Northern Ireland

Ceisteanna (112)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

112. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has had contact with the UK authorities regarding a case (details supplied) which is the only trial without a jury based on remote evidence in the history of the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47872/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I am aware of the case to which the Deputy refers. Officials from my Department in both Dublin and Belfast monitor this case as part of their engagement with the relevant authorities in Northern Ireland on justice, security and prison matters.

The persons concerned were convicted of murder by joint enterprise at their trial in 2012. Their appeal against their convictions failed at the Belfast High Court in 2012 and in 2015, they were refused permission by the Supreme Court in London to mount a further appeal.

The case is now being looked at by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which is an independent public body that is responsible for reviewing possible miscarriages of justice in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It is important that we respect the legal process and allow time for it to reach its conclusion. At this stage in the proceedings, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.

My officials in the Irish Secretariat in Belfast regularly engage with a wide range of bodies on justice and security matters in Northern Ireland, including the NI Department of Justice, the Northern Ireland Office, the Northern Ireland Prison Service, the Criminal Justice Inspectorate, the NI Police Ombudsman, and the NI Prisoner Ombudsman. Security cooperation has also formed a key part of my discussions with the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Julian Smith, and his predecessor Karen Bradley, including at the last meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in May.

Officials will continue to monitor developments in this case and the Government will take action as appropriate. It is of course regrettable that, in the absence of a devolved Assembly and a functioning Executive, we do not have a locally elected and accountable Justice Minister with whom we could engage with on matters such as this.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (113)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

113. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide an update on his meeting at the EU Foreign Affairs Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47187/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I attended the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on 11 November, where Ministers discussed Afghanistan, regional security in the Gulf and Iran, and exchanged views with the Prime Minister of Sudan over lunch. The Council also adopted a framework for restrictive measures on unauthorised drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean.

My EU colleagues and I took stock of the situation in Afghanistan following the Presidential elections which took place in September. There was a broad agreement in relation to the need for a political solution in the country and on the importance of an inclusive, Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process.

Following this, the Council discussed regional security in the Gulf and Iran. I expressed Ireland’s concern regarding Iran’s latest breaches of its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). I reiterated Ireland’s position as a strong supporter of the JCPOA and urged Iran to return to full compliance without delay. With regard to the wider regional situation there was broad consensus on the need to support regionally-owned and regionally anchored initiatives to reduce tensions.

Lastly, EU Foreign Ministers heard from the Sudanese Prime Minister on his priorities for the country, and reaffirmed our commitment to support the civilian-led political transition in Sudan.

Consular Services

Ceisteanna (114)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

114. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the supports his Department, together with the relevant embassy, has put in place for persons (details supplied) whose son is missing since 23 March 2019. [47246/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I am aware of this consular case, which is very distressing for the family concerned.

My Department, including our Embassy in Madrid and our Honorary Consul in Tenerife, is monitoring the case very carefully and is in regular contact with the family.

Our Honorary Consul in Tenerife engages regularly with the local police, who have confirmed that an investigation into the whereabouts of the citizen is ongoing. The Honorary Consul has also been in contact with a support organisation which works with the Red Cross in organising search activities.

I can assure you that my Department will continue to provide all possible and appropriate assistance in relation to this difficult ongoing situation.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (115)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

115. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade when he last met the Irish Consul to Sydney; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47304/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

In my capacity as Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I have not yet had the opportunity to visit Sydney or meet formally with the Consul General who took up duty in September 2018. However, the Consul General has welcomed many official visitors to Sydney and he participated in the “Global Ireland” Conference in Dublin last January when I gave the inaugural address. The Consul General is in daily contact with the Department, for example in relation to the recent wildfires, and I greatly appreciate his work and the work of our Consulate in Sydney, together with our Embassy in Canberra.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (116, 117)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

116. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if either the joint consultative working group or the specialised committee has been established regarding the revised protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland in the withdrawal agreement (details supplied); if so, the membership of the working group and the specialised committee; if other relevant information will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47370/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

117. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the joint committee which is to oversee the governance of the withdrawal agreement has been established; if so, the operation and structure of this committee; the members appointed or to be appointed to the committee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47371/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 116 and 117 together.

