Donohoe, Paschal

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.


Capital Expenditure Programme Review

Was asked: the status of the capital review; if the ten-year plan will outline funding beyond the timeline of 2021; the way in which it will co-ordinate with the national development plan; if it will incorpor...More Button

As previously outlined to the Deputy in the response to his parliamentary question on this matter at the end of September, the capital review was published on 14 September. I understand all Member...More Button

To recap, the review of the capital plan highlighted some key themes which will closely inform and be incorporated into the analysis leading to the finalisation of the new ten-year plan for publi...More Button

The review of the current capital plan identified a number of key sectors as priorities for investment, including transport, education, housing and health.  The findings of the review assisted th...More Button

The ten-year capital plan is in the process of being finalised. It will set out the public capital investment objectives beyond 2021. Across that period a key factor will be aligning this expen...More Button

With regard to transport infrastructure, it is my objective to place a higher value on investment in public transport in the coming period. That is because it is a key way by which we will respond...More Button

On the number of projects and the timing of their announcement, we will strike a balance. Given that Ministers are in the process of announcing various projects between now and 2021 or 2022, I a...More Button

On the timing, it is my objective that in the first quarter of 2018 we will publish a tracker that will identify each project to which we have committed, where it stands and the progress being ma...More Button

Legislative Programme

Was asked: the date on which the Data Sharing and Governance Bill will be introduced; the number of staff in his Department tasked with its drafting; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Public Sector Pensions Legislation

Was asked: his plans to deal with pension restoration for retired public servants; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

This question refers to the position on pensions and the status of the public service pension reduction, PSPR, which was introduced on 1 January 2011 under the terms set out in the Financial Emerge...More Button

A very significant part-unwinding of the PSPR in three stages is taking place under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2015, with PSPR-affected pensioners getting pension...More Button

The Government published the Public Service Pay and Pensions Bill 2017. If the legislation is enacted, it will put in place further changes in 2019 and 2020, with the objective being that, by th...More Button

I will return to the Deputy by the end of the week with the figure for how many pensioners will be affected, but the vast majority will have their pensions restored. On the costs that will be incu...More Button

I met the Alliance of Retired Public Servants on a number of occasions, including immediately after the conclusion of the negotiations which led to ratification of the public service stability agre...More Button

Public Sector Pensions Legislation (Continued)

They therefore have little opportunity to work more or to earn more. I will continue to meet them where important. I know that this is an issue which the Deputy has focused on and has raised with...More Button

State Pensions

Was asked: his plans to reinstate the pension bands to their pre 2012 levels; his further plans to correct the pension anomalies that affected approximately 35,000 women; and if he will make a statement on th...More Button

This is a matter for which I have no statutory function. Responsibility for this area sits with my colleague, the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Deputy Regina Doherty. In ...More Button

I acknowledge the Deputy's point. When dealing with this matter in the Dáil last week, the Minister, Deputy Doherty, made the point that while she also acknowledges the issue, it estimated that th...More Button

I am not in a position to do that here today. Of course, I am well aware of the very strong and understandable feelings which citizens have in respect of this matter. I have met a number of them ...More Button

Public Spending Code

Was asked: the carbon price that applies to the cost benefit analysis assessments for capital projects; and the reforms he is considering in regard to this price and mechanism. More Button

As set out in public spending code, robust and rigorous project appraisal is central to securing value for money from public capital investment.  Value for money, VFM, relates not just to the effic...More Button

Public Spending Code (Continued)

If the Deputy has any suggestions on the price we are using for carbon that he wants me to take on board, I will be very happy to hear it. I assure him that my views and those of my Department are...More Button

In other considerations, particularly regarding the development of roads, I must also take into account road safety and the maintenance of the local and regional road network, for example. I canno...More Button

Defence Forces Pensions

Was asked: his plans to review the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and Other Provisions) Act 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Under section 41 of the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and Other Provisions) Act 2012, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform can initiate a review, or an actuarial review, or an ac...More Button

Since its commencement on 1 January 2013, the single scheme has been the default pension scheme for new-recruit personnel across all sectors of the Irish public service. It is administered princ...More Button

In respect of members of pre-existing public service pension schemes, supplementary pensions can be paid only to certain retiree categories and, even then, their payment is subject to strict terms ...More Button

If a public service pensioner who would otherwise qualify for a supplementary pension has taken up employment, no supplementary pension is paid. Many public service pensioners with mandated earl...More Button

As the Deputy will no doubt be aware, many other parts of our public service have mandatory early retirement. The pension schemes of affected members of the public service reflect that. Although ...More Button

I acknowledge what the Deputy said on this matter. Any changes in areas such as this are very difficult and complex and tend to have costs associated with them. If we make a change in one area,...More Button

Labour Court Recommendations

Was asked: the progress on his discussions with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in relation to the implementation of Labour Court recommendation, LRC 19293, concerning the rights of...More Button

Was asked: the progress on his Department's discussion with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in relation to the implementation of Labour Court recommendation, LRC 19293, regarding th...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 7 and 17 together.More Button

Following a meeting with SIPTU and IMPACT trade unions in late 2015, the community sector high level forum, which had ceased operation some years earlier, was reconvened by my predecessor, Deputy...More Button

An issue which has been under discussion by the forum relates to community employment supervisors and assistant supervisors who have been seeking, through their union representatives, the allocat...More Button

