Banking Sector

Ceisteanna (114)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

114. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance the reason the stakeholders forum which was promised as part of the valuation of the public banking model has not met to date; if this is due to the failure to appoint the relevant consultant in order to ensure that same can now progress; the date the stakeholders forum will be operating from; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2013/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department, jointly with the Department of Rural and Community Development, published a report on “Local Public Banking in Ireland”. As the Deputy knows, the Report concluded that there is not a compelling case for the State to establish a new local public banking system in Ireland, based on the German Sparkassen model as proposed, for a number of reasons. However, the Deputy may rest assured that the Government is committed to encouraging greater competition in the banking sector and supporting the local provision of banking and financial services.

The Government recognises a number of positive aspects underlying the concept of community banking generally, including access to finance for SMEs and supporting local communities and economies. Indeed, many of the objectives of community banking align with Government policy and supports that have already been put in place. Consequently, a commitment was included in the Report that my Department would arrange for an independent evaluation to be carried out in order to consider how the objectives of community banking and how the local provision of banking and financial services could be furthered in Ireland, through other delivery mechanisms.

The Government is also committed to continuing to engage with stakeholders and other interested parties on this issue of community banking and the local provision of banking and financial services by way of a stakeholder forum, which will be conducted by the external consultants carrying out the evaluation that I referred to.

In line with the relevant Office of Government Procurement processes, my Department held a mini-competition to tender for the necessary policy and economics services to appoint consultants to carry out the independent evaluation and run the stakeholder forum on community banking and the local provision of banking and financial services. The tender was open for a period of four weeks and closed on 18th December 2018.

The responses received are currently being evaluated by my Department in conjunction with the Office of Government Procurement. I anticipate that this evaluation process will be completed and the contract awarded in the coming weeks. Once the consultants have been appointed, the stakeholder forum will be convened as soon as possible in accordance with the agreed project plan and timeline.

Flood Relief Schemes

Ceisteanna (115)

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

115. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the reason a review of the environmental impact assessment in respect of the flood relief for Glanmire, County Cork, is being carried out; when this review will be completed; if this review is causing a direct impact on the sanctioning of the €8 million committed to the scheme; if there is a start date; if the process will be expedited (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1827/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Office of Public Works has submitted the proposal for the Glashaboy Flood relief scheme to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform for formal Confirmation as required under the Arterial Drainage Act. In all such cases, the Minister is required to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and, in this regard, will procure independent specialists to review the Environmental Impact Assessment Report submitted by the OPW as part of the scheme documentation. This approval process can take up to six months and is the final element of the planning process for the Scheme, after which the procurement process will commence to bring the scheme to construction stage.

The scheme is being funded from within the allocated €1 billion for flood risk management over the period 2018 – 2027. Provision for the cost of the Scheme is included in the Office of Public Works' multi annual capital allocation.

Tender Process

Ceisteanna (116)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

116. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if a company (details supplied) in County Kerry will be permitted to tender for a contract due to be published on the State procurement website; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1831/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

A National Framework Agreement was set up by the Office of Government Procurement in 2017 for Cleaning Services. This framework was advertised through the e-Tenders portal. The framework was open to all companies to apply for and see appointment to same. The named company did not apply for this framework.

The requirement identified is being conducted through the OGP framework and only companies who were appointed to the framework are eligible to compete for same.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (117, 118)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

117. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of employees in his Department; the number professionally qualified with organisations (details supplied); the number with other relevant professional qualifications; and the number with no professional qualifications, in tabular form. [1893/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

118. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of employees in his Department authorised to engage in procurement; the number professionally qualified with organisations (details supplied); the number with other relevant professional qualifications; and the number with no professional qualifications, in tabular form. [1910/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 117 and 118 together.

The number of staff in my Department, excluding the Office of Government Procurement, was 466 on 31 December 2018. The number of staff in the Office of Government Procurement was 222 on 31 December 2018.

Details of 2018 memberships of the professional bodies listed in the PQ are included in the following table:

Staff Numbers (Headcount at end Dec 2018)

Irish Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management

Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply

Institute of Public Administration

DPER

466

0

0

n/a

OGP

222

0

1

n/a

Chartered Accountants Ireland

Chartered Institute of Management Accountants

Institute of Certified Public Accountants

Other RelevantProfessional Qualifications

DPER

4

2

0

15

OGP

1

0

1

9

As part of my Department’s People@PER Strategy 2017-2020, all staff in the Department are actively encouraged and supported to develop and enhance the professional skills, attitudes and behaviours that lead to organisational success, embedding a culture of employee engagement, high performance and inclusivity across the Department.

In terms of the Deputy's question on procurement, while any member of staff may be engaged in a procurement process, the Department's internal procurement policy provides that a Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) shall have oversight of each procurement process. The Principal Officer with responsibility for the Business Unit budget that the proposed procurement is to be paid from is the SRO in the case of procurements valued over €25,000, unless this role is otherwise formally assigned. The relevant Assistant Principal Officer in the Business Unit is the SRO in respect of purchases below €25,000, unless this role is otherwise formally assigned.

