Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar
Gnáthamharc

Tuesday, 1 Jun 2021

Written Answers Nos. 132-157

Commemorative Events

Ceisteanna (132)

Patricia Ryan

Ceist:

132. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Taoiseach his plans for the national day of commemoration in July 2021. [29067/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

This year the National Day of Commemoration will take place in the National Museum of Ireland, Decorative Arts and History, Collins Barracks on Sunday, 11th July. The Ceremony ‘in honour of all those Irishmen and Irishwomen who died in past wars or on service with the United Nations’ will be broadcast live by RTE and will include a multi-faith service of prayer, military ceremonial and a wreath laying by the President. The numbers in attendance will be in line with Covid-19 restrictions to ensure the health and safety of all.

Data Protection

Ceisteanna (133)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

133. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Taoiseach the nature of the data breaches experienced by his Department since 2018. [29316/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

There were no data breaches identified within my Department since the GDPR took effect in 2018.

Central Statistics Office

Ceisteanna (134)

Duncan Smith

Ceist:

134. Deputy Duncan Smith asked the Taoiseach the reason the Central Statistics Office is no longer publishing annual statistics derived from marriage registrations which it gathers (details supplied). [29349/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

The CSO continues to publish, annually, statistics on marriages that occur in Ireland. The statistics are derived from marriages that were registered with the General Register Office (GRO) for the relevant year. The most recent Marriages publication was for the year 2020 and was disseminated on the 30 April 2021. Please see Table 13 Marriages of opposite-sex couples registered in 2020 celebrated in each county and city classified by form of ceremony and Table 13A Same-sex marriages registered in 2020 celebrated in each county and city classified by form of ceremony hereunder and the link to this publication:

Table 13 Marriages of opposite-sex couples registered in 2020 celebrated in each county and city classified by form of ceremony

Province, county or city

Catholic

Church of Ireland

Presbyterian

The Spiritualist Union of Ireland

Other religious denominations

Civil marriages

The Humanist Association

Total

Total

3,295

114

20

614

686

3,779

701

9,209

Leinster

1,341

68

4

386

429

2,456

404

5,088

Carlow

66

5

6

7

53

11

148

Dublin City

177

8

42

101

1,387

145

1,860

South Dublin

65

1

1

57

40

4

6

174

Fingal

65

21

39

15

24

164

Dún Laoghaire-

Rathdown

64

12

23

15

8

18

140

Kildare

114

8

48

46

165

24

405

Kilkenny

107

3

10

15

78

10

223

Laois

79

4

6

11

21

5

126

Longford

36

1

26

63

Louth

80

1

15

31

157

17

301

Meath

171

5

2

73

43

86

58

438

Offaly

56

2

7

9

31

4

109

Westmeath

70

15

24

62

16

187

Wexford

115

5

26

16

126

10

298

Wicklow

76

14

37

32

237

56

452

Munster

1,066

26

131

187

736

240

2,386

Clare

138

11

46

6

29

230

Cork City

77

1

9

21

274

19

401

Cork County

302

13

52

57

41

73

538

Kerry

175

3

28

23

102

28

359

Limerick City

29

1

3

106

18

157

Limerick County

127

4

7

7

8

23

176

Tipperary

149

2

11

7

83

25

277

Waterford City

20

2

5

5

65

7

104

Waterford County

49

1

7

18

51

18

144

Connacht

564

9

53

45

396

36

1,103

Galway City

61

1

4

14

19

10

109

Galway County

159

1

8

15

202

13

398

Leitrim

42

1

1

3

8

2

57

Mayo

191

1

18

7

64

5

286

Roscommon

48

8

3

31

90

Sligo

63

5

14

3

72

6

163

Ulster (part of)

324

11

16

44

25

191

21

632

Cavan

93

6

1

17

13

71

10

211

Donegal

164

5

10

20

5

91

5

300

Monaghan

67

5

7

7

29

6

121

Regional Authorities

Border

429

17

16

59

31

271

29

852

Midland

241

7

28

44

140

25

485

West

459

3

38

39

316

28

883

Dublin

371

21

1

143

195

1,414

193

2,338

Mid-East

441

27

3

173

152

645

155

1,596

Mid-West

443

6

30

63

203

95

840

South-East

357

16

54

61

373

56

917

South-West

554

17

89

101

417

120

1,298

Table 13A Same-sex marriages registered in 2020 celebrated in each county and city classified by form of ceremony Form of ceremony

