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Gnáthamharc

Wednesday, 4 Nov 2020

Written Answers Nos. 39-58

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (39, 41, 44)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

39. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance his views on correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33965/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

41. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance if he will address an anomaly in the Covid-19 restrictions support scheme (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33979/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

44. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding the Covid restrictions support scheme scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34060/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 39, 41 and 44 together.

The Financial Measures (Covid-19) (No. 2) Act 2020 put on a statutory footing the arrangements for the ‘warehousing’ of tax debts that Revenue had been operating on an administrative basis since the beginning of Covid-19 related restrictions in March 2020. I also announced in Budget 2021 that warehousing arrangements would be extended to the balance of 2019 income tax and 2020 preliminary tax obligations for the self-assessed taxpayers whose income has been adversely affected by Covid-19 restrictions.

Businesses that avail of the ‘warehousing’ scheme also qualify for a Tax Clearance Certificate if they continue to meet their qualifying obligations – that is, filing all tax returns and paying other liabilities as they fall due. I should add that taxpayers with non-COVID-19 tax debts which are included in a phased payment arrangement (PPA), can also qualify for tax clearance.

Revenue adopts a pragmatic approach in circumstances where a taxpayer has payment difficulties and it is important that the taxpayer or their tax agent contacts Revenue as early as possible so that alternative arrangements can be agreed.

Tax clearance allows taxpayers to avail of other essential Covid-19 related supports such as the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Stay and Spend Scheme and the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) to which the Deputy refers.

The details of the CRSS are set out in the Finance Bill 2020 and guidelines on the operation of the scheme are available on the Revenue website (https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/press-office/budget-information/2021/crss-guidelines.pdf ). The CRSS is a targeted support for businesses significantly impacted by restrictions introduced by the Government under public health regulations to combat the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The support will be available to companies and self-employed individuals who carry on a trade or trading activities from a business premises located in a region subject to restrictions, introduced in line with the Living with Covid-19 Plan, with the result that the business is required to prohibit or considerably restrict customers from accessing their business premises.

As I have previously indicated, it is not sufficient that the business supplies goods or services to another business that qualifies for the support because, under the Covid restrictions, that other business is required to temporarily close, or significantly reduce, its activity. Each business must satisfy the eligibility criteria in their own right.

Wage Subsidy Scheme

Question No. 41 answered with Question No. 39.

Question No. 42 answered with Question No. 38.

Ceisteanna (40)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

40. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance if it is still a requirement of the employment wage subsidy scheme that income must reduce by 30% in the 2nd half of 2020 compared to the 2nd half 2019 or if it will be paid to impacted businesses generally. [33974/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) has been deliberately designed as an economy wide enterprise support that is open to all sectors on the basis of a turnover test that can be applied across the whole economy while at the same time remain targeted at employers who are considered to be most in need of support.

The EWSS turnover test has been specifically calibrated so as to target the subsidy at otherwise viable employers whose businesses continue to be adversely impacted by COVID-19 by requiring a comparison of the firm’s pre-pandemic operations with their current operations. The legislation provides that the employer must be able to demonstrate that they are operating at no more than 70% in either the turnover of the employer’s business or the customer orders received by the employer by reference to the period from July to December 2020 compared with the same period in 2019.

There is additional flexibility in the application of the turnover test to allow employers to take account of potentially sudden changes in turnover on a month-to-month “opt-in/opt-out” basis. Under the legislation, an employer is required to carry out a review of their turnover each month and confirm that they are still eligible for the scheme. At the same time, there is no cut-off deadline for access to the scheme, so if there is a reduction in turnover later in 2020 because of an unexpected reduction in business activity or a sudden change in business circumstances the employer may be entitled to make a claim for that future period.

I am satisfied that the EWSS contains sufficient flexibility to take account of changes in business circumstances and is targeted at employers across all sectors who are most in need of support.

For those who may not be eligible for the EWSS, I would draw attention to the comprehensive package of other business and employer supports that have been made available since the July Stimulus Plan and Budget 2021 - including the Covid Restriction Support Scheme (CRSS), the Credit Guarantee Scheme, the SBCI Working Capital Scheme, Sustaining Enterprise Fund, and the Covid-19 Business Loans Scheme.

