Abbey Theatre

Ceisteanna (45)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

45. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of talks between representatives of staff and performers and a theatre (details supplied). [16754/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

As Minister for Culture, I have responsibility for setting overall vision and strategic direction for Ireland’s cultural sector. In the first instance, issues raised by Theatre practitioners should and are being resolved by dialogue between the Theatre Chair and Board, directors and the theatre practitioners. The Theatre in question and all theatre practitioners are a central part of our national culture and I have taken their concerns very seriously. It should also be noted that the Arts Council has been engaging with the Theatre in recent months about the employment opportunities and remuneration rates it provides for Irish based artists rates.

I would like to thank both the Theatre Practitioners and the Theatre for providing me with updates on the dialogue process to date. It is valuable for me and my Department to hear directly from the Theatre Practitioners and the Theatre on how concerns are being addressed and I appreciate them for taking the time to update me.

I was encouraged to read the statement issued on behalf of both parties after the conclusion of the first dialogue meeting on the 1st February, which stated that the meeting was a positive and productive first step for the Theatre Practitioners and the Theatre. However, I understood that there were a number of concerns which were outlined by the Theatre Practitioners that required continuing discussions and negotiations in order for a satisfactory outcome to be delivered. I am pleased to report that five meetings have now taken place between representatives of the Theatre Practitioners and the Theatre since the first dialogue meeting on the 1st February.

The schedule of meetings is as follows:

March 12: Actors and Agents;

March 15: Designers;

March 19: Directors;

March 22: Playwrights; and

March 27: Producers and Theatre Technicians.

I have been informed that these meetings were informative, constructive and productive. I am very supportive of the collective endeavours of the practitioners and the theatre to resolve the matters raised and welcome the commitment to dialogue and engagement. I look forward to a mutually satisfactory outcome.

Architectural Heritage

Ceisteanna (46)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

46. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if the physical condition of a building is considered when it is listed in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16713/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My functions as Minister with regard to the protection of our architectural heritage are set out in the Planning and Development Acts, as are the responsibilities of local authorities and owners. Part IV of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, gives primary responsibility to planning authorities to identify and protect the architectural heritage by including particular structures on the Record of Protected Structures (RPS).  

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH) was established by the Architectural Heritage (National Inventory) and Historic Monuments (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1999. Its purpose is to identify, record, and evaluate the post-1700 architectural heritage of Ireland as an aid in its protection. 

As Minister, I can make recommendations to planning authorities for buildings and structures to be included on the Record of Protected Structures and these recommendations arise from the survey of the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH). Inclusion on the RPS places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers to deal with development proposals affecting them and to seek to safeguard their future. The final decision as to inclusion of a building or structure on the RPS, however, is a reserved function of the relevant planning authority. 

The surveys are also a research and educational resource which, it is hoped, will increase public awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the post-1700 architectural heritage in Ireland.

The NIAH does not take the physical condition of a building into consideration when selecting and recording sites, structures or buildings of architectural heritage significance. The Planning and Development Act 2000 defines architectural heritage as structures or parts of structures which are of Architectural, Historical, Archaeological, Artistic, Cultural, Scientific, Social or Technical interest. The Categories of Special Interest can be seen as a list of criteria to be considered when evaluating a structure. The categories are not mutually exclusive and a structure may be attributed with several of the categories. The Act makes no reference to physical condition as a means of evaluating the significance of a site, structure or building.

The NIAH records a broad range of buildings, including those which are fully habitable and in use, as well as derelict houses and ruined castles. Most NIAH records are made through a visual, exterior only, inspection. A physical condition evaluation is an entirely different function and should only be undertaken by a suitably qualified historic buildings professional who has full access to all aspects of the relevant site, structure or building, including the interior, attic and basement spaces, as applicable.

