Ministerial Advisers Data

Ceisteanna (65)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

65. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the political advisers used by Ministers and Ministers of State in his Department since the commencement of this Government; the commencement and cessation dates in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47965/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Details of Political Advisers employed by my Department since the commencement of this Government are outlined in the following tables. All appointments were made in line with “Instructions to Personnel Officers – Ministerial Appointments for the 32nd Dáil” which include “Guidelines on staffing of Ministerial offices” issued by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.  Every appointment in my Department is subject to the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour.

Minister Charles Flanagan

Special Advisor

Date of Commencement

Date of Cessation

Sarah Kavanagh

6th May 2016

15th June 2017

Tom Fabozzi

27th May 2016

16th June 2017

Minister of State Dara Murphy

Special Advisor

Date of Commencement

Date of Cessation

Conor Gouldsbury

6th May 2016

21st June 2017

Tánaiste Simon Coveney

Special Advisor

Date of Commencement

Date of Cessation

Caitriona Fitzpatrick

14th June 2017

1st February 2019

Christopher Donoghue

4th December 2017

 

Matthew Lynch

4th December 2017

 

Laura McGonigle

22nd July 2019

 

Minister of State Helen McEntee

Special Advisor

Date of Commencement

Date of Cessation

Paul Fox

11th September 2017

 

Foreign Policy

Ceisteanna (66)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

66. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding Poland, including EU efforts, to ensure that European values and freedoms are adhered to such as freedom of press and the Judiciary; if the proposed law to criminalise sex education in Poland was raised at the most recent EU Foreign Affairs Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47989/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Ireland and its EU partners closely follow legislative developments in EU Member States that could impact negatively on fundamental EU principles, including those relating to the operation of the rule of law, as well as freedom of expression.

In relation to Poland, the European Commission activated its rule of law mechanism in January 2016 and formally triggered the Article 7 procedure on 20 December 2017. There have been five hearings at General Affairs Council meetings since then, in which Ireland has actively participated, highlighting the importance we attach to respect for the rule of law.

Some Polish government legislation has given rise to concerns around fundamental principles of the operation of the rule of law, including legal certainty, separation of powers, shielding of the judiciary from undue influence from other State powers, and security of judicial tenure. 

The cumulative effect of the reforms of the Supreme Court and Judicial Council on the system of justice has been of concern. European institutions, other Member States and the international judicial community should be able to place their trust in the system of justice in all Member States. 

We welcome the legislative steps taken by the Polish Government to address the concerns on rule of law issues raised by the European Commission and also by Member States at the General Affairs Council. We encourage Poland to continue to engage and address the concerns that have been raised.

Regarding the proposed law on sex education in Poland, this was not raised at the most recent EU Foreign Affairs Council.

The proposed law was debated in the last sitting of the outgoing Polish Parliament. We note the resolution passed by the European Parliament on this proposed law which calls on the Polish Parliament to refrain from its adoption. 

Ireland is committed to advancing gender equality at the UN and other regional organisations, and in this regard supports the full and effective implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and of the International Conference on Population and Development. The Beijing Platform for Action states that “the human rights of women include their right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence”. Central to this right is the need for universal access to quality and affordable comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information, education, including comprehensive sexuality education and health-care services.

We will continue to monitor developments on this issue and on rule of law issues across the EU.

Foreign Policy

Ceisteanna (67)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

67. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding Hungary and EU efforts to ensure that the actions by the Hungarian Government are in keeping with the expectations of an EU member state in terms of adhering to European values and ideals and upholding freedoms and rights; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47990/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Fundamental values and the rule of law are a shared EU interest.

We have concerns about issues relating to the rule of law in Hungary in the area of civic space, media freedom and the judiciary.  

We have concerns over the civic space available for NGOs to continue to operate in Hungary. These concerns have been exacerbated by the passage of legislation aimed at individuals and organisations providing lawful assistance to migrants and asylum seekers.

We also regret that the necessary steps were not taken to ensure the operation of Central European University in Budapest in the long term. As the Taoiseach said previously in this House, the loss of the Central European University will be a loss to Budapest and Hungary.

