Legal Aid Applications Data

Ceisteanna (101)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

101. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of legal aid applications made for mortgage possession cases; the number of applications which were received by the Legal Aid Board; the number of applications which were granted; the figures in each of the years 2005 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the means threshold; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40182/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As requested by the Deputy, the following table contains the number of financially eligible applications for legal services received by the Legal Aid Board where the applicant was in potential danger of losing their family home, and the number of cases where legal aid was granted in connection with the defence of possession proceedings, in each of the years in the period 2014-2018 and to date in 2019 (as at 1st October 2019).

 

Number of applications received

Number of applications where legal aid granted

2019 to date

24

8

2018

37

7

2017

35

6

2016

66

6

2015

108

9

2014

59

7

Comparable data is not readily available for the period prior to 1st January 2014, because the Legal Aid Board did not categorise applications for legal aid with respect possession proceedings separately from “other non-family law” applications during this period.

I want to reiterate the Government’s commitment to providing assistance to persons who may be in danger of losing their home. The Deputy will be aware that insolvent persons seeking legal advice and assistance in relation to repossession proceedings against their home may be able to avail of such advice through the Abhaile scheme.  This free mortgage arrears support service was launched by the Government in October 2016.

Abhaile is not focused on bringing challenges to repossession proceedings because in most cases this will not help the borrower. Instead, Abhaile focuses on solving the borrower’s substantive problem, by putting in place a solution to the arrears themselves, keeping the borrower in their home and helping them back to solvency. 

In relation to the focus of the Deputy's question on legal aid applications, it is possible to apply for legal aid from the Legal Aid Board to defend repossession proceedings under the normal rules relating to civil legal aid. Borrowers who wish to do this must meet the financial eligibility and merits criteria prescribed under the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 and the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996 to 2017.  The principal financial eligibility criteria are that the applicant must have disposable income of less than €18,000 per annum and disposable capital assets of less than €100,000 (excluding the home in which they live). 

In the past, it may have been difficult for applications for legal aid in connection with defending repossession proceedings to satisfy the merits criteria for civil legal aid in circumstances where the applicant accepts that the debt (i.e. the unpaid home loan) is owed to the Plaintiff lending institution and falls due to be paid and there is no legal defence available. The Deputy will be aware of the added protections conferred under the recently enacted Land and Conveyancing Law Reform (Amendment) Act 2019, however, it remains to be seen how the courts will interpret the new legislation.

Under Abhaile, by contrast, the borrower can obtain free independent financial advice and negotiation assistance from a Personal Insolvency Practitioner, a MABS Dedicated Mortgage Arrears adviser, and/or an accountant. The service includes detailed analysis of the borrower’s individual financial situation and home mortgage arrears, identifying their best option to resolve their arrears with priority given to remaining in their home wherever possible, and negotiation assistance to put a solution into place.  

Since the Abhaile service began in July 2016 and, as of 23rd September 2019, 3,763 vouchers for a legal advice consultation in relation to potential solutions to mortgage arrears (which may include advice in relation to the defence of possession proceedings) have been issued. A duty solicitor service is in place at county registrars’ courts for repossession proceedings and almost 8,000 people have availed of that service. It is important to note that persons availing of the Abhaile service do not have to meet any financial eligibility criteria, save that they are insolvent and at risk of losing their home, nor do they have to pay a contribution.  This is a far more sustainable and effective focus for public intervention – both more effective for borrowers, and better for taxpayers.

Firearms and Ammunition Security

Ceisteanna (102)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

102. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the new regulations that have been introduced in relation to the safeguarding of ammunition in respect of shotguns and the requirement for them to be kept in a locked box in vehicles when they are not on the property of the owner; the consultation and the organisations that were involved in the discussions prior to these rules or regulations being introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40197/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy may be aware, Statutory Instrument 420 of 2019 European Communities (Acquisition and Possession of Weapons and Ammunition) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 gives effect to Directive (EU) 2017/853 in national law.

The main changes introduced relate to:

- marking of firearms;

- new storage requirements for firearms and ammunition;

- prohibition of the acquisition of large capacity magazines; and

- prohibition of certain firearms.

