Departmental Meetings

Ceisteanna (73)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

73. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the newspapers his Department officials have engaged with in relation to promoting or explaining Government business in his Department; when these meetings took place; if they are held on a regular basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10290/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

My Department's Press Office staff and my press advisor are, as part of their normal duties,  in contact with a range of print and broadcast media organisations on a daily basis in response to questions from the media submitted to my Department. Due to the nature and extent of such contact, each specific encounter is not recorded.

Army Barracks

Ceisteanna (74)

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

74. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the various longstanding leasehold, freehold and fee farm grant agreements that are administered by him for both Cathal Brugha barracks and McKee barracks. [10305/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

It is not possible, within the time allocated to respond to PQs, to provide the information sought by the Deputy. Steps are being taken to have the titles of both barracks thoroughly examined by the CSSO with a view to furnishing a detailed response to the Deputy in due course.

Defence Forces Funding

Ceisteanna (75)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

75. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the funding being allocated to the Defence Forces under the National Development Plan 2018 to 2027. [10306/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The National Development Plan sets out Departmental Capital Allocations for the period 2018 – 2022. A total of €541 million has been allocated to the Defence Vote for these years, as follows:

Defence Capital Allocations 2018-2022

Year 

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022 

Total

 €Million

 77

106

113 

 120

125

 541

This capital funding will allow the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructural development as identified and prioritised in the Defence White Paper.

Air Corps

Ceisteanna (76, 77)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

76. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of Air Corps personnel that suffer from occupational asthma. [10344/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

77. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of Air Corps personnel that have been medically discharged or had service extensions refused due to occupational asthma. [10345/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 76 and 77 together.

I am advised by the military authorities that it would be necessary to examine the medical file of each individual Air Corps personnel to determine if any persons have any particular medical condition. The Deputy will appreciate that it is not practical to do this.

As I indicated in my previous reply to your PQ 30640/17 on 29th June 2017, in relation to discharges from the Air Corps on foot of medical boards, I am advised that in the period mid-2012 to mid-2017 none related to asthma. At contract renewal stage personnel must fulfil certain criteria. These criteria relate to service, conduct, training and also minimum standards of medical and physical fitness. Personnel who do not meet these standards are ineligible for contract renewal.

In relation to renewal of contracts, I am advised that it would also be necessary to examine the individual medical files of each individual who left the Air Corps to determine if any person was refused a contract renewal as a result of incompatible medical fitness. Within existing resources this is not feasible.

Defence Forces Operations

Ceisteanna (78)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

78. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on the permanent structured co-operation from an operational point of view and Ireland's commitment to future operations. [10350/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Ireland has always strongly supported the development of the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and the EU’s capacity to respond to international crises in support of the United Nations. We have participated in all aspects of the CSDP since it was established and are one of the leading contributors to CSDP Operations, both military and civil. 

Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) is a further initiative in strengthening the Union’s capacity in this regard and developments in CSDP have been supported by the UN Secretary General as potentially providing additional capabilities for UN mandated operations.

While not changing Ireland’s existing security and defence arrangements, participation in PESCO will enhance our military capabilities for participation in UN mandated peace support operations; enhance interoperability and, working with our EU partners thereby ensure that our troops are equipped with the latest and best equipment and training. PESCO will also facilitate burden-sharing of the costs of capability development across a number of like-minded Member States by enabling participating countries to come together voluntarily and - on a project by project basis – to jointly develop military crisis management capabilities for use in CSDP operations and missions.   It was for these reasons that I sought Government approval last November to participate in PESCO, followed by Dáil approval in December.

Our participation in PESCO involves no commitment to participate in any CSDP operation or to the development of any form of common military force.  It goes without saying that any future potential Irish participation in EU missions or operations will be considered within the framework of the Irish Constitution and Irish law and that there is no change to the current triple lock arrangements in regard to the deployment of Irish military personnel overseas. 

In considering potential future operations regard will also be had to the prevailing demands on the Defence Forces, our overseas commitments and available resources and the nature and mandate of the operation foreseen.

Departmental Meetings

Ceisteanna (79)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

79. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the newspapers his Department officials have engaged with in relation to promoting or explaining Government business in his Department; when these meetings took place; if they are held on a regular basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10294/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

My Department engages with a wide range of Irish and international media publications and outlets on a daily basis. The purpose of this engagement is to assist with queries submitted by the media concerned and as necessary, to provide relevant background information that assists with understanding of and reporting on the work of my Department and Ireland’s diplomatic missions abroad in support of Irish foreign policy priorities as set by Government.