We note that the Hungarian Government has withdrawn its legislative proposal on establishing an administrative court, which was a source of great concern with regard to the independent functioning of the judicial system in Hungary. Other judicial reforms have now been proposed by the Hungarian Government which are now under consideration by the Hungarian parliament. We hope that these reforms are also properly scrutinised with a view to upholding fundamental values and the principles of the rule of law which all EU Member States must adhere to.

Article 7 proceedings were launched against Hungary on 12 September 2018. The first hearing of Hungary under the Article 7 procedure took place at the General Affairs Council of 16 September 2019.  We support the continuation of the Article 7 procedure.  

The Minister for European Affairs, Helen McEntee T.D., discussed rule of law issues with Mr Szabolcs Takács, then Hungarian Minister of State for EU Policies and Coordination, when they met in Dublin on 4 April 2019.

At meetings of the General Affairs Council, Ireland has actively participated in discussions highlighting the importance of respect for the rule of law. The 19 November 2019 General Affairs Council included consideration of a proposal for a yearly stocktaking exercise on the state of play and latest developments regarding the Rule of Law in the EU. We support this proposal.

Foreign Policy

Ceisteanna (68)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

68. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of the situation in Bolivia; the position of the EU on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47993/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

As the Deputy will be aware, the elections that took place in Bolivia on 20 October 2019 were followed by reports of violence and excessive force by the authorities.

On 10 November last, the Organisation of American States (OAS) released a preliminary report indicating that it found clear irregularities, and that it could not verify the result of the October elections. It concluded that it was unlikely that Mr Morales had won by the required 10% margin and recommended that a new Electoral Commission be set up before convening fresh elections.

On the same day, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini also released a statement calling for a new Electoral Court to be appointed that could offer guarantees of transparent elections, and also called on parties, particularly the authorities, to assume their democratic responsibilities and take the appropriate decisions to allow quick reconciliation and avoid further violence. Ireland supported this statement.

Following the release of the OAS report, Mr Morales agreed to hold new elections but later in the day (10 November) resigned from his post in an effort to return stability to the country. A number of high ranking officials also resigned, including the Vice President, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, and the President of the Senate. Mr Morales took up Mexico’s offer of political asylum and arrived in the country on 12 November.

According to the Bolivian Constitution, and given the resignation of numerous high ranking officials, the next in line to take on the role of interim President is the Vice President of the Senate, Jeanine Áñez. Ms Áñez took up office on 12 November and on 13 November appointed a new cabinet of 11 Ministers. The caretaker Government now has 90 days to hold new elections, as defined by the Constitution.  Ireland, alongside EU colleagues, supports a solution that allows for the interim leadership to prepare for new elections and to avoid a power vacuum which could be seriously damaging to the country.

The EU Delegation in La Paz has been actively supporting mediation on the ground organised by the local Catholic Church to help the Bolivian parties agree on a peaceful path to new elections. I have been in contact with my EU counterparts on how best to support Bolivia in the preparation of these elections. On Monday 11 November, I attended the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels where EU High Representative Federica Mogherini updated Foreign Ministers on the ongoing work in Bolivia. This included a discussion on the possibility of a new EU Mission to the country and of how best to assist in the election of a new Supreme Electoral Court. The EU also deployed an Election Expert Mission to the country and has several projects in support of Bolivia’s strong civil society.

On 15 November, the EU released another statement calling for a return to constitutional normality so that the rule of law, democratic principles and civil rights are respected. Ireland wholeheartedly supports this recent statement from the EU which also calls on law enforcement bodies to guarantee security for the Bolivian people, while respecting human rights at all times. On Sunday (17 November), the EU Ambassador to Bolivia, Leon de la Torre, met with interim President Jeanine Áñez and assured her that the EU would provide support during the transition period and work to ensure credible elections. Ireland is fully supportive of this approach.  

My Department will continue to work with our European counterparts to support Bolivia in finding a suitable pathway towards stability. We will continue to monitor developments through our Embassy in Buenos Aires which has a concurrent accreditation to Bolivia.

