Garda Vetting of Personnel

Ceisteanna (81)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

81. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if civilian personnel under the aegis of his Department are checked and security vetted by the Garda Central Vetting Unit prior to being assigned to working there both as new entrants and transferring in from other areas of the Civil Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22152/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

All new entrant civil servants are subject to vetting and security clearance processes prior to being offered a post in the Department of Defence.  Security vetting has a number of layers and is conducted in conjunction with an Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces.  Civil servants transferring to my Department from another Government Department will have been subject to the vetting process for all entrants to the civil service.  Certain post holders are the subject of further clearance processes.

For operational reasons, it would be inappropriate to set out or discuss those detailed processes.  Security is kept under ongoing review and my officials work closely with the Defence Forces in relation to such matters. 

Foreign Birth Registration

Ceisteanna (82)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

82. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if an application for foreign birth registration by a person (details supplied) was received; if so, if same will be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22133/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Foreign Births Registration, by its nature, can be a detailed and complex process, often involving official documentation related to three generations and issued by several jurisdictions. The establishment of the new Foreign Births Registration team at the beginning of this year has introduced a short delay in the processing of applications.

Due to the complex nature of Foreign Births Registration, it takes on average between 6 to 12 months to process an application.  

 With regard to the specific application the Deputy has enquired about, I can confirm that the application in question has been received. A member of the Foreign Births Registration Team will contact the applicant directly if any further documents or clarifications are required to process the application.

NAMA Operations

Ceisteanna (83)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

83. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if NAMA recovered funds from a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22145/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As the Deputy will be aware, under Sections 99 and 202 of  the NAMA Act 2009, NAMA is legally prohibited from disclosing confidential information relating to debtors or their associated assets. Therefore NAMA is not in a position to comment on the information requested.   

The Deputy will also be aware that I, as Minister for Finance, have no role in respect of NAMA’s commercial operations or decisions. It would not therefore be appropriate for me to comment on this matter.

Corporation Tax Regime

Ceisteanna (84)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

84. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he will report on the corporation tax rate here; and if his EU counterparts have discussed same with him recently particularly in view of comments from the EU Commission on having a floor on same across the EU. [22085/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

There are ongoing discussions at the OECD on further reforms to the international corporate tax system.  Some countries have raised the issue of minimum effective corporate tax rates in that context. 

I recently had the opportunity to discuss the OECD work with some of my EU counterparts on the margins of last week’s Eurogroup, and there was a more in depth discussion at ECOFIN, where I was represented by Minister D’Arcy.

It was agreed at the ECOFIN that the various OECD tax proposals should continue to be discussed at EU level to try and identify common areas of interest or concern.  The regular taxation working parties have been mandated to explore possible areas of EU convergence, and will update ECOFIN on a regular basis.

Discussions with our fellow EU Member States are important in terms of refining our understanding and maximising our contribution to the debate at OECD. We also need to explore how the various proposals at OECD may impact EU law. 

There are a variety of views at the OECD table and the eventual outcome will need to strike a balance to reflect these differing perspectives.  Ireland is actively engaging in this work.  It is in all countries interests to reach agreement that provides stability and certainty into the medium term. 

Insurance Industry

Ceisteanna (85)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

85. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if there is a complaints mechanism in place for claimants wishing to make a complaint against a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22225/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Setanta Insurance 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.  

I am very conscious of the effect of the delays in the payment of compensation to Setanta claimants, and this is one of the reasons why I brought forward the Insurance (Amendment) Act last year to ensure that Setanta third party claimants are compensated in full, and to put in place revised arrangements for the ongoing management and administration of the ICF, including for applications to the High Court.  However, neither I nor the Department of Finance have any role in the process. Likewise, the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman does not have a role in investigating complaints of a liquidator.

Before any application can be made for payments from the ICF, the claims must first be settled- which is a matter for claimants, their solicitors and the liquidator. These negotiations can be complex and often subject to court procedures.

