Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (100)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

100. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the staff numbers in his Department by grade in each of the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28489/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The information as requested by the Deputy is not immediately available, but is being compiled and will be sent to the Deputy at the earliest opportunity.

Defence Forces Equipment

Ceisteanna (101)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

101. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if funding has been provided for the provision of replacement of Defence Forces MOWAGS armoured personnel carriers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28608/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

My priority as Minister with Responsibility for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service, is maintained to the greatest extent possible to enable the Defence Forces to carry out their roles as assigned by Government.

The acquisition of new equipment and the upgrading of equipment for the Defence Forces remains a clear focus for me. Future equipment priorities for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service are considered in the context of the White Paper on Defence as part of the capability development and equipment priorities planning process.  The principal aim over the period of the White Paper will be to replace and upgrade, as required, existing capabilities in order to retain a flexible response for a wide range of operational requirements both at home and overseas.

In accordance with the National Development Plan, the capital allocation for Defence has been increased to €106 million for 2019, an increase of €29 million. The National Development Plan provides for a total of €541 million for Defence over the period 2018-2022. This level of capital funding will allow the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructural development across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service as identified and prioritised in the Defence White Paper and builds on the significant investment programme over recent years.  

There is a focus on essential force protection by armoured vehicles, with a significant investment being made  in the Army’s fleet of 80 MOWAG Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs).

A multi year mid life upgrade maintenance and upgrade programme of the MOWAG APC fleet is well underway at a cost of €55m plus VAT, which will extend the utility of the fleet and provide greater levels of protection, mobility and firepower and will seek to ensure viability of the fleet out to 2030. The first 20 refurbished vehicles were delivered in 2018 and a further 20 refurbished vehicles are scheduled for delivery this year.

In addition, there has been further investment in the armoured fleet with the acquisition of 24 Armoured Utility Vehicles in 2017, and more recently the acquisition of 10 Combat Support Service Armoured 8 x 8 Drops Vehicles which were delivered in late 2018.

I am satisfied that the Defence Forces have the necessary resources available to them, including a modern and effective range of equipment which is line with best international standards in order to fulfil all roles assigned to them by Government.

Passport Applications

Ceisteanna (102)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

102. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the progress to date in the determination of passport applications in the cases of persons (details supplied); when the application process has concluded and if successful, if the passports applied for through the Irish Embassy in Ottawa can be returned in one package to a person; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28330/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

One of the four applications referred to is for the renewal of an existing Irish passport and was submitted via the online renewal system.

The remaining three applications are paper-based applications which were submitted by the applicants to the Embassy in Ottawa on 26 June and are currently at the initial registration stage.  These applications will be processed under the terms of the Passports Act 2008, which provides, inter alia, that only Irish citizens are entitled to hold Irish passports. Citizenship is determined by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956.

Due to a public holiday in Canada and the subsequent closure of the Embassy in Ottawa, it is not possible at this time to make enquiries as to the citizenship entitlement of the applicants who chose the paper-based route and to establish if all relevant information has been provided. The Passport Service will request that Embassy in Ottawa makes contact with the applicants, after the public holiday, to confirm that the applications have been made in the appropriate manner and are ready to be processed.

With regard to the query on the method by which passports will be returned to the applicants, it is important to note that online and paper based applications are processed differently.

Paper applications received at a mission are, after the appropriate checks have been completed by consular staff, processed and subsequently printed in Ireland before being sent back to the originating mission for dispatch to applicants.

The Passport Service is currently in its peak season for passport demand with the vast majority of applications being received between February and August each year. The current turnaround time for paper applications submitted through our Missions is 37 working days plus postage time.  The three paper applications, once processed, will be sent via the Embassy in Ottawa in one package to the address requested.

When applicants resident in Canada select the online renewal application channel, the passport is sent to the address specified by the applicant in their online application. This passport will not therefore be included in the package with the other three passports.  Online passport applications are currently being processed within a turnaround time of 10 working days plus postage time.

The online passport renewal service is available to Irish citizens who have previously held an Irish passport which has not expired by more than five years. All applicants who are applying for a first Irish passport must continue to make a paper-based application.