There was some consultation as part of the process of making this SI.  All registered firearms dealers were invited to an initial consultation meeting with officials of my Department in Mullingar in August 2018, at which the new EU Directive was discussed.  I understand that over 250 invitations were issued to that consultation and that 51 firearms dealers attended. 

It may be noted that there was significant time pressure for production of this Statutory Instrument, due to infringement proceedings commenced against Ireland by the European Commission.  As such it was unfortunately not possible to organise a further consultation in advance of the making of the Statutory Instrument, between completion of the drafting process in July 2019 and signature of the regulations in August 2019.

I understand that the Statutory Instrument has now been circulated to members of the Firearms Consultative Panel and Registered Firearms Dealers and it has also been published on my Department's website, along with a guidance note.

Finally, I can confirm to the Deputy that my officials recently met with representatives of the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC), to allow them to outline any concerns.  I have asked my officials to consider the matters raised and to consult with the Office of the Attorney General, where relevant. The NARGC has also been advised to contact An Garda Síochána for clarification on their guidelines on the Statutory Instrument.

Citizenship Applications

Ceisteanna (103)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

103. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the cost of becoming an Irish citizen for asylum seekers claiming refugee status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40236/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that the fees to be paid by an applicant for a certificate of naturalisation are governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 569 of 2011). The application fee, stipulated at €175, is payable on application for a certificate of naturalisation, and a certification fee is payable on the issue of a certificate of naturalisation. The standard certification fee is €950, while a reduced fee of €200 applies in the case of an application made on behalf of a minor or in certain cases where the application is made by a widow, widower or surviving civil partner of an Irish citizen. In the case of recognised refugees and stateless persons the certification fee is nil. Therefore, in relation to the cost of applying for and receiving a certificate of naturalisation there is no cost to a person recognised as a refugee under the International Protection Act 2015. 

There is no provision in the Regulations for the discretionary waiver or reduction of fees, or for differing fees to apply to different nationalities, pensioners or based on length of residency. While the operation of the Act is kept under review, there are no plans to amend the fees as they are comparable with other jurisdictions.  

 The standard fees payable by an applicant are designed to reflect the effort and cost involved in processing applications for a certificate of naturalisation. Formal citizenship ceremonies have been introduced at no extra cost to applicants. These have been universally well received by participants as the ceremonies provide a sense of dignity and occasion that serves to underscore the importance to both the State and the applicant of the granting of Irish citizenship.

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

Bankruptcy Data

Ceisteanna (104)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

104. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 84 and 85 of 6 September, the number of families the lost their homes as a result of bankruptcies which were initiated by the Revenue Commissioners (details supplied) and in which the official assignee,which is a function of the Insolvency Service of Ireland, dealt with these matters in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40250/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) is an independent statutory body which was established on 1 March, 2013, under the Personal Insolvency Act 2012.

I have made enquiries with the Insolvency Service of Ireland and they have informed me that in relation to cases that have been dealt with by the ISI, no families lost their homes as a result of petitions for bankruptcy by the Revenue Commissioners in years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019.

Courts Service Data

Ceisteanna (105)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

105. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of entities or persons convicted of operating here without Central Bank authorisation in each year since 2013 following summary prosecution or prosecution on indictment, respectively; the fines and penalties imposed by the courts in each conviction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40286/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The data requested by the Deputy 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.

Departmental Offices

Ceisteanna (106)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

106. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if executive officer grade positions are available in his Department in Mullingar, County Westmeath. [40289/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Further to the Deputy’s query, my officials have made enquiries which indicate that there are currently no Executive Officer grade positions available in my Department in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.

Recruitment is generally managed through open competitions conducted by the Public Appointments Service (PAS), the centralised provider of recruitment and selection services for the civil service. Where such work opportunities do arise, they will be advertised by PAS. Further details can be obtained by logging on to the website www.publicjobs.ie

Youth Justice Strategy

Ceisteanna (107)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

107. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the development of a youth justice strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40325/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that an expert Steering Group is currently developing the 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.

My intention is that we will have a draft Strategy for publication and public consultation by the end of this year, and that the Strategy will be finalised in the first half of 2020.