The Deputy does not outline the nature of the complaint, whether it is with the process for the application to the High Court which comes under the responsibility of the State Claims Agency or otherwise. The liquidator has responsibility for the administration of the company’s assets and liabilities. Any correspondence on individual claims or other claims matters should be directed to Setanta Insurance at:

Deloitte 

Earlsfort Terrace

Dublin 2

Tel: 0818 255 255

Email: iesetanta@deloitte.ie

Insurance Industry

Ceisteanna (86, 87, 88)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

86. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the entity that owns a database (details supplied); if it is solely the property of an organisation (details supplied) that maintains and runs the database; the entity that is the data controller of the information held on the database; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22226/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

87. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if an insured party is entitled to access information relating to them held on a database (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22227/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

88. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if insured persons are informed if their information is put on a database (details supplied); if they have the ability to prevent information being shared on the database; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22228/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 86 to 88, inclusive, together.

The database referenced by the Deputy is operated by Insurance Ireland, a representative trade body for the insurance sector.

As Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation and therefore have no role in the operation of this database referred to in the parliamentary questions.  As a result, I am not in a position to provide the information being sought by the Deputy.

Details of the database can be accessed at: http://www.insuranceireland.eu/member-services/shared-services or at: http://www.inslink.ie/.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (89)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

89. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance if he will resolve the anomaly in which the means of a person is taken into consideration when their partner is being assessed for a social welfare payment but in which they are not entitled to claim tax credits for their partner (details supplied). [22281/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

It is assumed that the question is referring to a co-habiting couple.

Where a couple is cohabiting rather than married, they are treated as separate and unconnected individuals for the purpose of Income Tax. Each partner is a separate entity for tax purposes and, accordingly, credits, bands and reliefs cannot be transferred from one partner to the other. Cohabiting couples are expressly recognised for the purpose of social welfare law but are not recognised for the purposes of Income Tax law. Although this may appear contradictory, a key aim of both the welfare code and the tax code is to uphold the constitutional right of married couples not to be treated less favourably than unmarried couples.

The basis for the current tax treatment of married couples derives from the Supreme Court decision in Murphy v the Attorney General (1980) which held that it was contrary to the Constitution for a married couple to pay more tax than two single people living together and having the same income.

The treatment of cohabiting couples for the purposes of social welfare is primarily a matter for the Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection. However, it is also based on the principle that married couples should not be treated less favourably than cohabiting couples. This was given a constitutional underpinning following the Supreme Court decision in Hyland v Minister for Social Welfare (1989) which ruled that it was unconstitutional for the total income a married couple received in social welfare benefits to be less than the couple would have received if they were unmarried and cohabiting.

Central Bank of Ireland Supervision

Ceisteanna (90)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

90. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if there is a Central Bank code of conduct specifically for employers and public liability insurance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22283/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Deputy should note at the outset that as Minister for Finance, I have responsibility for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation in Ireland.  The relevant framework for the provision of life, non-life and reinsurance, and the supervision of that activity, is prescribed by EU Directives, principally the Solvency II Directive.  As set out within Solvency II and the European Union (Insurance and Reinsurance) Regulations 2015 (S.I. No. 485 of 2015), the Irish transposing Regulations, there are 18 classes of non-life insurance.  Employer liability and public liability insurance fall within the category of general liability insurance, under this regulatory framework.

In terms of day to day supervision of the insurance industry this is the responsibility of the Central Bank of Ireland.  I understand that the Central Bank of Ireland also has a number of powers which allow it to issue codes of conduct or requirements to the regulated financial services sector.  With respect to codes of conduct specifically for employers liability or public liability insurance, I am informed by the Central Bank of Ireland that it does not have any such codes.  Having said that, it is important to note that The Central Bank has its Consumer Protection Code. That Code, which is a set of rules and principles that all regulated financial services firms must follow when providing financial products and services to consumers, also applies in respect of employers liability and public liability insurance.  The definition of consumer in the Code covers natural persons, groups of persons, partnerships, small businesses with a turnover of less than €3 million annually and members of a credit union.  The Code therefore covers a large number of businesses operating in the Irish market and offers a significant level of protection for such businesses in relation to their engagement with insurers.  

Central Bank of Ireland Supervision

Ceisteanna (91)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

91. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if the Central Bank has a specific code of conduct in relation to data protection for banks, lenders and insurance companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22284/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Data protection issues are a matter for the Data Protection Commission rather than the Central Bank of Ireland, and as such are in the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality.  However, Section 4.13(e) of the Consumer Protection Code 2012 provides that, in its terms of business, a regulated entity must provide a summary of the regulated entity’s policy in relation to how it will use a consumer’s personal data.