Foreign Conflicts

Ceisteanna (103)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

103. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of the situation in Syria; the efforts being made by the EU and the international community to find a resolution to the conflict; the steps he is taking in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28386/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Since 2011, the Syria conflict has cost the lives of well over 400,000 people. The Assad regime and its allies have repeatedly targeted civilians, through deliberate attacks, including chemical attacks, on civilian infrastructure such as homes, hospitals and schools, the use of “starve or surrender” techniques and the denial of humanitarian assistance, and forced displacement in the interest of demographic engineering. Other groups, most notably ISIS, have also perpetrated atrocities. Over 6 million people are displaced inside Syria, and a further 5.6 million have fled to neighbouring countries and the wider region. As the conflict enters its ninth year, nearly 12 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria, and more than 80 per cent of people live below the poverty line.

In recent months, there has been an escalation of the conflict in the north-west of Syria, in the area around Idlib and northern Hama. Conflict there between the regime and other armed groups has killed over 230 civilians, has displaced more than 330,000 people, and has left hundreds injured. I condemn in particular the airstrikes, including barrel bombs, that are reported to have deliberately targeted medical facilities and schools. Those with influence on the Syrian regime have a responsibility to exert pressure to ensure that civilians are protected, and to encourage the Syrian Government to engage fully with the UN-led peace process.

On 27 June 2019, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini issued a statement on behalf of the EU expressing deep concern over the situation in the north-west of Syria, strongly condemning the indiscriminate attacks on civilians, and calling on all sides to immediately cease hostilities, and to ensure the protection of, and unhindered humanitarian assistance, to the civilian population.

Ireland and the EU support the UN-led efforts to bring about a political resolution to the conflict, in accordance with the 2012 Geneva Communiqué and UN Security Council Resolution 2254. The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, is currently focusing his efforts on establishing a constitutional committee, made up of Syrians of different political views, to chart the way forward for the country and unlock a broader political process. Such a process - which should be Syrian-led - will be essential to returning the country to stability. The UN Special Envoy has been engaging directly with Russia, Turkey and Iran on this, and we believe that they have a responsibility to support and assist his efforts. The EU provides direct assistance to the Geneva peace talks and has launched, in coordination with the UN, an initiative to develop political dialogue with key actors from the region to identify common ground. 

Ireland is a strong and consistent donor to the Syria crisis response and our overall funding supports those in need inside Syria as well as Syrian refugees and vulnerable host communities in the region. In March 2019, Ireland pledged a further €25 million to the crisis, bringing the total amount of humanitarian assistance committed to the Syria crisis to over €143 million since 2012 – our largest ever response to any single crisis. To date, Ireland has disbursed €138m of this funding. Through its annual contributions to the EU Institutions, Ireland also supports the EU’s humanitarian response in Syria.

Humanitarian aid will not solve the conflict, though it is important in mitigating its impact on ordinary people. Any sustainable solution to the Syrian conflict requires a genuine political transition, and at the EU-League of Arab States Ministerial meeting in February, I made this point to my EU and Arab counterparts. Ireland and the EU firmly believe that eight years of war have shown that military action cannot bring lasting peace to Syria.

Human Rights

Ceisteanna (104)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

104. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has conveyed concern to the administration of the United States of America regarding the detention of children and the conditions they are being subjected to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28387/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I and my officials are aware of changes in US migration policy, which has seen an increase in the detention of child migrants, particularly along its southern border. We are also aware of reports on the conditions in which some migrant children and their families are being kept.

I have not specifically raised this issue with the US Administration;  however, I and my officials hold regular and constructive discussions with US officials on a range of issues. The new US Ambassador to Ireland, Edward Crawford, has just arrived in Ireland and I look forward to discussing the full range of political issues with him in the near future.

Ireland, for its part, closely abides by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which we have ratified and which sets out clear universal standards and protections for all children.

Article 3 of the Convention states parties shall ensure that the institutions, services and facilities responsible for the care or protection of children shall conform with the standards established by competent authorities, particularly in the areas of safety, health, in the number and suitability of their staff, as well as competent supervision.

Article 9 of the Convention states parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child. Such determination may be necessary in a particular case such as one involving abuse or neglect of the child by the parents, or one where the parents are living separately and a decision must be made as to the child's place of residence.

I note with regret that the United States has signed the CRC but has not ratified it. Ireland is supportive of the implementation of policies globally which live up to the values of the CRC and, in this regard, I hope the situation for migrant children and families, around the world, can be improved.

Human Rights

Ceisteanna (105)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

105. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of the situation in Venezuela; the efforts being made by the EU and the international community to find a resolution to this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28388/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The ongoing political, social, economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela continues to have a devastating effect on the Venezuelan population, and an ever-growing impact on the wider region. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation of Migration announced last month that the number of Venezuelans who have left the country since 2015 has now reached over 4 million. 

