International Protection

Ceisteanna (285)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

285. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons in the international protection process that are housed in emergency accommodation; the number that are children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39799/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

My Department is responsible for offering accommodation and related services to international protection applicants while their claim for protection is being examined. Due to an unexpected rise in applications (+36% in the first six months of the year), the International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS, formerly the Reception and Integration Agency), of my Department is experiencing significant upward pressure on its accommodation portfolio.  

As of 22 September 2019, there are 1,379 applicants residing in 34 emergency accommodation locations in hotels and guest houses. 278 of these applicants are children. As the Deputy will appreciate, my Department does not disclose the specific location of any emergency accommodation centres in order to protect the identity of international protection applicants.

Every effort is being made to re-accommodate applicants in emergency locations to a dedicated accommodation centre as quickly as possible where we can provide the full range of State services and supports. 

IPAS is actively working on securing additional capacity, both in its existing centres and through sourcing new centres via a series of regional procurement competitions and advertised expressions of interest for accommodation provision. .

International Protection

Ceisteanna (286)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

286. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of emergency accommodation centres in use to house persons in the international protection process; the location of these centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39800/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

My Department is responsible for offering accommodation and related services to international protection applicants while their claim for protection is being examined. As of 22 September 2019, 7,393 persons were being provided with accommodation by the International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS, formerly the Reception and Integration Agency) of my Department. 

Currently, there are 6,014 persons residing in the 38 accommodation centres located nationwide across 18 counties. As these centres are at full capacity, there are also a further 1,379 applicants residing in 34 emergency accommodation locations in hotels and guest houses.  As the Deputy will appreciate, my Department does not disclose the specific location of any emergency accommodation centres in order to protect the identity of the international protection applicants.

Every effort is being made to re-accommodate applicants in emergency locations to a dedicated accommodation centre as quickly as possible where we can provide the full range of State services and supports. 

IPAS is actively working on securing additional capacity, both in its existing centres and through sourcing new accommodation centres via a series of regional procurement competitions and the advertisement of expressions of interest for the provision of accommodation. 

International Protection

Ceisteanna (287)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

287. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of vulnerability assessments that have been carried out to date on persons in the international protection process in line with obligations under the European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018; his views on reports that as of July 2019 no such formal assessments had been carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39801/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

In June 2018, Ireland opted into the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive. This Directive lays down the standards for the reception of international protection applicants. Article 21 of the Directive requires Member States, in implementing the Directive, to take into account the specific situation of vulnerable persons, and Article 22 provides for the assessment of the special reception needs of vulnerable persons.

Ireland transposed the Directive by way of the European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018. While there is no formal procedure in place for vulnerability assessments, Regulation 8 refers to vulnerable persons and provides for an assessment in relation to an applicant's special reception needs within 30 days of presentation or application. 

Every applicant has an initial interview conducted when they first attend the International Protection Office in Dublin. If the applicant indicates that they require accommodation , he or she will then be assessed for any specific reception needs. The result of the assessment is taken into account when assigning accommodation to the individual. 

Applicants are also invited for an initial health assessment on a voluntary basis. A Health Screening Team, which is funded and managed by the HSE, is located onsite at the Balseskin Reception Centre for this purpose. The team comprises of GPs, a Medical Officer, a Clinical Nurse Specialist and two nurses, a primary care social worker, two primary care psychologists and clerical/administration support. The team offers a range of individual services and screening for medical and psychosocial needs and makes onward referrals for any further treatment required. These health professionals communicate with my officials in the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS - formerly RIA), within the bounds of patient confidentiality, if a particular need is identified that will impact the person's accommodation requirements. In the coming weeks, a new primary care facility will be opening in Balseskin, which will enable the health care team to provide their services in a facility that is to the standard of all new HSE primary care facilities.

In addition, arrangements are in place with Safetynet, who carry out health screening in various parts of the country on behalf of the HSE, to offer the screening service to those who do not, for whatever reason, avail of it in Dublin. Staff from Safetynet liaise with the IPAS if the person is deemed vulnerable on medical or related grounds. This can include a request that special arrangements should be taken regarding the assignment of the person's accommodation, for example if they need to be located near a particular hospital.