The Central Bank  Consumer Protection Code 2012 is available at the following link:

https://www.centralbank.ie/docs/default-source/regulation/industry-market-sectors/brokers-retail-intermediaries/supervision-process/consumer-protection-code-2012.pdf?sfvrsn=4.  

Public Expenditure Data

Ceisteanna (92)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

92. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the forecasts for the trajectory of certain demographic related costs over the next 20 years and beyond, for example, the State social welfare pension bill, nursing home care, care of the elderly at home and health related costs from an ageing population; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22224/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Expenditure Report 2019 sets out the revised baseline for current expenditure out to 2021 after taking account a number of known pre-commitments. Inclusive in this are estimates of certain demographic pressures in areas of Health, Social Protection and Education. An allocation of an additional €0.45 billion is set out for these measures in both 2020 and 2021. These allocations are informed by the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service (IGEES) paper ‘Budgetary Impacts of Changing Demographics 2017 – 2027’, which can be found on the IGEES website here: https://igees.gov.ie/budgetary-impact-of-changing-demographics-2017-to-2027/. Areas of expenditure covered by this paper include, among others: child benefit, education provision, pensions, the Nursing Home Support Scheme and the Primary Care Reimbursement Scheme and these pure demographic costs are included in multi-annual Ministerial expenditure ceilings for Health, Social Protection and Education.

Beyond 2022, the IGEES paper suggests demographic costs of approximately €0.4 billion per year out to 2027. However, an update of this paper is due to be published as part of the 2019 Spending Review process. This update will discuss demographic pressures over a ten year period and will focus on the areas of Health, Social Protection and Education as three primary areas of current expenditure which are particularly impacted by demographic changes.

Another relevant document is 'Population Ageing and the Public Finances in Ireland' published by the Department of Finance in 2018, which can be found at:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/2e8463-population-ageing-and-the-public-finances/.

The above paper focusses specifically on the impact of demographic trends on the public finances in Ireland over the longer term. Table 24 in Chapter 8 of the recently published Stability Programme Update outlines long-term spending projections of age-related expenditure as a share of GNI*.

Capitation Grants

Ceisteanna (93)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

93. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to restore the capitation grant to €200 per annum per child in view of the significant capital funding constraints that primary schools find themselves under; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22127/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I fully recognise the need to improve capitation funding for schools.

I am pleased to have been able to provide for a 5% increase in capitation funding for primary and post primary schools that will apply from the start of the 2019/20 school year. Over the course of the school year 2019/20, an additional €10 million will be allocated to primary and post primary schools, of which €4 million will be allocated in 2019.

I must be prudent in the context of ongoing budgetary pressures. Where it is not possible to do everything that I would like to do in the education sector in any one year I have to prioritise, especially in the context of increasing enrolments.

It is my intention to seek funding for further capitation increases in future budgets.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (94)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

94. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding progress on the development of a new permanent school building for schools (details supplied) to replace their temporary accommodation; his plans to increase the playground size of the schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22146/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm that my Department has received applications from the schools referred to in the details supplied by the Deputy for the replacement of temporary accommodation.

I wish to confirm that my Department remains in contact with the second named school regarding its application and my Department's School Capital Appraisals Section in Tullamore expects to be in a position to issue a formal response shortly.  

In the case of the first named school, my Department will be undertaking a site visit in the context of the school's application and is liaising with the school principal in this regard.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (95)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

95. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the accommodation issues at a school (details supplied) will be addressed; if the construction of the permanent building for the school will be expedited to ensure that the school community is in its permanent home by February 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22157/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Despite requests from my Department, the Landlord involved did not want to extend the lease so that the school to which the Deputy refers could remain on their land past the current academic year 2018/2019.  They had required my Department to confirm that the school would vacate the property at end June 2019. Clearly, my Department could not give such confirmation as alternative interim accommodation for the school was not available in the current area.  My Department had much engagement with the Landlord in relation to extending the leasing arrangement at this property. In this regard my Department had requested the Landlord’s consent to extending the lease to 31st August, 2020 to facilitate the school remaining in interim accommodation at this location until the end of the 2019/2020 school year by which time the permanent accommodation for the school would be ready.  Unfortunately it was not possible to get the Landlord’s agreement to this lease extension.  Following protracted negotiations with the Landlord, agreement was reached for the school to remain in interim accommodation at its current location until the end of January 2020.  The Landlord has indicated that it is not possible to extend the lease beyond this date. 

