Gender Recognition

Ceisteanna (99)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

99. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if passport applications can be made following the issuing of a gender recognition certificate without requiring a person to wait until their current passport expires; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7690/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

A passport application may be submitted at any stage following the issuing of a gender recognition certificate. It is not necessary for a person to wait until their current passport expires.

In such cases, a fully completed passport application form is required, together with the applicant’s current passport, gender recognition certificate and birth certificate as re-issued after gender recognition and all other relevant documents as for a first-time adult application. The standard application fee will apply.

Additional information on the documentary requirements for passport applications and other frequently asked questions is available on the Passport Service website www.dfa.ie/passport.

Gender Recognition

Ceisteanna (100)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

100. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if his Department has prepared written guidelines for staff and the public on dealing with transgender matters; if they are published; if staff have received training in respect of this; if his Department is participating in or making a submission regarding the review being undertaken in respect of the operation of the Gender Recognition Act 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7569/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As the Deputy is aware, on 4 September 2015, the Gender Recognition Act 2015 came into effect and provides for the legal recognition of a person's preferred gender.

Under the Civil Service Diversity Policy - A Policy of Equality of Opportunity, the Department of Finance is strongly committed to equality of opportunity in all it employment practices. As an employer, the Department must fulfil its obligations under equality legislation, particularly the Employment Equality Act 1998-2015.

The Employment Equality Act 1998-2015, outlaws discrimination in a wide range of employment and employment-related areas. These include recruitment and promotion; equal pay; working conditions; learning opportunities - whether on the job or formal training; dismissal and harassment including sexual harassment.

In 2015, the Civil Service published its revised Dignity a Work Policy which was developed in partnership between the civil service management and staff unions. The revised policy which applies to staff of the Department of Finance, aims to promote respect, dignity, safety and equality in the workplace. Every member of staff should be aware that all forms of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment are unacceptable and every member of staff has a duty to behave in an acceptable and respective manner.

As part of the revised policy a new role of Designated Person and Contact person were introduced. The contact person is someone who is available to listen and provide information to a staff member who may be concerned regarding bullying, harassment or sexual harassment in the workplace.

In addition the Civil Service Employment Service, CSEAS, is a neutral support service and provides a wide range of free and confidential supports to all employees of the Department.

Lastly, I wish to advise the Deputy that the Department of Finance, has run unconscious bias training for staff and that during 2017 over 175 staff attended this training. The Department proposed to provide further opportunities for staff to attend unconscious bias training during 2018.

Data Protection

Ceisteanna (101)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

101. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the preparedness of his Department in the context of the incoming general data protection regulation, GDPR, EU 2016/679; if staff in his Department have undertaken or been offered specific training and-or briefing on the GDPR; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7646/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will take effect on 25 May 2018 places additional responsibilities on controllers and processors of personal data.

My Department is aware of its obligations under the GDPR and is taking appropriate measures to ensure compliance with the regulation.  These measures include reviewing the personal data held in the Department and ensuring that it is processed lawfully, revising the Department's data protection internal policy and procedures, identifying areas where a data protection impact assessment is required, and continued participation at the interdepartmental committee on data issues, chaired by the Department of An Taoiseach, on cross-Departmental data protection issues. 

I can advise the Deputy that my Department has assigned a data protection officer as required under article 37 of the GDPR.  The Department's data protection officer has undergone accredited training in data protection.  I can also advise the Deputy that my Department has recently held a number of training courses for the Department's staff on data protection and obligations under the GDPR. 

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (102)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

102. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance if a review will be undertaken of the interaction of the tax and social welfare codes to address the unfair treatment of cohabiting persons whereby a couple is assessed as a family unit for welfare purposes but assessed individually for tax purposes. [7694/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

A review of the nature proposed by the Deputy is not currently planned as, to the extent that there are differences in the tax treatment of the different categories of couples, such differences arise from the objective of dealing with different types of circumstances while at the same time respecting the constitutional requirements to protect the institution of marriage.

The basis for the current tax treatment of married couples derives from the Supreme Court decision in Murphy vs Attorney General (1980). This decision was based on article 41.3.1 of the Constitution where the State pledges to protect the institution of marriage. The decision held that it was contrary to the Constitution for a married couple, both of whom are working, to pay more tax than two single people living together and having the same income. 

