Gangland Crime

Ceisteanna (129)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

129. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if particular steps can be taken or are being taken to proscribe membership of criminal gangs in view of their threat to the security of the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27189/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Tackling organised crime is a key priority for the Government and An Garda Síochána.

From time to time, the question arises about providing for an offence of membership of a criminal gang in a manner similar to the approach taken in the Offences Against the State Acts with regard to membership of a proscribed organisation.

Organised crime is constantly evolving and several issues arise in seeking to simply outlawing membership of a criminal gang in such a manner. Most significant is the fact that a criminal gang is unlikely to have the permanency of organisation and structure that a subversive organisation has traditionally had. Relationships in criminal gangs tend to be more fluid, with shifting memberships and alliances. New splinter groups and new gangs can form overnight.

Part 7 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 (as amended by the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009) establishes a number of offences targeting the activities of those involved in organised crime. These offences include participation in a criminal organisation and directing a criminal organisation. The latter offence specifically targets those in criminal organisations who give the orders without requiring their direct participation in the commission of criminal offences. On conviction, this offence carries a penalty up to life imprisonment.

The Criminal Justice Act 2006 also makes it an offence to conspire with one or more persons to do an act that constitutes a serious offence, irrespective of whether such act actually takes place or not. Evidential provisions as to the existence of a criminal organisation were introduced aiding prosecution for the offences under the Act. Provision was also introduced so that where a serious offence is committed as part of or in furtherance of a criminal organisation, it shall be treated as an aggravating factor for the purpose of determining sentence.

In recent years a number of other legislative measures have been introduced to tackle gang-related and associated crime. The Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2016 provides additional powers for Gardaí, in particular, powers to allow for the immediate seizure of assets suspected of being the proceeds of crime. An Garda Síochána and in particular the Criminal Assets Bureau are already making use of these provisions.

Overall I believe that sufficient legislation already exists for the prosecution of offences relating to organised crime and to target the proceeds of crime and that An Garda Síochána has both the determination and the resources to tackle gangland violence in our communities.

Garda Operations

Ceisteanna (130)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

130. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which policing methods here, including community policing, replicate best practice in other European countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27190/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is statutorily responsible for the management of An Garda Síochána, and I, as Minister, do not have responsibility for this matter.

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 contains provisions to assist the Garda Síochána to operate to international best practice. For example, the Act requires the Garda Síochána Inspectorate to benchmark their recommendations by reference to the best standards of comparable police services, therefore, every inspection conducted by the Garda Inspectorate, and any recommendation arising therefrom, has involved examining and taking account of policing best practice internationally.

The Deputy may also wish to note that one of the functions of the Garda Professional Standards Unit, is to promote the highest standards of practice, as measured by reference to the best standards of comparable police services. The Unit undertakes reviews, as directed by the Garda Commissioner, into operational, administrative and management matters relating to the Garda Síochána at all levels. Arising from these reviews, measures to improve performance and promote the highest standards of practice throughout the Garda Síochána are proposed. The Garda Commissioner draws on the Unit's proposals to enhance policing practices and policies.

The Commission on the Future of Policing recommended a move towards a new district or local model for community policing, where all police personnel, sworn and unsworn, are to be considered to be community police. All personnel will be part of a single district policing team working to keep communities safe, and all should see their overarching collective function as solving problems affecting community safety in their district.

The Deputy will be aware that on 18 December 2018 the Government endorsed the report of the Commission and agreed to accept all 157 key recommendations contained in the report, including in relation to a new policing model. Garda management are currently developing the new model of community policing based on delivering localised policing services to meet the differing needs of different communities. Most importantly, local frontline policing will be placed at the core of our policing service, ensuring that Gardaí are more active and visible in communities. Under A Policing Service for the Future, the high level implementation plan giving effect to the Commission’s recommendations, An Garda Síochána has been piloting the new local policing model in four Divisions - Mayo, Galway, Cork and DMR South - since February. The model has been designed to deliver more visible frontline policing and to ensure that Garda resources are deployed to best effect.