Province, county or city

Civil marriages

The Humanist Association

The Spiritualist Union of Ireland

Other religious denominations

Total

Total

228

38

27

21

314

Leinster

163

22

18

11

214

Carlow

3

1

4

Dublin City

121

13

3

3

140

South Dublin

1

4

5

Fingal

1

1

2

4

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

1

1

1

3

Kildare

10

1

2

13

Kilkenny

2

2

4

Laois

3

3

Longford

Louth

5

1

1

1

8

Meath

3

2

1

6

Offaly

3

3

Westmeath

4

2

6

Wexford

1

1

2

4

Wicklow

7

2

2

11

Munster

27

14

4

8

53

Clare

2

3

5

Cork City

16

1

1

1

19

Cork County

2

3

1

6

Kerry

3

4

1

1

9

Limerick City

1

1

Limerick County

1

1

1

3

Tipperary

2

1

3

Waterford City

2

1

3

Waterford County

1

2

1

4

Connacht

23

1

3

2

29

Galway City

2

1

2

5

Galway County

14

14

Leitrim

Mayo

1

1

1

3

Roscommon

1

1

Sligo

5

1

6

Ulster (part of)

15

1

2

18

Cavan

1

1

2

Donegal

12

1

13

Monaghan

2

1

3

Regional Authorities

Border

20

1

3

24

Midland

10

2

12

West

18

1

2

2

23

Dublin

122

16

8

6

152

Mid-East

25

3

5

5

38

Mid-West

3

3

1

5

12

South-East

9

6

4

19

South-West

21

8

2

3

34

www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-mar/marriages2020/

Protected Disclosures

Ceisteanna (135)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

135. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Taoiseach the number of protected disclosures made to his Department in each of the past five years and to date in 2021. [29642/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

My Department has received no protected disclosures from serving or former staff of the Department during the period in question.

Data Protection

Ceisteanna (136)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

136. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 164 and 165 of 20 May 2021, the extent of contacts Irish officials have made with the officials or elected representatives in the US administration in relation to the drafting of a Bill that targets jurisdictions with inadequate enforcement of data protection law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29094/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

The PQs referred to by the Deputy relate to issues on the enforcement of data protection law in this jurisdiction. I have no direct responsibility for the enforcement of data protection law.

I am not in a position to comment on draft legislation in a separate jurisdiction. Having made enquiries, my officials inform me that our embassy in Washington is aware of the draft legislation and is monitoring it. If the Deputy has further questions he can raise them with the Department of Justice. 

Workplace Relations Commission

Ceisteanna (137)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

137. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 201 of 31 March 2021, the breakdown of the counties in which the reported breaches in employment law uncovered by the Workplace Relations Commission investigations took place in each of the years reported by number of breaches and by county in tabular form. [29134/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) is an independent, statutory body under the aegis of my Department, established on 1st October 2015 under the Workplace Relations Act 2015. The WRC’s primary functions include the inspection of employment law compliance, the provision of information on employment law, mediation, adjudication, conciliation, facilitation, and advisory services.

Inspections carried out by WRC Inspectors operate on a compliance model. This means that an inspector will work with the employer to ensure that the employer fulfils all their statutory obligations and that any outstanding wages or entitlements are given to workers.

Table 1 sets out the breakdown of breaches by county for 2020 and 2019 from the current case management system. It is not possible to provide the information for earlier years due to decommissioning of a previous system. 

County

2019

2020

Carlow

40

50

Cavan

22

46

Clare

61

55

Cork

26

85

Donegal

45

143

Dublin

250

614

Galway

128

96

Kerry

35

68

Kildare

146

335

Kilkenny

45

81

Laois

36

76

Leitrim

27

7

Limerick

118

95

Longford

33

43

Louth

53

197

Mayo

87

82

Meath

68

172

Monaghan

25

65

Offaly

76

148

Roscommon

34

40

Sligo

16

10

Tipperary

59

190

Waterford

14

103

Westmeath

119

179

Wexford

196

316

Wicklow

167

317

TOTAL

1926

3613

Vaccination Programme

Ceisteanna (138)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

138. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if there is a protocol or instruction to employers to facilitate employees with time off in order to attend for Covid-19 vaccination; his views on reports of some employers insisting that employees must make the vaccine appointments at their own expense and that in some cases this is proving to act as a deterrent against getting vaccinated; his views on whether this is a dangerous practice; the steps he will take to ensure a proper protocol for employers in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29150/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

From the outset of Covid-19, many employers have taken the initiative in line with subsequent requests from the Government to be as flexible and as accommodating as possible with their staff.  Employers have a general duty of care towards their workers and that care is often expressed in the form of understanding, compromise and flexibility.

