Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (298)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

298. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of a stamp 4 application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29497/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that there is no record of a request from the person concerned for permission to reside in the State on Stamp 4 conditions. I also understand that it would appear the person's presence in the State may be unlawful as their most recent permission to remain in the State expired in April, 2017.  

The Deputy will appreciate that, under the relevant provisions of the Immigration Act, 2004, a non-national may not be in the State other than within the terms of a permission from the Minister for Justice and Equality.  In order to allow for a full examination of the person's circumstances, the person concerned should write to Unit 2, Domestic Residence and Permissions Division, INIS, 13/14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2 and provide a detailed account and documentary evidence of their personal circumstances since the expiration of their permission to reside in this State.  

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS of my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from the INIS is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Departmental Contracts Data

Ceisteanna (299)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

299. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the costs paid to a company (details supplied) for projects each was engaged by his Department in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the reason it was engaged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29556/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The following table outlines the costs paid to Deloitte for projects for which that company was engaged by my Department in each of the years in question.

Year

Cost €

Reason Company was engaged

2015

€151,237.82

Ongoing support and maintenance of the Asylum and Immigration Strategic Integration Programme (AISIP) system

2016

€132,978.36

Ongoing support and maintenance of the AISIP system

2016

€87,883.50

Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) website development

2017

€18,942

INIS website development

2017

€292,470.03

Ongoing support and maintenance of the AISIP system

2017

€43,080.73

Development of the online forms platform for INIS

2017

€8,117.99

Backend maintenance and adjustments to the INIS Appointments System

2017

€35,473

Development work on Online System for Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Unit

2018

€40,129

Development of suite of software facilities for Criminal Justice Operational Hub

2018

€254,893.51

Ongoing support and maintenance of the AISIP system

2018

€48,868

ICT - Microsoft SharePoint development

2018

€19,262

ICT - Moving to a Microsoft-based environment from Domino

2018

€51,123.11

Backend maintenance and adjustments to the INIS Appointments System

2018

€66,333.28

Development of the online forms platform for INIS

2018

€23,431.50

AISIP Review in advance of upgrade

2018

€172.217.83

First upgrade of AISIP since installation in 2011 to bring application software up to a supportable level

2019

€128,055

ICT - Microsoft SharePoint development

2019

€54,218

Migration of our website hosting out of the Local Government Management Agency

2019

€44,786

ICT consultancy in respect of Department's Transformation Programme

2019

€62,407.12

Ongoing support and maintenance of the AISIP system

2019

€31,265.37

Backend maintenance and adjustments to the INIS Appointments System

2019

€102,130.59

Development of the online forms platform for INIS

Deportation Orders Re-examination

Ceisteanna (300)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

300. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a decision will be reviewed to deport a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29611/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person concerned is the subject of a Deportation Order signed on 21 July 2009.  This Order requires the person to remove themselves from the State and remain outside the State.  The enforcement of the Deportation Order is a matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau. 

Representations were received from the person concerned, pursuant to the provisions of Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), requesting that the Deportation Order be revoked.  Following the detailed consideration of the information submitted in support of the request, the Deportation Order was affirmed and notified to the person concerned by letter dated 12 October 2018.

It is open to the person concerned to submit further representations requesting that the Deportation Order be revoked, pursuant to Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended).  However, I wish to make clear that such an application would require substantial grounds to be successful.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS of my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose.  This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process.  The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from the INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Citizenship Applications

Ceisteanna (301)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

301. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the cost for a pensioner to apply for citizenship. [29662/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the fees to be paid by an applicant for a certificate of naturalisation are governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 569 of 2011). 

An application fee of €175 is payable on application for a certificate of naturalisation and a certification fee is payable on the issue of a certificate of naturalisation.  The standard certification fee is set at €950, while a reduced fee of €200 applies in the case of an application made on behalf of a minor or in certain cases where the application is made by a widow, widower or surviving civil partner of an Irish citizen.  In the case of recognised refugees and stateless persons the certification fee is nil.

There is no provision in the Regulations for the discretionary waiver or reduction of fees, or for differing fees to apply to different nationalities, duration of residency or age.  The current rate of fees are comparable with other jurisdictions.

The standard fees payable by an applicant are designed to reflect the effort and cost involved in processing applications for a certificate of naturalisation.  In respect of non-EEA nationals, the requirement to register immigration permissions which requires payment of a fee of €300 - usually per annum - no longer applies once citizenship is granted. The Deputy will be aware that formal citizenship ceremonies have been introduced at no extra cost to applicants. These have been universally well received by participants as the ceremonies provide a sense of dignity and occasion that serves to underscore the importance to both the State and the applicant of the granting of Irish citizenship.