Prison Service Data

Ceisteanna (131)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

131. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prison places available to the justice system; the number of persons incarcerated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27191/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy is aware the Irish Prison Service collates and publishes the prisoner population breakdown on a daily basis and this information is available on the Irish Prison Service website www.irishprisons.ie. This breakdown includes the number of prisoners incarcerated and the bed capacity in each prison. The information can be found in the Information Centre - under Statistics & Information - Daily Prisoner Population.

The Irish Prison Service also collates a quarterly census on cell occupancy and this information is also available on the Irish Prison Service website www.irishprisons.ie. The information can be found in the Information Centre – under Statistics & Information – Census Reports.

Crime Prevention

Ceisteanna (132)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

132. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the action being taken or that can be taken to address the issue of threats and intimidation against individual members of An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27192/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am sure the Deputy will agree that we are all immensely grateful to An Garda Síochána for their outstanding dedication and commitment and for the important role that they play in our society, all too frequently putting themselves in real danger. It is imperative that Gardaí are protected in carrying out their work and that the law reflects and responds to the situations in which they find themselves.

As the Deputy is aware, it would not be appropriate for me to detail the operational measures that the Garda authorities have taken or would take generally in situations where individual Gardaí are subject to threats or intimidation. However, I can assure the Deputy that whatever protective and detection measures are deemed appropriate by the Garda authorities will certainly be taken.

I should also say that while the criminal law in this area is being kept under ongoing review, there is a range of robust legislative provisions available to the Garda authorities in circumstances where threats or assaults are made against Gardaí.

The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 (as amended) provides explicit statutory protection for peace officers, including members of the Garda Síochána, in relation to offences involving assault to or obstruction of a peace officer in the execution of his or her duty. Section 19 of that Act provides that any person who assaults a peace officer acting in the execution of his or her duty is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years.

The general law relating to assault is contained in the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997 which deals comprehensively with a wide range of assault provisions, the more serious of which carry heavy penalties. The assault and related provisions in that Act apply to assaults on all sectors of our community which of course includes members of An Garda Síochána.

Cyberbullying Issues

Ceisteanna (133)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

133. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which he can anticipate an ability to prevent online bullying and harassment whether by electronic or legislative means in line with best practice in other jurisdictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27193/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Law Reform Commission in their 2016 report on Harmful Communications and Digital Safety outlined the challenges facing society in dealing with harm perpetrated online. They made a number of recommendations to strengthen the legal and regulatory framework in relation to harmful digital communications.

As Minister for Justice and Equality, my primary responsibilities in this area relate to the development of effective criminal law responses to these issues. Any such responses must tackle behaviour that is illegal, whether online or offline. It is important to remember that many forms of harmful online content and behaviours, including cyber-bullying, are not necessarily criminal in nature. There is a general consensus that the appropriate response to addressing such online issues is one that encompasses educational and awareness raising campaigns, as well as effective actions and policies on the part of internet companies.

In relation to online harassment, I have been working with Deputy Howlin on the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017, a Private Member's Bill that completed second stage in January 2018 and was not opposed by Government. The main provisions of the Bill as published include extending the existing offence of sending threatening or indecent messages to apply to all threatening, false, indecent and obscene messages using any form of online or traditional method of communications.

The Bill also proposes extending the existing offence of harassment as contained in section 10 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997 to include all forms of communication, including through online or digital communications to or about a person. The Bill will criminalise the distribution of intimate images without consent that causes harm, commonly known as “revenge pornography”.

I obtained cabinet approval in May 2018 to support Deputy Howlin’s Bill to ensure that legislation in this area can be enacted as swiftly as possible. Draft amendments were prepared in my Department, in consultation with the sponsor of the Bill and the Office of the Attorney General, and cabinet approval was given to the drafting of those amendments on the 1st of May 2019.

The amendments will ensure consistency in the provisions of the Bill overall. In relation to criminal offences, they will introduce a distinct offence of stalking in Ireland for the first time. They will provide for two separate image-based offences to deal with the phenomena of “upskirting” and “revenge pornography”. They will remove some of the civil provisions in the Bill that may be more appropriately dealt with through proposals to establish the Office of the Digital Safety Commissioner, currently being examined by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

The amendments have now been sent to the Office of Parliamentary Counsel to be formally drafted before they can be introduced at Committee Stage in the Dáil. I think this legislation, in conjunction with other Governmental action under the Online Safety Action Plan will strengthen our capacity to tackle online harassment and I am committed to progressing this legislation as soon as possible.

