Public Sector Pay

Ceisteanna (307)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

307. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to set out the estimated full-year cost of paying all employed public sector staff on the pre-2011 pay scale. [33553/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Under the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) 2018 – 2020, it was agreed to examine the remaining salary scale issues in respect of post January 2011 entry grades. The attached report, laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas in March 2018, estimates the point in time cost of pay equalisation of new entrants to the public service.

The report estimated a cost of €199.8 m for pay equalisation for 60,513 new entrants, an average cost of €3,300 per FTE.

Following this report, an agreement on new entrant salary scales was reached in September 2018.

The main components of the agreement are:

- where two additional scale points were applied to pay scales under the Haddington Road Agreement, it was agreed that there will be two separate interventions in the pay scales as they apply to new entrant public servants recruited since January 2011.

- the two separate interventions will take place at point 4 and point 8 of the pay scales. The practical effect of this is that for new entrants the relevant points on the scale will be bypassed, thereby reducing the time spent on the scale for progression to the maximum point.

- this measure will apply from 1 March 2019 and will be applied to each new entrant as they reach the relevant scale points (point 4 and point 8) on their current increment date.

The cost of this measure during the remaining term of the PSSA is €75 million, with the full cost of the measure based on current data and public service numbers (2017) accruing over the period out to 2026. It is estimated that some 58% (35,750) of new entrants will benefit from this measure in year 1, rising to 78% (47,750) by year 2.

Report

Office of Public Works Projects

Ceisteanna (308)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

308. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of all planned works in counties Cavan and Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33607/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Office of Public Works is collating the information requested and will revert to the Deputy directly in the coming weeks.

Defence Forces Remuneration

Ceisteanna (309)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

309. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the involvement of his Department in the submission to the Public Sector Pay Commission regarding the Defence Forces pay and conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33608/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The employer submission to the Pay Commission, as was the case in similar submissions, was made on a collaborative basis between the management side parties and included extensive inputs from the Department of Defence and the Military Authorities. It is longstanding practice that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (and before it the Department of Finance) represents the public service as employer. The Department has the responsibility for co-ordinating, articulating and submitting the employer case in such matters on behalf of Government as employer. This is essential to ensure consistency and coherence in approach and the balancing of important broader public service wide policy and fiscal considerations.

Office of Public Works Projects

Ceisteanna (310)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

310. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the restoration works being carried out on the entrance gates to the Phoenix Park; the current location of the gates; if restoration work is being carried out on them; when the work will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33765/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

It was a condition of the planning consent granted by Dublin City Council for the temporary removal of the gates in July 2018 that seven gates and entrances would be fully conserved and repaired before being reinstated.

The OPW has commenced a significant conservation programme for all of these gates. Given the unique and specialised nature of this work, a comprehensive conservation report for each of the gates, railings, piers and abutment walls was required. This has now been completed and the invitation to tender for the conservation and restoration of the gates, which is of a highly specialised nature, will be issued imminently.  As part of the tender process, the gates will be available for inspection at their current location in the Phoenix Park.

Once the restoration of the gates has been completed, the temporary gates will be removed, the existing stone pillars will be repaired and the newly restored gates will be rehung.

It is not possible to provide a definitive completion date at this stage but it is estimated that the project should be completed by early Q2, 2020.

Flood Relief Schemes Status

Ceisteanna (311)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

311. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of flood defence works in Athlone, County Westmeath; if the scheduled works have been carried out in full to date; the works being carried out to ensure residents can avail of adequate home insurance in areas of Athlone in which flood defence works have been carried out; the status of the voluntary homeowners relocation scheme; and the number of home and landowners that have availed of this scheme in the Athlone area to date. [33930/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Office of Public Works (OPW) and Westmeath County Council (WCC) are working together to advance proposals to deal with the flooding issues in Athlone with WCC as the Contracting Authority and OPW funding the costs of flood relief works for the town in addition to undertaking the construction works.

