Defence Forces Strength

Ceisteanna (51)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

51. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the strength of the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service, excluding all recruits, apprentices and cadets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21521/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

As of 31 March 2018 (the latest date for which figures are available), the whole time equivalent strength of the Permanent Defence Force was 8,993 comprised of:

- Army 7,229 personnel

- Air Corps 717 personnel

- Naval Service 1,047 personnel

The following table, provided by the military authorities, details the number of Cadets, General Service Recruits and Apprentices that are included in the above strength figures:

 Rank

ARMY

AIR CORPS

NAVAL SERVICE

TOTAL

Cadets

78

30

29

137

General   Service Recruits

97

11

0

108

Apprentices

0

42

0

42

The primary focus of the Defence Forces, when not engaged in operations, is training and preparation to ensure the capabilities required to fulfil its roles are developed and maintained.

I remain committed to maximising recruitment of capable personnel, developing serving personnel, and so achieving the best personnel and skills combination to ensure the Defence Forces retain the capacity to operate effectively across all roles required of them by government.

Overseas Missions Data

Ceisteanna (52, 53, 54, 55, 59)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

52. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of Irish soldiers that served in Chad between 2008 and 2010; and the number of soldiers that had to be repatriated ahead of schedule or ahead of the end of their deployment on health or other grounds. [21534/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

53. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the cost of repatriating soldiers ahead of schedule; and if such journeys were reimbursed by the UN. [21535/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

54. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the cost of Ireland's participation in the UN mission in Chad in 2008 to 2010; and the amount that was reimbursed by the UN. [21536/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

55. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if military or other equipment related to Ireland's mission in Chad was left behind as being too expensive or not cost effective to return here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21537/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

59. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if Irish soldiers that served in Chad on UN duties in each of the years 2008 to 2010, that were repatriated on medical grounds were deemed less than critical. [21721/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 to 55, inclusive, and 59 together.

The Defence Forces troop contribution to the United Nations mandated, European Union led peacekeeping mission to Chad and the Central African Republic commenced on 21 February 2008.  Initially the force was known as EUFOR TCHAD/RCA.  The aim of the mission was to protect civilians in danger, particularly refugees and internally displaced persons, facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and protect UN personnel.  It helped to create a safe and secure environment where humanitarian aid could be delivered safely and the local civilian population could go about their lives in safety.  EUFOR TCHAD/RCA was mandated under a UN Security Council Resolution.

On 20 November, 2007, Government approved the despatch of a contingent of Permanent Defence Force personnel to the EUFOR TCHAD/RCA mission.  A resolution was also passed in Dáil Éireann on 28 November, 2007, approving participation in the mission.

The force changed over to UN command on 15 March 2009 and became known as United Nations Mission in Chad and the Central African Republic (MINURCAT).  On 28 October, 2008, Government approved the continued participation of the Defence Forces in this follow-on mission. 

On 30 March, 2010, in the face of significant uncertainty regarding renewal of the mission mandate, the Government decided to withdraw the Irish contingent from MINURCAT for logistical reasons ahead of the onset of the rainy season.  In May 2010, the United Nations Security Council decided to terminate the MINURCAT mission at the end of 2010. 

In the case of EU led missions, costs are borne by the participating States on the basis of "costs lie where they fall".  As such, the costs of participation in EUFOR TCHAD/RCA mission was met by each of the relevant troop contributing countries including Ireland.  Ireland also contributed to the common costs of the operation under the Athena Mechanism.  These costs are allocated across the EU member States (except for Denmark which has an opt-out) on the basis of a GNI key.  As MINURCAT was a UN led operation the UN reimbursed certain troop and equipment costs mainly in the form of Appropriations-in-Aid to the Exchequer.

As published in the Departments Appropriation Accounts, the cost of participation in the EUFOR Chad mission in 2008 was €39.1m, the cost of participation in EUFOR Chad and MINURCAT in 2009 was €42.3m and the cost of participation in MINURCAT in 2010 was €21.2m.  Total receipts from the UN in respect of the MINURCAT mission amounted to €19.5m.  Irelands contribution of personnel to these missions was in the region of 420 personnel per month.