Question No. 41 answered with Question No. 39.
Question No. 42 answered with Question No. 38.

Primary Medical Certificates

Question No. 44 answered with Question No. 39.

Ceisteanna (43)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

43. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Finance when assessments will recommence for applications for primary medical certificates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34007/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Disabled Drivers & Disabled Passengers Scheme provides relief from VRT and VAT on the purchase and use of an adapted car, as well as an exemption from motor tax and an annual fuel grant. The cost of the scheme in 2019, excluding motor tax, was €72m.

The Scheme is open to severely and permanently disabled persons as a driver or as a passenger and also to certain organisations. In order to qualify for relief an organisation must be entered in the register of charitable organisations under Part 3 of the Charities Act 2009, be engaged in the transport of disabled persons and whose purpose is to provide services to persons with disabilities.

In order to qualify for relief the applicant must hold a Primary Medical Certificate (PMC) issued by the relevant Senior Area Medical Officer (SAMO) or a Board Medical Certificate (BMC) issued by the Disabled Driver Medical Board of Appeal. Certain other criteria apply in relation to the vehicle and its use, including that the vehicle must be specially constructed or adapted for use by the applicant.

The terms of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994 set out the following medical criteria, and that one or more of these criteria is required to be satisfied in order to obtain a PMC:

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

- be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

- be without both hands or without both arms;

- be without one or both legs;

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg;

- have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

A Supreme Court decision of 18th June found in favour of two appellants against the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal's refusal to grant them a PMC. The judgement found that the medical criteria set out in the Regulations did not align with the regulation making mandate given in the primary legislation to further define criteria for ‘severely and permanently disabled’ persons.

The Deputy will appreciate that the complex legal and policy issues raised by the Supreme Court decision will require careful consideration. In parallel to that consideration there is a need to examine how best the Scheme can target resources to those persons who most need them. I am currently giving consideration to policy and legislative proposals set out by my officials and will seek to progress this issue in the coming weeks.

In the interim, on foot of the legal advice received, it became clear that it was appropriate to revisit the six medical criteria set out in Regulation 3 of Statutory Instrument 353 of 1994 for these assessments. In such circumstances, it is not proposed to continue with PMC assessments until a revised basis for such assessments is established. The medical officers who are responsible for conducting PMC assessments need to have assurance that the decisions they make are based on clear criteria set out in legislation. While Regulation 3 of Statutory Instrument No. 353 of 1994 was not deemed to be invalid, nevertheless it was found to be inconsistent with the mandate provided in Section 92 of the Finance Act 1989.

My officials were in contact with the Medical Board of Appeal and with officials in the Department of Health and will continue to liaise with them, as required, going forward. I have also written to the Minister for Health to request that there are no further PMC assessments until a sound legal basis for such assessments is re-established.

While it is regrettable that PMC assessments are currently not taking place and I acknowledge that this will result in a growing waiting list, I can give a commitment that I will seek to bring clarity to this situation as soon as possible such that PMC assessments can re-continue based on a firm legal basis.

Finally, I would like to clarify that the Scheme itself is still operating. All persons or charitable organisations that can currently access the Scheme will continue to be able to do so and make claims for tax reliefs and the fuel grant in the normal manner.

Question No. 44 answered with Question No. 39.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (45)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

Ceist:

45. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for Finance the steps he has taken to date to address situations in which persons in receipt of the employment wage subsidy scheme or other Covid-19-related income supports are facing difficulties in securing mortgage approval, despite no change to the persons wages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34061/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I have met with the CEOs of the banks on a number of occasions since the pandemic arose to discuss the measures banks and other regulated lenders can put in place to assist their borrowers who are economically impacted by COVID-19 and also the need to continue to support overall credit and lending in the economy, including new residential mortgage lending. The three main retail banks assured the Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar T.D., Minister McGrath and me at meetings in July that they were considering applications and mortgage drawdowns from customers on the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) on a case by case basis and that they are taking a fair and balanced approach.

The purpose of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), which replaced the TWSS, is to support employers by helping them to continue trade as they deal with risk arising from COVID-19, and this puts employers in a position to retain key staff and ensure the viability of businesses and firms.