The needs of the Venezuelan people are acute. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that 25% of the population, approximately 7 million people, are in need of humanitarian assistance. Health and medical needs are severe with many reported cases of diseases that had previously been eradicated or near eradication and a widespread lack of access to medicines and medical care. Ireland is fully supportive of the UN-coordinated response mechanism for humanitarian aid in the country, and of the €117 million in EU funding since 2018 for humanitarian assistance.

I am also deeply concerned by reported human rights abuses in Venezuela. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet painted a worrying picture of repression and a lack of respect for fundamental freedoms in the country after her visit last month. However, I welcome the engagement of the Government of Venezuela with the Office of High Commissioner Bachelet, and that the Government has agreed that a small team of human rights officers from the Office can be based in the country in order to provide technical assistance and advice, as well as to continue to monitor the human rights situation there. I would urge the Venezuelan authorities to cooperate fully with this team, and to allow them unrestricted access so that they can fully carry out their mandate. 

The recent death of army captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo while in the custody of the Venezuelan security services further highlights the need for the human rights situation in the country to be addressed.  It is another illustration of the arbitrary nature of the judicial system in the country and the lack of guarantees and rights for those under detention. I fully support the EU statement issued on 30 June that calls for a full and independent investigation into Captain Arévalo's death, and that highlights the EU's support for the efforts of High Commissioner Bachelet to ensure that the human rights of all Venezuelans are fully protected. 

Captain Arévalo's death also underscores the urgency of the need to find a solution to this complex crisis. I continue to believe that this crisis can only have a political, peaceful, democratic solution, excluding the use of force, through the holding of free, transparent and credible Presidential elections as soon as possible.

The EU continues to work towards this goal, and Ireland fully supports the EU’s International Contact Group’s dual aims of finding a negotiated electoral path and of enabling the urgent delivery of humanitarian assistance. I also welcome the recent appointment by EU High Representative Mogherini of an EU Special Adviser for Venezuela, Mr Enrique Iglesias. Special Adviser Iglesias will be well placed to engage with relevant stakeholders in Venezuela, and with international and regional actors, in the search for a peaceful solution to the crisis.   

Ireland also welcomes the talks process between the Maduro administration and the opposition, facilitated by Norway, that is currently ongoing in Oslo. Ireland, along with the EU, stands ready to support this process. I fully support the statement released by High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini on 18 June, which underlines the EU's support for this process and calls on all Venezuelan stakeholders to engage in this process in good faith and to pave the way for its success through concrete confidence-building measures.

Middle East Issues

Ceisteanna (106)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

106. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the recent conference held in Bahrain to discuss Palestine and economic initiatives aimed at revitalising the region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28389/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The United States introduced the economic element of their long awaited plan for the Middle East Peace Process, entitled Peace to Prosperity, at a meeting described as a workshop, which took place in Bahrain on 25-26 June. The published document sets out a range of possibilities for economic revitalisation and growth for Palestinians and the neighbouring countries, which could be achieved if the parties can agree a settlement of the conflict, and large scale international investment can be attracted to the region. Part of the purpose of the workshop, which was aimed primarily at Gulf Arab States, was to introduce the plan to such possible donors or investors. Ireland was not represented at the meeting. 

I have always been clear in my view that an economic element can help support a well-thought out political solution, by setting out a vision of a post conflict situation in which all are winners. But as I have stated consistently, it is not possible to solve political problems by economic means alone. Support to the Palestinian people is of course always important and welcome. However, any potential investor or donor, public or private, will be very conscious that the main impediment to economic development for Palestinians, and the reason for the severe contraction of the Palestinian economy over the last two decades, is the web of restrictions due to the Israeli occupation. It is thus very difficult to discuss economic possibilities separate from the political context. 

The EU has encouraged the US in its efforts to develop a peace plan, and Ireland has done this in all our contacts with the US Middle East team. It is my strong view that any plan must address the needs of both sides if it is to be successful. Preparing the ground can also be crucial to winning a considered hearing for any plan, and improved dialogue between the US team and Palestinian community and its leadership will be important in this regard.

Undocumented Irish in the USA

Ceisteanna (107)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

107. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the progress to date in addressing the undocumented Irish in the United States of America; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28411/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The Taoiseach and I have prioritised the issue of Irish immigration in the US since taking office. We will continue our efforts in this regard until we secure progress – both in terms of future legal immigration opportunities for Irish citizens, and also in securing a pathway for those Irish who are undocumented in order to regularise their status.  Special Envoy to the US Congress on the Undocumented, John Deasy T.D., has also worked closely on these issues with my Department.   

