Public Consultation Process

Ceisteanna (78)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

78. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Taoiseach the public consultations held by his Department in 2018 and to date in 2019; and the date on which such consultations were held by county. [50455/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

Details of the public consultations undertaken by my Department in 2018 and to date in 2019 are set out in the following table. These were national public consultations and not specific to any particular county.

2018

Details of Public Consultations

Date

Consultation on the National Reform Programme 2018

March

Consultation on the National Risk Assessment 2018

May

Consultation on Regulation of Online Political Advertising in Ireland

September

Consultation on Ireland’s National Digital Strategy

October

2019

Details of Public Consultations

Date

Consultation on the National Risk Assessment 2019

May

Legislative Process

Ceisteanna (79)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

79. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach the number of Bills in his Department awaiting Committee Stage. [50555/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

There are currently no Bills in my Department awaiting committee stage.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (80)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

80. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach the photography costs for his Department in each of the years March 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the costs incurred from use of the ministerial allowance; the occasions for which photographers were booked; the photographers used; the costs associated with each occasion a photographer was used in tabular form; and if there is a policy in his Department regarding the booking of photographers. [50579/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

The information on photography costs for my Department for the period from March 2011 to date, is set out in tabular form in the link below. These tables include the cost, the name of the photographer and the occasions involved.

Photographers are engaged for official purposes only. Local photographers are used on international visits, trade missions etc., to maximise cost efficiencies. Photography costs in my Department have reduced significantly in recent years. The 2018 expenditure of €10,052 represents a reduction of more than 85% when compared with expenditure of €83,398 in 2008.

Increasingly my Department utilises its own staff to take photographs in-house, thereby reducing costs.

Photography costs

Freedom of Information Data

Ceisteanna (81)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

81. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Taoiseach the number of freedom of information requests made to his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of requests fully denied by reason; the number of requests partially denied; the number of appeals made against denials; the number of such appeals upheld; the number of such appeals rejected; the number of requests that required a fee; and the amount received for freedom of information requests in tabular form. [50604/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

The details requested by the Deputy in relation to FOI requests received by my Department are set out in the tables beneath. Regarding records part granted or refused, material is redacted for a variety of reasons, as provided for in the FOI Act.

Examples of grounds commonly used by FOI decision makers in my Department for withholding material include where it is necessary to withhold personal information such as personal email addresses or mobile phone numbers, where Government records less than 5 years old are concerned, where the material, if released, could have an adverse impact on the international relations or the economic interests of the State, and where commercially sensitive information is involved.

2016

2017

2018

2019

Total number of requests received 

275

344

490

466

Granted 

55

75

111

75

Part granted 

138

145

243

192

Refused 

54

35

46

24

No records exist 

11

65

70

81

Transferred 

1

8

3

8

Withdrawn 

15

11

13

27

Handled outside FOI 

1

5

4

3

Ongoing 

0

0

0

56

Total number of internal review (IR) requests

10

13

19

5

IR requests upheld

5

8

17

4

IR requests varied

3

4

1

1

IR requests annulled

0

1

1

0

IR requests withdrawn

2

0

0

0

Requests that required search and retrieval fees

0

0

2

2

Total amount of search and retrieval fees received

0

0

€467.84

€820

Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) reviews 

3

3

3

1

Upheld by OIC

0

2

1

1

Varied by OIC

1

0

0

0

Annulled by OIC

0

1

0

0

Withdrawn after referral to OIC

2

0

1

0

Ongoing at OIC

0

0

1

0

Public Consultation Process

Ceisteanna (82)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

82. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the public consultations held by his Department in 2018 and to date in 2019; the date on which such consultations were held by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50445/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

On the 15 October 2018, I announced a series of eight regional consultation meetings for Civil Defence volunteers. The meetings were held in each Major Emergency Management region between 24 October and 28 November, 2018. The objective of these meetings was to allow Civil Defence volunteers have their say on the future direction of Civil Defence in Ireland.

Details of the dates and the locations in which the consultation meetings took place in are provided in the following table.

Date

Location

24 October, 2018

Dublin

30 October, 2018

Westmeath

12 November, 2018

Wexford

14 November, 2018

Monaghan

15 November, 2018

Donegal

19 November, 2018

Limerick

21 November, 2018

Cork

28 November, 2018

Mayo

These eight consultation meetings were the only public consultations held by my Department in the period covered by the Deputy's question.

Legislative Process

Ceisteanna (83)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

83. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of Bills in his Department awaiting Committee Stage. [50545/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

In relation to the Department of Defence, there is currently one Bill which has completed Second Stage and is awaiting Committee Stage. The Bill in question is the Defence Forces (Evidence) Bill 2019.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (84)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

84. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the photography costs for his Department in each of the years March 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the costs incurred from use of the ministerial allowance; the occasions for which photographers were booked; the photographers used; the costs associated with each occasion that a photographer was used in tabular form; if there is a policy in his Department regarding the booking of photographers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50569/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

My Department has not required the services of an external photographer since 2017. However, if photography services were to be required, the Office of Government Procurement has a framework in place for the provision of Professional Photography and Videography Services, which could be utilised.