Cyberbullying Issues

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

*Figures are as of 27/06/2019, are operational and subject to change.

Ceisteanna (134)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

134. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of incidents of online bullying and harassment reported to An Garda Síochána in each of the past five years to date; the extent to which such reports have come through schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27194/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the information sought by the Deputy. I will contact the Deputy directly once the information is to hand.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A
I refer to the Deputy's Parliamentary Question No. 143 of 26 June 2019 wherein he sought the number of incidents of online bullying and harassment reported to An Garda Síochána in the past five years to date.
The Deputy will recall that I had sought the information from the Garda authorities and I undertook to contact him again when the information was to hand.
The report is now at hand and I am advised by the Garda authorities that there is no structured recording to quantify the number of incidents of online bullying and harassment. However, I am further advised that the following table outlines the number of incidents of harassment, stalking or threats over the last five years as well as a subset of these incidents which are reported to have occurred at a school.

Year

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019*

All Locations

622

634

610

644

708

333

Schools

7

9

11

12

17

7

*Figures are as of 27/06/2019, are operational and subject to change.
I hope this information is of assistance.

Human Trafficking

Ceisteanna (135)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

135. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which the trafficking of children continues to be an issue for urgent attention by his Department and others; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27196/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The identification and protection of victims of human trafficking, and especially child victims of trafficking, is a key priority of my Department's anti-trafficking strategy and of efforts by An Garda Síochána to combat trafficking and crimes against children.

Ireland continues to have a relatively low level of child victims in comparison to other jurisdictions. Of the 64 victims of human trafficking identified by An Garda Síochána in 2018, five were minors, or slightly less than 8% of the total. This compares to an average child trafficking rate of 23% across the EU.

It is important to distinguish between human trafficking involving children, and offences under section 3(2) of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998 (as amended by the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008), which criminalises the sexual exploitation of a child. Historically, the overwhelming majority of child victims of offences under trafficking legislation included in Irish statistics are Irish child victims of sexual exploitation, usually carried out for personal gratification rather than commercial gain, and often by someone known to the child. Since 2017 these crimes have been excluded from Ireland's reporting on human trafficking, since they fall outside the internationally agreed definition of trafficking. They continue to be a priority for investigation and prosecution.

While there have been cases of commercial sexual exploitation involving children, both EEA and non-EEA nationals, these cases are rare. As with all crimes, members of An Garda Síochána are vigilant in their efforts to combat the crime of human trafficking and especially the trafficking of children.

Ireland has an ongoing programme of actions to combat and raise awareness of the matter. Earlier this month at Dublin Airport, the Border Management Unit of my Department ran a week of action against child trafficking in as part of an EU-wide initiative by Europol.

Health and Safety Regulations

Ceisteanna (136)

Mary Butler

Ceist:

136. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if the guidelines under the Safety Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 have been updated and-or reviewed to reflect the possible risks to employees through cyber or digital means; if so, if there are clear arrangements for the protection and general welfare of an employee and a mechanism in place that employers can implement relevant procedures and practices to ensure employees are protected as much as possible; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27088/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The General Application Regulations 2007 made under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (2005 Act) cover a wide range of provisions and are applicable to all employments. While neither the Act nor the Regulations specifically address cyber or digital risks to employees, the 2005 Act does contain provisions for securing and improving the safety, health and welfare of all employees. The Act also covers the risk to employees from workplace bullying which could include by cyber or digital means.

The 2005 Act applies to employers, employees in all employments and to the self–employed. There are a number of specific sections of the Act applicable to all workplace risks.

Section 8 of the 2005 Act covers the general duties of employers. It requires an employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of all of his or her employees. This would include any improper conduct or behaviour at work such as violence, bullying or horseplay. All employers should have a workplace anti-bullying policy in place.

Section 13 of the 2005 Act covers employees’ duties which include a requirement on an employee not to engage in improper conduct or other behaviour that is likely to endanger his or her own safety, health and welfare at work or that of any other person. Violence, horseplay and bullying at work would come within the meaning of improper conduct. Workplace anti-bullying policies rely on the co-operation between employers and employees for their effectiveness.

