Rental Accommodation Standards

Question No. 689 answered with Question No. 684.

Ceisteanna (688)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

688. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on whether there is a conflict of interest in cases in which the local authority is both the enforcement agency and the landlord at the same time; and his plans to rectify the matter in the near future. [8390/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I understand that the Deputy is referring to the matter of standards in respect of social housing.

Minimum standards for rental accommodation are prescribed in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017, which also apply in the case of houses let by housing authorities. These specify requirements in relation to a range of matters, such as structural repair, sanitary facilities, heating, ventilation, natural light, safety of gas, oil and electrical supply and fire. All landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their rented properties comply with these Regulations. Housing authorities are, of course, as landlords, required to comply with these Regulations.

If a person considers that he/she has been adversely affected by a local authority's action, or lack of action, which he/she considers unfair or unreasonable, they can submit a formal complaint to their local authority. The elected members of the local authority also exercise an oversight role in relation to the executive's discharge of their functions. If a person remains dissatisfied with the outcome of their engagement with the local authority, it is open to them to make a complaint to the Ombudsman.

Question No. 689 answered with Question No. 684.

Departmental Contracts Data

Ceisteanna (690)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

690. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to cost overruns on contracts in his Department with a value in excess of €10 million that came in more than 10% over budget in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; if so, the details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8426/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department has not engaged directly in any project costing €10 million or more in the period concerned.

Local authorities and bodies under the aegis of my Department enter into capital contracts in the course of their work, some of which are funded through the Department's Vote. As regards relevant contracts for which local authorities are responsible, information on expenditure and multi-annual capital commitments is set out in Note 2.9/2.10 to the Department's Appropriation Accounts for the years 2016 and 2017 (Vote 34) which are published by the Comptroller and Auditor General and are available at https://www.audit.gov.ie/en/Publications by clicking on "Appropriation Accounts". The Department's 2018 Appropriation Account will be published later this year.

In relation to water services projects, Irish Water has established a team to deal with queries from Oireachtas members on issues arising in relation to Irish Water's activities. The team may be contacted via email to oireachtasmembers@water.ie or by telephone on 1890 578 578.

Housing Issues

Ceisteanna (691)

Seamus Healy

Ceist:

691. Deputy Seamus Healy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when he plans to implement the recommendations of the Kenny report on the price of building land, particularly those recommendations which relate to the control of the price of land in view of the housing crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8485/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Government has taken a multi-faceted approach to address the on-going structural constraints within the housing and residential land markets. In overall terms, the key elements of the Government’s approach are set out in the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness and the National Planning Framework, as part of Project Ireland 2040, building on the provisions of Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, under which up to 10% of land for housing development is made available to local authorities at existing use value.

In terms of the strategic development of the State’s residential land bank, all local authority sites were mapped on the Rebuilding Ireland land map, which is available at the following link: http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/rebuilding-ireland-land-map/. The map includes details of over 700 local authority and Housing Agency owned sites amounting to some 1,700 hectares. The map also includes some 30 sites (comprising circa 200 hectares) in the ownership of State or semi-State bodies. These sites are being brought forward for social and mixed-tenure development.

In order to incentivise the development of vacant and under-utilised sites in urban areas, the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 introduced the vacant site levy. Planning authorities are empowered under the Act to apply a vacant site levy of 3% of the market value of relevant vacant sites subject to qualifying criteria. In Budget 2019, the rate of the levy was increased to 7%.

The recently established Land Development Agency has an immediate focus on managing the State’s own lands to develop new homes, and regenerate under-utilised sites. In the longer-term it will assemble strategic land-banks from a mix of public and private lands, making these available for housing in a controlled manner which brings essential long-term stability to the Irish housing and residential land market. It has an overarching objective to build 150,000 new homes over the next 20 years.

Public Procurement Contracts Data

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (692)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

692. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of State contracts that were not awarded to the lowest tender or bid in each year since 2011 to date in his Department or bodies under the aegis of his Department; the reason the lowest tender or bid was not chosen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8804/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The information requested in respect of the Department is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy in accordance with Standing Orders.

