Garda Training

Ceisteanna (952, 953)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

952. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if training is provided to community gardaí for online bullying, harassment or illegal behaviour among children and-or adults. [34475/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

953. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if training is provided to community gardaí for appropriately responding to online bullying, harassment or illegal behaviour among children. [34476/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 952 and 953 together.

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for managing An Garda Síochána, including the arrangement of training for its members and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter.

I am informed by the Commissioner that the Garda Síochána Core Programme 2019 is currently being delivered to Garda members, including Community Gardaí and Sergeant rank nationally.

One of the Modules on the Core Programme is Online Child Exploitation. This module deals with the following:

- The role of the Online Child Exploitation Unit;

- Sources of Information;

- Investigation of Sexual Crime;

- Identify what constitutes Child Pornography;

- Identify what constitutes Child Sexual Exploitation;

- Understand the legislation available to AGS;

- Dispel some of the misconceptions in dealing with Child Pornography/Sexual Exploitation cases;

- Effectively deal with reports of Sexual Exploitation; and

- Grooming/Trends.

This module also deals with how people sexually abuse and exploit children on the Internet, such as chat rooms and other social media outlets.

Additionally the Garda College have provided training to CPD Units for the Garda Schools Programme ‘Be in CTRL’ programme. This course is an awareness module for secondary schools to help students in junior cycle understand that online sexual coercion and extortion of a child is a crime. It also aims to provide opportunities for reflection and discussion of safe online communication and to inform students where to find help and support if they are victims of this crime.

The aims of the lesson are to:

- Understand and define online sexual coercion and extortion

- Identify warning signs when communicating with someone they have only met online

- Consider how they can protect themselves when communicating online

- Seek help and support if they are victims of this crime.

While the focus of these modules are child exploitation, the training also assists in the investigation of other online abuses such as bullying and harassment.

Community Policing

Ceisteanna (954)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

954. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of community gardaí at present; the cost of each additional community garda by rank; the number of community gardaí at present by the six Garda geographical regions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34482/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters, and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps this distribution under review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities to ensure optimum use is made of the resources.

The following table shows the estimated incremental salary costs for each additional Community Garda member by rank.

Salary costs are calculated using the midpoint of the current Garda Salary scale and include fixed allowances which the member is entitled to. An estimate of Employer’s PRSI is also included in the costs given. Allowances for unsocial hours and any potential overtime payments in excess of standard briefing time are not included.

-

Cost

Dedicated Community Garda

€ 56,760

Dedicated Community Sergeant

€ 67,147

Dedicated Community Inspector

€ 74,677

The allocation of Community Gardaí by Division from 2009 to present is outlined in the below link.

www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Community_Policing.

For information on the Garda Workforce please see the link below.

www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Garda_Workforce.

For more general information on Garda Facts and Figures please see the link below

www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/An_Garda_Siochana_facts_and_figures.

Garda Data

Ceisteanna (955)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

955. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of serving gardaí; the number expected to retire by the end of 2019; the number of new gardaí that will enter the force by the end of 2019; the number of new recruits that are projected to join in 2020; if funding is in place to support new hires in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34483/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for recruitment of personnel, and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter.

An Garda Síochána is currently undertaking a programme of accelerated recruitment, as part of the Government’s commitment to achieve an overall workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021, including 15,000 Garda members and 4,000 civilians. Substantial progress is being made towards the realisation of this vision.

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that as of 31 May 2019, the total Garda strength was approximately 14,100. Since the reopening of Templemore College in September 2014, approximately 2,800 new Garda members have attested and been assigned to duties in communities throughout the country.

The Garda Commissioner has informed me that he intends to recruit a total of 600 trainee Gardaí in 2019. An Garda Síochána have also indicated that approximately 300 Gardaí are expected to retire in 2019, which is in line with retirement trends over the past four years. Clearly this figure is an estimate. I have been assured by the Garda Commissioner that the recruitment of Garda members planned for 2019 will ensure that, taking account of projected retirements, the Government's commitment to increasing the strength of An Garda Síochána to 15,000 Garda members by 2021 will be achieved.

I also welcome the Garda Commissioner’s decision to recruit a net 600 Garda staff in 2019 which will allow for the redeployment of approximately 500 experienced Gardaí to frontline and visible policing duties by the end of this year.