Legal Services Regulation

Ceisteanna (108)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

108. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the Legal Services Regulatory Authority will commence its complaints process and start accepting complaints from the public and users of legal services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40326/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The regulatory reform of the legal services sector has been taking place since the enactment of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 and the establishment of the Legal Services Regulatory Authority on 1 October 2016 and as set out in the Authority’s Strategic Plan for 2018-2020 which was laid before the Houses. The Legal Services Regulatory Authority is independent in the performance of its functions,

As the Deputy has raised, Part 6 of the Act provides for the introduction of an independent complaints and professional conduct regime for legal practitioners including the separate establishment and appointment of an independent Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Tribunal. The new Tribunal will deal with allegations of serious misconduct by both solicitors and barristers and will replace the existing bodies which currently operate for that purpose and will be winding-down their existing caseloads. Extensive preparations have been ongoing at the Legal Services Regulatory Authority to put the necessary procedural, staffing, IT and other supports in place with the intention of being in a position to receive and process public complaints from next week subject to the formal completion of the relevant Commencement Order to that effect. At that point, members of the public will no longer make their complaints through the legal professional bodies as they do at present but directly to the Authority while the new Disciplinary Tribunal will come into operation in its own right. Details of the relevant public complaints procedures will be made available by the Authority including on its website www.lsra.ie when they come into operation.

Next week should also see the introduction of the new legal costs transparency regime set out in Part 10 of the 2015 Act including, separately, the transition of the Office of the Taxing-Master to that of the Legal Costs Adjudicators which will maintain a publicly accessible Register of its legal costs determinations. Similarly, the roll-out of Legal Partnerships and Limited Liability Partnerships will take place. The new professional conduct regime being introduced under Part 6 will, therefore, underpin the new legal costs and other obligations that will apply to legal practitioners being regulated under the 2015 Act. Again, as Minister I will be supporting the imminent roll-out of these functions with the commencement of the relevant statutory provisions.

Naturalisation Eligibility

Ceisteanna (109)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

109. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the determination of eligibility for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied); if previously granted permission has been updated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40375/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that the application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy continues to be processed and will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible. If further documentation is required it will be requested from the applicant in due course. 

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

It is recognised that all applicants for citizenship would wish to have a decision on their application without delay. The nature of the naturalisation process is such that, for a broad range of reasons, some cases will take longer than others to process.  In some instances, completing the necessary checks can take a considerable period of time.

Should the person's permission to reside in the State be due to expire shortly she should contact the Immigration Office which issued her current permission in order to renew it.

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

Family Reunification Applications

Ceisteanna (110)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

110. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding abdication for family reunification in the case of a person (details supplied); if a decision has been made in relation to the case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40376/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that the proposal form submitted by the person concerned, under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) Humanitarian Admission Programme 2 (IHAP), could not be processed as he did not provide the required supporting documentation. Proposals which do not provide the necessary documentation, or are otherwise incomplete, will not be processed.

The person concerned was informed, in a letter dated 11 July 2019, that his proposal could not be accepted for reasons outlined at that time.

There are currently no plans to issue any further calls for proposals under IHAP. In the event that further calls are announced it may be open to the person concerned to make a new proposal, with the required documents/information. Any future calls will be announced on the Immigration Service website.

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

Visa Applications

Ceisteanna (111)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

111. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding spousal application in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40377/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation & Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that it is open to any visa-required national to apply for a visa for any purpose.  Each visa application is considered on its individual merits, with the Visa Officer having regard to all of the information and documentation available.  The onus rests at all times with the applicant to satisfy the Visa Officer that the visa sought should be granted.   

As regards the application procedure, guidelines on how to apply for particular types of visas are available on the immigration website at www.inis.gov.ie   In addition, detailed information on the circumstances in which a person can seek to sponsor a family member to join them in the State are set out in the Policy Document on Non-EEA Family Reunification which is also available on the website. 

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

In addition, applicants may themselves e-mail queries directly to visamail@justice.ie

Naturalisation Applications

Ceisteanna (112)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

112. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when naturalisation will be approved in the case of a person (details supplied); if stamp 4 can be renewed as a first stage towards naturalisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40378/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I have been informed by the Immigration Service of my Department that the person concerned was the holder of an immigration permission valid until 21 October 2016. Their permission to remain in the State has now expired.