Arrangements have been put in place by each agency under the aegis of the Department to facilitate the provision of information directly to members of the Oireachtas. The contact email addresses for each agency are set out as follows:

Agency

E-mail address

An Bord Pleanála

Oireachtasqueries@pleanala.ie

Ervia, Gas Networks Ireland

oireachtas@ervia.ie

Housing Sustainable Communities Agency

publicreps@housingagency.ie

Housing Finance Agency

oireachtas.enquiries@hfa.ie

Irish Water

oireachtasmembers@water.ie

Local Government Management Agency

corporate@lgma.ie

Ordnance Survey Ireland

Oireachtas@osi.ie

Property Registration Authority

reps@prai.ie

Pyrite Resolution Board

oireachtasinfo@pyriteboard.ie

Residential Tenancies Board

OireachtasMembersQueries@rtb.ie

Valuation Office

oireachtas.enquiries@VALOFF.ie

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A
From the records available to me, there was one contract exceeding €500,000 awarded by my Department under competitive tendering processes since 2011, which was not awarded to the lowest tender or bid. In this case the contract was awarded to the most economically advantageous tender (MEAT).
The most economically advantageous tender (MEAT) is the tender which, following assessment of the award criteria, is the most beneficial to the contracting authority and represents value for money. This typically means a combination of price and quality where quality might include factors such as delivery date or period of completion, delivery process, running costs and technical merit. The contracting authority decides the relative weightings in relation to price and quality.
Details of the relevant contract are set out in the following table:

Year

Details of Contracts (over 500k) where lowest tender not chosen

Reason lowest tender not chosen

2016

Micromail - for Microsoft Enterprise Agreement Licensing

Awarded to Most Economically Advantageous Tender

Wildlife Control

Ceisteanna (693)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

693. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans in relation to the culling of seals (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7675/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I refer the Deputy to the replies provided in response to his previous questions, PQ31811/18 and PQ36101/18.

While seals are a protected species, my Department may issue licenses to cull individual problem seals, and affected persons can apply for such licenses. My Department has no plans to undertake a general cull of seals.

However, on 5th February 2019 representatives of my Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service met in Killarney with fishermen and representatives of the commercial fishing industry based on the Dingle peninsula.

The detailed discussions covered a broad range of issues including current inshore fishing practices and trends, seal predation, behaviour and numbers, as well as the by-catch of seals in fishing gear and the management of seal-fishery interactions.

At the meeting, NPWS undertook to further investigate solutions for deterring seal interactions with static fishing gears and to continue their collaboration with the Marine Institute and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to investigate such problems and their solutions in partnership with the fishing industry.

Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (694)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

694. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if the family of a person (details supplied) who applied for compensation under the turf cutting compensation scheme will qualify for compensation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7726/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

An application for compensation under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme was received by my Department from the individual referred to in the Deputy’s Question. With respect to 53 raised bog special areas of conservation sites, the qualifying criteria for the scheme are that:

- The applicant must have had a legal interest (ownership or a turbary right (right to cut turf)) in one of these sites on 25 May 2010 and must have had the right to cut and remove turf from the property on that date;

- The applicant must have been cutting turf on the land in question during the relevant five year period up to 31 December 2011;

- The turf resource on the site has not been exhausted; and

- No turf cutting or associated activity is ongoing on the property.

A letter was issued from my Department requesting further information in relation to the application. I am advised also that officials from my Department have recently been in contact with a view to progressing the case.

My Department will be in a position to further process the application when the information requested has been received.

Built Heritage Investment Scheme

Ceisteanna (695)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

695. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the funding available in relation to the maintenance of Celtic crosses (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7682/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My Department is responsible for the care and conservation of Celtic crosses that are in my ownership or guardianship as national monuments in accordance with the National Monuments Acts. They are maintained on a day-to-day basis by the Office of Public Works, in consultation with the Department. Such monuments located within graveyards owned by local authorities are a matter for the local authorities concerned. There is a requirement in all cases for Ministerial Consent under Section 14 of the National Monuments Act 1930 (as amended) with respect to works at or in the vicinity of any national monument.