Details of the costs of photography paid by my Department for the period in question are set out in the following table.

Date

Reason

Company

Amount (Inclusive of V.A.T. )

25/03/2011

Publications - Ministerial Photographic Imagery

Maxwell Photography

€393.25

09/11/2011

Launch of Winter Ready Campaign

Maxwell Photography

€849.42

Total 2011

€1,242.67

21/11/2012

Launch of Winter Ready Campaign

Fennell Photography

€116.85

Total 2012

€116.85

10/07/2013

Purchase of Minister's Photograph

Maxwell Photography

€17.22

Total 2013

€17.22

21/11/2014

Civil Defence Medal Presentation Ceremony

Maxwell Photography

€713.40

Total 2014

€713.40

Total 2015 & 2016

Nil

26/05/2017

Civil Defence Medal Presentation Ceremony

Maxwell Photography

€590.40

Total 2017

€590.40

Total 2018 & 2019 to date

Nil

Freedom of Information Data

Ceisteanna (85)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

85. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of freedom of information requests made to his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of requests fully denied by reason; the number of requests partially denied; the number of appeals made against denials; the number of such appeals upheld; the number of such appeals rejected; the number of requests that required a fee; the amount received for freedom of information requests in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50594/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

My Department deals with requests for information in accordance with the FOI Acts and the following table sets out the information requested by the Deputy.

2016

2017

2018

2019 (to 02/12/2019)

Number of FOI Requests Received

120

154

140

160

Number of Administrative Refusals (Section 15 and Section 27 of FOI Act)

8

16

35

31

Number of Refusals under Part 4 of FOI Act (Exempt Records) and Part 5 (Restriction of Act)

11

14

12

9

Total number of FOI Requests refused

19

30

47

40

Number of FOI Requests part-granted

29

37

34

42

Number of Internal Reviews affirmed

4

8

2

2

Number of Internal Reviews varied/annulled

0

0

7

1

Amount Received for Internal Review fees

€80

€120

€30

€90

Number of FOI requests to which search and retrieval fees applied.

1

1

0

0

Amount received for search and retrieval fees

€40

€500

n/a

n/a

Public Consultation Process

Ceisteanna (86)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

86. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the public consultations held by his Department in 2018 and to date in 2019; the date on which such consultations were held by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50449/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

In accordance with “Reaching Out - Guidelines on Consultation for Public Sector Bodies”, and its 2016 successor, “Consultation Principles and Guidance”, my Department aims to undertake consultation, where appropriate, with citizens in a meaningful and timely manner. The ultimate objective is to ensure better understanding and effective outcomes in relation to a particular policy or legislative proposal. The following table details the public consultations undertaken by my Department during 2018 and to date in 2019.

Subject matter of public consultation

Date

County

Citizens’ Dialogue on the Future of Europe

06/02/2018

Limerick

Regional Citizens’ Dialogue on the Future of Europe

08/02/2018

Galway

Regional Citizens’ Dialogue on the Future of Europe

22/02/2018

Cork

Regional Citizens’ Dialogue on the Future of Europe

08/03/2018

Donegal

Citizens' Dialogue on the Future of Europe for Community and Voluntary Organisations

05/04/2018

Dublin

Regional Citizens’ Dialogue on the Future of Europe

19/04/2018

Meath

National Citizens' Dialogue on the Future of Europe

09/05/2018

Dublin

Public Consultations on the Government of Ireland’s new International Development Policy, A Better World

13/09/2018

Cork

Public Consultations on the Government of Ireland’s new International Development Policy, A Better World

17/09/2018

Galway

Public Consultations on the Government of Ireland’s new International Development Policy, A Better World

18/09/2018

Sligo

Public Consultations on the Government of Ireland’s new International Development Policy, A Better World

20/09/2018

Limerick

Public Consultations on the Government of Ireland’s new International Development Policy, A Better World

02/10/2018

Dublin

17th Annual Civil Society Forum on Human Rights

10/12/2018

Dublin

Public Consultation Workshop for the Development of Ireland’s third National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security

17/01/2019

Cork

Public Consultation Workshop for the Development of Ireland’s third National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security

23/01/2019

Dublin

Citizens’ Dialogue on the Future of Europe

20/02/2019

Kildare

Citizens’ Dialogue on Ireland and the Future of Europe

04/04/2019

Cavan

Public Consultation on Ireland’s new diaspora policy

15/04/2019

Galway

Citizens’ Dialogue on Ireland and the Future of Europe

16/04/2019

Kilkenny

Public Consultation on Ireland’s new diaspora policy

15/05/2019

Dublin

Public Consultation on Ireland’s new diaspora policy

20/05/2019

Donegal

Public Consultation on Ireland’s new diaspora policy

27/05/2019

Cork

Public Consultation on Ireland’s new diaspora policy

01/07/2019

Kerry

Public Consultation on Ireland’s new diaspora policy

08/07/2019

Mayo

Civil Society Consultation on Ireland’s fifth national report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

