Header Item Written Answers Nos. 359-381
 Header Item Illness Benefit Appeals
 Header Item Jobseeker's Allowance
 Header Item Trade Data
 Header Item Passport Services
 Header Item Passport Services
 Header Item Trade Agreements
 Header Item Human Rights
 Header Item Council of Europe
 Header Item Foreign Conflicts
 Header Item North-South Ministerial Council
 Header Item Passport Data
 Header Item Office of Public Works Staff
 Header Item Public Appointments Service
 Header Item Flood Prevention Measures
 Header Item Flooding Data
 Header Item Public Sector Pensions
 Header Item Drainage Schemes
 Header Item Drainage Schemes
 Header Item Secret Service

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 951 No. 3
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 84 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 359-381

Illness Benefit Appeals

 359. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar when arrears in respect of illness benefit will be paid to a person (details supplied) who was awarded same at a social welfare appeals meeting the result of which was conveyed to the person on 24 February 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24735/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Illness Benefit is a payment for persons who are unable to work due to illness and who satisfy certain PRSI contribution conditions. During the course of a claim a person can be referred for examination by one of my Department’s Medical Assessors to ensure that the conditions for receipt of the payment continue to be satisfied.

  Illness Benefit was disallowed in respect of the period from 1 March 2015 to 8 March 2016 as it was held that it had not been proven that the person concerned was incapable of work. The person concerned had failed to attend a medical examination with one of my Department’s Medical Assessors. The decision was appealed and, following a revised decision by the independent Appeals Office, the appeal has been allowed. Arrears due will be issued this week.

  The Department regrets the delay in the payment of the arrears.

Jobseeker's Allowance

 360. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of persons aged 25 years of age currently on a reduced rate of jobseeker's allowance who had previously been on a full rate under the care leaver exemption; the number of care leavers that are transiting to a reduced rate at the age of 25 each month for the 12 months April 2016 to April 2017; and the number of persons that are newly exempted from reduced rate by virtue of leaving care in the 12 months April 2016 to April 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24751/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The information requested by the Deputy is not captured by the information systems of my Department. However, the department will revert to you in due course with an estimate in response to your question.

Trade Data

 361. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the amount of trade with Western Sahara per annum in each of the years 2010 to 2016; if all products coming from Western Sahara since the European Court of Justice ruling of 21 December 2016 have entered Ireland under the international organisation for standardisation code for Western Sahara and not the Moroccan code; and if these products have not benefitted from the EU Morocco preferential tariff when applicable. [24114/17]

 362. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if Ireland has opposed the European Commission's efforts to renegotiate a protocol with Morocco which includes Western Sahara, a territory that is outside its internationally recognised borders, in view of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling of 21 December 2016 in a case (details supplied); and if Ireland inquired into the way in which the European Commission plans to get this consent of the persons of Western Sahara living in the liberated zone and in the refugee camps in order to create a new protocol, in view of the fact that the ECJ ruling requires the consent of the persons from Western Sahara for economic activities related to this territory.  [24115/17]

 363. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if his attention has been drawn to the European Commission's efforts to renegotiate a protocol with Morocco; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that the EU Morocco Association agreement states that the certificates required to establish the place of origin shall be issued by the customs authorities of the exporting country; if he has enquired into which customs authority will be responsible for products coming from Western Sahara; and if he has enquired into the way in which Morocco acting in its sovereign capacity can deliver certificates of origin in relation to products originating in a territory located outside of its international borders. [24116/17]

 364. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if his attention has been drawn to the European Commission's efforts to renegotiate a protocol with Morocco; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that Western Sahara is closed to independent international observers and to journalists; if he has inquired into the way in which the Commission will monitor the implementation of a revised agreement; if the European Commission is planning on relying on information provided by the Moroccan government; and his views on whether such information provided by the Moroccan government in this case can be trusted.  [24117/17]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I propose to take Questions Nos. 361 to 364, inclusive, together.

  Trade figures are available from the Central Statistics Office. I am not aware that separate statistics are kept for the Western Sahara. Trade statistics normally relate to where goods are imported from, not necessarily to ultimate point of origin. Furthermore, it is likely that the volume and value of goods from Western Sahara imported to Ireland would be tiny.