Engineering consultants were appointed in April 2017, to identify appropriate flood risk alleviation measures for Athlone. The Option Appraisal Report identified eight discrete cells of flood defence works. These flood cells are each being progressed individually under Part 8 or Part 10 of the Planning and Development Regulations with works being undertaken by OPW’s own workforce, as a direct managed scheme. The current status of each flood cell is set out in Table 1, as follows:

Table 1:

Flood Cell

Status

FC1 – Deerpark

Part 8 planning granted September 2018. Preparatory works regarding access roads and safe access into the showgrounds have been completed and works are due to commence next month.

FC2  – The Strand

Part 8 planning granted in May, 2018.  Construction works commenced in Quarter 2 2019 and are expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

FC3 – The Quay

Part 8 planning granted September, 2017.  Construction works commenced May, 2018 and are expected to be completed by the end of this year.

FC4  – Brick Island

Part 8 planning granted January, 2018.  Construction works commenced in April 2018 and are expected to be completed in the coming weeks.

FC5 – Marine View

Part 8 planning granted March, 2018.  Detailed design is ongoing and works   are expected to commence soon.

FC6 – Iona Park

Construction is complete. 

FC7 – River Al (Cregan)

Environmental Impact Assessment is currently in hand.

FC8  – Golden Island

Part 8 planning granted September, 2018. Detailed design is being reviewed prior to the commencement of construction works

It is anticipated that the construction works for the Athlone Flood Alleviation Scheme will be completed in early 2021.

Upon the Schemes completion, data showing the design, extent and nature of the protection offered by these works will be provided to Insurance Ireland, the representative body for the main insurance companies in Ireland as agreed under the Memorandum of Understanding between the OPW and Insurance Ireland which came into effect on 1st June, 2014.

It is important to note that while the Memorandum requires that insurers take full account of information provided by the OPW on completed flood defence schemes, the provision of insurance cover, the level of premiums charged and the policy terms applied are a matter for individual insurers.

On April 11th 2017, the Government agreed the administrative arrangements for a once-off Voluntary Homeowners Relocation Scheme for those primary residential properties that flooded between 4th December, 2015 and 13th January, 2016. The Government decision confirmed that a homeowner had to meet a number of conditions to be eligible for assistance under this scheme of which 169 were identified.

Following initial assessment which included meetings with individual families, 38 were invited to apply for the scheme. Of the remaining properties, 12 are being protected with engineering solutions funded by the Minor Works Scheme and/or the Remedial Works Scheme funded by the Voluntary Homeowners Relocation Scheme and 28 properties are being considered for an engineering solution including Remedial Works under this scheme. The balance of properties are being or will be protected by major flood defence schemes or in a small number of cases did not engage with the voluntary scheme.

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

Garda Stations

Ceisteanna (312)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

312. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the capital works in which the value of works was in excess of €5,000 carried out at Garda stations in DMR north Garda division in 2018 and to date in 2019; the works carried out at each station; and if each project is completed or ongoing. [33993/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Office of Public Works has three capital projects, either ongoing or completed, greater than €5000 in 2018 and 2019 in Garda stations in the DMR North Garda Division as detailed in the following table.

DMR North Garda Stations

OPW Capital Works 2018/2019

Ongoing or Completed

Swords GS

Repair/Replacement of Modular Building

Ongoing 

Clontarf GS

Air Conditioning Upgrade.

Completed

Rush GS

Refurbishment Works to reopen Rush Garda Station

Ongoing

Public Expenditure Data

Ceisteanna (313)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

313. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he receives monthly or quarterly financial reports from the Health Service Executive; if so, if the reports are based on accrual method of accounting; when the last financial report was received from the HSE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34173/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Each month, the drawdown of funds from the Exchequer is reported on against published expenditure profiles in the Fiscal Monitor, published by the Department of Finance. All exchequer expenditure is reported on a cash basis.