In addition, the Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work, prepared and published in 2007 in accordance with Section 60 of the 2005 Act which provides guidelines on arrangements, procedures and guidance generally on tackling workplace bullying, harassment and sexual harassment, is currently being revised jointly by the Health & Safety Authority and the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). I understand that this revised Code of Practice, due for publication in early 2020, will include workplace bullying and harassment by cyber or digital means.

Scientific Research

Ceisteanna (137)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

137. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the estimated cost of associate membership and full membership of CERN; if membership has been considered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27040/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Based on indications received from CERN, the cost of Ireland’s full membership at current prices would be circa €13.6m annually. To become a full member, a country must go through an obligatory ‘associate membership in the pre-stage to membership’ phase for a minimum of two and maximum of five years. The initial contribution shall be at least 25% of full membership cost, which should increase to 100% by the first year of full membership. This would mean the cost of membership could go from €3.4m initially to €13.6m during the agreed pre-membership phase.

Membership costs are calculated based on the Net National Income (NNI) of member states. No one member state can contribute more than 20% of the overall CERN budget.

In addition to the annual full membership cost there is a ‘special contribution’ fee calculated as 1.5 times the cost of the full membership fee. Based on a cost of €13.6 m this would amount to €17m due on the day a state becomes a full member. There are however options for the payment of this special contribution. It may be paid over a defined period, possibly 10 years, and 20% of this contribution may be paid via ‘in-kind contributions’.

Therefore, the total initial full membership cost would be €30.6 million comprising the annual full membership fee and the special contribution fee. It is important to note that it is possible to negotiate on the timing of this payment.

An associate membership fee of minimum €1.3 million per annum is also possible, this is a 10% associate membership which is the lowest available at CERN. The benefits as well as the costs are restricted with this option.

My Department continues to keep the position in relation to CERN membership, and its cost, under review and maintains contact with officials in CERN in relation to Ireland's potential membership.

Innovation 2020, the national strategy for research and innovation, recognises that for Ireland to become a Global Innovation Leader, our research and innovation system must be open with strong international collaboration links. Membership of leading international research organisations is an important mechanism for facilitating this engagement.

For this reason, the Government gave a specific commitment in Innovation 2020 to initiate discussions with several international research organisations. Four organisations were identified – CERN, the European Southern Observatory, ELIXIR and LOFAR - and membership of three of these organisations has been completed.

Ireland continues its consideration of CERN membership.

Departmental Agencies Funding

Ceisteanna (138)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

138. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the 2018 and 2019 budget allocations for all offices and agencies under the remit of her Department in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27041/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The annual budget allocations for my Department's offices and agencies are set out in the annual Revised Estimates Volume. The total allocations for 2018 and 2019 are set out in the table below;

Revised Estimates Volume Allocations

2018 Allocations(€,000)

2019 Allocations(€,000)

Offices of the Department

Companies Registration Office(Including the Registry of Friendly Societies)

7,875

7,875

Employment Appeals Tribunal

290

230

Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement

5,057

6,057

Labour Court

3,800

3,876

Patents Office

3,004

3,033

Workplace Relations Commission

14,014

15,014

Agencies of the Department

InterTradeIreland

8,125

9,145

IDA Ireland

180,780

214,470*

National Standards Authority of Ireland

6,224

6,646

Enterprise Ireland

272,998

299,818**

Science Foundation Ireland

177,565

191,115***

Health and Safety Authority

19,275

19,783

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

12,226

12,577

Personal Injuries Assessment Board

112

115

Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority

2,105

2,112

*Includes Capital Carryover of €20.8 million from 2018

**Includes Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund

***Includes Capital Carryover of €6.8 million from 2018

My Department’s allocation in Budget 2019 increased to over €950 million, an overall increase of 9.1% on the 2018 allocation of €871 million. This included the highest Capital allocation ever of €620 million.

The overall additional capital and current funding in 2019 has allowed us to;

- Provide additional supports to the Local Enterprise Office in order to expand their reach

- Provide further transformational supports for indigenous enterprise to respond to Brexit challenges, including the new longer-term Brexit loan scheme

- Provide additional resources to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement on its establishment as the primary independent statutory Agency in the area of corporate enforcement

- Ramp up of R&D investment in support of Government’s science strategy “Innovation 2020”, via the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund, renewal of SFI research centres and the continued rollout of the SFI PHD programme.