July 2019

Nationally (via the DFAT Committee)

Legislative Process

Ceisteanna (87)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

87. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of bills in his Department awaiting Committee Stage. [50549/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

There are currently no Government Bills awaiting Committee Stage from my Department.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (88)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

88. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the photography costs for his Department in each of the years March 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the costs incurred from use of the ministerial allowance; the occasions for which photographers were booked; the photographers used; the costs associated with each occasion that a photographer was used in tabular form; if there is a policy in his Department regarding the booking of photographers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50573/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

In relation to photography costs for the period March 2011 to December 2017, I refer the Deputy to previous PQ replies No. 349 of 13 December 2016 and No. 108 of 13 February 2018.

The cost of photography for 2018 and 2019 to date is listed in Table 1 below. In the time available, it has not proved possible to compile a breakdown of photography costs associated with events organized by Ireland’s network of diplomatic Missions abroad.

My Department's Communication Unit avails of in-house resources for photography whenever possible. When this is not the case professional photographic services are obtained through the Office of Government Procurement's updated Multi-Supplier Framework Agreement.

My Department only avails of the services of external photographic agencies where it is warranted, in particular for major events and State occasions. This is a service which my Department provides so that the media - both domestic and international - can easily and freely avail of photography where their own staff photographers cannot be fully accommodated. In 2019 these included events such as the visit in April of the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi; the State Visit to Ireland in May by Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden; and the visit also in May of The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Photography Costs 2018

Description

Date

Cost

Minister

Photographer

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

18/01/2018

€351.85

Mr. Pat Breen, T.D

Maxwell Photography

Closing ceremony of 60 Years of diplomatic relations between Japan and Ireland

23/01/2018

€676.50

Minister Ciaran Cannon

Julien Behal Photography

BT Young Scientist Awards

07/02/2018

€ 922.50

Julien Behal Photography

New Years Greetings at Aras

12/02/2018

€665.56

Mr. Ciaran Cannon, T.D.

Lafayette Graduation Services

Launch of Irish Aid Awards

13/02/2018

€455.10

Min Ciarán Cannon

Galway Digital Images LTD (T/A Xposure)