My Department is continually reviewing how to improve services to applicants and my officials are currently examining the options available for putting in place a formal procedure for the identification and assessment of those applicants deemed to be vulnerable in accordance with Article 21 of the Reception Conditions Directive.

To assist in determining how best we can meet the health and related needs of applicants, the HSE National Office for Social Inclusion has recently commissioned research to explore the concept of vulnerability with a view to further improving our existing processes. I look forward to the outcome of this research.

It is also important to emphasise that all Departments and their agencies involved in the delivery of services and supports to applicants have a role to play in identifying and addressing the needs of applicants who present as vulnerable. This is particularly the case where vulnerabilities may only be disclosed or become evident after the initial stage of the protection process.  

For the purposes of the Directive and Regulation 8 of the 2018 Regulations, vulnerable persons include minors, unaccompanied minors, disabled people, elderly people, pregnant women, single parents, victims of human trafficking, persons with serious illnesses, persons with mental disorders and persons who have been subjected to torture, rape or other serious forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence, such as victims of female genital mutilation.

Garda Data

Ceisteanna (288)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

288. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of community gardaí serving in An Garda Síochána as of 25 September 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39831/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

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

I would point out however that community policing is at the heart of An Garda Síochána. It provides a means of recognising that every community – both urban and rural – has its own concerns and expectations. The role of a community Garda is not a specialist role in An Garda Síochána; rather it is the case that all Gardaí have a role to play in community policing in carrying out their duties. The official categorisation as a Community Garda simply refers to those who are exclusively assigned to building relationships with local communities and civil society including giving talks to schools, community groups and others. It is a matter for the Divisional Chief Superintendent to determine the optimum distribution of duties among the personnel available to him or her having regard to the profile of the area and its specific needs.

The Deputy will be interested to note that a new “Community Policing Framework” is currently at an advanced stage. I understand that this new Framework will take into account the recommendations of the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland (CoFPI), under which it is envisaged that community policing may be a specialism in some urban areas. In rural areas, community policing may be more of a hybrid model whereby all Gardaí in a District have a community responsibility but also attend to normal policing duties.

The number of Community Gardaí serving in An Garda Síochána as at 31 August 2019, the latest date for which figures are readily available, is 724.

I think it is also important to note the welcome roll-out of the new operating model of An Garda Síochána. This meets a key commitment in A Policing Service for the Future, the four-year implementation plan giving effect to the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.

The Garda Operating Model re-organises resources around the delivery of front-line policing, placing an increased emphasis on engaging with communities and supporting victims of crime. I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that in each Division, there will be a dedicated Superintendent leading a community engagement team. I am confident that this reorganisation will further strengthen community policing and engagement, and provide a more localised, responsive policing service for each Division nationwide.

Courts Service Data

Ceisteanna (289)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

289. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of convictions under Parts 11 and 13 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 in each year since the commencement of those Parts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39834/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The data requested by the Deputy refers is not maintained by the Department of Justice and Equality. I have asked the Courts Service for the information requested and I will write directly to the Deputy when I receive it.

Juvenile Offenders

Ceisteanna (290)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

290. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the operation of the juvenile diversion programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39836/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Garda Youth Diversion Programme is a statutory programme under Part 4 of the Children Act 2001, as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 2006, which focuses on preventing criminal behaviour as well as diversion from the criminal justice system and rehabilitation of children between 10 and 18 years of age. The programme is an essential part of Government strategy to help tackle youth crime, administered by An Garda Síochána, and it is very important that it operates effectively.

As the Deputy is aware, serious issues arose in relation to the handling of cases which had been deemed unsuitable for the Garda Youth Diversion Programme. These issues did not involve any negative implications for the effectiveness of the Diversion Programme itself, which is a valuable mechanism to help young offenders turn away from crime.