In respect of the approach of regulated mortgage lenders on new mortgage lending, the Central Bank has advised that it expects all regulated firms to take a consumer-focused approach and to act in their customers’ best interests at all times, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lenders continue to process mortgage applications and have supports in place to assist customers impacted by COVID-19. If mortgage applicants have any queries or concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on their mortgage application, they should in the first instance contact their lender directly on the matter.

However, within the parameters of the regulatory framework, as set out below, the decision to grant or refuse an individual application for mortgage credit is a commercial decision to be made by the regulated entity. Also a loan offer may contain a condition that the lender can withdraw or vary the offer if in the lender’s opinion there is any material change in circumstances prior to drawdown. In such cases, the decision to withdraw or vary the offer is also a commercial decision for the lender.

The European Union (Consumer Mortgage Credit Agreements) Regulations 2016 (CMCAR) provide that, before concluding a mortgage credit agreement, a lender must make a thorough assessment of the consumer’s creditworthiness with a view to verifying the prospect of the consumer being able to meet his or her obligations under the credit agreement. The CMCAR further provide that a lender should only make credit available to a consumer where the result of the creditworthiness assessment indicates that the consumer’s obligations resulting from the credit agreement are likely to be met in the manner required under that agreement. The assessment of creditworthiness must be carried out on the basis of information on the consumer’s income and expenses and other financial and economic circumstances which is necessary, sufficient and proportionate.

In addition, the Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Code 2012 imposes ‘Knowing the Consumer and Suitability’ requirements on lenders. Under these requirements, lenders are required to assess affordability of credit and the suitability of a product or service based on the individual circumstances of each borrower. The Code specifies that the affordability assessment must include consideration of the information gathered on the borrower’s personal circumstances and financial situation.

Where a lender refuses a mortgage application, the CMCAR requires that the lender must inform the consumer without delay of the refusal. In addition, the Code requires that the lender must clearly outline to the consumer the reasons why the credit was not approved, and provide these reasons on paper if requested.

If a mortgage applicant is not satisfied with how a regulated firm is dealing with them, or they believe that the regulated firm is not following the requirements of the Central Bank’s codes and regulations or other financial services law, they should make a complaint directly to the regulated firm. If they are still not satisfied with the response from the regulated firm, they can refer the complaint to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman.

Credit Unions

Ceisteanna (46)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

46. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Finance the number of staff in the registry of credit unions by division of units within the registry; the way in which this has changed since the commencement of the Credit Union and Co-operation with Overseas Regulators Act 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34118/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Central Bank has informed me that the number of staff in the Registry of Credit Unions is currently 52, allocated across the following activities:

- Supervision

- Intervention & Restructuring

- Policy Framework / Regulatory Approvals

- Business Model Engagement

- Operations

The majority of staff are engaged in supervision and intervention and restructuring activities.

In 2012 there were 48 staff allocated across the following areas:

- Supervision

- Intervention & Restructuring

- Policy Framework

- Financial Analysis

- Operations

A dedicated Business Model Engagement unit was established in 2016, to engage on business model development from a regulatory perspective.

Since 2019, the Financial Analysis function has been relocated within the Central Bank’s Risk Analysis, Data Analytics & Reporting Division.

Garda Stations

Ceisteanna (47)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

47. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the Garda station in Spiddal, County Galway will be refurbished and provided with updated facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34119/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I can confirm that the Office of Public Works (OPW) are liaising with Garda Estate Management on options regarding the replacement of an end-of-life prefabricated unit at Spiddal Garda Station.

Indicative costs have been provided and the OPW awaits final confirmation to proceed from Garda Estate Management.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (48)

Richard O'Donoghue

Ceist:

48. Deputy Richard O'Donoghue asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if she will reconsider the exclusion of minor and under 20s championship games from level 5 restrictions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34017/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

In line with the Government-approved “Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19” during the period of application of the current Level 5 restrictions all matches and other sporting events must cease. A limited exemption is set out in the public health regulations for certain elite and professional sportspeople and sporting activities, including certain games in camogie, football and hurling. However, given the current epidemiological situation with the disease, which requires the minimisation of both travel and contacts to prevent the spread of the virus, not every competition, team or grade in the sports concerned can be accommodated.

