Traffic Management

Ceisteanna (64)

James Browne

Ceist:

64. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding car parks within school-owned property and issues related to patrolling cars parked within disabled parking spaces without a valid blue badge permit and cars parked on double yellow lines; the policy regarding such cases, especially when in cases in which the matter falls outside the remit of An Garda Síochána and the local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41301/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Board of Management is responsible for the management of a school on behalf of the patron(s). Individual school authorities are responsible for ensuring the safety and welfare of children and others in their care, including traffic management measures within school property.

Home Tuition Scheme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (65)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

65. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) cannot receive an allocation of further home tuition hours; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41311/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The purpose of my Department’s Home Tuition Grant Scheme is to provide funding towards the provision of a compensatory educational service for students enrolled in school, with a significant medical condition which has, and is likely to cause, major disruption to their attendance in school on a continuing basis.

Home tuition is not an alternative to a school placement and is provided in very limited and specific circumstances. 

Eligibility for applications received under the Medical Strand of the Scheme is assessed having regard to, although not limited to, the following criteria:

- The student’s attendance levels during the previous school year

- A relevant medical/professional report

Generally for students at post primary, grant aid based on a range of between 2 and 10 hours tuition may be approved with the allocation reflecting the level of attendance in school.

Based on the attendance information provided in the application referred to by the Deputy my Department sanctioned a Home Tuition grant towards the provision of 2 hours tuition per week.

The Home Tuition Grant Scheme provides for an appeal process and details are set out in the decision letter which issued to the applicant.  

Appeals may be submitted in writing to my Department’s Special Education Section outlining the reasons for the appeal along with any additional supporting documents or reports, as appropriate.

Third Level Fees

Ceisteanna (66)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

66. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a non-EEA citizen who is resident here for more than a decade and married to an Irish citizen is not eligible for EU status for third level fees and free fees in view of the fact a similar non-EEA citizen married to a non-Irish EU citizen and resident here for a similar period and therefore having EU treaty rights is eligible for EU status for third level fees and free fees. [41329/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Department of Justice and Equality adjudicates on a person’s entitlement to remain in the State and on the stamp that is awarded where permission to remain is sanctioned.

All applicants for the Free Fees initiative must meet the prescribed criteria of the scheme including residency and nationality. 

The position is that EU Directive 2004/38/EC as given effect by S.I No 656/2006 European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) (No 2) regulations 2006 and subsequently S.I. No. 548/2015 - European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015 cover the rights of EU nationals, and their family members, who move from one member State to another.

The  Free Fees Initiative recognises those awarded a Stamp 4 EUFam as meeting the nationality criteria of the scheme.

As noted by INIS, Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the EU and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States applies only to Union citizens who move to or reside in a Member State other than that of which they are a national. Exceptions to this apply only in cases where the non-EEA national family member has previously held a residence card of a family member of a Union citizen which has been issued by another Member State under Article 10 of the Directive.  Further queries on the provisions of the legislation are a matter for the Department of Justice and Equality.

 Notwithstanding the above, I have asked my officials to consider the matter further in tandem with colleagues in the Department of Justice and Equality, who lead in such matters.

Springboard Programme

Ceisteanna (67)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

67. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of funding historically provided to an organisation (details supplied) through the Springboard stream of funding; the way in which this funding is monitored to ensure it is used appropriately; if audits are conducted on bodies in receipt of this stream of funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41359/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Springboard+ which incorporates the ICT skills conversion programme, is a targeted initiative which is used to provide funding for higher education courses aimed at meeting the need for in-demand skills in the economy.  Springboard+ supports jobseekers to return to employment and those in employment to upskill or reskill.

Courses approved for funding under Springboard+ are in areas of identified skills needs and are selected by an independent panel with industry and educational expertise, following a competitive call for proposals.

 I can confirm that the Restaurants Association of Ireland do not receive any funding through Springboard+.

Third Level Institutions

Ceisteanna (68)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

68. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the third level institutions which have informed his Department of plans to reduce enrolment in the coming years; the institute and planned enrolment reduction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41362/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department is not aware of any planned reductions in student intake by third level institutions.