Garda Resources

Question No. 303 answered with Question No. 278.

Ceisteanna (302)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

302. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the Garda divisions that have and have not respectively a specialised unit to deal with cases of sexual violence. [29724/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of resources among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that to date, Divisional Protective Services Units have been established in DMR South Central, Waterford, Kerry, Kilkenny, Carlow, Limerick and Galway Garda Divisions. These Units are in addition to those previously established in DMR West, Cork City and Louth Divisions in the initial phase of this initiative. 

The Commissioner has assured me that the remaining Division Protective Service Units will be rolled-out to the remaining 19 Garda Divisions, on a phased basis, before the end of Q4 2019, in accordance with the targets set out in 'A Policing Service for the Future', the implementation plan giving effect to the recommendations of the Commission for the Future of Policing in Ireland.

Question No. 303 answered with Question No. 278.

Naturalisation Eligibility

Ceisteanna (304)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

304. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the eligibility for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29795/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that there is no record of an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy, who currently has permission to reside in the State until 22 February 2022.

It is open to any individual to lodge an application for a certificate of naturalisation if and when they are in a position to meet the statutory requirements as prescribed in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended.

Full details of the eligibility criteria and extensive guidelines are available on the INIS website at www.inis.gov.ie 

The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements not only within the State but also at European Union level and I know the Deputy will appreciate that it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS of my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from the INIS is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Road Traffic Offences

Ceisteanna (305)

John Curran

Ceist:

305. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress made to date to tackle the illegal use of scrambler and quad bikes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29813/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

In responding to parliamentary question 203 of 14 May 2019, I noted that legal advice received from the Office of the Attorney General indicated that, in the main, current road traffic and public order legislation appear to provide sufficient means to police this issue. This view was shared by representatives from Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and An Garda Síochána who attended the last sitting of the cross-agency group on 15 March. 

While it was agreed by that, in the main, road current legislative provisions appear to be sufficient, it was also agreed that the group would remain open to considering workable legislative solutions in the event that specific legislative gaps are identified by An Garda Síochána.

Separately, on 5 February, my officials wrote to the Garda Commissioner to seek his formal views on the legal advice, in the hope of addressing the legislative matter in as much detail as possible. A response to the aforementioned request to the Garda Commissioner was subsequently received on 28 June. This response is now being considered by my officials, and will be discussed in detail with the relevant stakeholders within the cross-agency group.

Tribunals of Inquiry Expenditure

Ceisteanna (306)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

306. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount spent on tribunals, commissions of investigation and statutory inquiries in each of the years 2009 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by inquiry, tribunal or commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29837/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I wish to confirm to the Deputy that the information sought cannot be provided in the time allowed. As soon as the information has been collated I will write to the Deputy on the matter.

Legislative Reviews

Ceisteanna (307)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

307. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the legislative review relating to hate crime and incitement to hatred in the context of integration policy and the EU Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law has been completed; if the review will be made public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29873/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, my Department is currently reviewing the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989.  The review is examining the efficacy of the legislation and what amendments might be required in order to ensure it is effective and fit for purpose in a modern democracy.  A public consultation on the Act is due to commence shortly and will be published on the Department's website.

Separately, the Department is undertaking research into hate crime (offences under the general criminal law, such as assault or criminal damage, that are committed with a hate or bias motivation), to learn from the approaches taken in other jurisdictions and collect important information about the effectiveness or otherwise of current practice in Irish law. This research will be completed in Q4 of this year and the results will help develop new approaches to ensure hate crime is addressed effectively in this jurisdiction.   

Taken together, this work will significantly advance our understanding of what is needed to ensure that legislation in this important area protects and supports those who are vulnerable to expressions and acts of hatred.  I will carefully consider the outcome with a view to bringing forward any necessary proposals for change.

Immigration Data

Ceisteanna (308, 309)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

308. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of children that received deportation orders in each of the past five years in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29874/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

309. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of children successful in receiving humanitarian leave to remain in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29875/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 308 and 309 together.

The information requested by the Deputy in respect of the last five years is set out in the following table:

Year

Numbers of children granted *humanitarian leave to remain

Numbers of children in respect of whom a Deportation Order was made

2014

336

44

2015

638

52

2016

278

109

2017

83

88

2018

152

92

 * humanitarian leave to remain is a term sometimes used to describe the nature of permission granted where a decision is taken to not make a Deportation Order under section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended).

In deciding whether to make a deportation process or not, family units are examined together and full consideration is given to all aspects of the case, including rights under the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

Garda Equipment

Ceisteanna (310)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

310. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of marked and unmarked Garda cars and vans attached to each Garda district in the Kilkenny-Carlow Garda division as of 30 June 2018 and 25 June 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29891/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached unprecedented levels, with an allocation for 2019 of €1.76 billion.  Very significant capital investment is also being made in An Garda Síochána, including a total of €46 million for investment in the Garda fleet between 2016 and 2021.  This continuing investment is intended to ensure that An Garda Síochána can be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime. 

