of the wider negotiation on the UK’s future relationship with the EU and further mitigation measures to respond to Brexit.

One of the research projects examines the firm-level implications of the UK being outside of the European Single Market and Customs Union for Ireland’s most exposed enterprise sectors. That research is now substantially complete and its findings are informing enterprise policy developments, and wider cross-government deliberations.

Given the nature and purpose of the research there are limitations on what content can be made publically available. My Department is currently preparing an aggregate summary which, while respecting firm-level confidentiality, provides insights at sectoral level. The aim is to publish the findings by end of Q2.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (183)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

183. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation when the research study commissioned by her Department, Strategic Implications Arising from EU-UK Trading Patterns, is due to be completed and published. [5243/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

As the Deputy will be aware, the major study examining the Strategic Implications Arising for Ireland from Changing EU-UK Trading Relations will provide an evidence base on key trade and investment questions to inform Ireland’s position as part of the wider negotiation on the UK’s future relationship with the EU. It will also inform domestic policy responses and measures necessary to mitigate risks and maximise opportunities arising as a result of Brexit. Using a computable general equilibrium model to quantify new barriers to trade in goods and services which might emerge as a result of Brexit, the study:

- Quantifies impact of six possible Brexit scenarios on trade and investment – the impact of these scenarios on metrics such as GDP and exports is considered, and analysis of both short and long term impacts is examined; and

- Provides analysis of the likely impact of Brexit on key sectors. 

The study is in the final stages of completion and my intention is to present the report to Cabinet in mid-February with a view to publishing it shortly thereafter.

Work Permits Data

Ceisteanna (184)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

184. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of employment permits granted for non-EEA workers by her Department by occupation in each of the years 2014 to 2017, in tabular form. [5244/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The spreadsheet in the link provides the Deputy with the requested breakdown of the number of employment permits issued by my Department by job classification for the years 2014 - 2017.

The jobs classifications system used in the spreadsheet is organised using the Standard Occupational Classification system (SOC 2010), a system which classifies workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data.

My Department has issued employment permits for 265 separate occupations during this timeframe.

Job Classifications

Consumer Protection

Ceisteanna (185)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

185. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the sectors that are under investigation by the CCPC for suspected anti-competitive or cartel activity. [5248/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission is the statutory independent body responsible for the enforcement of domestic and EU competition law in the State.  Section 9 (5) of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 provides that the Commission is independent in the performance of its functions, including carrying out investigations of alleged anti-competitive practices.  As investigations and enforcement matters generally are part of the day-to-day operational work of the Commission, I, as Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, have no direct function in the matter.