In November 2018 the Department published projections of the demand for full time third level places in state-aided institutions for the period 2018-2040. The results show that demand for third level places will increase each year up to 2030, driven primarily by demographic trends, increased levels of transition from the post-primary sector and rising numbers of internationals students.  

Budget 2020 announced an increase of over €150 million for tertiary education.  This will provide for the launch of the Human Capital Initiative with €60 million spend proposed in 2020.  It also includes a provision of €18 million to address demographic pressures, accommodating an additional 2,700 places in Higher Education in 2020. 

School Funding

Ceisteanna (69)

John Curran

Ceist:

69. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason for the delay in the payment of a biannual payment made to cover the rent for a school (details supplied); when the payment will be paid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41364/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department has received a request for payment from the school in question. 

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department is committed to paying invoices on rental contracts on a biannual basis.  At the initiation of the rental approval, my Department, advises the school authority that the first payment covers the period January to June and the second payment covers the period July to December.  The exact timing of these payments is not pre-defined.  For example, for the period July to December, payments may be made at any date between 1st June and 31st December.

Officials from my Department will liaise with the school authority as soon as the process has been completed. 

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (70)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

70. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the incidental expenses incurred by his Department from 1 January 2018 to 1 January 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41252/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that expenditure under the relevant subhead in my Department (Administration subhead (iii) - Incidental Expenses) amounted to €5,256,956 in the year ending 31 December 2018.

Garda Data

Ceisteanna (71)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

71. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of text alerts that have been sent out to each text alert group in each Garda district in the Limerick Garda division in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41352/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the information sought by the Deputy. I can assure the Deputy that I will write to him directly once I receive it.

Leave to Remain

Ceisteanna (72)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

72. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a decision by INIS to refuse an extension to a visitor permission to a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41353/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am informed by the Immigration Service of my Department that the person to whom the Deputy refers was informed by letter on 29 September that her position did not warrant an extension of her visitor permission as there was no change to her circumstances since her arrival in the State.

There is no appeal permitted in such cases. However, if the person concerned has new information to disclose on her circumstances since the refusal of her application, she may submit a new request for an extension of her residence permission to the address provided to her in the decision letter.

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

Legal Aid Service Data

Ceisteanna (73)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

73. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons working for the Legal Aid Board that are unpaid and-or receive expenses only and-or are classified as intern in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41363/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I have requested the information sought by the Deputy from the Legal Aid Board and they have provided the following information regarding the number of persons concerned: 

Date

Nos.

2017

11

2018

7

2019

21

This includes volunteer solicitors, volunteer paralegals, volunteer secondary school students and volunteer third level students.

Judicial Appointments

Ceisteanna (74)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

74. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is finalising plans to fill vacancies in the Judiciary; his views on the fact that the delay in doing same is causing cases to be delayed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41373/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Ensuring access to justice, including maintaining adequate judicial resources within the courts, is a priority for Government. Because it is a priority, I ensured that legislation was brought before the Houses of the Oireachtas before the end of its last session to provide a legal basis for a significant expansion of the Court of Appeal. The Courts Act 2019 provides for an increase in the number of ordinary judges in the Court of Appeal for its current configuration of nine to fifteen, and was signed into law by the President on 23 July 2019.

At its meeting of 8 October 2019 the Government agreed to nominate one judge in principle (to fill a vacancy which will arise in the Court of Appeal on 26 October) and 6 new ordinary judges for appointment, by the President of Ireland, to the Court of Appeal. Arrangements are currently being made with regard to their appointments.

I wish to advise the Deputy that there are currently 11 judicial vacancies in the Courts (6 of which were addressed at Cabinet this week) as follows:

Court

Number of vacancies

Supreme Court

2

Court of Appeal

6

High Court

1

Circuit Court

1

District Court

1

Judicial appointments are made by the President acting on the advice of the Government in accordance with articles 13.9 and 35.1 of the Constitution. Accordingly, it is my intention to bring forward, in the coming weeks, a Memorandum for the Government, seeking approval for the filling of the remaining vacancies.