As the Deputy will be aware, Budget 2020 is still under consideration. In line with normal procedures, funding provision in respect of Garda recruitment for 2020 will be considered as part of the Estimates process.

Garda Powers

Ceisteanna (956)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

956. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many senior gardaí have expressed the view that the law needs to be strengthened in order for them to deal with the serious public safety issues caused by the wide-scale illegal use of scramblers and quad bikes; the way in which he can reconcile this with the advice of the Attorney General to the interagency group on this matter in which they state that existing law is sufficient; and the way in which he plans to proceed in respect of the serious dangers and anti-social behaviour associated with this social problem which it is perceived is not being adequately addressed. [34522/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I would like to thank the Deputy for raising this question and I wish to be clear that my officials, alongside their colleagues in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and An Garda Síochána, are striving to find solutions to this complex policing issue.

As I have outlined in my response to Deputy Curran (parliamentary question 305 of 9 July), while it was agreed by all attendees at the last sitting of the cross-agency group in March that, in the main, current legislative provisions appeared to be sufficient, it was also agreed that the group would remain open to considering workable legislative solutions to any specific legislative gaps specifically identified by An Garda Síochána.

Further in my response to Deputy Curran, I noted that my officials wrote to the Garda Commissioner to seek his formal views on the legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General. A response was received on 28 June and has since been shared with DTTAS, as a primary contributor to the work of the cross-agency group. The response from the Office of the Garda Commissioner does suggest potential legislative changes which the organisation believes could assist in improving policing in this area.

However, I'm sure the Deputy can appreciate that proposals to amend well established bodies of legislation can have far reaching consequences, and will take detailed consideration. It is expected that the cross-agency group will reconvene in the coming weeks to further scrutinise these proposals, to ascertain whether they can be progressed alongside targeted enforcement measures, awareness raising and youth engagement, which will be key to success in combatting this behaviour.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal Applications

Ceisteanna (957)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

957. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 231 of 4 December 2018, 529 of 26 March 2019, 546 of 8 May 2019 and 158 of 19 June 2019, if the assessment of the caseload of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal that he requested has been finalised and submitted to him; if so, the outcomes and actions arising from same; if not, the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34568/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am informed that this assessment will be submitted to me shortly and I will provide the Deputy with a further update at that point.

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (958)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

958. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of site visits from RIA that is policy for temporary direct provision; if RIA staff are required to meet residents on these visits; if the RIA give pre-warning to contractors or management; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34569/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

In order to meet the rising demand for accommodation spaces and due to insufficient capacity within the Reception and Integration Agency's (RIA) accommodation portfolio, advertisements were placed in the national press seeking expressions of interest from hotels and guesthouses for the provision of bed and board on a short term basis for persons in the protection process. My Department is working to identify additional capacity within its accommodation portfolio.

Premises proposed for use as emergency accommodation facilities are inspected by RIA staff prior to opening, and their suitability is assessed, taking all necessary regulatory and legislative requirements into account.

RIA staff carry out visits to the emergency locations in order to meet with residents on a one to one basis and address any needs they may have. RIA has also contracted with the Jesuit Refugee Service to provide a Visiting Support and Cultural Liaison Service to emergency locations in the Dublin area who will provide a vital link between residents and the Department in respect of identifying issues that any resident may encounter. RIA has also sought proposals from various NGOs for the Monaghan/Cavan area for this service.

Residents in emergency accommodation may contact RIA directly through email or by telephone if they have concerns or issues and RIA will endeavour to resolve them. Where issues are brought to RIA's attention in relation to a particular emergency location, RIA staff work to resolve such matters quickly and will liaise with the managers in the emergency locations and the residents as appropriate in order to do so, including carrying out on-site visits.

RIA has facilitated visits by the Office of the Ombudsman to a number of emergency accommodation locations and has liaised with that Office in relation to feedback on foot of those visits.