The engagement most regularly occurs via email and telephone contact, with occasional in-person meetings and briefings also taking place from time to time.

Primary Medical Certificates Eligibility

Ceisteanna (80)

John Brassil

Ceist:

80. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Finance his plans to review the medical criteria to qualify for the primary medical certificate (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10231/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme provides relief from VAT and VRT on the purchase of an adapted car for transport of a person with specific severe and permanent physical disabilities, payment of a fuel grant, and an exemption from Motor Tax.

To qualify for the Scheme an applicant must be in possession of a Primary Medical Certificate. To qualify for a Primary Medical Certificate, an applicant must satisfy one of the following conditions:

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

- be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

- be without both hands or without both arms;

- be without one or both legs;

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg;

- have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

The Scheme represents a significant tax expenditure costing €65 million in each of 2016 and 2017 (excluding motor tax foregone).  From time to time I receive representations on behalf of individuals who believe they would benefit from the scheme but do not qualify under the criteria. While I have sympathy for such cases, given the scale and scope of the scheme, I have no plans to review the medical criteria at this time.

Finally, I would like to point out that the Government's legislative programme for 2018 includes the Health (Transport Support) Bill which provides for a scheme to make individual payments as a contribution towards transport costs to persons with severe disabilities on a low income who cannot access public transport. The legislation is being brought forward by my colleague the Minister for Health. Persons who do not meet the medical criteria for the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme may qualify for the proposed Transport Support Scheme.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (81)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

81. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the funding provided to the Comptroller and Auditor General in each of the years 2008 to 2017 and to date in 2018. [10391/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Funding for the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General is provided through Vote 8.  The salary costs of the Comptroller and Auditor General are provided from the Central Fund.  Details of each of these funding mechanisms for each of the years 2008 to 2017 and to date in 2018 are in the following table.

Vote 8 – Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General

Total gross issues from Central Fund in respect of C&AG salary costs*

Gross

€000

Net

€000

Appropriations in Aid €000

2008

€249,689

€13,038

€7,831

€5,207

2009

€252,877

€12,150

€6,642

€5,508

2010

€215,688

€10,843

€5,063

€5,780

2011

€213,769

€11,487

€4,316

€7,171

2012

€153,561

€10,920

€5,023

€5,897

2013

€176,549

€11,098

€5,761

€5,337

2014

€175,742

€11,045

€5,244

€5,801

2015

€182,501

€12,141

€6,017

€6,124

2016

€175,742

€11,567

€5,053

€6,514

2017

€179,130

€11,925

€5,915

€6,010

2018

€28,010

€13,977

€7,927

€6,050

*These figures do not include deductions in respect of voluntary salary surrenders made by the relevant individuals which were credited back to the Central Fund. Please note that the figure for 2012 is lower than the previous years due to the fact that there was a vacancy in the post from March 2012 to June 2012.

Insurance Compensation Fund

Ceisteanna (82)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

82. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Finance the way in which former customers of a company (details supplied) who are owed compensation can claim reimbursement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10213/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Setanta was placed into liquidation by the Malta Financial Services Authority on 30 April 2014. As it was a Maltese incorporated company, the liquidation is being carried out under Maltese law.

The Deputy will be aware that under the Insurance Act 1964, as amended, monies may be paid out of the Insurance Compensation Fund (ICF), with the approval of the High Court, in relation to an insolvent insurer, to meet claims up to a limit of 65% or €825,000 of the claim, whichever is the lesser.

The refund of premiums for commercial and personal insurance policies is not covered by the ICF. However, a portion of any such refund due, may be met from the proceeds of the distribution of Setanta's assets on completion of the liquidation process. 

The Deputy will also be aware of my decision in principle that the State will ensure that Setanta third party claimants are compensated in full, which was announced on 30 January.  The Department of Finance is now working through the detailed arrangements to implement this decision, which is likely to require legislative change.  In this regard, the next step is to give consideration as to whether there is any state aid or other legal issue associated with the proposed approach.  The Department is currently working with the Attorney General’s Office on this issue and once the position is clarified I can give an indication of the likely timeline for payment, including the payment of the additional 35% to those who have settled their claims and have already received compensation of 65% of their claim subject to the limit outlined above.