In addition, the HSE monthly Management Data Reports which include the information outlined above are shared with officials in my Department, albeit with some time lag. These reports are published on the HSE website and are compiled on an accruals basis. To date in 2019, officials from my Department have received reports pertaining to January - April. The April report was shared with officials in my Department on 28th June.

In addition, monthly meetings of the Health Budget Oversight Group, which brings together senior officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Health and the HSE, provide a further opportunity to examine the monthly figures in the context of general discussions regarding budgetary management and control.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (314)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

314. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of capital projects within the remit of his Department; the amount spent on each project to date; and the anticipated completion date. [34207/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

My Department does not currently have any capital projects over the value indicated by the Deputy’s office (€2 million).

Due to the nature of its role, my Department does not have any major capital projects. The main purpose of the capital investment undertaken by my Department is to deliver greater effectiveness and efficiency across the Civil and Public Service, primarily through the development of cross-government ICT systems.

Office of Public Works Expenditure

Ceisteanna (315)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

315. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the amount of funding that his Department and the Office of Public Works has allocated in each year and expended since June 2016 on upgrading infrastructure at Dublin and Rosslare ports to prepare for the possibility of the UK becoming a third country with the EU and increased export certification as well as sanitary and phytosanitary controls required in tabular form. [34253/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Office of Public Works has to date spent €11,470,000 on behalf of Government Departments on physical infrastructure at Dublin Port and Rosslare Europort, as a consequence of Brexit.

Road Network

Ceisteanna (316)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

316. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if discussions have taken place within his Department on providing funding for the east west link road and rural roads in general; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34381/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As the Deputy may be aware, funding for the east west link road and rural roads is a matter for the Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, who has responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, development and construction of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. Therefore this is not a matter for my Department and is proper to the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport.

Departmental Communications

Ceisteanna (317)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

317. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the expenditure by his Department on social media advertising and promotional material within the past year in tabular form. [34618/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The following table sets out the amount my Department spent on social media advertising and promotional material in the past year.

Purpose

Cost

Project Ireland 2040 Strategy and Creative Development

€34,687

Project Ireland 2040 Information Campaign

€46,402

IGEES Annual Recruitment Campaign – Production of Promotional Banners

€823

Script Tenders Animation (OGP)

€3,000

Production Tender Advisory Service Video (OGP)

€5,155

Storyboard eTenders Animation (OGP)

€4,000

Final eTender Production Costs (OGP)

€7,000

3 Case Studies for Website/YouTube (OGP)

€12,637

Tender Advisory Service Logo & Leaflet Design (OGP)

€2,235

Customer Engagement Material (OGP)

€8,279

OGP = Office of Government Procurement

Labour Employer Economic Forum

Ceisteanna (318)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

318. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of each meeting to date in 2019 of the labour employer economic forum; the issues discussed; and the social partners and Departmental officials present at last meeting. [34624/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF) was established to bring together representatives of employers and trade unions with Government Ministers to exchange views on economic and employment issues as they affect the Labour Market and which are of mutual concern.

To date in 2019, two meetings have been held. The eighth meeting of LEEF took place on 7th March last and was chaired by An Taoiseach. I chaired the ninth meeting which took place on 25th June last.

Both meetings were centred on progress reports from the four sub-groups to the LEEF which were established to facilitate ongoing engagement between employers and trade unions with relevant Government officials and Ministers. These sub-groups are based on a list of priority areas agreed by the LEEF members which are (i) pensions, (ii) employment, (iii) housing and (iv) early years. These issues are all highly relevant to the labour market and can be considered priority issues for all parties.

Detailed updates were also provided at both meetings on the status of Brexit (Brexit forms a standing agenda item for the LEEF).

An update on Future Jobs Ireland was also discussed at the March meeting.