I am further informed that the Immigration Service wrote to the person concerned on 25 October 2016 and advised that all applications for permission to remain in the State from a non-EEA national, on the basis of parentage of an Irish citizen child, must be submitted on the appropriate form to the Immigration Service.  No such application has been received in this case.

It remains open to the person concerned to submit an application. Any such applications must be made in writing using the application form available from the immigration website (http://www.inis.gov.ie).

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

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (113)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

113. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding eligibility for residency in the case of a person (details supplied); if the case will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40379/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that the Immigration Service of my Department has issued correspondence to the person concerned and also to their legal representative pursuant to section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) but to date no response has been received from either party. The onus lies with the applicant to provide the Department with a current address for all communications.  The person concerned or her legal representative should contact the Immigration Service immediately to ensure that the address on file is correct and to provide whatever further information she may consider relevant.

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

Research Funding Data

Ceisteanna (114)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

114. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation further to Parliamentary Question No. 114 of 26 September 2019, the amount that has been paid to date to each of organisations that have received payments for approved projects in tabular form. [40193/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The  Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) is a €500 million fund established under Project Ireland 2040 and forms a key part in the delivery of the Pillar 1 goal of Future Jobs Ireland to embrace innovation and technological change. The DTIF has been established under the responsibility of my Department with Enterprise Ireland providing administrative support.

From the start, my Department has indicated that €20 million would be made available in 2019 to commence the first tranche of projects. To date, a total of €5 million in funding has been drawn down by Enterprise Ireland from my Department for payment to the organisations involved in 12 of the 27 successful projects under Call 1. This is in line with the planned profile of drawdown as set at the start of 2019. It is expected that the full €20m allocation for the Fund in 2019 will be drawn down by the end of the year.

Of the €5 million in funding drawn down from my Department, approximately €3.5 million has already been paid to organisations involved in the projects with the remainder to issue shortly. In line with existing practice, higher education institutions and research bodies involved in the DTIF Call 1 projects have received advance payments for some of their project costs. These are set out in tabular form below as requested by the Deputy. Some of the payments made to these organisations represent payments for multiple DTIF projects in which those research organisations are involved. 

For the most part, enterprise partners in DTIF collaborations will receive payments retrospectively following submission of validated claims for vouched expenditure. In addition, some small companies have been approved for pre-finance. The process of issuing those payments to companies is underway and they should receive payment shortly.  

DTIF Call 1 Payments to Organisations at 1 October 2019

Organisation 

Payments to date 

National University of Ireland, Galway

€417,000.00

Trinity College Dublin

€319,934.00

Dublin City University & University of Limerick (Lero)

€309,898.00

Dublin City University

€736,509.00

University College Dublin (UCD)

€275,319.00

CEARDAR Technology Centre (UCD)

€129,330.00

TEAGASC

€106,519.00

MARINE INSTITUTE

€72,328.00

Waterford Institute of Technology

€251,871.00

University of Limerick

€946,577.00

Total

€3,565,285.00

Labour Court Recommendations

Ceisteanna (115)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

115. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of recommendations issued by the Labour Court in each of the years 2016 to 2018 in cases in which the court recommended that the employer recognise the right of a union concerned to represent workers in the relevant employment for the purpose of collective bargaining in tabular form; the number of such recommendations from each of the relevant years that were accepted and implemented by the relevant employers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40256/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

YEAR

UNION RECOGNITION RECOMMENDED

2016

2

2017

3

2018

7

These cases relate to referrals to the Labour Court under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act 1969 whereby the referring party agrees to be bound by the recommendation. As it is at the employer’s discretion whether to accept the recommendation or not, no statistics on implementation are available.

Irelands system of Industrial Relations is based in voluntarism and while the right of workers to form associations and join a trade union is enshrined in Article 40 of the Irish Constitution there is no obligation on employers to recognise any union for the purposes of collective bargaining. 

Notwithstanding this, it has been the consistent policy of successive Irish Governments to promote collective bargaining through legislation. Most recently, a decision by this Government to legislate for an improved framework in this area resulted in the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015.