Arts and Culture Capital Scheme

Ceisteanna (47)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

47. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when the capital scheme for arts and cultural facilities will open; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16748/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Project Ireland 2040 has given explicit recognition to the importance of our culture, language and heritage.  Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018-2027 sets out the Government’s objectives for capital investment in Ireland’s culture, language and heritage. The plan includes a total of  €40 million, or €4 million in each of the 10 years from 2018 to 2027 to secure existing investment in arts and culture infrastructure nationwide and ensure a regional balance.  A total of €3.9m was spent in 2018.  This level of investment will ensure the upkeep of regional infrastructure right across the country.

The recent Arts and Culture Capital Scheme allocated €10.214m to 134 projects under three complementary grant streams for the refurbishment and enhancement of the existing arts and culture facilities throughout the country.  Over €1.5m of this was drawn down in 2018 and over €8m remains to be paid out over the coming years.  This is the most significant investment in cultural infrastructure in a decade with funding provided to arts centres, theatres, galleries and museums, artists’ studios and creative spaces. The list of these projects with the amounts of their allocations is available on my Department’s website.

My Department is currently examining options for a new round of grant funding for Arts and Cultural Capital and I will revert to the Deputy in due course on this matter.

Commemorative Events

Ceisteanna (48)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

48. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the supports available to local authorities, including Kildare County Council, under the community strand of the commemorative programme offered by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16672/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My objective in approaching the development of the State Commemorative Programme for the years from 2019 to 2023 is to ensure that, in remembering this complex period in our history, which includes the Struggle for Independence, the Civil War, the Foundation of the State, and Partition, we promote a deeper understanding of the significance of these events, which accepts that the shared historical experience of those years gave rise to very different narratives and memories. 

My aim is to provide a supportive structure that ensures that these, often deeply personal, events are remembered at county and community level in a respectful, measured, and non-partisan manner. I believe that local authorities have a significant role in encouraging appropriate and authentic citizen engagement, debate, and analysis, which is sensitive to the local context.

Under the Community Strand of the commemorative programme for the coming period, I am encouraging a collaborative approach - similar to that adopted for the 1916 centenary commemorations - between the State, local authority network and community organisations.

It is, I believe, very fitting that local authorities have a leading role in supporting inclusive and meaningful community-led commemorations which remember all of the lives lost, augmented as appropriate with support from the State, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

In recognition of the very important role that local authorities have played to date, and will continue to have, my Department hosted a special Decade of Centenaries forum for the local authorities on 13th March. This event offered an important and timely opportunity to share their learnings to date with each other and also their views on how they plan to navigate the period ahead. 

I might add that officials from Kildare County Council gave a very insightful and informative, shared presentation at the forum, which was very positively received.  I am very encouraged to learn that local authorities have already given significant and thoughtful consideration as to how they will plan for commemorations at county and community level over the remainder of the Decade.  

This year, I approved a funding allocation of €10,000 for each local authority, including Kildare County Council, to support their commemorative programming this year. Funding allocations for local authorities over the coming years will be considered as part of the annual estimates budgetary processes.

Defence Forces Allowances

Ceisteanna (49)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

49. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the annual budget for the security duty allowance in each of the years from 2012 to 2019, inclusive. [16798/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Provision for Security Duty Allowance is included within the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) Allowances Subhead of the Defence Vote. The annual provision for Security Duty Allowance and actual outturn for the years in question is as follows.

Year

Provision

Outturn

2012

€11.2m

€10.9m

2013

€9.6m

€9.8m

2014

€8.1m

€8.1m

2015

€8.1m

€7.7m

2016

€8.2m

€8.2m

2017

€8.2m

€7.9m

2018

€8.2m

€8.1m

2019

€8.2m

 

Consular Services

Ceisteanna (50)

Seamus Healy

Ceist:

50. Deputy Seamus Healy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of the case of a person (details supplied) with a view to a return to his or her family due to personal circumstances and declining health; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16874/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, through the Irish Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consular Assistance Unit in Dublin, has been providing extensive consular assistance to this citizen and his family since 2011.