COVID-19 vaccinations are an extremely important public health measure in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in the community and in workplaces. There is no provision under occupational safety and health legislation to obligate employers to give employees time-off to avail of COVID-19 vaccinations. However, employers should bear in mind that in offering employees time off to facilitate COVID-19 vaccinations they are, in fact, ensuring that the greatest level of workplace safety against COVID-19 can be maintained in their business.  Facilitating workers to avail of COVID-19 vaccination appointments will greatly assist in the recovery of individual businesses and of the wider economy.

I would encourage employees to engage with their employer in the first instance once they are assigned a vaccination appointment to explore all options available to enable them to receive the vaccination should it fall during working time. I would also encourage all employers to be as flexible and supportive as possible with a view to maintaining good employment relationships over the long term.

Employers are obliged to take reasonable steps to provide a safe place of work for their staff. In circumstances where employers fail to consider any of the reasonable options, an employee may have recourse to pursue a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2015, the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 or the Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2015.

 

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (139)

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

139. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he has evaluated the scope of the successful exporting sectors to provide opportunities for redeployment of workers displaced by Covid-19; and if specific initiatives are being evolved to identify such opportunities and to develop programmes to support transition of workers to them. [29188/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

In building towards recovery, it must be recognised that not all previous jobs will return, while capacity constraints may emerge in other areas.  Fundamentally, the Government’s labour market approach is  about developing people and their potential through opportunities to reskill and upskill and supporting individuals to secure and remain in sustainable and quality employment. This will include supporting people to transition to new jobs in growing sectors of the economy.

We have a responsive national skills architecture, which monitors and identifies skills needs across the economy and informs provision for upskilling or reskilling across the education and training system.  The Economic Recovery Plan published today outlines plans to further strengthen Ireland’s Skills Framework and architecture to ensure our skills approach is routed areas of opportunity and growth. This will include a comprehensive review of Ireland’s skills strategies and approaches, including the National Skills Strategy 2016-2025; developing a web-based “Skills Platform”, for upskilling and reskilling opportunities; and developing Ireland’s Pact for Skills, between businesses and government, to ensure those with low and no qualifications are not excluded from employment.

Upskilling and reskilling supports are delivered through a range of education and training programmes informed by this labour market and skills intelligence, which are funded through the National Training Fund. These include Skillnet Ireland, the Higher Education Authority’s Springboard+ programme, apprenticeships, and digital upskilling programmes. The National Training Fund is also supporting an annual €60 million investment in the Higher Education system, through the Human Capital Initiative.

Through the agencies and initiatives mentioned above my Department and the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science will continue to ensure that there is a successful alignment of education and reskilling opportunities with employment opportunities in growth and emerging sectors to enable transitioning and redeployment of workers displaced by Covid-19, and other disruptive trends and structural shifts accelerated by the pandemic.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (140)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

140. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a person (details supplied) will be advised in relation to matters raised in correspondence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29201/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

As you are aware the Government has put in place a comprehensive package to help businesses and workers during the pandemic, including the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), the small business assistance scheme for COVID (SBASC), low-cost loans, the deferral and warehousing of tax liabilities and the waiver of commercial rates.

Budget 2021 provided a significant package of tax and expenditure measures to build the resilience of the economy and to help vulnerable but viable businesses across all sectors. Details of the wide range of supports available are on my Department’s website. 

I am acutely aware of the difficulties SME's have faced and continue to face due to this pandemic.  The SBASC scheme has been expanded and will now take into account businesses who do not pay rates and those businesses with a turnover of less than €50,000.  Details of Phase 2 of this scheme are being finalised and will be open for applications in early June, with a closing date of 21st July. 

Further details of these schemes including all eligibility criteria will shortly be available on my Department's website www.enterprise .gov.ie and on Local Authority websites. 