The increased allocation to my Department clearly demonstrates the Government’s strong commitment to getting business Brexit ready, driving indigenous enterprise and regional growth and investing in research, development and innovation.

Workplace Relations Services

Ceisteanna (139)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

139. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of persons waiting for a Workplace Relations Commission hearing by the number of months waiting; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27042/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) was established on 1 October 2015 and is the single body with statutory responsibility for investigation and adjudication of complaints at first instance under a wide range of employment rights, equality and industrial relations legislation.

Some 90% of cases are processed from receipt to hearing and decision in less than six months where no requests for postponements are received, where all parties are available, and where submissions are received in a timely manner.

For example, some 20% of all complaints already scheduled for hearing subsequently require postponement due to the diary unavailability of one, or both, parties, or where a party is suffering from long-term illness. Other impacting factors include situations where representatives have sought deferral of the hearing pending; the complaint is in mediation; there are ongoing criminal proceedings, etc.

The WRC has 2,119 complaint applications currently awaiting hearing. This encompasses those: in registration; date assigned and awaiting hearing; postponement granted and new agreed date awaited; returned by mediator for a hearing date post unsuccessful mediation; and large volume of cases in mediation with the potential to be re-entered for adjudication.

Months

Number of Complaint Applications

<3 months

981

3-6 months

459

6-9 months

538

9-12 months

52

12 months +

89

Total

2,119

The WRC medium-term goal is to process the majority of complaints in less than six months and, in ideal situations, all complaints in less than nine months. Currently, the median time period between receipt of complaint and issue of decision is 9 months.

In addition to the cases listed above, the WRC has in recent months received a large volume of individual complaints relating to the same matter as a result of a Belgian court judgement on the Organisation of Working time. The WRC is actively working with the parties to identify an appropriate case management approach.

Labour Court

Ceisteanna (140)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

140. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of persons waiting for a Labour Court hearing by the number of months waiting; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27043/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Labour Court is an independent statutory office under the aegis of my Department. While the Court was established under the Industrial Relations Act, 1946, its functions have been altered and extended by subsequent legislation, including, most recently, the Workplace Relations Act 2015. Under the 2015 Act, the Labour Court assumed the role of sole appellate body in disputes under employment rights legislation.

As of 24 June 2019, the Labour Court has cases in respect of 76 appellants that are ready to be scheduled* for first hearing. A breakdown of waiting times for these 76 appellants is set out in tabular form below.

Waiting Times - Months

Ready for scheduling *

1 month or less

9

Between 1 and 2 months

17

Between 2 and 3 months

9

Between 3 and 4 months

19

Between 4 and 5 months

4

Between 5 and 6 months

3

Between 6 and 7 months

5

Greater than 7 months

10

76 **

*Ready for scheduling means that all appropriate submissions and other documents have been received from the parties such that a hearing can be arranged for the case in question.

**Included in the figures provided are referrals made from the WRC under section 26(1) Industrial Relations Act 1990. As it is not possible to ascertain from the Labour Court data processing system the total number of workers who come within each such referral, such referrals are counted as being made by one person for the purposes of this reply.

In addition, as of 24 June 2019, 89 appellants have been scheduled for hearings by the Labour Court in July and August. In assigning hearing dates the Court typically programmes two months ahead in order to ensure maximum flexibility in responding to requests for postponements, withdrawals, urgent requests for hearings and in order to make best planned use of the resources available to the Court.

The Labour Court is still awaiting submissions and/or other documentation from 67 appellants who submitted appeals or referrals in 2019; such information is required before a hearing can be scheduled. There are also a significant number of other cases received in preceding years and which are either on hold or where submissions and/or other documentation remain outstanding from the parties. The Court continues to work with the parties concerned to ensure these cases are progressed.

A key factor affecting timelines is that the process of bringing an Employment Equality and Unfair Dismissals case to hearing involves provision of time to make comprehensive written submissions before arrangements can be made to schedule a hearing. A further factor impacting on waiting times for scheduled hearings is the Labour Court’s commitment to hear cases in the regions. This commitment can sometimes impact scheduling, as hearings are grouped appropriately.