The Deputy may also wish to be aware that a total of €10 million has been made available for the purchase and fit-out of Garda vehicles in 2019.  I understand from the Garda authorities that this allocation will be used for purchase and fit-out of over 300 new vehicles for operational use this year.

As the Deputy will appreciate, in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005 as amended, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána.  Further, the allocation of Garda resources is a matter for the Commissioner, in light of identified operational demands. This includes responsibility for the allocation of Garda vehicles among the various Garda divisions.  As Minister, I have no role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure their optimum use.

The Garda authorities advise that the following table outlines the number of vehicles assigned to Kilkenny/Carlow Division Fleet for the dates requested by the Deputy. For operational reasons, a breakdown of marked and unmarked vehicles is not included in the table.

Kilkenny/Carlow Division Fleet as of 30 June 2019

Cars

Vans

Total 

KILKENNY/CARLOW DIVISION

52

18

70

CARLOW DISTRICT

11

5

16

KILKENNY DISTRICT

26

8

34

THOMASTOWN DISTRICT

15

5

20

Kilkenny/Carlow Division Fleet as of 30 June 2018

Cars

Vans

Total

KILKENNY/CARLOW DIVISION

56

16

72

CARLOW DISTRICT

13

4

17

KILKENNY DISTRICT

29

7

36

THOMASTOWN DISTRICT

14

5

19

Legal Aid Service Expenditure

Ceisteanna (311)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

311. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the cost of legal aid nationally in each of the years 2015 to 2018, by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29969/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware there are two categories of legal aid. These are civil legal aid and criminal legal aid. In answer to the Deputy’s question I can provide the following information in respect of each of these categories of legal aid:

Firstly, the provision of civil legal aid in the State is delivered by the Legal Aid Board pursuant to the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 and the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996 to 2017. The Board operates 30 full time law centres and a number of part time law centres in Ireland. The Board also provides mediation services to help separating couples to negotiate their own agreement.

The majority of the Board's income consists of a grant received from my Department. This funding is used to provide the Board's services in all its offices across the country, as well as the support services provided to law centres centrally from the Board's head office.

It is not possible to extract and isolate the total cost of civil legal aid in any one office/county in a given year as it would be necessary to devise a basis on which to attribute, to each county, all expenditure incurred by the Board centrally. Complexities may also arise at local level with regard to the delivery of civil legal aid, for example a client living in County Limerick may choose to apply to Ennis Law Centre. Also, in a case where two parties to a dispute seek the services of the Legal Aid Board at one law centre, one party will be required to engage with a different law centre, which may be in a neighbouring county.

Funding provided to the Legal Aid Board by my Department for the years 2015-2018 is provided in the following table:

Year

Budget Allocation 

€m   

2015

32.471

2016

34.838

2017

38.988

2018

40.275

 

In the case of criminal legal aid, the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962, which is the primary legislation covering the operation of the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, provides that free legal aid may be granted, in certain circumstances, for the defence of persons of insufficient means in criminal proceedings. Under the 1962 Act, the courts, through the judiciary, are responsible for the granting of legal aid. Under the Constitution, the State is obliged to provide an accused person with the means to obtain appropriate legal representation.

As in the situation with civil legal aid, statistics for criminal legal aid are not compiled in such a manner as to readily identify expenditure on a county by county basis.

Expenditure on criminal legal aid in each of the years 2015 to 2018 is set out in the following table.

Year 

Expenditure

€m

2015

€50.879

2016

€52.998

2017

€58.139

2018

€64.806

Waste Management

Ceisteanna (312)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

312. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his Department has ceased the purchase and use of single-use plastics; the public bodies and agencies under his remit to which he has issued an instruction to cease the purchase and use of single-use plastics; when the instruction issued; the bodies which have confirmed that they no longer purchase and use single-use plastics, respectively; the bodies which have not provided such confirmation to date; when they will confirm; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29989/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

My Department's staff and key suppliers were informed directly upon receipt of the Government Decision of 3 January to cease purchase, directly or indirectly, of certain single-use plastics, namely beverage cups, cutlery and drinking straws. The purchase of new stocks of those items was ceased immediately.

On 9 January, the Justice Sector’s Energy Performance Officer wrote to the bodies operating under my Department’s aegis (listed below), advising them of the Decision.

Bodies were asked to provide me with details, by end-November 2019, on the measures being taken to minimise waste generation and to maximise recycling. 