I visited the US in early February, for a series of engagements with the US Administration and Congressional leaders.  I raised immigration issues in these meetings, as I have done in all my interactions with the US Administration and US political leaders since taking office.  Additionally, the Taoiseach had a range of engagements at the highest levels of the US Administration and with Congressional leaders over the St Patrick's Day period. 

In April, I was delighted to host events to mark the visit of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and to have the opportunity to discuss with her and the Congressional delegation a range of topics of mutual concern.  Deputy Deasy also participated in the programme, as did officials from my Department.  Through those events and meetings with the Taoiseach and Minister Donohoe, I believe the Speaker and delegation were fully briefed on Irish interests, including on immigration issues and our concerns for those Irish who are undocumented in the US.

These engagements have already borne fruit.  I was pleased to note that an E3 Bill, which if passed, would offer new opportunities for Irish citizens to live and work in the US, was recently reintroduced into the US Congress. Much work still needs to be done for this Bill to become law, and we are under no illusions as to the challenging path ahead. Our Embassy in Washington, D.C. is focusing its efforts on securing the passage of this E3 Bill but we have also not lost sight of the issue of the undocumented Irish in America and the Government, as well as Irish officials across the US, continue to engage on this issue and advocate on behalf of this vulnerable community. 

In addition to this work, my Department, including through our Embassy and Consulates in the US, work alongside the Irish Immigration Centres across the US on an ongoing basis to provide support to those Irish who are undocumented. Each Irish Centre receives significant Government funding through the Emigrant Support Programme for its work, including support for vulnerable Irish and the undocumented. In 2018, over €3 million was allocated to 76 organisations across the US, including the Irish Centres.

Primary Medical Certificates Eligibility

Ceisteanna (108, 110)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

108. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he is reviewing the eligibility criteria for the primary medical certificate; the status of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28324/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

110. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he is reviewing the eligibility criteria for the disabled drivers and passengers tax concession scheme; the annual cost of the scheme; the status of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28325/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 108 and 110 together.

The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme provides relief from VAT and VRT (up to a certain limit) on the purchase of an adapted car for transport of a person with specific severe and permanent physical disabilities, payment of a Fuel Grant, and an exemption from Motor Tax.

To qualify for the Scheme an applicant must be in possession of a Primary Medical Certificate. To qualify for a Primary Medical Certificate, an applicant must satisfy one of the following conditions:

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

- be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

- be without both hands or without both arms;

- be without one or both legs;

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg;

- have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

The Scheme represents a significant tax expenditure. Between the Vehicle Registration Tax and VAT foregone, and the fuel grant, the scheme cost €65m in each of 2016 and 2017, rising to €70m in 2018. This figure does not include the revenue foregone in respect of the relief from Motor Tax provided to members of the Scheme.

I understand and fully sympathise with any person who suffers from a serious physical disability and can’t access the scheme under the current criteria. However, given the scope and scale of the scheme, any possible changes to it can only be made after careful consideration, taking into account the existing and prospective cost of the scheme as well as the availability of other schemes which seek to help with the mobility of disabled persons, and the interaction between each of these schemes.

Accordingly, I have no plans to amend the qualifying medical criteria for the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme at this time.

Tax Code

Question No. 110 answered with Question No. 108.

Ceisteanna (109)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

109. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Finance his views on ticket taxes, kerosene levies and value added tax,respectively, on air travel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28404/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The issue of aviation taxes is currently the subject of discussions amongst Member States and a matter for consideration by the European Commission in the context of its legislative right of initiative. We understand the context in which such discussions are taking place and Ireland will engage in any EU level discussions on this issue in a constructive manner.

Question No. 110 answered with Question No. 108.

Illegal Fuel Sales

Ceisteanna (111)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

111. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Finance if consideration will be given to issues raised by organisations (details supplied) in relation to illicit trade and cross-Border smuggling, substantial financial loss to the Exchequer, serious difficulties created for small and medium enterprises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28372/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The threat that fuel fraud and the illicit tobacco trade pose to legitimate business, to consumers and the Exchequer is clear and I am assured by Revenue that combating such criminality continues to be a priority for them.