The operation of the programme by An Garda Síochána is strongly supported by a nationwide network of 106 Garda Youth Diversion Projects, which are funded by my Department and operated by community-based organisations. The projects receive referrals from a number of sources, but primarily from the Garda Juvenile Liaison Officers.

The Deputy may also be aware that an expert Steering Group is currently developing a new Youth Justice Strategy, including a review of the Children Act. The Steering Group commenced its work in February and has had a series of meetings during this year which will continue into next year. The Group is tasked with advising and guiding the development of the new Strategy, including consideration of the full range of issues connected to children and young people at risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system, from early intervention and preventative work, including family support, diversion from crime, through to court processes and facilities, supervision of offenders, detention and reintegration and support post release.

Assisted Decision Making

Ceisteanna (291)

James Browne

Ceist:

291. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason for the delay in commencing all parts of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015; the timeframe for the commencement of the Act in full; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39843/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 provides a modern statutory framework to support decision-making by adults with capacity difficulties. The Act was signed into law on 30 December 2015 but has not yet been fully commenced. The Act provides for the establishment of new administrative processes and support measures, including the setting up of the Decision Support Service within the Mental Health Commission (a body under the Department of Health).

The Decision Support Service is working towards being operational and ready for the commencement of the main provisions of the Act in 2020. This lead in timeframe ensures that sufficient staff resources, processes, IT system, expert panels, codes of practice and regulations will be in place so that the Decision Support Service will have the capacity to be up and running effectively. There are many complex strands to this preparatory work, including the involvement of multiple organisations.

A high-level Steering Group comprised of senior officials from the Department of Justice and Equality, the Department of Health, the Mental Health Commission and the Courts Service, together with the Director of the Decision Support Service, is overseeing the establishment and commissioning of the Decision Support Service and this work is ongoing. There are many complex strands to this work, including involvement of multiple organisations.

A number of provisions of the 2015 Act were commenced in October 2016 in order to progress the setting up of the Decision Support Service. The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (Commencement of Certain Provisions) Order 2016 (S.I. No. 515 of 2016) commenced provisions of the Act to enable the recruitment of the Director of the Decision Support Service. Ms Áine Flynn was appointed Director of the Decision Support Service on 2 October 2017.

The commencement of Part 8 of the Act, which provides a legislative framework for advance healthcare directives, is a matter for the Minister for Health. The Minister for Health, under the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (Commencement of Certain Provisions) (No. 2) Order 2016 (S.I. No. 517 of 2016), brought some provisions of Part 8 of the Act into operation on 17 October 2016. The commenced provisions provide for the establishment by the Minister for Health of a multi-disciplinary group to make recommendations to the Director of the Decision Support Service in relation to codes of practice on advance healthcare directives. In anticipation of the completion of that process, the Minister for Health commenced the remainder of section 91 on 17 December 2018 (S.I. No. 527 of 2018).

The key preparations are being put in place under the oversight of the Steering Group to allow for further commencement orders for the provisions of the 2015 Act to be made when the Decision Support Service is ready to roll out the new decision-making support options.

Significant progress has been made on preparing for commencement of the remainder of the 2015 Act. In April 2018, the Mental Health Commission engaged the consultancy firm BearingPoint to support the development of a detailed, costed plan to establish a fully operational Decision Support Service. The contract also includes ongoing project management support for the design and establishment of the organisation, business processes, IT systems and risk management framework.

The Mental Health Commission has also received sanction for the recruitment of a number of staff for the Decision Support Service and also a number of staff to provide shared services for the Mental Health Commission and Decision Support Service. These staff are being recruited on a phased basis by the Mental Health Commission.

The National Disability Authority is currently finalising its work on the suite of draft codes of practice in relation to non-healthcare matters which are required to be prepared under section 103 of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015.

In June 2018, my Department recruited an external legal expert to assist in the preparation of draft regulations in relation to decision-making assistance agreements, co-decision-making agreements, certain matters relating to decision-making representatives, and enduring powers of attorney. These regulation-making powers are provided for in sections 10(4), 31, 45(3), 45(4), 46(3) and 79 of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015. Work on the draft regulations is on-going.