Middle East Issues

Ceisteanna (69)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

69. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the recent violence in Gaza; the status of recent efforts at EU and international level to restart the Middle East peace process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47994/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

There have been far too many deaths in Gaza during this latest outbreak of violence, including, tragically, the deaths of several children. In the conduct of military operations, constant care must be taken to spare the civilian population, civilians and civilian objects. All feasible precautions must be taken to avoid, and in any event to minimize, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects.This is particularly true in relation to military action in built-up areas.  I  also condemn the firing of rockets into Israel, which has recklessly endangered civilians in an indiscriminate way.

 I was glad to hear reports of a ceasfire, which I would encourage all parties to respect. I acknowledge the efforts of Egypt and the UN in bringing about this de-escalation. I welcome the EU statement that was issued on 12 November in response to the violence. 

I have given a high priority to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, particularly the situation in Gaza, over the last two years, and have worked consistently to maintain an international focus on the issue, and support for the two state solution.

I regularly discuss this situation with my counterparts in the EU and the region. For example, in February of this year I convened a small gathering of Foreign Ministers in Dublin in February, to discuss the Middle East Peace Process, and how best to encourage a move towards a just and durable peace.

The Israel-Palestine conflict also featured in several of my discussions and meetings during the High-Level Week of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. In all my meetings I stressed the need for any viable solution to this conflict to respect the long-standing and broadly agreed parameters for a two-state solution, which have full EU support.

Ireland has long worked to keep attention on Gaza in particular. Ireland contributes humanitarian assistance to alleviate the worst of this suffering, including through our support for UNRWA, which is a key provider of public services, health and education in the area. I have also initiated an Irish-funded solar power project in Gaza, which will be co-located with a waste water facility and will help improve water quality in the area, and thus also quality of life.

However, the roots of the problem in Gaza are political and cannot be solved by funding alone. What is needed is the lifting of the blockade, so that normal life and normal economic activity can resume. Gaza faces other challenges, including oppressive rule by Hamas, but the blockade dominates peoples’ lives in Gaza to such an extent that it is difficult to address other issues. I have raised the issue of the blockade with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. 

I will continue to ensure that the Middle East Peace Process and the situation in Gaza remain high on the international agenda. 

Foreign Policy

Ceisteanna (70)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

70. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of the situation in Venezuela; the position of Ireland on the ongoing political crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48025/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The current crisis in Venezuela continues to be of deep concern and is having a worsening impact on the Venezuelan people, whose needs are acute. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that 25% of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance, with serious health and medical needs and a severe lack of access to basic goods, services and medicines and medical care. Ireland is fully supportive of the UN-coordinated response mechanism for humanitarian aid in the country, and of the €117 million in funding provided by the EU since 2018 for humanitarian assistance.  

The ongoing humanitarian, economic, social and political crisis is also having an ever-growing effect on neighbouring countries, which are hosting approximately 80% of the 4.6 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants that are estimated by the UN High Commissioners for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) to have left the country since 2015. It is essential that these countries are supported and the EU has responded to this need by hosting an International Solidarity Conference on the Venezuelan Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Brussels on 28 and 29 October. This conference was co-hosted by the UNHCR and the IOM, and Ireland was represented at official level.

I also discussed the situation in Venezuela with the then Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, H.E. Carlos Holmes Trujillo García, during his visit to Dublin in September this year. Nowhere has the impact of the Venezuelan crisis been felt more strongly than in Colombia, which has received over 1.5 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees since 2015, more than any other country. 

I have already authorised the deployment of two Rapid Responders to assist the UNHCR in supporting the Colombian Government’s response to the humanitarian needs of Venezuelans in Colombia. Ireland has also contributed €1 million to UNHCR towards this effort. We stand ready to assist further as the situation evolves.   

I continue to firmly believe that this crisis can only have a political, peaceful, democratic solution, excluding the use of force, through the holding of free, transparent and credible Presidential elections as soon as possible. I, along with my EU partners, have regularly voiced support for the Oslo Talks process, facilitated by Norway. While these talks have now been suspended, Ireland encourages both sides to engage in good faith in an inclusive, serious and results-oriented process.