At the most recent forum meeting, in April of this year, my Department outlined its intention to conduct a detailed scoping exercise in order to comprehensively examine and assess the full potent...More Button

It continues to be the position that State organisations are not the employer of the particular employees concerned and that it is not possible for the State to provide funding for such a scheme....More Button

I have three points to make in response. The information I have, which of course I will check given the point the Deputy made, is that FÁS was not at the Labour Court and had not consented to the ...More Button

The second point I would make is that Deputy Calleary should think about where we were at that point in time. It was 2008 and we had had a number of years of rapid economic growth. The FÁS orga...More Button

Deputy Calleary has a lot of experience in this area and he will appreciate the challenge this matter poses, in particular when we have so many other organisations, especially in the health servi...More Button

I do not know why the forum meeting was deferred a few weeks ago but I imagine it had something to do with all the work that was under way in relation to the FEMPI legislation. I will ensure tha...More Button

My understanding is that the scoping exercise will be completed by the end of the year but I am hopeful that the next forum meeting will be able to discuss where it is and if the conclusion of the ...More Button

Government Communications

Was asked: if he has been consulted or if he has been involved in the rollout of the new communication strategy across government; if the Office of Government Procurement has been involved with the procuremen...More Button

Following due consideration and discussion, the Cabinet decided that a strategic communications unit, SCU, should be established in the Department of the Taoiseach, based on international best prac...More Button

Government Communications (Continued)

The director outlined the role it will play in improving effectiveness, efficiency and cross-government co-operation to foster and develop a whole-of-government approach to communications.More Button

The Office of Government Procurement is currently running six procurement processes on behalf of the Department of An Taoiseach in respect of the strategic communications unit. The first is a re...More Button

I do not have the answer for the Deputy in respect of the total value the State spends on advertising and communications throughout the State. That was not contained in the Deputy's original quest...More Button

A wide number of State bodies go out and procure advertising and communications. I am certain that it is possible to secure greater efficiencies than we do at the moment. That is the reason I s...More Button

When I met the head of the strategic communications unit and discussed the matter with him, I made clear to him that one vital area on which we can make progress is how we deliver further efficie...More Button

Media planning and buying is now a career option in organisations outside Government. Certain people do only this work. It is a whole area of efficiency into which we have to tap to save money....More Button

A decision was brought to Government in respect of the matter, and it was one I supported. The recommendation came from the Department of the Taoiseach. I do not believe any other Government body...More Button

Commission for Public Service Appointments

Was asked: to set out the number of complaints received by the Commission for Public Service Appointments with regard to public sector recruitment practices in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the mat...More Button

As the Deputy will be aware, the Commission for Public Service Appointments is an independent statutory body. It is responsible for overseeing appointments to a wide range of positions in the civi...More Button

As the commission is an independent statutory body, my Department has no involvement in the examination of complaints made to the CPSA.More Button

There are two distinct review procedures provided for under section 7 and section 8 of the codes of practice. A review under section 7 applies in cases where a candidate is unhappy with a decisi...More Button

In this area in the year to date, 83 requests were received under section 8. Of these, a total of 18 requests were deemed invalid, 19 requests were deemed premature and 46 requests were accepted...More Button

Commission for Public Service Appointments (Continued)

It sounds as if the roles and process to which the Deputy refers relate to section 7 rather than section 8 procedures. As I explained, under section 7 procedures, the commission cannot overturn th...More Button

Has the Deputy raised the matter with the Minister for Health? Perhaps he has already done so. If the matter falls within the ambit of section 7, the responsibility for responding to the Deputy...More Button

This is not a matter for my Department. As I indicated, the CPSA is an independent body. From the Deputy's description, this appears to be a section 7 matter in respect of which the CPSA may not ...More Button

If the Deputy had referred specifically to the recruitment of psychologists in the text of his question, rather than raising a general issue in respect of the role of the CPSA, I may have been able...More Button

Public Sector Pay

Was asked: his plans to address pay equalisation across the public sector; if his Department will take a leading role in determining the way in which pay equalisation will be rolled out across Departments; an...More Button

The issue of addressing the difference in incremental salary scales between those public servants who entered public service employment since 2011 and those who entered before that date was address...More Button

As part of the public service stability agreement, a commitment was made to commence a process of examining pay equalisation within 12 months of the agreement being reached. While the agreement ...More Button

To return to a point I made in my exchange with Deputy Lisa Chambers earlier, the Department of Education and Skills has estimated that the cost of implementing pay equalisation in education woul...More Button

It is an annual cost. In terms of the timeline for completing the process, I expect it to conclude - one way or another - in advance of next year's budget. We will engage in the process in good f...More Button

Was asked: the measures he plans to put it place to unwind the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2015 as applied to contract holders that are not part of the public service; and if he wi...More Button

The Public Service Pay and Pension Bill 2017 which the Government agreed on Tuesday, is designed to deliver an orderly exit from the financial emergency legislation and a return to normal industria...More Button

As part of this, the Government has agreed to put the setting and varying of fees for contractors currently subject to the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest legislation on an al...More Button

In future the relevant Government Minister, operating with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform will have the statutory power to set and vary the fees paid to contractors...More Button

Given that the state often engages in long term rolling contracts for the provision of services to citizens it is vital that the interests of the taxpayer are protected through fluctuations in th...More Button

Importantly this power to set and vary fees provides for consultation with the contractors in question. More Button

In relation to primary care contractors whose fees were reduced during the crisis, the Bill provides a pathway for putting in place a new multi-annual approach to fees, commencing in 2019, in ret...More Button