International Protection

Question No. 293 answered with Question No. 248.

Ceisteanna (292)

John Curran

Ceist:

292. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps he is taking to address concerns in a new report by an organisation (details supplied) which shows refugee children need more mental health, integration and education supports here through the Irish refugee protection programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39868/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am aware of the recent report by the organisation referred to by the Deputy.  I am working closely with my colleagues, via a whole of Government approach, to deliver appropriate and inclusive supports for refugees who are resettled to Ireland under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP). 

In 2015, the Government established a cross-departmental Taskforce to implement the IRPP, which I chair.  The Task Force seeks to support the work of local authorities and other relevant bodies in undertaking refugee resettlement and integration initiatives. It includes representatives from a number of Government Departments,  An Garda Síochána, the HSE, Tusla the Irish Red Cross and the UNHCR.  

In addition, the Community Sponsorship Programme for the resettlement of refugees in Ireland involves cooperation between state and non-state stakeholders. The engagement of communities in the reception, resettlement and integration of refugees is recognised internationally as an effective approach towards contributing to the well-being of refugees and receiving communities. I would like to see more communities becoming involved in this initiative.  

In relation to supports for refugee children, among the specific supports provided are access to on-site psychologists, HSE mental health awareness through performance arts, access to childcare facilities and access to sports/athletics clubs and family outings. 

Question No. 293 answered with Question No. 248.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (294)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

294. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the final agreed tender price, the date of the tender for the contract and the final overall amount paid and the date of the final payment in respect of each capital expenditure project completed since 1 January 2014 by his Department or an agency under the remit of his Department and which ended up costing €10 million or more in tabular form; the reason the final amount paid exceeded the final tender price; the details available in respect of projects in which construction is not complete to date or in which the final settlement account has not been agreed to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39928/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that there were no capital projects in excess of €10m completed by my Department since 2014. I have requested that relevant Agencies under the remit of my Department and operating under a separate Vote structure (Courts Service, Prison Service and An Garda Síochána) respond directly to the Deputy.

Domestic Violence Policy

Ceisteanna (295)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

295. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on a report by an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39973/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I welcome the publication of the report referred to by the Deputy.

Women’s Aid have campaigned tirelessly to highlight the impact of domestic violence and the report referred to provides important first-hand accounts of the abuse suffered by victims of domestic abuse. Understanding the experience of such victims is important to me as Minister and greatly assists in the development of Government policy in this important area. And my Department will study the report carefully in that context.

It is important to note that the Government has already brought forward a range of new laws in recent years in order to help address domestic violence, as part of the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2016-2021.

Central to this is the landmark Domestic Violence Act 2018, which came into force on 1 January of this year. Other developments in this area include the enactment of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, which introduced a statutory definition of consent, and the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017, which provides a wide range of measures to protect and inform victims during the progress of their case through the Criminal Justice system.

In addition, on International Women’s Day, I announced Ireland’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention (the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence).

Further, An Garda Síochána is continuously improving its specialist services. Responding to the needs of victims has seen the rolling out by the Garda Commissioner of Divisional Protective Services Units (DPSUs) with specially trained officers responsible for engagement with and interviewing of victims. These Units will support the delivery of a consistent and professional approach to the investigation of sexual and domestic crime.

I note that the report referred to also referred to sentencing in this field. I would point out that the judiciary is independent in matters of sentencing. However the Judicial Council Act 2019 will provide for the development of sentencing guidelines by the judiciary themselves.

Work Permits Applications

Ceisteanna (296)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

296. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the status of an application for a work permit by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39363/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Employment Permits Section of my Department inform me that, on 15th August 2019, it received a standard application for a General Employment Permit in respect of the named individual.

The Employment Permits Section is currently processing standard applications received on 2nd July 2019.  As such, this application should be considered within the next 5-6 weeks.