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (959, 960, 961, 962, 963, 964, 965, 966, 967)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

959. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if feminine hygiene products are provided in direct provision temporary accommodation centres; the person or body responsible for their provision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34570/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

960. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if nappies and baby hygiene products are provided in direct provision temporary accommodation centres; the person or body responsible for their provision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34571/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

961. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if food specifications such as halal and so on are a requirement of successful tender of contract to supply temporary emergency accommodation to asylum seekers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34572/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

962. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the fact that visitors are not allowed in some emergency temporary accommodation direct provision centres; his views on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34573/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

963. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if staff in temporary accommodation centres for asylum seekers receive training regarding being the first point of contact for residents; the person or body that provides this training; the nature of the training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34574/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

964. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the responsibility RIA has in informing the local community structures regarding the provision of a temporary emergency accommodation for asylum seekers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34575/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

965. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if staff in contracted organisations for provision of temporary emergency accommodation direct provision are Garda vetted and have completed child protected training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34576/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

966. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the guidelines for healthy and culturally friendly food included in contracts for temporary direct provision centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34577/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

967. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the definition of adequate food in contract with temporary emergency accommodation direct provision centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34578/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 959 to 967, inclusive, together.

I note that the Deputy has asked a number of questions in relation to the provision of services to persons seeking international protection who are currently resident in emergency accommodation.

It is important to note that the premises currently being used by the Department as emergency accommodation are not direct provision centres, temporary or otherwise. In order to meet the rising demand for accommodation spaces and due to insufficient capacity within the Reception and Integration Agency's (RIA) accommodation portfolio, advertisements were placed in the national press seeking expressions of interest from hotels and guesthouses for the provision of bed and board on a short term basis for persons in the protection process. Contracts are usually for between 3 to 6 months.

My Department is working to identify additional capacity within its accommodation portfolio so that the use of emergency accommodation will be reduced and ended, if possible by the end of this year through a public procurement process. This process which commenced in late 2018 and is scheduled to conclude in 2020 is a series of regional procurement competitions through the Government's procurement portal www.etenders.gov.ie.

The contractual obligation on the providers of emergency accommodation is for the provision of bed spaces and the provision of breakfast, lunch and dinner. The majority of premises are able to provide on-site laundry facilities. It is important to note that often, RIA does not have exclusive use of the premises. Many of our emergency accommodation providers are operating commercially as hotels and guesthouses concurrently with providing RIA with accommodation.

In respect of the provision of food, providers are contracted to provide full board (breakfast, lunch and dinner). While halal food is not required by all our residents, we are working with providers to encourage them to provide halal food where requested and to provide culturally appropriate, healthy food to residents.

In relation to Garda vetting and child protection, statutory obligations on employers in relation to Garda vetting requirements for persons working with children and vulnerable adults are set out in the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012–2016. Under these Acts, it is compulsory for employers to obtain vetting disclosures in relation to anyone who is carrying out relevant work with children or vulnerable adults. The Acts create offences and penalties for persons who fail to comply with its provisions.

As these emergency locations are required at very short notice to meet a demand that is determined by spontaneous arrivals in the State, they are opened at short notice. RIA liaise with the relevant partner agencies such as the HSE, Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Employment and Social Protection regarding the local roll-out of required services to residents.

Some providers for reasons of commercial sensitivity request that their locations are not made public. RIA has to respect that request.

I understand that residents in emergency accommodation can meet visitors in communal areas within the hotels and guesthouses. As is the case in direct provision centres, there are restrictions in visitors being allowed into bedrooms in order to protect other guests' privacy and for child protection reasons.

There is no contractual obligation on providers in respect of nappies, baby hygiene products or feminine hygiene products. However, residents are in receipt of the daily allowance payment and have access to community welfare officers where exceptional needs payments are required. That notwithstanding, emergency accommodation providers have been informed by RIA that in any instance where a resident needs nappies, baby hygiene products or feminine hygiene products, they should be provided to the resident and RIA will refund the cost directly to the provider.

I would reiterate that the emergency accommodation centres being used are not Direct Provision Centres and that RIA are contracting the provision of bed and board only to persons in the protection process. RIA staff work closely with staff in emergency accommodation to address any issue that may arise. In addition, RIA has contracted with the Jesuit Refugee Service to provide a Cultural Liaison Visiting Service to emergency locations in the Dublin area who will provide a vital link between residents and the Department in respect of identifying issues that any resident may encounter. RIA has sought proposals from various NGOs for the Monaghan/Cavan area for this service and requests for proposals from NGOs will be sought to cover the rest of the country.

EU Directives

Ceisteanna (968)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

968. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if Ireland has opted into the EU Reception Conditions Directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34579/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

On the 23rd January 2018, both Houses of the Oireachtas approved a motion to opt-in to the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive.

A formal notification letter was immediately sent to the European Council and the European Commission. This commenced the four month compliance procedure with the Commission.