The liquidator for Setanta Insurance has informed me that as of 31 December 2017, there are 1,577 active claims, of these 573 claimants have been paid compensation from the ICF subject to the 65%/€825,000 limit.

No date has been fixed for the next payment from the ICF, but the Liquidator has informed me that preparatory work is underway in respect of some 275 claims to the value of c €5.8m, with a view to the Accountant to the High Court making an application before the end of March. These payments will be paid subject to the 65%/€825,000 limit. 

It is important to note that only claims which have been settled can be included in applications to the High Court for payment from the ICF. The process of settling claims is still ongoing and is subject in some cases to complex negotiations between all relevant parties. It is hoped that by the State taking steps to ensure that third party claimants are compensated in full, this will encourage the settlement of all outstanding claims as quickly as possible.

Departmental Meetings

Ceisteanna (83)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

83. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the newspapers his Department officials have engaged with in relation to promoting or explaining Government business in his Department; when these meetings took place; if they are held on a regular basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10293/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Press Office organises briefings for journalists upon request as part of its normal course of work to explain government business pertaining to the Department of Finance. In such cases, all media outlets are invited to send a representative.

Mortgage Book Sales

Ceisteanna (84)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

84. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Finance if the split mortgage agreements and restructure agreements in relation to the proposed sale of loans by a bank (details supplied) some of which stretch 15 to 20 years will be honoured by the purchaser or equity fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10338/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

At the outset I should emphasize at this stage that no loan has been sold yet and it won’t be known how many loans will be sold for a number of months, nor the composition of these loans. In addition, it is not known to whom the loans will be sold. However, I want and expect PTSB to be transparent with their customers when it comes to this sale process as it evolves.

It is important to highlight that there are no changes to the rights or obligations of a customer whose loan is sold by a bank. All terms and conditions attached to their mortgage contract remain in place. In addition, as credit servicing firms servicing loans on behalf of unregulated entities are required to comply with the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA), all protections under the CCMA are unchanged. The customer is in the exact same position as they were before their loan was sold. In relation specifically to restructured loans, including splits, any purchaser will be obliged to honour the terms of the restructure agreement, should such loans be included in the final sale.

It is also clear that these restructured loans, where customers are meeting the terms of the revised contract, fall into a very different category than the others. These customers are in a much stronger position in every sense and hence the interested buyer of these restructured loans could be very different as a result.

Finally, I would reiterate that I am prepared to engage with Deputies from other parties in an effort to see if we can strengthen and enhance the protections that are already in place for mortgage holders in a sensible manner.

Mortgage Arrears Proposals

Ceisteanna (85)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

85. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the reason mortgage loans that have been restructured by agreement between a bank and in cases in which the borrower and the terms of that agreement are being fully honoured are being regarded as non-performing loans by the regulator; if he or the Central Bank are seeking to address this issue at a European level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10397/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

In answering the Deputy’s question, it is useful if I start by giving some historic context. During the height of the financial crisis a key focus of the authorities was on stabilising and ultimately reducing mortgage arrears through the implementation of sustainable mortgage solutions that were agreed with borrowers.

This led to the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) introducing public mortgage arrears resolution targets (MART) for the banks in H1 2013. As the MART process was rolled out a split mortgage solution or a part capital and interest solution that met certain criteria were accepted by the CBI as being sustainable for the purposes of these targets.

Following the successful achievement of these targets by each of the banks, and since the implementation of the SSM in November 2014, the focus has shifted from the question of mortgage arrears levels and banks' progress in restructuring loans. In fact regulatory attitudes have not only hardened but have changed. This shift in focus has been accompanied by a new strict definition of what constitutes an NPL.  

Officials in my Department met with staff of the SSM at the highest level on two occasions since late 2016 and discussed NPLs. In the course of their discussions they outlined the background and history to the restructuring effort in Ireland and questioned the logic of now classifying some types of restructured loans as NPL, and not just for a short probationary period but indefinitely.

While my Department has been informed that the SSM is looking into the regulatory treatment of split mortgages across a number of European member states I have no evidence at this point that this categorisation is going to change. 

Aside from direct interaction with the SSM, Department officials have also been actively involved in the discussions on NPLs through its involvement in the European Council’s Financial Services Committee subgroup on NPLs, and the more recent European Commission Expert Group on NPLs. While this has ensured that Ireland’s views are voiced and considered on the matter, ultimately the final arbiter on the resolution of problem loans is the SSM.