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

19/02/2018

€351.85

Ms. Helen McEntee TD

Maxwell Photography

State Visit of Italian President

20/02/2018

€ 2,767.50

N/A

Julien Behal Photography

Head of Mission Conference 17th January 2018

20/02/2018

€233.70

N/A

Maxwell Photography

Head of Mission Conference 16th January 2018

20/02/2018

€270.60

N/A

Maxwell Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

20/03/2018

€351.85

Minister Katherine Zappone

Maxwell Photography

Visit of French Foreign Minister and Minister Mc Entee

20/03/2018

€738.00

Minister Helen Mc Entee

Maxwell Photography

Visit of Columbian Rugby Team

04/04/2018

€522.75

Minister Ciaran Cannon

Julien Behal Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

12/04/2018

€351.85

Minister Pat Breen T.D,

Maxwell Photography

Visit of German Foreign Minister

25/04/2018

€676.50

Tánaiste

Julien Behal Photography

Brexit Media Trip

02/05/2018

€1,469.85

N/A

Julien Behal Photography

20th Anniversary of Good Friday Agreement

02/05/2018

€515.00

Tánaiste

Paul Faith

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

04/05/2018

€351.85

Minister of State Brendan Griffin T.D

Maxwell Photography

Visit of Chinese Minister

21/05/2018

€553.50

Tánaiste

Julien Behal Photography

Visit of French Foreign Minister

21/05/2018

€615.00

Tánaiste

Julien Behal Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

05/06/2018

€351.85

Minister of State John Paul Phelan T.D

Maxwell Photography

Photography 20th Anniversary Good Friday Event

11/06/2018

€522.75

N/A

Julien Behal Photography

Citizens Dialogue

12/06/2018

€1,094.70

Tánaiste and Min McEntee

Maxwell Photography

Visit of Prince Charles

19/06/2018

€ 2,429.25

Tánaiste

Julien Behal Photography

Irish Aid school Sligo presentation

27/06/2018

€461.25

Clive Wasson Photography

Iveagh House Lecture by Lord Patten

12/07/2018

€430.50

Tánaiste

Maxwell Photography

Visit of Duke and Duchess of Sussex

20/07/2018

€2,149.43

N/A

Julien Behal Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

26/07/2018

€ 436.98

Minister Ciarán Cannon T.D,

Maxwell Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

26/07/2018

€436.98

Minister Mary Mitchell-O'Connor, T.D

Maxwell Photography

Our World Irish Aid Awards

08/08/2018

€1,402.20

Finbar O'Rourke Photography

Cork Regional finals of Our World Irish Aid Awards

14/08/2018

€422.25

Clare Keogh Photography

Visit of Pope Francis

11/09/2018

€1,014.75

N/A

Julien Behal Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

01/10/2018

€351.85

Minister Patrick O’Donovan T.D

Maxwell Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

02/10/2018

€351.85

Minister of State Damien English T.D

Maxwell Photography

Getting Ireland Brexit Ready Launch

08/10/2018

€522.75

Tánaiste, Min Humphries and Min Creed

Julien Behal Photography

Visit of Palestinan President Mahmood Abbas

08/10/2018

€1,100.85

Tánaiste

Julien Behal Photography

Ploughing Championship

08/10/2018

€738.00

Tánaiste

Julien Behal Photography

Irish Aid Annual Report Launch

17/10/2018

€707.25

Julien Behal Photography

Brexit Media Trip October

01/11/2018

€1,476.00

N/A

Julien Behal Photography

Getting Ireland Brexit Ready Galway

01/11/2018

€522.75

Tánaiste

Julien Behal Photography

Getting Ireland Brexit Ready Monaghan

01/11/2018

€522.75

Tánaiste & Minister Humphries

Julien Behal Photography

Getting Ireland Brexit Ready Dublin

01/11/2018

€522.75

Taoiseach, Tánaiste & Minister Ross

Julien Behal Photography

Visit of Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs China

05/11/2018

€522.75

Tánaiste Coveney

Julien Behal Photography

British Irish Inter-Govermental Conference

05/11/2018

€861.00

Tánaiste & Minister Flanagan

Julien Behal Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

14/12/2018

€ 351.85

Mr. Ciarán Cannon T.D

Maxwell Photography

Missions 2018 total costs

€4,622.80

Total

€37,169.40

Photography Costs 2019

Description

Date

Cost

Minister

Photographer

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

17/01/2019

€454.00

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with special responsibility for the Diaspora and International Development, Mr. Ciaran Cannon, T.D.

Maxwell Photography

BT Young Scientist Awards Ceremony

18/01/2019

€ 940.95

N/A

Maxwell Photography

Visit of German Foreign Minister

23/01/2019

€ 768.75

Tánaiste

Julien Behal Photography

Launch of Irish Aid awards in Craughwell

04/02/2019

€468.38

Minister Ciarán Cannon T.D,

Galway Digital Images LTD (T/A Xposure)

Dutch EU Minister Visit

04/02/2019

€ 120.00

Minister McEntee

Drone Services

New Year’s Greetings at Áras

15/02/2019

€307.50

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with special responsibility for the Diaspora and International Development, Mr. Ciaran Cannon, T.D.

Maxwell Photography

Visiit of Dutch Foreign Minister

21/02/2019

€ 522.75

Tánaiste

Julien Behal Photography

Visit of Egyptian Foreign Minister

21/02/2019

€ 553.50

Tánaiste

Julien Behal Photography

Farmleigh Foreign Ministers Meeting

21/02/2019

€553.50

Tánaiste

Julien Behal Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

28/02/2019

€454.00

Minister of State with Responsibility For Defense, Paul Kehoe, T.D.

Maxwell Photography

Reconciliation Fund Forum

25/03/2019

€768.75

Tánaiste

Julien Behal Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

29/03/2019

€454.00

Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, Mr. Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, T.D.

Maxwell Photography

Visit of Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi

24/04/2019

€731.85

Tánaiste

Julien Behal Photography

Cultural event at GPO for visit of Speaker of the Hosue Nancy Pelosi and US Congressional Delegation

24/04/2019

€854.85

N/A

Julien Behal Photography

Host County Agreement Signing

29/04/2019

€522.75

Attorney General, Seamus Woulfe

Julien Behal Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

30/04/2019

€615.00

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Ms Katherine Zappone, T.D.

Maxwell Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

28/05/2019

€340.50

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D.,

Maxwell Photography

Our World Irish Aid Awards, Leinster & National Finals

17/06/2019

€1,482.15

N/A

Finbar O'Rourke Photography

President of the Republic of Seychelles H.E. Danny Faure

19/06/2019

€522.75

Tánaiste

Julien Behal Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

25/06/2019

€454.00

Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, Mr. David Stanton, T.D.,

Maxwell Photography

Our World Irish Aid Awards

27/06/2019

€440.63

N/A

Clare Keogh Photography

Women Peace Security Conference

28/06/2019

€955.50

Tánaiste

Julien Behal Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

01/07/2019

€227.00

Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr. Charles Flanagan, T.D.

Maxwell Photography

Global Ireland 2025 Summit

19/07/2019

€645.75

Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Government Ministers

Julien Behal Photography

Visit of Prince of Wales & Duchess of Cornwall

19/07/2019

€3,198.00

N/A

Julien Behal Photography

French Foreign Minister Visit to border and farm

19/07/2019

€1,045.00

Minister McEntee

Julien Behal Photography

State Visit of King and Queen of Sweden

30/07/2019

€3,500.00

N/A

Julien Behal Photography

Visit of Vice President of United States

11/09/2019

€1,476.00

Tánaiste

Julien Behal Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

20/09/2019

€454.00

Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, Mr. Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, T.D.