My Department provides financial support for the protection of heritage buildings and historic structures through grant schemes which are generally administered by the local authorities.

The Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS) provides assistance for the repair and conservation of structures on the local authority Record of Protected Structures. It is designed to leverage private capital for investment in small scale conservation projects across the country and to support the employment of skilled conservation professionals, tradespersons and craftsmen and women.

The Historic Structures Fund (HSF) (formerly the Structures at Risk Fund) is for conservation and enhancement to heritage structures, in both private and public ownership, for the benefit of communities and the public.

In November 2018, I announced a total of €4.3 million in funding for the BHIS and HSF for 2019. Both schemes were open for applications from 28 November to 31 January and applications will be assessed with successful applicants being notified in due course.

While the closing date for the 2019 schemes has now passed, my Department will remain in contact with local authorities throughout the year to ensure the best possible use of funding, including by reallocating funds when, for example, projects do not go ahead.

Full details of both of the schemes are available on my Department’s and local authorities' websites.

The Heritage Council, which my Department funds, also provides grants for the protection and preservation of our architectural heritage. It is primarily a matter for the Heritage Council to decide how its funding should be allocated across the range of research, education and conservation programmes it supports. Details are published by the Heritage Council on its website www.heritagecouncil.ie.

Education Grants

Ceisteanna (696, 697)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

696. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the grants available for both mainstream and non-mainstream music education; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7989/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Tom Neville

Ceist:

697. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the details of non-mainstream music education bursary schemes for 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8150/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 696 and 697 together.

My Department, and the bodies under its aegis, provide a number of supports for music and musicians.

The Arts Council is the principal agency through which current funding is channelled to artists and arts organisations and has a wide number of schemes and initiatives in support of music. Details of the Council's funding of schemes and initiatives for the particular support of music can be found on its websites at the following link http://www.artscouncil.ie/Arts-in-Ireland/Music/. These include funding for a number of bursaries including a music bursary award to support professional artists to develop their art practice. I understand that applicants are only eligible to apply for such funding on reaching 18.

The National Concert Hall (NCH) has a programme for Musicians and Music Students that offers a variety of initiatives to develop young musicians. These include a range of competitive bursaries including the Young Musician’s Award for String Players, which is a fund of €10,000 awarded every second year and which is open to players between the ages of 13 -17; the Bernadette Greevy Bursary for singers, which is a €5,000 award, part-funded by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; and the Jerome Hynes Composition Competition, which is a €2,000 bursary for young composers.

Funding has been also provided to the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition which is a triennial international classical singing competition held in Dublin. This is an established Irish musical event of international standing which invites the most talented young singers to compete on this global stage, with a star-studded Jury, international press coverage and exposure to the most influential people in the industry.

The NCH offers a wide range of other initiatives designed to foster the development of young musicians. These include masterclasses and workshops presented by visiting artists; a development orchestra called SinfoNua; the Female Conductor Programme, a major new project encouraging women into the world of orchestral conducting; and a new summer programme, the International Master Course, for high-level students and emerging professionals. For younger musicians, the NCH also partners with the Royal Irish Academy of Music on the Primary Ensemble Project, a programme supporting the development of music ensembles in primary schools.

In addition, Creative Ireland's Creative Youth Plan, launched in December 2017, seeks to ensure that every child in Ireland has practical access to tuition, experience and participation in music, drama, art and coding by 2022. This Plan is being led by my Department, the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Arts Council, all working in partnership. The Creative Schools programme is one of the key deliverables of the Creative Youth Plan. Following an open application process, 150 schools were selected for the pilot in the school year running from 2018 to 2019. These schools have approximately 38,000 pupils. Music is the focus of a number of the Creative Plans being developed by these schools in conjunction with their creative associates.

In addition to curricular provision for music at both primary and post-primary levels, the Department of Education and Skills currently supports the Music Generation initiatives, in respect of a wide number of local Music Education Partnerships (MEPs). I understand that Music Generation is being expanded nationwide over the period to 2022 and that they are currently in phase 2 of their three phase expansion plan.