Under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions. Furthermore, the scheduling of court cases and the allocation of court business is a matter for the Presidents of the Courts and the presiding judges who are, under the Constitution, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (75)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

75. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the incidental expenses incurred by her Department from 1 January 2018 to 1 January 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41241/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Administrative subhead Ad3 of my Department’s Vote covers expenditure relating to Learning and Development and Incidental Expenses.

The Incidental Expenses heading covers a very broad range of areas with the primary areas incurring expenditure during 2018 relating to:

- Health and safety related costs including certain furniture, cleaning equipment, clothing and materials.

- Costs associated with the hosting of various meetings and large-scale events. The Department's broad remit means it hosts many events, conferences and roadshows such as Brexit awareness raising events or other initiatives such as the "Future Jobs Ireland" launch.

- Translation and Interpreter Services.

- Annual cost associated with the Department availing of certain payroll and human resource services provided though the National Shared Services Office.

- Certain costs, such as accommodation, relating to Departmental staff representing Ireland in various roles in Brussels, London and Geneva.

The total expenditure incurred by the Department during 2018 for Incidental Expenses amounted to €1.25 million.

VAT Rate Application

Ceisteanna (76)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

76. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if the restaurant and hospitality rate will be reviewed in the event of a hard and disorderly Brexit in order to safeguard one of the largest employers and ensure that the tourism sector here remains competitive at EU level; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41271/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The answer to this question falls under the remit of the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform.

Apprenticeship Programmes

Ceisteanna (77, 79, 80, 81)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

77. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if more supports will be put in place for restaurants in terms of ensuring that they are not left with the entire financial burden when taking on an apprenticeship; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41272/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

79. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if a review of apprenticeships and measures taken to ensure that culinary students receive the same benefits as apprentices from other sectors for example bursaries, expenses and so on will be carried out by her Department. [41274/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

80. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the way in which she plans to address inequalities between pre-2016 apprenticeships and new apprenticeships post 2016; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41275/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

81. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if more supports will be put in place for restaurants in terms of ensuring that they are not taking on the entire financial burden when taking on an apprenticeship; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41276/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 and 79 to 81, inclusive, together.

As Minster for Business, Enterprise and Innovation I am very interested in the development of an efficient and effective apprenticeship system that serves the needs of both enterprise and apprentices. I fully support the development of the apprenticeship system on an ongoing basis as a means of providing for the broad range of skills needed for the growing economy.

I am fully aware of the financial implications for business in taking on an apprentice and of the difference in the funding models between the pre-2016 apprenticeships and the newer post 2016 apprenticeships.

However, my Department does not hold policy responsibility for the apprenticeship system, as this lies with the Department of Education and Skills and the Apprenticeship Council and operational responsibility in this area lies with Solas, Ireland’s further education and training authority. Therefore, the initiation of reviews and other policy matters relating to apprenticeships lie with the Minister for Education and Skills.

Departmental Bodies Reports

Questions Nos. 79 to 81, inclusive, answered with Question No. 77.

Ceisteanna (78)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

78. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if another report on the hospitality sector will be compiled by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs for the five year period beyond 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41273/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

In 2015 the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs published an Assessment of Future Skills Requirements in the Hospitality Sector in Ireland. In the years following the publication of this report the secretariat of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, based in my Department, acted as secretariat to the Hospitality Skills Oversight Group, which was tasked with implementing the recommendations of the 2015 report. My Department's involvement in this culminated in the publication of a Hospitality Skills Oversight Group Report in 2018, when responsibility for the secretariat of the group passed to Failte Ireland, where it still remains.

As the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs is independent of Government I do not direct its work programme. However, I have been informed that another report on the Hospitality sector is not in its 2020 work programme due to competing priorities.

Questions Nos. 79 to 81, inclusive, answered with Question No. 77.