My Department is examining alternative interim accommodation options for re-locating the school pending delivery of its permanent school building.

The site acquisition process for the school is now complete. A planning application for the permanent accommodation for the school was lodged in January 2019.  A request for additional information received from the local authority was responded to on 26 April 2019 and a decision is awaited.  The timeframe for delivery of the school will be dependent on the grant of planning permission.

Officials in my Department will continue to keep the school authority updated on progress.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (96)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

96. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 110 of 15 May 2019, if the progression of the permanent building for a school (details supplied) will be expedited in order that the pupils will not have to move again to alternative temporary accommodation in February 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22158/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The site acquisition process for the school is now complete. A planning application for the permanent accommodation for the school was lodged in January 2019.  A request for additional information received from the local authority was responded to on 26 April 2019 and a decision is awaited.  The timeframe for delivery of the school will be dependent on the grant of planning permission.

Officials in my Department will continue to keep the school authority updated on progress.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Ceisteanna (97)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

97. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 178 of 14 May 2019, if he will consider the acquisition of centres (details supplied) as potential sites for a school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22161/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm that Department officials are working to put a solution for the permanent accommodation for the school in question in place at the earliest possible date.  Engagement with relevant stakeholders, including relevant State bodies, is ongoing in that regard.

Unfortunately it is not possible to comment on individual properties at this time but I can assure the Deputy that the patron will be informed of the proposed location for the school as soon as it is possible to do so. 

School Funding

Ceisteanna (98)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

98. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the case of a school (details supplied) that made an application to the devolved grants section of his Department in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22172/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department previously approved capital funding for the provision of additional accommodation at the school in question.

The school authority has sought an increase in capital funding to increase the project brief and this application is currently under consideration. My Department will be in contact with the school authority shortly.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (99)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

99. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a school building project (details supplied) in County Cork; and when construction will commence. [22182/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that the school in question has recently written to my Department seeking  a review of the schedule of accommodation for the school's building project. 

My Department will consider the request and contact will be made with the school authority as soon as this process has been completed. 

School Patronage

Ceisteanna (100)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

100. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Education and Skills if Educate Together has been recently approved to provide primary school education in the Killester, Raheny and Clontarf areas; the location the interim accommodation will be provided; if he is satisfied that the accommodation is in a central location; if he is further satisfied that enough places are being provided to satisfy the demand for this type of education in this catchment area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22183/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy will be aware, in April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022), including a new 8 classroom primary school to be established in September 2019 to serve the Killester_Raheny_Clontarf school planning area. This announcement follows nationwide, demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country and the 4-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure.

A patronage process is run after it has been decided, based on demographic analysis, that a new school is required.  This patronage process is open to all patron bodies and prospective patrons.  Parental preferences for each patron, from parents of children who reside in the school planning areas concerned, together with the extent of diversity currently available in these areas, are key to decisions in relation to the outcome of this process.  The patronage process for the school referred to by the Deputy is complete and patronage has been awarded to Educate Together.

My Department’s priority is ensuring all pupils have access to a school place which may not always result in a school place that is their first choice. A range of factors including parental choice, school location and commuting patterns can contribute to oversubscription of certain schools within an area.

My Department appointed a Project Manager in July 2018 to assist with the work of prioritising the procurement of interim accommodation for 17 new schools due to be established in September 2019 which includes the school to serve the area to which the Deputy refers.  

Numerous locations within the school planning area were considered in relation to the interim accommodation for the school but could not be secured due to lack of suitability, availability or prohibitive zoning issues.

Therefore, in order to ensure that the school could open in September 2019 as announced it was necessary to look for interim accommodation in adjoining school planning areas.  On 15 March 2019 a planning application was submitted to Fingal County Council for a location at Suttonians Rugby Club, John McDowell Memorial Grounds, Station Road, Sutton, Dublin 13, D13 AH97.  The notification of decision to grant planning permission was issued by the local authority on 2nd May, 2019, Final Grant is awaited.

The new primary school will open in September 2019 in suitable interim accommodation pending delivery of its permanent building.