Any contractual re-negotiation will be informed by the significant structural reforms and productivity improvements that have been delivered across the wider public service.More Button

Public Sector Pay (Continued)

I do not envisage a broader consultation on this. It is part of the agreement that I made with representatives of the union movement on the Public Service Stability Agreement. In fairness, given ...More Button

The process, as I understand it, does not include a role for public consultation. No doubt the union movement, in dealing with this issue with us, will consult with its own members on the issue....More Button

I am well aware of the importance of the INTO and the contribution it and other unions have made at times of great difficulty to our country. It is in recognition of that that, for example, I re...More Button

This is exactly the point I was making earlier on at different points in these questions. It is that if one makes one move in one area, it always has consequences in other areas. The Taoiseach de...More Button

I understand that the organisations that are the subject of Deputy Aindrias Moynihan's question have received significant additional funding of up to €120 million over the past number of years. ...More Button

Public Services Card

Was asked: the details of the media campaign designed to promote the public services card; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

As the Deputy will be aware the card is a means of assisting the delivery of public services to people who need them.More Button

The Department is currently engaged in a procurement process for a media campaign to promote the awareness and benefits of the scheme.More Button

The campaign is likely to be delivered by radio, digital and print channels and is expected to begin in the coming months. The primary objectives of the campaign are: to improve understanding of...More Button

To date, 2.89 million of these cards have been issued. A number of cards have been re-issued or have expired. The cards are in broad use.More Button

Despite the comment and debate on the issue at the end of the summer and into this term, these are cards one of the purposes of which is to assist us where individuals have to keep supplying the ...More Button

My voice is not as fresh as I thought. Apologies to the Minister, Deputy O'Donovan, for what I have just done.More Button

On the questions Deputy Calleary put to me, the procurement process is not being delayed. It is under way. Because we have not got to the point at which the campaign has even begun - we are not a...More Button

In relation to the Deputy's first point, I myself have the card and I am glad to hear Deputy Ó Cuív appreciates and acknowledges the role that it can play.More Button

I will take on board the point the Deputy made about the writing on it and I will pass it on to my colleagues who are working on it. As the Deputy will be aware, the people who are making the gr...More Button

On the zealot approach that Deputy Ó Cuív talked about, we have a challenge here. We want to get to a point where this card is used by citizens to access services because I believe the issue of ...More Button

I have my own experience in this area. We expect public services and staff involved in dealing with this issue on the front line to try to accommodate people and, indeed, they do so.More Button

Public Services Card (Continued)

If people have particular issues, we ask them to ensure that they are dealt with sensitively and respectfully. It seems that the Deputy had such an experience in terms of the particular matter wit...More Button

Public Sector Staff

Was asked: his plans to review and address recruitment and retention issues in various areas of the public service; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 provides for a more comprehensive examination by the Public Service Pay Commission of underlying difficulties in recruitment and retention in sector...More Button

The Government recently approved the terms of reference for the second phase of work of the commission. Where a difficulty is identified, the commission will examine the full range of causal fac...More Button

The commission will also look at supply constraints of newly qualified graduates of relevant post-leaving certificate and third-level programmes. It will develop appropriate analytical criteria ...More Button

I met the commission to discuss this matter two weeks ago. I met Mr. Kevin Duffy and the full commission and we had a discussion on this issue and on the terms of reference being set by the Gove...More Button

I entirely agree with Deputy Calleary on the final point he made. As he said, pay will play a role but there are many other matters at stake here, particularly the issue of career planning. When ...More Button

On the Deputy's first point about agency staff, I will ask the commission to include that in its work.More Button

Departmental Expenditure

Was asked: his plans to allow the Department of Rural and Community Development to prepay local authorities at the end of 2017 for work to be carried out after payment is received by them; if the Comptroller ...More Button

The disbursement of funds from the Vote of the Department of Rural and Community Development is a matter for the Accounting Officer of that Department in the first instance. My Department's circul...More Button

It is a matter for the Accounting Officer for the relevant Vote to ensure that any funding arrangements made fully comply with public financial procedures. The rationale for pre-funding should b...More Button

I am informed that to date my Department has not received any specific requests for sanction from the Department of Rural and Community Development in respect of pre-payments to local authorities.More Button

I can assure Deputy Ó Cuív that there are few Ministers more capable of spending money well than the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Deputy Ring.More Button

When he is dealing with this matter this year, I am very confident that he will be ensuring that money made available will be spent. Deputy Ó Cuív can be certain that if the Minister for Rural and...More Button

Departmental Expenditure (Continued)

There was no smart-aleckry in the comment I made. As somebody who has worked with the Minister, Deputy Ring, over many years and had the experience of working with him in the Department of Transpo...More Button

  Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.More Button

Coastal Erosion

Was asked: the steps he has taken to ensure that Fingal County Council using available funds is acting to prevent further damage to dunes at Portrane, County Dublin.More Button

Was asked: his strategy for preventing the destruction of homes at risk due to coastal erosion, in particular, in respect of coastal damage at Portrane, County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the m...More Button

Public Sector Staff Retirements

Was asked: the steps that have been taken or need to be taken to change the mandatory retirement age in the public sector; the cost benefit analysis of increasing the mandatory retirement age; and if he will ...More Button

An Interdepartmental Working Group, chaired by my Department was established in 2016 to examine the issues arising from prevailing retirement ages for workers in both the public and private sectors...More Button