Trade Agreements

Ceisteanna (82)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

82. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the announcement by the United States of America that it will begin applying WTO tariffs on certain EU goods commencing 18 October 2019 which will result in tariffs on Irish exports in the agriculture sector; the discussions she had with authorities in the United States of America, other member states and the Commission on this development; the discussions she has had with Irish companies that will be impacted by these tariffs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41283/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

On 6 October 2004 the United States requested consultations, in line with WTO procedures, with the governments of Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Spain, and with the European Commission concerning measures affecting trade in large civil aircraft. The US concern was that Airbus were receiving unfair subsidies from these Member States regarding the production of its civilian aircraft and that these subsidies were damaging to a direct competitor, US aircraft manufacturing firm Boeing.

In parallel, on 27 June 2005, the EU made its own request to the WTO for consultations citing Boeing’s receipt of unfair subsidies from both federal and state level authorities in the US.

On 15 May 2018 the WTO Appellate Body found in favour of the US/Boeing - that Airbus were receiving unfair subsidies from EU Member States. Subsequently, a WTO arbitrator evaluated the claim and reported on the 2 October 2019 that the value of countermeasures that the US can impose commensurate with the adverse affects caused by EU subsidies is $7.496 billion. In the parallel Boeing case, the WTO arbitrators’ report is due for finalisation and publication in 6-9 months’ time – Q2 2020.

On the same day as the WTO Arbitrators' Findings were released, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published its final list of products that will be targeted with new tariffs. The list has 15 sub-sections with Ireland, along with other EU Member States, included in 9 of these sub-sections. The new tariffs can be introduced once the US obtains "authorisation" from the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DBS) at the next scheduled DSB meeting and my Department understands that a special sitting of the DSB has been arranged for 14 October 2019 to fulfil this procedural requirement.

The latest CSO data shows that Ireland recorded goods exports to the US of approximately €39.27 billion in 2018. The US is Ireland’s largest goods export market, accounting for 28% of total goods exports in 2018. For those products effected by the USTR list, Ireland exported approximately €362m worth of goods to the US in 2018, with the principal exports being:

- liqueurs and cordials valued at €168.5m,

- butter valued at €156.8m and

- cheddar cheese valued at €37.3m.

Exports of these products will attract an additional 25% tariff on entry into the US.

As International Trade Policy is a competence of the EU Commission under the EU Treaties, the EU Commission takes the lead on this issue taking into account the views of individual Member States and the collective good of the Union. Therefore, we continue to be engaged with the Commission, both at a Ministerial and Official level on these issues. For example, at the Informal Trade Council in Brussels on 1 October 2019, in discussing the Airbus case, I placed particular stress on the impacts the imposition of tariff measures by the US could have for both the global and Irish economy. I was also keen to highlight how EU and US trade had developed over the decades in a spirit of openness and mutual gain such that imposing tariff measures on one another, as had already arisen in relation to steel and aluminium, and was now in looming in the context of the Airbus and Boeing cases, would be damaging to both economies. Furthermore, I also argued that Ireland had clearly shown how a two-way flow of trade and investment means jobs growth in both economies. I, therefore, urged the EU Commission to continue to work with our US colleagues on a range of current trade challenges, given the strong role both the US and the EU play on the global trading stage, to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome for our citizens.

I also emphasised to fellow EU Trade Ministers that it is only with a continued, clear and united, approach that we can hope to successfully engage with current US trade policies. I reiterated Ireland’s strong support for pursuing all available avenues to reach a negotiated settlement with the United States, which the EU Commission and Member States support.

In addition, I held a bilateral meeting with Trade Commissioner-elect Phil Hogan in Brussels on the same day and we discussed a number of trade matters with particular focus on the WTO Airbus and Boeing cases. I raised the potential impact the imposition of tariffs, as per the US tariff list, could have on Ireland.

I can assure the Deputy that I and my Department continue to actively engage with US interlocuters to highlight Irish concerns as to the impact of tariffs, particularly on the Irish agri-food sector, given the potential impacts that may simultaneously arise for the sector and our border communities from Brexit. My Department has also engaged with colleagues in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, as well as industry (IBEC & Sector Groups, ISME) and our Enterprise Agencies in relation to the USTR proposed list of tariffs.