Under the National Creativity Fund, developed under the Creative Ireland Programme, I recently announced the foundation of the first national youth orchestra for disabled musicians in Ireland - Le Chéile. This is a collaborative, inclusive and exciting step for the country’s musical youth; the orchestra will be developed through the Royal Irish Academy of Music’s (RIAM). Le Chéile will develop musical ensembles for young disabled musicians in every province in Ireland, culminating in the foundation of the Open Youth Orchestra of Ireland (OYOI) – the very first of its kind in Europe.

Funding to local authorities, under the Creative Ireland Programme in 2018, resulted in over 1200 events taking place across the county, of which over 120 were specially related to music events. A large number of these were specifically for children and young people.

In addition to the above, the following initiatives by my Department are targeted towards support for music.

- Annual funding is provided by my Department to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCÉ) for its work in the protection and promotion of Irish traditional music and culture. CCÉ provides weekly classes at community level in all traditional instruments, singing, and dance through its network of centres and branches all over the country.

- The National Folk Theatre, Siamsa Tire, which receives annual funding from my Department, brings to life Irish folklore through music, song and dance.

- My Department provides funding for the purchase of equipment under the Music Capital Scheme to performing groups and individual talented musicians on an annual basis. The Scheme is managed by Music Network on behalf of my Department.

- Culture Ireland, provides supports for Irish artists and musicians to travel abroad and develop their careers.

I would also add that my Department provides funding to many different orchestras. In terms of music and ensuring that it is a vital part of cultural life in Ireland, my department provides funding for the cross border orchestra of Ireland and the peace proms. The Department provides annual funding to the Cross-Border Orchestra Peace Proms in which 20,000 children from 250 schools across the island of Ireland participate. The Proms provide a vital platform for young people to showcase their musical talent.

The Deputy may also note that last October I announced, with the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, joint funding of €9 million for the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM) to assist in the re-development of its historic Westland Row premises. This is capital funding and is being provided under the National Development Plan 2018-2027 which commits to exchequer investments of €1.2 billion in our cultural heritage and €2.2 billion in Ireland’s higher education infrastructure over the coming decade. In this case my Department is allocating €3m to the project, with the Department of Education and Skills allocating €6m, to give a total exchequer contribution of €9m.

Support for music and musicians will continue to be a key focus of the supports provided by my Department and its agencies, and more broadly by Government in the context of the Creative Ireland programme.

Architectural Heritage

Ceisteanna (698)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

698. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans for the restoration of a building (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8334/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My role as Minister with regard to the protection and management of our architectural heritage is set out in the provisions of relevant legislation, as are the role of local authorities and the responsibilities of owners.

The buildings referred to by the Deputy are in local authority ownership. In relation to the first building, I understand the local authority is working to assess the potential to redevelop and find a long term sustainable use for it. As part of this process I am informed that an appraisal of the building was carried out by consultants on behalf of the local authority, a public consultation was held and a report was presented to the local authority in April 2018.

My Department provides financial support for the protection of heritage buildings and historic structures through the Historical Structures Fund (HSF) and the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS), which are administered by local authorities. This year I have allocated €1.8m and €2.5m respectively to these schemes.

While the closing date for the 2019 schemes has now passed, my Department will remain in contact with local authorities throughout the year to ensure the best possible use of funding, including by reallocating funds when, for example, projects do not go ahead. Full details of both of the schemes are available on my Department’s website and on each local authority’s website. The building in question, a very fine one indeed, is in the ownership of the local authority and it is a matter for it in the first instance.

I provided funding of €1m in 2018, and again in 2019 for the Historic Towns Initiative (HTI), which is a joint initiative of my Department and the Heritage Council. The HTI supported six historic towns in 2018 in carrying out significant heritage regeneration projects. I understand that the local authority applied for and was awarded funding under the HTI 2018 for works to the one of the buildings mentioned by the Deputy, but the application was later withdrawn by the local authority pending their consideration of a long term plan for the future of the building.