  Rules for entry of products are set at EU level. Trade policy is a matter for the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, and monitoring of rules for entry is a matter largely for that Department and the Customs Service.

  Ireland considers Western Sahara to be a non-self-governing territory, which is currently largely occupied and administered by Morocco. While Ireland supports the right to self-determination of the people of the territory, it does not have a view on the outcome of that decision – be it independence, integration, autonomy, or some other solution – so long as it is decided in a genuine exercise of self-determination.

  The judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 21 December 2016 upheld the validity of the EU’s Association Agreement with Morocco, but stipulated that it does not apply to the territory of Western Sahara.

  As a matter of practicality, almost all goods from Western Sahara are likely to be exported to, or via, Morocco. It would not be in the interests of the farmers, fishermen and other producers of Western Sahara wishing to sell their goods abroad, if they were to be prevented from doing so due to the territory’s disputed status. However, the Court has made clear that in order for the Association Agreement and related protocols to apply to Western Sahara, the consent of the people of Western Sahara is first required. The possible renegotiation of the Association Agreement, or modification of its protocols, to provide for treatment of goods coming from Western Sahara, is currently under discussion at EU level. Given the circumstances, this is obviously a complex issue which will involve finding a way of reconciling practical   issues such as certifying the origin of goods and the monitoring of implementation with matters of principle relating to the consent of the people of Western Sahara. Any agreement entered into by the EU will have to be consistent with EU law, including the Court’s judgment of 21 December 2016.

Passport Services

 365. Deputy John Brady Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the number of passports currently being processed by the Passport Office; the current waiting time for a passport under the passport express service; the current waiting time for a passport through the regular passport application process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24123/17]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The Passport Service is currently processing almost 80,000 applications. Total applications so far this year are up over 15% on the same period in 2016. Different turnaround times apply depending on whether the applications are for passport renewal, to replace a passport that has been lost, damaged or stolen or for a passport for the first time. At present the turnaround time for Passport Express renewals is fifteen working days, in line with the service target. First-time applications and applications related to passports that have been lost, damaged or stolen take twenty two working days, or two working days over the target. Turnaround times are updated weekly and made available on my Department’s website at www.dfa.ie/passport.  While we are falling marginally behind our projected turnaround times for Passport Express applications, I believe the Passport Office is doing an impressive job considering the exceptionally high volumes of applications received in recent months.

  The Online Passport Application Service which I launched on 30 March should assist in easing pressures in the coming months. The service allows adult citizens to renew their passports online twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, from wherever they are in the world. It offers considerable benefits in terms of convenience and a turnaround time of ten working days plus postage. In reality the majority of online applications are processed before this target.

  Passport Express and the online renewal service are from now on the standard passport application processes. Most adult renewal applicants are eligible to use the online service. Given the considerable convenience and fast turnaround time it should be the default for all those who qualify. I urge all Deputies to encourage its use.

  Subject to certain terms and conditions the Passport Service can facilitate applicants who need to travel at short notice by appointment at the Passport Offices in either Cork or Dublin. Those who wish to avail of this facility must make an appointment online at www.passportappointments.ie. 

  It is vital that passport applicants select the most appropriate application channel for their circumstances at the outset and I am grateful for the continued assistance of Deputies in advising their constituents. I would also ask Deputies to promote the free email renewal reminder service for all passports holders to help ensure that they apply in good time.

Passport Services

 366. Deputy John Brady Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if mechanisms have been put in place to assist in processing passports in view of the increase in applications being received by the Passport Office; if so, the mechanisms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24124/17]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan As the Deputy will be aware, there has been a surge in passport applications in recent months. From 1 January to the end of April almost 350,000 applications had been received, representing an increase of over 20% over the same period last year. This exceptional level of demand is likely to be sustained into the summer months and my Department has put a number of measures in place to handle the exceptional volumes of applications, including increased staffing and targeted overtime. The Passport Service has recruited almost 230 temporary clerical officers in response to the seasonal demand and the more general increase in passport applications. Staff have been assigned to the Passport Office in Balbriggan, Cork and to Mount Street, Dublin. The Passport Service has also been assigned a number of permanent clerical officers over recent months. Workloads are continually re-allocated between the three Passport Offices to optimise efficiency. We will continue to keep these measures under careful review to ensure that the impact of any further increase in demand on turnaround times and service is minimised. As the Deputy will be aware, my Department is currently implementing a comprehensive passport reform programme. This encompasses a renewed and more flexible technology suite, new business processes and improved services to our applicants both at home and abroad.