Representatives from IBEC, CIF, Chambers Ireland, ICTU and Forsa were present at both meetings, as well as various department officials from Dept. of An Taoiseach, DBEI, DFAT, DEASP, DCYA and DPER.

The following Ministers were also in attendance:

8th Meeting, 7 March 2019

Leo Varadkar T.D, An Taoiseach

Paschal Donohoe T.D. Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform

Simon Coveney T.D. Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade

Regina Doherty T.D. Minister for Employment and Social Protection

Heather Humphreys T.D Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation

Katherine Zappone T.D Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

Eoghan Murphy T.D. Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government

9th Meeting, 25 June 2019

Paschal Donohoe T.D. Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform

Simon Coveney T.D., Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade

Regina Doherty T.D. Minister for Employment and Social Protection

Heather Humphreys T.D Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation

Katherine Zappone T.D Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

Damien English T.D, Minister of State at the Dept. of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

School Transport Eligibility

Ceisteanna (319)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

319. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) cannot get their child on a school bus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31702/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.

There are currently over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually. The purpose of the scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.

Under the terms of the Post-Primary School Transport Scheme, children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kilometres from and are attending their nearest education centre as determined by the Department of Education/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language. Distance eligibility is determined by Bus Éireann by measuring the shortest traversable route from the child's home to the relevant education centre.

Children who are eligible for school transport and who complete the application process on time are accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation.

Children who are not eligible for school transport, but who complete the application process on time, are considered for spare seats that may exist after eligible children have been facilitated; such seats are referred to as concessionary seats. Where the number of applications from ineligible children exceeds the number of spare seats available, tickets are allocated using an agreed selection process.

Bus Éireann has advised that the child referred to by the Deputy is not eligible for transport as they are not attending their nearest school.

The terms of the scheme are applied equitably on a national basis.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (320)

James Browne

Ceist:

320. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children with a disability awaiting a school place in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31883/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I want to assure the Deputy and Parents that concerns regarding a shortage of appropriate school places for next September are being taken very seriously.

The National Council for Special education (NCSE), an independent agency of my Department, is responsible for planning, coordinating and advising on education provision for children with special educational needs. The Council ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

Individual school boards of management are responsible for the establishment of special classes.  It is open to any school to make application to the NCSE to establish a class. In deciding where to establish a special class in an area, the NCSE take account of the current and projected demand and the available school accommodation both current and planned. In this regard, the SENO may approach individual schools to discuss the matter with a view to finding the optimal location in terms of convenience and sustainability.

When the NCSE sanction a special class in a school, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to reconfigure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation.

Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) who are locally based are available to assist and advice parents whose children have special needs.  Where parents have been unsuccessful in enrolling their child in a school, they should update their local SENO to inform the planning process.

SENOs are also available to assist and advise schools on special education supports and planning.

From time to time, the NCSE identifies local areas where additional special class provision is required. In those circumstances, Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) work with the schools and families concerned to resolve the issues involved.

This process is ongoing and the NCSE are actively engaging with schools in relation to establishing special classes and special school where there is an identified need for the 2019/2020 school year.

As a result of these efforts, I expect progress will be made in the coming weeks in ensuring that every child has a placement available to them from September.

I have asked the NCSE to keep in regular contact with the Parents of the children concerned and advise them of progress.

In short, ensuring that every child has a suitable placement available to them from September is a key priority for me and my Department.

Childcare Services

Ceisteanna (321)

John Curran

Ceist:

321. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a process to introduce after-school care and activities in all primary national school buildings will be established further to his recent comments during a recent meeting of the Oireachtas Working Group of Committee Chairmen. [32019/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As part of the programme for government commitments to promote the use of school buildings outside of school hours, my Department took a number of important actions to build on and enhance the already extensive use of buildings for community use.  In relation to the use of schools for the specific purpose of school age childcare, my officials participated in the interdepartmental group that produced the Action Plan on School Age childcare that was published in March 2017.