The Government remains firmly of the view that ratifying the Withdrawal Agreement is the best way to ensure an orderly UK withdrawal from the EU, and hopes that the extra time provided by the extension will allow for ratification of the Agreement. The completion of all ratification process and entry into force of the Withdrawal Agreement will see a new phase in the Brexit process. Negotiations will move on to establish the future relationship between the EU and the UK as outlined in the Political Declaration on the future relationship, and work on the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement itself will commence, including the establishment of the Committees referred to by the Deputy. Article 164 of the Withdrawal Agreement provides for the establishment of a Joint Committee, comprising representatives of the EU and the UK, and co-chaired by the EU and the UK. Article 165 of the Agreement establishes six specialised committees, including one on issues related to the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland. The Joint Committee may delegate responsibilities to, establish or change the tasks assigned to specialised committees. Article 14 of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland sets the mandate of the specialised committee to facilitate the implementation and application of the Protocol, while Article 15 establishes a joint consultative working group to serve as a forum for exchange and mutual consultation. Annex VIII of the Withdrawal Agreement sets out the Rules of Procedure of the Joint Committee and the specialised committees. In accordance with Article 166 of the Withdrawal Agreement, decisions adopted by the Joint Committee shall be binding on the EU and the UK and have the same legal effect as the Withdrawal Agreement.

Arrangements for meetings of the Joint Committee will be finalised once the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified by both the EU and the UK.

The Withdrawal Agreement provides that the Joint Committee will meet at least once per year. Specialised committees, including the one relating to the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland could be expected to meet more regularly following establishment. The joint consultative working group on the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland shall meet at least once a month, unless otherwise agreed by the EU and UK. The Joint Committee will supervise and facilitate the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and the revised Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland also identifies a number of detailed issues for decision by the Joint Committee during the transition period. Ireland and the EU will take the same consistent approach to the implementation of the specific arrangements set out in the Protocol, as taken throughout the Brexit process. Ireland’s priorities will remain: protecting the Good Friday Agreement including avoiding a hard border, protecting North South cooperation and the all island economy, and protecting the integrity of the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union and Ireland’s place in them. The Agreement reached between the EU and the UK clearly achieves all of these objectives and these same objectives will guide its implementation.

European Court of Justice Rulings

Ceisteanna (118)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

118. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the ruling from the European Court of Justice that goods originating from Israeli occupied settlements must contain a label detailing their origin; the implications of this ruling for Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47417/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

A case in a French court, challenging the implementation of EU rules on the labelling of foodstuffs originating from settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, was referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union in June 2018.

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as Gaza and the Golan Heights, are all territories which have been occupied by Israel since 1967. International law is clear that Israeli settlements in occupied territory are illegal, and Ireland and the EU have made their views on settlements known on multiple occasions. Most relevantly to this case, under international law they are not part of the State of Israel.

Clear and non-misleading indication of origin for certain goods is an essential part of the EU's consumer policy. In the specific case of the occupied Palestinian territory, an Interpretative Notice on Indications of Origin was published by the European Commission on 12 November 2015. This provides guidance to importers and retailers on how EU rules on place of origin labelling should be applied in this case.

In relation to the case referred to the Court of Justice in June 2018, Ireland, as an interested Member State, lodged observations. The court’s judgment, issued on 12 November 2019, found that foodstuffs originating in territories occupied by the State of Israel, must bear the indication of their territory of origin, and when these products originate from an Israeli settlement, this must also be made clear on the label.

The Court of Justice’s ruling is an interpretation of France’s implementation of the Commission’s Notice and associated EU Regulations. It essentially does not change the situation. However, my Department is currently examining the judgment and reflecting on whether there are implications for Ireland. We will consult, if required, with other Departments in the coming period.

The Commission Interpretative Notice on Indications of Origin of 12 November 2015 is already on my Department’s website. It was circulated to other Departments at the time of publication to bring the guidelines to the attention of relevant bodies dealing with labelling or consumer protection. Accuracy of product labelling will continue to be a consumer protection issue, monitored and enforced as heretofore.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (119)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

119. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if one of the tenants in common of a property involving two tenants in common can declare 100% of the rental income of the property for tax purposes in circumstances in which the other tenant in common is registered with the Revenue Commissioners for 40% of the rental income; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47111/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that tenants in common hold a property in separate shares. The proportion of the property which each tenant in common holds will be specified in the deed which transferred ownership of the property to them. It appears on the basis of the information supplied that the tenants in common hold this property in unequal 60:40 shares, and presumably are entitled to any rental profits in the same ratio.