In terms of future funding, Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018 – 2027 represents a major capital investment scheme of €1.2 billion over the next 10 years, which will include increased investment in protecting and celebrating our built heritage across the country. More details on the commencement and completion dates for projects and programmes, as well as the timing of the expenditure in relation to them, will emerge as we go through the process of appraisal and planning as required under the Public Spending Code.

Cúrsaí Oidhreachta

Ceisteanna (699)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

699. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an raibh aon chomhráití aici leis an Aire Gnóthaí Eachtracha agus Trádála maidir le hiarratas a dhéanamh chuig na húdaráis sa Vatacán chun iarracht eile a dhéanamh teacht ar chnámha Aodh Ó Néill i Séipéal San Pietro sa Róimh, mar gheall ar an tábhacht stairiúil a bhaineann le hAodh Ó Néill; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [8409/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Bhí clár comórtha speisialta ann ag comóradh 400 bliain ó 'Eitilt na n-Iarlaí'. Eagraíodh imeachtaí ar fud na hÉireann, trasna na hEorpa agus chríochnaigh an clár sa Róimh.

Tá a fhios agam nach raibh rath ar na hiarrachtaí chun aon iarsmaí de chuid Aodh Ó Néill in eaglais Naomh Pietro a aimsiú agus a aithint. Níl aon phleananna ag an am seo le haghaidh cuardaigh eile.

Departmental Contracts Data

Ceisteanna (700)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

700. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if her attention has been drawn to cost overruns on contracts within her Department with a value in excess of €10 million that came in more than 10% over budget in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; if so, the details of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8419/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I am advised that Phase 3 of the Master Development Plan of the National Gallery of Ireland, including refurbishment of the Dargan and Milltown Wings, was completed in 2017.

The initial estimated cost of this project in 2010 was €25.8 million. Following the commencement of work in 2011 and taking account of unexpected structural issues encountered during the build, projected costs were revised to €31.4m.

Taking into account inflation during the course of the project the final cost came to €31.7 million, an increase of €5.9m or 23% over the initial 2010 estimate, of which my Department contributed €16 million, with a further €3.6m provided by the OPW and €12.1m provided by the National Gallery of Ireland from its own non-exchequer resources .

The final cost is subject to residual claims which have yet to be finalised. As the Deputy will appreciate, where the settlement of residual claims is ongoing, it would be inappropriate for me to comment publicly pending the resolution of such claims.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (701)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

701. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the salary budget allocated by her Department and all agencies under her aegis in each of the years January 2015 to December 2018; the drawdown of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8446/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The Exchequer Pay allocations for my Department and the bodies under its aegis for each of the years 2015 to 2018 are included in the Annual Revised Estimates for the years in question published at https://www.per.gov.ie/en/rev/. The exchequer pay outturns for 2015, 2016, and 2017 for my Department and the bodies under its aegis are contained in the Annual Appropriation Account, published by the Comptroller and Auditor General at https://www.audit.gov.ie/en/Find-Report/Publications/Appropriation%20Accounts/. The 2018 exchequer pay outturn for my Department and the bodies under its aegis will be contained in my Department’s 2018 Appropriation Account which will be published by the Comptroller and Auditor General later this year.

Public Procurement Contracts Data

Ceisteanna (702)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

702. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of State contracts that were not awarded to the lowest tender or bid in each year since 2011 to date in her Department or bodies under the aegis of her Department; the reason the lowest tender or bid was not chosen; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8802/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I wish to confirm to the Deputy that both my Department and those bodies under its aegis are subject to Public Procurement Procedures as set out by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. These are available on the Office of Government Procurement’s website at www.ogp.gov.ie.

Within this context I would also advise the Deputy that the normal practice is for contracts to be awarded on the basis of the most economically advantageous tender received by reference to predefined criteria rather than on the criterion of lowest cost.

In light of the large volume of information requested by the Deputy, arrangements are being made for the information requested to be collated and forwarded to the Deputy in line with the timelines set out in Standing Orders.