Social Media

Ceisteanna (141)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

141. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his Department will be taking on the advice offered by a person (details supplied); and his plans to make a statement in support of the workers and their families. [29234/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

I would like to re-assure the Deputy that I am aware of the genuine concerns of social media content moderators. I have previously met with them, and their representatives, and I have also raised their concerns with one of the primary social media companies, on whose behalf content moderation work is carried out.  

It must be emphasised that there is already, in Ireland, a strong legislative regime to protect all workers in terms of their working conditions, including work-related health and safety, as well as their terms and conditions of employment.  

The suite of workplace health and safety legislation is designed to prevent and mitigate against work-related accidents and injuries. Social media content moderators should be treated by an employer in the same way as any other worker potentially exposed to work related hazards. This means that the employer must ensure that appropriate training is provided and must carry out a robust risk assessment with a particular focus on the potential hazards arising from work activities. Where a particular hazard is identified that may require subsequent monitoring it must be included in the written Safety Statement, and the relevant worker must be made aware of the hazard and the associated monitoring that is in place.  

I would also point out that there is provision in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005, to ensure that an employer cannot penalise, or threaten to penalise, an employee who makes a complaint or a representation on any matter relating to health and safety at work. Any worker concerned for their health and safety can contact the Health and Safety Authority’s Workplace Contact Unit in confidence.  

While the Health and Safety Authority is independent in the carrying out of investigations into complaints that it receives, I am aware that the Health and Safety Authority continues to engage with the Social Media sector to reiterate their duties under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and to establish what control measures are in place to address the risks arising from the specific nature of the work of content moderators. On assessing the control measures the Health and Safety Authority will be able to determine whether further advice or guidance is necessary for employers and employees in that sector.  

In addition, employment rights legislation protects all employees who are legally employed on a contract of service basis. Where an individual believes they are being deprived of employment rights they can bring a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) which is mandated to secure compliance with employment rights legislation. The WRC can be contacted at www.workplacerelations.ie .  

Non-Disclosure Agreements should not and cannot be used to prevent content moderators from raising issues of concern around their working conditions and/or health and safety concerns. We have robust legislative protection for all workers in Ireland who wish to raise legitimate concerns without repercussion.

Separately, I would add that my colleague, Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, is currently advancing a regulatory framework which will deal with on-line safety and which will include the establishment of an Online Safety Commissioner.

Data Protection

Ceisteanna (142)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

142. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the nature of the data breaches experienced by his Department since 2018. [29306/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

It is not clear whether the Deputy is referring to cyber security breaches or more generally to personal data breaches under the GDPR, which would include the inadvertent disclosure of personal data to third parties. 

Since 2018 there have been no cyber security breaches of ICT systems directly controlled and managed by my Department. In that period, there was one incident where an externally hosted static website associated with the work of my Department was compromised. The website in question is not hosted by my Department and there was no risk to the Department's ICT infrastructure arising from this breach.  The matter was fully resolved in accordance with good cyber security practice.

Since the introduction of the GDPR on 25th May 2018 to date, 12 personal data breaches have occurred in my Department and 43 personal data breaches have occurred in the Offices* under its aegis.  The nature of all of these personal data breaches has involved the accidental disclosure of personal data to third parties as a result of administrative or human error.

The decision to report personal data breaches to the Data Protection Commission is a matter for our Data Protection Officer, who is an independent appointed officer, following a full risk analysis of the details pertaining to each personal data breach case. As a result of the mitigation actions that were put in place to protect the privacy rights and freedoms of the affected individuals, the Data Protection Commission were satisfied that no further action was required.

Since 2020, the number of personal data breaches that have occurred in my Department and in the Offices under its aegis has been reduced by more than 50% compared to 2019, as a result of targeted breach prevention training for staff that has been delivered by our Data Protection Officer and the enhancement of administrative protocols in business areas with high levels of personal data processing.  

*The Offices under the aegis of my Department include the Workplace Relations Commission; the Labour Court; the Companies Registration Office incorporating the Registry of Friendly Societies and the Register of Beneficial Ownership; the Intellectual Property Office of Ireland; and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (143)

Paul Donnelly

Ceist:

143. Deputy Paul Donnelly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the status of the Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Bill 2018. [29332/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

The Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Bill is a legislative priority for this session. This legislation has been in development since the Government adopted the package of Measures to Enhance Ireland’s Corporate, Economic and Regulatory Framework in October 2017. The package included the action to establish the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement as an independent company law compliance and enforcement agency.