The Government has been active in supporting this citizen's request to return to Ireland and my Department, through the Irish Embassy in Abu Dhabi, continues to engage with the local Foreign Ministry and other relevant local authorities on this matter.

Officials from the Irish Embassy in Abu Dhabi and my Department's Consular Assistance Unit remain available to provide this citizen and his family with all possible consular assistance.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (51, 52)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

51. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance the timescale for tax relief available for young farmers (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16775/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

52. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance if a young trained farmer claimed tax relief of €22,500 in 2008, if this amount will be taken into account in relation to the new €70,000 lifetime threshold of tax relief for young farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16782/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 51 and 52 together.

Commission Regulation (EU) No. 702/2014 of 25 June 2014, commonly known as the Agricultural Block Exemption Regulation (ABER), is the Regulation under which certain categories of State aid can be granted for the agricultural and forestry sectors.

Article 18 of the ABER sets out the specific requirements for the granting of aid for young farmers and the development of small farms.  It stipulates, inter alia, that the amount of aid per young farmer is to be limited to €70,000.  This limit applies to the cumulative aid received under all schemes covered by Article 18 of the ABER.  The relevant schemes are: 

- stock relief under section 667B Taxes Consolidation Act 1997;

- farm succession partnerships under section 667D Taxes Consolidation Act 1997; and

- transfers of land to young trained farmers under section 81AA Stamp Duties Consolidation Act 1999.

The €70,000 limit is per young farmer and I am advised by Revenue that there is no five-year rolling relief available.

The ABER entered into force on 1 July 2014 and has had direct effect in all Member States since that date. Accordingly, any tax relief granted in 2008 does not have any bearing on the €70,000 limit introduced in 2014.

Customs and Excise Staff

Ceisteanna (53)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

53. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Finance the number of customs officers recruited to date in 2019 with regard to Brexit; his plans to recruit additional customs officers in 2019; the procedure to be adopted to recruit suitable personnel for these positions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16830/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

In September 2018, the Government granted approval in principle for the phased recruitment of an additional 600 Revenue staff to meet the challenges posed by Brexit.

Revenue has appointed over 470 staff from open recruitment and interdepartmental competitions since the start of 2019, the majority of these have been assigned to customs roles or to backfill existing Revenue staff assigned to customs duties.

These posts have been filled by the recruitment of new staff from the Public Appointments Service, and from internal and interdepartmental competitions. As serving staff are taking up their new Brexit related positions, Revenue is backfilling the vacancies created through panels of candidates established from its general recruitment activity.

Over 400 staff have completed customs training in preparation for Brexit.  A further 80 staff are to complete customs training during April 2019.

Revenue is an integrated tax and customs administration, resources are deployed based on the evolving business needs to tackle any risks as they emerge.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, Revenue has panels and training plans in place to appoint additional staff required for Brexit during 2019.

VAT Rate Increases

Ceisteanna (54)

James Browne

Ceist:

54. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Finance the reason his reply to Parliamentary Question No. 141 on 14 November 2018 stated that the Revenue Commissioners have only ever allowed the zero rate to be applied to basic vitamins, minerals and fish oils and the situation remains unchanged in view of the fact that his reply to Parliamentary Question No. 51, on 11 October 2018, stated that uncertainty remains as to which food supplements qualify for the zero rate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16905/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The background to this issue is that VAT legislation does not apply the zero rate of VAT to food supplements but shortly after the introduction of VAT Revenue applied a concessionary zero rating to certain vitamin, mineral and fish oil food supplement products. As the market developed over the years this treatment resulted in the zero rating by Revenue of further similar products, including products other than vitamins, minerals and fish oils, and these rulings were published in Revenue’s VAT rates database. The evolution of the scope of the concessionary treatment of certain types of food supplements was well understood by the industry and by agents representing clients in the food supplements sector, and this is reflected in Revenue’s correspondence with taxpayers involved in this business and their agents, in its discussions with the Irish Health Trade Association (IHTA) and in the content of its VAT rates database.

