National Children's Hospital Expenditure

Ceisteanna (59)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

59. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Taoiseach the date in November 2018 on which his attention was first drawn to the cost overruns in the National Children’s Hospital. [5780/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

The first time it was brought to my attention that there would be a cost overrun in the national children’s hospital was on 9 November 2018. This was a brief conversation in the context of a wider discussion on health policy. However I was not advised of the full extent of the overrun at that time and I asked the Minister for Health for full information.

Defence Forces Medical Services

Ceisteanna (60)

James Browne

Ceist:

60. Deputy James Browne asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if a psychiatrist has been appointed to the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5889/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

A psychiatrist has not yet been appointed to the Defence Forces. A direct entrant competition for the position of military psychiatrist that closed on 30th September 2018 yielded no applications. Efforts to secure a locum psychiatrist have also been unsuccessful to date. In an effort to address this I have recently given approval for my Department to conduct a competition for a contracted civilian consultant psychiatrist at pay rates equivalent to those available in the HSE. However it should be noted that there is a nationwide shortage of trained psychiatrists with recruitment issues in a number of sectors of the health service. The difficulty with recruitment for such a position is not unique to the Defence Forces.

Election Monitoring Missions

Ceisteanna (61)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

61. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if a request for reasonable accommodation was considered in the case of a person (details supplied) who applied for the Irish Aid election observation roster; if he is satisfied on the grounds of equality that in the application process and interview process the person was sufficiently accommodated to take into account their specific needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5776/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I refer the Deputy to the response to Parliamentary Questions No. 80 of 30 January 2019 and No. 60 of 23 January 2019 on this matter. No request for a reasonable accommodation was received before the deadline for applications. If such a request had been received, it would have received full and thorough consideration.

Irish Aid

Ceisteanna (62)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

62. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the organisations that received funding through the main civil society funding schemes administered by Irish Aid in each of the years from 2015 to 2018, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5782/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Support to civil society organisations is a very important element of the Irish Aid programme, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade recognises the vital contribution that civil society makes in international development cooperation.

Irish Aid funding to civil society organisations supports both long term development projects and programmes, and humanitarian assistance for emergency response and protracted crises.

The main Irish Aid civil society funding schemes are the Programme Grant (PG), Civil Society Fund (CSF), Humanitarian Programme Plan (HPP), and the Emergency Response Fund Scheme (ERFS). The table below lists organisations who have received funding under each of these schemes from 2015 to 2018.

Funding is also provided to civil society organisations through a range of mechanisms including established strategic partnerships with umbrella groups, to missionary organisations through Misean Cara, through the Development Education strategy, support of the Government's overseas Volunteering Initiative and through Embassy-managed programmes and projects.