Following that report, the then Minister and his officials engaged directly with the management bodies, patrons and property owners.  A set of guidelines, designed to assist the owners of school buildings who wished to provide childcare services in their schools was published by my Department in October 2017.  These guidelines can be viewed on the Department's website at this link: https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/guidelines-on-the-use-of-school-buildings-outside-of-school-hours.pdf. This year, the Department intends to conduct a review of the guidelines and they will be updated accordingly following the review.

Student Accommodation

Ceisteanna (322)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

322. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to increase the level of student accommodation in cities and towns to address the chronic shortage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32159/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) is an important component of the range of accommodation options available to students.  These include also digs accommodation and accommodation in the wider rental sector. Rebuilding Ireland, the Government’s action plan for housing and homelessness, provides a long term vision for meeting Ireland’s accommodation needs and enhancing supply in housing and the general rental sector.

The key to ensuring that students can access accommodation at a reasonable cost is to increase supply. In addition to Rebuilding Ireland actions targeted at the general rental sector, a target of 7,000 additional PBSA spaces was set for end 2019.  The National Student Accommodation Strategy (NSAS) was launched in July 2017 by Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. and Minster of State for Housing and Urban Development Damien English T.D. to support the delivery of this target.

To date, actions under Rebuilding Ireland and the NSAS have delivered fast-track planning for strategic housing developments, including student accommodation projects containing 200 or more bed spaces, under the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016.  The Act also provides for Higher Education Institutes to borrow money from the Housing Finance Agency for the purposes of financing student accommodation.

From the 15th August 2019, PBSA let to registered students under license agreements during term time will be required to register with the Residential Tenancies Board, and will fall under Rent Pressure Zone limits on rent increases for the first time. Students will also be able to access the RTB dispute resolution process.

6,691 additional PBSA bed spaces have been delivered since July 2016 with an additional 5,986 on-site as at the end of June 2019.  A further 29 developments representing 8,577 bed spaces have had planning permission granted demonstrating significant ongoing activity across the sector.

Apprenticeship Programmes

Ceisteanna (323)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

323. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation will expedite plans to deliver a comprehensive communications campaign to promote apprenticeships amongst businesses and the public as committed under Future Jobs Ireland; the work already undertaken in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32442/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

A national promotional campaign, Generation Apprenticeship, has been underway since May 2017, led by the Apprenticeship Council and with co-ordination support from SOLAS. The campaign promotes apprenticeship on TV and radio along with social media platforms that include Twitter; LinkedIn; Facebook and Instagram. It has been designed to influence parents, teachers and potential apprentices on the career paths and further educational opportunities arising from apprenticeship programmes.

The second phase of the Generation Apprenticeship campaign is now underway and includes a stepped-up focus on employers. The Apprenticeship Council is actively engaging with industry sectors to gather feedback on apprenticeship provision and to discuss practical challenges as well as emerging opportunities and their plans for the future.

Technological Universities

Ceisteanna (324)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

324. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the party that has taken on the risk in the public private partnership for the development of the Technological University of Dublin being built on the grounds of St. Brendan’s Hospital, Grangegorman. [33312/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Design risk, construction risk, financing risk and operating risk have been transferred to the private partner in the context of the Grangegorman PPP.  This detail of this is set out in the contractual arrangements.  The private partner is the Eriugena consortium, which includes Macquarie Capital Group, John Sisk & Son (Holdings) Limited, FCC Construction Ireland Ltd., and Sodexo Ireland Limited.

The public side retained the planning risk on the project, which was mitigated through Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) planning designation.

Technological Universities

Ceisteanna (325)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

325. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost of the contract for the public private partnership for the development of the Technological University of Dublin being built on the grounds of St. Brendan’s Hospital, Grangegorman. [33313/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The construction cost of the Central Quad and East Quad being delivered under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) in Grangegorman totals approximately €220m ex VAT. This delivers some 52,000m2 of core academic space for TU Dublin and will accommodate some 10,000 students.