Certain equipment and assets were not brought back to Ireland following completion of our deployment in Chad as it was deemed economically unviable to do so.  This equipment was handed over to the UN for disposal and included gymnasium equipment, kitchen equipment,  trailers, multi-cabins, waste tyres and oil, timber decking and plastic matting. 

There are currently 637 members of the Defence Forces serving in missions overseas.  Individual Permanent Defence Force personnel are repatriated ahead of the scheduled rotation date from time-to time at Ireland's expense for a variety of reasons, including health grounds, family bereavement and disciplinary issues.  Records of overall numbers and costs of repatriation are not held in a readily accessible format.

Defence Forces Data

Ceisteanna (56)

James Browne

Ceist:

56. Deputy James Browne asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of psychiatrists employed by the Defence Forces in whole-time equivalent terms. [21539/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Psychiatric services for the Defence Forces are currently provided on a contract for services basis. The contracted individual attends two days per week and has advised that he will cease to attend with effect from 31 May 2018. The Defence Forces are identifying alternative options for the provision of psychiatric services.

Commemorative Medals

Ceisteanna (57)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

57. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to award the commemorative 2016 Centenary Medal to members of an association (details supplied) that participated in 2016 centenary ceremonies. [21652/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Programme for Government provided for the award of a commemorative medal to all Defence Forces personnel, Permanent and Reserve, who were recorded as being in service in the course of 2016. This was a special acknowledgement from the Government to the members of Óglaigh na hÉireann who served during the centenary year of 2016. The 1916 Centenary Commemorative Medal was awarded as a commemorative medal, personal to an individual’s service in the Defence Forces in the course of 2016. 

There are no plans to award the 1916 Centenary Commemorative Medal to former members of the Defence Forces.  Since the foundation of the State many thousands of personnel have served in the Defence Forces.  It would not be administratively possible within the resources of the Department to identify and contact all of these persons, decide on eligibility and, in the case of infirm or deceased former members, resolve who should get the medal on their behalf.

At my request, however, discussions took place between the Department and the Veterans’ Associations; the Irish United Nations Veterans Association (IUNVA), the Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel (ONE), and the Association of Retired Commissioned Officers (ARCO), to explore alternative means of recognition of the contribution of veterans to the centenary commemorative events in 2016.

Following these discussions, it was agreed that a single presentation would be made to each of the Veterans Associations of a framed medal with an accompanying citation in recognition of the significant contribution of members of the three organisations to the 1916 centenary commemorative events and their service to the State. The medal has a bar with the term Veteran inscribed on it.  I agreed that a plaque would be given to each of IUNVA’s 21 Posts and to each of O.N.E.’s 41 Branches.  I presented one plaque to each of the three Veterans’ Associations at last year's Defence Forces’ Veterans’ Day which took place in the Defence Forces Training Centre, the Curragh, on Sunday 8 October 2017. The other plaques were presented separately.

Middle East Issues

Question No. 59 answered with Question No. 52.

Ceisteanna (58)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

58. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he has held a meeting with the Minister of State with special responsibility for Defence regarding the development in the Golan Heights in which Irish soldiers are assisting. [21485/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

In my capacity as Minister with Responsibility for Defence, I regularly update the Taoiseach on a range of Defence related issues.

The Taoiseach was kept fully informed on developments on the Golan Heights last week, where shelling and rocket attacks were reported.  All Irish Defence Forces personnel were reported safe and accounted for in their deployment with UNDOF following the incident. The situation in the Golan Heights is being closely monitored and the Taoiseach will continue to be kept  fully updated on any developments in the area.

Question No. 59 answered with Question No. 52.

Consular Services Data

Ceisteanna (60)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

60. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of staff at each Irish Embassy and Consular General office as of 4 May 2018, by grade; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21496/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Ireland’s diplomatic network is critical to the achievement of our foreign policy and trade goals. Information on Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade staff in missions abroad is set out by grade in the following table:

Mission

Staff numbers as at 04 May 2018

Abu Dhabi

1 Assistant Secretary

1 Third Secretary

6 locally recruited staff

Abuja

1 Counsellor

1 Third Secretary

5 locally recruited staff

Addis Ababa

1 Assistant Secretary

1 Senior Development Specialist

2 Development Specialists

1 Third Secretary

5 locally recruited staff

Ankara

1 Counsellor

1 Development Specialist

1 Assistant Principal Officer

1 Third Secretary

4 locally recruited staff

Athens

1 Assistant Secretary

1 First Secretary

1 Third Secretary

5 locally recruited staff

Atlanta CG

1 First Secretary

2 locally recruited staff

Austin CG

1 First Secretary

3 locally recruited staff

Bangkok

1 Deputy Secretary General

1 Third Secretary

7 locally recruited staff

Beijing

1 Assistant Secretary

1 Counsellor

2 First Secretaries

2 Third Secretaries

1 Executive Officer

1 Clerical Officer

12 locally recruited staff

Berlin

1 Second Secretary General

1 Counsellor

1 Assistant Legal Adviser

3 First Secretaries

1 Third Secretary

12 locally recruited staff

Berne

1 Counsellor

1 Third Secretary

3 locally recruited staff

Boston CG

1 Assistant Principal Officer

1 Third Secretary

4 locally recruited staff

Brasilia

1 Principal Officer

1 Third Secretary

4 locally recruited staff

Bratislava

1 First Secretary

2 locally recruited staff

Brussels Embassy (incl PFP)

1 Counsellor

1 First Secretary

1 Third Secretary

1 Clerical Officer

4 locally recruited staff

Brussels (Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU) – includes staff on secondment from other Government Departments

2 Assistant Secretaries

3 Counsellors

6 Principal Officers

9 First Secretaries

22 Assistant Principal Officers

6 Third Secretaries

1 Administrative Officer

1 Higher Executive Officer

3 Executive Officers

16 Clerical Officers

7 locally recruited staff

Bucharest

1 Principal Officer

1 Higher Executive Officer

5 locally recruited staff

Budapest

1 Counsellor

1 Third Secretary

4 locally recruited staff

Buenos Aires

(Vacancy – Head of Mission)

1 Third Secretary

4 locally recruited staff

Cairo

1 Counsellor

1 First Secretary

1 Higher Executive Officer

6 locally recruited staff

Canberra

1 Counsellor

1 First Secretary

1 Higher Executive Officer

9 locally recruited staff

Chicago CG

1 First Secretary

1 Third Secretary

5 locally recruited staff

Copenhagen

1 Counsellor

1 Third Secretary

5 locally recruited staff

Dar-es-Salaam

1 Counsellor

1 Senior Development Specialist

2 Development Specialists

1 Third Secretary

4 locally recruited staff

Edinburgh CG

1 First Secretary

1 Third Secretary

1 Clerical Officer

1 locally recruited staff

Edinburgh BIC

1 First Secretary

Freetown

1 First Secretary

1 Development Specialist

1 Third Secretary

4 locally recruited staff

Geneva PMUN

1 Assistant Secretary

2 First Secretaries

1 Third Secretary

1 Executive Officer

1 Clerical Officer

6 locally recruited staff

Hanoi

1 Counsellor

1 Senior Development Specialist

1 Development Specialist

1 Third Secretary

1 Clerical Officer

6 locally recruited staff

Helsinki

1 Assistant Secretary

1 Third Secretary

3 locally recruited staff

Holy See

1 First Secretary

3 locally recruited staff

Hong Kong CG

1 First Secretary

1 Third Secretary

1 Clerical Officer

2 locally recruited staff

Jakarta

1 Counsellor

1 Third Secretary

5 locally recruited staff

Kampala

1 Principal Development Specialist

2 Development Specialists

1 Third Secretary

5 locally recruited staff

Kuala Lumpur

1 Counsellor

1 Higher Executive Officer

4 locally recruited staff

Lilongwe

1 Counsellor

2 Development Specialists

1 Third Secretary

5 locally recruited staff

Lisbon

1 Counsellor

1 Higher Executive Officer

4 locally recruited staff

Ljubljana

1 First Secretary

1 Higher Executive Officer

3 locally recruited staff

London - includes staff on secondment from other Government Departments

1 Second Secretary General

2 Counsellors

2 Principal Officers

2 First Secretaries

2 Assistant Principal Officers

4 Third Secretaries

4 Higher Executive Officers

7 Executive Officers

10 Clerical Officers

23 locally recruited staff

Lusaka

1 Senior Development Specialist

1 Development Specialist

1 Third Secretary

4 locally recruited staff

Luxembourg

1 Assistant Principal Officer

3 locally recruited staff

Madrid

1 Counsellor

1 First Secretary

1 Third Secretary

10 locally recruited staff

Maputo

1 Principal Development Specialist

1 Senior Development Specialist

2 Development Specialists

1 Third Secretary

8 locally recruited staff

Mexico

1 Assistant Secretary

1 First Secretary

1 Third Secretary

5 locally recruited staff

Monrovia

1 Development Specialist

Moscow

1 Counsellor

(Vacancy – First Secretary)