2015 Organisations

2016 Organisations

2017 Organisations

2018 Organisations

CIVIL SOCIETY FUND

A Partnership with Africa

A Partnership with Africa

A Partnership with Africa

A Partnership with Africa

Action Lesotho

Action Lesotho

Anti-Slavery International

Aidlink

Bóthar

Anti Slavery International

Bóthar

Anti-Slavery International

Camara

Bóthar

Brighter Communities Worldwide

Brighter Communities World Wide

Camfed International

Camara

Camara

Camfed International

Carter Centre

Camfed International

Camara Education

Carter Centre

Christian Blind Mission

Carter Cantre

Camfed International

ChildFund Ireland

Civicus

Christian Blind Mission

Carter Centre

Christian Blind Mission

ECPAT International

Civicus

Christian Blind Mission

ECPAT

Friends in Ireland

ECPAT

Civicus

FIDH

Friends of Londiani

Fields of Life

ECPAT

Fields of Life

Global Witness

Friends in Ireland

Fields of Life

Fields of Life

Health Poverty Action

Friends of Londiani

Friends in Ireland

Global Witness

Irish League of Credit Unions

Habitat for Humanity

Friends of Londiani

Irish Family Planning Association

Irish Rule of Law

Haven

Global Witness

Irish League of Credit Unions

ISHR

Haven

Habitat for Humanity

ISHR

Martin Ennals Foundation

Health Poverty Action

Haven

Martin Ennals Foundation

Minority Rights Group

INTO

Health Poverty Action

Meningitis Research Foundation

Nepal Leprosy Trust

Irish Family Planning Association

ICTU

Minority Rights Group

Nurture Africa

Irish Foundation for Co-operative Development

Irish Family Planning Association

Minority Rights Group

Operation Smile

Irish League of Credit Unions

Irish League of Credit Unions

Nepal Leprosy Trust

Orbis

Irish Rule of Law

ISHR

Nurture Africa

Saferworld

ISHR

Martin Ennals Foundation

Nurture Africa

Social and Health Education Project

Martin Ennals Foundation

Meningitis Research Foundation

Orbis

Special Olympics Europe Eurasia

Minority Rights Group

Minority Rights Group

Proudly Made in Africa

Tearfund Ireland

Operation Smile

Nepal Leprosy Trust

Saferworld

UCC

Orbis

Nurture Africa

Serve

UPR Info

Saferworld

Saferworld

Social and Health Education Project

Proudly Made in Africa

Special Olympics Europe Eurasia

TearFund

SUAS

War on Want Northern Ireland

TearFund Ireland

UPR Info

Tearfund

WaterAid

UCC

Proudly Made in Africa

UCC

UPR Info

UPR Info

Proudly Made in Africa

Proudly Made in Africa

War on Want Northern Ireland

War on Want Northern Ireland

PROGRAMME GRANT

Action Aid

Action Aid

Action Aid Ireland

Action Aid Ireland

Aidlink

Aidlink

Aidlink

Children in Crossfire

ChildFund Ireland

ChildFund Ireland

ChildFund Ireland

Christian Aid Ireland

Children in Crossfire

Children in Crossfire

Children in Crossfire

Concern

Christian Aid Ireland

Christian Aid Ireland

Christian Aid Ireland

Gorta Self Help Africa

Concern Worldwide

Concern Worldwide

Concern

HelpAge International

Front Line Defenders *

Front Line Defenders *

Gorta Self Help Africa

Oxfam Ireland

Goal **

Goal **

HelpAge International

Plan Ireland

Gorta Self Help Africa

Gorta Self Help Africa

Oxfam Ireland

Sightsavers Ireland

HelpAge International

HelpAge International

Plan Ireland

Trócaire

Oxfam Ireland

Oxfam Ireland

Serve in Solidarity

Vita

Plan Ireland

Plan Ireland

Sightsavers Ireland

World Vision Ireland

Serve in Solidarity

Serve in Solidarity

Trócaire

Sightsavers Ireland

Sightsavers Ireland

Vita

Trócaire

Trócaire

World Vision Ireland

World Vision

World Vision

HUMANITARIAN PROGRAMME PLAN

Christian Aid Ireland

Christian Aid Ireland

Christian Aid Ireland

Christian Aid Ireland

Concern

Concern

Concern

Concern

Goal **

Goal **

Oxfam Ireland

Oxfam Ireland

MSF Ireland

MSF Ireland

Plan Ireland

Plan Ireland

Oxfam Ireland

Oxfam Ireland

Trócaire

Trócaire

Plan Ireland

Plan Ireland

World Vision Ireland

World Vision Ireland

Trócaire

Trócaire

World Vision Ireland

World Vision Ireland

EMERGENCY RESPONSE FUND SCHEME

Christian Aid Ireland

Christian Aid Ireland

Christian Aid Ireland

Christian Aid Ireland

Concern

Concern

Concern

Concern

Goal **

Goal **

Oxfam Ireland

Oxfam Ireland

MSF Ireland

MSF Ireland

Plan Ireland

Plan Ireland

Oxfam Ireland

Oxfam Ireland

Trocaire

Trocaire

Plan Ireland

Plan Ireland

World Vision Ireland

World Vision Ireland

Trocaire

Trocaire

World Vision Ireland

World Vision Ireland

*Front Line Defenders were funded through a Strategic Partnership in 2017 and 2018.

**Goal were funded through a Strategic Partnership in 2017 and 2018.

UN Funding

Ceisteanna (63, 64)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

63. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to provide funding in 2019 to the United Nations Population Fund supplies (details supplied) in view of the global contraceptive funding gap, Ireland's commitment to the 2030 agenda and the sustainable development goal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5821/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

64. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the amount he plans to allocate in core funding to the United Nations Population Fund in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5822/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 63 and 64 together.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is a long standing supporter of UNFPA. We provide non-earmarked core funding to the agency on an annual basis and intend to continue this in 2019.