Ireland also supports EU efforts, including through the International Contact Group (ICG) and Special Adviser Enrique Iglesias, who is engaging with all relevant actors and stakeholders in efforts to secure and support a Venezuelan-owned solution to the current crisis. I welcome the ICG statement issued on 1 November that reaffirms the Group's view that only a negotiated transition that leads to credible elections with international observation, the re-institutionalisation of public powers, and guarantees that allow political coexistence, can bring a lasting solution to the crisis. The statement also notes that Special Advisor Iglesias will visit Caracas to engage with all relevant national stakeholders in the near future, and I look forward to receiving a report of this visit after it occurs.  

We will continue to monitor the situation in Venezuela and to engage on the issue until a lasting solution to the crisis is found. 

Departmental Data

Ceisteanna (71)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

71. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of complaints of bullying and sexual harassment, respectively received by his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form. [48038/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade examines all formal complaints made to its HR Unit notwithstanding the category they fall under. Complaints in relation to bullying and sexual harassment are addressed under the Dignity at Work:  An Anti-Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Harassment Policy for the Irish Civil Service policy, which came into operation in 2015.

In circumstances where a complaint of bullying or sexual harassment is made, and where these complaints are found to be upheld by means of investigation, appropriate action is taken in accordance with the Civil Service Disciplinary Code.

In 2016, 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019, the HR Unit of the Department has received a small number of complaints under the categories referenced.  Four of these complaints were formally investigated.  A further two complaints are currently under investigation.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (72)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

72. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of employees of his Department that were dismissed in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date 2019; the reason for the dismissal of each employee; the number of employees suspended in the same period; and the reason for the suspension of each in tabular form. [48073/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

My Department has dismissed six employees since 2016. Four employees were not established at the end of their probationary contract. Two employees were dismissed following a disciplinary process. It would not be appropriate for my Department to provide additional details as so doing could potentially identify the individuals in question.

My Department did not suspend any employees in 2016, 2017, 2018 or to date in 2019.

My Department applies the provisions of Department of Public Expenditure and Reform circulars in relation to disciplinary and probationary matters, including that all civil servants must be treated in a fair and equitable manner in accordance with the principles of natural justice.

Passport Applications Administration

Ceisteanna (73)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

73. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if an application for a passport by a person (details supplied) will be expedited due to extenuating circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48112/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I am advised by the Passport Service that the applicant referred to became an Irish citizen through entry on the Foreign Birth Register in August of this year.

My Department will be in contact with the family to assist them with making a passport application.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (74)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

74. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the amount spent on public relations, promotion and advertising for the National Development Plan 2018-2027 and Project Ireland 2040 since its publication in February 2018 by category (details supplied) in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48125/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has made no expenditure on public relations, promotion and advertising for the National Development Plan 2018-2027 and Project Ireland 2040.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (75)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

75. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the amount spent on bottled water and disposable coffee cups by his Department to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48191/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has spent €4,992.19 to date this year at headquarters on bottled water.  The Department has a contractual commitment to bottled drinking water until 2021 for two of twelve HQ buildings, at which stage drinking water provision will be switched to mains supply.  The cost of the contracts to-date in 2019 was €2,803.27. 

The Protocol Division of the Department also purchases bottled water for catering purposes, at a cost of €2,102.95 so far this year.  Also, following the recent boil water notices issued by Irish Water and Fingal County Council, a small supply of bottled water costing €75.27 was purchased for the staff of the Passport Office in Balbriggan.  There was also an issue recently with the water supply to our Limerick office and bottled water costing €10.70 was purchased.  Bottled water is also purchased by a number of our Missions abroad, in locations where potable water is not available on tap. 

The Department keeps expenditure on bottled water to a minimum in line with Government commitments to sustainability.  At headquarters, with the small number of exceptions already mentioned, our policy and practice is to supply staff with filtered mains water dispensed via centrally-located water coolers.  The majority of staff at headquarters have also been supplied with reusable water flasks so that they can have fresh water at their desks and to remove the need for the recycling of disposable cups.  