Steps taken by Revenue to combat the illegal fuel trade include the introduction of stringent supply chain controls and reporting requirements, and a rigorous programme of enforcement action. In addition, Revenue and the UK Revenue and Customs undertook a joint initiative to introduce a new marker for use in marked fuels, which came into operation from April 2015. Revenue have also conducted random National Sampling Programmes in the years 2016 to 2019, to assess the extent of fuel laundering. The industry view is that the actions taken have been successful in curtailing fuel fraud and the results of Revenue’s sampling programmes support this view.

With regard to solid fuel, I indicated in a recent PQ response that I am advised that Revenue is in contact at present with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment to discuss the effectiveness of the regulatory regime for solid fuel, for which that Department has responsibility, and to explore how Revenue could support the Department to improve matters in light of continuing concerns that solid fuel sourced from Northern Ireland is getting onto the market here. I understand that contacts are ongoing with a view to undertaking a number of joint operations and to explore the scope for follow up action by Revenue in relation to persons found to be in breach of environmental regulations.

Revenue acts against all aspects of the illegal tobacco trade, and uses a combination of risk analysis, profiling and intelligence, and risk-based screening of cargo, vehicles, baggage and postal packages to intercept illicit products. Action after importation includes checks at retail outlets, markets and private and commercial premises.

Revenue and An Garda Síochána collaborate closely in acting against fuel and tobacco crime, and also cooperate closely with their counterparts in Northern Ireland, in the framework of the North-South Joint Agency Task Force. This cooperation plays a key role in targeting the organised crime groups responsible for much of this criminality, who operate across jurisdictions. Recent successes include the detection of an illegal cigarette factory in Jenkinstown, Co. Louth, in March 2018, as well as the detection of a second cigarette factory in Knockbridge, Co. Louth, in March 2019.

I am satisfied that Revenue’s work against fuel fraud and the illicit tobacco trade has achieved a considerable level of success. For my part, I will fully consider any additional proposals for legislative change that may be brought forward by Revenue which would enhance its capacity to deal effectively with fraud and criminality in these areas.

Home Renovation Incentive Scheme

Ceisteanna (112)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

112. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Finance his plans to reintroduce the home renovation incentive scheme; the other tax relief incentives that exist to homeowners to renovate properties, particularly rural dilapidated cottages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28410/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) was introduced by Section 477B of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 in 2014. I currently have no plans to re-introduce the scheme which terminated in accordance with its sunset clause on 31 December 2018.

Under my Department's Tax Expenditure Guidelines, the introduction of new tax incentive measures should only be considered in circumstances where there is a demonstrable market failure and where a tax based incentive is more efficient than a direct expenditure intervention.

The HRI was introduced at a time when there was considerable loss of employment within the construction sector, with the aim of addressing this market failure by stimulating increased activity in the sector. In the current context of a growing economy and construction sector, the initial objectives of the scheme have been fulfilled, and this support is no longer needed in the terms in which it was originally envisaged.

Furthermore, in light of the current housing supply shortage, and the need to deliver 25,000 additional housing units per annum over the period 2017-2021, there is a risk that a reintroduction of the HRI could lead to increased competition for scarce resources within the construction sector, leading to upward pressure on construction costs and house prices. The potential for displacement of labour from work on new builds to work on home renovations would create a high opportunity cost of labour associated with HRI which was not present at the inception of the scheme. As of 2 January 2019, the cost to the Exchequer of the HRI was c. €105 million, with a further €65 million worth of credits yet to be claimed in respect of the incentive. As the Deputy will appreciate, I must be mindful of the public finances and the many demands on the Exchequer; tax reliefs, no matter how worthwhile in themselves, lead to a narrowing of the tax base.

In relation the tax incentive measures for domestic owner-occupiers to renovate their properties, the Living City Initiative (ss.372AAA - 372AAD of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997) which applies to buildings constructed before 1915 located in special regeneration areas in the cities of Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick or Waterford; and the Relief for expenditure on significant buildings and gardens (s.482 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997) which applies to buildings which are of significant scientific, historical, architectural or aesthetic interest and to which reasonable access is afforded to the public, both provide such relief.

Property Tax Exemptions

Ceisteanna (113)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

113. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of households exempted from property tax by county in tabular form; when he expects the households exempted to become liable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28447/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The requested data, (the number of households exempted from property tax by county) as available at 31 December 2018 is set out in tabular form in Revenue's End of Year statistics report for the Local Property Tax, (available at www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/statistics/lpt/local-property-tax-2018.pdf) at page 8 of the document.