In 2018, my Department provided €3,500,000 to UNFPA, an increase of €700,000 on our 2017 core contribution. As the Tánaiste outlined in his speech at the launch of the UNFPA’s State of the World Population Report in October, Ireland is proud to be a consistent supporter of UNFPA. Since 2006 we have provided funding of around €55 million to the Population Fund, the majority of which is core funding. Ireland values the critical work of UNFPA and is committed to core funding on the principle that this allows the agency to set their priorities and plan according to need which is, we believe, critical to the on-the-ground delivery of results.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is not currently providing funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Supplies Thematic Programme and no decision to fund this specific programme in 2019 has been taken to date.

The Government is committed to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030. My Department is working to ensure that our international development assistance supports the achievement of the SDGs in developing countries. Ireland’s international development programme has always been focused on the need to protect the most vulnerable in society, and through for example our core support to UNFPA, contribute to the SDGs’ transformative ambition of ‘Leave No One Behind’ and in particular to reach the furthest behind first. Reaching them and delivering responsive supports and services is essential for creating inclusive societies and achieving sustainable development.

International Election Monitoring

Ceisteanna (65)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

65. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the way in which the public competition for election observers and the specific subject of disability will be in line with the Civil Service public equality duty; if requests for appeal on the grounds of disability will be independently considered; the arrangements in place for election observer appeals; the arrangements made for disabled applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5857/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I refer the Deputy to the responses to previous Parliamentary Questions No. 60 and 61 of 23 January 2019. In line with the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty, in the event of any candidate with a disability requesting a reasonable accommodation at the time of application, such a request would have been given full and thorough consideration. No request for reasonable accommodation was received by the application deadline.

In the interest of fairness, an appeal mechanism was available. A number of prospective volunteers submitted an appeal. The Appeals Panel has yet to finish its deliberations. In the interest of fairness to all candidates, the Appeals Panel cannot consider new information which was not provided at the time of application.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (66)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

66. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has discussed the possibility of the loss of human rights for citizens in Northern Ireland if there is a no-deal Brexit with his British counterpart or the leader of the DUP; and when they last spoke regarding Brexit. [5678/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Brexit is a priority issue for this Government, and the Taoiseach, my cabinet colleagues and I have taken every opportunity to engage with EU partners and the UK to advance Ireland’s priorities.

Throughout the negotiations, this Government stressed the necessity of protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts, and ensuring that there will be no hard border on the island of Ireland under any circumstances. The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland is an integral part of the Agreement on the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU, and addresses the fundamental rights and citizenship provisions of the Good Friday Agreement.

The Commission Task Force conducted the negotiations with the UK on the Withdrawal Agreement. Throughout this process, I engaged actively with each of my British Government counterparts to underline the Government’s concerns about the impact of Brexit on the island of Ireland and the imperative of protecting the Good Friday Agreement and the achievements of the Peace Process, and I continue to do so. Over the course of the last several months, I have met with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Dominic Raab during his time as UK Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley and David Lidington, the UK Minister of the Cabinet Office, with whom I remain in regular contact.

I also speak regularly with the leaders of each of the political parties in Northern Ireland on the European Union’s endeavours to ensure the protection of the Good Friday Agreement throughout the Article 50 negotiations and ratification process. I held discussions most recently on this with each of the party leaders, including Arlene Foster, in Belfast on 10 January where I reiterated its vital importance.

Throughout the negotiations between the UK and the EU Task Force, I and my officials were in frequent communication with Michel Barnier and his team, as well as with the other EU27 Member States. In my contacts with EU partners, Member States and institutions, they showed, and continue to show unwavering solidarity on the backstop, for which I am extremely grateful.

A no deal Brexit is the worst possible outcome and would not be in the interests of the UK, Ireland or the EU. That is why the Government’s focus remains on securing the deal that has been reached. The Government remains firmly of the view that the only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal is to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement as endorsed by the European Council and agreed with the British Government.

The Withdrawal Agreement protects the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts, and the gains of the Peace Process. Importantly, nothing in the Agreement will prejudice the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and the principle of consent as set out in the Good Friday Agreement. It also protects the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement on rights, safeguards and equality of opportunity and confirms that Irish citizens in Northern Ireland will continue to enjoy rights as EU citizens. It provides for a period of transition, which can be extended, in which preparations can be made for the future relationship between the EU and the UK. The European Council has made clear that it stands by the Withdrawal Agreement and that it is not for renegotiation.

Under any scenario for the UK’s exit from the European Union, the obligations and commitments of the Irish and British Governments under the Good Friday Agreement remain and the Government will continue to work with the British Government as co-guarantor to secure the full implementation of the Agreement and the effective operation of all of its institutions.