Maxwell Photography

National Ploughing Championships

24/09/2019

€738.00

N/A

Julien Behal Photography

New Ambassador Credentials Ceremony

31/10/2019

€454.00

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr. Andrew Doyle T.D.,

Maxwell Photography

Missions 2019 total costs

€4,624.18

Total

€29,647.99

Freedom of Information Data

Ceisteanna (89)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

89. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of freedom of information requests made to his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of requests fully denied by reason; the number of requests partially denied; the number of appeals made against denials; the number of such appeals upheld; the number of such appeals rejected; the number of requests that required a fee; the amount received for freedom of information requests in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50598/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The information requested by the Deputy is provided in tabular format below. Where freedom of information requests were fully refused, a broad range of exemptions, prescribed in the FOI Act 2014, were applied. The total number of requests refused includes cases where the records requested did not exist. In the interest of transparency and openness, all non-personal FOI requests are made available on my Department's website. In each case the response letter outlining whether they were granted, part granted or refused and the reason why is also published.

Where Search and Retrieval fees are incurred, requesters have the option to reduce the scope of their request to reduce or eliminate such fees. My Department works with requesters who wish to explore this option and since 2016 no search and retrieval fees have been levied by my Department.

2016

Number

Number of FOI requests received

214

Number of FOI requests refused

22

Number of FOI requests part granted

66

FOI requests referred to internal review

8

Internal reviews (Decision affirmed)

7

Internal reviews (Decision varied)

1

Search and retrieval fees

N/A

Internal review fees

€150

2017

Number

Number of FOI requests received

262

Number of FOI requests refused

29

Number of FOI requests part granted

75

FOI requests referred to internal review

9

Internal reviews (Decision affirmed)

1

Internal reviews (Decision varied)

8

Search and retrieval fees

N/A

Internal review fees

€60

2018

Number

Number of FOI requests received

320

Number of FOI requests refused

42

Number of FOI requests part granted

91

FOI requests referred to internal review

13

Internal reviews (Decision affirmed)

6

Internal reviews (Decision overturned)

2

Internal reviews (Decision varied)

5

Search and retrieval fees

N/A

Internal review fees

€210

2019

Number

Number of FOI requests received (up to Sept 30th)

286

Number of FOI requests refused

54

Number of FOI requests part granted

94

FOI requests referred to internal review

17

Internal reviews (Decision affirmed)

16

Internal reviews (Decision varied)

1

Search and retrieval fees

N/A

Internal review fees

€270

Northern Ireland

Ceisteanna (90, 91)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

90. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade when talks will resume between the Irish and UK Governments and the political parties in Northern Ireland on the need to have the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Executive restored; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50612/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

91. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the outcome of his most recent discussions with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on the need to have the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive in Northern Ireland restored; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50613/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 90 and 91 together.

The continuing absence of the power-sharing Executive and Assembly in Northern Ireland and the North South Ministerial Council is of grave concern for the Government, as it is for the British Government.

I have engaged extensively with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland throughout the talks process, to encourage the parties to reach an accommodation. I remain in regular and ongoing contact with Secretary of State Smith on how the two Governments can support the parties in reaching an agreement that will get all of the institutions of the Agreement up and running again.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and I have confirmed that the two Governments are ready to take talks in Northern Ireland forward again immediately following the UK general election.

The recent indications from each of the party leaders in Northern Ireland that they are also ready to engage again with urgency is welcome and important.

It is envisaged that talks will commence as soon as possible after the UK election, potentially on 16 December. This of course depends to some extent on the outcome of the election.

All five political parties have engaged constructively in the talks process over the last number of months. Progress has been made across a range of important issues. However, some key outstanding issues remain and finding final agreement on these issues will require genuine and courageous dialogue and leadership by the party leaders in Northern Ireland.

People want the devolved power-sharing institutions up and running again to represent their interests and address issues of concern in Northern Ireland at present.

In this context, the political parties - in particular the two largest parties - must live up to their responsibilities and be open to fair and workable compromises on the small number of outstanding issues, to secure the overall interests of people in Northern Ireland and to protect and operate the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement again.

The current UK legislation under which civil servants in NI are working in the absence of Ministers expires on 13 January next and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has confirmed that a duty to call an Assembly election arises if that deadline is passed.

The Governments are determined to use the time immediately ahead to work to get real power-sharing back in the interests of all the people of Northern Ireland. Ultimately the challenge is for the parties to find an agreement. This will be difficult, but the two Governments believe that this can, and must, be achieved.

The Government will continue to do everything in its power, in accordance with its responsibilities as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, to secure the effective operation of all of its institutions.

Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme

Ceisteanna (92)

John Brassil

Ceist:

92. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Finance if he will address the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50664/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that since my previous response to the Deputy regarding this matter (Parliamentary Question 117 of 5 November 2019), the person concerned submitted the required documentation, which was received by Revenue on 22 November 2019.

The documentation included a letter from the relevant insurance company confirming that the pre-accident value of the vehicle concerned was €3,600. This value can now be used as the Open Market Selling Price (OMSP) and applied to the formula provided for in the Regulations. The application of the formula-based calculation reduces the early disposal figure due to Revenue from €1,092 to €635.04.

Revenue has also confirmed that a letter advising the person of the revised calculation will issue on 3 December 2019.

Public Consultation Process

Ceisteanna (93)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

93. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Finance the public consultations held by his Department in 2018 and to date in 2019; the date on which such consultations were held by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50448/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Deputy will find the information requested in relation to public consultations held by my Department in 2018 and to date in 2019 in the table contained in the following link. Public Consultations are carried out by my Department on a national basis and are not specific to any county.

Table

Mortgage Protection Policies

Ceisteanna (94)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

94. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance the options available to persons (details supplied) in County Kerry who are unable to secure mortgage protection to purchase a house due to a 1,000% loading being applied by insurance providers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50501/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation. Neither I nor the Central Bank of Ireland can interfere in the provision or pricing of insurance products, as these matters are of a commercial nature, and are determined by insurance companies based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept. This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance which expressly prohibits Member States from adopting rules which require insurance companies to obtain prior approval of the pricing or terms and conditions of insurance products. Consequently, I am not in a position to direct insurance companies as to the pricing level that they should apply to particular categories of individuals, nor am I in a position to direct them to provide cover to such individuals.

It is my understanding that insurers use a combination of rating factors in making their individual decisions on whether to offer mortgage protection cover and what terms to apply. These factors can include age, health, family medical history, occupation and lifestyle. In addition, these may be determined or linked to the length of time such a policy may last. In the case of mortgage protection policy, such policies tend to be over a much longer term, for example, 25 years or over the lifetime of the mortgage repayment schedule. Furthermore, my understanding is that insurers do not all use the same combination of rating factors, and as a result prices and availability of cover varies across the market, and that they will price in accordance with their own past claims experience.

While I have sympathy for the situation detailed, I am unable to comment on specific cases. However, it should be noted that my officials contacted Insurance Ireland in regard to a similar case in the past. Insurance Ireland advised that applicants for any type of life assurance will be asked on the application form detailed health questions and that insurers may request one or more of the following in addition: a report from the applicant’s GP; an independent medical examination; or other medical tests. On the basis of the information provided, the application is considered individually and the decision on whether to offer cover and on what terms depends on the facts of that particular case.

Finally, I would note that Insurance Ireland 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.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (95)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

95. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Finance the status of his communication with the Revenue Commissioners on proposed changes to the flat-rate expenses system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50531/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Over the past 18 months, Revenue has been conducting a comprehensive review of the administratively based Flat Rate Expenses (FRE) regime. Revenue has advised me that the purpose of the FRE review, which involved engagement with relevant representative bodies, is to ensure that the expenses granted to each employment category remain justified and appropriate to modern day employments and work practices. Each category of FRE allowance is being examined separately in the light of the legislative requirements of section 114 of the Taxes Consolidation Act (TCA) 1997, which provides that expenses are tax deductible only if they are wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred by the employee in the performance of the duties of his or her employment and are not reimbursed by the employer.

Revenue has advised me that its FRE review is ongoing but is now nearing conclusion.

As I informed the House recently during the Report Stage debate on the Finance Bill, while I am aware of the effect that changes to the FRE regime will have on those who are impacted by the changes, I also need to respect the independence of Revenue.

Having regard to the fact that we are coming closer to the date on which any changes on foot of the review are due to be implemented, I have, as I committed previously to do, written to Revenue seeking a factual update on the review. Once this process of engagement with Revenue has been completed, I will be able to comment further on the matter and, conscious of the timeline involved, I anticipate that I will be able to do so very shortly.

Revenue Commissioners Resources

Ceisteanna (96)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

96. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the potential additional costs that would be incurred by the Revenue Commissioners in implementing a manual system for claiming flat-rate expenses; if the Revenue Commissioners have the resources to deal with such additional manual claims in the event of changes to the system of claiming flat-rate expenses system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50532/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am aware that Revenue remains committed to the FRE process as evidenced by the new amounts introduced to the regime during the past 18 months and it is not a matter of “either/or” as might be implied by the Deputy’s question.

Revenue have confirmed that under section 114 of the TCA, taxpayers have a right to claim a deduction in respect of an expense incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of the duties of their employment through their annual income tax return, provided those expenses are not reimbursed by the employer. It is not proposed that this position will change.