My own Department recently launched a Green Team, which will be working to raise awareness among staff on environmental and sustainability issues generally, including the need to minimise waste and energy use and to maximise recycling.

I have contacted the listed bodies to request that they provide a direct reply to the Deputy on their progress to date in implementing the Government Decision.

The relevant bodies are:

An Garda Síochána

Courts Service

Garda Síochána Inspectorate

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission

Insolvency Service of Ireland

Inspector of Prisons

Irish Film Classification Office

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

Irish Prison Service

Legal Aid Board

Legal Services Regulatory Authority

National Disability Authority

Office of the Data Protection Commissioner

Policing Authority

Private Security Authority

Probation and Welfare Service

Property Services Regulatory Authority

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (313)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

313. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the person or body responsible for inspecting direct provision centres; the regularity with which these inspections occur; the parameters for the inspections; if the reports have provoked action from his Department; if so, the details in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30029/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

All accommodation centres providing services to persons seeking international protection are subject to an inspection programme.  Each centre is programmed to receive three inspections annually. Two of these inspections are carried out by staff of the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) and the third is carried out by an independent company (QTS Limited). All inspections are unannounced.

The inspections look at a wide range of issues such as fire safety issues, food hygiene, food quality, information provision, general security and emergency details, child protection issues, provision of TV and Wi-Fi services, staff rosters and the upkeep of all communal areas and bedrooms.

Any issue identified is communicated in writing to the contractor and the contractor is required to address any issue identified immediately. Staff from RIA follow up to ensure that relevant issues have been addressed. 

A historical record of inspections and subsequent communications with contractors up to 2018 is available on www.ria-inspections.gov.ie. This website is currently being upgraded and up to date inspections and correspondence will be available shortly.

My Department is also reviewing the inspection regime with a view to the new standards which will come into operation in January 2021 to ensure that the inspection programme appropriately examines the delivery of accommodation and ancillary services in line with the standards.

Ticket Touting

Ceisteanna (314)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

314. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of complaints and queries submitted to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission relating to the resale of tickets and ticket touting in 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29195/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is the statutory body responsible for the enforcement of competition and consumer law in the State.  Section 9(5) of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 provides that the CCPC is independent in the performance of its functions.  As these functions include the day-to-day operational work arising from contacts by consumers to the Commission, I, as Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, have no direct function in such matters.

Notwithstanding this, the CCPC have informed me that the number of consumer and competition-related contacts regarding ticketing logged on its consumer contact line in 2018 and up to end-June 2019 is as follows.  

Year 

No. of contacts 

2018     

350

To end-June 2019                 

182

As these figures cover all contacts to the Commission regarding ticketing, it is not possible to identify how many relate specifically to ticket resale and touting.

Working Holiday Programmes

Ceisteanna (315)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

315. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she will address a matter raised in correspondence by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29260/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Working Holiday Authorisation (WHA) is an agreement with other governments which allows young people of both countries to fund an extended holiday through temporary work. My colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade has responsibility for the Working Holiday Authorisation scheme on the basis of the reciprocal arrangements agreed for Irish citizens travelling and working in these other States.

A person who holds a WHA is required to obtain permission from my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality to enter, reside and work (under the terms of the WHA) in the State. This permission allows the foreign national to work as per the terms of the WHA. It is a condition of the WHA that the foreign national leave the State on expiration of their permission. Questions relating to immigration permission fall under the remit of the Department of Justice and Equality.

Upon expiration of the WHA, and after they have left the State, a foreign national may submit an application for an employment permit, on foot of an eligible job offer, which will be considered subject to the usual criteria applying under the Employment Permits Acts and Regulations.

As the economy improves and we approach full employment, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) has experienced a high volume of employment permit applications which has led to some delays in processing applications.

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 thirteen weeks for Standard applications, which account for 29% of permits issued. Applicants continue to be advised to apply for the employment permit 12 weeks in advance of the expected start date to minimize the impact of the current extended processing timelines on recruitment timeframes.

Labour Court Recommendations

Ceisteanna (316)

Noel Rock

Ceist:

316. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a company (details supplied) has not replied to a Labour Court recommendation issued on 5 April 2019 in relation to pay increases to long-term staff; if assistance can be offered in the dispute; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29269/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I am aware that the Labour Court issued a recommendation on the 5th April 2019 in relation to a claim before it.

Ireland’s system of industrial relations is based in voluntarism and it has been the consistent policy of successive Irish Governments to support the development of an institutional framework supportive of this voluntary system through which good industrial relations can prosper. In line with the voluntary nature of industrial relations in Ireland, recommendations of the Labour Court made under industrial relations legislation are not binding on the parties although it is expected that the parties involved give serious consideration to the Court’s Recommendation. Given this voluntarist approach there is no requirement under the legislation for any party to make a response to a Labour Court Recommendation.