In addition, my Department has highlighted our concerns at EU level as well as in appropriate bilateral engagements with US interlocuters in Dublin and Washington. Specifically, these issues were raised by our Ambassador in Washington with a number of political figures. Finally, senior officials from my Department raised our concerns during a series of bilateral meetings with a number of US officials during a visit to Washington in June.

Our position remains that the mutual imposition of sanctions will only inflict damage on businesses and citizens on both sides of the Atlantic and harm global trade and the broader aviation industry at a sensitive time. Ireland does not want to see this escalation at this time and we strongly support pursuing all available avenues to reach a negotiated settlement.

Brexit Preparations

Ceisteanna (83)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

83. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the extent to which she remains satisfied that she has identified, supported and encouraged new enterprises with a dependency on innovation and technology with a view to the replacement of job losses in the aftermath of Brexit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41333/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Innovation and Technology plays an important role in the development of Irish enterprise for both new businesses getting started and established companies wishing to continue to grow and expand. Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) are essential components of a company’s ability to maintain its competitiveness, its employment levels and be resilient to withstand the challenges posed by Brexit. Irish companies are using RDI in a bid to protect their current exports in the UK and to explore different markets.

Year on year the Government is increasing its support for and investment in innovation, research and development. At €3.7bn public and private R&D investment is strong in Ireland. Through its Enterprise Development agencies, my Department is driving greater engagement in research, development and innovation by both Irish and foreign owned enterprises and by both SME and large-scale enterprises.

Enterprise Ireland’s (EI) Annual Business Results Survey 2018 shows that companies that invest in innovation are higher performing in terms of employment, export sales and are more sustainable through recessionary and other economic shocks such as Brexit.

Enterprise Ireland therefore provides a wide range of supports to companies to support innovation, competitiveness and market diversification. Examples include EI’s Agile Innovation Fund – which gives fast-track access to innovation funding and EI’s Market Discovery Fund, along with the Brexit Loan Scheme and the Future Growth Loan Scheme.

Specifically, with its range of R&D supports, EI supports and de-risks RDI either by giving grants to companies to do RDI within the company, or by facilitating enterprise collaboration with Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Supports, such as its R&D Grant, Innovation Vouchers or its Programmes on Innovation Partnerships, Technology Gateways, Technology Centres or Campus Incubators assist all its client companies to develop new and improved products and services and maintain their employment levels.

The most significant and relevant support available for new start-ups is Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start Up (HPSU) support. There is a number of supports available under the HPSU offer such as the Innovative HPSU Fund, New Frontiers Programme and Competitive Start Fund. The Innovative HPSU Fund offer provides support to early stage companies considered to have an innovative product, service or technology with the potential to achieve international sales and create employment.

Direct Government support through IDA Ireland for applied RDI investment in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) companies can be a key factor in winning buy-in from company HQ to maintain the Irish operation and employment. FDI will continue to require and avail of innovation, technology and EU support and while external factors such as Brexit may have an effect on job creation performance, IDA Ireland expects that the trend of job creation achieved in the past number of years will continue in the future.

The first Pillar of Future Jobs Ireland (FJI), ‘Embracing Innovation and Technological Change’ , builds on progress made to date by focusing on securing the quantity and quality of skilled workers required in light of increased automation and digitisation, improving the capacity of enterprise to absorb technology and exploit its advantages and opportunities; and encourages greater RDI activity to keep Irish enterprise at the frontier of innovation. It also calls out measures to promote indigenous entrepreneurship and encourage clustering and stronger links between domestic and foreign owned companies. Achieving the Innovation 2020 vision of becoming a Global Innovation Leader is recognised in FJI as being key to fully embedding resilience and ensuring long term sustainable growth.

In recognition of the impact of Brexit, the Government has launched the ‘Getting Your Business Brexit Ready – Practical Steps’ campaign which focusses on the nine steps every business should take to help prepare for the UK’s departure from the EU. In September 2019 the Government also launched a booklet ‘Quick Brexit Guide for Businesses’. This aims to answer many of the questions that Irish businesses have when assessing their exposure to Brexit and determining the best course of action to mitigate their likely Brexit-related difficulties.