1 Higher Executive Officer

2 Clerical Officers

9 locally recruited staff

Nairobi

1 Principal Development Specialist

1 Development Specialist

1 Higher Executive Officer

5 locally recruited staff

New Delhi

1 Counsellor

1 First Secretary

1 Third Secretary

7 locally recruited staff

New York CG

1 Counsellor

1 First Secretary

1 Third Secretary

2 Executive Officers

12 locally recruited staff

New York PMUN

1 Second Secretary General

2 Counsellors

5 First Secretaries

2 Third Secretaries

1 Executive Officer

8 locally recruited staff

Nicosia

1 First Secretary

3 locally recruited staff

Oslo

1 Counsellor

1 Third Secretary

3 locally recruited staff

Ottawa

1 Counsellor

1 First Secretary

1 Third Secretary

7 locally recruited staff

Paris - includes staff on secondment from other Government Departments

1 Assistant Secretary

1 Counsellor

2 First Secretaries

1 Assistant Principal Officer

2 Third Secretaries

14 locally recruited staff

Paris OECD

1 Principal Officer

(Vacancy – First Secretary)

4 locally recruited staff

Prague

1 Counsellor

1 Higher Executive Officer

6 locally recruited staff

Pretoria

1 Counsellor

1 First Secretary

1 Development Specialist

1 Third Secretary

1 Higher Executive Officer

8 locally recruited staff

Ramallah

1 Counsellor

1 Third Secretary

4 locally recruited staff

Riga

1 First Secretary

2 locally recruited staff

Riyadh

1 Principal Officer

(Vacancy –Third Secretary)

8 locally recruited staff

Rome

1 Assistant Secretary

1 Assistant Principal Officer

1 Third Secretary

13 locally recruited staff

San Francisco CG

1 First Secretary

1 Third Secretary

4 locally recruited staff

Sao Paulo CG

1 First Secretary

1 Third Secretary

2 locally recruited staff

Seoul

1 Counsellor

1 First Secretary

4 locally recruited staff

Shanghai CG

1 First Secretary

1 Third Secretary

1 Clerical Officer

5 locally recruited staff

Singapore

1 Counsellor

1 Third Secretary

5 locally recruited staff

Sofia

1 Counsellor

1 Third Secretary

4 locally recruited staff

Stockholm

1 Counsellor

1 Third Secretary

4 locally recruited staff

Strasbourg Council of Europe

1 Counsellor

1 Third Secretary

5 locally recruited staff

Sydney CG

1 First Secretary

1 Third Secretary

4 locally recruited staff

Tallinn

1 Assistant Principal Officer

3 locally recruited staff

Tel Aviv

1 Counsellor

1 First Secretary

3 locally recruited staff

The Hague

1 Counsellor

1 First Secretary

1 Third Secretary

6 locally recruited staff

Tokyo

(Vacancy – Head of Mission)

1 First Secretary

1 Third Secretary

7 locally recruited staff

Valletta

1 First Secretary

3 locally recruited staff

Vienna Embassy

1 Assistant Secretary

1 First Secretary

1 Third Secretary

5 locally recruited staff

Vienna OSCE

1 Counsellor

1 First Secretary

2 locally recruited staff

Vilnius

1 First Secretary

3 locally recruited staff

Warsaw

1 Counsellor

1 First Secretary

1 Third Secretary

5 locally recruited staff

Washington

1 Assistant Secretary

1 Counsellor

4 First Secretaries

1 Third Secretary

1 Higher Executive Officer

1 Clerical Officer

7 locally recruited staff

Zagreb

1 First Secretary

2 locally recruited staff

Commencement of Legislation

Ceisteanna (61)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

61. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade when sections 14(8) and 14(9) of the Passport Act 2008 will come into effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21497/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Sections 14(8) and 14(9) of the Passports Act 2008 have not yet been commenced.