The Labour Court is an independent statutory body which discharges its functions independently of the Minister. This being the case, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on this matter.

I would urge both sides to continue to engage constructively with each other and to remain engaged with the State's industrial relations machinery in order to resolve the issues in dispute.

Retail Sector

Ceisteanna (317)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

317. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she has consulted with the Department of Finance regarding aspects of e-commerce and its potential impact on high street retailers; her plans to establish a working group on e-commerce and high street retail in the context of impacts of one on the other; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29271/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

My Department has responsibility for the E-Commerce Directive (2000/31/EC) and the Statutory Instrument that transposed the Directive – European Communities (Directive 2000/31/EC) Regulations 2003 (SI No 68 of 2003). The E-Commerce Act 2000 is dealt with by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

The Digital Single Market (DSM) agenda, led by my Department, is a whole of government approach coordinated across Government. The Interdepartmental Committee (IDC) on the Digital Single Market, is chaired by my colleague Pat Breen TD, Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection. The key focus of the IDC is on ensuring effective whole-of-Government engagement with the EU DSM agenda. The Department of Finance/Public Expenditure and Reform is represented on the IDC.

The Department of Finance has responsibility for the Modernisation of VAT regimes for eCommerce. In January 2021 new changes will come into effect on the existing VAT regime which will have a significant impact for E-commerce and high street retailers in general. The main change will be the removal of the existing VAT exemption for goods from outside the EU with a value less than €22. This will mean that vendors (or online platforms facilitating the vendor) must charge the rate of VAT applicable in the country they are selling into. This should address the cost advantages that non-EU vendors currently benefit from.

Additionally, the one-stop shop for VAT registration of distance sales will be extended. This will mean that online traders will no longer have to register for VAT for business-to-consumer transactions in each of the member states in which they sell, thereby reducing costs. This will be a significant simplification and easing of the administrative processes involved in selling across the EU. Together these changes should level the playing field for Irish companies and help them better compete both online and in the High Street.

As set out in Future Jobs Ireland 2019, all businesses, regardless of size or sector, in today’s digital environment need to focus on building competitive online capability. It is clear that the retail sector is undergoing an exciting but also challenging transformation as the digital economy provides a different retail experience for consumers across Ireland and beyond. Digitalisation has increased the scope for competition in the retail sector, as reflected in the growth in online shopping and changing consumer preferences in terms of how people are shopping in town centres. Sustaining physical retail outlets requires adaptation: many retailers now offer multiple sales channels to sell their goods, from physical stores, to social media, mobile apps and websites.

The Retail Consultation Forum (RCF), which I chair, was established in 2014 to provide a platform for engagement between retail representative bodies, retailers and the public sector on key concerns for the retail sector. The Department of Finance is represented on the RCF.

As part of the Forum’s work, the 'Framework for Town Centre Renewal' was launched in April 2017. The Framework supports towns and villages through their Local Authorities to address the challenges of creating a vibrant and viable town centre. It sets out the key characteristics of a successful town centre and identifies existing supports and best practice examples from around the country. The Framework also serves as a support document for towns and villages applying for funding streams under Project 2040 including; the €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund and the €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund which can be leveraged to support the regeneration and viability of town centres.

As Chair of the RCF, I have prioritised supporting the retail sector to develop their online capability and enhance their competitiveness. In support of this, and through the Forum, I have introduced a new Online Retail Scheme administered by Enterprise Ireland. The Online Retail Scheme supports retail businesses of 10 employees or more who are ready to strategically grow their online capability, with grants of between €10,000 and €25,000 on a 50 percent match fund basis. The second call for the Online Retail Scheme opened on 19th June and will close on 31st July this year.

A sub-group of the RCF focusing on skills has worked to identify the key skills challenges facing retailers today and to identify practical proposals to address those challenges. Digital skills were identified as a critical requirement along with marketing and logistics. Forum member, Retail Ireland Skillnet, has since developed a retail specific digital course and will also, in September 2019, launch the first Apprenticeship in Retail Supervision.

The agencies of my Department offer a range of supports to assist businesses with aspects of e-commerce. Of particular relevance to the retail sector, the LEOs nationwide actively promote the Trading Online Voucher Scheme (TOVS) on behalf of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. The TOVS offers matched financial assistance of up to €2,500, along with training and advice, to micro companies (10 or less employees) who want to establish an online presence for the first time, or who wish to expand a basic existing website to incorporate a more substantive online trading capacity. The LEOs also offer a wide range of short training programmes which are available to high street retailers to support their clients in building their online presence and to compete in the online marketplace.