As for all education sector PPPs, the construction cost is reimbursed as part of Unitary Charge payments which commence once construction has been completed and continue over a 25 year period.  Unitary Charge payments also cover the cost of operation and maintenance of the buildings, lifecycle requirements and the cost of finance.

Financial projections for all PPP projects are published on the website of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform once contracts have been signed.  The annual Unitary Charge payment for the Grangegorman Quads will be in the region of €19.4 million ex VAT, with a portion indexed annually.  42% of this will be funded by TU Dublin through its own sources, including via efficiency savings generated by the consolidation of its activities at Grangegorman.

Technological Universities

Ceisteanna (326)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

326. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the development of the Technological University of Dublin being built at St. Brendan’s Hospital, Grangegorman is running on budget; and if not, the amount by which it is over budget. [33314/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The development of the new campus by the Grangegorman Development Agency for Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) at Grangegorman in Dublin 7 is being delivered in phases, under a series of individual contracts, rather than as a single large-scale project. This allows projects to progress in accordance with available budgets, within the overall context of the Masterplan for the 73-acre site and the Grangegorman Strategic Plan.

At this point, Programme 1 of the development is now substantially complete. This phase mainly comprised the site-wide infrastructure and public realm (SIPR) work which provides the basic enabling infrastructure to unlock current and future programmes of development on the site. Programme 1 also involved the conservation and re-purposing of a number of listed buildings on the site for educational use, provision of sports pitches and a children’s playground, and the development of the Greenway Hub as a major purpose built research, technology transfer and business incubation space.

Programme 1, as a whole, was procured within the overall budget of €85 million and was funded by both DIT (now TU Dublin) and the Department of Education and Skills.  The percentage variance between contract sum and final account for each of the four main construction contracts within Programme 1 was as follows:

Project

Contract Price

Final Account Sum

% Variance

SIPR I

€25,894,723

€30,580,198

18.09%

Greenway Hub

€14,416,756

€14,441,658

0.17%

Cluster Hub (Adaptive Re-use

Structures 17,19,20,21 & 22)

€7,315,853

€7,755,479

6.01 %

North House (Adaptive Re-use

Structures 08 & 09)

€5,334,884

€5,391,250

1.06%

The variance between the final account sum and contract price for the SIPR I project was due primarily to additional works that had to be instructed, including a redesign of the electricity infrastructure and extension of the water mains and drainage works to public road areas outside the Grangegorman site.

Programme 2 of the Grangegorman development consists of the Central Quad and East Quad and will provide some 52,000m2 of academic space for TU Dublin, catering for a total of 10,000 students and 800 staff. This is being delivered by way of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) and is currently under construction with completion scheduled for 2020.

The contract for the PPP was signed in March 2018, with a construction cost ex VAT of approximately €220 m. At the time of the tender process in 2014, it was envisaged that a contract could be signed with a construction cost of approximately €180 m. However, legal proceedings taken by one of the underbidders delayed award of the contract by over two years (even though the Court ultimately found conclusively in favour of the State). The delay coincided with a period of significant construction inflation as the economy emerged from recession and meant that the original price tendered by the contractor had to be adjusted to ensure the project could successfully be delivered.

Programme 3 is still at the planning stage. This tranche of development will provide for the further consolidation of activity on campus with 5,000 students from the TU Dublin College of Business. A library and supporting student-facing facilities are also planned.

National Educational Psychological Service Staff

Ceisteanna (327)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

327. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if funding will be provided for at least an additional 20 NEPS psychologists to achieve his target for such posts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33393/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy may be aware my Department’s National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) provides educational psychological support to all primary and post-primary schools. This involves direct support in the event of a critical incident, access to national and regional support and development work to build school capacity to support students, access to a NEPS psychologist for responses to queries arising, and access to individual pupil casework via a NEPS psychologist or through the Scheme for the Commissioning of Psychological Assessments. (SCPA).