Finally, the Deputy may wish to note that due to the nature its role, a significant number of staff in the Office of Government Procurement hold procurement qualifications and have substantial expertise and experience in public procurement.

Flood Relief Schemes Status

Ceisteanna (119)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

119. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when works for Carndonagh, County Donegal, will commence under the flood relief measure scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1925/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

In May 2018 I launched 29 Flood Risk Management Plans for all the main river basins identifying a total of 118 flood relief projects to protect the main flood risk areas throughout the country. These Plans and projects are a key part of the overall flood risk management strategy set out in the National Development Plan 2017 - 2028 involving total investment of almost €1 billion over the ten year time frame of that Plan. As it is not possible to implement all of the 118 projects at the one time, a total of 50 projects were prioritised for the initial tranche of investment and delivery based on the level of risk and number of properties to be protected.

15 flood relief projects have been identified for County Donegal as part of the 118 projects in total included in the Flood Risk Management Plans. Following consultation and discussions between the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Donegal County Council, 6 of the Donegal projects have been identified to be progressed in a first phase of implementation and the OPW and the Council will be working closely over the coming year to progress these projects. Plans are currently being put together to appoint consultants over the coming months for each of the projects to be advanced in the first phase.

The proposed project at Carndonagh, Co. Donegal at an estimated cost of €5m, which includes the provision of hard defences along with the provision of upstream storage areas, will provide flood protection to approximately 42 properties when completed. The proposed scheme is not in the first phase of projects to be progressed but the OPW and Donegal County Council will work closely to ensure that it will be commenced in the coming years and within the 10 year timeframe for the programme of investment.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (120)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

120. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if she will address the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1931/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department's policy in relation to the provision of Assistive Technology support for pupils with Special Educational Needs is set out in Department of Education and Skills Circular 0010/2013.The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports. SENOs also make recommendations to my Department where Assistive Technology is required.

In order to qualify for equipment under the Assistive Technology scheme, a child must have been diagnosed with a physical or communicative disability and must also have a recommendation in a professional assessment that the equipment is essential in order to allow the child to access the curriculum. It must also be clear that the existing I.T. equipment in the school is insufficient to meet the child's needs. As part of the application process, for which parental consent is required, schools set out how and in what manner the equipment which has been recommended in the professional report will be used in the classroom.

Although equipment is sanctioned under the Assistive Technology scheme for use by particular pupils, it is the property of the school, and the school’s management authority will have responsibility for maintenance, repair, and insurance of the equipment. The management authority will ensure safe custody and handling of the equipment, while a designated teacher in the school should take responsibility for the management of the equipment, and for monitoring its effective use within the school.

Equipment purchased should normally be kept in the school. However, as stated in Circular 0010/2013, a pupil may, with the consent of the management authority, use the equipment at home.

Should a parent be dissatisfied with the manner in which the Assistive Technology which has been provided to support their child's education are being applied in school, they should raise this matter directly with their school Principal or the Board of Management of the school.

Higher Education Institutions

Ceisteanna (121)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

121. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1847/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Universities are autonomous institutions within the meaning of the Universities Act 1997, and as such the management of their academic affairs, including all issues in relation to admissions criteria, are matters for the individual institutions concerned. Neither I nor the Department has a function in relation to the admission of students.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (122, 123)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

122. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of employees in his Department; the number professionally qualified with organisations (details supplied); the number with other relevant professional qualifications; and the number with no professional qualifications, in tabular form. [1886/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

123. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of employees in his Department authorised to engage in procurement; the number professionally qualified with organisations (details supplied); the number with other relevant professional qualifications; and the number with no professional qualifications, in tabular form. [1903/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 122 and 123 together.

My Department currently has 1499 employees (1414 Full Time Equivalent) . This number includes all temporary staff, secondees and those on long term leave, career break etc.

In relation to the organisations named by the Deputy, the Department has corporate IPA membership, one corporate member of Chartered Accountants Ireland and two corporate members of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants. We have no corporate members of the Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management, Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, or the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

The department does not have a dedicated procurement unit, rather procurement is undertaken by staff within a relevant business unit and all such procurement must adhere to public procurement policy, regulation and best practice. A total of 27 of my Departments staff received procurement training in 2018.

School Enrolments

Ceisteanna (124)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

124. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to a shortage of places at second level in a school (details supplied); if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that many children are on a waiting list for this school who meet the criteria for admission under category 2, that is, living and attending primary school in catchment area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1918/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that in relation to enrolment generally, it is my Department's responsibility to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in an area. Parents can choose which school to apply to and where the school has places available the pupil should be admitted. However, in schools where there are more applicants than places available, a selection process may be necessary. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice.

Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of my Department, or in the case of an Educational Training Board (ETB) school to the ETB in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school, expels a student or suspends a student for 20 or more days in any school year. Further information on the Section 29 appeals process is available on the Department's website www.education.ie.

The Education Welfare Service of the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The EWS can be contacted at 01-7718500.

As the Deputy will be aware the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018, which was signed into law by the President on the 18th July 2018, is an important piece of legislation which will introduce a more parent-friendly, equitable and consistent approach to how school admissions policy operates for the almost 4,000 primary and post-primary schools in this country and a fair and balanced school admission process for all pupils.