This legislation provides a clear and balanced mechanism by which the fairness of the employment conditions of workers in their totality can be assessed in employments where collective bargaining does not take place.

The legislation ensures the retention of Ireland’s  voluntary system of industrial relations, but it also means that where an employer chooses not to engage in collective bargaining either with a trade union or an internal ‘excepted body’, and where the number of employees on whose behalf the matter is being pursued is not insignificant, an effective framework exists that allows a trade union to have the remuneration and terms and conditions of its members in that employment assessed against relevant comparators and determined by the Labour Court, if necessary.

Regional Enterprise Development Fund

Ceisteanna (116)

Seán Crowe

Ceist:

116. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation when the Athy enterprise hub will be completed; and the funding provided towards the construction of this hub. [40284/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I launched the Regional Enterprise Development Fund Call 3 on the 24th June 2019 and the call closed for applications at 3.00 p.m. on Wednesday 25th September 2019. The overarching aim of this Fund is to drive enterprise development and job creation in each region throughout the country. Enterprise Ireland is administering the Fund on behalf of my Department. The Fund will support major new collaborative and innovative initiatives that can make a significant impact on enterprise development not only across the regions but nationally. This will be achieved by co-financing the development and implementation of collaborative and innovative projects that can sustain and add to employment at a national, regional and county level.

As the Regional Enterprise Development Fund Call 3 has now closed and projects are being assessed, the names of applicants that have applied for funding is commercially sensitive and confidential. I intend to announce successful projects under this Fund by the end of 2019.

Brexit Supports

Ceisteanna (117)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

117. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of applicants and participants in all Brexit support schemes provided by her Department and agencies under her remit; and the amount allocated and expended on each scheme annually since they were established in tabular form. [40342/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

While the nature of the UK's departure from the EU still remains to be determined, Brexit continues to represent a significant challenge for businesses in Ireland, one which cannot be underestimated. That is why my Department and its agencies have put in place extensive supports, schemes and advisory resources to ensure that to ensure that businesses around the country are prepared for Brexit. These measures aim to assist businesses in identifying and managing key risk areas and develop practical preparatory actions regardless of the circumstances of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

My Department’s total exchequer allocation increased by 9.1% year on year, up from €871m in 2018 to €950.2m for this year. This is made up of a record €620m in capital and €330.2m in current funding, which includes an increase of €65m in capital – up 11.7% on last year’s allocation of €555m; and, an increase of €14.2m in current funding – almost 4.5% more than our 2018 allocation of €316m.

I allocated an additional €5m to the network of Local Enterprise Offices, €3m to Enterprise Ireland, €2m to IDA Ireland and €1m to InterTradeIreland to help businesses prepare for Brexit, together with funding for the longer-term Future Growth Loan Scheme and the IDA Regional Property Programme. I also provided extra staff for the regulatory bodies of my Department to ensure they are properly resourced to address the additional demands that Brexit will create.

The Local Enterprise Offices [LEOs] are the first-stop-shop for anyone seeking guidance and support on starting or growing their business. The LEOs have organised various events to enable companies to learn about the potential impacts and opportunities of Brexit.

In addition, 1,017 LEO clients have received one-to-one mentoring solely focused on Brexit. Technical Assistance Grants for Micro Export are offered as an incentive for LEO clients to explore and develop new market opportunities. 729 LEO clients have been approved for the Technical Assistance Grant.

The Local Enterprise Office interactive one day Prepare Your Business for Customs workshop helps businesses understand the key customs concepts, documentation and processes required to succeed in a post Brexit environment. 917 Participants have so far attended this Customs Training.

InterTrade Ireland also plays a major role as part of Ireland’s Brexit response and offers Brexit-related advisory services to eligible businesses. So far this year, more than 4,500 SMEs have directly engaged with the Brexit Advisory Service. 

ITI offers a Brexit Planning Voucher and Brexit Implementation Voucher schemes, which enables businesses to get professional advice on how best to plan, prepare and implement for the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. These supports help businesses obtain advice on specific areas such as tariffs, currency management, regulatory and customs issues and movement of labour, goods and services.