The launch of the online passport application service for adult renewals on 30 March was a major milestone in the programme. It represents a very significant innovation in customer service as part of the Government’s “digital first” agenda to deliver public services online. Applicants can renew their passports from anywhere in the world via a personal computer or mobile device.

The introduction of online services allows the Passport Service to streamline the processing of adult renewal applications and removes a number of manual mechanisms including scanning and the physical transfer of paper-based passport application files. Digital applications can be processed significantly faster than paper-based applications.

The result for applicants is a faster and more predictable turnaround times and the efficiencies gained mean that more staffing resources can, over time, be redeployed towards the processing of the more complex applications, fraud and customer service. A strong take-up for online services will improve the capacity of the Passport Service to manage the large volume increases in applications that we have experienced over the past eighteen months.

I urge Deputies therefore to strongly encourage constituents who qualify to use the fast, convenient and secure online service. Applicants can renew their passports at any time and passport will be returned within two weeks plus time for postage.

Trade Agreements

 367. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the implication for the Brexit negotiations of the ECJ ruling on the trade agreement between the European Union and Singapore; the implications of this ruling in the context of the Irish negotiation position; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24195/17]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Opinion 2/15 of the European Court of Justice, issued on 16 May, is currently being analysed by relevant Government Departments, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. While the Opinion concerns the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Singapore, the Court’s conclusions as regards identifying matters of exclusive competence and matters of shared EU – Member State competence will be of relevance to other trade agreements of similar scope concluded by the EU with third countries in the future. In accordance with the Court’s Opinion, the inclusion within an agreement of provisions dealing with non-direct investment and related dispute settlement clauses would require the participation of the Member States in that agreement.

The negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship will be governed by Article 218 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) and any trading relationship must be agreed in line with Article 207 of the TFEU.

As the scope of any future EU-UK relationship is not yet known, and given that any agreement between the EU and the UK may include other areas not included in the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, the precise implications of Opinion 2/15 on that process are, at this stage, a matter of speculation.

It remains the case that if any EU trade agreement with a third country includes matters which either require unanimity within the Union, or matters within the competence of the Member States themselves, then the agreement of all Member States would be required. Furthermore, if matters falling within Member State competence are included, national ratification procedures must be completed.

This Opinion of the ECJ does not in any way change Ireland’s stated objective for the forthcoming negotiations of seeking to maintain the closest possible trading relationship, based on a level playing field, between the UK and the EU in the future.

Human Rights

 368. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the status of the efforts being made by his Department to secure the release of a person (details supplied) currently being detained without trial; the efforts being made by him and his Department to ensure this person is being treated in a fair and humane manner and that their human and legal rights are being upheld; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [24274/17]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan This consular case continues to be a top priority for the Government and very substantial resources and time are being devoted to it. In light of its exceptional circumstances, this case has had an extraordinary degree of high-level political engagement, investment in terms of person-hours, consultation with third parties worldwide, and consular visits and trial monitoring. The Government has made repeated and strong representation to the Egyptian authorities to release this Irish citizen and return him to Ireland without delay. Both the Taoiseach and I maintain open lines of communication with our Egyptian counterparts on this case. As known, the Government has secured a commitment from President el-Sisi that this citizen will be returned to Ireland once the trial process concludes. Officials from the Embassy were present in the court in Cairo again for the latest hearing in this person’s court case on Wednesday, 17 May. At that hearing, the presiding judge invoked new legal powers to speed up the trial and announced that only 18 more individuals, identified as priority witnesses by the defence lawyers, will take the stand. The judge has said that every effort will be made to ensure that all of these are present in court for the next hearing. Because Ramadan is about to commence, and it is customary for the courts not to sit during the holy month, the next hearing has been scheduled for 4 July.

Reports about this citizen’s health are a matter of the utmost concern to the Government. The Government took the unprecedented step of making arrangements for an Irish medical doctor, nominated by the Chief Medical Officer, to visit him in prison and to undertake an assessment of his health.

The Embassy in Cairo has been following up urgently on these issues.