Tax Collection

Ceisteanna (67)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

67. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Finance the number of businesses that qualify for the deferred payments scheme; the length of time it takes to process an application for the scheme; if the Revenue Commissioners will be obliged to allow the scheme apply to all traders following the withdrawal of the UK from the EU; if the Revenue Commissioners have increased the number of employees in the deferred scheme section to deal the increased demand on this section; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5881/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

There are currently 768 individual traders authorised for the deferred payment scheme. In addition, the Deputy should note that a number of deferred payment authorisations are held by customs clearance agents who can offer this facility to their clients when completing import formalities on their behalf.

The application process requires a trader to firstly be approved for a Comprehensive Guarantee in accordance with the EU Customs legislation namely the Union Customs Code. This is applied for through the EU Customs Decisions System which can be accessed online by any trader with a valid Revenue Online Service (ROS) Certificate and an Economic Operators' Registration and Identification (EORI) number. One of the conditions of the Comprehensive Guarantee is a requirement to have security in place to cover potential or existing customs and VAT debt.

Revenue advise me that each trader is responsible for making arrangements with their own financial institution to ensure that the necessary security and banking structures are in place. Revenue have no control over that procedure or the time that it takes. However, once this security is in place, the formalities associated with granting a deferred payment authorisation would normally be completed within two weeks. Full details of the application process are available on www.revenue.ie.

I am further advised that the current staff resources are sufficient to deal with the work involved and that the matter is under constant review, particularly in light of Brexit.

Tax Credits

Ceisteanna (68)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

68. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost in tax revenue foregone for all capital allowances to private health facilities in each of the years since 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5940/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

It is assumed that the Deputy is referring to capital allowances in respect of qualifying private hospitals.

I am advised by Revenue that information in respect of the tax cost in respect of this property based tax relief can be found for the years 2011 to 2016 on the Revenue website at

https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/tax-expenditures/property-reliefs.aspx.

The cost for 2017 will be published during 2019 when all returns for that year have been analysed.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (69)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

69. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance if persons on temporary contracts will now pay PAYE income tax on a week 1 basis under the new tax arrangement introduced in 2019 by the Revenue Commissioners; the negative short-term tax implications this could have for persons with irregular work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5777/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The new administrative arrangements for PAYE (PAYE Modernisation) started on 1 January this year. These new arrangements do not affect the way income tax and other statutory deductions are calculated under the PAYE system, but do change the way employers report payroll information to Revenue. In most cases the new real-time reporting arrangements have seamlessly integrated into employer’s payroll systems without any impact on employees.

For the Deputy’s general information, the PAYE system does not treat people on temporary contracts any differently to those on full time or permanent contracts. As such, employers are obliged to notify Revenue where an employee has started or has ceased working for them, regardless of the employment status involved. This ensures that employees gain the full benefit of their tax credit and rate band entitlements each time they are paid. For example, where Revenue is notified of the cessation of an employment, the person’s tax credit and rate band entitlements are automatically transferred to any other active employment that s/he may have.

The application of the ‘Week 1’ basis of deduction only occurs in limited circumstances, for example where there is a lack of information about previous employments or where application of the cumulative basis would create significant hardship for the employee. Under PAYE Modernisation, employers are required to report the pay and tax details of their employees every time they run a payroll, which means the individual records should always be up to date. Consequently, it is expected that people in irregular employment should pay the proper amount of tax at each pay date and that the application of the ‘Week 1’ basis of deduction should only occur in limited circumstances.

Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman

Ceisteanna (70)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

70. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if, in the event of new evidence in the case of persons (details supplied), a further review of their case can be undertaken by the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman with a view to addressing the most recently emerged issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5846/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Firstly, I must point out that the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) is independent in the performance of his statutory functions. I have no role in the day to day workings of the office or in the decisions which he takes.

One of the main roles of the Ombudsman is to investigate, mediate and adjudicate complaints about the conduct of financial or pension service providers. The FSPO was established to provide an alternative to the Courts for consumers who have unresolved disputes with a financial or pension service provider and all investigations by the Ombudsman are free of charge to the consumer. Subject only to an appeal to the High Court, a finding of the Ombudsman in respect of a complaint is legally binding on all parties

The FSPO has advised me that the services provided by him are confidential in nature, and it would not be appropriate for him to confirm or deny the existence of a complaint, nor would it be appropriate to comment on any individual case.