The Irish income tax system is based on self-assessment. Taxpayers are required to file tax returns stating their income and deducting any allowable losses, expenditures, reliefs, etc. Taxpayers are taxed only on income earned or profits/gains made in a taxable period. In this scenario, each tenant in common would be entitled to a share of the rental income in proportion with the share of the property they hold.

I am advised by Revenue that the proposal in the Deputy’s question, which would appear not to be in keeping with the terms of the relevant tenancy in common, would not be appropriate. The Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 does not provide that taxpayers can declare income, profits or gains to which they are not entitled; that one taxpayer would declare income which belongs to another taxpayer; or that taxpayer A would ask taxpayer B to declare income belonging to taxpayer A. It would not be correct for one tenant to declare 100% of the rental income from a property when she/he was only entitled to a share of such income, and for the other tenant not to declare income to which she/he was entitled, and for which she/he is liable to tax.

Also, if the tenants in common proceeded in the manner suggested, the tenant in common who did not declare any rental income may not be in a position to claim all the allowances, credits and reliefs to which she/he is entitled.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (120)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

120. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if there is a scheme of support for property owners that let out a property they are unable to sell due to negative equity in circumstances in which the rental income goes to servicing the mortgage but they still have to pay tax on the rental income; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47112/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

There is no tax based scheme along the lines suggested by the Deputy.

Regardless of whether a property is in negative equity, the rental income of the property for tax purposes is the gross rent less the allowable expenses incurred in earning that rent, as specified in section 97(2) of the Taxes Consolidation Act (TCA) 1997.

The main deductible expenses are:

- any rent payable by the landlord in the case of a sub-lease;

- the cost to the landlord of any goods provided or services rendered to a tenant;

- the cost of maintenance, repairs, insurance and management of the property;

- the interest on borrowed money used to purchase, improve or repair the property (which, in the case of residential property, is subject to compliance with PRTB registration requirements for all tenancies that existed in relation to the property in the relevant year); and,

- payment of local authority rates.

From 7 April 2009 to 31 December 2016 landlords could claim a deduction of 75% of the interest payable on funds borrowed to purchase or improve a residential property against their rental profits. The percentage of interest allowed as a deduction for residential landlords was due to increase in 5% increments from 2017, until full deductibility was reached in 2021.

However, in Finance Act 2018, I provided for the restoration of full interest deductibility for all residential landlords. This measure took effect from 1 January 2019 and would be of benefit to many property owners in the position outlined by the Deputy.

In addition, wear and tear capital allowances are available in respect of the capital expenditure incurred on fixtures and fittings provided by a landlord for the purposes of furnishing rented residential accommodation.

The effect of the deduction of allowable expenses from gross rent means the amount of taxable rental income will often be substantially lower than the gross rent, and could, depending on individual circumstances, be nil, in which case no tax would be due on the rent.

Credit Union Regulation

Ceisteanna (121)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

121. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance his views on the consultation process between Central Bank of Ireland and the credit unions. [47248/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Registrar of Credit Unions at the Central Bank is the independent regulator for credit unions. Under Section 84 of the Credit union Act, 1997 the functions of the Central Bank are to administer the system of regulation and supervision of credit unions with a view to the:

- Protection by each credit union of the funds of its members; and

- Maintenance of the financial stability and well-being of credit unions generally.

In March 2012, the Report of the Commission on Credit Unions made a number of recommendations regarding the strengthening of the regulatory framework for credit unions and also recommended that regulation making powers be delegated to the Central Bank.

In order to increase transparency and confidence in the regulation making process, consultation arrangements are provided for in Section 84A(2) of the 1997 Act, as amended by the Credit Union and Co-Operation with Overseas Regulators Act 2012. Under this section the Central Bank, before making regulations, is required to consult with:

-The Minister for Finance and the Credit Union Advisory Committee,

- Any other body that appears to the Bank to have expertise or knowledge of credit unions generally, and

- Any other body that the Bank considers appropriate to consult in the circumstances.