Our Ambassador paid a further consular visit to this citizen in prison on 7 May. The visit provided a good opportunity for a discussion on the full range of issues relevant to the case.

Our Embassy has been monitoring this person’s welfare since his detention and on every occasion where allegations of mistreatment have been made, the Irish Embassy has followed up without delay with the relevant Egyptian authorities.

I can also confirm that the Irish Embassy has submitted a formal request on this citizen’s behalf for him to be transferred to another prison.

Council of Europe

 369. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if Ireland contributed to the debate on the rule of law in Poland at the General Affairs Council Meeting on 16 May 2017; if so, if he specifically addressed and spoke out against the threat to the rule of law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24408/17]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The Commission outlined its concerns and informed the Council on the state of play of its dialogue with Poland on the rule of law at the General Affairs Council on 16 May last. The Commission remains convinced that dialogue is in principle the best way to resolve this issue. The EU is a community of shared values including the Rule of Law. In his intervention, the Minister of State for European Affairs Dara Murphy, TD, along with Ministers from a number of other Member States, supported the Commission on the importance of the Rule of Law and urged renewed dialogue between Poland and the Commission so that a solution may be reached.

Foreign Conflicts

 370. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan further to Parliamentary Question No. 302 of 16 May 2017, if he will direct the ambassador to Brazil to visit Guarani Kaiowá communities in Mato Grosso do Sul and provide him with a report of the challenges they face; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Aty Guasu Great Council of the Guarani Kaiowá will be held from 26 August to 31 August 2017 in Takura, Mato Grosso do Sul; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that international observers are travelling to hear the concerns of the Aty Guasu; and if he will direct the ambassador to Brazil to visit this important gathering. [24409/17]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I am aware of the situation of the Guarani-Kaiowá people in Mato Grosso Do Sul and as I have previously outlined, officials of my Department, including those in our Embassy in Brasilia, are actively engaged with issues relating to the rights of indigenous peoples in Brazil. Consistent with this ongoing engagement, Ireland used the occasion of the 27th Session of the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 5 May 2017 to express our concern at a reported regression in the protection of indigenous peoples’ rights in Brazil. Ireland recommended that Brazil take further steps to protect human rights defenders, including those working in relation to the rights of indigenous peoples, by ensuring impartial, thorough and effective investigations into all cases of attacks, harassment and intimidation and the prosecution of all alleged perpetrators of such offences. In addition to these representations at multilateral level, officials of my Department at home and abroad engage regularly with human rights activists and civil society leaders in Latin America, including those working on indigenous rights.

Furthermore, the issue of the rights of indigenous peoples is the subject of ongoing attention by European Union Ambassadors in Brazil. Ireland and other EU Member States strongly support the mandate of FUNAI, the government agency responsible for enforcing the rights of indigenous peoples. Together with our EU partners, we have urged the Government of Brazil to ensure that FUNAI is adequately resourced to carry out its important work.

With regard to the specific event to which the Deputy refers, our Embassy in Brazil will consider the feasibility of being represented, taking into account resource constraints and other pressing commitments during that period.

North-South Ministerial Council

 371. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the support his Department provides for the North-South Ministerial Council and the British Irish Council.  [24367/17]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Established under the Good Friday Agreement, the North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC) has played a key role in developing consultation, cooperation, and action on the island of Ireland on matters of mutual interest and within the competence of the Government and the Northern Ireland Executive. My Department works closely with the Department of the Taoiseach in regard to NSMC matters and the Taoiseach co-chairs the NSMC Plenary meetings with the Northern Ireland First Minister and deputy First Minister. The NSMC is supported by a standing Joint Secretariat in Armagh, staffed by members of the Irish and Northern Ireland Civil Services, with staff costs met separately. There are nine officers from my Department currently working there. In addition to servicing the Council which meets in Plenary, Institutional and Sectorial formats, my officials in the Joint Secretariat also perform other important functions focussed on advocacy for North-South co-operation. They are involved in developing networks of contacts, actively pursuing our priorities for advancing cooperation, as well as analysing and reporting on the progress of such cooperation, including the work of the North-South Implementation Bodies. My officials in Armagh also play a co-ordinating role in Government activity on North-South issues, attending and chairing meetings of the North-South Interdepartmental Coordinators, and encouraging and advancing cross-border co-operation at official level. As the formal means for bilateral discussions between the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive, the NSMC has a crucial role to play in the Brexit discussions and the negotiations ahead. The most recent NSMC Plenary meetings in July and November 2016 saw the Government and the Northern Ireland Executive agree on a number of important common principles for dealing with Brexit on an all-island basis, scoping out the sectorial implications of Brexit for Ireland, North and South, and agreeing to work together to optimise North-South planning in the phases preceding and following Brexit. For this reason especially, I hope that a new Executive can be formed soon and that the NSMC discussions can resume quickly thereafter so that the Executive can represent Northern Ireland’s interests, including in relation to the upcoming EU-UK negotiations. the Government provides support in a number of ways, with lead responsibilities for the BIC held by the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In terms of practical support, my Department seconds an experienced diplomat to the permanent secretariat of the BIC, based in Edinburgh. This officer jointly heads the secretariat along with an official nominated by the UK government in London. As well as funding the salary and related costs for this official, my Department also makes a financial contribution towards the secretariat’s running costs.