The EU Commission confirmed Ireland’s opt-in by decision dated 22nd May 2018 and gave the State until the 30th June 2018 to transpose the measure into national law.

This was done by way of the European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018 which came into effect on 30 June 2018.

Direct Provision Data

Ceisteanna (969)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

969. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of children in temporary emergency accommodation and direct provision centres as of July 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34581/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As of 14 July 2019, there are 1,678 children residing in Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) accommodation centres and 170 children accommodated in temporary emergency locations.

Every effort is being made to re-accommodate residents in emergency locations to a dedicated accommodation centre as quickly as possible. RIA is actively working on securing additional capacity, both in existing centres and through sourcing new centres via a national procurement process, which is underway.

EU Directives

Ceisteanna (970)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

970. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views that all provisions of the EU Reception Conditions Directive relating to the adequacy, variety, and quality of food are being fully delivered in all direct provision and temporary provision centres. [34582/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) accommodation centres provide food options on a catered or independent living basis to reflect the ethnic needs of the residents.

It is a contractual obligation on all contractors of accommodation centres that culturally appropriate food options should be provided to residents. Contractors must prepare menus that meet the reasonable dietary needs of the different ethnic groups accommodated at the accommodation centre and the reasonable prescribed dietary needs of any person accommodated at the centre. Menus must include a vegetarian option and all food products provided must have a traceability system that complies with food safety requirements. It is a contractual obligation for accommodation centres that a 28 day menu be provided and that residents are consulted on that 28 day menu.

Those accommodation centres which have moved to the independent living model, whereby residents are provided with ingredients and household items at no cost and cook for themselves, must provide a wide range of products which are culturally appropriate and meet the dietary needs of residents. Independent living provides applicants with a significant degree of autonomy and prepares them for life in Ireland after the protection process. As of July 2019, 2,710 residents across 13 centres have access to independent living. The Department of Justice & Equality anticipates that all of the commercially owned centres under contract to it will have moved to the independent living model by mid-2020. The regional tendering processes also require potential contractors to ensure that the food products made available to residents are culturally appropriate.

Residents may advise the accommodation centre manager of any dietary requirement that they have and this will be facilitated, where possible. Arrangements can also be made to cater for particular religious needs ( e.g. Muslim residents observing Ramadan).

Complaints by residents may arise from time to time in relation to dietary matters and any such complaint may be brought to the centre manager. If the resident is not satisfied with the outcome, she or he may also make a complaint to RIA, which will be investigated by RIA and action taken as appropriate.

If a resident is not satisfied with how his or her complaint is dealt with, she or he may make a complaint to the office of the Ombudsman.

All accommodation centres are subject to regular unannounced inspections by both staff from the Reception and Integration Agency and an independent inspector. Part of the inspection process deals directly with the provision of food services. Meals are assessed during inspection for quality, cultural appropriateness and variety of menu options. Any issues identified are notified to the contractor to be addressed immediately.

Following the McMahon Report, a Standards Advisory Group was set up in 2017. The work of this group is to build on the recommendations of that Report and to develop a set of standards for accommodation provided for those people seeking the protection of the State. A Working Document detailing the proposed set of standards has recently issued for widespread consultation and included in the standards are commitments in relation to food including access to a varied diet that respects cultural, religious, dietary, nutritional and medical requirements.

In relation to emergency accommodation, RIA has contracted with providers for bed spaces and three meals per day on an emergency basis to meet rising demand for accommodation services and due to insufficient capacity within RIA's accommodation portfolio. RIA is working to ensure that residents in emergency accommodation are there for as short a period as possible before being re-accommodated in dedicated accommodation centres.

It is my view that the arrangements in relation to the provision of food in direct provision and temporary accommodation centres meet the requirements of the EU Reception Conditions Directive.

Departmental Advertising Expenditure

Ceisteanna (971)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

971. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the expenditure by his Department on social media advertising and promotional material within the past year in tabular form. [34617/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

My Department engages in advertising on social media, where appropriate, in order to draw attention to important issues in the Justice and Equality sector. The use of social media allows the Department to reach audiences that might not be as likely to see or hear traditional forms of marketing such as newspapers, television, radio etc.

An itemised breakdown of expenditure relating to social media covering the last year is set out in the following table.