The General Scheme of the Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Bill 2018 was published on December 4th, 2018.  My Department worked with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel on the drafting of the Bill and the Director was consulted on the draft legislation on an ongoing basis.

Pre-legislative scrutiny on the General Scheme of the Bill had not concluded at the time of the dissolution of the last Dáil and began again in December 2020. The Director of the Office of Corporate Enforcement attended the Committee on 22nd January and I attended the Joint Committee with the Tánaiste on 29th January 2021.

The Joint Committee published its report and recommendations on the General Scheme of the Bill on 20th April 2021. These are being reviewed in the Department and it is intended to revert to Government with a stamped Bill before the Summer.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (144)

Jennifer Whitmore

Ceist:

144. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will consider establishing a direct helpline for small businesses navigating the reopening of the economy as the country emerges from the current pandemic; the additional supports he plans to introduce to assist small businesses transitioning out of level 5; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29491/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 my Department established a dedicated Business Supports Call Centre to provide information to business owners seeking assistance following the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic. It assisted businesses in identifying the relevant business supports for which they are eligible and directing businesses on how and where to access grants, loans, mentoring, training and advice provisions. The Centre has a dedicated phone number and email address.

In November 2020 in recognition of the success of this vital resource for businesses, the role of the Business Support Call Centre was expanded and renamed the Enterprise Information Centre.  The Enterprise Information Centre provides a central point of contact within my Department for businesses to be provided with information about, and signposted to, the range of services and assistance available from my Department, its Offices and Agencies.

The Enterprise Information Centre advises callers on where to find relevant information on the Gov.ie website. It provides up-to-date information on the enhanced financial measures that Government have put in place as the country emerges from the current pandemic.  It can be contacted by telephone at 353 1 631 2002 and by email at infobusinesssupport@enterprise.gov.ie

The Government has put in place a comprehensive package to help businesses and workers during the pandemic, including the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), the small business assistance scheme for COVID (SBASC), low-cost loans, the deferral and warehousing of tax liabilities and the waiver of commercial rates. Details of the wide range of supports available are on my Department’s website  Government supports for COVID-19 impacted businesses - DETE (enterprise.gov.ie)

The SBASC scheme will soon take into account businesses who do not pay rates and also businesses that have a turnover below €50,000.  Phase 2 of this scheme will be open for applications in early June, with a closing date of 21st July.  Further details of the scheme including all eligibility criteria will shortly be available on my Department's website www.enterprise.gov.ie and on Local Authority websites.   However, businesses who were in receipt of CRSS on or after 1 January 2021 will not be eligible for SBASC, which was introduced to assist businesses who were not eligible for CRSS.

These measures demonstrate the Government’s commitment to the survival of viable enterprises. Work is ongoing across Government to ensure the supports which will be in place over the coming months are sufficient, targeted and sustainable. Details on these supports are being announced as part of our Economic Recovery Plan.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (145)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

145. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when the second phase of the small business assistance scheme for Covid will open. [29493/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

The second phase of the small business assistance scheme for COVID (SBASC) will be open for applications from early June, with a closing date of 21st July.  Local Authorities will once again be administering this scheme. 

Protected Disclosures

Ceisteanna (146)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

146. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of protected disclosures made to his Department in each of the past five years and to date in 2021. [29632/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

The table attached sets out the number of protected disclosures made to my Department in each of the past five years and to date in 2021.  I am informed by my officials that in four of these, the matters raised were not the subject of areas of responsibility of the Department and had been also separately raised with the relevant Government Department. 

The nature of the protected disclosures related to operational issues of the Department and its Offices. 

The Act imposes an obligation to protect the identity of the discloser and in this regard information cannot be given on individuals who have made disclosures.

2016

4

2017

3

2018

1

2019

2

2020

2

To date 2021

0

Foreign Direct Investment

Question No. 148 answered with Question No. 147.

Ceisteanna (147, 148)

Johnny Guirke

Ceist:

147. Deputy Johnny Guirke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if the IDA has employed an Israeli based business development consultant for a new office in Israel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29725/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Johnny Guirke

Ceist:

148. Deputy Johnny Guirke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the estimated amount it will cost to set up IDA office space in Israel; the estimated cost of this operation in the region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29726/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 147 and 148 together.