ITI Brexit Start to Plan vouchers are worth up to €2,250 (inclusive of VAT) each. Over 1,800 businesses have applied for a Brexit Start to Plan voucher, of which over 1,600 have been approved. ITI new Brexit Implementation Voucher provides financial support up to £5,000/€5,625 (inclusive of VAT), with InterTradeIreland paying 50%. This will allow businesses to implement critical changes making them better prepared to deal with a new trading relationship.

In August, ITI launched a new advertising campaign and a new online resource to encourage and assist firms in preparing for Brexit. The online “Bitesize Brexit” resource is a one-stop-shop for cross-border traders, presenting information in easily digestible segments and includes specific actions businesses should take in preparing for Brexit.

The Brexit Loan Scheme was launched in March of 2018. The Scheme, using a combination of Irish Exchequer and EU guarantees, leveraged up to €300 million of lending at a maximum interest rate 4% at a cost to the Exchequer of €23 million - €14 million provided by my Department and €9 million provided by Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The Brexit Loan Scheme provides relatively short-term working capital, 1 to 3 years, to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees to help them to innovate, change or adapt to mitigate their Brexit challenges. Businesses can confirm their eligibility with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and, if deemed eligible, can apply to one of the participating finance providers for a loan under the scheme. 

As at 27 September, there have been 816 applications for eligibility under the scheme, of which 738 have been approved to date by SBCI. 194 of those applications have progressed to sanction at bank value, to a total value of €43.52 million.

The Future Growth Loan Scheme launched in March of this year. The scheme provides a longer-term facility, 8 to 10 years, of up to €300m to support strategic capital investment for a post-Brexit environment by business at competitive rates. This scheme is jointly funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (€37.2 million) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (€24.8 million) at a total cost to the Exchequer of €62 million. 

This scheme is available to eligible businesses in Ireland and the primary agriculture (farmers) and seafood sectors to support strategic long-term investment. The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, the scheme operator, opened for eligibility applications on 17 April and up to 27 September it had received 1,353 eligibility applications and issued 1,283 eligibility letters.

Enterprise Ireland has established a Prepare for Brexit online portal and communications campaign, as well as an online “Brexit SME Scorecard” to help Irish businesses self-asses their exposure to Brexit and a “Be Prepared Grant” to support SME clients in planning to mitigate risks arising from Brexit. It has also launched a new Eurozone Strategy to help SMEs broaden their export footprint beyond the UK.

Over 6,500 business have used Enterprise Ireland’s Brexit Scorecard to date and 85% of EI client firms have a plan in place, while 216 applications for the Be Prepared grant have been approved. 288 EI clients have received funding under its “Act On” programme, which supports the engagement of a consultant to help clients identify weaknesses and improve resilience. EI has also hosted 16 Brexit Advisory Clinics.

EI also launched a Customs Insights Online course at the beginning of the year. This is a new online training support to help all businesses understand how customs work including the documentation and process required to operate and succeed post Brexit. The Customs Insights course explains in clear and simple terms the main customs rules and included the key actions companies can take to prepare for customs after Brexit and the options from Revenue that are available to make the customs process more efficient. This will be available for any company to use whether they are importers or exporters and also whether they are agency clients or not. There have been over 1,700 Customs Insights Course participants.

Enterprise Ireland also recently published 12 ‘Brexit Essential’ questions aimed at helping exporting businesses further prepare and take action ahead of the UK’s impending withdrawal from the EU.  The Brexit Essentials campaign highlights the key questions and documentation that businesses need to address in order to trade successfully with the UK post 31 October.

My Department, together with the Department of Education and Skills,  in association with key industry partners, also launched a new support measure to help customs agents, intermediaries and affected Irish businesses develop the capacity to deal with the additional customs requirements due to the UK’s departure from the EU. The new initiative is called Clear Customs, and it comprises of a free customs training programme provided through Skillnet and a financial support payment from Enterprise Ireland to assist with the costs of recruiting and assigning staff to customs roles in addition to necessary customs IT requirements. To the 27 of September, 168 applications have been made to access financial support through the scheme.

While I have seen a very positive uptake of the supports available, I am conscious that the delays to Brexit may have led businesses to defer their immediate planning. However, the UK’s exit from the EU will mean changes for Irish businesses. I want businesses to know that my Department and its agencies are here to help.  The existing supports, schemes and advice are in place to ensure that businesses are prepared for any Brexit scenario.