Year

Cost (€)

Description

Private company contracted

2018

€1,637.02

Halloween Fireworks Awareness Campaign - Fees/Facebook self-service

PHD Media Ireland

2018

€123.00

Halloween Fireworks Awareness Campaign - Online campaign MGMT

Mediavest Ltd. T/A Spark Foundry

2018

€139,266.00

Online promotion of "What Would You Do?", the national awareness campaign on domestic violence

PHD Media Ireland

Trade Agreements

Ceisteanna (972, 974)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

972. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the ratification process for the Mercosur deal when it is finalised; if it is the same process as a straight trade deal; and if it is covered by a qualified majority vote at the European Council. [31469/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

974. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the ratification process for the Mercosur deal when it is finalised; if it is the same process as a straight trade deal; if it is covered by a qualified majority vote at the European Council; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31467/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 972 and 974 together.

Any international agreement entered into by the European Union with a third country or group of third countries may, depending on its content, be concluded as an EU-only agreement (i.e. without the Member States also being parties to that agreement) or as a "mixed" agreement (i.e. with both the EU and the Member States being parties to the agreement). In this regard, where an agreement covers only areas where the Union has exclusive competence under the EU Treaties, the agreement must be an EU-only agreement. On the other hand, where an agreement covers areas where competence is shared with the Member States (or contains areas of Union competence and exclusive Member State competence), it will be a "mixed" agreement referred to as an Association Agreement, with both the EU and the Member States being parties to it.

In order to determine whether an agreement entered into by the EU should be EU-only or "mixed", it is necessary to examine its contents to see whether it covers areas of EU exclusive competence, or of shared competence, or of Member States’ exclusive competence.

In relation to free trade agreements, EU exclusive competence can arise in two ways. First, the Common Commercial Policy is an exclusive competence of the European Union under the EU Treaties. Thus, any provisions of a free trade agreement covering areas such as trade in goods, or sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures will fall within the EU’s exclusive competence. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) interprets the scope of the Common Commercial Policy very broadly, and holds that foreign direct investment, most trade in services, and sustainable development provisions all fall within the scope of the Common Commercial Policy and therefore, with the EU’s exclusive competence. EU exclusive competence can also arise where provisions of an international agreement would affect the EU’s internal rules or alter their scope. An Agreement which exclusively covers areas where the EU has competence is approved by the Member States in Council and by the European Parliament.

On the other hand, a "mixed" agreement contains aspects where the competence is shared between the Union and the Member States. Aspects of "mixed" competence, insofar as trade is concerned, are often provisions concerning Investment Protection and the EU Investment Court System. However, where an agreement also contains provisions which go beyond the broad area of trade and fall within the exclusive competence of the Member States – for instance, provisions concerning political cooperation in foreign policy areas – such an agreement would be considered to be "mixed".

When any Agreement is finalised, such as with Mercosur, the Commission proposes the Agreement to the Council and in doing so, it indicates to the Member States its view on competence and, therefore, ratification. Nationally, Ireland would then confer with the Office of the Attorney General for their views.

Insofar as Mercosur is concerned, it is our current understanding that it will be a "mixed" agreement. While the Trade Agreement elements fall under the exclusive competence of the Commission and are, therefore, ratified by Member States in Council under Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) and by the European Parliament, the EU-Mercosur Agreement is a wider 'mixed' Agreement – including Trade – with areas of “shared competence” (such as political co-operation elements). However, the text of the EU-Mercosur Agreement will now have to proceed to so-called “legal scrubbing”, and translation, a process which can take up to two years to complete, before a final text is available for Member States to assess.

"Mixed" agreements only enter into force once each individual EU Member State has approved it in line with its own national procedures. As this process may take several years, the Commission could propose that the Agreement be applied provisionally in respect of those aspects of the Agreement for which it has exclusive competence, such as trade. Such provisional application requires agreement by the Council under QMV and ratification by the European Parliament.

It is not possible at this stage to be definitive about what timelines may apply in respect of ratifying the EU-Mercosur Agreement, until a final text is available. However, it is my Department’s understanding that the EU-Mercosur Agreement will be a "mixed" Agreement, ultimately requiring the involvement of Dáil Eireann in its ratification process under our Constitutional requirements.

State Aid

Question No. 974 answered with Question No. 972.