I understand that it will be a disappointment to many players and their families that the inter-county competition for younger age categories must be suspended for the coming weeks. Despite the many challenges they faced this year, they have retained their focus and devoted time and effort to their training and preparations for the Championship. The public health advice at this time is to stay at home. Individuals, businesses, community groups and sporting bodies are being asked to continue to suspend their activity in order that we can once again suppress the virus, to save lives and protect the health service.

In the current circumstances, unfortunately, only a very limited number of national and international sporting matches and events is being permitted to proceed during this period. This approach is part of the Government's efforts to minimise the level of personal contact outside of essential functions such as healthcare and education.

Stadium Projects

Ceisteanna (49, 53)

Joan Collins

Ceist:

49. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if she will confirm that the strategic assessment report and preliminary business case for the Dalymount Park proposal has been carried out fully in accordance with the public sector spending code and that the preliminary business case has or will be published. [34044/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joan Collins

Ceist:

53. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if her attention has been drawn to the funding business case for the Dalymount Park project on the sale of Tolka Park; and if her attention has been further drawn to the fact that this is a reserved function related to public land and subject to a vote by Dublin City councillors. [34043/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 49 and 53 together.

The proposed development of Dalymount Park and the compliance of the project with the Public Spending Code and other regulatory requirements is a matter in the first instance for Dublin City Council. The question regarding the publication of the business case presented to councillors is also a matter for Dublin City Council.

In relation to my Department’s involvement with the project, the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF) was launched in 2018 to provide Exchequer support for larger sports facility projects with at least €100m being made available over the period to 2027. Provisional allocations totalling €77.4m for 25 projects under Stream 2 (construction) of the LSSIF were announced on 10 January 2020. On 13th January additional provisional allocations of €5m for a further 7 projects under Stream 1 (design) of the LSSIF were announced.

Dublin City Council made an application for a grant towards the design work associated with the redevelopment of Dalymount Park and the allocations announced in January included a provisional grant under Stream1 of €918,750 towards a portion of the design cost of the stadium.

The evaluation procedures and guidelines for the LSSIF provide that once provisional allocations are announced, the projects being suggested for funding undergo a further process of due diligence. This process includes a further review of projects including economic appraisals and feasibility studies as appropriate. This has now been completed for the Dalymount project in respect of the application for the design funding.

As the LSSIF is a new scheme with the first grants only announced earlier this year, it has been necessary to agree an appropriate grant agreement which will protect the State investment and provide clarity in relation to the respective responsibilities to ensure that projects are completed. The finalisation of this grant agreement has involved engagement with the Chief State Solicitors Office who act as my Department's legal advisors in relation to all sports capital grants. Work in this regard was recently finalised in respect of the Dalymount project and my Department has now requested Dublin City Council to forward details of its solicitor so that legal formalities can be completed.

The possible sale of Tolka Park is a matter for the owners of the site. In that regard it should be noted that a deed of charge on the property is already in place which would require the owner to seek the approval of my Department before any sale is made.

In relation to the LSSIF generally, the priority in the short term is on advancing the projects allocated funding in January. While it is not proposed to open the LSSIF for new applications at present, it is planned to review progress on existing grants in 2021 when the question of whether or not it would be appropriate to seek new applications will be considered.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (50)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

50. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if she will ensure that an exemption is made available to leisure centres which facilitate school physical education for schools with no indoor physical education facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34006/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

The provision of the physical education curriculum is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Education. Advice and guidance has been provided by the Minister to schools to facilitate their operation and I would refer the Deputy to that advice as it pertains to physical education.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government in agreeing to move to Level 5 restrictions on 19 October last also agreed that an exemption from the public health restrictions would apply in respect of outdoor non-contact sports training for school-age children in pods of up to 15. My Department has provided guidance to the sporting bodies to assist their in applying all necessary public health guidance to ensure the training activity is done in a safe and controlled way. This guidance is available on the Departmental website at www.gov.ie. In addition, Sport Ireland have disseminated a wide range of guidance documents to the sporting bodies in respect of training for adults and children, which is also available at the Sport Ireland website www.sportireland.ie. I would encourage everyone involved in sports training for children to review this guidance to ensure they understand fully how to prepare for training sessions and supervise the children and adolescents - as well as any attendant parents - to ensure that the children can enjoy the activity while mitigating the risks of COVID-19 transmission.