Departmental Bodies Data

Ceisteanna (141)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

141. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of persons employed by Enterprise Ireland and the IDA, respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27046/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The number of persons employed by Enterprise Ireland and the IDA (Ireland) are set out in the table below.

Agency

Headcount

Full Time Equivalents

Notes

Enterprise Ireland

736

721

Total includes locally recruited overseas staff

IDA (Ireland)

313

303.75

Total includes locally recruited overseas staff

Work Permits Applications

Ceisteanna (142)

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

142. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the steps being taken to increase the speed at which work permits are issued; and the number of outstanding work permits at the end of each of the past five months that remain to be processed by sector in tabular form. [27197/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

As the economy improves and we approach full employment my Department has experienced a high volume of employment permit applications which has led to some delays in processing applications.

At the end of May 2019 there was a 16% increase in the number of applications received (7,407 applications received) over the same period in 2018. At the same time there has been a 53% increase in the number of applications processed (7,353 applications processed) compared to the same period last year, clearly demonstrating that productivity is improving. It is anticipated that this month, June 2019, will be the busiest month for processing applications in more than 10 years.

The Employment Permits section in my Department is working to reduce the current waiting times of four weeks for applications from Trusted Partners who are regular users of the service, and account for 71% of total permits issued, and twelve weeks for Standard applications, which account for 29% of permits issued.

In order to reduce processing times, the Employment Permits section has introduced a number of operational changes, streamlined processes and implemented ICT solutions. Additional staffing resources have also been assigned to the section and a fast track training programme has been devised.

In addition a Business Process Reengineering Review for the Employment Permits section will commence shortly as a first step in the development of a new IT processing system which will take advantage of all the new technologies available, including full digitisation.

At the end of May 2019, there were 2,436 permit applications in the processing queue, down from a peak of 3,230 in September 2018. All permit applications remain in this queue until reached for processing at which stage the appropriate economic sector is assigned. Therefore, there is no statistical breakdown by economic sector for applications in the processing queue, however I have attached the 2019 to date monthly breakdown of applications awaiting decision.

I can assure you that all available resources are being deployed with the aim of reducing processing times. My officials have been proactively engaging with customers to notify them of current delays through email, meetings and regular updates on the Employment Permits section of my Department’s website.

Date

Employment Permit applications in processing queue at month end

31st January 2019

2,052

28th February 2019

1,975

31st March 2019

1,731

30th April 2019

2,066

31st May 2019

2,436

Brexit Data

Ceisteanna (143)

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

143. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of applicants and participants in Brexit schemes and supports provided by her Department or agencies under her remit in tabular form; and the amount allocated and expended to each such scheme in each year since being established. [27198/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

While the nature of the UK's departure from the EU still remains to be determined, Brexit continues to represent a significant challenge for businesses in Ireland. That’s why my Department and its agencies have put in place extensive supports, schemes and advisory resources to ensure that businesses are prepared for Brexit. While we cannot yet know the form that Brexit will take, these measures aim to assist businesses in identifying key risk areas and practical preparatory actions regardless of the circumstances of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

Brexit is my top priority at this time and was central to my decision-making on the allocation of the additional €14.2m Current and €65m Capital funding I secured as part of Budget 2019.

For example, I provided an additional €5m to the network of Local Enterprise Offices, €3m to Enterprise Ireland, €2m to IDA Ireland and €1m to InterTradeIreland to help businesses prepare for Brexit, together with funding for the longer-term Future Growth Loan Scheme and the IDA Regional Property Programme. I also provided extra staff for regulatory bodies of my Department to ensure they are properly resourced to address the additional demands that Brexit will create.

Local Enterprise Office (LEO) funding has been increased by 22% in 2019, and this increase is being used to assist micro-enterprises in becoming more competitive and better able to cope with the changing environment in which they are operating. The LEOs, which have a presence in every county, are working with the broad range of small and micro indigenous enterprises across sectors to ensure that they are informed about Brexit and have plans in place to manage the new trading relationships on the island and with the UK more generally. This includes a new customs training programme for all businesses, exporters and importers, rolled out in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland.

I was also pleased to announce an additional capital allocation of €2.75m to Enterprise Ireland to start developing regional innovation and technology clusters with Institutes of Technology right across the country, positioning them as drivers of world-class start-ups and growth enterprises and helping businesses adjust to market changes, including Brexit.