Regional Enterprise Development Fund Data

Ceisteanna (297)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

297. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the 2017, 2018 and 2019 budget allocations to the regional enterprise development fund for projects in each county relating to e-hubs, enterprise spaces, incubation, food hubs and co-working; the annual amount expended for projects that were allocated funding; the number of applications to the fund relating to eHubs, enterprise spaces, incubation, food hubs and co-working respectively by county in each of the years 2017 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of successful and unsuccessful applications, respectively by county in each year; the approved projects annually in each county; the amount of approved funding to successful applications in each year to date by county; and the number of payments that have issued to date in tabular form. [39280/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

My Department and its agencies are actively engaged in the development of regional digital hubs / ehubs which enable and support new business development, provide the opportunity for business relocation, and for full-time or part-time remote working from regional locations. A number of projects which have been offered funding under, for example, the competitive Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF), are already prototype ehubs and should develop over time into more sustainable ehubs in their own right.

In the context of the further development of ehubs, as envisaged in Project Ireland 2040, in support of efforts to expand entrepreneurship and start-ups in every region, Enterprise Ireland is addressing the need to expand and further develop co-working initiatives including through existing community enterprise centres as set out in their recently launched regional strategy ‘Powering the Regions’.

The relevant projects funded as part of the first and second Calls of the REDF that I announced in December 2017 and December 2018 and the details sought by the Deputy are set out in the following tables. The successful projects under Call 1 were announced in December 2017, so no payments were made in 2017. In June 2019 I announced a further €45m to be made available under this Fund and this third call for applications closed on 25th September 2019. It is expected that the successful projects in the third call will be announced before the end of 2019.

REDF Funding

Work Permits Applications Data

Ceisteanna (298)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

298. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the valid employment permit application processing time by total number of work days in each month in each of the years 2009 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form. [39345/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The average amount of work days taken to process an employment permit application, in each month from the years to 2009 and to date in 2019, is set out in the following table as requested by the Deputy.

Statistics setting out Average Number of Business Days to Process Applications from January 2009 to Aug 2019

Year

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Jan

29

34

50

46

35

26

23

34

25

25

43

Feb

24

67

57

37

30

19

27

39

40

28

43

Mar

28

64

60

41

27

17

28

35

28

28

38

Apr

34

60

63

38

25

17

25

29

32

29

35

May

38

63

59

36

23

18

20

23

26

29

31

Jun

42

77

44

44

22

20

22

24

22

28

24

Jul

53

43

48

39

21

18

18

21

26

38

33

Aug

63

41

42

35

29

16

31

26

29

51

35

Sep

71

42

40

35

34

14

39

15

25

46

31

Oct

70

33

39

36

26

24

29

22

24

47

 

Nov

194

243

43

34

33

25

22

26

24

49

 

Dec

58

45

41

31

27

21

21

29

22

38

 

 

Departmental Correspondence

Ceisteanna (299)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

299. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the correspondence between her Department and INAB in 2018 and to date in 2019. [39457/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB) is the national body with responsibility for the accreditation of laboratories, certification bodies and inspection bodies. INAB was established in 1985. The functions of INAB include the provision of accreditation in accordance with the relevant International Organisation for Standardisation ISO 17000 series of standards and guides.

INAB is the sole national accreditation body for Ireland as appointed under EU Regulation 765/2008. The provision of the accreditation service for Irish enterprises is managed by the INAB executive and over seen by the INAB Board with the support of externally contracted expertise. INAB acts independently in carrying out its accreditation roles.

Following the dissolution of Forfás in June 2014 INAB became a committee of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

The primary nature of contact between Departmental officials and INAB officials is related to the appointment of Notified Bodies. My Department is the Notifying Authority for the conformity assessment of certain products being placed on the EU internal market. If a Conformity Assessment Body applies to my Department to be appointed as a Notified Body under certain EU Directives (see attached at Appendix 1) then the Department seeks confirmation from INAB officials that the Conformity Assessment Body has received accreditation from INAB. This arises only in relation to accreditation provided by INAB to a Conformity Assessment Body under a specific number of EU Directives and it is in this context that my Department would seek information from INAB on individual accreditations.