The Flat Rate Expenses regime exists as a support to that right and it provides an efficient and transparent mechanism for significant numbers of employees, who incur a similar expense in the course of their employment duties, to obtain tax relief (in respect of the expense) without having to submit annual claims to Revenue. It also provides efficiencies for Revenue by reducing the administrative cost of processing large volumes of identical claims for similar groups of employees.

Revenue has advised me that the purpose of the review of the FRE regime, which is in line with best practice and good corporate governance, is to ensure the expenses agreed are still justified and appropriate to modern day employments and work practices and are in accordance with the legislative requirement for deduction as set out in section 114 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (TCA).

Legislative Process

Ceisteanna (97)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

97. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the number of Bills in his Department awaiting Committee Stage. [50548/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As of 2 December 2019, the following Bills sponsored by the Minister for Finance have passed second stage in the Dáil and are awaiting committee stage before the Dáil:

1. Migration of Participating Securities Bill 2019

2. Investment Limited Partnerships (Amendment) Bill 2019

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (98)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

98. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the photography costs for his Department in each of the years March 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the costs incurred from use of the ministerial allowance; the occasions for which photographers were booked; the photographers used; the costs associated with each occasion that a photographer was used in tabular form; if there is a policy in his Department regarding the booking of photographers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50572/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The amount my Department incurred in respect of photography costs from March 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019 is set out in the table below. All costs were paid from my Department's voted allocation.

There is no specific policy regarding the booking of photographers but the ordinary rules per the public financial procedures apply to such expenditure.

Year

Supplier

Details

€ Amount

2019

Julien Behal Photography

Visit of German Chancellor, Farmleigh

522.75

2018

Maxwell Photography Ltd

Ireland EIB Financing Group

264.45

2018

Robbie Reynolds Ltd

CSO Figures Announcement

492.00

2017

Sherwood Photography

Department of Finance Learning and Development as part of the Department's Recognition of Awards Ceremony

757.99

2017

Event Portraits Ltd

Irish Institute of Training and Development (IITD) Award Photos and Licences following Department's receipt of Best Learning and Development Organisation (medium category) 2017

701.39

2016

Brendan Lyon Photography

Irish Institute of Training and Development (IITD) Award photo following Department's shortlisting as part of the IITD Awards 2016

105.00

2015

Events Portraits Ltd

Irish Institute of Training and Development (IITD) Award photo following Department's shortlisting as part of the IITD Awards 2015

95.75

2015

Maxwell Photography Ltd

Department of Finance Learning and Development as part of the Department's Recognition of Awards Ceremony

462.53

2014

Maxwell Photography Ltd

Department of Finance Learning and Development as part of the Department's Recognition of Awards Ceremony

510.75

2012

Maxwell Photography Ltd

Signing ceremony for Double Taxation Agreement with Uzbekistan

147.60

2012

Maxwell Photography Ltd

Signing ceremony for Double Taxation Agreement with Switzerland

285.05

2011

Maxwell Photography Ltd

Signing of Taxation agreement with Germany

400.21

2011

Maxwell Photography Ltd

Archive photos of Minister Brian Lenihan

424.41

2011

Damien Eagers Photography

Archive photo of Minister Brian Lenihan

200.00

Freedom of Information Data

Ceisteanna (99)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

99. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Finance the number of freedom of information requests made to his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of requests fully denied by reason; the number of requests partially denied; the number of appeals made against denials; the number of such appeals upheld; the number of such appeals rejected; the number of requests that required a fee; the amount received for freedom of information requests in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50597/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As the Deputy may be aware, cause for the denial or release of records under FOI is not always based on a single exemption. Multiple exemptions may well be applied to an individual FOI, each bearing equal validity.

I can advise the Deputy that while my Department captures data on the number of requests granted, part granted and refused, my Department does not track statistics on these by reason.

The details of the number of FOI requests processed by my Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019 are provided in the following table:

-

2016

2017

2018

2019

FOI Requests Processed

405

406

384

407

FOI Requests Refused in Full

70

109

80

75

FOI Requests Part Granted

162

150

206

174

Internal Reviews Processed

8

10

10

14

Internal Reviews which upheld the original decision

6

5

8

7

Internal Reviews which Annulled /Varied the original decision

2

5

2

7

FOI Requests where S&R Fees Collected

6

4

3

5

Total figure of S&R Fees Collected

€ 230.00

€ 530.92

€ 311.36

€972

Notes

- Some FOI requests are withdrawn by requestors, handled outside of the FOI process or transferred to another Department where applicable.

- "S&R" above denotes where a Search and Retrieval fee was collected.

- Internal Reviews are carried out by a more senior manager based in an alternate policy section from the original decision maker on the FOI request.

Programme for Government Implementation

Ceisteanna (100)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

100. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will report on the programme for partnership Government commitment on reforming budgetary matters. [50339/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

In recent years, a range of reforms have been implemented with a view to enhancing Ireland’s budgetary framework. These reforms aim to increase transparency around the budgetary process and facilitate stronger dialogue on key elements of the Budget and on what is being achieved with public funds.