IDA Ireland do not intend to set up an office in Israel.

A request for tender for a part-time Israel based Business Development Consultant was issued on 26 April 2021. The Business Development Consultant will be expected to identify Israeli-headquartered companies with potential for investing in Ireland.

IDA Ireland has not yet awarded the Tender for a Part-time Consultant in Israel. As this procurement competition is ongoing, the IDA is not able to release the estimated view on the budget for this part-time Consultant.

Ireland’s position on the illegality of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory informs our engagement with the State of Israel across a range of bilateral issues, including trade, and will continue to do so.

Ireland consistently raises human rights issues in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory at the highest international levels, including most recently at the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

As an Agency of my Department, I expect IDA Ireland to act in line with Government policy and the Agency has assured me that this is the case. IDA Ireland respects obligations under Irish and International law. Ireland remains steadfast in its support for a comprehensive two state solution which protects the future of both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.

IDA Ireland has advised my Department that it will be guided by all aspects of the recently published Guidance for Business Enterprises by my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, when appointing a business development consultant in any territory.

Question No. 148 answered with Question No. 147.

Trade Data

Ceisteanna (149)

Johnny Guirke

Ceist:

149. Deputy Johnny Guirke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the annual level in financial terms of import and export trade between Ireland and Israeli businesses in the occupied territories of Palestine in each of the years 2011 to 2020, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29727/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

The Central Statistics Office compiles statistical data in relation to Goods Exports and Imports. Statistics are collated in relation to the overall value of trade between Ireland and the Occupied Palestinian Territory; statistics are not available in relation to import and export trade with individual businesses.

In the period 2011–2020, the annual value of goods exports from Ireland to the Occupied Palestinian Territory grew from €691,000 in 2011 and stood at €1.85 million in 2020.  The main goods exported to Occupied Palestinian Territory from Ireland are Infant formula and Medical & Pharmaceutical Products. 

 

Year

Value of Ireland’s Goods Exports to Occupied Palestinian Territory €’000

2011

691

2012

330

2013

224

2014

4,917

2015

6,931

2016

9,282

2017

7,594

2018

8,303

2019

8,354

2020

1,859

In the period 2011–2020, the annual value of goods imports from Occupied Palestinian Territory to Ireland has fluctuated from its highest value of €89,000 in 2012.  In 2020, the value of goods imports from Occupied Palestinian Territory to Ireland was valued at €65,000, comprising imports of dates and cotton. 

 

Year

Value of Ireland’s Goods Imports from Occupied Palestinian Territory €’000

2011

52

2012

89

2013

58

2014

4

2015

0

2016

9

2017

0

2018

7

2019

0

2020

65

 

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (150)

Johnny Guirke

Ceist:

150. Deputy Johnny Guirke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if an employer will be required to pay an employee outstanding holiday entitlement even though the business was closed down and employees were in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29728/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 sets out the key parameters around the taking of annual leave and payment of same.  The terms and conditions of individual employment contracts may provide additional specifics within those parameters such as stipulations in relation to the entitlement to extra days' leave above what is statutorily required by the Act.

Section 19 of the Act provides that an employee shall be entitled to paid annual leave equal to:

(a) 4 working weeks in a leave year in which he or she works at least 1,365 hours (unless it is a leave year in which he or she changes employment),

(b) One third of a working week for each month in the leave year in which he or she works at least 117 hours, or

(c) 8 per cent of the hours he or she works in a leave year (but subject to a maximum of 4 weeks).

A person must be fully unemployed to qualify for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and have lost their employment due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  If an employee is in receipt of PUP, they are not in a position to accrue annual leave.  Employees are also not in a position to accrue annual leave during a period of temporary lay-off.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (151)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

151. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the grants in place to help businesses with the cost of restocking (detail supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29748/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

A significant package of tax and expenditure measures to build the resilience of the economy and to help vulnerable but viable businesses across all sectors was introduced in Budget 2021.

Government acknowledges the importance of ongoing supports such as the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme and Covid-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) to businesses and the role played by grant schemes such as the Restart Grants, the Small Business Assistance Scheme for Covid and the various sectoral supports administered by relevant Departments.