In the operation of this concessionary treatment, it had become increasingly difficult to maintain an effective distinction between food supplements that could benefit from the zero rate and those that were standard rated, resulting in a situation in which elements in the industry and certain agents aggressively pursued zero rating of all kinds of products, including products claiming to enhance male fertility, promote hair growth, boost tanning, avoid a hangover, build muscle and reduce stress. These businesses consistently challenged Revenue guidance and Revenue decisions on the VAT rating of products giving rise to serious concerns about compliance within the industry and unfair competition between compliant and non-compliant businesses.

The IHTA raised concerns with Revenue about the difficulties in distinguishing between food supplement products which could be zero rated and those which should be standard rated. In response, Revenue undertook a comprehensive review of the VAT treatment of food supplements and engaged an expert to advise on the definition of food for the purposes of the VAT Consolidation Act, 2010. Based on the expert advice and its own legal analysis, Revenue concluded that the status quo was no longer sustainable and engaged with my Department concerning policy options that might be considered in the context of Finance Bill 2018.

I decided not to introduce any legislative changes at that time but as the Deputy may be aware I have committed to putting in place a consultation process to help me identify the policy options in relation to VAT on food supplements and will publish the conclusions in the Tax Strategy Papers later this year. I envisage seeking input from a wide range of interested parties, including from health and nutrition experts, to ensure that any legislative changes I bring forward are evidence based, and I will consult with my colleague the Minister for Health in this regard.  Details on the public consultation will be announced shortly.

Insurance Compensation Fund

Ceisteanna (55)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

55. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if a court date has been set for the withdrawal of funds from the insurance compensation fund in relation to a company (details supplied); if so, the date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16907/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

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

The Deputy will be aware that under the Insurance Act 1964, as amended, monies may only be paid out of the Insurance Compensation Fund (ICF), with the approval of the High Court.  

The liquidator of Setanta has informed me that since the last application was submitted in November 2018, a further 126 personal injury claims have now been settled and these will be included in the next application to the Fund together with a number of  legal costs payments and third party property

damage claims.  The latest information from the liquidator estimates that the total value of the next tranche will be approximately €8.3 million. 

In relation to when the next payments will be made, the State Claims Agency  have advised that the preparatory work  on this tranche of payments has now been completed and while it was hoped to arrange a court date during April, the court date provided by the High Court is the 13 May.  This will allow for the payments to issue towards the end of May or early June.  Any individual (or their solicitor) who has queries about their payment should contact the liquidator via phone at +353 (0)818 255 255 or via email at iesetanta@deloitte.ie.

Financial Services Regulation

Ceisteanna (56)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

56. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when legislation to better regulate personal contract plans in line with the conclusions from the review of regulation of personal contract plans will be introduced; his plans to introduce amending legislation to the Consumer Credit Act 1995; his further plans to introduce legislation that will force PCP providers to be regulated by the Central Bank; if the consumer protection code will be applied to PCP providers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16909/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

It is important to keep the market for the provision of financial services under review to ensure that the level of consumer protection continues to be robust.  In this context, last summer I asked Mr. Michael Tutty to conduct a review of the PCP market and regulatory structure and his report was subsequently published by my Department in November. That report found that there was currently no evidence of significant consumer detriment arising from PCPs but nevertheless it set out a number of conclusions and recommendations to help avoid possible problems arising in the future.  Among these it suggested that legal advice should be obtained on, inter alia, the precise legal status of PCPs and on the scope and means of ensuring that relevant provisions of the Central Bank Consumer Protection Code, such as the Code's provisions on "Knowing the Consumer and Suitability", should apply to the providers of PCP agreements to consumers.

My Department is currently consulting the Office of the Attorney General on these queries and it is expected that a response will shortly be received.  When it is to hand and in the light of the content of the advice, my Department will then further engage with the Central Bank, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission on the further steps as may be required or desirable, such as the need for additional legislation, in order to advance the Tutty Report recommendations.