At the Department’s headquarters at Iveagh House in Dublin, responsibility for the British Irish Council is placed with the Ireland, UK and Americas (IUKA) Division. This is supported further through engagement as appropriate by our diplomatic missions and offices in London, Edinburgh and Belfast, given that the BIC’s membership consists of Ireland, the UK, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

My Department works closely with the Department of the Taoiseach, which provides Ireland’s representatives to the BIC’s central co-ordination group and leads on preparations for BIC Summit meetings, at which Ireland is represented by the Taoiseach. At these summit meetings, the Taoiseach is always accompanied by a minister or ministers responsible for the policy areas being discussed, along with officials from his Department and my own. Throughout the year, ministers and officials also participate in meetings related to the BIC’s twelve policy work streams, which involve direct engagement by a number of different Government Departments.

Established in the context of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the British Irish Council provides Ireland and all member administrations with valuable opportunities to engage with each other and make progress on the various policy work streams. The summit meetings since the UK referendum of June 2016 have also included specific and valuable sessions on the UK’s exit from the EU, thereby reflecting a clear capacity for discussion of key strategic issues.

Passport Data

 372. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the number of persons resident in the North of Ireland who currently hold Irish passports. [24714/17]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The Passport Service does not collate issuance data based on place of residence, but rather on place of birth. As of the end of April this year there were 501,509 valid passports held by citizens born in Northern Ireland.

Office of Public Works Staff

 373. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the status of the provision of a new tour guide at a location (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24081/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Seán Canney): Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney The Office of Public Works supported the provision of a guide locally in 2016 to provide tours to visitors to the Sean Mac Dhiarmada Homestead. It is happy to provide the same support this year and to work with the local Heritage Group in Kiltyclogher in this regard.

Public Appointments Service

 374. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the steps he is taking to address capacity issues at the Public Appointments Service. [24581/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Public Appointments Service (PAS) undertakes recruitment and resourcing services across the civil and wider public service as provided for under the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004. The posts that come directly under the remit of the PAS under the Act include all civil service positions (with a few listed exceptions), certain posts in An Garda Síochána, posts previously handled by the Local Appointments Commission and certain HSE posts.

Since the easing of the moratorium on recruitment across the public service the levels of recruitment activity the PAS is required to oversee has increased  significantly. This has resulted in capacity issues for the PAS which are being addressed on an ongoing basis through the provision of additional funding and staffing resources.  In 2014 the level of funding provided to the PAS was €6.757 million, it had a staffing complement of 92 whole time equivalents, and made 3,304 assignments. By 2016 the PAS estimate had increased to €9.650 million, its staffing complement had increased to 145 whole time equivalents, and the number of assignments made totalled 7,940 by the end of that year. The 2017 allocation for the PAS has been further increased to €10.380 million and a further €1 million has been provided for the commencement of upgrading work on its critical IT platform in the light of the evolving technology landscape.

My Department will continue to work with the PAS to provide the necessary support and assistance it requires to continue to fulfil its remit and ensure that we continue to attract and engage high quality candidates to the Irish public service.

Flood Prevention Measures

 375. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the spend in each of the past five years on flood defence by scheme, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23991/17]

 376. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the planned spend on flood defences for each of the next five years, by scheme, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23992/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Seán Canney): Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney I propose to take Questions Nos. 375 and 376 together.