The personal tax credits and standard rate bands available to a married couple or a couple in a civil partnership are therefore equal in value to the personal tax credits and bands available to two individuals, with the difference being that one spouse’s personal tax credit and a portion of his or her standard rate band may be transferred to their spouse if they so choose. This can be of benefit where one spouse has low income or does not work outside the home and therefore does not use their own credit and rate bands in full.

Where a couple is cohabiting, rather than married or in a civil partnership, each partner is treated for the purposes of income tax as a separate and unconnected individual.  Each partner is entitled in his or her own right to the tax credits and standard rate band appropriate to a single person, but do not have the option to partially transfer their personal tax credit and/or rate band. Cohabitants do not have the same legal rights and obligations as a married couple or couple in a civil partnership, which is why they are not accorded similar treatment to couples who have a civil status that is recognised in law.

From a practical perspective, it would be very difficult to administer a tax regime for cohabitants which would be the same as that for married couples or civil partners. Married couples and civil partners have a verifiable official confirmation of their status. It would be difficult, intrusive and time-consuming to confirm declarations by individuals that they were actually cohabiting. It would also be difficult to establish when cohabitation started or ceased. 

It should also be noted that, while there may be an advantage in tax legislation for a married couple or civil partners as regards the extended rate band and the ability to transfer credits, their legal status has wider consequences from a tax perspective both for the couple and for persons connected with them.  To counter tax avoidance, special provisions often apply in respect of transactions between “connected persons” as defined throughout the various Tax Acts. The definition of “connected persons” usually extends to the relatives and children of a taxpayer’s spouse or civil partner.   Such provisions would be very difficult to prove and enforce in respect of persons connected with a taxpayer’s cohabiting partner where the couple has no legal recognition of their status as a couple.

NAMA Portfolio

Ceisteanna (103)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

103. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Finance if he will request NAMA to ensure a building (details supplied) will be kept as a historical heritage building for the local community; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7700/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Deputy will be aware that I, as Minister for Finance, have no role in respect of NAMA's commercial operations or decisions. These are matters for NAMA, in accordance with its statutory independent commercial mandate.

However, in this instance, I am advised that NAMA has never had any involvement with this particular property.

I would remind the Deputy that should she wish to raise any matter directly with the Agency, NAMA operates a dedicated email service for members of the Oireachtas, oir@nama.ie. This email is regularly monitored and Deputies will receive a prompt response.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (104)

Peter Fitzpatrick

Ceist:

104. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Finance the steps being taken by his Department and the Revenue Commissioners, including consultations with the EU Commission and UK government, to ensure that there is no disruption to cross-Border movements of excisable goods under duty suspension between here and Northern Ireland post-Brexit once the UK leaves the excise movement control system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7720/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The future arrangements that will apply to cross border movements of excisable goods will depend on the outcome of discussion on the future relationship between the EU and the UK. In accordance with EU rules, it will technically be the case that if such an agreement does not provide for UK participation in the EU excise movement control system, importers of excisable goods will still have the facility to import such goods from the UK with payment of excise duty suspended until the goods are released from the importer’s excise warehouse.

National Development Plan

Ceisteanna (105)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

105. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when the new national investment plan will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7765/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The new National Development Plan 2018 - 2027, NDP, is currently in the process of being finalised and I expect that it will be published following approval by Government on 16 February.  

The primary objective of the NDP is to underpin the implementation of the new national planning framework for spatial policy under the Ireland 2040 Plan.  The assessment of priorities for public capital investment over the period to 2027 will also be strongly informed by the detailed infrastructure capacity and demand analysis prepared by the Irish Government economic and evaluation service, IGEES, as part of the recent review of the 2015 capital plan, which assessed key drivers of infrastructure demand in a number of areas such as health, housing, transport, education, climate change, etc.  The infrastructure capacity and demand analysis was published alongside the review of the capital plan and both are available on my Department's website. 

The NDP will set out the Government's priorities in relation to public capital investment for the next decade and it will be a priority for Government to ensure that the plan constitutes a decisive response to priority infrastructural needs across key sectors of the economy, while also supporting balanced regional growth.

Office of Public Works Properties

Ceisteanna (106)

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

106. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the Iveagh Gardens are a protected structure. [7792/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Iveagh Gardens are a protected structure. Their reference in Dublin City Council’s Record of Protected Structures in Dublin City is 7791. The description for this listing is as follows: "Iveagh House (Department of Foreign Affairs) and Iveagh Gardens, including stone garden folly."