With the exception of €18.65 spent on paper cups for an off-site protocol function, my Department has not purchased any disposable coffee cups in 2019.

Freedom of Information

Ceisteanna (76)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

76. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the date of each review and revision of the material published under the publication scheme of his Department as outlined in section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48208/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

My Department takes a proactive approach to the publication of official information and regularly updates its Freedom of Information Publication Scheme. This provides information about the Department, including activities and policies. The scheme includes links to relevant pages on our official website. My Department is committed to making available as much information as possible as part of our normal business activities and to review and update this information periodically as required.

Information on payments for goods and services valued at €20,000 or more is published quarterly in arrears and can be found in the publication scheme. The last update was in July.

A central tenet of my Department's commitment to transparency and accountability is the public disclosure of all non-personal Freedom of Information requests.  The policy is to publish all non-personal Freedom of Information requests and the responses on the website of the Department. Where records pertaining to the request exist, the associated schedule of records is also published. Records that have been granted or part-granted are made available to the public on request. The most recent update on the  website includes all requests up to the end of August this year. 

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (77)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

77. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the amount spent on public relations, promotion and advertising, including multimedia, in his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019 (details supplied) in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48247/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

My Department engages in public awareness advertising where there is important information that needs to be brought to the attention of citizens.  Examples of where my Department has advertised during 2019 have included public information campaigns in relation to the Online Passport Renewals Service and on the theme of ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’. Details of such advertising and commercial firms that have assisted in this regard to date are as follows:

- Online Passport Renewals Service

In November 2018, my Department expanded the Online Passport Renewal Service to allow for online renewal of children’s passports, a passport card for children and a wider cohort of adults eligible to renew online.  This expanded service means that all Irish citizens can now renew their passports online 24/7 from anywhere in the world.

Throughout 2019 my Department ran a number of national public information campaigns which highlighted the Online Renewals Service as a fast and secure way for adults and children to renew their passports, including through advertisements on social media platforms and via print and radio channels. The success of this campaign has led to a significant increase in online renewal applications.

The direct costs of advertising to raise public awareness in this regard so far in 2019 are set out in Table 1 below.

- ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’

The objective of the Government’s Brexit preparedness public information campaign to date has been to ensure that key audiences are aware of the potential impact of a No Deal Brexit and the mitigation measures that they can take, with the support of Government where appropriate and with particular reference to the gov.ie/Brexit website.

My Department has worked closely with the Department of the Taoiseach and other Government Departments on this information campaign which has been underway since September 2018. Costs incurred so far during 2019 in relation to campaign activities across TV, radio, print, internet and social media platforms are outlined in Table 1 below:

- Rugby World Cup 2019 Consular Awareness

The State’s duty of care towards Irish citizens was the pre-eminent concern of my Department during the Rugby World Cup. As the third-largest sporting event in the world, an estimated 20-30,000 Irish citizens travelled from Ireland and elsewhere to attend the tournament.  

In this context, the initial phase of the public awareness campaign aimed at an audience of rugby fans who were likely to travel to the tournament.  The goal of that campaign was to reach this core audience with messaging about the Department’s travel advice, as well as information on what measures to take in the event of a consular emergency or crisis while in Japan. This information remained available and was updated on the dedicated Rugby World Cup page on my Department’s website over the tournament.

- Ireland’s Campaign for Election to the UN Security Council

On July 2nd  2018, the Taoiseach and I publicly launched Ireland’s campaign to secure a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in June 2020 for the 2021-2022 term. Ireland’s campaign is premised on three themes: Empathy, Partnership and Independence. My Department has since continued to promote public awareness of Ireland’s ongoing campaign through online channels and costs incurred so far in 2019 in this regard are set out in Table 1 below.

- St Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is a unique opportunity to engage with the global Irish community and to promote Ireland’s economic and political interests overseas, with levels of publicity and media attention unmatched by the National Day of any other country.