Through Enterprise Ireland, I also doubled funding for the Online Retail Pilot Scheme to €1.25m in 2019, which will support SMEs in the retail sector to have a stronger online presence and find new markets. This new Scheme follows through on my commitment to increase the scale and internationalisation of indigenous enterprise; increase productivity in high-employment sectors; and encourage Brexit readiness. I announced the first 11 successful applicants on Friday 01 March last and a second call of the scheme opened on 19 June. Enterprise Ireland invested €74 million in Brexit impacted businesses in 2018.

Funding to InterTradeIreland has been increased by 18% and they, along with the LEOs, are offering a range of Brexit-focused supports to companies, including those engaged in cross-border trade with Northern Ireland. ITI offers a Brexit Planning Voucher worth up to €2,250, which enables businesses to get professional advice on how best to plan and prepare for the UK's withdrawal from the European Union advice on specific areas such as tariffs, currency management, regulatory and customs issues and movement of labour, goods and services. In March, it launched a Brexit Implementation Voucher, which provides financial support up to €5,625 with InterTradeIreland paying 50% of total expenditure. This will allow businesses to implement critical changes making them better prepared to deal with a new trading relationship.

The Brexit Loan Scheme, using a combination of Irish Exchequer and EU guarantees, leveraged up to €300 million of lending at a maximum interest rate 4% at a cost to the Exchequer of €23 million - €14 million provided by my Department and €9 million provided by Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The Future Growth Loan Scheme opened for applications through the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland in April of this year. The scheme provides a longer-term facility, 8 to 10 years, of up to €300m to support strategic capital investment for a post-Brexit environment by business at competitive rates. This scheme is jointly funded by my Department (€37.2 million) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (€24.8 million) at a total cost to the Exchequer of €62 million.

The first table attached sets out the uptake of the different Brexit-related supports available through my Department and its agencies as at 14 June 2019.

The second table attached sets out the respective exchequer increases in allocations to ITI, EI, IDA and the LEOs between 2018 and 2019 and the cost/expenditure of the supports available. Whilst these increases are not all due to Brexit, they are mainly provided to assist the enterprise agencies in their responses to the challenges posed by Brexit.

Brexit preparedness supports - uptake of available schemes - 14.6.2019

Scheme

Uptake (14 June 2019)

Brexit Loan Scheme

656 applications received, 596 approved by SBCI, 141 Loans progressed to sanction at bank level to a value of €31.73 million. (Uptake as of 21 June)

Enterprise Ireland Brexit Scorecard - online platform for Irish companies to self-assess their exposure to Brexit

5,313 Brexit Scorecards have been completed. 1085 LEO clients have completed the scorecard.

Enterprise Ireland Be Prepared Grant

199 Be Prepared Grants have been approved

Enterprise Ireland Market Discovery Fund - A support to EI clients to research new markets

167 projects have been approved under this initiative1

Enterprise Ireland Prepare to Export Scorecard

3,716 Prepare to Export Scorecards have been completed

Enterprise Ireland Customs Insights Online Course

1,258 Customs Insights Course participants

Enterprise Ireland Agile Innovation Fund - Gives rapid fast-track access to innovation funding

52 Agile Innovation projects have been approved

Enterprise Ireland Brexit Advisory Clinics

16 Brexit Advisory Clinics have been run with over 1,200 in attendance

Enterprise Ireland Brexit “Act On Programme” – A support funding the engagement of a consultant to devise report with recommendations to help clients address weaknesses and improve resilience

258 “Act on” Plans have been completed

Enterprise Ireland Strategic Consultancy Grant – A grant to assist EI clients to hire a strategic consultant for a set period

1,071 Strategic Consultancy Grants have been approved

Local Enterprise Office Technical Assistance Grant for Micro Export - an incentive for LEO clients to explore and develop new market opportunities

602 clients were approved assistance under the Technical Assistance Grant2

Local Enterprise Office LEAN for Micro - The LEO Lean4Micro offer was developed in collaboration between the EI Lean department and the LEOs to tailor the EI Lean offer for LEO micro enterprise clients

340 LEO clients have participated in the programme

Local Enterprise Office Mentoring

641 mentoring participants solely focused on Brexit

Local Enterprise Office Brexit Seminars/Events

4,639 Participants at the Brexit Information events

Customs Training Participants

468 Participants attended Customs Training

InterTradeIreland Brexit Advisory Service

3,045 SMEs have directly engaged with the Brexit Advisory Service in 2019. This is in addition to the 4,175 engagements in 2018.