  Following is a table (Table 1) setting out expenditure by the Office of Public Works (OPW) on every flood relief scheme in the current Capital Programme for the period 2012-2016.

  Table 1

 2012 Expenditure €,0002013 Expenditure €,0002014 Expenditure €,0002015 Expenditure €,0002016 Expenditure €,000
Schemes completed or currently at construction     
Bandon, Cork1145624412961,374
Bray, Co Wicklow7,0749924,87512,4448,175
Carlow Town

(Phase A)
1,2950000
Carlow Town

(Phase B)
1,436715000
Claregalway, Co Galway8009598701,165
Clonmel West FRS, Co Tipperary5393311077807600
Clonmel North & East, Co Tipperary3,59045512143413
River Dodder (Tidal), Dublin1804129232616166
River Dodder

(Phase 3), Dublin
34699820002,8912,765
Dunkellin, Co Galway011392131427
Ennis Lower FRS, Co Clare949,6594,0741,270881
Ennis Upper, Co Clare591222422
Fermoy North FRS, Co Cork5371,015250171157
Fermoy Southern FRS, Co Cork5,3158,7484,1904635,883
Foynes, Limerick000691,714
Johnstown, Co Kildare715130322528
Mallow North FRS, Co Cork27540021192125
Mallow South FRS, Co Clare3,1089876091,0435,995
Mornington FRS,

Co Meath
47953366636
Northlands,

Co Meath
0000207
Skibbereen, Co Cork832104944,500
South Campshires, Dublin001649271,496
Tolka (all areas)1,897516412
Tullamore, Co Offaly79999753626
Verdant Place (Advance works on King's Island), Limerick00001,100
Wad River (Tolka Dub Clanmoyle), Dublin04203809540148
Waterford City

Phase 1
63115000
Waterford City Phases 2,3,4 3120385142402,542830
 2012 Expenditure €,0002013 Expenditure €,0002014 Expenditure €,0002015 Expenditure €,0002016 Expenditure €,000
Schemes at Design/Planning     
Bellurgan, Co Louth000075
Blackpool, Cork000088
Clonakilty, Co Cork03163660165
Ennis South, Co Clare187001160
River Lee

(Cork City)
0934786602,166
Templemore FRS, Co Tipperary400125479
Arklow, Co Wicklow43501141
Ballymakeera,

Co Cork
1141301
Crookstown, Co Cork00012915
Crossmolina, Co Mayo12117824265
Douglas/Togher, Cork001460275
Enniscorthy FRS, Co Wexford518883171,001
Glanmire/Sallybrook, Cork009012765
King's Island, Limerick006910519
Liffey Morrell, Straffan, Co Kildare005712572
Midleton, Co Cork000036
Raphoe, Co Donegal03664036


  The Government has committed to a provision of €430 million for capital flood risk management measures over the period 2016-2021 with the annual allocation rising from €45m to €100m by 2021. This allocation is broken down as follows:

  Table 2
20172018201920202021
€45m€70m€80m€90m€100m


  In terms of the next five years, OPW will be concentrating in advancing to completion all Schemes in the current Programme as well as a number of Schemes arising from the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Plans which are due to be completed shortly. The Schemes arising from the CFRAM process will be ranked in priority in an overall national context. However, it is not possible to provide the ranking list at this stage until the Plans are finalised. Therefore, those schemes have not been identified in Table 3 below.

  It is not possible to provide accurate forecasted figures on the expenditure planned for each scheme on an annual basis at this point as expenditure on each scheme will depend on timeframes in finalising designs and on receiving planning approvals as well as the necessary tender competitions for civil works contractors to carry out works. The following table sets out the Schemes to be advanced from the current Programme over all this period, the majority being completed in this timeframe, along with the overall estimated expenditure for each scheme over the whole of the period in question.