The Group, whose Report was agreed by Government in August 2016, considered policy around retirement age in both the public and private sectors, examining implications arising from retirement age...More Button

In respect of the public service, and on foot of one of the recommendations of the aforementioned Report, my Department, with Public Service employers, was tasked with reviewing the current statu...More Button

Future policy in this area will be considered by Government based on proposals which I intend bringing to Government shortly based on the outcome of the review.More Button

Any change in the compulsory retirement ages for public servants would require primary legislation.More Button

Budget 2018

Was asked: the additional expenditure that is being undertaken the end of 2017 and in 2018 to ensure that all measures in budget 2018 are fully equality and gender proofed; the timeframe and targets needed to...More Button

The approach that is being taken to develop a process of budget and policy proofing, as a means of advancing equality, reducing poverty and strengthening economic and social rights in line with the...More Button

In line with the international best practice in this area, the intention is to ensure that an equality perspective is integrated throughout the budgetary process. Consequently, expenditure in re...More Button

The pilot cycle of equality budgeting will focus on a number of diverse expenditure programmes already in existence across a range of Departments. The relevant Departments will conduct an assess...More Button

The objectives and indicators that have been selected will be published by my Department in the Revised Estimates Volume in December this year. Progress towards achieving these targets will be r...More Button

The pilot programme of equality budgeting will be reviewed following the 2018 budgetary cycle. Learnings from the pilot approach will be used to expand the initiative to other expenditure progra...More Button

  Question No. 17 answered with Question No. 7.More Button

Brexit Negotiations

Was asked: if he has held discussions with the European Commission regarding the allocation of additional funding for the Border region in view of the particular challenges that will arise following Brexit an...More Button

At the outset I would like to be clear about the Government’s appreciation of the important contribution that EU funding has made to the development of the border region and to cross-border coopera...More Button

As Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform I have responsibility for two cross-border programmes with Northern Ireland, namely INTERREG and PEACE.  These programmes have a combined value of mo...More Button

As part of my Department's contingency planning for Brexit, the risks to these programmes – which are 85% funded by the EU – were identified.  The Irish Government has been clear about its commit...More Button

In the aftermath of the UK referendum my immediate objective was to ensure that current funding would continue.  I was pleased, therefore, that towards the end of last year agreement was reached ...More Button

Now that that short term objective has been achieved, my medium term objective is to ensure the full and successful implementation of the current programmes out to 2020, during a period in which ...More Button

It was for that reason that in the wake of the UK referendum I proposed to my Northern Ireland counterpart, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, that we jointly write to the Regional Policy Commissioner, Corina ...More Button

In December Máirtín and I visited Derry together to see the impact that EU funding is making on the ground.More Button

And in April I raised the impact of Brexit on the two programmes at the meeting of the General Affairs Council devoted to Cohesion Policy in Luxembourg.  While in Luxembourg I also took the oppor...More Button

These two programmes are well regarded in Ireland – North and South – in the UK, and throughout the EU, so I believe the necessary goodwill is there for future funding from the European Union.More Button

Flood Prevention Measures

Was asked: the contingencies put in place to deal with increased water levels in rivers and waterways; the extra measures that have been established to deal with the upcoming winter months; the amount dedicat...More Button

Public Sector Reform Implementation

Was asked: the degree to which his Department plans to incorporate further reforms throughout the civil and public service with a view to achieving better value for money, improved economic impact and deliver...More Button

Since the first public service reform plan was published in 2011, a comprehensive programme of reform has been implemented and this continues to be a key priority. This is important as the perform...More Button

Was asked: his views on whether further reform or policy initiatives are now required to maintain a stable path towards economic recovery; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the degree to which reform is likely to remain a key element in managing costs throughout the public sector in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 74 and 75 together.

  Public Service Reform was a central element of the response to the challenges of recent years and remains an essential part...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which he remains satisfied of being able to continue to meet the targets set by his Department in the context of spending and reform; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the degree to which each Department continues to maintain good practice in terms of expenditure in keeping with both the effects of the economic recession and the growing demands of the recovery; a...More Button

Was asked: the savings to date achieved through reform or limitation of expenditure in each of the past three years to date in 2017; the extent to which this is in line with targets; and if he will make a sta...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 77, 79 and 80 together.

  Effective management of expenditure has been a key contributor towards putting Ireland’s public finances back on a sust...More Button

Question No. 78 answered with Question No. 23.More Button

Question Nos. 79 and 80 answered with Question No. 77.More Button

Public Sector Staff Remuneration

Was asked: the number of public and civil servants earning the minimum wage and the living wage; his plans to ensure that all public and civil servants earn the living wage; and if he will make a statement on...More Button

As the Deputy is aware my colleague the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection is responsible for setting the National Minimum Wage on recommendation from the Low Pay Commission. More Button

The current minimum wage is set at €9.25 and the third report of the Low Pay Commission recommended that this be increased by 30 cent per hour.More Button

The Government welcomed that recommendation as a modest increase but one that is ahead of the rate of inflation and average increases in earnings. This would be the fourth increase in the minimu...More Button

Pay band data available to the Department indicates that some 94% of all public service staff are on salary points in excess of €25,000 per annum. The suggested wage at €11.70 per hour based on ...More Button

Data based on Civil Service staff only, which is some 12% of the overall public service, indicates that only some 1% of staff (FTE) in the Civil Service are on salary points less than €22,589.More Button