However, it should be noted that the Department has no role in relation to decisions made by INAB as to who should be accredited and/or how the accreditation process should be conducted by INAB as INAB carries out this role independently.

In addition, officials from my Department have been in regular contact with INAB officials for the last few years in relation to matters concerning accreditation processes in the context of Brexit. INAB officials have participated in a number of publicity events organised by my Department, and other Departments, in order to highlight the potential impact of Brexit on Irish businesses who currently use UK based accreditation services.

Other interactions between officials from my Departments concerning INAB include interaction with the HSA on the financing and staffing of INAB in the context of the overall operational management and staffing of the HSA.

INAB is also a member of the Market Surveillance Forum, an inter-Departmental/Agency forum, chaired by my Department, involving all the Market Surveillance Authorities within the State in addition to other relevant stakeholders, this forum meets on a quarterly basis.

Given the above the Deputy will appreciate it is not possible to account for each individual exchange of correspondence for the period requested by the Deputy in this reply.

However, if the Deputy has a particular topic in mind, my Department will be pleased to assist him.

Departmental Correspondence

Ceisteanna (300)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

300. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the correspondence between her Department and the Department of Health in 2018 and to date in 2019. [39458/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

My Department has regular correspondence with the Department of Health, and all Government Departments, on a variety of issues across the wide range of its remit. 

In the time available it is not possible to provide details of all such correspondence during the period in question. If the Deputy wishes to receive details of correspondence on any particular topic or policy area I will endeavour to provide these.

Departmental Correspondence

Ceisteanna (301)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

301. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the correspondence from her or her Department or her advisers with a person (details supplied) or their offices and-or their employees in each of the years 2017 to 22 September 2019. [39542/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

In the time available, it has not been possible to compile the information requested. My Department will supply the information requested within the prescribed time limit once it has been collated.

Enterprise Support Schemes

Ceisteanna (302)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

302. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the ranking of 22nd in the EU for Ireland for new start-ups; and her priorities to improve the ranking. [39562/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

As Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, I have a strong focus of developing indigenous businesses. I am consistently engaging and listening to the needs of start-ups and established small businesses.

I am keenly aware of their importance as SMEs account for 99.8% of all enterprises in the State and are predominantly indigenous. My Department through its Agencies, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), provides a range of tailored supports to small and medium enterprises. Supports include access to finance, management development, mentoring supports, business development programmes, market supports and trade promotion.

Ireland continues to be very supportive of entrepreneurial activity and once again ranks 1st in Europe in terms of our entrepreneurs being held in high esteem. The 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor annual index of early stage entrepreneurs indicates that Ireland had increased rates of entrepreneurship in 2018 and holds a position of 5th in Europe compared to 6th in 2017. Importantly, also reported is that the gap between male and female entrepreneurs has continued to narrow from a previous 2 to 1 ratio to a ratio of 1.6 to 1 in 2018.

While Ireland has a healthy and positive perception of entrepreneurship, I am cognisant of the need to create and support an environment where our budding entrepreneurs can thrive and succeed.

That is why in the 2019 Budget I allocated an additional €3m to Enterprise Ireland and €5m to the Local Enterprise Offices.  This extra funding assists our Agencies to reach more of our entrepreneurs and SMEs to help grow and scale their businesses which are at the heart of our economic growth.

Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) team provides support and advice to entrepreneurs and early stage companies that have an innovative product, service or technology, and the potential to export.

The 31 LEOs are the ‘first-stop-shop’ for advice and guidance, financial assistance and other non-financial supports for anyone intending to start or grow their own business. The LEOs provide a ‘signposting’ service in relation to all relevant State supports available through agencies such as Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, Education and Training Boards, the Credit Review Office and Microfinance Ireland. The LEOs can also offer advice and guidance in areas such as Local Authority rates, Public Procurement and other regulations affecting business.

My Department also runs the www.supportingsmes.gov.ie online portal that enables start-ups and small business to navigate the supports available from all the different government departments, agencies and initiatives. This online tool also advertises upcoming events that would be of interest to entrepreneurs and established SME’s such as financial literacy classes or business management workshops.