In light of the continuing work of the Retail Consultation Forum and its focus on the current and future developmental needs of the retail sector, the ongoing whole of Government engagement on the DSM agenda, as well as the 2019 commitment under Future Jobs Ireland for my Department to commence a study to understand the full extent and impact of digital transformation on retail business models, I have no plans at present to establish a working group on e-commerce and high-street retail.

Trade Agreements

Ceisteanna (318)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

318. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the EU-Mercosur trade deal agreed in principle on 28 June 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29274/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

It is important, first and foremost, to acknowledge how vital international trade deals are for Ireland. As a small, open, export-led economy, we very much support balanced international Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) as they help to open up greater market access at reduced costs.

The EU-Mercosur deal was agreed in principle on 28th June after nearly 20 years of negotiations. Irish exporters have been subject to trade tariffs, barriers and restrictions when exporting to Mercosur. This Agreement will see a significant reduction, or elimination of tariffs and barriers to trade that will allow a cross flow of trading and investment between Ireland and the rest of the EU, and the Mercosur region. The EU-Mercosur Agreement will make exports from Ireland more attractive and potentially increase the demand for Irish products.

Trade with the Mercosur region has grown by 19% in the period 2010 to 2016. The EU-Mercosur Agreement will, we anticipate, allow Irish exporters to expand faster, and will open opportunities across a wide range of sectors – in business services, chemicals, machinery, medical devices and processed food and dairy. In this regard, analysis by my Department has estimated that a potential doubling of annual goods and services exports from Ireland is possible over the period to 2030.

However, I and my Government colleagues recognise and appreciate the very genuine concerns expressed by the farming community in relation to aspects of the EU-Mercosur deal, most notably the beef tariff rate quota.

The agreement reached on beef access is more than we had wished. In that regard, I raised our concerns on our agricultural sensitivities at every opportunity at European Trade Council meetings. I also raised it directly with the Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, including as recently as 31st May when I wrote to the Commissioner, once again, highlighting our serious concerns, particularly given the current challenges and uncertainty facing the Irish beef sector in light of Brexit. Additionally, there has been a sustained effort right across Government in relation to this aspect, with both Minister Creed and the Taoiseach also raising this element at the highest levels, including joining Belgium, France and Poland in writing to the Commission President on the matter.

The agreement that has been reached on this sensitive area is, however, far less than Mercosur had been looking for - some 300,000 tonnes – due to the Government’s active campaign, with some other Member States, to secure the viability of the Irish and EU beef sector. While the 99,000 tonnes that is in the deal is still higher than we want it to be, it is less than one third of what they originally sought. It is also important to state that the 99,000 tonnes will be split into 45% frozen and 55% fresh and is “Carcass Weight Equivalent”.

Importantly, the Agreement also ensures that there will be equivalent food safety standards. The EU’s sanitary and phytosanitary standards will not be relaxed in any way, and they remain non-negotiable. The highest EU standards will be applied to all imported goods – especially food. The EU will maintain its strict approach on GMOs and hormone beef, and its right to set maximum allowed levels for pesticide residues.

It is also important to acknowledge that there are positives for Ireland’s food & drink sector in this deal. One of Ireland’s key offensive interests in the Mercosur deal is dairy, and the Agreement sees the removal of tariffs on 30,000 tonnes of cheese, 10,000 tonnes of milk powder, and 5,000 tonnes of infant formula on a reciprocal basis. Furthermore, the Agreement provides for the protection of 335 Geographical Indicators (GIs) of EU origin – including Irish Whiskey and Irish Cream. The acceptance of EU GIs will significantly improve protection of these products from false or misleading branding in Mercosur markets.

The EU-Mercosur Agreement also sees the opening up of Mercosur’s public procurement market - a market that was not previously available to EU firms. It will make it easier for Irish firms to bid for, and win, valuable Government contracts in the four Mercosur countries, and the EU and Mercosur have agreed to apply modern disciplines based on the principles of non-discrimination, transparency, and fairness.

There will also be special provisions for SMEs in the Agreement. SMEs will benefit most from the simplification of exporting and customs procedures – as the savings are proportionately greater for them. A dedicated website will provide information on the Agreement for SMEs, practical guidance to importing and exporting will be published, and a dedicated data base of tariff reductions will be made available. The simplification of regulations on standards will help with trade barriers encountered by SMEs.

In relation to climate change, Mercosur including Brazil, will have to fully implement the Paris Climate Agreement as part of this deal, as well as meet specific commitments on reforestation.

The Agreement also places particular emphasis on the development of trade between our two regions in a way that is conducive to decent work for all, including women and young people, with each party recognising the importance of core labour standards as defined by ILO Conventions.