In additional to statutory consultation required under section 84, as outlined in the Consultation Protocol for Credit Unions, published by the Central Bank in 2012 (and available on its website), the Central Bank consults on new regulations that will, in the view of the Central Bank, potentially have a significant impact on the business of credit unions.

This process involves the publication of a consultation paper outlining proposed changes and consideration of submissions received. Following completion of the statutory consultation process referred to above the Central Bank publishes a feedback statement providing an overview of the feedback received during consultation and the Central Bank’s responses highlighting where changes are being made to proposals. Currently, the Central Bank also publishes all submissions received on its website.

Credit Unions

Ceisteanna (122)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

122. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance when credit unions will be able to invest into the social housing fund. [47249/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

In 2017, the Central Bank undertook a review of the investment framework for credit unions. On 1 February 2018, the Central Bank published the feedback statement on CP109 and amending investment and liquidity regulations for credit unions. These amending regulations have been applicable to credit unions since 1 March 2018. Under these regulations, credit unions are permitted to invest in a range of specified investment classes, which includes ‘Investments in Tier 3 Approved Housing Bodies (AHB)s’.

Regulations permitting this investment class commenced on 1 March 2018. Since this date, credit unions have been permitted to invest in regulated investment vehicles where the underlying investments of the regulated investment vehicle are investments in Tier 3 Approved Housing Bodies in for the provision of social housing. The Regulations require that investments by credit unions in Tier 3 AHBs must be made through a regulated investment vehicle. The maximum permitted investment amount per credit union is 50% of a credit unions regulatory reserves where a credit union has total assets of at least €100 million and 25% of a credit unions regulatory reserves for all other credit unions. These limits may facilitate a combined sector investment in Tier 3 AHBs of close to €700 million.

As such the Government and the Central Bank have fulfilled their role and it is now up to both the credit union and social housing sectors themselves to progress and develop any specific funding mechanisms. Notwithstanding the above, my Department will continue to engage with the credit union movement on appropriate mechanisms for them to establish a vehicle to invest in approved housing bodies.

Credit Unions

Ceisteanna (123)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

123. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance the reason credit unions are unable to invest in bonds (details supplied). [47250/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Section 43 of the Credit Union Act, 1997 outlines the legislative requirements in relation to credit union investments. It states that a credit union shall manage its investments to ensure that those investments do not (taking account of the nature, scale, complexity and risk profile of the credit union) involve undue risk to members' savings and, for that purpose, before making an investment a credit union shall assess the potential impact on the credit union, including the impact on the liquidity and financial position of the credit union. Section 43(3) provides the Central Bank with the power to make regulations in relation to investments.

In 2017, the Central Bank undertook a review of the investment framework for credit unions. In May 2017, Consultation Paper 109 (CP109) was published which consulted on a number of potential changes to the investment framework. CP109 outlined the Central Bank’s view that any changes to the investment framework for credit unions should reflect the fact that it is the savings of credit union members (which can be withdrawn on demand) that will be invested by credit unions and that the risk profile of credit union investment portfolios should reflect this.

On 1 February 2018, the Central Bank published the feedback statement on CP109 and amending investment and liquidity regulations for credit unions. These amending regulations have been applicable to credit unions since 1 March 2018. These regulations reflect a change to the definition of bank bonds which precludes investment by a credit union in bonds that are subordinated to any other liability of a credit institution in recognition of their risk profile and complexity. It is not deemed appropriate for credit unions to be holders of instruments such as subordinated bank bonds specifically designed to absorb losses in a resolution scenario as it would directly expose them to burden sharing in line with EU Commission policy, reflected in the resolution framework introduced under the Banking Recovery and Resolution Directive BRRD. This preclusion for credit unions reflects the potential implications for credit unions should such instruments be written down or converted to equity upon the failure of a credit institution.

Credit unions continue to be permitted to invest in senior bank bonds.

Credit Union Regulation

Ceisteanna (124)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

124. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance his views on the fact that the Central Bank of Ireland set policy for credit unions while regulating same. [47251/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As the Deputy is aware, my role as Minister for Finance is to ensure the legal framework for credit unions is appropriate for the effective operation and supervision of credit unions.

The Central Bank has statutory responsibility for the registration, regulation and supervision of credit unions in Ireland.