To further my commitment to the future growth of our indigenous small and medium enterprises, I commissioned the OECD Review of SME Policies in Ireland in March 2018.

The aim of the review is to provide tailored analysis and recommendations to my Department and the Irish government on how to improve the design and implementation of national SME and entrepreneurship policies and programmes, based on an assessment of the country’s current SME and entrepreneurship performance, framework conditions and policies based on international comparisons.

This is a collaborative body of work and involves considerable input from Government departments, agencies, representative groups and most importantly, indigenous businesses themselves. This review is currently nearing completion and will be launched with an accompanying SME Strategy Roadmap by myself and the OECD Deputy Secretary General Knudsen on the 23rd October 2019. This will assist my Department in developing a SME Strategy which will be part of the Future Jobs Framework.

I and my Department will continue to hold structured dialogue with key stakeholders and advocate across Government to ensure the needs of SMEs and entrepreneurs are considered in the execution of national policy.

 

State Aid

Ceisteanna (303)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

303. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the progress being made with the EU in seeking approval for the relaxation of State aid rules. [39565/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

My Department and its agencies are providing extensive supports, schemes and advice to ensure that businesses are prepared for Brexit.  My Department has been working closely with the EU Commission and DG Competition since November 2017 through the Irish/EU Technical Working Group on State Aid which was established following a meeting between my predecessor, Frances Fitzgerald and the Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager.  The Group comprises senior representatives from DG Comp, my Department, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Enterprise Ireland.  Its objective has been to scope and design schemes to support enterprises impacted by Brexit in line with State Aid rules.  

Much has been achieved by this Working Group which last met in June.  It has examined and explored a range of opportunities within State Aid rules which has resulted in the development of the Future Growth Loan Scheme, the expansion of Ireland’s Rescue and Restructuring Scheme to include Temporary liquidity aid and an increase in the EU approval for the Rescue & Restructuring Scheme to €200 million. Through the mechanism of the Technical Working Group, Ireland has fully utilised the provisions of the State aid framework to enable the investment by Enterprise Ireland of €74 million in 2018 in Brexit impacted businesses.   Earlier this year, following intense engagement by my Department and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, approval was received to provide capital support to Carbery Food Ingredients based in Cork towards financing a large diversification project to mitigate the impacts of Brexit, and further options are being developed to support large food companies.  The work of this Group is ongoing.

Earlier this year I met with Commissioner Vestager.  The focus of the meeting centred around the severe challenges that Irish businesses will face when the UK leaves the EU and the need for appropriate and timely State supports.   It was agreed that Irish officials will continue to work closely with the Commissioner's team in addressing any State aid issues that may arise to ensure a rapid and appropriate response as the ultimate shape of Brexit and its firm-level implication become known.  I have received assurances from the Commissioner that the Commission stands ready to act urgently in mitigation against the impacts of Brexit on Irish firms.

Should issues arise that require an approach that does not fit within the existing State aid rules, this will be raised as part of these Working Group discussions.

 

IDA Ireland Data

Ceisteanna (304)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

304. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of IDA Ireland facilities constructed in Dublin in each of the past three years to date; the cost of each facility; the number occupied; the number vacant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39574/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

IDA Ireland has not constructed any facilities in Dublin over the past three years. There has been strong market activity in that period in the capital, in terms of the provision of property solutions for overseas firms seeking to expand or invest there. The supply of such properties remains adequate and it is expected that Dublin will continue to attract further foreign direct investment (FDI).

Given the importance of strengthening the spread of FDI across Ireland, the Agency's recent property activities have placed a particular emphasis on regional development and continued investment in the Regional Property Programme (RPP). The RPP aims to boost investment and job creation in the regions through the construction of office and technology buildings in advance of demand for both existing and prospective IDA client companies. This has already helped secure a number of significant investments for regional Ireland and the RPP will remain an important tool through which investors can be encouraged to locate in areas outside of Dublin.

My Department will continue to keep the IDA's property requirements under review in the time ahead.