Central to this is a ‘whole-of-year’ budgetary framework. Rather than focusing budget discussions only around Budget Day, this refers to an ongoing consideration of budgetary priorities and the publication of a range of documents to enhance engagement throughout the year. Some of these documents include:

- Stability Programme Update – the Stability Programme Update (SPU), published in April each year, is Ireland’s national medium-term fiscal plan and includes an update of the economic and fiscal outlook.

- Summer Economic Statement – the Summer Economic Statement builds on the SPU and sets out the fiscal parameters and budgetary strategy for the upcoming Budget.

- Mid-Year Expenditure Report – the Mid-Year Expenditure Report, published in July each year, sets out the Departmental expenditure baseline for the medium-term, based on the strategy outlined in the SES.

- Tax Strategy Group Papers – Each year, papers exploring tax policy options are prepared by the Tax Strategy Group. In line with the Government’s commitment to budgetary reform, the Tax Strategy Group papers are now published in advance of the Budget to facilitate informed discussion.

Further to this, in recent year there has been a greater emphasis placed on enhancing the evaluation capacity of Government departments. In light of this, a number of additional reports and processes now support the budgetary framework including:

- Public Service Performance Report - In April/early May each year, the Public Service Performance Report is published. This report presents performance information in a timely fashion, and aims to facilitate informed discussion around what is being delivered with public funds. A key objective of the Performance Budgeting Initiative is to shift focus away from the quantum of spend and towards what is being achieved through that spending. The intention of the Performance Report is to help enhance the focus on performance and delivery by presenting relevant performance indicators in a dedicated, focused document.

- Equality budgeting – The Revised Estimates Volume (REV) 2018 saw the roll-out of a pilot programme of equality budgeting. For the pilot exercise, a number of diverse policy areas were selected with associated objectives and indicators. The learnings from the pilot are being used to inform the expansion of the equality budgeting initiative to further develop the gender budgeting elements, and to broaden its scope to other dimensions of equality including poverty, socioeconomic inequality and disability. An Equality Budgeting Expert Advisory Group has also been established. This group is comprised of a broad range of relevant stakeholders and policy experts to provide advice on the most effective way to advance Equality Budgeting policy and progress the initiative. Most recently, an OECD "Policy Scan" Report on Equality Budgeting has been completed, and was published on Budget Day in October last, and it sets out a number of ambitious objectives about advancing this aspect of the budgetary reform agenda.

- Capital Tracker - The tracker lists a range of projects and programmes to be delivered by Departments to 2027. Published in an Excel format, for each project, the tracker indicates the stage it is at in the project life-cycle, e.g. Stage 1 pre-appraisal, Stage 5 Implementation.

- Spending Review - The process aims to improve how public expenditure is allocated across all areas of Government. Announced in Budget 2017, it aims to place evidence at the heart of policy making, by systematically examining existing spending programmes with a view to assessing their efficiency and effectiveness, and to support the re-allocation of funding to meet expenditure priorities.

Finally, building upon the commitment to budget transparency, and to further enhance the accessibility and availability of budget information tailored towards the general public, at budget time this year, a dedicated citizen’s guide to the budget was published in clear non-technical language. The guide is an objective, self-contained document, in a concise and accessible format. The guide seeks to foster greater understanding of the Budget process and the public finances more generally.

Garda Station Refurbishment

Ceisteanna (101)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

101. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the reason for the delay in commencing works on Bailieborough Garda station, County Cavan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50431/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As I stated in my reply to the Deputy’s similar question on 1st October last, there have been no delays in progressing this project. It is expected that the procurement process for the works will commence this month, with contracts being signed thereafter and work commencing on site in 2020.

Public Consultation Process

Ceisteanna (102)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

102. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the public consultations held by his Department in 2018 and to date in 2019; the date on which such consultations were held by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50453/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The details of the public consultations held by my Department in 2018 and 2019 are set out in the following table.

Year

Public Consultation

Dates

Location

2018

Valuing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Public Spending Code

6th November 2018 – 14thDecember 2018

Nationwide

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Irish Language Scheme

November 2018

Online Survey

Dialogue on Effective Prevention and Early Intervention Approaches in Human Services

7th March 2018 – 30th May 2018

Dublin

To seek written observations and submissions on the EU Directive 2014/55/EU on electronic invoicing prior to its transposition into Irish Law(Office of Government Procurement)

13thApril 2018

Written submissions only

Review of the Consultant Engagement practices for Public Works Projects (Office of Government Procurement)

September 2018 (ongoing)

Dublin

2019

Public Consultation on Productivity in the Construction Sector to assist in the identification of key issues facing the sector and potential solutions.

17thJuly 2019 – 2nd August 2019

Online Survey

Digital Postbox

October 2019

Online

Second Statutory Review of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015

12 April 2019

Nationwide