Ceisteanna (973)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

973. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if exemptions for EU state aid rules exist for climate action-related public spending in the form of either capital spending or grant aid to particular firms or organisations; and if so, the exemptions in this regard. [31593/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) allows Member States to implement a wide range of public support measures without prior notification to the Commission, provided that they are designed within the parameters set out in the GBER. These schemes can apply to all sectors and undertakings, irrespective of the size of the undertaking, throughout Ireland.

Aid can be granted to undertakings for the below categories of Environmental Aid and subject to the conditions laid out in the relevant Articles of the GBER:

- Going beyond Union standards in the absence of Union standards (Article 36)

- Early adaption to future Union standards (Article 37)

- Energy efficiency measures (Article 38)

- Energy efficiency projects in buildings (Article 39)

- High efficiency cogeneration (Article 40)

- The promotion of energy from renewable sources (Article 41)

- The promotion of electricity from renewable sources (Article 42)

- The promotion of energy from renewable sources in smalls scale installations (Article 43)

- Reductions in environmental taxes under Directive 2003/96/EC (Article 44)

- Remediation of contaminated sites (Article 45)

- Energy efficient district heating and cooling (Article 46)

- Investment aid for waste recycling and re-utilisation (Article 47)

- Energy infrastructure (Article 48)

- Environmental studies (Article 49)

If an environmental protection measure does not fit within the GBER, a scheme may still be developed but it must be notified to the Commission for approval under the Environmental Aid Guidelines which can be a complex and lengthy process.

Question No. 974 answered with Question No. 972.

Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (975, 976, 977, 1002)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

975. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the primary legislation enacted since May 2016; and if in each case, the legislation placed additional regulatory burdens on small and medium enterprises. [31475/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Tom Neville

Ceist:

976. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the secondary legislation enacted since 1 January 2018; and if the legislation in each case placed additional regulatory burdens on small and medium enterprises. [31499/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Peter Burke

Ceist:

977. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the status and plans for the deployment of a SME test in respect of primary and secondary legislation. [31506/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

1002. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the way in which the proposed new SME test as committed under Future Jobs Ireland will work in practice; if this will be in operation by the end of 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32439/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 975 to 977, inclusive, and 1002 together.

Details of my Department’s primary legislation enacted since May 2016 and secondary legislation enacted since January 2018, and whether this placed any additional regulatory burdens on small and medium enterprises, are set out in the following tables.

As Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation my Department I am acutely aware of the concerns within our SME business sector when it comes to regulatory burden. That is why my Department is leading on the development, roll out and implementation of the SME Test.

The European Commission’s Small Business Act requires each Member State to create and implement its own SME Test. The draft Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) proposed for Ireland by the EU Commission recommend a focus on reducing regulatory barriers to entrepreneurship in Paragraph 20. Therefore, it is important at this point of an increasingly uncertain external environment, that we make every effort to make the business environment as competitive as possible for our SMEs.

Research on regulatory burdens and compliance costs indicates that where a large company may spend one euro per employee to comply with a regulatory duty, a medium-sized enterprise might have to spend around four euros and a small business up to ten euros.

This is particularly relevant to Irish SMEs who make up 99.8% of Ireland’s business sector with a further 92.2% percent of that total being in the microenterprise category. Time and running costs are paramount to all business at any stage of development. I want to ensure our indigenous enterprises continue to flourish and be competitive.

Therefore, it is important to recall why we are promoting the adoption and implementation of the SME Test.

The SME Test forms part of Regulatory Impact Assessments and asks legislators and policy makers to use the “Think Small First” Principle. Policymakers are required to consider the potential impact of any new legislation or regulation on the regulatory burden on SMEs.

The main thrust of the Test is to assess and design-in possible less stringent requirements for smaller companies and the simplification of regulatory adherence, for example through the use of templates, reduced thresholds for SMEs and use of plain English in forms etc.

My Department sought best practice through other Member States regarding the development of the SME Test and a guidance approach was taken. In 2017, consultation took place with the Advisory Group on Small Business, of which my colleague Pat Breen TD, Minister of State for Business chaired, and a public consultation followed thereafter. Up to the end of 2018, my officials main focus was to complete a pilot of the Test. This was done within my Department through application of the Test to the Copyright Directive.

I am pleased that the application and use of the SME Test across Government is now a deliverable action in the Future Jobs 2019 work programme. The adoption of the Test is included under action 2.3 which states:

"Raise awareness and promote the SME Test throughout Government Departments. Workshops will be available for policymakers”.