Small and Medium Enterprises Supports

Ceisteanna (57)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

57. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the take-up of the key employee engagement programme in each month since its establishment; the number of companies that have availed of the scheme in each of these months by multinational companies and SME companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16910/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

S128F of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for the Key Employee Engagement Programme (KEEP) which came into effect on 1 January 2018. The aim of the incentive is to support SMEs in Ireland in competing with larger enterprises to recruit and retain key employees, by way of a targetted share option programme.

I am advised by Revenue that the ‘KEEP 1’ returns in relation to shares issued in 2018, which was the first year of the Programme, were due to be filed by 31 March 2019. Returns received to date indicate that 38 employees have received shares under the KEEP incentive.  

Due to Revenue’s obligation to maintain taxpayer confidentiality, it does not disclose information in circumstances where the number of cases is so small that it might facilitate identification of the taxpayers involved. For this reason, Revenue cannot provide the level of detail requested by the Deputy at this time.

Finally, I would like to make the Deputy aware that I intend to carry out a public consultation process on the KEEP incentive, which will take place during Q2 2019, and will include all relevant stakeholders. It is my intention to ensure that the incentive operates in an efficient and effective manner, as a targetted SME support measure.

Employment Investment Incentive Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (58, 59)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

58. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of applications for tax relief certificates under the employment and investment incentive scheme in each year since its creation and in each month of 2018; the number of applications awaiting processing and approval, respectively, by the Revenue Commissioners; the average time between original application and final approval for tax relief certificates under the scheme, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16911/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

59. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of outstanding applications for tax relief certificates under the employment and investment incentive scheme awaiting processing and approval by the Revenue Commissioners at the end of each month in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16912/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 58 and 59 together.

With regard to the Deputy’s first question on the number of applications for tax relief certificates under the Employment and Investment Incentive scheme (EII) in each year since its creation and in each month of 2018, Revenue have provided me with the following data: 

Table 1: No. of applications for EII Scheme 2012 – 2019

YEAR

QUALIFYING COMPANIES

2012

78

2013

190

2014

239

2015

279

2016

261

2017

289

2018

389

2019

178

Table 2: No. of Applications for EII Scheme 2018

MONTH

QUALIFYING COMPANIES

January

45

February

38

March

31

April

38

May

29

June

23

July

25

August

24

September

23

October

  59*

November

 

December

54

* The number of applications in October/November is combined. The system of recording was changed and exact figures for the individual months are not available.

With regard to the Deputy’s question on the number of applications awaiting processing and approval, Revenue have provided me with the following data on the number of applications under EII which are currently in progress as of March 2019, the most recent month for which data are available. These figures include applications received to date in 2019.

Table 4: No. of applications for EII Scheme in progress 2019

YEAR

QUALIFYING COMPANIES

January

104

February

105

March

102

With regard to the Deputy’s question on the average time taken between original application and the final approval, I am advised by Revenue that it is not possible to give an average time taken to issue a decision regarding approval or rejection. Applications received have varying levels of complexity, some will take longer to carry out the level of examination required than others. Equally, where a full application, with all supporting documentation, is received a decision will issue more quickly than a case where additional information and clarifications must be sought.  Currently, over 80% of applications received require follow-on correspondence before a determination can issue.

As the Deputy will be aware, a review of the EII scheme was carried out and substantial changes to the operational design of the scheme were implemented in Finance Act 2018.  The design of the scheme has been amended such that it may now be claimed in the same was as other similar tax reliefs on a self-assessment basis. Accordingly, for all investments in qualifying companies from 1 January 2019 there is no longer a requirement to receive prior certification from Revenue. For investments made up to and including 31 December 2018 Revenue certification is still required.