Witrh regard to the provision of additional accommodation to meet demographic demand nationally, the Government announced plans in April 2018 for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022), including a new 600 pupil post-primary school to be established in September 2019 to serve the Drogheda and Laytown school planning areas as a regional solution. This school will be under the patronage of Educate Together.

An initial phased start-up is envisaged for the new schools, which typically involves the use of interim accommodation. The school will be established in the southern environs of Drogheda. Itis intended that the interim accommodation for the school will be established in the southern environs of Drogheda.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (125)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

125. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the refurbishment and provision of an extension for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1939/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

A building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is included in my Department’s 6 year Construction Programme.

A project brief has been finalised and the project will be delivered via the ADAPT programme. The ADAPT programme uses a professional external Project Manager to coordinate and drive the respective design teams on each project.

In this regard, a tender competition is in train to establish a Project Manager framework which is expected to be in place by early March. The formulation of tender documentation is underway and once the framework has been established a tender exercise will be carried out to appoint a Project Manager for this particular project.

All schools with projects on the ADAPT programme will be contacted shortly by my Department to provide an update on the status of their respective project. I wish to confirm to the Deputy that my Department is committed to providing the necessary accommodation for the school in question.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (126)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

126. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the start date for prefab replacement for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1940/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

A building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is included in my Department’s 6 year Construction Programme.

A project brief has been finalised and the project will be delivered via the ADAPT programme. The ADAPT programme uses a professional external Project Manager to coordinate and drive the respective design teams on each project.

In this regard, a tender competition is in train to establish a Project Manager framework which is expected to be in place by early March. The formulation of tender documentation is underway and once the framework has been established a tender exercise will be carried out to appoint a Project Manager for this particular project.

All schools with projects on the ADAPT programme will be contacted shortly by my Department to provide an update on the status of their respective project. I wish to confirm to the Deputy that my Department is committed to providing the necessary accommodation for the school in question.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (127)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

127. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the progress for the delivery of a new school for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1941/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, the building project for the school in question is included on my Department's capital programme.

Agreement in principal for the acquisition of a suitable site for the school has been reached and this is currently at conveyance stage.

The advancement of the conveyance process, subject to no issues arising, will in due course allow my Department to initiate the architectural planning process for the project.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (128)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

128. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding progress on a permanent school building project for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1942/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The major building project referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2(b) which includes the application for statutory approvals and the preparation of tender documents. All statutory approvals have been secured.

Following the appointment of a replacement consultant architect, the Design Team has reviewed the previous Stage 2(b) documentation and is currently upgrading the design to ensure that the new school building is a Near Zero Energy Building (NZEB) in compliance with the 2017 amendment to Part L of the current Building Regulations.

Upon receipt and review of the Stage 2(b) submission, my Department will revert to the Board of Management regarding the progression of the project.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (129)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

129. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of a new secondary school for the Swords area of County Dublin as announced in November 2015; if he has identified locations for the proposed school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1943/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, the proposed location for the new post-primary school to which he refers is in Mooretown, Swords.

This school building project is on my Department's Rapid Design & Build Programme and the project is at tender stage.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (130)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

130. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of a new secondary school for the Malahide and Portmarnock areas of County Dublin as announced in November 2015; if he has identified locations for these proposed schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1944/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, a project to provide permanent accommodation for Malahide Portmarnock Educate Together Secondary School is included on my Department's capital programme.

With the assistance of officials from Fingal County Council a suitable site at Drinan has been identified and planning permission has been granted for the construction of the new post primary school thereon. It is intended to deliver this school building project as part of my Department's "Rapid" - Design and Build programme.

Site Acquisitions

Ceisteanna (131)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

131. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of a permanent site for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1945/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, with the assistance of officials in Fingal County Council, agreement in principle has been reached with the landowner in respect of the acquisition of a site at Broomfield, Malahide to accommodate the school to which he refers.

The schedule of accommodation and brief in respect of the building project has been finalised and the project will now be progressed into Architectural Planning. The urgency attached to this project is recognised by my Department and in that context it is intended that it will be delivered as part of my Department’s Design and Build Programme.

In the interim, work will continue to complete the transfer of the site into my Department's ownership.

Site Acquisitions

Ceisteanna (132)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

132. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of a new site for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1946/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The lands at the school referred to by the Deputy were purchased by the St Laurence O’Toole Diocesan Trust, on behalf of the Board of Management for the school.

An initial site adjacent to the school, was procured from Fingal County Council and transferred ownership on 1st June 2017.

The second site was purchased from a private vendor and ownership transferred on 18th October 2017.

My Department received copies of the deeds of transfer in November 2017.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (133)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

133. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding progress on a new school building project for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1947/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware the building project for the school in question is included on my Department's capital programme.

A new school site is required to accommodate this project and officials in my Department have been in contact with the school patron and trustees in relation to the site acquisition. The Patron has indicated that is not in a position to acquire a site at this time and on that basis officials in my Department have recently contacted officials in Fingal County Council for assistance under the Memorandum of Understanding in relation to the identification and acquisition of a suitable site.

My officials will continue to keep the Patron appraised of developments in the site acquisition process.