The first table attached sets out the uptake of the different Brexit-related supports available through the Department and its agencies as at 27 September 2019.

The second table attached sets out the respective exchequer increases in allocations to ITI, EI, IDA and the LEOs between 2018 and 2019 and the cost/expenditure of the supports available. Whilst these increases are not all due to Brexit, they are mainly provided to assist the enterprise agencies in their responses to the challenges posed by Brexit.

Brexit Schemes and Expenditure

Brexit Supports

Ceisteanna (118)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

118. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of businesses that have applied for working capital under the Brexit loan scheme; the number of such businesses that have been sanctioned financing to date; and the total value. [40343/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Brexit Loan Scheme provides affordable working capital to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees that are or will be Brexit impacted and which meet the scheme criteria.  The €23 million exchequer funding announced in the 2018 Budget has been leveraged to provide a fund of up to €300 million over the lifetime of the scheme.

The scheme features a two-stage application process. First, businesses must apply to the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) to confirm their eligibility for the scheme. Businesses can use guidelines provided on the SBCI website to determine if they are eligible, and if so, to complete the eligibility form. The SBCI assesses the applications and successful applicants receive an eligibility reference number.

Successful applicants can then apply for a loan under the scheme with one of the participating finance providers using their eligibility reference number. Participating finance providers are the Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and Allied Irish Bank. Approval of loans is subject to the finance providers' own credit policies and procedures. 

As at close of business 27 September 2019, 816 businesses have applied for eligibility under the Brexit Loan Scheme. 738 of the applications received were approved and received eligibility codes and 194 businesses have been sanctioned financing to date with a total value of €43.52 million. It should be noted that 153 of total applications received relate to repeat / duplicate applications. The high level of repeat applications would suggest that businesses see a value in having approved eligibility for the scheme but are not proceeding to bank sanction  until they actually need the working capital support.

Brexit Supports

Ceisteanna (119)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

119. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of businesses that have applied to the future growth loan scheme; the number of businesses that have been sanctioned financing to date; and the total value. [40344/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Future Growth Loan Scheme makes up to €300 million worth of loans available with a term of eight to ten years and is open to eligible Irish businesses, including those in the primary agriculture and seafood sectors, to support strategic long-term investment. Finance provided under the scheme is competitively priced and has favourable terms, for example, no security is required for loans up to €500,000.

The scheme has been developed by my Department and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in partnership with the Department of Finance, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and the European Investment Fund. 

Loans to businesses under the scheme can be used to fund investments in equipment, machinery, buildings and associated overhead costs for organisational and/or process innovation.  Loans to primary agriculture under the scheme can be used to fund investment in tangible and intangible assets on agricultural holdings linked to primary agricultural production.

The Future Growth Loan Scheme features a two-stage application process. Applications for eligibility under the scheme is made through the SBCI website. The SBCI assesses the applications and successful applicants are issued an eligibility reference number.

Eligible businesses may then apply for a loan under the scheme with one of the participating finance providers using the eligibility reference number. Approval of loans under this scheme is subject to the finance providers’ own credit policies and procedures.

As at 27 September 2019, there have been 1,353 applications for eligibility under the scheme, of which 1,283 have been approved to date by SBCI. 270 of those applications have progressed to sanction at bank value, to a total value of €43.8 million.

Work Permits Applications

Ceisteanna (120)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

120. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if a new application for a work permit will be considered in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40380/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

An application for an employment permit by the named person will be considered should such an application be made, subject to the application fulfilling all relevant criteria. 

In order to apply for an employment permit a non-EEA national must have secured a job offer for an eligible occupation from an Irish registered employer.

Details on how to apply for an employment permit are available on my Department's website at the following link - https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Workplace-and-Skills/Employment-Permits/.

In order to assist with the application process, the Department has produced a suite of information including various checklist documents, a ‘User Guide' to our online application system and a comprehensive FAQ Document which answers the most common queries received regarding employment permits.  All this information can be found in the Employment Permit section of my Department’s website at www.dbei.gov.ie