These Sections of the Passports Act, if commenced, would provide that guardians’ consent to the issuing of a passport would be considered to be enduring for the child up to the age of 18. The commencement of these provisions, including required technology updates, are under active consideration as part of the passport reform programme which will run until the end of 2018.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (62)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

62. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has had discussions with the Chinese ambassador to Ireland; if so, the nature of the meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21696/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I maintain contact with China’s Ambassador to Ireland as I do with all the Ambassadors of foreign states.

The Government is strongly committed to further deepening links between Ireland and China at all levels and the Chinese embassy in Dublin plays an important and constructive role in that regard.

I meet the Ambassador regularly at professional engagements as part of the normal course of business of my Department. For example, on 9 May the Ambassador participated in bilateral discussions which I held with Beijing Party Secretary Cai Qi and a number of his colleagues during the Party Secretary’s recent visit to Ireland.

In February 2018, I met by appointment with the Ambassador, primarily to discuss plans for my upcoming visit to China for St Patrick’s Day the following month. A range of other issues were also discussed including the launch of direct flights between Dublin and Beijing, access for Irish beef to the Chinese market and China’s Belt and Road initiative.

Tax Reliefs Availability

Ceisteanna (63)

Peter Fitzpatrick

Ceist:

63. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Finance the tax reliefs or incentives available for persons that decide to leave full-time employment to pursue setting up their own business (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21542/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Start-Up Relief for Entrepreneurs (SURE) is a tax relief for individuals who leave full-time employment and start up their own business. In general terms, relief under SURE is available for an individual who:

- Gives up full-time employment elsewhere to take up full-time employment with the new company.

- Sets up a new company to carry out a new trade. Therefore, companies that carry on a trade previously carried out by another person do not qualify. Nor do many consulting companies, which carry out a profession rather than a trade, qualify.

- Invests in ordinary share capital of the new company.

The relief available is based on the amount invested and the amount of tax paid, through the PAYE system, for the previous 6 years.

The Deputy may wish to be aware that the relief is currently being reviewed along with the Employment and Investment Incentive. The review is being carried out by Indecon Economic Consultants. A public consultation process is also being carried out as part of the review.

Insurance Costs

Ceisteanna (64)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

64. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Finance if an unsustainable situation facing an organisation (details supplied) in County Donegal and nationally which is facing a large increase in insurance costs with members unable to pay their renewals will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21645/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am aware of the concerns raised by the Deputy in relation to the financial strain which the cost of insurance may place on community, voluntary and charitable organisations, such as men’s sheds. As Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation. Neither I nor the Central Bank of Ireland can interfere in the provision or pricing of insurance products, as these matters are of a commercial nature, and are determined by insurance companies based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept. This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance which expressly prohibits Member States from adopting rules which require insurance companies to obtain prior approval of the pricing or terms and conditions of insurance products. Consequently, I am not in a position to direct insurance companies as to the pricing level or terms or conditions that they should apply in respect of particular categories of policyholders.

However, what was recognised with the establishment of the Cost of Insurance Working Group was that the environment within which insurers conduct their business can be better shaped, in order to make the Irish insurance market a more competitive one and also make it more attractive for new entrants. In this regard, the initial focus of the Working Group was the issue of rising motor insurance premiums and the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance was published in January 2017. The second phase of the Cost of Insurance Working Group under the Chairmanship of the Minister of State for Financial Services and Insurance, Michael D’Arcy TD, published its report in relation to employer liability and public liability insurance in January 2018. This Report acknowledges that many of the difficulties being faced by business are also impacting community groups, including men’s sheds.

The Working Group’s second 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. All 29 actions are scheduled to be implemented before the end of 2019, with 26 due for completion this year. The recommendations, covering three main themes, include actions to:

- Increase Transparency: enhance levels of transparency and improve data sharing and collection processes

- Review the level of damages in personal injury cases: request that the Law Reform Commission undertake a detailed analysis of the possibility of developing constitutionally sound legislation to delimit or cap the amounts of damages which a court may award in respect of some or all categories of personal injuries and

- Improve the personal injuries litigation framework: through a number of measures, namely:

a. ensuring potential defendants are notified in sufficient time that an incident has occurred in relation to which a claim is going to be made against their policy;

b. tackling fraudulent or exaggerated claims; and

c. ensuring suitable training and information supports are available to the judiciary to assist in the fair and consistent assessment and awarding of damages in personal injury cases.