On the issue more generally the FSPO provides a dedicated information service, which handles both phone and email enquiries. This service provides assistance on how to access the FSPO's services, to initiate a complaint or discuss a complaint. The Deputy may wish to suggest that the complainant contact the Office of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman to discuss their case with a member of staff.

Office of Public Works Properties

Ceisteanna (71)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

71. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if permits or permissions are required to be sought for an activity (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5854/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The car-park at Grianan Fort, Co. Donegal is not in the ownership of the Office of Public Works, although the keyholding is managed by the OPW-employed caretaker locally.

Any queries regarding the use of the carpark should be directed to Donegal County Council which may have licensing or other permission requirements.

Public Sector Staff Retirements

Ceisteanna (72, 73)

James Lawless

Ceist:

72. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the public servants being referred to in section 3A(6) of the Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Act 2018; if employees in the education sector who have reached 65 years of age between 1 September and 25 December 2018 can benefit from the new extended retirement age of 70 years of age under the Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5908/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

James Lawless

Ceist:

73. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to amend the Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Act 2018 to extend coverage of the Act to include the public servants who were forced to retire between 6 December 2017 and the commencement of the Act due to reaching 65 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5909/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 72 and 73 together.

The Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Act 2018 provides for an increase to age 70 in the compulsory retirement age of most public servants recruited before 1 April 2004. The public servants covered by the new Act are termed "relevant public servants" and that term is defined in Section 2 of the Act. Only those public servants, including those employed in the education sector, who have not retired prior to the enactment of the legislation (26 December 2018) can avail of the provisions of the Act.

I have no plans to amend the recently enacted legislation.

Departmental Staff Grievance Procedures

Ceisteanna (74)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

74. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if constructive criticism by an employee in the public sector, which is in the interest of addressing failures within a public sector workplace, is viewed in the same manner as a whistleblower; the action an employee can take if their concerns are dealt with in a persecutory manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5812/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Section 5(3) of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 provides for a broadly based set of relevant wrongdoings that workers in the public or private sector may report which qualify for the protections of the Act. These are: that an offence has been, is being or is likely to be committed; that a person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with any legal obligation, other than one arising under the worker's contract of employment or other contract whereby the worker undertakes to do or perform personally any work or services; that a miscarriage of justice has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur; that the health or safety of any individual has been, is being or is likely to be endangered; that the environment has been, is being or is likely to be damaged; that an unlawful or otherwise improper use of funds or resources of a public body, or of other public money, has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur; that an act or omission by or on behalf of a public body is oppressive, discriminatory or grossly negligent or constitutes gross mismanagement; and that information tending to show any matter falling within any of the above categories has been, is being or is likely to be concealed or destroyed.

It is not necessary for a worker to explicitly state that they are making a protected disclosure when they make a disclosure which they believe to come within the relevant wrongdoings outlined above. If it is unclear whether the matter qualifies as a protected disclosure, the employer should treat it as such until they are satisfied that it does not so qualify. In any event, providing that the worker discloses information relating to wrongdoing in an appropriate manner, and based on a reasonable belief, no question of penalisation should arise. Furthermore, section 5 of the Act provides that in proceedings involving an issue as to whether a disclosure is a protected disclosure it shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved, that it is.

The Act provides for a number of remedies for workers who believe that they have suffered penalisation as a result of making a protected disclosure. Those remedies apply to workers in both the public and private sectors. Workers who are direct employees are provided with access to the normal industrial dispute mechanisms of the State, including the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court, and the compensation payable under those mechanisms is increased in respect of persons penalised for having made a protected disclosure. An employee dismissed for having made a protected disclosure can claim unfair dismissal, regardless of their length of service, and may also make a claim for interim relief to the Circuit Court pending final determination of their case. The Act also provides a right of action in tort for a person who has suffered detriment as a result of a protected disclosure, and immunity from civil liability other than in defamation actions.

Civil Service Code of Conduct

Ceisteanna (75, 76)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

75. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the date from which the present Civil Service code dates; his views on whether such codes require updating every few years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5813/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

76. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of codes of ethics within the Civil Service; the status of same in the context of the Civil Service codes; if there can be conflicts between membership professional codes of ethics and the civil service codes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5814/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 75 and 76 together.

Section 10 (3) of the Standards in Public Office Act 2001 (the Act) provides that the Minister shall from time to time draw up codes of conduct for the guidance of persons who hold or occupy directorships or positions of employment in public bodies. A revised Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour (the Code) was published by the Standards in Public Office Commission in September 2008. This Code, which applies to all civil servants, is an important element of the overall framework within which civil servants are expected to work. It sets out the standards required of civil servants in the discharge of their duties.