The various exemption types are generally open-ended. However, there are two that have a fixed statutory end date of 31 December 2019; i.e. certain properties purchased between 1 January 2013 and 31 December 2013 and trading stock of builder/developer sold in the period 1 January 2013 to 31 October 2019. The number of exemptions claimed is 11,700 and 5,200, respectively. These exemptions have their statutory basis in sections 8 and 9 Finance, respectively, (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 (as amended). In line with my decision to defer the revaluation date to 1 November 2020, all exemptions will be further extended to this date and any necessary legislative provisions will be introduced in due course in an amending LPT Bill.

There is a distinction to be made between (i) exempted properties, which have been detailed above, and (ii) properties built since 2013 which are not liable for LPT. The figures above do not include properties completed after 1 May 2013. That category should be distinguished from those properties that were completed by 1 May 2013. The post 1 May 2013 completed properties do not have to be exempted from LPT as such, because they do not actually come within the ambit of LPT. As they did not exist on 1 May 2013, they will be outside the charge to LPT until the next valuation date of 1 November 2020. The owners of these properties are not required to submit LPT returns or valuations to Revenue, consequently their number is not known by Revenue and Revenue does not compile or publish statistics on these properties.

For the purposes of the LPT review, Revenue and the Dept. of Finance compiled estimates of the potential number of such properties from a combination of Revenue’s Stamp Duty files, CSO data and other information. There are an estimated 60,000-80,000 such properties, depending on the time period being examined.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (114)

James Browne

Ceist:

114. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Finance the rules in relation to inheritance tax and in particular provisions to address a situation for two siblings living in the same house; if there is specific relief for dealing with the cash and assets other than the house between them (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28503/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am informed by Revenue that it is not possible to be definitive about the inheritance tax position in this case given the absence of specific information.

For inheritance tax purposes, the relationship between the person who provides the inheritance (i.e. the disponer) and the person who receives the inheritance (i.e. the beneficiary) determines the life-time tax-free threshold - known as the Group threshold, below which inheritance tax does not arise. It seems that the question may relate to a potential future inheritance passing between siblings, in which case, the Group B threshold (currently €32,500) which applies, inter alia, where the beneficiary is a brother or sister of the disponer would be relevant.

Any prior gift or inheritance received by a beneficiary since 5 December 1991 from within the same Group threshold is aggregated for the purposes of determining whether any tax is payable on a benefit. Where a person receives inheritances that are in excess of his or her relevant tax-free threshold, inheritance tax at a rate of 33% applies on the excess over the tax-free threshold.

While there are no specific reliefs provided for siblings living together, they may bequeath assets to each other free from inheritance tax provided the value of the assets does not exceed the relevant tax-free Group thresholds when previous gifts and bequests to the individual are considered.

In addition, siblings can avail of the ‘dwelling house exemption’ to bequeath their principal private residence to another sibling which allows for property to be inherited tax-free irrespective of its value subject to certain conditions. The main conditions are that the beneficiary must have lived in the house that was the sole residence of the disponer for at least three year prior to the inheritance and for six years after the inheritance and must not have an interest in any other house

Office of Public Works Projects

Ceisteanna (115)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

115. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if funding will be provided for the development of Nenagh Castle and surrounds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28373/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Nenagh Castle has already been fully conserved and is open to the public, so no further investment is therefore required in the historic building in the short term.

The question of rehabilitation and adaptation of the nearby two derelict houses on Pearse St. is currently under review in the context of future tourism development of the entire historic town quarter and once an appropriate strategy in relation to this has been agreed, an appropriate funding source will be identified and resources sought, since OPW has no monies available to it currently for any project at the site.

Garda Station Refurbishment

Ceisteanna (116)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

116. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the refurbishment works the OPW carried out at Garda stations in the Roscommon-Longford Garda division in which the value of works was in excess €5,000 in 2018 and to date in 2019; the works carried out at each station; if the refurbishment works are completed or still ongoing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28603/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I can confirm that the Office of Public Works has carried out refurbishment works valued at greater than €5000 in seven Garda Stations in the Roscommon Longford Division in 2018 and 2019. Details of these works are given in the table. All of these works are complete and included works funded by both the Office of Public Works and An Garda Síochána.