In light of the conclusion of the negotiations on 28th June, my Department, in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine is now ensuring that a comprehensive, independent economic assessment is carried out specifically on the finalised EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement. This assessment will consider the impact the Agreement will have on the Irish economy and on jobs, as well as the environmental implications of the deal. It will also consider how the EU-Mercosur Agreement might exacerbate/mitigate the likely impact of Brexit for our economy. This assessment will help to inform our future actions in relation to the EU-Mercosur Agreement.

Departmental Advertising

Ceisteanna (319)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

319. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the amount spent on digital marketing in each of the past eight years; the items on which funds were spent; the criteria by which target audiences were selected; the amount of the digital spend targeted here; the amount targeted abroad; the amount that related to private companies; the amount that related to policy initiatives; and the purpose of the digital advertisements. [29385/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Details of expenditure incurred by my Department and its Offices on digital marketing are available at the following link:

Expenses incurred by Dept

Work Permits Applications

Ceisteanna (320)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

320. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the status of a work visa for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29410/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

My officials inform me that an application for a General Employment Permit in respect of the named individual was submitted to my Department on 20th May 2019. The Employment Permits Section is currently processing Standard employment permit applications submitted on 1st April 2019. This application for an employment permit should be reached for processing in approximately seven weeks.

Consultancy Contracts

Ceisteanna (321)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

321. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the consultancy work companies (details supplied) carried out for the ODCE and the IAASA since October 2008. [29433/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Section 949(3) of the Companies Act 2014 provides that the Director of Corporate Enforcement shall be independent in the performance of his statutory functions.

I, as Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation have no direct function in such matters.

The ODCE’s yearly spend on consultancy work is set out in its Annual Reports.

Consultancy work by the bodies referred to by the Deputy since 2008 for the ODCE is outlined in the following table:

Year

Name of external Consultant/Company

Details of consultancy service

Amount received by company

2019

n/a

-

-

2018

n/a

-

-

2017

n/a

-

-

2016

Deloitte

Forensic Accountancy related to casework

€8,260.68

2015

Deloitte

Forensic Accountancy related to casework

€23,249.46

2014

n/a

-

-

2013

n/a

-

-

2012

PwC

Forensic Accountancy related to casework

€40,646.58

2011

n/a

-

-

2010

n/a

-

-

2009

PwC

Forensic Accountancy related to casework

€73,641.83

2008

PwC

Forensic Accountancy related to casework

€64,433.00

The Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA) is independent in the exercise of its statutory functions and details of its activities can be found in the Authority’s Annual Reports which are published on its website: www.iaasa.ie/Publications/General.

IAASA complies with the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies (‘the Code’), as published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in August 2016. As required by the Code, IAASA provides an analysis of consultancy expenditure as part of the Authority’s Annual Financial Statements.

Information in respect of IAASA is available from 1 January 2013. Since that date, IAASA has not received any consultancy services from KPMG, EY or PwC.

Following a public tender in 2009, Deloitte was added to a Panel of statutory financial reporting experts. Members of this Panel assist IAASA’s Financial Reporting Supervision Unit in its reviews of issuers’ financial statements under Article 24(4)(h) of the EU Transparency Directive. Deloitte carried out one such engagement throughout its period on the Panel, being a review of a listed issuer in 2013, at a fixed cost of €9,840.

Departmental Contracts Data

Ceisteanna (322)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

322. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the costs paid to companies (details supplied) for projects each was engaged by her Department in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the reason each was engaged; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29436/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Details of contracts between my Department and the companies in question in the years 2015 to 2019 are set out in the tables below.

2019 Contracts

Company

Purpose of Contract

Value of Contract

KPMG

Provision of Brexit-related advisory content

TBC

2018 Contracts

Company

Purpose of Contract

Value of Contract

PWC

Developed an information guide for SME’s on currency risk

€9,270

KPMG

Benchmarking of Personal Injury Awards

€43,050

Mazars

Financial and Governance Analysis of certain Credit Co-operatives

€44,280

Arthur Cox

Legal fees

€1,899

2017 Contracts

Company

Purpose of Contract

Value of Contract

KPMG

Ireland and Scaling SMEs - An assessment of Ireland’s tax environment for scaling SMEs and new entrepreneurial businesses

€61,500. Costs shared with Enterprise Ireland and IDA

Mazars LLP

Forensic Accountancy related to casework in the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement

€189,014

Arthur Cox

Legal fees

€27,525

2016 Contracts

Company

Purpose of Contract

Value of Contract

Mazars LLP

Advice on taxation of payments

€11,047

Arthur Cox

Legal advice

€4,449

2015 Contracts

Company

Purpose of Contract

Value of Contract

Mazars LLP

Forensic Accountancy related to casework in the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement

€178,733

Arthur Cox

Prosecution fees

€844

Departmental Contracts Data

Ceisteanna (323)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

323. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the costs paid to a company (details supplied) for projects each was engaged by her Department in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the reason it was engaged; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29545/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Details of contracts between my Department and the company in question in the years 2015 to 2019 are set out in the following table.