Under Section 84 of the Credit Union Act, 1997 the functions of the Central Bank are to administer the system of regulation and supervision of credit unions with a view to the:

- Protection by each credit union of the funds of its members; and

- Maintenance of the financial stability and well-being of credit unions generally.

In March 2012, the Report of the Commission on Credit Unions made a number of recommendations regarding the strengthening of the regulatory framework for credit unions and also recommended that regulation making powers be delegated to the Central Bank.

In order to increase transparency and confidence in the regulation making process, consultation arrangements are provided for in Section 84A(2) of the 1997 Act.

In accordance with legislative provisions, the Central Bank invites external scrutiny of both its regulatory powers and remit, and the performance of its supervisory functions through regular formal reviews by external parties (Peer Review).

Section 32M of the Central Bank Act, 1942 states that:

At least every 4 years the Bank shall make appropriate arrangements for-

(a) another national central Bank, or

(b) another person or body certified by the Governor, after consultation with the Minister, as appropriate,

to carry out a review of the Bank’s performance of its regulatory functions.

The 2015 International Credit Union Regulators Network Review was the first review of the Central Bank's performance of its regulatory functions in relation to credit unions and represented an opportunity for the Central Bank to invite external scrutiny on the performance of its functions in relation to credit unions for the purpose of ensuring that they measure up to international standards and the expectations of sector stakeholders.

The ICURN began its second peer review of the Central Bank's performance of its regulatory functions in early 2019. The ICURN will publish a report of this review before the end of 2019.

NAMA Investigations

Ceisteanna (125)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

125. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the number of open and-or active investigations as of 12 November 2019 in respect of section 172(3) of the National Asset Management Agency Act 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47375/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am informed by NAMA that it is currently aware of one open investigation into an alleged breach of Section 172(3) of the NAMA Act 2009. I am advised that, so far as NAMA is aware, An Garda Síochána’s investigation into this alleged breach is continuing.

Criminal investigations, such as this, are a matter for An Garda Síochána and the DPP and I am advised that, to date, their investigations have not resulted in a prosecution.

Credit Unions

Ceisteanna (126)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

126. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if a matter (details supplied) in relation to credit union rules in circumstances in which a person dies will be examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47598/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Firstly, it would not be appropriate for me make comment on a specific case. It is also important to note that the Probate Office of the High Court deals with matters relating to probate and as such is the responsibility of the Minister for Justice and Equality.

However, the Deputy may wish to note that under section 21 of the Credit Union Act 1997 (1997 Act) as amended, a credit union member may nominate a third party (e.g. a family member) to be the recipient upon the death of the member to the whole or part of the member’s property that they have in the credit union at the time of their death.

The 1997 Act (as amended) imposes a statutory limit of €23,000 on the amount that can be passed by way of a nomination. Thus, if at the date of the nominator's death the amount of the member’s property in the credit union exceeds €23,000, the credit union may only dispose any property up to the value of €23,000. The effect of these provisions are that any nomination up to €23,000 will pass outside the terms of any will. Any sum in excess of this will revert to and be an asset of the estate, which needs to be distributed under the terms of the will or the rules of succession where there is no will.

Ordinarily the production of a grant of probate would be required to release funds from a bank account to the personal representative, irrespective of the amount. However, if a person dies leaving small amounts of money in a bank, the bank may agree to release the funds without the necessity for a grant of probate.

While most applicants instruct a solicitor to process their application for a grant of probate, personal applications can also be made to the Probate Office of the High Court for a grant of probate.

The Central Bank has also advised me that in order to be registered a credit union must have a set of rules. Under section 15 of the Credit Union Act, 1997 the registered rules of a credit union bind all members. In some cases these rules specifically set out the credit union's approach to the nomination of property and the statutory limit under the 1997 Act.

The Deputy may also wish to note that if an individual is not satisfied in any of their dealings with a financial services provider the individual may make a complaint to the provider’s internal complaint resolution process. If they are not satisfied with the outcome of the complaint, they can then make a complaint to the independent Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman. Investigations by the Ombudsman are free of charge to the complainant. Further information on the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman can be found at www.fspo.ie .