Any of those currently on an annual salary of less than €22,589 could also be receiving remuneration in excess of the suggested living wage through additional premium payments in respect of shift...More Button

Under the new Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, from January 2018 pay in the public service will be further adjusted.  The pay increases provided for under the Agreement are again pro...More Button

Expenditure Reviews

Was asked: his Department's priorities for the next spending review in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The spending review conducted this year was the first in a series of rolling, selective reviews, which it is intended will cover the totality of Government spending over a three year period from 20...More Button

This year, over 20 analytical papers were produced by officials in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and some other Departments on significant programmes of current expenditure. In ...More Button

Work is ongoing to prepare for the next round of the spending review process which will commence in early 2018. The priority for this round of the spending review is to continue the process of e...More Button

The aim is to ensure that the spending review will produce robust evidence based analysis, the output of which, in each work area, will feed into the consideration of expenditure policy. As was ...More Button

Capital Expenditure Programme Implementation

Was asked: his plans to make provision for the projects previously identified as being integral to crucial infrastructure investment in the context of the capital review programme; his plans to extend the rem...More Button

Was asked: if he has made provision for further changes in the gross capital expenditure ceilings for 2018 in view of the ongoing infrastructural deficits in housing, health, transport and education; and if h...More Button

Was asked: if in the context of the growing needs of the recovering economy, he expects to be in a position to meet infrastructural requirements of the widest possible nature affecting economic performance; a...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 23, 24 and 78 together.More Button

As I announced at Budget 2018, Government has allocated a significant and well-planned, increase in public capital investment amounting to €4.3 billion over the period 2018-2021. This is in additi...More Button

Consequently between 2014 and 2021 public capital expenditure in Ireland will have more than doubled and as set out by the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, this will see public investment in Irelan...More Button

I am satisfied that this new planned level of public capital investment represents an appropriate balance between the need for additional investment to realise the economy's long-term growth pote...More Button

In the meantime, the delivery of a large number of public capital investment projects and programmes is proceeding and while the position in relation to any individual project is a matter, in the...More Button

In addition work is advanced by my Department in preparing a long-term 10-year capital plan for consideration by Government in due course.  The primary objective of the 10-year plan is to underpi...More Button

Garda Stations

Was asked: when the proposed works on Newcastle West Garda station are due to commence.More Button

Infrastructure and Capital Investment Programme

Was asked: the level of capital expenditure which will be allocated for infrastructure projects for County Donegal; the timeframe for these allocations; the projects for which funding will be provided; and if...More Button

This Government is strongly committed to increasing public funding for capital investment in appropriate regional infrastructure across Ireland over the next four years and beyond in order to meet ...More Button

As I announced at Budget 2018, Government has allocated a significant, but more importantly a well-planned, increase in public capital investment amounting to €4.3 billion over the remaining four...More Button

Consequently between 2014 and 2021 public capital expenditure in Ireland will have more than doubled and as set out by the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, this will see public investment in Irelan...More Button

My Department is currently preparing a long-term 10-year capital plan, covering the period 2018 to 2027, which will be integrated with, and will support the achievement of, the spatial planning o...More Button

The Deputy will be aware that promoting the development of the North-West Region as interlinked areas of strategic importance through collaborative structures and a joined-up approach to spatial ...More Button

I should point out, however, that the selection of individual projects to be progressed, such as individual infrastructure projects in County Donegal, and the specific level of capital allocation...More Button

Freedom of Information Legislation

Was asked: if he has satisfied himself with the current functioning of the freedom of information system under the 2014 Act; his plans to amend section 44 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 to give power ...More Button

As specified in section 43(3) of the Freedom of Information Act 2014, the Information Commissioner is fully independent in the performance of his functions, including those under section 44 of the ...More Button

However, as the Deputy may be aware, an extensive review of the operation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) framework fed into the development of the FOI Act 2014 which introduced a modernised,...More Button

FOI gives rise to significant challenges. The number, nature and complexity of requests continues to grow. To support the effective implementation of FOI, the FOI Central Policy Unit at my Depa...More Button

Some 30,417 FOI requests were processed by public bodies in 2016, a record number and a doubling of the number reached under the previous Act, with some 73% of those requests granted either in fu...More Button

Was asked: if he has satisfied himself that section 27 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 is functioning properly; if all agencies that come under freedom of information following the 2014 Act are applyin...More Button

Section 27 of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2014 Act relates to fees and charges. Among the key reforms of the FOI Act was the removal of the requirement to pay up-front fees for making FOI...More Button

In addition, in relation to non-personal requests, a minimum threshold of €101 was introduced below which no search, retrieval and copying fees can be charged. This means that if a request is fo...More Button

Records which contain only personal information relating to the requester (including requests under Section 37(8)) remain free of charge (other than where the grant concerned relates to a signifi...More Button

I consider that these reforms have had a key impact on the number of requests submitted with over 30,000 requests made in 2016 compared to around 10,000 in 2007 and with a 400% increase of non-pe...More Button

I, as Minister, have no role in monitoring or policing the individual decisions of FOI Bodies, including in relation to fees. Where a decision is made to charge a fee, the requester has the righ...More Button

To support the effective implementation of FOI by FOI Bodies, the FOI Central Policy Unit (CPU) at my Department provides a range of support and guidance. It oversees a training framework to ens...More Button