Year

Purpose of Contract

Value of Contract

2016

Forensic Accountancy

€8,260.68

2015

Forensic Accountancy

€23,249.46

IDA Ireland

Ceisteanna (324)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

324. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation herviews on criticism of the IDA policy relating to Drogheda published in the media (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29674/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

As the Deputy will be aware, regional development remains an absolute priority of mine. I am focused on supporting and sustaining existing regional employment while also working to create new economic opportunities and jobs in every county of Ireland. There are now nearly 230,000 people working in IDA client firms. Last year saw more IDA-supported jobs added in regional Ireland than at any time over the past 17 years, with 58% of total such employment now located outside of Dublin.

I can assure the Deputy that when it comes to foreign direct investment (FDI), Drogheda is not being overlooked by the IDA. Drogheda continues to maintain a strong contingent of overseas firms in the International Business Services, Pharmaceutical and Technology sectors. Last year saw PCI Pharma announce that 70 new jobs will be created at their facility in Drogheda. In November 2017, Yapstone announced plans to create 200 new jobs over the next five years at their international headquarters in Drogheda. These announcements represent a vote of confidence in what Drogheda and the broader North-East region has to offer to multinationals who are looking to locate outside of Dublin.

The IDA, for its part, continues to promote Drogheda to investors. The Agency operates a Business and Technology Park in Drogheda with available land that is being actively marketed to existing and prospective clients through its network of offices in Ireland and overseas.

More broadly, County Louth has seen an almost 4% increase in FDI-driven employment in the last year. There are now 28 IDA-supported client companies in the County employing 3,903 people and these firms are continuing to grow and develop. While progress has been made in helping to generate new economic opportunities in Drogheda and County Louth, the Government remains determined to achieve more. That is why work is continuing to unlock further the economic potential of the County. The IDA remains pivotal to this and the Agency is engaging with its clients and with other enterprise agencies to create jobs and source new investment there.

Tribunals of Inquiry Expenditure

Ceisteanna (325)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

325. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the amount spent on tribunals, commissions of investigation and statutory inquiries in each of the years 2009 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by inquiry, tribunal or commission; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29827/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

My Department has not had any expenditure on tribunals, commissions of investigation or statutory inquiries during the period in question.

Departmental Staff Recruitment

Ceisteanna (326)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

326. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the estimated cost of recruiting one additional accountant grade 3 and one extra solicitor at APO level for the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29894/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Pay allocations for employees of my Department are set out in the Department of Public expenditure and Reform Circular – 16/2018 – Application of 1 October 2018 pay adjustments under the Public Service and Pensions Act 2017.

The following table sets out the estimated cost of recruiting one additional Accountant Grade 3 and one extra Solicitor at APO Level. The estimate is based on Point 1 of the Pay Scale.

Position

Starting point on Pay Scale

Total estimated cost – inc employers PRSI.

Accountant Grade 3

€30,987k

€34,085k

Solicitor (APO Level)

€66,495k

€73,144k

The Director of the Office, along with myself and my officials, keeps the resourcing of the Office under regular review to ensure the Office is adequately resourced.

Climate Change Policy

Ceisteanna (327)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

327. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if her Department has ceased the purchase and use of single-use plastics; the public bodies and agencies under her remit to which she has issued an instruction to cease the purchase and use of single-use plastics; when the instruction issued; the bodies which have confirmed that they no longer purchase and use single-use plastics, respectively; the bodies which have not provided such confirmation to date; when they will confirm; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29978/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

In line with the memorandum brought forward by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action & Environment in January 2019, my Department, its Offices and Agencies have ceased to purchase single use plastics (SUP). My Department wholeheartedly supports this initiative which will aid in our collective response to mitigate environmental waste and climate change.

In January, the purchasing section within my Department immediately implemented the memorandum. My Department through its Green Team informed all staff of the Department including its Offices on 28 February and outlined sustainable and recyclable alternatives to SUPs.

All State agencies under my aegis have also confirmed that they have ceased purchasing SUPs and are actively involved in seeking and implementing viable alternatives such as glasses in meeting rooms, reusable and sustainable keep cups; water bottles and compostable cups.

In accordance with the terms of the memorandum my Department will be providing regular update reports to the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment on the level of progress being made within my Department and on the measures we are taking to minimise waste generation and maximise recycling.