Brexit Staff

Ceisteanna (127, 128)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

127. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 153 of 9 July 2019, if he will provide details of the individual counties to which these additional staff have been allocated in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47607/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

128. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 153 of 9 July 2019 and table 1 provided, the batch of candidates, that is batch 1, 2 or 3, and so on from which the candidates on the panel were selected for each of these staff grades and years in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47608/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 127 and 128 together.

Revenue has provided in Table 1 the grades of staff who were assigned in preparation for Brexit in 2017, 2018 and 2019 up to 9 July; and the counties to which they were assigned.

Table 1: Additional staff assigned in preparation for Brexit in 2017, 2018 to 9 July 2019

2017

County

PO

AP

HEO

EO

CO

Total

Dublin

0

1

4

6

1

12

Tipperary

0

1

1

2

2

6

Subtotals

0

2

5

8

3

18

2018

County

PO

AP

HEO

EO

CO

Total

Dublin

0

1

4

7

44

56

Tipperary

0

0

1

3

5

9

Subtotals

0

1

5

10

49

65

2019

County

PO

AP

HEO

EO

CO

Total

Clare

0

0

0

1

2

3

Cork

0

0

2

4

0

6

Donegal

0

0

0

2

0

2

Dublin

1

3

25

76

108

213

Galway

0

0

0

7

0

7

Kildare

0

0

0

5

0

5

Limerick

0

1

2

8

59

70

Louth

0

0

0

2

0

2

Sligo

0

0

0

2

0

2

Tipperary

0

2

2

4

12

20

Waterford

0

0

0

5

0

5

Westmeath

0

0

0

5

0

5

Wexford

0

0

2

8

20

30

Subtotals

1

6

33

129

201

370

Grand Totals

1

9

43

147

253

453

In addition, I am advised by Revenue that of the 253 Clerical Officers (COs) included in the table entitled ‘Additional staff assigned in preparation for Brexit in 2017, 2018 and 2019 to date’, which formed part of a response to Parliamentary Question No. 153 of 9 July, 192 COs were recruited to Trade Facilitation posts, from ‘batches’ of candidates compiled by the Public Appointments Service (PAS) in competitions run by PAS. Revenue has set out in the following table the details of the PAS batch numbers from which those 192 candidates were provided to Revenue

Table: Trade Facilitation Clerical Officers assigned by Revenue in preparation for Brexit from candidates provided by PAS during the period 1 October 2018 to 9 July 2019

PAS Batch Number

Number Recruited*

1

92

2.1

84

2.2

5

3

11

Total

192

*43 recruited in 2018, 149 in 2019.

I am advised by Revenue that the balance of assignments came from a range of sources including open recruitment, interdepartmental competitions, internal competitions, transfer requests, redeployment, etc, and as such ‘batch’ numbers did not apply generally. Assignments are made based on business needs and in accordance with order of merit and source sequences for specific grades as agreed with staff representatives and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, as appropriate.

Revenue Commissioners Staff

Ceisteanna (129)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

129. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the number of positions within the Office of the Revenue Commissioners which became vacant (details supplied) in each of the years 2017 to 2018 and to date in 2019 by job title in County Donegal in tabular form; the dates each such position became vacant; the dates each were filled; the details of efforts to recruit for the posts in the case of positions yet to be filled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47609/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Revenue has provided me with following table setting out details of serving staff numbers in County Donegal by grade, together with annual losses and gains in the period specified.