The fifth Quarterly Progress Update on implementation was published on 11 May and is available on the website of the Department of Finance. In respect of the actions from the Report due for completion in Q1 2018, all eight deadlines have been met.

While the focus of the Reports was to examine the cost of insurance for motorists and for businesses in particular, it is envisaged that the cumulative effect of the implementation of the recommendations, with the appropriate levels of commitment and cooperation from all relevant stakeholders, will achieve the objective of delivering fairer premiums for consumers and businesses, and also beneficially impact community, voluntary and charitable organisations in Donegal and across the country.

Commencement of Legislation

Ceisteanna (65)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

65. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Finance when section 76 of the Finance Act 2015 will come into effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21506/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Sections 888 and 894 of the Taxes Consolidation Act (TCA) 1997 impose an obligation on lessors, lessees and agents in relation to rental property to return certain information in relation to rental income to Revenue. The persons obliged to return this information to Revenue include any Minister of the Government, the Health Service Executive, or any Local Authority or similar body which pays rent or rent subsidies.

A relevant person is required to file a return of third party information in respect of lettings operated by them. This return must be filed by 31 October in the year following the year of assessment.

Section 76 of the Finance Act 2015 amends section 888 TCA 1997, to require letting agents to include both the tax reference number of each property owner and the Local Property Tax (LPT) number of each residential property. This amendment is to come into effect by way of Ministerial Order.

I have been advised by Revenue that concerns were raised by some of the Government bodies impacted that they may not be in a position to fully satisfy the additional reporting requirements as the appropriate infrastructure to facilitate the recording and reporting of this additional information is not yet in place. Revenue is liaising with the Government bodies impacted in order to agree an implementation timeframe and following that process will advise on an appropriate time for commencement of this provision.

Tax Yield

Ceisteanna (66, 67, 68, 69, 70)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

66. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the estimated revenue that could be raised if the sugar sweetened drinks tax was extended to include mineral waters and aerated waters that contain added sugar; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21523/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

67. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the estimated revenue that could be raised if the sugar sweetened drinks tax was extended to include non-alcoholic beer and alcohol free wine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21524/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

68. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the estimated revenue that could be raised if the sugar sweetened drinks tax was extended to include soya based beverages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21525/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

69. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the estimated revenue that could be raised if the sugar sweetened drinks tax was extended to include beverages based on nuts, cereals or seeds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21526/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

70. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the estimated revenue that could be raised if the sugar sweetened drinks tax was extended to include milk based products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21527/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 66 to 70, inclusive, together.

The sugar-sweetened drinks tax applies to products if they satisfy three criteria.

The first of which is the Customs Combined Nomenclature Code - the tax applies to fruit juices (CN Code 2009) and waters, including mineral and waters and aerated water (CN Code 2202). The second of which is if they contain added sugar, and the third criteria is if they contain 5 grams of sugar or more per 100 millilitres.

The rationale behind the tax is to help tackle the overweight and obesity problem in Ireland. A small number of exemptions exist for drinks within the CN 2202 category on the basis of the policy rationale for the introduction of the tax. These include, non-alcoholic products as they offer an alternative to alcohol products. Soya, cereal, nut, and seed based drinks offer an alternative to dairy for persons with dietary requirements such as lactose intolerance. Further to this, products with milk fats are exempted as they are comparable to dairy products such as milk. Milk is outside of the tax on the basis of the health benefits it offers such as calcium and protein. For reasons of clarity an amendment to the legislation will be brought forward in this years Finance Bill to impose a calcium threshold on products within these exempt categories.

In order to ensure that the tax is free from State aid a formal notification of Ireland's intention to introduce the tax was submitted to the European Commission earlier this year. The Commission found that the tax, as designed, did not constitute aid.

It is estimated that the yield from the sugar sweetened drinks tax will be of the order of €40m in a full year. The additional tax yield from extending the scope of the tax to the aforementioned products is likely to be very low. In any event, as the design and scope of the tax have been approved by the European Commission it is not possible to alter these without opening up the potential for litigation and consequently the potential to jeopardise the existence of the tax.