The CRSS has provided vital support to businesses that have been forced to close or restrict access to their premises on foot of public health regulations. As we start to reopen the economy, the Government has agreed to the extension of the CRSS until 30th  of June 2021.

Any business currently availing of CRSS and that can now reopen as restrictions are eased will be able to avail of double restart week payments for two weeks subject to the statutory maximum of €5,000 per week to support them in meeting the costs of reopening as they exit the scheme.

My Department has made loan supports available to businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19. These include schemes to support businesses as they look toward reopening.

The COVID-19 Business Loan provides up to €25,000 to eligible micro-enterprises through Microfinance Ireland with zero repayments and zero interest for the first six months and the equivalent of an additional six-months interest-free, subject to certain terms and conditions.

The COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme makes lending available from participating lenders to eligible businesses. Loans available under the scheme range from €25,000 to €1.5 million and are for terms of up to three years. Loans are offered at favourable terms, including a maximum interest rate of 4% and no security on loans of up to €500,000.  This scheme is available to SMEs and small mid-caps (businesses of up to 499 employees).

The Government are committed that there will be no cliff-edge end to the economic supports at the end of June. Government recognises that re-opening will be costly and will pose new challenges that will need to be sustained by continued supports and corrective measures to get the balance right between supporting recovery and cost to the Exchequer and plans for this are currently in development. Details on these supports will be announced as part of our National Economic Recovery Plan which will be published in early June.

Trade Agreements

Question No. 153 answered with Question No. 152.

Ceisteanna (152, 153)

Matt Carthy

Ceist:

152. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the consultants that have been commissioned to carry out an economic and sustainability impact assessment into the EU-Mercosur trade agreement; the amount that they will be paid for this work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29760/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Matt Carthy

Ceist:

153. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when he expects that economic and sustainability impact assessment into the EU-Mercosur trade agreement to be completed; his plans release it to the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29761/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 152 and 153 together.

The Economic and Sustainability Impact Assessment of the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement was commissioned by my Department through an open competitive tender process. The Request for Tender was published on the eTenders website and in the Official Journal of the European Union in December 2019. Five bids were received for the tender and following evaluation by the selection committee from my Department and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the contract was awarded to Implement Consulting Group. The value of this contract is €199,500 plus VAT.

The Deputy will recall that this particular Economic and Sustainability Impact Assessment consists of two important and complementary components, namely a comprehensive analysis of the potential economic benefits as well as a robust sustainability impact assessment including social, human rights and environmental impacts that the Trade Agreement could have in Ireland and the Mercosur countries of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. As such, it is a considerable undertaking, which, unfortunately, has necessitated us running beyond the Q1 2021 deadline by which we had hoped to have the finalised report considered by Government and published.

As previously reported to the House, the detailed research and stakeholder consultations are concluded, and I have been informed that drafting of the actual Report itself is well advanced such that the Report is expected to be received by my Department in the coming weeks. It will be published as soon as possible after consideration by Government.

Question No. 153 answered with Question No. 152.

Cybersecurity Policy

Ceisteanna (154)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

154. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will report on the implementation of the measures set out in the National Cyber Security Strategy. [29589/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

An inter-Departmental Committee chaired by my Department oversees the implementation of the National Cyber Security Strategy 2019 - 2024. The Committee meets quarterly to review progress. Good progress is being made in delivering the 20 measures identified in the five-year strategy, with 6 measures completed by Q1 of this year. The majority of the other 14 measures are multi-year actions.

Delivery of the overall strategy is dependent on progress made with respect to the capacity review envisaged by the strategy. That capacity review, which is being conducted by expert international consultants, is due to report in the current quarter and will inform decisions to be taken on the future organisation and resourcing of the NCSC to enable it to continue to deliver on its mandate.

Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (155)

Seán Canney

Ceist:

155. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will amend the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021 to ring-fence targets for biogenic methane produced from agriculture; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29211/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021 sets a target for Ireland of net zero GHG emissions no later than 2050, with an interim target of a 51% reduction, relative to 2018, to be achieved by 2030. However, it does not set targets for individual sectors or types of emissions. In this regard, the Bill provides for the Climate Change Advisory Council to devise and propose a series of 5-year carbon budgets. These budgets will define a pathway to meet Ireland's national emissions targets. When these budgets are approved, the Government will then set sectoral emissions ceilings based on the budgets and devise Climate Action Plans to implement the budgets.