Following on from an increase allowed in the 2018 Budget that the sanctioned number for NEPS psychologist stands at 194 whole-time equivalents of which some 187 w.t.e. posts are currently filled with 7 posts vacant due to on-going retirements and resignations, etc. within the Service.  Even at this current level this represents the highest number of psychologists to be employed within NEPS since the inception of the service in 2000.

Additionally the Deputy may be aware that under the provisions of Budget 2019 I was pleased to announce that NEPS psychologist numbers will expand by a further her 10 posts from the start of the new academic year bringing the overall approved psychologist numbers to 204 w.t.e.

I can inform the Deputy that a national recruitment competition is currently in operation by the Public Appointments Service in conjunction with my Department to replenish NEPS Regional Recruitment Panels to allow for both the filling of the above-mentioned vacancies and the expansion of NEPS number by a further 10 posts from September.

This Government remains firmly committed to the maintenance of a robust and effective educational psychological service and any further increase in the number of psychologists will be a matter for determination in the context of the forthcoming Departmental Estimates process.

Higher Education Authority

Ceisteanna (328)

Pat Buckley

Ceist:

328. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of psychologists employed at higher education institutes; the cost of each position annually; and the location each position is based. [33787/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department allocates recurrent funding to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) for direct disbursement to HEA designated higher education institutions. The HEA allocates this funding as a block grant to the institutions. As autonomous bodies, the internal disbursement of this funding, including the funding of student services and the employment of counselling staff, is a matter for the individual institution.

All higher education institutions (HEIs) are required to put in place appropriate student services, and the provision of appropriate services to students experiencing mental health issues would be included in that. As part of these services, all HEIs need to consider what is most appropriate in the particular context of their institution and students, while also considering best practice models such as peer-led support programmes and seeking to liaise with external services to the fullest extent possible.

Special Educational Needs Staff Contracts

Ceisteanna (329)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

329. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an appropriate level of consultation with SNA workers and a union (details supplies) prior to the implementation of 13 recommendations made in respect of SNAs by the National Council of Special Education following review in 2018; his views on the concerns expressed by many SNAs that aspects of the recommendations conflict with the SNA standard contract; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33920/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In 2016, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) was requested by the then Minister Richard Bruton to review the Special Needs Assistant (SNA) Scheme and to advise him on what support options are needed to provide better outcomes for students with additional care needs.  Following extensive research and consultation with schools, parents, SNAs and other stakeholders, a report was submitted last year.

 The review found that the SNA scheme was working really well particularly for younger children and for certain type of care needs, for example, mobility and toileting.  It also found that a new and more widely based model of support involving both education and health supports was needed to meet the range of student need currently presenting in our schools. The review made a number of recommendations including the way SNA support is allocated to schools and the need to build school capacity through training.  Overall, the Council recommended a new service model, the School Inclusion Model that would involve the provision of speech and language, occupational and behavioural therapies in schools and the development of a national nursing scheme to cater for children with the most complex medical needs.  The overall aim of the model is to improve outcomes for children by ensuring each child receives the right support at the right time.

The Government approved a pilot of the new Model in 75 schools for the 2019/20 school year which will be independently evaluated. A budget of €4.75m has been allocated to support implementation of the Review findings.

Consultation is a central feature of the development and implementation work.  Over 50 people, including SNAs and their representatives, attended an information and consultation event on 30th April 2019. Separately, there is ongoing consultation with the union representing SNAs. Four meetings have been held to date and the next is scheduled for next week.