The Public Sector Standards Bill 2015 (the Bill) is a key consideration in terms of updating this current Code. This Bill provides for a Public Sector Standards Commissioner to replace the current Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPOC). Section 30 of the Bill provides that the Commissioner shall draw up and issue a model code of conduct for the guidance of public officials with regard to compliance with the provisions of the Bill. This model code must have regard to the general principles on standards of integrity contained in section 10 of the Bill. Furthermore, the Commissioner must promote, through training, education and research, and guidelines issued for the purpose by the Commissioner, the highest standards of conduct and integrity among public officials, and, in particular, regarding the prevention of situations in which conflicts of interest could arise in relation to their duties.

Under the Bill, public bodies may adopt their own codes to meet particular requirements while having regard to the principles and standards in the model code. Sectorial codes will be drawn up by particular bodies (e.g. for the Civil Service by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform). The Commissioner may advise as to whether amendments to any such code are required.

So once enacted, this Bill will allow my Department to review the current Code in the context of the Commissioners model code and revise it as required. Further information on the current position regarding the Bill is at APPENDIX 1.

The Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour is a document that reflects the standards required of civil servants in the performance of their official duties. There are also various circulars relating to the terms and conditions of employment of civil servants.

Currently, the ethics obligations of civil servants, including the provision of ethics returns, is dealt with under the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995 and the Standards in Public Office Act 2001 (the Ethics Acts).

It would seem unlikely that there would be conflicts between membership professional codes of ethics and the current Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour . However, should issues arise, there is provision in the Code (para. 3.2) for staff to obtain clarification on any aspect of the Code. In addition, under section 10(12) of the Act the SIPOC can give advice on the Code in particular circumstances.

APPENDIX 1

The Public Sector Standards Bill is currently making its way through the legislative process in the Dáil. It commenced Committee Stage on the 6th of April 2017, where sections 1 to 42 of the 66 sections in the Bill were agreed. Much work has been completed since the Bill was considered in Committee, including work specifically requested by the Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach (FPER) Committee, prior to the re-commencement of Committee Stage. This includes:

- Briefing for all Members of the Oireachtas in relation to the Bill;

- Discussions with T.D.s from other Political Parties in order to seek some cross-party consensus for the Bill. This included a meeting with Deputy Jonathan O'Brien from Sinn Féin in November 2017;

- A meeting with Local Authority Representative Groups following their appearance before the FPER Committee;

- A meeting with the CCMA; and

The development of Report Stage amendments for the Bill which have been approved by Government, in order to resolve and address various issues that have been raised on foot of the consultations, meetings and briefings described above.

My Department is currently awaiting a re-commencement date for Committee Stage of the Bill.

Public Sector Staff Retirements

Ceisteanna (77)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

77. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 105 of 30 January 2019, if the rules surrounding compulsory retirement outlined apply to employees of semi-State companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5877/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to PQ 4008/19 on the 29 January 2019.

Cross-Border Projects

Ceisteanna (78)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

78. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the schemes and projects on a cross-Border basis that will be funded in 2019; if he is satisfied with the structures in place to ensure the continuation of cross-Border development in conjunction with the relevant authorities in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2978/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Deputy will be aware of the important contribution that the EU-funded North South programmes, PEACE and INTERREG, make to building peace and social and economic cohesion in the border region of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The current 2014-2020 PEACE IV and INTERREG VA programmes will invest over half a billion euro in the region and are progressing well.

The two programmes are managed by the Special EU Programmes Body, a North South implementation body established under the Good Friday Agreement. My Department is joint sponsor Department for the SEUPB, together with the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland, while various sectorial Departments, north and south, act as accountable Departments for PEACE and INTERREG funding.

The INTERREG VA Programme, which totals €282 million, is now 97% committed , with funding approved for 32 projects under the themes of research and innovation, environment, sustainable transport, and health and social care. Activity will be delivered across all themes in 2019.

The PEACE IV Programme has a total value of €270 million and has now reached 99% commitment, with 95 projects approved for funding. Projects under the themes of Shared Education, Children and Young People, Shared Spaces and Services, and Building Positive Relations, including operations supported under Local Authority Peace Action Plans, will all be active in 2019.