To that end, in July 2019, Minister Breen wrote to each Government Department in his role as Minister of State for Business requesting that policymakers and those responsible for drafting relevant legislation in each Department utilise the Test. Nomination of a relevant Official in each Department has also been sought so that my officials can engage and assist with the adoption of the SME Test.

To date, my Department Officials have received a very positive response and details of relevant points of contact are currently being received. Furthermore, I have requested officials within the Indigenous Enterprise Development Division of my Department be available to assist other Departments in using the Test and answering any questions they may have.

Primary Legislation enacted since May 2016

Did this place additional regulatory burdens on small and medium enterprises? Yes/No

Companies (Accounting) Act 2017 (No. 9 of 2017)

No

Competition (Amendment) Act 2017 (No. 12 of 2017)

No

Companies (Amendment) Act 2017 (No. 13 of 2017)

No

Companies (Statutory Audits) Act 2018 (No. 22 of 2018)

No

Hallmarking (Amendment) Act 2019 (No. 2 of 2019)

No

Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2019 (No. 3 of 2019)

No

Companies (Amendment) Act 2019 (No. 10 of 2019)

No

Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Act 2019 (No. 19 of 2019)

No

Knowledge Development Box (Certification of Inventions) Act 2017 (No. 6 of 2017)

No

Industrial Development (Amendment) Act 2018

No

European Investment Fund Agreement Act 2018

No

Legal Metrology (Measuring Instruments) Act 2017

No

Secondary Legislation enacted since January 2018

Did this place additional regulatory burdens on small and medium enterprises? Yes/No

S.I. 34/2018 - Companies (Accounting) Act 2017 (Commencement) Order 2018

No

S.I. No. 84/2018 - Companies Act 2014 (Accounting Standards) (Prescribed Body) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 95/2018 – Companies Act 2014 (Forms) Regulations 2018

No

SI No 126/2018 - European Union (Appliances Burning Gaseous Fuels) Regulations 2018

No

SI 295/2018 - European Union (Safety of Toys) (Amendment) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 308/2018 - European Union (Casual Trading Act 1995) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 324/2018 - Friendly Societies (Fees) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 325/2018 - Industrial and Provident Societies and the European Cooperative Society (Fees) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 326/2018 - Trade Union (Fees) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 362/2018 - Friendly Societies (Forms) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 363/2018 - Industrial and Provident Societies (Forms) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 364/2018 - Trade Union (Forms) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 366/2018 - Companies (Statutory Audits) Act 2018 (Commencement) Order 2018

No

S.I. No. 367/2018 - European Union (Third-Country Auditors and Third Country Audit Entities Equivalence, Transitional Period and Fees) Regulations 2018

No

SI No 388/2018 - Competition Act 2002 (Section 27) Order 2018

No

S.I. No. 410/2018 - European Union (Disclosure of Non-Financial and Diversity Information by Certain Large Undertakings and Groups) (Amendment) Regulations 2018

No

SI No. 425/2018 - Consumer Protection Act 2007 (Competition and Consumer Protection Commission) Levy Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 513/2018 - European Union (Unjustified Geo-Blocking of Consumers) Regulations 2018

Yes, as businesses are required to up-date their websites to ensure that customers are not geo-blocked from purchasing from them.

S.I. No. 570/2018 - Companies Act 2014 (Prescribed Professional Bodies) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 123/2019 - Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2019 (Commencement) Order 2019

No

SI No 126 of 2019 - Consumer Protection Act 2007 (Section 71(2)) (Dental Council) Regulations 2019

No

Employment Permits (Amendment) Regulations 2018, SI 70 of 2018

No

Employment Permits (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2018, SI 163 of 2018

No

Employment Permits (Amendment)(No. 3) Regulations 2018, SI 318 of 2018

No

Employment Permits (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2018, SI 550 of 2018

No

Employment Permits (Amendment) Regulations 2019, SI 138 of 2019

No

Employment Permits (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2019, SI 333 of 2019

No

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Mines) Regulations 2018 (SI No 133 of 2018)

No

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (Commencement) Order 2018 (SI No 134 of 2018)

No

European Union (Personal Protective Equipment) Regulations 2018 (SI No 136 of 2018)

Yes

European Communities (Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (SI No 197 of 2018)

No

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Diving) Regulations 2018 (SI No 254 of 2018)

Yes

Dangerous Substances (Retail and Private Petroleum Stores) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S.I. No. 502 of 2018)