InterTradeIreland Brexit Start to Plan Vouchers

There have been 1,587 applications, with 1,391 approved and 12 still pending assessment.

Pilot Online Retail Scheme administered by Enterprise Ireland

11 retailers were awarded funding in March 2019. A second call of the Scheme will open on 19 June and will close 31 July 2019.

1 The Market Discovery Fund figure listed is lower than that of the end of February document figure of 251. The updated figure refers to the number of businesses approved, while the earlier number of 251 referred to the number of projects approved. This is now how it is reported to the Board, where projects was used previously.

2 The figure of 651 provided on 08 May was incorrect and should have indicated uptake of 551. This was due to human error

Brexit preparedness supports - expenditure - 20.5.2019

IDA total allocation (current and capital) for 2019 increased by €33.7 million when compared with 2018.

Enterprise Ireland total allocation (current and capital) for 2019 increased by €6.8 million when compared with 2018.

LEOs total allocation (current and capital) for 2019 increased by €5 million when compared with 2018.

ITI total allocation (current and capital) for 2019 increased by €1 million when compared with 2018.

Scheme

Expenditure/Cost

Brexit Loan Scheme

The scheme will cost the Exchequer €23 million (€14 million provide by Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and €9 million provided by Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine).

Enterprise Ireland Be Prepared Grant

€304,553 to 16/05/2019

Enterprise Ireland Market Discovery Fund - A support to EI clients to research new markets

€443,786 to 16/05/2019

Enterprise Ireland Agile Innovation Fund - Gives rapid fast-track access to innovation funding

€736,105 to 16/05/2019

Enterprise Ireland Brexit Advisory Clinics

€265,341 to 16/05/2019

Enterprise Ireland Brexit “Act On Programme” – A support funding the engagement of a consultant to devise report with recommendations to help clients address weaknesses and improve resilience

€480,000 to 16/05/2019

Enterprise Ireland Strategic Consultancy Grant – A grant to assist EI clients to hire a strategic consultant for a set period

€1,373,218 to 16/05/2019

Local Enterprise Office Technical Assistance Grant for Micro Export - an incentive for LEO clients to explore and develop new market opportunities

2018 Expenditure

€560,275

1 Jan to 31 st March 2019 Expenditure

€124,607

Local Enterprise Office LEAN for Micro - The LEO Lean4Micro offer was developed in collaboration between the EI Lean department and the LEOs to tailor the EI Lean offer for LEO micro enterprise clients

2018 Expenditure

€951,129

1 Jan to 31st March 2019 Expenditure

€127,121

Local Enterprise Office Mentoring

There isn’t a specific budget allocation for LEO Brexit mentoring. It is included in the LEOs overall Measure 2 allocation.

Local Enterprise Office Brexit Seminars/Events

2018 Expenditure

€128,601

1 Jan to 31st March 2019 Expenditure

€33,181

The Prepare Your Business for Customs workshop helps businesses understand the key customs concepts, documentation and processes required to succeed in a post Brexit world.

2018 Expenditure

n/a

1 Jan to 31st March 2019 Expenditure

€24,600

InterTradeIreland Brexit Start to Plan Vouchers

InterTradeIreland offer two Brexit Vouchers – a planning voucher which provides 100% financial support towards professional advice to help Businesses identify Brexit exposures and to plan.

The second “implementation” voucher provides financial support up to £5,000/€5,625, which allows businesses to implement critical changes making them better prepared to deal with a new trading relationship post-Brexit. InterTradeIreland pay 50% of the cost of this voucher.

Expenditure to date in 2019: £860,000.

Pilot Online Retail Scheme administered by Enteprise Ireland

Eleven retailers were awarded funding in March 2019 as part of the new €1.25m fund, with €625,000 available under the first competitive call to support retail businesses to strengthen their online offering. There will be a second competitive call in 2019 with a fund of €625,000.