 In this way, the targets for individual sectors and types of emissions will take account of the most recent national greenhouse gas emissions inventory and projections, prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency; relevant scientific advice, including the distinct characteristics of biogenic methane; international best practice on the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals and, in so far as practicable, the need to maximise employment, the attractiveness of the State for investment and the long term competitiveness of the economy. They will also have regard to climate justice.

Environmental Policy

Ceisteanna (156)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Ceist:

156. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if his attention has been drawn to the serious concerns of the local community in the Inishowen peninsula, County Donegal at plans for gold mining in the area; and if he will not grant any permission for such mining to proceed. [29123/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

The licence application referred to is for a renewal of a prospecting licence, not a mining licence. A prospecting licence relates to the activity of prospecting (exploring) for minerals and does not, if granted, give a licence holder permission to mine. All prospecting licence applications, including renewals, are subject to public consultation giving all stakeholders and local communities an opportunity to make an input. Where a licence holder seeks to have a licence renewed, the application is evaluated by the Geoscience Regulation Office of my Department. Where renewal is proposed, a renewal offer is made to the holder, setting out the terms and area of the prospecting licence. If the holder accepts the offer, legislation requires 21 days’ public notice of the Minister’s intention to renew a prospecting licence and for the receipt of any submissions. In practice the Minister allows for a 30 days’ notice period. Notification is given through a printed notice in the newspaper that is most relevant to the prospecting licence area under consideration. The Minister’s Intention to Grant Notices is also sent for public display to the appropriate Garda station(s), local authority office(s) and the Geological Survey Ireland.

Additional information on the process of granting prospecting licences and making submissions is available online on my Department's website.

Broadband Infrastructure

Ceisteanna (157)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

157. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications when effective and efficient high-speed broadband will be provided to a person (details supplied); his plans for upgrade of connection in this area given same is required for work and educational purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29138/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

The Question refers to a premises located in the AMBER area on the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map which is available on my Department's website www.broadband.gov.ie. The AMBER area represents the area to be served by the network to be deployed under the NBP State led intervention. I appreciate people's frustration when they are living so close to a fibre network but cannot get a connection to that network, particularly given the heightened importance of connectivity during the Covid-19 pandemic. The NBP will ensure that in all such cases a future-proofed high speed broadband network will be built to serve these premises and work to deliver on this is underway. 

I am advised by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) that, as of 27 May 2021, over 220,000 premises across all counties have been surveyed. Surveys are complete or underway in County Kildare in Killashee, Oughterard, Naas Rural, Rathmore, Kill, Kilteel, Carnalway, Gilltown, Ballymore Eustace, Bodenstown, Naas Urban, Newtown, Donaghcumper, Athy, Coneyboro, Aughaboura, Ballinapark, Castlemitchell, Bert, Kilberry, Kilkea, Leixlip, Celbridge and Maynooth.

Further details are available on specific areas within County Kildare through the NBI website which provides a facility for any premises within the intervention area to register their interest in being provided with deployment updates through its website www.nbi.ie . Individuals who register with this facility will receive regular updates on progress by NBI on delivering the network and specific updates related to their own premises as works commence. I am advised that NBI is working to provide more detail on its website, with a rolling update on network build plans. NBI also has a dedicated email address, reps@nbi.ie, which can be used by Oireachtas members for specific queries.

Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) are a key element of the NBP providing high speed broadband in every county in advance of the roll out of the fibre to the home network. As of 27 May, 317 BCP sites have been installed by NBI and the high speed broadband service will be switched on in these locations through service provider contracts managed by the Department of Rural and Community Development for publicly accessible sites and the Department of Education for school BCPs. BCP’s are installed at Crookstown Further Education and Training and Community Centre, Lullymore Heritage Park and Bigstone Community Hall. Further details can be found at nbi.ie/bcp-locations/ . 

Rathmore National School and Saint David's National School have been connected by NBI for educational access. My Department continues to work with the Department of Education to prioritise schools with no high speed broadband, within the Intervention Area, for connection over the term of the NBP. In this regard, an acceleration of this aspect of the National Broadband Plan was announced in December which will see some 679 primary schools connected to high speed broadband by 2022, well ahead of the original target delivery timeframe of 2026.  Further details are available on the NBI website at nbi.ie/primary-schools-list/ .

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