Departmental Contracts Data

Was asked: the number of subcontractors that are engaged by State and semi-State agencies in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I wish to advise the Deputy that under a public contract the contractual relationship is between the public body and the main contractor.  A public body has no contractual ties with a subcontractor...More Button

Economic Growth

Was asked: the extent to which pay demands in the public and private sectors are likely to impact on the growing economy to a negative or positive extent in the future; and if he will make a statement on the ...More Button

Projections published by my Department in Budget 2018 anticipate growth in the overall pay bill (both private and public combined) of 5.6 per cent in 2018. This comprises growth in ave...More Button

Stamp Duty

Was asked: if a farm transfer (details supplied) is subject to stamp duty; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I am advised by Revenue that stamp duty is chargeable on the transfer of a farm from a landowner to a company, whether or not the company is controlled by the landowner. The company acquiring the ...More Button

Help-To-Buy Scheme Eligibility

Was asked: if persons (details supplied) qualify for the help-to-buy scheme for their self-build home.More Button

I am advised by Revenue that in accordance with the legislation governing the operation of the Help to Buy (HTB) scheme, one of the criteria to be met to qualify for the scheme is that the loan-to-...More Button

Tracker Mortgage Examination

Was asked: if details of the scheme of compensation for those wrongly denied tracker mortgages by the banks has been examined by him, his Department and the Central Bank; his views on whether the scheme is fa...More Button

As the Deputy is aware, the Central Bank is independent in the performance of its duties in the supervision of regulated financial service providers and it is working to ensure that the Tracker Mor...More Button

NAMA Debtor Agreements

Was asked: the way in which NAMA is managing the recovery of the funding of approximately €3.6 billion it advanced to debtors and receivers since 2010; if a large number of these loans are being written off; ...More Button

As set out in my reply to Question No. 111 of 3 October 2017, NAMA may provide funding to its debtors and receivers to protect and enhance their assets so as to optimise their income-producing pote...More Button

NAMA advances loans to its debtors and receivers for a range of purposes, primarily for capital expenditure purposes but also for essential current expenditure required to protect the value of as...More Button

I am advised that NAMA has advanced €3.6 billion in funds to its debtors and receivers from inception to August 2017, comprising both current and capital expenditure. I am further advised that th...More Button

I am advised that, of new funding advanced since 2010, €0.6bn is currently outstanding to NAMA and is being actively managed by the Agency, as it relates to debtors whose loans are still held by ...More Button

I am advised by NAMA that there has been no write-off of new funding advanced by it. The proceeds of an asset sale or of the associated loan sale are invariably greater than the amounts of new fu...More Button

It is important to note that the realised proceeds from asset or loan disposals reflect the positive impact of any new funding advanced in order to preserve or enhance asset values. NAMA advise t...More Button

Company Liquidations

Was asked: the status of the proceedings of the liquidation of a company (details supplied); the number of persons affected by same; the amount owed to them; the funds available for distribution at the time o...More Button

Was asked: the number of persons who have been paid in full out of the total number of persons affected by the liquidation of a company (details supplied); the number who have been paid partially; the number ...More Button

Was asked: the cost to date of professional and liquidation fees from the liquidation of a company (details supplied); the cost he expects from the liquidation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if the Central Bank has a role in the liquidation of a company (details supplied); if it has been consulted since the liquidation has commenced; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 47 to 50, inclusive, together.

  I am informed by the Central Bank that it has been actively engaged with Custom House Capital Limited (Custom Ho...More Button

Mortgage Resolution Processes

Was asked: the number of mortgage restructures by restructure type for both PDH and BTL mortgages in tabular form; the number under each restructure type restructured by regulated financial institutions, reta...More Button

I am informed by the Central Bank that their Residential Mortgage Arrears and Repossessions Statistics show that at end-June 2017, 120,398 PDH mortgage accounts were restructured.

 &...More Button

Was asked: the number of mortgages owned by a company (details supplied); the credit-servicing firms it uses for these mortgages; the number of these mortgages that are currently deemed by the Central Bank as...More Button

Was asked: if the Central Bank is satisfied that a company (details supplied) is acting in compliance with the code of conduct on mortgage arrears and the mortgage arrears resolution process; and if he will m...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 and 53 together.

  The Central Bank has informed me that the Company referred to is not an entity regulated or supervised by the Central Bank ...More Button

Mortgage Interest Relief Application

Was asked: the reason the tax-relief-at-source history from the Revenue Commissioners shows the loan of persons was owned by a certain firm (details supplied) when the loan was transferred from its previous l...More Button

I am informed by Revenue that the mortgage interest relief in respect of the loans to which the Deputy is referring was correctly applied by the various lenders for the years in question.More Button

The cases to which the Deputy referred were relatively complex cases, with multiple loans and lenders in recent years.  When providing confirmation to the borrowers in question regarding the corr...More Button

Mortgage Interest Relief Extension

Was asked: if the mortgage interest relief scheme will be extended for a period of five years and would then be subject to review (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I announced in Budget 2018 that, in fulfilment of a Programme for Government commitment, mortgage interest relief for owner-occupiers would be extended on a tapered basis to end-2020 for the remain...More Button

The process of phasing out Mortgage Interest Relief for homeowners has been under way since 2009. Relief has expired for qualifying mortgages taken out prior to 2004 and, with some limited except...More Button

Legislation currently provides for the relief to cease for remaining recipients at the end of this year.  I am aware of the financial pressures that individuals continue to face and of the fact t...More Button