This year’s programme had the largest number of countries ever visited for St. Patrick’s Day. The Taoiseach and I, along with 13 Ministers, 19 Ministers of State, the Attorney General, Ceann Comhairle and Cathaoirleach visited 56 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, and the Asia-Pacific region.  These programmes allowed us to promote trade, investment and tourism with Ireland, to increase visibility in new markets, and to promote our values and our influence in global institutions, notably in support of our campaign to become a member of the United Nations Security Council.   It also allowed us to deepen our connections with Irish people and friends of Ireland all over the world.

Team Ireland overseas delivered a total of 1,796 events in support of Ireland’s interest over the 2019 St. Patrick’s Day period in this context. To coincide with and complement these activities, a small amount of expenditure was incurred by my Department in relation to online promotion of an accompanying St. Patrick’s Day video as outlined in Table 1 below.

- Global Ireland: Ireland’s Strategy for the US and Canada 2019-2025 and Global Island Summit

‘Global Ireland’ is an all-of-Government programme which aims to double Ireland’s impact in the world by 2025. The programme was launched by the Taoiseach and myself and Ministers Humphreys, Madigan and McEntee in June 2018 and sets out Ireland’s ambitions in relation to how we trade, the bilateral and multilateral partnerships that we seek to build and our wider contribution to the world.

Global Ireland: Ireland's Strategy for the US and Canada 2019–2025 is Ireland's first whole-of-Government strategy for the US and Canada. Its aim is for Ireland to build strong, strategic political partnerships with the US and Canada and assume a lead role in building stronger transatlantic relations.

To coincide with the programme of St. Patrick’s Day-related activities held there earlier this year, a small amount of expenditure was incurred by my Department in relation to the online promotion of a video that outlined the Strategy’s key objectives insofar as the US is concerned.  

In July, to mark the 1st anniversary of the launch of Global Ireland programme, my Department held the Global Island summit in Dublin Castle.  At the summit it was announced that Ireland plans to double its impact in the Asia Pacific region, as part of the next phase of Global Ireland 2025. Alongside myself and the Taoiseach, Government Ministers, Ambassadors and key stakeholders spoke at the Summit.  To coincide with this event a video was produced and promoted via social media.

- Other Projects

My Department has also engaged in public information advertising via print and social media channels to build awareness of certain other initiatives and projects that relate to Ireland’s foreign policy priorities and activities.  So far in 2019 these have comprised:

- Recruitment of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Cultural Director

- Promotion of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade/Irish Aid-supported Simon Cumbers Media Fund

- The launch of Ireland’s new policy for international development, ‘A Better World’, on 28 February.

Details of expenditure in each case are set out in Table 1 below.

Total Expenditure for 2016, 2017 and 2018 are outlined in Table 2 below

Table 1: Public Information and Awareness Advertising Expenditure - 2019 to date

Campaign/Theme  

Supplier  

Cost to date in 2019  

Online Passport Renewals

PHD Media, TBWA and Outsource Media  

€ 568,166.49

'Getting Ireland Brexit Ready'

PHD Media, TBWA and Irish Times (re 12 April Brexit   Supplement)

€1,475,537.17

Rugby World Cup 2019 Consular Awareness

Outsource Media

€28,931.39

UN Security Council Public Information

PHD Media

€9,641.17

St. Patrick Day 2019

PHD Media & Adventure Publishing

€13,376.50

Global Ireland: Ireland’s Strategy for the US and Canada 2019-2025 and Global Island Summit

PHD Media and BigO Media 

€14,457.25

Recruitment of Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade Cultural Director

Mediavest

€2,214.42

Simon Cumbers Media Fund & ‘A Better World’

Facebook & Twitter

€663.25

Table 2: Public Information and Awareness Advertising Expenditure – 2016, 2017 and 2018

2018

2017

2016

€243,687.00

€210, 324.15

€45,527.53

Pensions Reform

Ceisteanna (78, 79)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

78. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his plans to extend the legal framework for approved retirement funds to allow pension schemes to provide ARFs under the regulation of the Pensions Authority. [47900/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

79. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his plans to allow pension schemes approved by the Pensions Authority to offer retiring members of defined contribution schemes, scheme controlled ARFs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47901/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 78 and 79 together.