No

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 (SI No 129 of 2019)

No

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Quarries) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 (SI No 179 of 2019)

No

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Diving) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 (SI No 180 of 2019)

No

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (Agreement to Recognise) Order 2019 (SI No 181 of 2019)

No

Chemicals Act 2008 (Rotterdam Regulation) Regulations 2019 (S.I. No. 213 of 2019)

No

European Communities (Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 (SI No 277 of 2019)

No

SI No 210 of 2018 – Trade Union Act 1941 (Revocation of Negotiation Licence) (No. 1) Order 2018

No

SI No 211 of 2018 – Trade Union Act 1941 (Revocation of Negotiation Licence) (No. 2) Order 2018

No

SI No 212 of 2018 – Trade Union Act 1941 (Revocation of Negotiation Licence) (No. 3) Order 2018

No

SI No 234 of 2019 – Sectoral Employment Order (Construction Sector) 2019

No

SI No 251 of 2019 – Sectoral Employment Order (Electrical Contracting Sector) 2019

No

S.I. 561 of 2018 European Union (Trade Marks) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. 562 of 2018 Trade Marks (Amendment) Rules 2018

No

S.I. 563 of 2018 Trade Marks Act 1996 (Community Trade Mark) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. 564 of 2018 Patents, Trade Marks and Designs (Fees)(Amendment) Rules 2018

No

S.I. No. 412 of 2018 European Union (Marrakesh Treaty) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 2016 of 2017 Patent (Amendment) Rules 2017

No

S.I. No. 205 of 2017 Patents, Trade Marks and Designs (Fees) (Amendment) Rules 2017

No

Industrial Development (Amendment) Act 2018 (Commencement) Order 2018 (S.I. No. 361/2018)

No

SI No 47 of 2018 European Union (Non-Automatic Weighing Instruments) Regulations 2018

No

SI No 44 of 2018 European Union (Measuring Instruments) (Revocation) Regulations 2018

No

SI No 43 of 2018 European Communities (Measuring Instruments and Metrological Control) Regulations 2018

No

SI No 2 of 2018 Legal Metrology (European Conformity Assessment of Measuring Instruments) Regulations 2018

No

SI No 1 of 2018 Legal Metrology (Measuring Instruments) Act 2017 (Commencement) Order 2018

No

S.I. No. 40/2018 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) Regulations 2018

No

SI. No. 41/2018 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning Sudan) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 42/2018 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning Venezuela) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 243/2018 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning Syria) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 244/2018 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning Central African Republic) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 245/2018 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning Sudan) (No. 2) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 246/2018 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) (No. 2) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 247/2018 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning the Republic of Guinea-Bissau) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 248/2018 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning Tunisia) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 249/2018 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning South Sudan) Regulations 2018 Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 250/2018 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning Venezuela) (No. 2) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 251/2018 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning Zimbabwe) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 252/2018 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 319 of 2018 The European Communities (Extra-territorial Application of Legislation Adopted by a Third Country) (Amendment) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 356 of 2018 Control of Exports (Brokering Activities, Goods and Technology) Order 2018

No

S.I. No. 458/2018 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo) (No. 2) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 459/2018 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning Central African Republic) (No. 2) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 460/2018 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) (No. 3) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 461/2018 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning Iran) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 462/2018 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning Iran) (No. 2) Regulations 2018

No

S.I. No. 463/2018 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning Syria) (No. 2) Regulations 2018

No

SI 61 of 2019 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning the Republic of Guinea) Regulations 2019

No

SI 62 of 2019 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) Regulations 2019

No

SI 63 of 2019 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning Venezuela) Regulations 2019

No

SI 64 of 2019 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning South Sudan) Regulations 2019

No

SI 65 of 2019 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning Burundi) Regulations 2019

No

SI 168 of 2019 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) (No. 2) Regulations 2019

No

SI 169 of 2019 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning Tunisia) Regulations 2019

No

SI 170 of 2019 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning Syria) Regulations 2019

No

SI 171 of 2019 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning South Sudan) (No. 2) Regulations 2019

No

SI 172 of 2019 European Union (Restrictive Measures concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo) Regulations 2019

No

SI 291 of 2019 European Communities (Intra-Community Transfers of Defence Related Products) (Amendment) Regulations 2019

No