It must be remembered that this relief has ceased for homeowners who purchased before 2004, and that those who purchased their homes from 2013 onwards have never benefitted from the relief. It i...More Button

Tax Reliefs Eligibility

Was asked: if he will review the tax relief scheme for long term leases of agricultural land as it relates to inter family leases in order to consider if the allowance can be extended to inter family leases t...More Button

I am advised by Revenue that section 664 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides relief from income tax for certain income from long-term leasing of agricultural land. The relief is available...More Button

The policy behind this restriction is one of anti-avoidance, due to concerns that some may misuse the exemption. In addition, it was felt that allowing the tax exemption in cases where the land ...More Button

While I understand there are cases caught by this restriction which are not seeking to abuse the scheme, the incentive was structured to take on board the usual anti-avoidance measures seen in mu...More Button

It should be noted that there are already reliefs from stamp duty and capital acquisitions tax available in the case of permanent transfers of land between family members, such as by gift or sale...More Button

Film Industry Tax Reliefs

Was asked: the timeframe and nature of changes to section 481; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Section 481 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides relief in the form of a corporation tax credit related to the cost of production of certain films. The credit is granted at a rate of 32% o...More Button

Tracker Mortgage Examination Data

Was asked: the number of mortgage accounts identified in each bank as part of the tracker mortgage examination that involve both current or former employees of that bank; the number that have been restored to...More Button

The Central Bank has advised that, due to statutory confidentiality requirements, the Bank may not publicly disclose much of its supervisory engagement with individual firms. In particular, the Ce...More Button

However, the Central Bank has advised that the Tracker Mortgage Examination Framework requires lenders to review all mortgage accounts, including those that have been redeemed, sold or transferre...More Button

As per the Central Bank’s status update of 17 October, circa 13,000 affected customers have been identified to date through the Examination. Prior to the examination, the Central Bank ensured a ...More Button

In accordance with the Examination Framework, the Central Bank expects that, for all impacted customers, lenders’ redress and compensation offers will restore them to the position they would have...More Button

 As at end-September, €120 million has been paid in redress and compensation to approximately 3,300 impacted borrowers. This is in addition to redress and compensation provided by permanent tsb ...More Button

Banking Operations

Was asked: when offshore operations commenced in each of the State supported banks; when operations ceased in these institutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Officials in the Department of Finance have received the following responses from the banks in relation to the Deputy’s question:

  AIB:

  AIB’s busines...More Button

Banking Sector Data

Was asked: if offshore operations exist at present in the State supported banks; if so, the number of accounts involved; the amount of deposits held; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Officials in the Department of Finance have received the following responses from the banks in relation to the Deputy’s question:

  AIB:

  Arising from ...More Button

Was asked: the number of deposit accounts held offshore by a bank (details supplied) in each year since the commencement of offshore operations; the value of these deposits in each year; and if he will make a...More Button

As the Deputy will understand, the information requested is not held within my Department. The banks in which the State is a shareholder operate on an independent, commercial basis and I as Minist...More Button

Tax Data

Was asked: if a bank (details supplied) acceded to requests from the Revenue Commissioners for data held in the Isle of Man and Jersey; the outcome of the Revenue Commissioners investigation that commenced in...More Button

Was asked: the position regarding current investigations being undertaken by the Revenue Commissioners in respect of offshore accounts; if current investigations involve the State supported banks; if so, the ...More Button

Was asked: if it is against the law to move data from Ireland to another jurisdiction specifically for the intention to hide data from the Revenue Commissioners; when this law was introduced; if they are retr...More Button

Was asked: his views on Ireland's role in structures that allow corporations to reduce their tax bill in view of the release of papers (details supplied); his views on the impact on Ireland's reputation; his ...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 62, 63, 65 and 66 together.More Button

As respects question No. 62, I am advised by Revenue that section 851A of the Taxes Consolidation Act (TCA) 1997 imposes a statutory obligation on Revenue to maintain the confidentiality of infor...More Button

As the Deputy’s question relates to specific taxpayers, Revenue is, accordingly, precluded from providing a response in relation to the specific taxpayers referred to by the Deputy.More Button

As respects the outcome of the Revenue investigation referred to by the Deputy, I am advised that, in 2003, Revenue commenced an investigation into the use of offshore bank accounts and other fin...More Button

As respects question No. 63, I am informed that the international environment has changed significantly in the years since the offshore assets investigation was initiated, with the emergence of c...More Button

In the context of these new information sharing initiatives on off-shore income and assets becoming available to Revenue, it is no longer appropriate to provide incentives to tax defaulters to co...More Button

Revenue is aware of the recent publication by media outlets of information deriving from the “Paradise Papers”.  If these papers identify individuals or entities associated with Ireland, Revenue...More Button

As respects question No. 65, I am informed by Revenue that while there is no specific restriction on the moving of data to another jurisdiction, section 886 of the TCA 1997 requires that taxpayer...More Button

Records includes any records, accounts, documents and any other data maintained manually or electronically which a person is obliged under the various Taxes Acts to keep, issue, or produce for in...More Button

I am also informed that section 1078 of the TCA 1997 criminalises failures to comply with the provisions of the various Taxes Acts which require the furnishing of returns of income, profits or ga...More Button

It is also an offence under section 1078 to be knowingly concerned in the evasion of tax, or to knowingly deliver any incorrect return, statement, accounts or information in connection with any t...More Button