  Table 3
SchemeEstimated Expenditure 2017-2021
Bandon, Cork€17m
Bray, wicklow€6m
Claregalway, Galway€3m
River Dodder, Dublin€4m
Dunkellin River, Galway€6m
Ennis Lower, Clare€1m
Foynes, Limerick€1m
Northlands, Meath€2m
Skibbereen, Cork€25m
South Campshires, Dublin€2m
River Wad, Dublin€1m
Waterford City€1m
Athlone, Westmeath€5m
Bellurgan, Louth€0.5m
Blackpool, Cork€13m
Clonakilty, Cork€20m
Ennis South, Clare€4m
Lower Lee (Cork City)€60m
Templemore, Tipperary€6m
Arklow, Wicklow€15m
Ballymakeera, Cork€2m
River Camac, Dublin€5m
Carrigaline, Cork€1m
Clontarf, Dublin€3m
Crookstown, Cork€0.5m
Crossmolina, Mayo€8m
Douglas/Togher, Cork€6m
Enniscorthy, Wexford€28m
Glashaboy, Cork€9m
Gort Lowlands, GalwayNot known yet
King’s Island, Limerick€14m
Lower Morrell, Kildare€8m
Macroom, CorkNot known yet
River Poddle, Dublin€6m
Portmarnock, DublinNot known yet
Raphoe, Donegal€2m
Sandymount, Dublin€5m
Skerries, DublinNot known yet

Flooding Data

 377. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if his attention has been drawn to the proposal for a data platform on flood insurance as per academic research (details supplied); his plans to implement such a database; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23993/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Seán Canney): Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney Fit for the future? The reform of flood insurance in Ireland: resolving the data controversy and supporting climate change adaptation is an independent research paper on the issue of flood insurance in Ireland with the main focus on the establishment of a flood risk database than can be accessed by a wide array of stakeholders. It is part of a wider research project conducted jointly by University College Cork and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency.

In order to assist insurance companies assess the risk and take into account the protection provided by completed OPW flood defence schemes, the OPW has a Memorandum of Understanding with Insurance Ireland, the representative body of the insurance industry. This Memorandum sets out principles of how the two organisations work together to ensure that appropriate and relevant information on these completed schemes is provided to insurers to facilitate, to the greatest extent possible, the availability to the public of insurance against the risk of flooding. Insurance Ireland members have committed to take into account all information provided by OPW when assessing exposure to flood risk within these protected areas.

To date OPW has provided details to Insurance Ireland on 17 completed schemes nationally and Insurance Ireland has advised that flood insurance cover is included in 83% of policies in these defended areas. The OPW has recently provided details on a further completed scheme to Insurance Ireland.

The Department of Finance in its Report on Insurance and Flooding, that was included in the November 2016 Interim Report of the Interdepartmental Flood Policy Co-ordination Group, identified the need to strengthen the issue of data sharing via the Memorandum of Understanding between Insurance Ireland and OPW, in relation to the type of data, granularity of data to be exchanged and the pace of such exchange.

The particular issues in relation to the sharing of data are being explored through a Working Group in which the OPW, Insurance Industry and Department of Finance meet on a quarterly basis. To date the development of a data platform as proposed in the research paper has not been considered by this forum.

Some of the key elements of the recommended data platform are currently available on the OPW websites. These include information on the past and future flood risk and measures to manage flood risks. The publication of the Flood Risk Management Plans, later this year, will provide additional information in line with the recommendations of the research paper.

I am satisfied with the progress of the Working Group thus far and am confident that it will continue to be informed by this and other research papers to progress the issue of flood insurance.

Public Sector Pensions

 378. Deputy Bríd Smith Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the amount contributed by or deducted from all public sector workers toward their pensions including amounts from the pension levy, in each of the years 2010 to 2016. [24048/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The authorities responsible for the administration and oversight of the large number of pension schemes operating in the various sectors of the Irish public service are, in general, the relevant employers and Ministers in those sectors.

  It would be a matter for those sectorial authorities, including relevant Ministers, to supply such information as may be available in respect of employee contributions to those individual pension schemes.

  I and my Department are responsible for the civil service pension schemes, which cover personnel in established and unestablished civil service and State Industrial posts who are not members of the Single Public Service Pension Scheme.

  Total contributions by members of these civil service pension schemes for each of the years 2010 to 2016 are set out as follows.