National Archives

Ceisteanna (51)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

51. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the funding provided to the National Archives of Ireland in each year since 2016; the reason the funding was provided in each case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34009/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

The allocations made available to the National Archives from the Vote of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media are set out in the table below. Staff of the National Archives, are staff of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and are therefore paid from the administrative budget pay subhead of the Department which is not included in the table below. As stated below the B3 funding is a payment to match resources generated by the National Archives. The B4 amounts are to cover the general expenses of the National Archives and the National Archives Advisory Council,

Subhead Description

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

B.3 Current (Grant-in-aid – matching receipts from fees for copies of archives etc.)

40,000

40,000

40,000

40,000

40,000

B.4 Current

1,165,000

1,215,000

1,265,000

1,315,000

1,315,000

B.4 Capital

351,000

351,000

351,000

351,000

351,000

Total

1,556,000

1,606,000

1,656,000

1,706,000

1,706,000

I am also pleased to confirm that the €24million redevelopment project for the Archival Repository is now at tender stage and it is planned that work will commence on the construction work shortly. Work has already been carried out in decanting the existing Archive to offsite storage and other preparatory work has also commenced.

In addition the National Archives received €198,022.92 for upgrade Capital works at its Bishop Street headquarters carried out by the OPW separate to the redevelopment project and €120,000 towards a digitisation project in conjunction with the Houses of the Oireachtas.

National Archives

Question No. 53 answered with Question No. 49.

Ceisteanna (52)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

52. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the number of staff employed by the National Archives of Ireland in each year since 2016; if there are positions that remain to be filled; if so, the number; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34010/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

I am informed that my Department's HR records show that the number of staff employed at the National Archives in each year since 2016 was as set out below:

Number of staff employed in the National Archives at ;

Total

31 December 2016

47

31 December 2017

50

31 December 2018

46

31 December 2019

45

2 November 2020

47

My Department is currently reviewing it's workforce planning in the context of it's changed remit and available resources. Appropriate staffing of the NAI is being reviewed as part of this exercise.

Question No. 53 answered with Question No. 49.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (54)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

54. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if he will address a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34050/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

With regard to the matter referred to by the Deputy, I would like to clarify the public health measures set out in the “Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19”, as they apply to sporting activity in Level 3. In Level 3 it is not permitted to have any matches or sporting events except for elite and professional sports. Sports training outdoors must be non-contact, in pods of up to 15 people, and training indoors must be on an individual basis only. Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools are permitted to open for individual training only.

Sport Ireland and the Expert Group on Return to Sport, chaired by an official from my Department, are supporting the sporting bodies to develop and implement COVID-19 protocols in order to practice their activity in a safe way which mitigates the risk of disease transmission. Different activities and sports carry different degrees of risk related to the level of close contact involved. Combat sports with regular close contact carry a higher risk and this risk assessment and associated mitigation measures needs to be reflected in the protocol of the National Governing Body concerned.

The Expert Group on Return to Sport has developed guidance on indoor individual training in Level 3 and the draft guidelines have been with shared with other relevant Departments. Following completion of the consultation process, it is my expectation that these guidelines can be published within the next few weeks, in sufficient time to be applies under the appropriate level of the Government’s Resilience and Recovery plan.

Foras na Gaeilge

Ceisteanna (55)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

55. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Turasóireachta, Cultúir, Ealaíon, Gaeltachta, Spóirt agus Meán cá mhéad folúntas atá ar Bhord Fhoras na Gaeilge. [34064/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

Is tríd an Chomhairle Aireachta Thuaidh / Theas (CATT) a dhéantar na ceapacháin do Bhord Fhoras na Gaeilge ar bhonn ainmniúchán 50:50 thuaidh agus theas.

Tá naoi bhfolúntas ar Bhord Fhoras na Gaeilge faoi láthair, ceithre cinn le hainmniú ó thuaidh agus cúig cinn ó dheas.