With regard to the Deputy’s question on the number of outstanding applications for tax relief certificates under EII awaiting processing and approval by the Revenue Commissioners at the end of each month in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, Revenue have provided me with the following data:

Table 5: 2016 Total Applications Outstanding

MONTH

QUALIFYING COMPANIES

January

29

February

50

March

43

April

29

May

18

June

26

July

18

August

28

September

38

October

 65

November

34

December

35

Table 6: 2017 Total Applications Outstanding

MONTH

QUALIFYING COMPANIES

January

59

February

52

March

84

April

98

May

76

June

49

July

88

August

164

September

186

October

 277

November

189

December

187

Table 7: 2018 Total Applications In Progress

MONTH

QUALIFYING COMPANIES

January

226

February

251

March

261

April

289

May

294

June

281

July

293

August

300

September

257

October

261

November

124

December

115

I am further advised by Revenue that figures prior to August 2017 (Table 5 and Table 6 above) represent unworked items only (i.e. where no processing had yet taken place), while those after August 2017 include items in respect of which a final answer had not yet issued. Therefore, a file was not identified as outstanding in July 2017 where correspondence was sent to a taxpayer requesting more information and that information was still awaited at the end of the month. That file, from August 2017, is identified as an outstanding work item. These changes in the recording of the statistics, which allowed for a more accurate representation of the level of the work outstanding, account for the large spike in the numbers in the latter part of 2017. 

Finally, I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department is continuing to look at the scheme in conjunction with Revenue, and in consultation with other stakeholders, with a view to ensuring that it operates efficiently and effectively.

Central Bank of Ireland Reports

Ceisteanna (60)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

60. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his plans to introduce legislation to bring accountability to the banking industry in line with the recommendations by the Central Bank in section 6A of its report on the culture and behaviour of the main retail banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16913/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As the Deputy will be aware, I am on record stating that I am committed to increasing individual accountability in the financial sector. On foot of a request I made to the Governor of the Central Bank for a review of the culture and behaviour within the retail banking sector in Ireland, the Behaviour and Culture of the Irish Retail Banks report was published in July 2018.

Since then, officials from my Department have undertaken a detailed analysis of the proposals, which has been informed by extensive discussions with the Central Bank and learnings from HM Treasury's experience of the UK Senior Managers' Regime as well as other international examples.

The officials are now engaging with the Attorney General's Office to obtain formal legal advice on the proposals.

I had previously stated in this House, that I intended to seek Cabinet approval to draft the Heads of Bill by the end of Quarter 1 2019. 

However, it has been necessary to adjust this timeline in order to accommodate urgent Brexit-related legislation and I expect that it will be some months before the draft Bill/Scheme goes to Government with its associated Regulatory Impact Analysis.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (61)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

61. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the pre-committed capital expenditure from 2019 to 2024 or the latest available date as a percentage of GDP and in gross terms in tabular form. [16863/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Development Plan, published last year, demonstrates the Government’s commitment to meeting Ireland’s infrastructure and investment requirements over the next 10 years, through a total estimated investment of €116 billion over the period to 2027.  In 2019, capital expenditure of €7.3 billion represents an increase of approximately €1.4 billion or 24% over the 2018 outturn figure. 

Although the NDP set out gross voted capital expenditure allocations on a Ministerial level for the period 2018 – 2022, these figures can only be viewed as indicative allocations and not pre-commitments until such time as they are finalised in the Revised Estimates Volume and approved in the Dáil through a Vote.  I expect that it will be necessary to make some moderate adjustments to the published allocations over the period, however, I believe that any amendments will be modest and will not pose any material effect on Departmental allocations. Thus, NDP gives a very clear signal of Government's long term capital spending plans.

While my Department sets the capital allocations for Departments and the delegated sanction arrangements under which Departments make their spending decisions, the actual roll-out of particular capital projects and programmes is, of course, managed by the individual line Departments and their agencies who are responsible for project and programme delivery.

As the NDP states, each Government Department is responsible for ensuring that its proposed projects meet with appropriate regulatory requirements including those related to planning law and environmental impact assessments. Departments must also ensure that individual projects and investment proposals meet all of the relevant appraisal processes and value-for-money tests required under the Public Spending Code, before Exchequer resources are ultimately expended on

the relevant projects. Individual Departments also have the obligation to manage any multi-annual contractual commitments within the terms of their sanction.