YearCivil Service Pension Schemes: Employee Contributions (excludes Single Public Service Pension Scheme)
2010€44,170,000
2011€47,338,000
2012€50,599,000
2013€49,633,000
2014€48,476,000
2015€49,611,000
2016 €47,094,000


  The Single Public Service Pension Scheme was introduced on 1 January 2013 under the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and Other Provisions) Act 2012. Broadly speaking, membership of the Single Scheme comprises all first-time new entrants to the public service since 1 January 2013, along with former pensionable public servants who, on or after that date, return to public service employment after a break of more than 26 weeks. The pension contributions of public servants who are members of the Single Scheme in each year from its introduction in 2013 up to 2016, are set out in the following table.
YearSingle Public Service Pension Scheme: Employee Contributions
2013€2,216,000
2014€17,958,000
2015€50,874,000
2016€75,933,000


  The public service Pension-Related Deduction (PRD), which is not a pension contribution, is applied to the pay of pensionable public servants, under terms set out in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009, as amended. It is sometimes referred to as the "pension levy". The Exchequer yield from PRD in each of the years 2010 to 2016 is set out in the following table.
YearPRD Yield 
2010€948,605,000
2011€960,224,000
2012€934,739,000
2013€925,986,000
2014€877,800,000
2015€875,985,000
2016 €705,998,000


  These PRD amounts do not include the non-Exchequer PRD yield, as arising, for example, in the local government sector.

Drainage Schemes

 379. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the works which are scheduled for the Maine and Laune embankments for 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24060/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Seán Canney): Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney The Office of Public Works (OPW) carries out a programme of Arterial Drainage Maintenance to a total of 11,500 km of river channel and approximately 730 km of embankments nationally. These maintenance works relate to arterial drainage schemes completed by the OPW under the Arterial Drainage Acts 1945 and 1995. The OPW has a statutory duty to maintain the completed schemes in proper repair and effective condition. The annual maintenance programme typically involves some clearance of vegetation and removal of silt build-up on an average five-yearly cycle. Each year, work is carried out to approximately 2,000 km of channel and about 200 structures around the country.

The Maine and Laune embankments form part of an arterial drainage scheme under the auspices of this Office and there is a programme for Flood Defence Refurbishment and Improvement works scheduled to occur on these embankments at Gurrane and Callinafercy West, during the course of Summer 2017.

Drainage Schemes

 380. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if his Department will carry out strengthening works on a bank (details supplied) in County Kerry in order to prevent flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [24200/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Seán Canney): Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney The Office of Public Works (OPW) carries out a programme of Arterial Drainage Maintenance to a total of 11,500 km of river channel and approximately 730 km of embankments nationally. These maintenance works relate to arterial drainage schemes completed by the OPW under the Arterial Drainage Acts 1945 and 1995. The OPW has a statutory duty to maintain the completed schemes in proper repair and effective condition. The annual maintenance programme typically involves some clearance of vegetation and removal of silt build-up on an average five-yearly cycle. Each year, work is carried out to approximately 2,000 km of channel and about 200 structures around the country.

The areas at Rusglen, Shanakeale, Keel, Castlemaine, Co. Kerry, lies at the downstream extent of the River Maine Catchment and is under the auspices of the Commissioners of Public Works. I have asked officials from my office to contact the Deputy to discuss the exact location of the bank concerned to establish if it forms part of the ongoing maintenance in this area.

Secret Service

 381. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the amount surrendered back to the Exchequer in each of the years 2012 to 2016 and to date in 2017 from Vote 15 Secret Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [24211/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The following table shows the Secret Service Vote estimate and end of year surplus as set out in the Appropriation Accounts 2012 to 2015. The figure for 2016 is the provisional outturn, based on the expenditure amounts notified to this Department:

YearEstimate Surplus for Surrender to the Exchequer
 €000 €000 
20121000 485
20131000 413
20141000 407
20151000 365
20161000 309


  To date in 2017, on foot of requests for funding, €300,000 has been transferred to the relevant authorities to fund secret services.

  As set out in the Appropriation Account each year, where the surplus to be surrendered differs from the amount of the Exchequer grant undrawn, this is shown as an amount due to or from the Exchequer. This is then reflected in the Exchequer Issues in the following year.

  Prescribed arrangements are in place with the relevant authorities for the drawdown of moneys from the Secret Service Vote and for the annual certification by the relevant Ministers of money actually expended during the year, as well as balances at year end.

  I have been advised that in respect of the certification for 2015 expenditure on the Secret Service Vote, an adjustment will be required to reflect lower expenditure incurred.


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