Anois agus tús in athuair le cruinnithe na Comhairle Aireachta Thuaidh/Theas, beifear ag súil na folúntais seo a líonadh gan mhoill.

Departmental Meetings

Ceisteanna (56)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

56. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the number of meetings there have been of the night-time economy taskforce; and the attendees of each meeting. [34073/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

There has been one meeting of the Night-Time Economy taskforce which was held on Tuesday 29th September 2020 via video conference. The next meeting is due to be held in the next fortnight.

The following people attended the meeting :

- Hazel Chu, Lord Mayor of Dublin

- Joe Kavanagh, Lord Mayor of Cork

- Katherine Licken, (Chair), Secretary General, Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media

- Clare Brosnan, Department of Justice and Equality

- Deaglán O Briain, Department of Justice and Equality

- Colin O Heir, Department of Environment, Climate and Communications

- Éanna O Conghaile, Department of Transport

- Mary Byrne, Department of Rural and Community Development

- Colin Ryan, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

- Deborah Dignam, Department of Business, Enterprise, and Innovation

- Tim Gaston, National Transport Authority

- Chief Superintendent McElgunn, An Garda Síochána

- Paul Keely, Fáilte Ireland

- Sunil Sharpe, Give us the Night

- Catherine Griffin, Council of National Cultural Institutions (CNCI)

- Seán MacCarthaigh, Arts Council

- Jenny Sherwin, Local Authority Arts Officer

- Michael Walsh, County and City Managers Association (CCMA)

- Sinéad Copeland, Department of the Department of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media

Secretariat and assistants

Deirdre Currivan, Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media

Muirne Lyons, Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media

Recycling Policy

Ceisteanna (57, 59)

Cian O'Callaghan

Ceist:

57. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the steps he will take to ensure that recycling facilities are provided in all apartment buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34390/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

59. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if planning permissions for apartment developments are now required to provide full recycling facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33998/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 and 59 together.

Whilst recycling is not specifically referred to in the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (the Act), development plans reflect the objectives of waste management plans applicable to their administrative area, which would generally include measures to promote recycling. In particular, section 10 of the Act requires all local authorities to include policies to support the provision, or facilitation of the provision of infrastructure including, inter alia, waste recovery and disposal facilities and any ancillary facilities or services in their development plans. This is in order to support sustainable development and the provision of services.

With specific regard to apartments, my Department issued the Sustainable Urban Housing: Design Standards for New Apartments Guidelines for Planning Authorities (2018) under section 28 of the Act. These Guidelines include a section on design considerations for the provision of refuse storage facilities and note the following:

The following general design considerations should be taken into account in the provision of refuse storage facilities:

- Sufficient communal storage area to satisfy the three-bin system for the collection of mixed dry recyclables, organic waste and residual waste.

- In larger apartment schemes, consideration should also be given to the provision of separate collection facilities for other recyclables such as glass and plastics

Under planning legislation, the decision as to whether to grant permission on a planning application, with or without conditions, is a matter for the relevant planning authority or the Board on appeal or in the case of a strategic housing development.

In making decisions on a planning application, a planning authority, or the Board as appropriate, must consider the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, having regard to the provisions of the development plan, any submissions or observations received from the public and the statutory consultees, and any relevant Ministerial or Government policies, including any guidelines issued by my Department.

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (58)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

58. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if there are circumstances in which persons that have lost their home due to Celtic tiger era mortgage distress and that have exited a personal insolvency agreement could apply and secure a Rebuilding Ireland home loan. [33987/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Applicants for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan must be of good credit standing and have a satisfactory credit record. The Housing Agency provides a central credit assessment service to local authorities and credit checks are undertaken as part of the credit assessment process. The final decision on loan approval is a matter for the relevant local authority and its credit committee on a case-by-case basis. Decisions on all housing loan applications must be made in accordance with the statutory credit policy, that underpins the scheme, in order to ensure prudence and consistency in approaches in the best interests of both borrowers and the lending local authorities.

As with the previous local authority home loan offerings, the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan is available to first time buyers only. This is to ensure the effective targeting of limited resources, and I have no plans to amend this requirement.

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