As respects question No. 66, the stories reported by the ICIJ make a number of points about changes in the Irish tax system.   They rightly point out that Ireland has already acted to address def...More Button

Multinational corporations’ tax planning has been subjected to intensive international examination in recent years, in particular in the OECD’s BEPS Project.  Tax administrations worldwide, incl...More Button

Ireland is committed to working with our international partners to ensure that agreed measures addressing these issues are widely adopted. Ireland has already taken a number of steps towards imp...More Button

Unilateral national actions will not address multinational corporations’ tax planning. Attributing international arrangements put in place by multinational corporations to Ireland’s role is dama...More Button

Ireland meets the highest standards in transparency and this has been recently verified, for a second time, by the OECD-led Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purpos...More Button

State Banking Sector Regulation

Was asked: if as a shareholder in State supported banks he or his predecessor's attention was drawn to offshore operations within these banks; the actions taken subsequently to stop the operations; and if he ...More Button

As I indicated earlier this week I have discussed these disclosures with the Revenue Commissioners who are the most appropriate authority to examine matters raised in the media arising from the so ...More Button

I would add that the Minister for Finance has no direct function in strategic or operational decisions made by the banks in which the state is a shareholder, and decisions in this regard are the ...More Button

The Minister must ensure that the banks are run on a commercial and independent basis and in this regard a Relationship Framework has been specified that defines the nature of the relationship be...More Button

Questions Nos. 65 and 66 answered with Question No. 62.More Button

National Monuments

Was asked: if the damage done to the Donaghmore Souterrain was brought to the attention of An Garda Síochána by his Department or an agency or body under the aegis of his Department (details supplied); and if...More Button

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the recent cross-party Topical Issue on community employment supervisors; the reason the meeting of the forum regarding community employment scheme supervisors to...More Button

In considering the particular matter regarding entitlements for community service supervisors, regard must be had to the costs and precedent of such an arrangement were one to be created. A scopin...More Button

It continues to be the position that state organisations are not the employer of the particular employees concerned and that it is not possible for the State to provide funding for such a scheme....More Button

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the recent Topical Issue on community employment supervisors; the reason the meeting of the forum regarding community employment scheme supervisors to be hosted b...More Button

In considering the particular matter regarding entitlements for community service supervisors, regard must be had to the costs and precedent of such an arrangement were one to be created. A scopin...More Button

It continues to be the position that state organisations are not the employer of the particular employees concerned and that it is not possible for the State to provide funding for such a scheme....More Button

Capital Expenditure Programme Publication

Was asked: if he will publish a draft version of the capital plan in advance of the plan being considered by the Cabinet.More Button

In Budget 2018, I announced the Government's capital spending plans for the next four years. I also set out the intention, as already announced, that the Government will publish a new 10-year capi...More Button

As the Deputy will be aware, Government has allocated a significant and well-planned, increase in public capital investment amounting to €4.3 billion over the remaining four years of the current ...More Button

Consequently between 2014 and 2021 public capital investment in Ireland will have more than doubled and, as set out by the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, this will see public investment levels in...More Button

The long-term capital plan will comprise a financial and budgetary plan for public capital investment over the next ten years. It will contain detailed information on public capital investment p...More Button

The NPF which the new 10 year capital plan is designed to help deliver, is the product of extensive consultation, and is a key vehicle for establishing national infrastructure priorities. In addi...More Button

I fully expect given the constitutional role of the Dail in approving and scrutinising Voted Expenditure that the 10 year capital plan will be subject to extensive discussion and debate in the Oi...More Button

In this regard the key messages contained in the Committee's report last July on public capital investment were highlighted in the review of the capital plan published in September. These aligne...More Button

Flood Relief Schemes Status

Was asked: the status of the south Ennis flood scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Flood Relief Schemes

Was asked: the reason dredging has ceased on the river Shannon; if this will recommence; if so, the areas that will be dredged; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Public Procurement Regulations

Was asked: the extent to which public procurement procedures can achieve savings in the course of 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The OGP and its partner sector sourcing organisations in Health, Education, Local Government and Defence have enabled procurement savings estimated at €300 million over 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.More Button

The 2017 savings outturn has not been finalised but the target for 2017 was between €80 and €100 million and current indications are that this will be achieved. The OGP and its partner sector so...More Button

It is important to note that the consistent approach enabled by the new procurement structures can also deliver savings to businesses who bid for State contracts through standardised documents, p...More Button

Public Sector Staff Recruitment

Was asked: the full extent to date of recruitment throughout the public sector in the context of economic recovery; the expectation in respect of future recruitments throughout the sector by the end of 2017 a...More Button

As the Deputy will be aware, in my role as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, I have overarching responsibility for workforce planning in and recruitment to the Civil Service.More Button

In Budget 2015, it was announced that there will be a targeted programme of recruitment into the Civil Service to address service needs and a shortfall in key skills commencing in late 2014 and c...More Button

 I understand from the Public Appointments Service, who are the independent recruiter for the civil service, that since the lifting of the moratorium, approximately 5,300 civil servants from open...More Button

In the Civil Service in 2017, competitions for Clerical Officer, Administrative Officer, Higher Executive Officer, Third Secretary and Principal Officer have taken place.More Button

It is too early to say at this stage what competitions may be held in 2018. Factors such as the demand from Departments/offices from existing panels, consequential vacancies arising, retirements ...More Button

However, it is likely that an Assistant Principal Officer competition will be held in the first half of 2018.More Button