The CBI has provided me with the following comment in relation to the Deputy's question:

"In 2014, the European Banking Authority (EBA) introduced harmonized definitions of forbearance and non-performing exposures for supervisory reporting purposes (referred to as the ITS on forbearance and non-performing exposures). The definitions provide supervisors of European banks with comparable measures of asset quality and forbearance activities. Banks are required to submit reporting templates (via FINREP) detailing their level of non-performing and forborne exposures in line with the EBA’s definitions.

Paragraph 145 of the EBA’s ITS on forbearance and non-performing exposures provides the definition of non-performing while paragraph 163 defines forbearance. Exposures should be classified as non-performing and/or forborne if they meet the relevant criteria outlined in the ITS. In relation to curing, paragraph 157 outlines the criteria required for a non-performing forborne exposure to move back to performing status.

Furthermore, in March 2017 the SSM published “Guidance to banks on non-performing loans” which sets out supervisory expectation regarding NPL identification, management, measurement and write-offs. Information on the requirements to cure/exit from non-performing status is also provided, which utilises the ITS noted above.

Therefore, restructured NPLs can migrate back to performing when the criteria outlined in the EBA ITS has been satisfied, and it is the bank’s responsibility to conduct that assessment. Depending on the specificities of the restructure, it can take at least a year for a restructured NPL to move back to performing status. Restructured NPLs successfully moving back to performing status is one of the important factors in improvements in mortgage NPL levels in recent years."

VAT Rate Application

Ceisteanna (86)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

86. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Finance the status of the charging of VAT on rental income in cases (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10420/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by The Revenue Commissioners that it is not possible to provide a definitive answer based on the information provided by the Deputy. 

I would point out that the letting of immovable goods is exempt from VAT in accordance with the EU VAT Directive, with which Irish VAT law must comply. Therefore, the rental income received in respect of residential accommodation is not subject to VAT.

However, prior to April 2007 a landlord could waive the exemption from VAT on rental income from residential property. In those circumstances VAT was charged on the rental income from the property and the landlord was entitled to reclaim VAT on costs incurred in developing, acquiring or renovating that property. Where such a waiver was exercised the rental income received continues to be liable to VAT at the standard rate, currently 23%, and the landlord is obliged to account for that VAT in his or her VAT returns.

The landlord may also avail of the waiver of exemption cancellation provisions set out in the VAT Consolidation Act, 2010 which results in the rental income being no longer subject to VAT. However, cancelling the waiver may also result in a tax liability for the landlord where the input VAT recovered on acquisition or development of the residential property is greater than the output VAT on the rental income.

Wards of Court

Ceisteanna (87)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

87. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to amend the Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Act 1993 in order that the investment funds for wards of court can be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General as recommended by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice in its wards of court report. [10277/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Constitution provides that there shall be a Comptroller and Auditor General to control on behalf of the State all disbursements and to audit all accounts of moneys administered by or under the authority of the Oireachtas and that the terms and conditions of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General shall be determined by law.

Under the Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Act, 1993, the Comptroller and Auditor General is empowered to perform the audit of accounts of moneys administered by or under the control of the Oireachtas. Section 5(1)(a) of the Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Act 1993 expressly excludes the C&AG from auditing a fund under the control of the courts. 

On foot of the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee advices were sought by the Department of Justice and Equality from the Office of the Attorney General as to whether there are any constitutional impediments that may arise in the context of any measure to give legislative effect to the Comptroller and Auditor General auditing moneys held in trust by the courts for wards of court.

The Attorney General’s Office has advised that the proposal is incompatible with the Constitution. What the Constitution contemplates is the Comptroller and Auditor General's oversight in respect of public funds alone. The legislative proposal at issue contemplates the Comptroller and Auditor General's oversight in respect of wardship funds, funds administered under the authority of the courts. The courts are independent in the exercise of their functions, and wardship funds are not public funds. There is thus no constitutional sanction for the legislative proposal.

On the basis of advice received from the Office of the Attorney General, I have no plans to amend the Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Act, 1993 to provide that the investment funds of wards of court can be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Shared Services

Ceisteanna (88, 89)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

88. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the steps being taken to address the ongoing problems with the PeoplePoint system for civil servants who are experiencing underpayments, overpayments, delays in processing leave, flexi time, sick leave and pensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10233/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

89. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of cases in relation to underpayments, overpayments, delays in processing leave, flexi time, sick leave and pensions being experienced by the PeoplePoint system for civil servants in each department in 2017 and to date in 2018; the number of cases which have been resolved and are still live respectively, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10234/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 88 and 89 together.