Voluntary Homeowners Relocation Scheme

Ceisteanna (62)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

62. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of applications received from each county under the OPW's home relocation scheme on foot of the severe flooding of winter 2015 and 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16868/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

On April 11th 2017, the Government agreed the administrative arrangements for a once-off Voluntary Homeowners Relocation Scheme for those primary residential properties that flooded between 4th December, 2015 and 13th January, 2016. This is a national scheme of humanitarian assistance, targeting aid at those worst affected properties, for which there are no alternative feasible measures.

The Government decision confirmed that a homeowner had to meet a number of conditions to be eligible for assistance under this scheme, including:

- That floodwater entered and damaged the building during or as a result of flooding during relevant dates such as to render it uninhabitable;

- That the property was the homeowner’s primary residence at the time of the floods;

- That the affected property must have a significant probability of the recurrence of the flood depth, duration or frequency on a scale that could cause further serious and similar damage to the home;

- That the property is not due to or may not benefit from a planned or possible future major, minor or individual flood defence scheme;

- That the property may not be protected adequately from being flooded in the future, at an economically feasible cost, through other flood mitigation works including minor works, individual property protection or other possible measures that can be considered at this time; and

- That the homeowner is unable to obtain flood risk insurance.

A total of 169 properties were identified by the local authorities and the direct Expressions of Interest as being potentially eligible to apply. Following an initial assessment of these that included meetings with individual families:

- 12 properties are being protected with engineering solutions, funded by the Minor Works Scheme and/or the Remedial Works Scheme funded by the Voluntary Homeowners Relocation Scheme;

- 28 properties are being considered for an engineering solution including Remedial Works under this scheme. If no engineering solution is identified these homeowners will revert to individual consideration under the scheme; and

- 38 were invited to apply for the scheme.

The balance are properties that are being or will be protected by major flood defence schemes or in a small number of cases people who did not engage with the voluntary scheme. 

The overall number of homes currently under consideration for the Scheme is relatively low, which presents a risk that individual homeowners could be identified by providing data on a county level.  For that reason, it is not possible to provide figures at county level as requested by the Deputy.

Office of Public Works

Ceisteanna (63)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

63. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 93 of 6 March 2019, if a site visit has taken place; if a decision has been made on an application to remove a burden on the lands of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16899/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I can confirm that an Office of Public Works (OPW) Property Manager visited the site in March 2019.  The application to remove the burden on the lands of the person referred to by the Deputy is currently being considered by my officials and a decision will issue shortly.

Office of Public Works Properties

Ceisteanna (64)

James Browne

Ceist:

64. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding the use of a building (details supplied) by the OPW; his plans to transfer its ownership to a public body; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16900/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I am advised by the Commissioners of Public Works that there are no plans, at this time, to transfer the property to another public body.

Following the closure of the Garda station on Roche’s Road, Wexford on the 22nd September 2017 the Office of Public Works (OPW) sought alternative State use for the property.

There is no Central Government requirement for accommodation in the former Garda Station and no alternative State requirement for the property has materialised following engagement with Wexford County Council, the Health Service Executive and Tusla.

The OPW had agreed to enter into a lease arrangement with the Wexford Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Service for the part of the property known as the Sergeant's quarters.  However, the Wexford Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Service advised the OPW on the 19th February 2019 that they were to be provided with alternative accommodation in Wexford and no longer required the Sergeant’s Quarters.

Wexford Community Services Council who currently occupy the adjoining property have also expressed an interest in acquiring the former Garda station property.  They are conducting a review of the property to establish if it can meet their needs, subject to the costs of refurbishment.

If the Wexford Community Services Council decide not to proceed with acquiring the property, the OPW will again establish if there is any alternative State use for the property prior to disposing of it on the open market.