The Irish Government has been clear and consistent in its commitment to the successful implementation of the current PEACE and INTERREG programmes and to a successor programme post-2020.

The draft Withdrawal Agreement will enable the current programmes to be completed without interruption or amendment. In the event of no agreement, the European Commission has brought forward a proposal, which I welcome, that will enable the two programmes to continue on the basis of the current management structures. This proposal is progressing through the legislative process at a European level with a view to it being entering into force by 29 March 2019.

I also welcome the Commission's proposal for a special new PEACE PLUS programme to build on and continue the work of both PEACE and INTERREG post-2020.

DEIS Eligibility

Ceisteanna (79, 80)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

79. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter regarding a school (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5789/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

80. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter regarding a school (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5788/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 79 and 80 together.

As the Deputy is aware, my Department has introduced an objective, statistics based model for assessing which schools merit inclusion in the DEIS Programme, so that all stakeholders can have confidence that we are targeting extra resources at those schools with the highest levels of concentrated disadvantage.

The calculation of the level of disadvantage in each school is based on the socio-economic background of their pupil cohort using centrally held data as previously outlined and is not based on the location of the school but on the geographical CSO Small Areas where the pupil cohort resides.

A detailed document explaining the methodology used in the Identification process under DEIS plan 2017 is available on my Department’s website at

https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/DEIS-Delivering-Equality-of-Opportunity-in-Schools-/DEIS-Identification-Process.pdf

Some schools, including the one referred to by the Deputy, availed of a verification process which was provided for under DEIS Plan 2017. The verification process involved checking the school’s data as used in the Identification process, in terms of the quality and accuracy of the data supplied and the match rate to CSO small area. This process confirmed no change in the level of disadvantage identified for this school and correspondence was issued in September 2017 notifying them of the outcome.

DEIS Plan 2017 states that the improved data on the socio-demographic of schools resulting from the new identification model will have an impact not only on the assessment of schools for inclusion in the programme but also on the scaling of resources to allow for more graduated levels of support. This is turn allows for the ultimate objective of allocating resources to best meet the identified need of individual schools.

In order to achieve this, the current identification model needs to be as accurate as possible and this requires the use of Eircode to ensure correct inputting of addresses. Further analysis is also required to examine other variables known to be strong predictors of educational disadvantage in the context of resource allocation.

Therefore, in order to ensure the quality of the address data and conduct further analysis it is not intended to extend the DEIS programme to any further schools until this work is complete.

Schools Building Projects

Ceisteanna (81)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

81. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to provide a new school for Meakstown, Dublin 11; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5793/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level. For school planning purposes Meakstown is located in the Finglas East_Ballymun_Dublin 11 school planning area.

Major new residential developments in a school planning area have the potential to alter demand in that area. In that regard, as part of the demographic exercises, my Department engages with each of the local authorities to obtain the up-to-date data on significant new residential development in each area.  This is necessary to ensure that schools infrastructure planning is keeping pace with demographic changes as there is a constantly evolving picture with planned new residential development, including additional residential developments arising from the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF).

Where data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following:

- Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools,

- Extending the capacity of a school or schools,

- Provision of a new school or schools.

As the Deputy will be aware, in April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next 4 years (2019 to 2022). This announcement follows nationwide, demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country.

In addition to the new schools announced, there may be a need for further school accommodation in other areas in the future which can be addressed through either planned capacity increases in existing schools or additional accommodation or extensions to existing schools. Approximately 40% of extra school places are delivered by extending existing schools.

While the announcement did not include a new school for the Finglas East_Ballymun_Dublin 11 school planning area, the requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular will have regard for the increased roll-out of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040. It is open to an individual school to apply for accommodation under the additional accommodation scheme if the school does not have sufficient capacity to meet school places.

Autism Support Services

Ceisteanna (82)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

82. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if funding will be made available for autism units in Dublin 12; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5830/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has a statutory function to plan and co-ordinate the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs including Autism, in consultation with the relevant education partners and the Health Service Executive (HSE). This includes the establishment of special class and special school placements in various geographical areas where there is an identified need.

Since 2011, the NCSE has increased the number of special classes from 548 in 2011 to 1,459 across the country now, of which 1,196 are Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) special classes.

There are 37 special schools and 237 special classes attached to mainstream schools in Co. Dublin. Of these, 17 are ASD early intervention classes, 139 are primary ASD classes and 41 are post primary ASD classes. The number of ASD special classes in Co. Dublin have increased from 66 in 2011/2012 to 197 in 2018/2019. Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available on www.ncse.ie .

Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available by county on the NCSE website at www.ncse.ie   

From time to time, the NCSE identifies local areas where additional special class provision is required. In those circumstances, SENOs work with the schools and families concerned to resolve the issues involved.

The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 will assist in addressing this issue where the NCSE is of the opinion that there is insufficient education provision for children with special educational needs in an area.

Section 8 of the Act, which commenced on the 3rd of December 2018, provides the Minister with a power, after a process of consultation with the NCSE, the board of management and the patron of the school, to compel a school to make additional provision for the education of children with special educational needs.

Special Classes can be established within a schools existing accommodation. In such circumstances the school can apply to the Department for capital funding to reconfigure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation for special needs purposes should the school’s existing accommodation not be capable of hosting special classes. 

In the case of all new schools, it is general practice to include a Special Education Needs Base (SEN Base) in the accommodation brief for new school buildings, unless local circumstances indicate that it will not be required. Typically, a two classroom SEN Base is provided in new primary schools and a two or four classroom SEN Base is provided in new post primary schools.

All school capital projects that have been approved by my Department under the Additional Accommodation Scheme, including special needs accommodation, may be viewed on my Department’s website, www.education.ie  and this is updated regularly.

As the Deputy's question relates to a particular area I have arranged for the question to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

My Department will continue to support the NCSE in opening ASD special classes in areas where there is an identified need.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (83, 84)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

83. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the July provision is not available to the majority of children with Down's syndrome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5847/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

84. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views regarding teachers that do not provide critical individual education plans for children with Down's syndrome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5848/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 83 and 84 together.

My Department has very significantly increased the number of special education teachers provided to schools since 2011. 

More than €1.75 billion, almost 19% of the overall spend in the sector, is dedicated to special education.

The additional provision which has been made in recent years includes an increase of 37% in the number of special education teachers allocated to schools, from 9,9740 in 2011, to over 13,300 at present. 

Children can receive additional teaching support based on their learning needs, rather than on a diagnosis of disability.  Parents of children who have Down syndrome have certainty that their children can receive as much additional teaching support as required in school, taking account of school based assessments of their learning needs.

There is no constraint on the amount of additional teaching time that may be allocated to pupils with Down syndrome, based on their diagnosis, or because they may previously have been in the mild general learning difficulty category.

With the increase in the allocation of special education teaching in schools, my Department has also ensured there is provision for planning and co-ordination. 

DES Circulars 0013 and 0014/2017 note that provision is made within the total allocation of special education teachers to schools for planning and co-ordination activities to ensure the most effective  use of the special educational needs hours provided to schools, for children with special educational needs, including children with Down syndrome. 

Schools have a legal duty to provide an appropriate education to all students, including young people with special educational needs, and need to plan to ensure this happens.

Guidelines for schools on educational planning and monitoring of outcomes through the Student Support File, are contained in the Guidelines for Primary and Post primary Schools: Supporting Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Schools.

Planning is a normal part of a teacher’s work and planning tools, like the student support file, have been created as a resource to help schools provide for their students.

It is the view of the Department that planning for the provision of education in schools should include planning for the provision of additional teaching support for pupils in schools, for which coordination and planning time is acknowledged in the allocation.

This would represent a continuation of the good practice that is occurring in the majority of schools.

My Department's July Provision Grant Scheme provides funding for an extended school year for students with severe or profound intellectual disabilities and students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

The scheme was developed to reduce potential regression in learning associated with these specific categories of special education needs over the summer holidays. The scheme does not make provision for children with other categories of Special Education Needs.

The National Council for Special Education’s Policy Advice on Educational Provision for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders was published in July 2016.

The NCSE review found that in general parents value July provision because it provides daytime respite for families and a structured day for students.

However, the NCSE review found a number of problems with the scheme as currently organised.

These include concerns that the scheme may be inequitable because it is not provided to all students with complex special educational needs.

The Council recommended that the relevant Government Departments consider how an equitable national day activity scheme could be developed for all students with complex special educational needs.

The proposed scheme would provide a structured, safe, social environment for all students with complex special educational needs, which might include some children with Down syndrome.

The Department of Education and Skills has convened an Implementation Group with representatives of the NCSE, NEPS, the Inspectorate and representatives from other relevant Departments and agencies to ensure that the Report’s recommendations are fully and appropriately considered.

There are no plans to change the July provision scheme coverage until this work is complete.