The National Shared Services Office will respond directly to the Deputy on these matters.

Civil Service Staff Data

Ceisteanna (90)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

90. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 147 of 31 January 2018, the number of civil servants based in each zone by each specific Department, agency or body listed in a document (details supplied) by location under the Civil Service mobility scheme, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10243/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Deputy will be aware that the Civil Service Mobility scheme is one of a number of arrangements to be put in place to fulfil the requirements of Action 15 of the Civil Service Renewal Plan which calls to ‘Expand career and mobility opportunities for staff across geographic, organisational and sectorial boundaries’. 

The scheme is being phased in with Phase 1A for the grades of CO and EO moving to/from and outside Dublin. 

My Department does not hold information on Civil Service numbers per department within each zone as specified under the Civil Service Mobility scheme. However reporting is currently being designed and developed per zone that will provide this information in the near future.

In the meantime, the Deputy can access information on the number of CO and EO posts (rather than actual headcount) per organisation and zone.  This can be viewed on the Mobility Map at http://hr.per.gov.ie/civil-service-mobility/.

Public Private Partnerships

Ceisteanna (91)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

91. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans in relation to the public private partnership projects; his further plans to lift the cap PPPs use to fund major public projects in view of the fact that Government direct borrowing is cheaper; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10321/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

An inter-Departmental/Inter-Agency Group was established in 2017 to review Ireland's experience of PPPs and to make recommendations on the future role of PPPs, in the context of the new 10 year National Development Plan (NDP).  The NDP summarises the key findings and recommendations agreed as part of the PPP review and the detailed report of the review will be published shortly.  Once published, the recommendations of the review will be included in the PPP policy guidelines and will apply to all future PPP projects. 

One of the recommendations of the review included in the NDP is that consideration of PPP as a procurement option should be assessed on a level-playing field with the traditional procurement option.  In this context, the cap on PPP costs of 10 per cent of the aggregate Exchequer capital allocation in any particular year is to be discontinued, in favour of re-introducing the original budgetary control mechanism for PPPs.  

To put this into context, following the fiscal crisis when capital envelopes for Departments were significantly reduced, and PPPs offered an opportunity to deliver additional projects to supplement a fiscally constrained Exchequer funded capital investment programme, a new Investment Policy Framework for PPPs was introduced.  In order to secure the long-term affordability and sustainability of PPP commitments this included a limit of 10 per cent of the aggregate Exchequer capital allocation in any individual year on the total financial exposure associated with all PPPs for that year.   

However, following the PPP review, and in light of the very substantial new public capital investment programme contained in the NDP, it is now recommended that the original budgetary control mechanism for PPPs should be re-applied.  This requires that the capital value of PPPs over the construction period should be charged to the Exchequer capital allocation of the sponsoring Department so that PPPs and traditionally procured projects are treated equally in terms of determining which procurement option to adopt.

As the Deputy will be aware, PPPs are subjected to the same robust and rigorous project appraisal process as traditionally procured infrastructure under the Public Spending Code, a key objective of which is to secure the best value-for-money from public capital investment, whether by PPP or traditional procurement and taking into account such issues as the difference in funding costs for PPPs and Exchequer funded investment projects.

The intention is that PPPs will continue to be a procurement option available to Government for appropriately structured projects which demonstrate value for money over a traditional procurement option.  As the PPP Review has concluded, it is essential that projects are judged on their merits and where PPPs offer better value-for-money than traditional procurement in a particular case, they should be selected on that basis.

Office of Public Works Projects

Ceisteanna (92)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

92. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the works being carried out in the Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park; when the works will be completed; when the fort will be reopened as an amenity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10323/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Commissioners of Public Works have an ongoing and phased programme of maintenance and conservation works planned at the Magazine Fort. Alongside these works, OPW has recently appointed a multi-disciplinary team to put in place a master plan for the Phoenix Park, which will include the Magazine Fort and look at viable and sustainable uses for the Fort and its significant complex of military buildings.

The Magazine Fort has being closed to the public over the winter months as per the previous year and will re-open again for tours in April. These tours will commence from the Phoenix Park Visitors Centre and will run until October 2018. The tours are on Sundays only and commence at 10.00am, 12noon and 2.00 pm and have a limited capacity.