The Interdepartmental Pensions Reform and Taxation Group (IDPRTG) is chaired by the Department of Finance and includes members from the Departments of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER); Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP); the Revenue Commissioners and the Pensions Authority. The Group was tasked with a number of actions from the Government's Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023 and has prepared a draft report on various pensions matters, including inter alia a review of Approved Retirement Funds.

The Group have prepared a report which represents a significant piece of work in this broad policy area and this report has very recently been submitted to me. As this is a complex and detailed piece of work, I will have to carefully consider its contents before taking any decisions on these matters.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (80)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

80. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance the projected increase in the net contribution by Ireland each year to the EU from 2021 to 2027 in the event of Britain leaving the EU with a deal on 31 January 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47905/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Given that the UK represents one of the largest net contributors to the EU Budget, Brexit is likely to have a significant impact on the contributions of all Member States, including Ireland. The exact impact will be dependent on the nature of the final agreement between the EU and the UK regarding its involvement with the EU Budget post-Brexit.

Under the Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and UK, the UK had agreed to continue to pay into the EU Budget for the remaining years of the current Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), as if it was still a member. This would result in no additional impact on Ireland’s contributions or receipts up to the end of the current Multiannual Financial Framework in December 2020.

The European Commission proposal for the 2021-2027 MFF (published May 2018) has been prepared on the basis of a UK departure. The overall 2021-2027 MFF proposal is 1.11 % of the post-Brexit EU-27's Gross National Income (GNI). This is the starting point of an important ongoing debate on the future of the EU Budget. There has been no final agreement on the size of the MFF yet however.

The contributions of each Member State to the EU Budget include Traditional Own Resources (Customs Duties) and a portion of VAT, with the remainder coming from GNI.

Ireland is forecast to see significant growth in our contributions as part of the next MFF as a result of continued economic growth, increased expenditure and the departure of the UK.

My Department monitors and analyses the potential impact of Brexit on our EU budget contributions on an ongoing basis. The following table shows the projected contributions Ireland would make in each of the years 2021-2027 under the Commission's proposal. This analysis is based on the best information and data available at the time in question.

Projected Irish Contributions to the MFF 2021-2027 under Commission Proposal (€bn) (current prices)

Year

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

2026

2027

Total (round, €25m)

€2.900

€2.950

€3.125

€3.275

€3.500

€3.675

€3.850

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (81)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

81. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Finance the amount spent on purchasing mobile telephones for staff within his Department for work-related business in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by grade; if his Department has a contract with a mobile telephone company (details supplied) to supply mobile telephones if needed; if so, the name of the company; the date on which the contract for the supply of mobile telephones to his Department is next due to expire; and the robust steps taken to ensure that the costs incurred on work related telephones are the best value for the taxpayer. [47921/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Department of Finance has a mobile phone policy which defines the acceptable usage and management of official mobile phones. When staff are assigned mobile phones, they are entered into a contract bundle which gives allowances for calls, texts and data services.

Generally in the Department of Finance, staff at Secretary General, Assistant Secretary, Principal Officer and Assistant Principal Officer grades are assigned mobile phones where relevant for work purposes. In 2016 the provision of mobile handsets cost €7,263.17. This breakdown by grade is not readily available for 2016. The following table provides data relating to the amount spent by grade on purchasing official mobile phones in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Grade

2017

2018

2019

Secretary General / Second Secretary / Assistant Secretary

€1430.60

€656.82

€3,340

Principal Officer

€328.41

€2024

Assistant Principal Officer

€328.41

€2301.44

Administrative Officer / Higher Executive Officer

€59.04

€96

Adviser

€300

Phone stock pending business requirements

€1040

ICT systems, including mobile phone procurement, within the Department of Finance are provided by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) under the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform currently has a contract in place with Three Ireland for the supply of Mobile Phone Services & Handsets, this contract is due to expire in April 2020. My Department also has a small number of handsets registered with Vodafone.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is currently undertaking a market exercise for the successor contract run under the Office of Government Procurement’s Mobile Phone Framework. Public procurement measures ensure that there are robust steps in place in the process and that the tenders are evaluated and awarded on the basis of the most economically advantageous tender, thus providing the best value to the taxpayer.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (82)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

82. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Finance the number of staff in his Department by gender and pay grade in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47947/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I wish to inform the Deputy that the number of staff in the Department of Finance by gender and pay grade, as of 11th November 2019, is set out in the following table.