The ‘Brexit Preparedness Checklist’ prepared by my Department, identifies the essential actions that firms can take in advance of 31 October. It includes links to all the relevant Agencies who can provide the necessary guidance and support.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (84, 86)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

84. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of jobs at risk in a worst case scenario in the manufacturing service sectors arising from Brexit in all regions nationally; the degree to which she can offset such losses through new investment, new markets and new technology; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41334/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

86. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the extent to which she has been in contact with manufacturing and service sectors thereby identifying vulnerabilities in the aftermath of Brexit with particular reference to the need to identify new and competitive organisation, the identification and creation of potential new markets and organisation procedures with a view to identifying manufacturing and service opportunities for the future with the need to make provision in challenging world markets; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41336/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 84 and 86 together.

My Department is working constantly to help Irish businesses to assess and address the challenges of Brexit and to help firms to identify ways to become more resilient, innovative and encouraging diversification into new international markets. While the Copenhagen Economics report of 2018 prepared for my Department estimated up to 20,000 jobs could be at risk, my focus is on ensuring businesses at risk and their employees are prepared and resilient for whatever form Brexit may take. Enterprise Ireland (EI) and the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are the main agencies for supporting new start-up businesses across every region of the country.

A key strategic priority of Enterprise Ireland has been to increase the diversification of client companies exports into new markets, with two-thirds of exports to go beyond the UK by 2020. The proportion of exports to the UK has reduced by 10% over the last ten years, reflecting the success Irish companies are having in substantially increasing and broadening their exports to other international markets which has resulted in strong export and employment growth. Exports by EI supported companies have doubled to markets outside the UK since 2008.

EI client company exports increased in 2018 to a record €23.8 billion, representing a 6% increase on 2017. In addition, exports to the UK were up 4% in 2018 when compared with 2017, to €7.9bn. However, due to the increase in exports to other jurisdictions the overall dependency of Irish exporters to the UK declined to 33%, a target EI had set to reach by 2020.

To be resilient to economic shocks, such as Brexit, Irish exporting companies need to be innovative, competitive and have a diversified global footprint. In delivering on this, new supports have been introduced, others streamlined and a Global Ambition campaign launched.

My Department will continue to work with businesses in all regions and sectors, and to help them to identify potential markets for their products and services.

My Department also continues to promote high level international events including trade missions which support the goal of securing high level market access for Irish companies.

New Business Supports

When it comes to identifying vulnerabilities, the Brexit SME Scorecard is an interactive online platform which can be used by all Irish companies, not just EI client companies, to self-assess their exposure to Brexit under six business pillars. As of 27th September 2019, over 6,585 companies have utilised this Scorecard.

The Be Prepared Grant that supports the costs of SME clients up to €5k in preparing a plan to mitigate risks and optimise opportunities arising from Brexit. As of 27th September 2019, a total of 216 companies have been approved for support under this initiative.

In December 2018 my Department launched the new Customs Insights to help companies understand key customs procedures, documents and concepts, and the actions needed to prepare for Brexit.

My Department has also run a €60m competitive fund through the Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) in 2017 over two calls to support step change Enterprise Development projects in each region with funding of between €250k and €5m/project. The first Call was launched in April 2017 and the second call in May 2018. In Call One a total of 21 projects were approved funding of €30.5m with a further 38 Feasibility Projects supported. In Call Two a further 21 projects were approved funding of approximately €29m approximately in November 2018. These 42 successful projects are at various stages of implementation and execution of their plans at present.

Call Three of the regional Enterprise Development Fund was launched by Minister Humphreys on 24th June along with a Feasibility Scheme. Assessment and evaluation of applications is expected to take place in October.

New Technologies

In terms of utilising new technologies to mitigate some of the negative effects of Brexit, technological innovation is at the heart of this Government’s vision for the Irish economy. For example, the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund, or DTIF, is an Irish Government Fund recently launched as part of Project Ireland 2040 and the National Development Plan. It is implemented through the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and its agencies with a resource allocation of €500 million over the period 2018-2027 consisting of an initial Exchequer allocation of €180 million to 2022. As a first tranche, €20 million will be allocated during 2019.