Garda Station

Description

Year

Boyle GS, Co Roscommon

Heating upgrade works

2018

Boyle GS, Co Roscommon

Roof works

2019

Athleague GS, Co Roscommon

Radon remedial works

2018

Athleague GS, Co Roscommon

Works to the boundary wall

2019

Strokestown GS, Co Roscommon

Flood repair works

2018

Roscommon GS, Co Roscommon

Replacement window works

2018

Roscommon GS, Co Roscommon

Installation of automatic gates

2019

Granard GS, Co Longford

Interior decoration

2018

Granard GS, Co Longford

Electrical works

2018

Smear GS, Co Longford

Roof works

2019

Longford GS, Co Longford

General refurbishment works

2018

Longford GS, Co Longford

Works to the boundary wall

2019

Apprenticeship Data

Ceisteanna (117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 162, 163, 164, 165, 175, 176, 177, 178, 180, 181, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 192, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200, 201, 202, 203)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

117. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017; if he will seek equality of allowances for all apprenticeships in Budget 2020; the estimated cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28614/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

118. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new apprenticeships developed since 2017; the number of apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28615/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

119. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017; the number of new apprenticeships developed since 2017; the number of apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017; if equality of allowances will be sought for all apprenticeships in Budget 2020; the estimated cost in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28622/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

120. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28629/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

121. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new apprenticeships developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28630/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

122. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28631/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

123. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills if equality of allowances for all apprenticeships will be sought in Budget 2020; the estimated cost for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28673/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

124. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of apprentices enrolled by apprenticeship programme developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28674/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

125. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new apprenticeships developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28675/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

126. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28676/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

131. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if equality of allowances for all apprenticeships in Budget 2020 will be allowed; the estimated cost in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28745/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

132. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new apprenticeships developed since 2017 to date; the number of apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28746/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

133. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28748/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

134. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28789/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

135. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if equality of allowances for all apprenticeships will be sought in Budget 2020; the estimated cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28790/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

136. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28842/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

137. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new apprenticeships developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28843/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

138. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28844/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Collins

Ceist:

139. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017. [28849/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Collins

Ceist:

140. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new apprenticeships developed since 2017. [28850/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Collins

Ceist:

141. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017. [28851/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Collins

Ceist:

142. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if equality of allowances will be sought for all apprenticeships in Budget 2020; the estimated cost in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28852/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

143. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017. [28863/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

144. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new apprenticeships developed since 2017. [28864/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

145. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017. [28865/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

146. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if equality of allowances will be sought for all apprenticeships in Budget 2020; and the estimated cost in this regard. [28866/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

147. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of apprentices developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29128/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brassil

Ceist:

148. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29172/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brassil

Ceist:

149. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29170/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joe Carey

Ceist:

150. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29138/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joe Carey

Ceist:

151. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29136/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

152. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29127/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

153. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29129/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

154. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29124/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

155. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017; the number of new apprenticeships developed since 2017; the number of apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017; if he will consider equality of allowances for all apprenticeships in Budget 2020; the cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29154/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

156. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29236/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

157. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills if equality of allowances for apprenticeships will be sought in Budget 2020; the estimated cost in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29239/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

158. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29282/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

159. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new apprenticeships developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29283/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

160. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29284/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

161. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if equality of allowances will be sought for apprenticeships in Budget 2020; the estimated cost in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29285/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

162. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29290/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

163. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new apprenticeships developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29291/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

164. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29292/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

165. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if equality of allowances will be sought for apprenticeships in Budget 2020; the estimated cost in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29293/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

175. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 are and will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017. [28483/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

176. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new apprenticeship courses developed since 2017; and the number of apprentices enrolled by year. [28484/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

177. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will seek equality of allowances for all apprenticeships in the forthcoming Budget; and if so, the estimated cost of same. [28485/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

178. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017; the number of new apprenticeships developed since 2017; the number of apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017; if equality of allowances for all apprenticeships in Budget 2020 will be considered; the estimated cost as a result; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28493/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

180. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28497/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

181. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new apprenticeships developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28498/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

182. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28499/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

183. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Education and Skills if equality of allowances for all apprenticeships will be provided in Budget 2020; the estimated cost for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28500/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

James Browne

Ceist:

184. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28504/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

185. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a reply will issue to correspondence from an association (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28508/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

James Browne

Ceist:

186. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new apprenticeships developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28510/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

James Browne

Ceist:

187. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28511/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

James Browne

Ceist:

188. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will seek for equality of allowances for all apprenticeships in Budget 2020; the estimated cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28512/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

192. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28542/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

193. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new apprenticeships developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28543/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

194. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28544/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

195. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if equality of allowances for all apprenticeships will be sought in Budget 2020; the estimated cost for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28545/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

196. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all new apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017 will receive the same allowances for apprentices attending college as apprenticeships developed prior to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28546/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

197. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new apprenticeships developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28547/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

198. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of apprentices enrolled per apprenticeship programme developed since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28548/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

199. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills if equality of allowances for all apprenticeships will be introduced in Budget 2020; the estimated cost for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28549/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

200. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of apprentices that have participated on each apprenticeship programme since 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28570/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

201. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the apprenticeship programmes developed since 2017; his plans to roll out more programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28571/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

202. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the new apprenticeship programmes rolled out since 2017 will have the same allowances as apprentices attending college; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28572/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

203. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to introduce similar allowances for all apprenticeships; if so, the estimated cost for such allowances; the estimated additional costs that will be incurred in ensuring equality of allowances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28573/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 117 to 126, inclusive, 131 to 165, inclusive, 175 to 178, inclusive, 180 to 188, inclusive, and 192 to 203, inclusive, together.

This Government is committed to the ongoing expansion and development of our national apprenticeship system, as is evident by a year on year increase in the budget allocation. This year’s allocation for apprenticeship training is €142m which represents an increase of over 16% on the 2018 allocation of €122m. Since 2015 new apprenticeship registrations have increased by 80% with 5,648 new registrations by the end of 2018. In addition, following two calls for proposals in 2015 and 2017 by the Apprenticeship Council, to date twenty new apprenticeship programmes have been developed and are now operational to complement the existing 25 craft apprenticeships.

These include three chef apprenticeships in the hospitality sector in the occupations of commis chef, chef de partie and sous chef. A further programme in the occupation of executive chef is also in development and due to be rolled out in 2020.

It is important to note that the structure of these new consortia led apprenticeship programmes are different to those in the craft trades. Our new consortia-led apprenticeships offer more flexibility to employers in meeting their skill needs both in the duration of the programme and in terms of the delivery of the off-the-job training. These new apprenticeship programmes vary in length from 2 to 4 years and have different methods of off-the-job training such as one day per week, as is the case with the chef apprenticeships, and on-line blended learning rather than the traditional block release of up to 22 weeks in an education setting, as is the case in the craft trades. While there is no training allowance paid to apprentices undertaking one of our new apprenticeships, I am aware that some employers engaged in the system have raised this as an issue. However, any change in this regard, which has not yet been costed by the Department, would have to form part of the normal budgetary process and be considered in the broader context of competing demands and the overall availability of resources.

In addition to the apprenticeship programmes, there are a range of other programmes available in the hospitality area across further education and training and higher education settings. Similarly, there are employer-led training supported through Skillnet Ireland, such as the Restaurant and Hospitality Skillnet, which was established in 2017, and the Taste 4 Success Skillnet to address skill needs in the sector.

Details of apprentice population per apprenticeship programme as requested by the deputy are set out in the following tabular statement.

Apprentice Population

20 New Apprenticeships developed Since 2016

2016

2017

2018

2019*

AUCTIONEERING

Auctioneering & property services

n/a

n/a

52

58

Total

52

58

BIOPHARMACHEM

Laboratory Analyst

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Laboratory Technician

n/a

n/a

14

15

Total

n/a

n/a

14

15

Electrical 

Industrial Electrical Engineering

12

31

54

58

Total

12

31

54

58

ENGINEERING 

Manufacturing Engineering (Level 6)

n/a

39

73

75

Manufacturing Engineering (Level 7)

n/a

36

55

55

Polymer Processing Technology

n/a

23

38

42

Original Equipment and Manufacture (OEM)

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Total

n/a

98

166

172

FINANCE

Accounting Technician

n/a

71

146

175

Insurance Practice

67

138

197

190

International Financial Services Associate

n/a

14

25

27

International Financial Services Specialist

n/a

14

24

24

Total

67

237

392

416

FOOD MANUFACTURING

Butcher

n/a

n/a

7

14

Total

n/a

n/a

7

14

HOSPITALITY 

Chef de Partie

n/a

n/a

27

28

Commis Chef

n/a

25

105

91

Sous Chef

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Total

n/a

25

132

119

ICT

ICT Associate Professional Network Technician

n/a

n/a

22

51

ICT Associate Professional Software Developer

n/a

n/a

38

63

Cybersecurity Associate

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Total

n/a

n/a

60

114

LOGISTICS

Logistics Associate

n/a

n/a

27

27

Grand Total

79

 391

904

993

* Latest figure as of the 31st May 2019