Female

Male

Total

Secretary General

1

1

Assistant Secretary

4

4

Director

1

1

Principal Officer

9

18

27

Special Adviser

1

1

2

Assistant Principal

30

44

74

Higher Executive Officer

9

14

23

Administrative Officer

30

46

76

Executive Officer

19

13

32

Clerical Officer

34

17

51

Temporary Clerical Officer

1

1

Service Officer

1

17

18

Civilian Driver

2

2

Specialists

3

7

10

Grand Total

137

185

322

The Civil Service is strongly committed to equality of opportunity in all its employment practices. Throughout their working lives, civil servants can be assured of equality of participation in their Department/Office, regardless of gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religious belief, age, disability, race or membership of the Traveller community.

Ministerial Advisers Data

Ceisteanna (83)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

83. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Finance the political advisers used by Ministers and Ministers of State in his Department since the commencement of this Government; the commencement and cessation dates in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47964/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I wish to inform the Deputy that the appointment of Special Advisers in the Department of Finance are made in line with “Instructions to Personnel Officers - Ministerial Appointments for the 32nd Dáil” which include “Guidelines on staffing of Ministerial offices” issued by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Special Advisers employed by my Department and the Minister/Minister of State since the commencement of this Government, the commencement and cessation dates in each case are set out in the following table.

Minister / Minister of State

Name of Special Adviser

Appointment date

of Special Adviser

Cessation date

of Special Adviser

Deputy Michael Noonan, former Minister for Finance

Mary Kenny

Re-appointed 10/03/2016

14/06/2017

Deputy Michael Noonan, former Minister for Finance

Sean Kinsella,

Civil Servant

Appointed 13/06/2016

14/06/2017

Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform

Deborah Sweeney

Appointed 06/05/2016

N/A

Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform

Stephen Lynam

Appointed 06/05/2016

16/03/2018

Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform

Ed Brophy

Appointed 12/02/2018

N/A

Michael D'Arcy, Minister of State (with special responsibility for Financial Services and Insurance)

Barry Harrington, Civil Servant

Appointed 12/02/2018

29/04/2019

Michael D'Arcy, Minister of State (with special responsibility for Financial Services and Insurance)

Caroline Hofman

Appointed 04/06/2019

N/A

Special Advisers are appointed under Section 11 of the Public Service Management Act 1997. A Special Adviser to a Minister or to a Minister of State, as in the case may be, shall

(a) assist the Minister or Minister of State, as the case may be, by –

(i) providing advice,

(ii) Monitoring, facilitating and securing the achievement of the Government objectives that relate to the Department, as requested by the Minister or the Minister of State, as the case may be, and

(iii) Performing such other functions as may be directed by the Minister or the Minister of State, as the case may be that are not otherwise provided for in this Act and do not involve the exercise of any specific powers conferred on the Minister or the Minister of State as the case may be or any other office holder by or under any other Act.

The appointments of Advisers are kept under review given the breath of my responsibilities across two Departments.

VAT Rate Application

Ceisteanna (84)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

84. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Finance his views on the fact that utility companies are adding VAT onto the total charge of consumption, including the carbon tax, indicating that VAT is being charged on the carbon tax itself; if this was the intention of the carbon tax when it was constituted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47997/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that what constitutes consideration for a supply of goods or services is defined in EU VAT law and consists of everything which the supplier is entitled to receive in return for goods or services supplied including taxes, duties, levies and charges, excluding the VAT itself. Therefore, VAT is chargeable on the carbon tax element of domestic utility bills.