2017Loss/Gain

PO

AP

HEO/AO

EO

CO

Service Officer

Total

01 Jan 2017

2

8

21

38

36

1

106

Losses

1

0

2

8

1

0

12

Gains

0

0

5

7

3

0

15

31 Dec 2017

1

8

24

37

38

1

109

Variation

-1

0

3

-1

2

0

3

2018Loss/Gain

PO

AP

HEO/AO

EO

CO

Service Officer

Total

01 Jan 2018

1

8

24

37

38

1

109

Losses

0

1

1

6

8

0

16

Gains

0

1

2

10

1

0

14

31 Dec 2018

1

8

25

41

31

1

107

Variation

0

0

1

4

-7

0

-2

2019Loss/Gain

PO

AP

HEO/AO

EO

CO

Service Officer

Total

01 Jan 2019

1

8

25

41

31

1

107

Losses

0

0

2

5

8

0

15

Gains

0

1

3

12

6

0

22

06 Nov 2019

1

9

26

48

29

1

114

Variation

0

1

1

7

-2

0

7

2017 - 2019Loss/Gain

PO

AP

HEO/AO

EO

CO

Service Officer

Total

01/01/2017

2

8

21

38

36

1

106

06/11/2019

1

9

26

48

29

1

114

Variation

-1

1

5

10

-7

0

8

I am advised by Revenue that assignments are made from a range of sources including open recruitment though the Public Appointment Service (PAS) or by Revenue; interdepartmental competitions; internal competitions; transfer requests; redeployment etc.; in accordance with business needs. Revenue has a number of panels in place at all grades, from which critical posts may be filled nationwide, including in Donegal. Revenue also uses PAS panels to fill posts at all levels, as appropriate. I am informed by Revenue that they do not currently require to fill any critical posts in County Donegal. I am also advised by Revenue that its structure and geographical footprint continues to evolve over time to closely align resources with risk.

Insurance Industry

Ceisteanna (130)

John Lahart

Ceist:

130. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to insurance companies (details supplied) that are using an auto-renew system in which customers are automatically signed up for another one year policy; if there is legislation to prevent such a practice occasional policies such as travel insurance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47803/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

At the outset, it is important to note that as Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation in Ireland. I have no role in day to day supervision of the insurance industry, as this is the responsibility of the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI). In that regard, the CBI is responsible for the authorisation and supervision of these undertakings in Ireland. All insurance companies operating in Ireland, whether authorised by the Central Bank or a competent authority of another EU state, are subject to conduct of business supervision by the CBI. They must follow the Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Code 2012 (CPC).

In relation to the issue of auto-renewals for insurance policies, I cannot comment on the individual case referenced in the details supplied. However, I understand that, at a general level, this is something that a number of companies in the market include as part of their terms of business, in particular for certain types of insurance policies such as gadget, bicycle, pet and annual travel insurance. I also understand that where a non-life insurance policy contract includes such an automatic renewal service, this is generally made clear to the consumer at the outset and, as stated, is included in the terms of business related to the policy contract.

My officials consulted with the Central Bank of Ireland on this particular issue. They advised that provisions 4.30 and 4.31 of the CPC provide that:

4.30:

“A regulated entity providing an insurance quotation to a consumer must include the following information in the quotation, assuming that all details provided by the consumer are correct and do not change:

a) the monetary amount of the quotation;

b) the length of time for which the quotation is valid; and

c) the full legal name of the relevant underwriter.”

4.31:

“A regulated entity must set out clearly in the quotation provided to the consumer any warranties or endorsements that apply to the policy. Where the quotation is provided on paper or on another durable medium, this information must not be in a smaller font size than other information provided in the document.”

In addition, the Non-Life Insurance (Provision of Information) (Renewal of Policy of Insurance) Regulations 2007 provides that the insurer shall, not less than 20 working days prior to the date of expiry of a policy of insurance, where the insurer wishes to invite a renewal, issue to the client in writing a notification of renewal of the policy of insurance. Moreover , Schedule 3 of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1995 sets out the indicative list of terms which may be regarded as unfair. Part (h) cites terms “automatically extending a contract of fixed duration where the consumer does not indicate otherwise, when the deadline fixed for the consumer to express this desire not to extend the contract is unreasonably early” as being unfair.

Finally, the Deputy may be aware that there are measures in the CPC that require all regulated financial services firms to have complaints handling procedures in place. Neither my Department, nor the CBI, investigates individual consumer complaints however, if a person feels that they have been unfairly treated by an insurance company, and after following the firm’s complaints process, they are still not satisfied, they have the right to refer the complaint to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO). This is a statutory independent body that mediates unresolved disputes/complaints with regulated financial services providers. Insurance Ireland also operates a free Insurance Information Service for those who have queries, complaints or difficulties in relation to obtaining insurance. Insurance Ireland can be contacted at feedback@insuranceireland.eu or 01-6761914.

Voluntary Homeowners Relocation Scheme

Ceisteanna (131)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

131. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of a voluntary homeowners relocation scheme application by persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47079/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

It is expected that a decision will be made shortly in relation to the application made by Meath County Council on behalf of the named persons under the Remedial Works element of the Voluntary Homeowners Relocation Scheme.