Informed by the Research Priority areas, the Fund is competitive and is seeking investment in the research, development and deployment of disruptive technologies and applications on a commercial basis. It will drive collaboration between Ireland’s world-class research base and industry as well as facilitating enterprises to compete directly for funding in support of the development and adoption of these technologies.

A total of 27 projects have been announced from the first tranche of funding, worth €75m to 2021. All projects include collaborations between start-ups, SMEs, multinationals and academic institutions. Every project involves at least one SME, and many are led by an SME. The second call has just closed for applications, with successful applicants expected to be announced in December 2019. Over the next ten years a total of €500 million will be allocated through the fund, which was announced as part of Project Ireland 2040.

Job Creation

Question No. 86 answered with Question No. 84.

Ceisteanna (85)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

85. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the degree to which innovation and technology has played a part in job creation in each of the past three years to date, if sufficient scope exists to improve on this situation in the future having particular regard to the negative impact of Brexit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41335/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Embracing innovation is essential to ensure that we build a resilient enterprise base and support a sustainable economy that can withstand significant challenges such as those posed by Brexit. Innovation drives productivity through new, higher value-added products and services and more efficient business processes and is an integral part of any business wishing to continue to grow and expand.

Ireland continues to perform strongly in terms of innovation. The annual European Innovation Scoreboard, published in June 2019 by the European Commission, shows that amid increased innovation performance across the EU, Ireland remains a Strong Innovator and, in 10th place, remains one of the most innovative Member States, above the EU average.

Ireland performs well in converting our research, development and innovation efforts into high quality jobs, sales and exports, as demonstrated by our top position on the European Innovation Scoreboard for employment impacts and sales impacts. In fact, Ireland has been the overall leader for the employment impacts of innovation for the past number of years.

Year on year the Government is increasing its support for and investment in innovation, research and development. At €3.7bn or 1.6% of GNP, public and private R&D investment is strong in Ireland. Through its agencies, my Department is driving greater engagement in research, development and innovation by both Irish and foreign owned enterprises and by both SME and large-scale enterprises.

Enterprise Ireland’s (EI) Annual Business Results Survey 2018 shows that companies that invest in innovation are higher performing in terms of employment, export sales and are more sustainable through recessionary and other economic shocks such as Brexit.

EI provides a wide range of supports to companies to support innovation, competitiveness and market diversification. Examples include EI’s Agile Innovation Fund – which gives fast-track access to innovation funding and EI’s Market Discovery Fund, along with the Brexit Loan Scheme and the Future Growth Loan Scheme.

Science Foundation Ireland are also leading major elements of Ireland’s innovation agenda. Examples of the initiatives being taken include building large scale centre investments which leverage significant non-exchequer funding, challenge-based funding, support for talent and training in key areas such as AI, digital, collaborative partnerships, recruiting outstanding researchers to Ireland, cross-border collaboration and enhancing international engagement as part of building Ireland’s global footprint.

Direct Government support through IDA Ireland for applied RDI investment in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) companies can be a key factor in winning buy-in from company HQ to maintain the Irish operation. FDI will continue to require and avail of innovation, technology and EU support and while external factors such as Brexit may have an effect on job creation performance, IDA Ireland expects that the trend of job creation achieved in the past number of years will continue in the future.

Under the Future Jobs Ireland (FJI) strategy, launched in March this year, the Government is building a framework to ensure Irish enterprises are prepared for all future challenges and opportunities. The first Pillar of FJI, ‘Embracing Innovation and Technological Change’ , will build on progress made to date by focusing on securing the quantity and quality of skilled workers required in light of increased automation and digitisation, improving the capacity of enterprise to absorb technology and exploit its advantages and opportunities; and encourage greater RDI activity to keep Irish enterprise at the frontier of innovation. It also calls out measures to promote indigenous entrepreneurship and encourage clustering and stronger links between domestic and foreign owned companies. Achieving the Innovation 2020 vision of becoming a Global Innovation Leader is recognised in FJI as being key to fully embedding resilience and ensuring long term sustainable growth.

Question No. 86 answered with Question No. 84.