 The role of the SNA currently remains that which is set out in current Department Circulars.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Ceisteanna (330)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

330. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he has taken to ensure job security for SNAs upon the conclusion of the academic year; if the possibility of reviewing the panel system will be investigated which is in place to ensure that SNAs have appropriate employment opportunities and are treated fairly upon conclusion of the academic year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33921/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The supplementary assignment arrangements for Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) were established on foot of proposals brought forward by the Labour Relations Commission when the Haddington Road Agreement was being agreed. These supplementary assignment arrangements for SNAs continue to operate under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018 - 2020, and both unions representing SNAs, namely SIPTU and FÓRSA, have signed up to that agreement. As set out in the LRC proposals, the supplementary assignment arrangements for SNAs only apply to current SNAs who are notified that they are to be made redundant. Accordingly, the purpose of these arrangements is to facilitate eligible SNAs who are being made redundant by one employer in filling SNA vacancies that may become available in another school / ETB.

Once an SNA with a minimum of one year's service (service in a substitute capacity i.e. covering for maternity leave, sick leave, career breaks, job-sharing etc. does not count) is notified by his/her employer that s/he is to be made redundant then s/he shall be deemed to be a member of a supplementary assignment panel for SNAs. The detailed supplementary assignment arrangements for SNAs for the 2019/2020 school year are set out in Departmental Circular 0030/2019 which issued on 22 May 2019 and which is available on the Department's website at the following address:

http://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0030_2019.pdf.

The operation of this panel is described and outlined in Circular 0030/2019 and it is designed to be as flexible as possible which enables all eligible SNAs, who have the requisite Panel Form 1 completed by their former employer, to apply for any SNA position that is advertised by a school or an ETB with no sectoral, diocesan or geographical limitations imposed. Every eligible SNA will remain on the panel for two years with a view to getting further employment. If they are not successful over that period of time in obtaining a further SNA position then they will be eligible for a redundancy payment. Furthermore, an SNA may opt out of this supplementary assignment panel at any point in time triggering the processing of his/her redundancy payment in line with the terms set out in the SNA redundancy scheme (DES Circular 58/06) or any revision of same that is applicable at that time.

It should be noted that this does not prevent any person, including newly qualified SNAs, from applying for SNA vacancies but employers are obliged to give precedence to applicants who are members of the SNA Supplementary Assignment Panel.

The Supplementary Assignment Panel arrangements are reviewed by my Department on an annual basis in conjunction with an independent Supplementary Assignment Manager, the school management bodies and the two unions representing SNA staff (FÓRSA and SIPTU).

My Department has set up a dedicated e-mail address to deal with all queries in relation to the SNA Supplementary Assignment Panel and any queries in respect of the operation of the Panel can be directed to this dedicated e-mail address: snasupplementpanel@education.gov.ie.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Ceisteanna (331)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

331. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he has taken to ensure the usage of the reconfigured 12 days, 72 hours, are utilised appropriately and SNAs are not subjected to misuse or abuse under the system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33922/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

All SNAs were required to be available for a number of days at the start and finish of each school term not exceeding 12 in total. Under the Croke Park Agreement it was agreed to introduce greater flexibility to the use of these 12 days. Accordingly, DES Circular 71/2011 was issued on 15 December 2011 which outlined that these 12 days now equate to 72 hours (pro-rata for part-time SNAs) to be used by schools as an additional bank of hours to be utilised and delivered outside of normal school opening hours and/or the normal school year.

The scope of this circular is for all SNAs employed in recognised Primary, Secondary, Community and Comprehensive Schools and by ETBs. It doesn’t make any distinctions between any SNAs (whether standard or cover posts), except to provide for part-time SNAs only doing pro-rata Croke Park hours (ie percentage of the total 72-hours commitment).

While my Department published the Circular 71/2011 (see link below) in respect the Croke Park Hours for SNAs, we do not get involved in the local management of how schools (as the employers) arrange the delivery of the hours from their staff (including SNAs).  However, point 9 of Appendix 1 of this circular does provide possible examples (not exhaustive listing) of the type of work that maybe undertaken by SNA’s to meet their Croke Park hourly obligations.

Link to DES Circular 71/2011 is as follows: http://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0071_2011.pdf.